Month: October 2008

Choosing a Camp site

In interest of not rediscovering the wheel… I stumbled on this article by Mark Langston in Backpacker Magazine.
Rather than paraphrase, I thought I would post it in its entirety.

How to Choose a Campsite
A NOLS veteran offers tips on balancing comfort, safety, and Leave No Trace principles.
by: Mark Langston

Deciding where to camp is a bit like buying a house. You need to scope out the neighborhood, check the plumbing, test the foundation. In his 15 years with the National Outdoor Leadership School, Mark Langston has overnighted in dozens of memorable sites in the North Cascades and Olympics.
A strong believer in the Leave No Trace ethic, Langston says a great location can balance “comfort, safety, views, and solitude.” Here’s his advice on finding that sweet spot.
Scout it out Start your site search well before dark; you have just 30 minutes of good visibility after sunset. Water access is the “make or break factor,” says Langston.
Look for hazards like dangling branches, rockfall debris, flash-flood zones, and avalanche run outs.
Follow the lines Consult your topo map; open circles indicate flat land, while stacked lines ringing a site can be good windbreaks. “Cold air flows downhill, so higher land will be warmer at night,” says Langston.
See it coming Anticipate how terrain could intensify weather. Could a long valley become a wind tunnel? Where will the runoff flow in a storm? What will attract lightning?
Respect sensitive terrain Choose previously impacted sites, or pitch your tent on a durable surface like a rock slab or forest duff. Use multiple walking paths to access your water source and cat hole areas.
Use natural advantages Seek shady forests in the summer, maximize southern exposure on cold days, and “choose a dry, sunlit spot with a steady breeze in mosquito country,” says Langston.

You can read the article and more skills tips at Backpacker Magazine.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Scouting Community

First it was Facebook… now it’s Scouting Own Online Community.

If you have not seen it yet.. it’s worth a look see.

What will you get out of it? Probably nothing unless of course you want to broaden you Scouting horizons, meet some great Scouting people and stay in touch with friends in the Scouting World.
In short.. It’s Scouting!

Check out the Scouting Community. You will need your MYSCOUTING info to log in.. but once you are there.. you are in!

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Backpacking Tip of the Week

A Bag of Bags!
Keeping your pack organized is important for many reasons.
You need to know where your gear is. When the weather gets bad, you want to be able to get to clothing, shelter, and those items that will help you get through the conditions.
Knowing where your gear is loaded will help you get to gear without becoming a the all to famous “Yard Sale” in camp. Organized gear stays clean, dry, and accounted for. It is also easy to load and maintain after the camp out is over.

To get and stay organized here is a real simple tip. DITTY BAGS.
Stuff sacks or Ditty bags keep your gear separate and neat. Your backpack should be filled with ditty bags.
Here is how I organize my pack.
First I keep my Sleeping Bag in a water proof stuff sack. It is loaded in the bottom compartment of my pack.
I then load up the ditty bags.
A ditty bag with extra socks.
A ditty bag with my clothing in it. Don’t take to much, just what you need.
One ditty back is designated for my food. A good tip for that is take a 2 gallon milk jug, once the milk is gone, cut the bottom off… make it look like a bowl, about 3 or 4 inches deep.
Put it in your dish washer and make sure it is clean..
Then put it in the bottom of your Food Ditty. It allows you to stand that bag up. The milk jug also is a great bowl for washing dishes, mixing food, and keeping things neat in the food bag.
A ditty bag for your stove and extra fuel, good to throw some matches in there too.

A ditty for your kitchen stuff. I put my spork, a bottle of Tabasco sauce, pepper etc in an old water bottle. Put it in a ditty with a micro towel and scrubby for cleaning. Don’t forget the camp suds.
I have my rain gear in a ditty in the outside pockets of my pack. Gloves and hat go in another ditty on the outside of the pack.

Everything is in its place, and everything has a ditty or stuff sack. It’s all water resistant, and organized. Finding things in my pack is easy as feeling for a bag. Loading the pack is as easy as filling my pack with little bags. It is a bag full of bags.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

It’s in the details…

As we get ready for our winter camping we need to exercise the Scout motto.. Be prepared.

Camping in the winter months presents different challenges and requires more skills. Winter camping requires a camper to pay closer attention to the details. Where you can get away with somethings in the summer or when the weather is nice, tempting fate in the cold weather is dangerous and could result in someone getting hurt.

So its in the details, lets start with eating.
Planning menus for the cold weather is important, as important as the clothing you wear and the gear you take.
It is important to ensure that what you put in your body is going to give you energy, keeping you warm and will fill you up. You burn more food in the cold weather. Your body wants to keeps its core warm, food is one way that you do this.
Eating warm meals and snacking a lot is key to keeping that core warm and your spirits up.
Details like how you prepare your meals is important too. When backpacking in the winter, it is important to remember that you consume more fuel in colder weather. Plan for it.
You may need bigger cooking gear to allow for more substantial meals, especially when cooking for you and your buddies. Clean up is another issue, just as important as cleaning in warmer weather, but remember that fuel issue? That’s right, you are going to burn more fuel in clean up too. Plan for it.
We will talk about gear in up coming posts, but remember that taking care of your gear will ensure it is there for you and in good repair.

Planning keeps you prepared. Prepare for all the details…It is the advantage we have that keeps us from surviving.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Leadership traits

Courage, Competence, Candor, and Commitment are four leadership traits that are valuable in the leaders tool box for effective leadership.
You can hear more about them on my latest show on the Scoutmaster Minute Podcast.

Listen here.

Thanks to those of you that have expressed concern. It’s been a month since the last podcast, Scouting and life has been extremely busy as of late, and podcasting had to be pushed aside for a bit. Thanks again for your patients. Enjoy the show.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Uniform Police…Out ta getcha!

“Show me a poorly uniformed troop and I’ll show you a poorly uniformed leader.” – Sir Robert S.S. Baden Powell

Ladies and Gentlemen I give you the methods of Scouting… and the Uniform of the Boy Scouts of (Insert Country here).
In the Boy Scouts of America we have 1 uniform. We have many variations of that uniform, but we have only one uniform. And that is the Field uniform.
OK- now the Pros have theirs too… but by and large we all wear the Field uniform. It consists of a Shirt, pants or shorts (Switchback style gives you both) Socks, a belt, and a hat. There are optional items, such as the Neckerchief.
So why is that hard? I hear the money argument, but that really is not that bad, it can be done if you want to… just like anything else. I hear that the uniform is not practical.. not anymore.
I hear the boys don’t like it… they don’t like doing chores either, but it is good for them to learn to do their part.
The uniform is an important part of Scouting and when worn it should be worn properly.. and that is what I am really getting at.
Even if you don’t wear the full uniform…wear what you have right.
I hate to be the uniform police… but there are certain things that drive me nuts.
First and foremost… TUCK IN YOUR SHIRT! (and button it up)
Second… CLEAN IT.
Third… Have the patches in the right place. You don’t even have to know how to sew these days. Badge Magic is available at every Scout Shop. The Scout handbook shows you were everything goes.

Now- this is not a rant.. it is just a reminder that when we put on the uniform, we represent the Boy Scouts of America. I suppose having worn the uniform of our Country for 21 years, I have an eye for those that do not have enough pride in themselves and the organization to wear it properly.

When I leave my house, I make sure that my hair is combed and that I am neatly dressed. I have pride in myself and how I appear in public. Some folks just don’t care, and I guess that is a choice, but when we represent something like the BSA, we should go out of our way to look the part.
A Scout is Clean. Hair combed, teeth brushed, and clothing neat.

Last weekend at our Webelos Woods event, I must have corrected 50 people on their uniform, mostly adults. What example are we setting when we do not tuck our shirt in, fail to have unit numbers on the shirt.. and most of all not wear the whole uniform.

As a method of Scouting the uniform takes on importance. We do not get to pick and choose not to use it to achieve the aims.

Now before I get emails… for those of you that pick nits… NO.. the Uniform is NOT REQUIRED by the BSA to participate in Scouting. There, said it and now moving on…

Wear your uniform completely and properly…set a good example!

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Backpacking Tip of the Week

The weather is changing, getting colder and wetter as we approach winter.
It is time again to look at the clothing that we wear on our outings, whether it is a backpacking trip or a close to home camp out, we need to be aware that what we have on is just as important, if not more important that what we carry.

Layering is the tried and true way of making sure you stay warm and dry in the fall and winter. Come to think of it, it will keep you cool in the summer too… but lets focus on the Fall and Winter.

First of all… remember that cotton kills.. so get cotton out of you pack now. It absorbs moisture and traps it against the body. Cold!
Now that your cotton clothing is gone.. lets look at your layers.

You will have 3 layers.
A Base layer, which is against your body and manages moisture.
A Mid layer, which insulates you and keeps you warm.
And a Shell layer, which protects you from the weather.

Your Base layer consists of clothing against your skin. Your next-to-skin layer should be materials such as silk, wool or synthetic fabrics such as REI MTS®, Patagonia® Capilene®, Polartec® PowerDry® and CoolMax® polyester. Rather than absorbing moisture, these fabrics transport (or “wick”) perspiration away from your skin, dispersing it on the outer surface, where it can evaporate. The result: You stay drier even when you sweat, and your shirt dries faster afterwards.

Your Mid layer, the insulating layer helps you retain heat by trapping air close to your body. Polyester fleece vests, jackets and tights are classic examples of insulation ideal for outdoor activities. They not only trap air but are also made with moisture-wicking fibers to help keep you dry.

The shell (outer) layer protects you from wind, rain or snow. Shells range from spendy mountaineering jackets to simple windproof jackets, but most are designed to block the rain and hold in your body heat while allowing water vapor to escape. This is an important piece when you’re active, because if wind and water are allowed to penetrate to your inner layers, you begin to cool off. Without proper ventilation, perspiration can’t evaporate but instead condenses on the inside of your shell.

Dress in layers and you will stay warm and dry this winter. As you get warm, loose a layer, as you get cold, put them back on. Loose in layers will ensure that you have great camping experiences in the fall and winter.

Have a Great Scouting day!