Monthly Archives: January 2009

My 30th podcast is available for download. I had a real great time with this. I chatted with a fellow backpacker from the Denver area. His name is Jason Klass.
We talked about Light weight backpacking. Jason has a fantastic blog called Gear Talk where he reviews gear and gives tips about light weight backpacking.
Jason joined me on the Scoutmaster minute to talk about gear and light weight backpacking.

Some links from the show:

Listen or Download here

The Scoutmaster Minute is Hosted by

Have a Great Scouting Day!
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What ever happened…

When I was a Scout singing was a big part of our meetings, camp outs, and of course camp fires.
I have noticed lately that Scouts don’t really like to sing that much. Why is that? What ever happened to singing? I love it, and as corny as it seems, singing is such a big part of Scouting we need to reintroduce the idea and get our Scouts singing.

This summer at camp I went to the Scoutmaster Breakfast. After breakfast the camp director got up and told us that there was a camp tradition that has been around for ever, after breakfast they sing. And we all stood and sang. It was fantastic!! It brought me back to my youth as a Scout.

Traditional Scouting songs and songs of Americana. Can only help raise our young men to be better citizens and folks that enjoy a song and not are afraid to belt out a tune now and then.
I love to hang out with Cub Scouts.. they will sing at the drop of a hat, but it seems that Boy Scouts are too cool to sing.
Lets bring it back!

So here is the song we sang this summer.. a great song to get a meeting going or rally up the Scouts at a camp fire.

I’ve Been workin’ on the railroad.

I’ve been workin’ on the railroad, All the live long day.
I’ve been workin’ on the railroad, Just to pass the time away.
Don’t you hear the whistle blowing?
Rise up so early in the morn.
Don’t you hear the captain shouting
“Dinah, blow your horn?
“Dinah, won’t you blow,
Dinah, won’t you blow,
Dinah, won’t you blow your horn?
Dinah, won’t you blow,
Dinah, won’t you blow,
Dinah, won’t you blow your horn?

Someone’s in the kitchen with Dinah.
Someone’s in the kitchen, I know.
Someone’s in the kitchen with Dinah
Strumming on the old banjo.

Fee, fie, fiddle-e-i-o.Fee, fie,
Fee, fie, fiddle-e-i-o.
Strumming on the old banjo.

Copyrighted, 1936, by Calumet Music Co., Chicago, ILL


Have a Great Scouting Day!

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Friends of Scouting

It is that time of year again when we start thinking about paying our commitment to Scouting forward to the future.
Friends of Scouting is the Council’s annual fundraising campaign. I won’t go into great details, but lets leave it here… 85% of the funds raised through FOS directly impacts the Scouting program.
Summer Camps, Day camps, Staff, and up keep of properties… we get to see, touch, and take advantage of everything our FOS dollar pays for.. Now that is return on the Dollar.
A Scout is Helpful. We all should take that to heart when making our FOS contribution.
A Scout is Thrifty. We all need to remember that when making our FOS contribution in that we all help pay our way in Scouting.
FOS does this and more.

Listen to my latest podcast on Friends of Scouting.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

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Winter time and Leave No Trace

Winter time is no time to forget about leave no trace.
In fact, winter time is a great time to teach and reinforce those Leave no Trace principles with your Scouts.
Winter camping offers a pristine environment where every day there can be new trails, things tend to disappear in the snow, and camping takes on an increased level of skills, routines, and adventures.
Many Scouts and Scouters forget about leave no trace during the winter months, especially when camping in the snow. It seems that “Outta sight..Outta Mind” becomes the rule and that is a habit I would encourage you all to break.

Lets take a minute and apply the principles of Leave no trace to winter camping.

1. Plan and Prepare. As with every camp out we need to plan and prepare for the type of camping, the location and environment, the routes, meals, gear, and methods of hauling trash, reducing impact, and arriving and departing the camping area.
In the winter we need to be very aware of the impact that will be left once the snow melts, the frost leaves the trees, and the temperature warms up.
Cooking plays a major part in this. Cooking, cleaning up, and disposal of food waste is just as important in the winter as it is in the warm months.
When planning meals, remember to reduce trash. Repackage meals at home, precook, and reduce the mess. One pot meals make for the best meals when camping in the winter. They are hot and tasty. They fill you up and there is less mess.
What do you do with left overs or the stuff that is left in the pot? Eat it.. or pack it out. Food that is left in the wilderness can have a serious negative impact. Just like in the summer, we do not want animals eating “people food”. Its not good for them, and they come to expect it, especially in high impact areas or areas where lots of people camp.
This brings up planning for location. Go where others don’t! It’s winter, strap on some snow shoes and get into the woods, away from other people, it will enhance your winter camping experience.

2. Travel and Camp on Durable surfaces. While snow is always a great place to camp that will leave a minimal impact. Just because you are camping on snow does not mean that you can get lazy. You will need to think about the impact around the area you camp. How do you anchor your tent? Are you planning on using the stick anchor method? Where are you going to get the stick? Breaking it from a tree is not a good idea.. and violates LNT principles. Are you planning in tying your guy lines to a tree? That’s ok, but try not to scar it and never use a knife on it.
When traveling, how are you moving? On ski’s? Show shoes? Foot? Think about the trails or the snow covered clearings that you will travel in. You need to plan a good route in the winter. Watch out for covered water, they can be very hazardous.

3. Dispose of Waste Properly. Pack it in, pack it out. Inspect your campsite and rest areas for trash or spilled foods. Pack out all trash, leftover food, and litter.
Deposit solid human waste in cat holes dug 6 to 8 inches deep at least 200 feet from water, camp, and trails. You will need to pack out your TP in the winter. There is just no where for it to go unless you take it with you. Try to use the same area for the group. That way you don’t have little land mines all over the place. Cover and disguise the cat hole when finished.
To wash yourself or your dishes, carry water 200 feet away from streams or lakes and use small amounts of biodegradable soap. Scatter strained dishwater. Dumping it in Tree wells is ok, but spread it out the best you can.

4. Leave What You Find. Fortunately there is not much to find in the snow covered wilderness, but when you do stumble upon something neat. Take a picture of it and leave it there for the next camper.

5. Minimize Campfire Impacts. Campfires can cause lasting impacts to the back country, even in the winter. Use a lightweight stove for cooking and enjoy a candle lantern for light.
Use established fire rings if you can find them or pack in a fire pan.
Keep fires small. Only use sticks from the ground that can be broken by hand.
Burn all wood and coals to ash, put out campfires completely, then scatter cool ashes. Fires are a great psychological tool in winter camping. They warm the spirit and body and allow for more time spent outside of the sleeping bag. The impact is the same though and should be treated that way. Burn your fires to ash. leaving burnt sticks to lay in the snow will eventually be a burnt stick on the ground.

6. Respect Wildlife. Observe wildlife from a distance especially in the winter. That animal might be hungry. Do not follow or approach them.
Never feed animals. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviors, and exposes them to predators and other dangers.
Protect wildlife and your food by storing rations and trash securely. Avoid wildlife during sensitive times: mating, nesting, raising young, or winter.

7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors. One of the joys of winter camping is the fact that it is quiet and that you will see less and less people in the wilderness in the winter. Therefore, Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience. Be courteous. Yield to other users on the trail. especially if they are using a more difficult mode of transport. Snowshoes for example take more space on the trail than Cross Country skiers. give them space to move through. Take breaks and camp away from trails and other visitors.
Let nature’s sounds prevail. Avoid loud voices and noises. You can have fun without being obnoxious. Teach that to your Scouts, its all apart of teaching them to have a greater appreciation for the outdoors.

Leave no Trace is for the whole year, teach your Scouts to use these principles all year round. Being a good steward of our wilderness areas, camping sites, and environment is a part of being a Scout.

Learn more about Leave No Trace by opening up your Scout Handbook to page 244.
Also visit

Have a Great Scouting Day!
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Alive, Alert, Awake, Enthusiastic!!

Saturday was a terrific day of Scouting, let me recap it for you.

The day started with Training. Our District holds “Super Saturday Training” about 3 or 4 times a year, depending on what the Council activities look like.
Super Saturday training allows leaders to get their training done in one day (Expect Scoutmasters and Assistant Scoutmasters). The day starts with New Leader Essentials and moves on to Leader specific training. Cub Scout, Boy Scout, and Venture training is offered. Committee challenge and training for Chartered Organization Representatives take place during this time also.
Youth Protection, Safe Swim Defense and Safety Afloat are also training events offered during the Super Saturday of Training.
I am a trainer for the Scoutmaster/ASM specific training.
We had a great group of men that were Alive, Alert, Awake, and Enthusiastic about becoming Scoutmasters and Assistants. It was the first time since I have been a trainer that the entire group was new to being an Adult leader. There were three Eagle Scouts in the group, but the rest of the Adults were new to Scouting. I was impressed. It gave me a good feeling to know that the program is still attracting adults to leadership in Scouting.

The Training went great and at the end of the session the group divided up and became Patrols, got their menus planned for the overnighter and decided on gear etc. It gave us (the trainers) a great opportunity to present the coaching and mentoring of a Scoutmaster. What I find amazing is that as soon as they became a Patrol…they became 14 years old again.. in a good way..they started to really have fun!

After training, I went to a fundraiser for the Pack that I used to be the Cubmaster of. They held a BINGO night! It was great. They had lots of donated prizes which were fantastic. Nights at resort hotels on the beach, weekend packages in Sunriver, BB Guns, toys, games, lots and lots of great prizes… some for adults.. many for the boys. I even won a new Smoker!! A great time was had by everyone at the event and the Pack did very well raising funds for the Pack program.
The amount they made for the 4 hours of time invested definitely was worth the effort.

The Scouting day ended when I got home and two of my Scouting buddies from Green Bay were online and we chatted for an hour or so. Every time we chat I learn more about Scouting and understand clearer just how great this Scouting organization is.

Another Great Scouting Day.. Have yourself one!

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It’s Friday night…Do you know where your gear is?

Since I am a gear junky and live by the axiom that “If you take care of your gear, it will take care of you”, I am always aware of where my gear is. Particularly when it comes to the Friday nights that we are departing on camp outs.

We have a tool called a shake down, where we inspect and inventory all our gear for a particular camp out. It is pretty effective, but there has to be some level of understanding of the importance of the process in order for it to be truly effective. Scouts that think it is yet another drill or a forced activity will not grasp the importance of the shake down and will not take it serious. Those are the same Scouts that will fail to have certain gear or leave behind something important to themselves or the Patrol.

The shake down for the Scouts and Scouters that understand it’s importance however gain time well spent going through gear, refining packing lists, cross leveling gear, inspecting and repairing or modifying the load. They go into the camp out prepared and have familiarity with their gear. They know where everything is and are able to retrieve gear in the dark and when its cold better than the Scout that is unsure if he brought it and has no idea where it is.

The shake down allows for the Scout or Scouter to know where his gear is. Friday night is not the time to figure it all out.

The Boy Scout Motto is BE PREPARED. The Shake down is a tool for preparedness and should be used each and every time you get ready for the next adventure.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

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Sometimes you stumble on something that is worth sharing.
Well in my never ending stumbling.. I found this gem and need to share it.

by: Charles Swindoll
The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life.
Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill.
It will make or break a company… a church… a home.
The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past… we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude…

I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.

And so it is with you…

We are in charge of our attitudes.

Having a Great Scouting day is an attitude that I try to have everyday. It starts with greeting the day knowing that my attitude is all that I really have 100% control of. There are outside influences that can work on tearing it down, but controlling myself and checking my attitude, one that follows the Scout Oath and Law will win in the end.

Check yours and have a Great Scouting Day!
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A Scout is Brave

Moral excellence comes about as a result of habit. We become just by doing just acts, temperate by doing temperate acts, brave by doing brave acts.” – Aristotle

The Scout law tells us that a Scout is Brave.
So what is Bravery and how are we as Scouts and Scouters Brave?
Well the Scout handbook tells us that; “A Scout can face danger even if he is afraid. He has the courage to stand for what he thinks is right even if others laugh at or threaten him.” The handbook goes on to say; “saving lives is not the only test of bravery. You are brave every time you do what is right in spite of what other might say. You are brave when you speak the truth and when you admit a mistake and apologize for it. And you show courage when you defend the rights of others.”
You don’t need a medal to be brave, you don’t need ribbons and articles in the paper. Bravery comes from deep inside. It is the voice within you that calls you to do the right thing.

Last night at our Troop meeting I held a few Scoutmaster Conferences. In the course of one of those conferences a question came up about “dealing” with certain member of the patrol this Scout was in. I won’t go into details, and I am certainly not saying one Scout is better than the other, but apparently there has been some conflict within the Patrol. Nothing to bad that will cause a melt down, but to your average 12 year old the crisis was seeming to become insurmountable.
He asked how to deal with this. He was unsure how the other Scout would react and he was worried about tearing up the Patrol. I can completely empathize with the Scout and I asked him what he thought about being Brave? He thought it was like going into battle or saving a life. While those are demonstrations of bravery, I told him that he was brave for bringing the issue up to me. I also gave him this advice.
If you are right, then stand up for your position. Right always wins in the end. When people are in the wrong, they always seem to get caught.
Those that do things contrary to the Scout Oath and Law are like lightning rods. Lightening Rods are designed to attract lightning. Sooner or later, they get struck.
Being Brave and standing up for what is right keeps you from being a lightening rod. You are not a target for the lightening strikes of life. And as the lightening showers around you, your bravery will see you through the storm.

A Scout is Brave. Always do what is right.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

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Stop and Continue

Continuing from yesterdays post on the Start, Stop, and Continue process…
Here is the rest of my observations of this weekend… keep in mind this is the readers digest version.”
As a Scoutmaster, I keep a lot of notes on the Troop, always trying to make things better and improve the program that we have. Keeping notes is a critical part of Scoutmastership.

So here is Stop and Continue.

Stop: Those things that we need to stop doing as they contribute nothing to the Troops plan.
Stop: Although our method of camping is that of a Backpacking style… we need to stop getting away from working as a Patrol. Meals, even cooked in “Buddy teams” should be prepared in a group setting. This will eliminate confusion and assist in meal preparation.
Stop: As a Troop we need to focus on getting camp established and spend less time initially goofing off. There was not much of that this camp out, but it always is worth mentioning. Some Patrols did better than others, and like I said there was not much in that regard. But the more focused we stay in camp set up, the more time we will have for fun and games later.

Stop: Making last minute changes. Once a plan is established… go with it. If adjustments need to be made, than make adjustments to the plan. But stick with the plan.The plan was to leave the Winter Lodge by 10:00 AM. This would have given the Troop more time to dig snow caves and focus on the winter skills that were initially on the task list.

Continue. Those things that we need to continue do to make sure we have a sound program that meets the needs of the Scouts, the goals of the camp out and using the methods outlined by the program and the stated goals of the Troop.

Continue: To have fun.

Continue: To have safe camp outs that test skills and push the Scouts to make decisions, practice critical thinking skills, and work as a Patrol.

Continue: Camping in the cold. It sharpens skills and develops confidence in the Scouts.

Last night at the Troop meeting the Patrols went through their Start, Stop, and Continue process. Some of the Scouts and I discussed the out come. We compared notes and the realized that we all learned a lot from this winter camp out.

The Scouts are sharpening skills and each year become better, seasoned campers, especially in the extreme cold.

I can’t tell you how much pride I have in the Scouts of my Troop. It’s why I do this.

Have a Great Scouting Day!
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It’s one of those days

It’s one of those days that you want to remember.

Do you remember the day Ronald Reagan was shot? March 30th, 1981. I was in High School and I remember my teacher beginning to cry.
Do you remember where you were the day of the Shuttle Challenger disaster? January 28th 1986. I was laid up in the hospital at Ft. Greely, Alaska with a broken knee.
Do you remember the falling of the Berlin wall? November 9th, 1989. I vividly can remember watching the news coverage of the wall be ripped apart and joyous Berliners scaling the wall in celebration.
Do you remember where you were and what you were doing on September 11th 2001?
The gut wrenching feeling that I get every time I see those towers falling. I was in Germany on a major training exercise with the Army. The news broke that we had been attacked. I thought to myself we are going to war.
2 years later I was in Baghdad.

There are many moments in our lives that are worth remembering. For whatever reason, Historical, memorable, or those days that are etched in our memories of good and bad times.

Today is one of those days. Good or bad, like of dislike, agree or disagree. Today Barack Obama is the President of the United States of America. The first African American man to hold this office. Freely elected and a participant in a smooth transition of power in the seat of the most visible office in the world.
Today is a day to remember.

We as Americans and people of the world will look on this as an historical day. And one day say, I remember where I was the day the 44th President of the United States entered office.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

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