Month: February 2008

Citizenship in our Nation

Today I was listening to a local talk show, the show focuses on issues that are of interest to conservatives in the Northwest. Some times the host is dead on, while at other times he can get out there, I think mainly to get a reaction or to cause one to think.
On today’s show he said something that I thought to be a little disturbing. He said (paraphrasing) that he will not vote rather than to vote for any of the candidates currently in the race for our Presidency. So here is were I have the problem.

You see, one of the most cherished rights we have in America is that we can freely elect our Representatives and ultimately our President. Without coercion or threat, we can pick and choose who leads our country. We have the right of the Vote. And that vote is precious. Now some folks think that their vote does not count, and while mathematically that may be true, every vote counts, because every vote is a voice. A voice that says to the world “I choose”.

To not vote is to silence that voice. Now I understand that he is saying that there is no one worth voting for, but still a choice must be made. To throw away your right to choose the leader is not the right thing to do. The minute you give up that right, you open the door for more rights to be taken. We all make choices that we do not like or choices for things that may not be our favorite, but we make the choice none the less. We are involved in the process, that is the obligation of a citizen.

Citizenship in our Nation requires us to live by the laws set forth by the people. It asks us to be a part of the process. We live in a Republic, which is a country that is represented by the people. In short, the people are the government. We get to make the decisions that effect us, sometimes indirectly through our elected representative, but we get to make the choice.

I am not happy with the choices we are being given with this next election either. I will keep my political views out of this, but needless to say as a conservative my choices have been limited this time. But I assure you that I will look at who will be best for the Country, and vote. I will have a voice to help decide the men and the measures. To not vote will not make a point, it will just take away the voice. To be a good citizen in America I must demonstrate my willingness to choose, like our fore fathers and founders that stood up and said.. Hear my voice! They shaped our nation and established the process that I am a part of today.

Remember that citizenship is ours to maintain. If we do not take our part seriously, we will loose the right to take part at all.

Happy Scouting!

LNT- Minimize Campfire Impacts

Campfires have always been a part of Scouting. There is nothing like sitting around the campfire with the guys, laughing, telling stories, or just being mesmerized by the embers as they glow. And just because we practice leave no trace, does not mean that we need not have that experience. We do however need to be aware of the impact that the fire leaves and do all we can to minimize the impact.

Here are some ways we can do this:
First, where available use established fire rings. If rings are not available, pack in a fire pan or build a fire mound.
Second, keep the fires small. I know that Boy Scouts like to have fires that can be seen from the space station, but a small fire produces the same embers and glow and creates a more peaceful setting.
Third, burn only sticks that can be picked off the ground and broken by hand.
and finally, burn all wood and coals to ash, put out campfires completely, then scatter the cold ashes.

Some wilderness area do not allow fires at all. Observe this rule. The rule is in place die to fire danger and to lessen the impact or reduce the damage that has been done.

Minimizing the impact of campfires is not only a principle of Leave no trace, but a great idea for helping preserve our wilderness and protecting it against uncontrolled burns. Burning the sticks that lay on the ground helps the Eco system as it cleans up some unneeded fuels on the ground and it does not take away from the scenic beauty of the wilderness.

Happy Scouting!

Time for Scouting

When you break it down the 2010 National Jamboree is right around the corner. And like most Councils, the Cascade Pacific Council is in the process of selecting its Adult leaders and applications for youth positions are now available.

As I worked on the online applications for my two sons, I found it interesting that, one, the application was rather lengthy and two, it asked about information outside of Scouting.
I suppose neither one of those are surprising, but it struck me as odd that an event two years away would need that kind of information now.

But here is why, I think. There is always a great debate about Scouting and the time it consumes. We constantly hear about the struggles of parents trying to get from Soccer to Scouts, from Football practice to meetings on Mondays, from School work to Camp outs.
I had this discussion a couple nights ago with my own sons. While we all lead busy lives and our children have Palm Pilots and planners, Moms and Dads need to have Sync meetings on Sundays nights to coordinate the week, it seems that there is always time for Scouting.

There is time after School before a meeting to do homework and study. There is time to work on advancement and merit badges, the Scout has till he is 18. I think what is missing in most peoples lives is perspective. Putting all of the daily routine in perspective will give a clear picture of what you are really doing. Are busy to be busy? Are you active to be seen? Are you really getting the most out of your life?
I think, and of course I have a biased opinion, that Scouting is that activity that rounds it all out. Scouting is the activity that is values based that focuses on the good things in life and preparing young men to be their best and do their best. Their best in the class room, in Church, at home, and in life.

So as I filled out the applications and got to the questions about out of Scouting activities, we answered that we are busy with Football, Band, School, Church, Family and Friends like most families. But in my planner I wrote, “there is always time for Scouting”. In fact there is never a time that Scouting should not be a part of our lives. It is not always when we wear our uniforms, we are Scouts and Scouters daily. Living the motto and practicing the Slogan. Taking the Oath and Law to heart and keeping it a part of our daily lives.

The 2010 National Jamboree is going to be spectacular. It is our 100th Anniversary and sure to be a once in a life time experience. What a blessing it is to live in this time.

Happy Scouting!

LNT- Leave what you find

The fourth principle of the Leave No Trace outdoor ethic is “Leave what you find”.

Said best… “Leave only footprints.. take only pictures“. We have heard that one for years.
This allows others a sense of discovery. By leaving rocks, plants, and artifacts were they are, others can have the same experience as you.

Leave areas as you found them. Minimizing your impact in camp leaves the area just as nice as when you arrived. Do not dig trenches or leave pioneering projects up. If you clear an area to put you tent up, replace the pine cones and twigs that you clear. Consider the idea that “Good Campsites are found and not made.”

Avoid damaging trees and plants. Never hammer nails or screws into trees to hang things on them. Never hack at trees or carve into them. Cutting boughs for use a sleeping pad is a great idea if you are on Man Vs. Wild.. but a good sleeping pad works better and does not make the impact as hacked boughs.

Leave Natural objects and Cultural artifacts.
Natural objects of beauty or interest, such as antlers, petrified wood, or colored rocks, add to the mood of the back country and should be left so others can experience the sense of discovery also.

Happy Scouting!

Life in a Cup of Hot Chocolate

A good friend of mine shared this with me. I am unsure of the original author, so I am giving credit to anonymous.

A group of graduates, well established in their careers, were talking at a reunion and decided to go visit their old university professor, now retired. During their visit, the conversation turned to complaints about stress in their work and lives. Offering his guests hot chocolate, the professor went into the kitchen and returned with a large pot of hot chocolate and an assortment of cups – porcelain, glass, crystal, some plain looking, some expensive, some exquisite – telling them to help themselves to the hot chocolate.

When they all had a cup of hot chocolate in hand, the professor said: “Notice that all the nice looking, expensive cups were taken, leaving behind the plain and cheap ones. While it is normal for you to want only the best for yourselves, that is the source of your problems and stress. The cup that you’re drinking from adds nothing to the quality of the hot chocolate. In most cases it is just more expensive and in some cases even hides what we drink. What all of you really wanted was hot chocolate, not the cup; but you consciously went for the best cups… And then you began eyeing each other’s cups.

Now consider this: Life is the hot chocolate; your job, money and position in society are the cups. They are just tools to hold and contain life. The cup you have does not define, nor change the quality of life you have. Sometimes, by concentrating only on the cup, we fail to enjoy the hot chocolate God has provided us. God makes the hot chocolate, man chooses the cups. The happiest people don’t have the best of everything. They just make the best of everything that they have. Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly. And enjoy your hot chocolate.

Happy Scouting!

Zero Tolerance…

That is what the Boy Scouts of America feels about Bullies and Harassment… and so do I.
There is no room for bullies or harassment of any kind within the BSA. There simply is no place for it. A simple review of the Scout Oath and Law will not allow for it.

The 2008 requirements now discuss this issue. And I for one and glad. I know this is old news for those of you that keep up with the changes annually, but, like youth protection this needs to be discussed each year.
The new Tenderfoot requirement states:

9b. Explain the importance of the buddy system as it relates to your personal safety on outings and in your neighborhood. Describe what a bully is and how you should respond to one.

The first thing a Scout should know is that he can trust his leaders. He needs to Report any violation of safety or harassment by a bully. As leaders we can not be everywhere, nor should we, but we need to be out in front of these issues and get on top of them as soon as it is reported.
The Second Class requirement that address’s this issue is:

8b. Explain the three R’s of personal safety and protection.

The “three R’s” of Youth Protection convey a simple message that the BSA wants its youth members to learn:
Recognize situations that place him at risk of being molested, how child molesters operate, and that anyone could be a molester.
Resist unwanted and inappropriate attention. Resistance will stop most attempts at molestation.
Report attempted or actual molestation to a parent or other trusted adult. This prevents further abuse of himself and helps to protect other children. Let the Scout know he will not be blamed for what occurred.

And the First Class requirement that discusses bullies and harassment is:

12. Describe the three things you should avoid doing related to the use of the Internet. Describe a cyberbully and how you should respond to one.

With the Internet, email, text messaging, and other electronic media out there, all of which make our lives better, we need to understand that with everything there are precautions that we need to take. Again we need to be out in front of the situations and prepare for the worst.

With the new requirements, the BSA has stepped up its ZERO Tolerance of harassment and bullies. There just is no room for it in our Troops and the in the BSA.
Getting on top of a bad situation and defusing it, discussing it, and taking appropriate actions are key in providing a safe harassment free environment for the Scouts to enjoy their experience in Scouting.

Happy Scouting!