Month: January 2009

Backpacking tip of the week

This weeks tip is about hydration.
Hydrating your body is important…no matter what time of the year. To coin the phrase from Camel Back… “Hydrate or Die”!

I have morphed in my methods for hydration over the years. From a canteen when I was kid to Camel Backs and Nalgene water bottles to what I am using the Platypus hydration system.

The Platypus offers versatile ways to stay hydrated, collect water, store your water, and transport it.
My MSR Sweetwater filter works with the Platypus which makes pumping and filtering water real simple on the trail. You don’t have to worry about “Dirty bags” or transferring your water.. from the source, to the container (Bladder) and you are ready.
The Platypus has a mouth that is big enough to pour and drink directly out of, and with the cap and thread system that comes with it, attachments are easy to connect and work with.
I use the 2 liter bladders. I have a drink tube kit which allows me to move it from one bladder to another. Like I said before, the MSR Sweetwater filter has an adapter that screws directly to the bladder.
Push/Pull caps really make the Platypus a great system and makes for easy in camp use.
The Platypus is tough and durable, I have never had an issue with leaking or bursting.

When the Platypus bladder is empty it is light and rolls up small.. a pleasure to have in your pack.

I don’t get paid by Cascade Designs or Platypus, but I have three bladders in my pack and I love ’em.

Read More about the Importance of staying Hydrated.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

HDTV … a sore subject

Yesterday I posted about a caller to a local talk show talking about HDTV conversion.
You have responded… some in the comments section, but many of you have made the choice to email me directly.. thanks, I really appreciate it as it is a great discussion.
I am going to share one of those emails with you, but first let me give you my take on this whole HDTV situation.
I own a HDTV, but really don’t have a dog in the fight. I couldn’t really care any less about the issue. Your local TV stations say that it is the government that is forcing the issue. You all know that the air waves of TV are owned by the government (READ… US). The broadcast networks are pushing this issue because of the money. It is too expensive to broadcast in both analog and digital. So it comes down to technology and the dollar. That is all.

So here is the email I promised you. Like I said, I appreciate it… keep them coming.

I’m perplexed also so I’ll put it in scouting terms. Let’s say that BSA decides that as of the 100 anniversary of scouting in America, the old uniform can no longer be worn. After all, the new style uniforms are made of better material and a better design. Everyone would benefit from wearing the new uniform. After all, a full uniform is only what $50, $60, $70?
If you don’t like it, you don’t have to be in scouts any longer. No one will force you to spend the money, you just can’t participate.
The point is that the switch to digital TV is a mandate, not a choice. Instead of broadcasting in both analog and digital and slowly switching over over a number of years, there is a hard cut over. TV Stations in Houston TX only started broadcasting in digital about a year ago.
What is the life of a TV 10, 15 years?
How many TV’s are ending up in the land fill?
I don’t agree with your post (or the switch to digital).

So was my response to this reader:

It’s your right to disagree…
2 things.
First… no where in any BSA rules, policies, or regulations is a uniform REQUIRED. It is a method, but NO Scout is denied access to Scouting due to lack of uniform.
Second…Try to buy an 8 track tape? Did you know that the last manufacture of VHS tapes left the factory 2 days ago.. there will be no more… Switch to DVD or you get nothing.
Mandate.. yes.. it is too expensive for broadcast networks to have both analog and HD… so we switch because they switch…or you don’t watch TV. Our government has “Given you an opportunity” with the coupons for the box, if you fail to take advantage of it… that’s your CHOICE.
Thanks for the comment, but it will still come down to a choice… You don’t have to have TV to live, in fact you could probably do well without it. You don’t have to have a uniform to be a Scout.
So it’s all about choices. Cost of a uniform is no excuse… my son purchased his NEW Centennial uniform from money in HIS Scout account which he earned by collecting cans, shoveling snow, mowing lawns, and baby sitting. A Scout is Thrifty. He has made choices to pay his way (with the help of mom and dad).
The point of the post is that excuses and complaining get you no where. You make a choice to take action either way.
Agree or disagree, it is you that will decide what you are going to do about it.
Thanks again.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

HD TV and the Choices we make

Today I was listening to one of my favorite talk radio shows, I could not believe my…. ears… as the topic shifted from floods and politics to HDTV conversion.
As you know, come February your TV is supposed to look better as it will be High Definition… not really the point here.
A caller was upset that he was being “Forced” to buy a converter box or a new TV. The host of the show was dumbfounded in the attitude of the caller in his insistence that “the Man” was forcing him into something he did not need…not want.
As I listened I too became perplexed at this callers attitude. I could not believe that he really had that mind set. I mean… Does he still use an 8 track player? Beta Movies? Atari?
Times and technology changes and with that change we either change or…. Not. But no one forces this change on us.
The caller is not “forced”to watch TV. He is not “Forced” to buy a new one.
He is not “Forced” to listen to music on CD’s or an Ipod… He can use his 8 Track player until it no longer plays… or he gets tired of scratchy Lynard Skynard tunes. No one forces him to do anything.
And then I thought, geez we just had this conversation with some of the Scouts in our Troop. You see, a young Scout and I had a chat the other night about some up coming Troop activities. Next weekend the Troop is hitting the mountain for some high adventure cold weather camping. This Scout in question stated that he did not want to camp in the snow. I told him that he did not have to go if he did not want to. He looked at me expecting me to beg him to go. That was not going to happen, as much the caller to the Radio show was not going to be begged into buying a new TV or a CD Player. We do not force our Scouts to do anything, they can come and go as they please, we expect things of them if they choose to participate, but the choice is theirs to make.
Do I buy a new TV for a better picture? Do I trade my 8 track collection for better sounding CD’s? Do I go on the 50 miler for a great backpacking experience or take advantage of a fantastic summer camp program? Do I get involved with my Troop and learn about leadership and service or do I just stand against the wall of change and let the world pass them buy? All choices, and choices that we allow them to make.

Nothing is forced in Scouting. If a boy wants to set goals and become an Eagle Scout, go on 50 milers, learn about astronomy, become a leader, we provide the opportunity. That’s all.. just opportunities.
So the caller has a choice to make, a new TV or converter box. Or stay with the old and not take advantage of the world that is happening now. Just like in Scouting. Make a choice, but live with the choice you make.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Scouts in Harlem

I was recently emailed by Justin Szlasa, he is envolved with a new movie about a Boy Scout Troop in Harlem.
I promised him I would help him promote the film using my blog, and then I saw a great article on the film from my friends at

So rather than duplicate the efforts…
Check out and read the article.. You can watch the trailer to the movie there also.

You can also get more information about the film at

Have a Great Scouting Day!

A Scout is Thrifty

Last night at our troop meeting I had a Scout approach me and announce that “My Family is Poor”. And that was the reason that he did not participate in many activities.
Well, to begin, we do not charge extra for activities, all activities are paid through dues (which he is paid up for). But it struck me as odd that the announcement was made.
My response… Well son, I seem to have heard that a Scout is thrifty. So what are YOU doing about it?
Yes, I put the situation for paying for Scouting right in his lap… not Mom and Dad’s bank account.
Are you collecting cans, shoveling snow, mowing lawns, do odd jobs for neighbors? NO, NO, NO.
Did you sell popcorn, candy, and Christmas wreaths? NO, NO, NO.
Then what are you doing to be thrifty?
When I was a Scout, our Scoutmaster told us that part of being Thrifty was that a Scout paid his own way. I walked dogs, mowed lawns, and baby sat to pay my way through Scouting. I am sure that my parents wrote many checks also, but the point was, I worked to make a contribution.
While I truly believe that money will never be a reason for a boy not to participate in Scouting activities, all they have to do is want to be there, I do believe that the value of being Thrifty is one that can last their life times, setting them up for financial wellness in the future.
This Scout looked at me with surprise. I must have been the first one to ever insist that he work for what he gets.

There is no reason a boy has to do without Scouting, especially money. But paying your own way goes a long way in life, and a Scout is Thrifty. He sets a goal, makes a plan, works his plan, and reaps the benefits of the hard work he put into making it real.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

High Adventure

Recently there has been some discussion in the Boy Scouts of America community site regarding “High Adventure”.
And the question came up as to what the definition of “High Adventure” was or is??

According To page 145 of the Scoutmaster Handbook High Adventure includes activities such as:
Backpacking, Canoe Camping, Caving, Cycling, Discovering Adventure, Fishing, Freestyle Biking, Frontiersman, Mechanics, Orienteering, Rock Climbing and Rappelling, Snow Camping, Survival, and Whitewater Canoeing.

As I reviewed that list, I thought to myself.. well most of these are not really what I would consider “High Adventure”.. I mean, we do most of this over the course of a normal year anyway.

The discussion revolves around new physical standards for High Adventure activities. New requirements to be a certain weight if you are a certain height, restrictions if you have certain ailments such as asthma.
I have to agree with the BSA on limiting some of these activities if one is not “Physically fit” or unable to perform tasks without medical aid. After All, we do not want to jeopardize anyone’s health and maybe put them at higher risk. On the other hand, there are Scouts and Scouters out there that can perform High Adventure activities with ease and still fall into one or more categories of “Risk”.
I think the answer is simple. A trained medical professional, person physician, needs to clear you. You need to have an annual physical or biannual physical that states that you are fit enough to perform High Adventure activities.
The intent of the BSA is not to exclude anyone from activity, rather it is trying not to put anyone further at risk of seriously hurting themselves due to a pre existing medical condition.

High Adventure activities as defined can be limiting, I would suggest that units look at them with some discretion. Use common sense, and not limit anyone.
Our Troop backpacks… everyone participates, we may have a slow group and a fast group. We may have a group that goes farther, we may have Scouts that meet us at the camp site with a support vehicle, but no one is ever discouraged from participating.
We like to Rock Climb and Rappel, no one is excluded, they participate at the level they are comfortable with.
Does this mean we are not going to do High Adventure? OOOOOOHHH Noooo…
High Adventure is what keeps our boys coming back. We are Boy Scouts and are looking for adventure… it make life fun and challenging. Even Scouts with physical ailments enjoy the challenge, they love to feel success after hiking 26 miles, knowing that they can do it, even though they have asthma.

So look at the list, take the appropriate risk reduction measures and get out there and do High Adventure Activities!

Have a Great Scouting Day!