Monthly Archives: December 2008

A call to action

Yesterday was our annual family Christmas Party. It was a nice gathering, but this year it took on a little bit more meaning for me.

As we gathered for this annual event I could not help but think about the generations of our family that have gathered in years past, and looking to the future.. what will we do. My two son’s are the last two “Name sakes”. They are only teen agers… so we are not rushing things, but they carry the name..and the Christmas parties in the future.

As I caught up with cousins and relatives that I have not seen since last Christmas I began to listen to the stories about days gone by, about Uncle’s that have long since past and the Grandparents that my children will never meet. As we reminisced about Christmas parties past and the funny things that have happened over our relatively short life times I thought we need to write this stuff down, or better yet… get it on video. And we had an AH HA moment.
So next time we gather at a family event, I will have the Digital Video camera set up in what my cousin called the “Confessional Room” and we will invite everyone to tell a story to the camera.
This way we will capture our family as they are and for generations to come they will be able to see Uncles and Aunts, and Grandparents sharing life as they knew it. this is not an original thought, and I am sure that many of you already are doing this…but it’s my blog…so humor me…
But this is a Call to action. I was overwhelmed with the idea that my kids have never and will never met my Grandparents. I want their kids to at least get to know my parents, but if they can never meet them in person, at least we can say…this is your Great Granddad.. he was a heck of guy. Or… you remember that story I told you about….. well this is him.
Families are precious, no matter what economic status, what part of the country, or what ethnic background… families are all we have in the end and we need to preserve their traditions, their heritage, and their stories.
I think we all need to look at our families and enjoy what they bring, what they have given, and where they are going. But take the time this year…don’t wait. Write down the stories or video tape those that may not be around in the future.
Over Thanksgiving my parents converted some old 8mm tape to DVD. We watched some old footage of my sister, brother, and me, when we were real young. I was glad that the tape existed as we lost my brother 20 years ago. My kids have never seen him other than in pictures. But here he was moving on the screen. Precious.

So.. here is your call to action.. Document your families, not for you, but for the next generation.
This is also a good idea to pass on to your Scouts. I am certain that there is a Merit Badge out there that this could help with.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

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Let’s Get Physical.. Physical

According to latest research findings teenage obesity in America is increasing drastically. The rates at which teenage obesity is increasing are stunning. About 15%, to give exact figures 9 million teens in America below 15 years are obese. This figure is almost three times the teen obesity figures in 1980.
There are several teenage obesity causes. The main reasons for teenage obesity are – overeating and less activity or inactivity.
Now I don’t know about you, but I think this is crazy. Inactivity?
How does that happen?
I hate to play the “When I was a kid” card, but I can’t remember me as a boy being “inactive”. It seemed we were always doing something. Scouting enhanced the activity of course and I think that has a lot to do with how I grew up. But to say that 9 million teenagers in America are obese due to over eating and lack of activity is criminal.
The effects of obesity are great and if we want healthy adults we need to start with the youngsters. If 15% are obese now..they will surely be obese when they are older.

I know that all of you (in America) get and read Scouting Magazine, and for those of you that do not you can check it out online. I thought it was interesting and appropriate that Chief Scout Executive Bob Mazzuca, has challenged all of us in Scouting to “Get Physical” with his Active Outdoor Challenge. My disappointment with this is it took up a business card section in the latest Scouting Magazine. But it is worthy and a good program.
Here are the requirements of the Challenge:
1. Get your Scout Outside and Active for 12 monthly activities.

That’s it! Here are some ideas that are suggested in Scouting Magazine:
Sailing, Kayaking, Climbing, Backpacking, Orienteering, Rollerblading, Canoeing, Caving, and Sledding. Camporee’s and Service Projects don’t count. But getting there does.. So backpack your way to camporee… incorporate a hike or bike trip to the service project.

There is a cool patch that you can receive after completing the 12 month plan. I think it is a good start in combating obesity at the troop level.
To many of our Scouts show up out of shape and on the road to obesity. We need to help the parents out by providing those Outdoor activities that will at least help them grow to healthy men.

In the Scout Oath we promise ourselves to be “Physically Strong”. That’s not all muscle. It is total health and Getting Physical in our programs helps every Scout keep his promise.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

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Merry Christmas -2008

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. Isaiah 9:2-7 (NIV)

Merry Christmas!
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A State of Emergency

We have had a major winter storm blow through our area this week. Lots of snow and ice have dumped on the metro area literally shutting down the city.
Yesterday, the Mayor of Gresham…yes… Gresham… declared a State of Emergency due to the weather.
Now I admit, I have never seen a December in Oregon quit like this one, but a State of Emergency?
Here’s the bottom line. BE PREPARED!
Sunday, our Troop was scheduled to set up the Nativity scene in the back of the church, as we do every year.
Saturday and into early Sunday morning, the phone began to ring. “Are we still setting up the manger?”
Yes we are.
And low and behold there were Scouts and Scouters in the back of the church at 11:30 on Sunday making ready to set up the Nativity scene.
We shoveled our way out, put on chains if needed, bundled up, and made our way to the church. We even assisted Father in getting his chains on and getting his car out of a jam.
We were prepared for the conditions, understood that life had to go on, and made it happen.
Yesterday, the city was in panic. Emergency services slowed, business’s shut their doors, and last minute shoppers frantically rattled the doors of shops with “CLOSED DUE TO THE WINTER STORM” signs on them.

Shelters are packed, soup kitchens are at capacity, I am glad we gathered all that food during Scouting for Food just a few short weeks ago.
It seems to me that we all need to just BE PREPARED a bit more. I keep getting asked about “What if your power goes out?”… “What about the heat?”….”Can you get around in this mess?”.

Yes. We are prepared. It is not an emergency. It is snow. If we all were better prepared then we can adapt and move on. The city clearly did not see the same forecast as the rest of us, they got caught with their pants down and now are reacting rather than working the plan of preparedness.

The boy’s went to the garage last night and pulled down the Emergency preparedness boxes they made when they worked the Merit Badge. They wanted to make sure everything was still there. Canned foods, a backpacking stove, flashlights with good batteries, etc.
They are prepared.

A state of emergency was declared yesterday because it snowed… or … no one was prepared.

Lesson learned folks.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

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The BP Journey

As if blogging on the Scoutmaster Minute was not enough. I am going to try to journal my Backpacking adventures also.
Today I started a new blog called the BP Journey. It will be my journal of backpacking. Tips, trips, and fun backpacking stuff.
No, I won’t stop my Backpacking tips of the week here, but you might just find them at the BP Journey also… plus more.

Hope you like it.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

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The 27th show of the Scoutmaster Minute Podcast is up and ready for download. It is my Christmas greeting to all the faithful dedicated listeners of the Scoutmaster Minute Podcast and readers of the Blog.
It has been a great year of Scouting!

Merry Christmas everyone!
And have a Great Scouting Day!

Listen or Download Here

Standard Podcast [4:15 m] mp3 format
The Scoutmaster Minute is Hosted by
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The Commissioners Corner

The other night I was asked by my good Scouting friend in Green Bay to be a guest on his New podcast.
Shawn is a Unit Commissioner in the Voyageur District of the Bay Lakes Council, as well as the Dad of a couple Cub Scouts and a little cub buddy.
Shawn maintains a good blog which address’s issues that are effected by the Commissioner corps, mainly units.
I was glad to hear that he decided to get into the podcast arena, as there are really no Scouting podcasts that center its focus on commissioner issues.

Shawn had another guest on the show, he friend and ADC of his District, Keith. Keith is a worldly Scouter and has experience in the program that makes us all look like rookies.
The shows topic was Webelos to Scout transition. A subject near and dear to me.
It looks like we went long, and so Shawn is running it in two parts, or at least making two shows out of it.

You can give it a listen by clicking on the link. The Commissioners Corner Podcast.
You can also check out his blog, if you have not already done so at The Commissioners Corner Blog.

It is a pleasure to have such great friends in Scouting.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

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Think 1

One Pot that is.
Backpackers are the masters of the one pot meal. One pot meals are also a great way to prepare meals in a cold weather environment.
Planning and preparing is made simple and the results are delicious.
Keeping Scouts warm starts with what they eat. When they prepare good meals, they eat better, when they eat better, they stay warm and have a great experience camping in the cold.

So start getting them thinking about the 1 pot meal.
Here are some benefits right up front.
First. Less mess. This means, less to clean up.
Second. Easy to prepare. As long as you are committed to preparing things at home, the one pot meal can literally take 5 to 10 minutes to prepare. Less hassle and less time.
Third. Good meals that everyone will like.
And finally, Less to carry. This is always a hit in our Troop.

Planning and preparation is the key. A simple idea of what you need, especially in the cold, what you like, and where you are going will dictate the contents of your meal.
Start with your Carbs. You are backpacking, or camping in the cold. You need to replace the energy that you burned all day. Grains are great for that, so look at pasta’s and rice. But you can turn to others too, cousus is a great substitute for rice.
Then pick a meat. Chicken, Salmon, and Ham all come inconvenient pouches that do not spoil. You can precook hamburger too, throw it in ziplock bag and freeze. An easy reheat, add macaroni noodles and some cheese and corn, and you have a nice one pot casserole. Hot, tasty, and filling.
Adding veggies is a must to. You want to ensure you are getting the vitamins to go with your meal, especially on longer trips. A good way of getting your veggies in is either dehydrating your veggies, or just using frozen or dried veggies. Corn, peas, or even mixed vegetables are easy and quick to cook. Transfer your veggies from their original bags to ziplock bags based on the serving size. Reconstituting the veggies in your meal is as easy as adding it to the pot.

So its real simple… it is as easy as 1-2-3.. Carb (Noodles, Rice, Potato), Meat (Hamburger, Ham, Chicken, Salmon) and a Vegetable (Corn, Peas). Get water boiling and voila!

Here is a good recipe to get your started.

Bacon And Pea Alfredo Pasta
recipe and photo from

In a zip lock sandwich bag:

8 ounces small pasta shapes (cook time under 7 minutes)
1/2 cup freeze-dried green peas

In a zip lock sandwich bag:
1 packet Alfredo sauce mix
1/2 cup dry milk
1 Tbsp butter powder
1 tsp dried chives
1/2 tsp diced dried garlic
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
Also bring:
1/2 cup shelf stable crumbled bacon (about half of a 3-ounce pouch)
Parmesan cheese

Bring 4 cups water to a boil in a 2 liter pot.
Add in the pasta and peas and cook for time on pasta direction.
Turn off your stove.
Carefully drain off the remaining water, reserving 1 1/2 cups of the pasta water for the sauce.
To the pasta, add the water back in along with the contents of the sauce bag and the bacon. Stir well. Put your pot back on the stove and bring to a boil over medium flame. Stir for a minute or two, till the sauce thickens, lowering the heat to low after it comes to a boil.

Pull of the stove and add in the Parmesan cheese.

Serves 2 normal sized appetites.

Bon apetite!

Cooking is simple when you take the time to plan and prepare. It could be the difference between a cold and warm camp out for you and your Scouts.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

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Wind Chill

Last year during our January Camp out we got into a discussion about wind chill.
Now as you know, or may not know, the wind chill temperature is how cold people and animals feel when outside. Windchill is based on the rate of heat loss from exposed skin caused by wind and cold. As the wind increases, it draws heat from the body, driving down skin temperature and eventually the internal body temperature. Therefore, the wind makes it FEEL much colder. If the temperature is 0 degrees Fahrenheit and the wind is blowing at 15 mph, the wind chill is

-19 degrees Fahrenheit. At this wind chill temperature, exposed skin can freeze in 30 minutes.

Our grand debate was what Wind chill effected. If it is all about heat loss, then would it not effect anything that produces heat? Well, I am not sure if we ever solved this global issue, but it was a great way to introduce the topic of wind chill to the Scouts and why it is an important part of winter activities, camping in particular. It is important to wear those layers that provide protection from the wind, not so much to keep the wind out as to keep the warmth in, but I suppose that is one and the same.

Setting camp, select sites out of the wind. In a stand of trees, behind big rocks. Avoid low areas and valleys, they become wind tunnels.

Understanding wind chill is important. It can help you in planning and preparing for your next winter adventure.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

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Guide to Safe… Winter camping

The Guide to Safe Scouting Section 13 outlines Winter Camping Safety.
I have posted it here in it’s entirety:

There is magic to camping in winter. It is one of the most advanced and challenging of outdoor adventures. Special considerations for winter camping include the following:
1. Leadership.
In no other camp is the type of leadership as important as in the winter camp. It is vital that a leader be an experienced camper with a strong character.
2. Equipment.
Do not attempt to camp unless completely outfitted. Even if equipment for winter camp is more expensive than for summer camp, Scouts must be adequately clothed, and leaders should ensure that blankets and other equipment are of suitable quality and weight.
3. Physical Condition.
A physician’s certificate as to physical ability must be obtained by each Scout before preliminary training begins.

Tips for your next winter camping trip:
1. Use the buddy system for winter outings. Buddies can check each other for frostbite, make sure no one becomes lost, and boost the morale of the entire group.
2. Plan to cover no more than five miles per day on a winter trek on snowshoes. An experienced group can cover 10 to 12 miles on cross-country skis.
3. Always allow ample time to make camp in winter, especially if you plan to build snow shelters.
4. Fatigue encourages accidents. Rest occasionally when building a snow shelter; taking part in cross-country skiing or snowshoeing; or participating in other active winter sports. Periodic rests also help avoid overheating.
5. Pulling a load over the snow on a sled or toboggan is generally easier than carrying it in a backpack.
6. Snow is a terrific insulator. Snow shelters are much warmer than tents because they retain heat and keep out the cold wind. If you have adequate time for building snow shelters, you will spend a much more comfortable night sleeping in them than in a tent.
7. Snow is the greatest thief in winter, swallowing up small dropped items. Tie or tape a piece of brightly colored cord to small items so they can be seen in snow. Some items, such as mittens, can be tied to larger items, such as a parka, to prevent them from being dropped and lost.
8. Melting snow in a pot to get water may cause the pot to burn through or may scorch the snow, giving the water a disagreeable taste. Prevent this by adding a cup or two of water in the bottom of the pot before putting in the snow to melt.
9. Punch a hole in the top of your ice chisel and string a stout cord through it. Before trying to chisel a hole in ice, anchor the cord to something large or too heavy to be pulled through the hole so you will not lose your chisel in freezing water when the ice is penetrated.
10. Always test the thickness of ice before venturing any distance from the shore. Ice should be at least 3 inches thick for a small group; 4 inches of ice is safe for a crowd. Since ice thickness can vary considerably, it is best to stay near the shoreline of large lakes.
11. Use alkaline batteries in flashlights. Standard batteries deteriorate quickly in cold weather. Tape the switch of your flashlight in the “off” position until you are ready to use it. This will prevent it from being turned on accidentally while in your pack or on your sled.
12. Encourage everyone in your group to wear brightly colored outer clothing so that each person will be more visible, especially during severe weather.
13. Small liquid-fuel stoves are much better for cooking in winter than fires, which are difficult to build with wet wood. Gathering wood that is frozen to the ground also can be difficult, if not impossible. A pressure/pump-type stove is essential in winter.
14. Always use a funnel to refuel a stove so you won’t frostbite your fingers by accidentally pouring fuel on them. Fuel evaporates at a high rate of speed and quickly removes heat from anything it touches.
15. Place a stove or fire on a platform of logs or rocks so it will not melt through the snow.
16. Never light or use a stove inside a tent or snow shelter. A tent may catch fire, and vapors in a snow shelter may lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. Neither of these potential mishaps is worth the risk.
17. A windscreen is essential for using a stove in the winter. Even a slight breeze will direct the heat away from its intended mark.
References: Okpik: Cold Weather Camping, Boy Scout Handbook, Scoutmaster Handbook, and Camping Sparklers

Those 17 tips for your winter camping experience are pretty basic and are of value to the average winter camper. You can refine that list and certainly add to it. As it reads in the Guide to Safe Scouting it is important to note that this list demonstrates common sense and basic skills. As stated at the outset.. there are three musts for winter camping with Scouts.
First is leadership. Leadership at both the youth and adult levels. Competent leaders that are skilled in camping in the winter. Just because you are a good camper when the weather is great does not mean you have the knowledge, skills, and most important the mind set to camp in the winter. Winter Camping can be very dangerous when not taken seriously. It can be the time of your life when done properly.
Equipment. I talk a lot about gear here at the Scoutmaster minute… and for those Scouts that are in my Troop, you know that I am a gear junky. The right gear for the right occasion is a good rule. Check out your gear, if you are not sure. Ask.
And finally, Physical conditioning. The cold will take you down if you are not ready for it. Backpacking or just camping in the winter is a whole different experience on your body. The cold can really wear it down. Along with physical conditioning it is important to maintain healthy mental fitness in the cold. Having the right attitude is key to surviving and using skills in the cold weather camping environment.

Get out there and Camp in the Cold. But use the G2SS, its a good place to start, but learn all you can before going out there. You will regret it if you do not go prepared.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

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