Month: May 2009

Eatin’ Good Out in the Woods

As you know, or may not know… much of our camping experiences seem to hover around when the next meal is.  

We set camp… have a Cracker Barrel.
We wake up… Breakfast.
We do an activity until… lunch.
We resume activity until it’s time to prepare dinner.
And then we clean up the mess so we can get ready for dessert.
Planning and preparation of meals, especially while backpacking requires thought and a little work.  But the pay off is easy to prepare, light weight, easy to clean up meals that keep you on the trail and having fun.
Recently one of the Assistant Scoutmasters in our troop prepared a sample weekend meal plan to help teach the newer Scouts, refresh the memories of older Scouts and keep them all within their budgets.
Take a look at this, it may be something you want to try with your unit.  This meal plan is for buddy teams, but can be modified to meet the needs of bigger groups.
Oatmeal 4 pks. $0.60
Soup mix 1 cup $1.14
Tortellini 1/2 lb $2.17
Salmon 1 pouch $1.83
Noodles 1 pouch $0.98
Oatmeal 4 pks. $0.60
Drink mix 4 pks. $0.49
Trail mix 1 lb. $1.95
Total cost $9.76

Menu #2
Eggs 6 $0.56
Sausage 1/2 stick $2.49
Triscuits 1 box $1.78
Summer Sausage 1/2 stick $2.49
Chicken 1 can $1.44
Noodles 1 pouch $0.85
Oatmeal 4 pks. $0.60
Drink Mix 4 pks. $0.49
Granola Bars 8 bars $1.78
Total Cost $12.48
At $6.00 a head, which is what our Scouts budget per camp out, these two menus stay within the framework of the budget, planning considerations, weight, nutrition, and taste.
Both of these menus break down and fit in a single 1 gallon zip lock bag.  That same zip lock bag becomes your trash bag for the weekend.
I think it is worth a try.  Our Scouts use this model.. substituting items and staying within the guide.  Both of these menus recently were used by patrols in our Troop at Camporee.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

It sells itself

Last night I was asked to speak at a local Cub Scout Packs meeting/ recruiting event.  It was fun to go hang out with the Cub Scouts a bit, but even more fun to see the young faces of Scouting’s future.

The Cubmaster asked me to talk in general terms about the Scouting program and why a young boy’s parents should sign him up.
I thought I would share a few of the ideas I talked about tonight with you.
First and foremost is the Values and Ideals that Scouting develops in young men.  We need to start there and remember that this is a game with a purpose.  The beauty of Scouting is that from age 7 all the way to 21… and beyond, the development of these ideals and values are important and relevant.  Furthermore they are age appropriate in the approach to teaching and guiding the values as the Scouts moves from Tiger Cub to Boy Scout.  The Scout Oath and Law become lasting guides that keep the young man on a path that once a he attains the rank of Eagle he should have a solid foundation from which his life can take off to new and exciting adventures.
Second, Personal growth.  As parents we get to see our sons grow daily, but when you step back and remove yourself from “His element” and look in, you see a different boy.
I shared a story about my two sons and their Scouting careers (which are far from over).  Watching these two young men grow and develop at home is a different view than what I see as their Scoutmaster.  When we camp I am rarely with them, but have opportunities to see them in action.  I have seen a shy kid become an avid outdoorsman and great teacher of skills.  I have seen an impatient young man sit with struggling scouts helping them learn knots.  I have seen both of them lead from the front and encourage from within.  The personal growth that Scouting allows the boys to discover is priceless.
And finally, Adventure.  When I was a young boy growing up in a Scouting family I was constantly on a quest for the next adventure.  I would say that I was a cross between Tom Sawyer and the Hardy Boys.  Forever looking for adventure and the thrill of seeing something new, discovering the unknown and of course staying as dirty as I could be.
Scouting offered me adventure in the context of a guided program, working at my pace and skill level, encouraging me to always do my best and then push a little harder.
I was in a troop that did most of its camping in wilderness areas with packs on our backs.  This opened up trails of adventure that has led me more and more adventures that have kept me looking for more.  From Tom Sawyer and the Hardy Boys as a youth to Indiana Jones as an adult, the adventures of my life I owe in great part to Scouting.
You know, when you talk about bang for your buck Scouting is priceless.  I am glad that I had the opportunity to share some thoughts on Scouting with the Pack, it will be interesting to see those young men grow and develop and see them live their adventures in Scouting.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

What’s in a name?

A couple weeks ago while at Camporee a group of Scout leaders and I had a discussion regarding discipline in their units.  I had mentioned that our three goals for Camporee this year were to 1. Have Fun, 2.  Drink lots of water, and 3.  Be Disciplined.

So the discussion lead to how we maintain discipline within our units.  Each and every unit does this a little different, some to my dismay, have no discipline policy or structure.
The subject of names and how they effect discipline came up, one school of thought is that youth should address adult leaders as Mr. or Mrs. Soinso..  The other school argues that being on a first name basis is the way to go.
I am of the latter.
While I agree that there is a certain sense of respect or at least formality, a clear division of age groups and roles in adopting a policy of “Mr. and Mrs.”  I also conclude that there can be respect and discipline with out being so formal.  I have seen it both ways.  
It comes down to what culture of discipline exists within the unit and how you get it there.
Respect is taught to young men by seeing respect.  If you expect to get respect and discipline then you should demonstrate those behaviors as a leader.
The classic “Do as I say and not as I do” philosophy is not good enough when you want real discipline and respect.  A Scout that fears you does not necessarily respect you.  I can assure you that a Scout that does not see disciplined action from his adult leaders will not be disciplined himself.  A Scout that consistently sees the “Do as I say” example will develop resentment and will not demonstrate discipline over all.
On the other hand, a Scout that consistently is fed with mutual respect and sees discipline in his adult leaders will emulate those behaviors.
So what’s in a name?
In my unit we call one another by our first names.  I am Jerry.  I call the Scouts by their first names and they address me with mine.  We, the boys and I, have mutual respect for one another.  They know that I respect them and they in turn respect me.
This leads to discipline.  I ask and receive from the Scouts a behavior that is disciplined.
I do not ask for military like, straight backed, white glove discipline.  I ask that the Scouts simply respect one another.  In doing so, they will act in a disciplined fashion.  They will not lie, cheat or steal.  They will not harass or embarrass their troop mates.  They will not act out in violence or hurt one another.  They will not interrupt or act inappropriately because they know that it reflects on one another and that leads to discipline.
So what’s in a name?
Mutual respect.
And that leads to discipline.
I am a firm believer that boys are boys.  12 year old boys need to be allowed to act like 12 year olds. Discipline is a concept that is better left to a simple philosophy, a short list of rules, and in our case guided by the Scout oath and law.  An understanding that when we do to each other as we would have done to us as individuals.  That is something we all understand.
When I ask of my troop to be disciplined.  That is all I ask.  And it works.
So what’s in a name?
Not much.. it is who we are, it is how we act, and it is what we are called.  And when I respect you for who you are, how you act, and the name which you have been given, I establish a comfortable environment in which we can respect one another and act in a disciplined fashion.
Lack of discipline comes with the consequence of a lack of respect.  And we all like to be respected.
So what’s in a name?
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Memorial Day 2009

Today is Memorial Day!

On this Memorial day I would like to share with you a speech.   This speech was delivered by MG (Ret) Robert H. Scales at Gettysburg on Memorial Day 2007.
I present this to you as one of the people he is speaking to and of in the speech.
I thank him for not only his service, but encapsulating the essence of our service.
Gettysburg Speech
Memorial Day, 2007
MG (Ret) Robert H Scales

Mr. Kuhn, friends of Gettysburg and most importantly fellow veterans. What a great thrill it is to return to Gettysburg. I’ve come to this place hundreds of times. I’ve walked this ground when it was covered with snow, in the heat of summer, in a pouring rain storm while leading a staff ride with the leadership of the Chinese Army a few years ago.
Coming here never gets old. It never becomes tiresome. It never fails to excite a passion or raise my spirit. To those who have never seen war surely emotions like these seem strange indeed. Some of our citizens who hear old soldiers like me talk about a love for a battlefield conclude that we love war. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
Part of my love for this place is personal. A distant relative, Colonel Alfred M. Scales, was seriously wounded leading Scales North Carolina Brigade up Seminary Ridge on the first day of the battle.

Another reason I venerate this place is because it is a soldier’s laboratory and a place to learn the art of war. We soldiers practice our profession only infrequently so we rely on past battles to teach us about the future. Even though Gettysburg was fought using weapons that seem primitive to young soldiers the lessons it teaches about leadership and courage and intellect are immutable. We are learning again in Iraq and Afghanistan that war is not a test of technology it is a test of the collective will and talents of soldiers and the nature and character of that test will never change.

Another reason why this place attracts me is because all of what you see around you is so close to home. This was America’s war from both sides, fought on ground that is so familiar and recognizable. It was the first war fought in which most soldiers were literate and, thanks to the recent invention of photography, so recognizable. When you go to the visitors center look into the eyes of the young soldiers staring at you from across the century and you’ll see a reflection of yourselves.

But I’m drawn here mainly to relive and revive in my own soul the unique influences that brought young soldiers here to fight and die a century and a half ago. Again and again, it’s the same old question from politicians and media who have the rare privilege of watching soldiers in action in Iraq and Afghanistan: why is their morale so high? Don’t they know the American people are fed up with this war? Don’t they know it’s going badly? Often they come to me incredulous about what they perceive as a misspent sense of patriotism and loyalty.

I tell them time and again what every one of you sitting here today, those of you who have seen the face of death in war, understand:  it’s not really about loyalty. It’s not about a belief in some abstract notion concerning war aims or national strategy. It’s not even about winning or losing. On that fateful evening on the last day of June 1863 soldiers weren’t sitting around campfires in Cashtown or Emmittsburg roasting coffee and frying bacon to discuss the latest pronouncements from Lincoln or Jefferson Davis. They might have trusted their leaders or maybe they didn’t. They might have been well informed and passionate about their cause or maybe not. They might have joined the colors to end slavery or restore the Union or maybe they just were shanghaied on the docks in Brooklyn or Manhattan.
Before battle young soldiers then and now think about their buddies. They talk about families, wives and girlfriends and relate to each other through very personal confessions. The armies that met at Gettysburg were not from the social elite. They didn’t have Harvard degrees or the pedigree of political bluebloods. They were in large measure immigrant Irish or German kids from northern farms and factories or poor scratch farmers from the piedmont of Virginia, Georgia, Texas and North Carolina. Just as in Iraq today soldiers then came from every corner of our country to meet in harsh an forbidding places in far corners of the world, places that I’ve seen and visited but can never explain adequately to those who have never been there.

Soldiers suffer, fight and occasionally die for each other. It’s as simple as that. What brought Longstreet’s or Hancock’s men to face the canister on Little Round Top or rifled musket fire on Cemetery Ridge was no different than the motive force that compels young soldiers today to kick open a door in Ramadi with the expectation that what lies on the other side is either an innocent huddling with a child in her arms or a fanatic insurgent yearning to buy his ticket to eternity by killing the infidel. No difference.

A civil war soldier was often lured from the slums of New York or Philadelphia and coerced into the Army by promise of a 300 dollar bonus and 25 dollars a month. Patriotism and a paycheck may get a soldier into the Army but fear of letting his buddies down gets a soldier to do something that might just as well get him killed.

What makes a person successful in America today is a far cry from what would have made him a success in the minds of those who we honor here today. Big bucks gained in law or real estate, or big deals closed in the stock market make some of our countrymen rich. But as they grow older they realize that they have no buddies. There is no one who they are willing to die for or who is willing to die for them.

A last point of history before I close today. The Anglo Saxon heritage of buddy loyalty has been long and frightfully won. Almost six hundred years ago the English king, Henry V, waited on a cold and muddy battlefield to face a French army many times his size. Shakespeare captured the ethos of that moment in his play Henry V. To be sure Shakespeare wasn’t there but he was there in spirit because he understood the emotions that gripped and the bonds that brought together both king and soldier. Henry didn’t talk about national strategy. He didn’t try to justify faulty intelligence or ill formed command decisions that put his soldiers at such a terrible disadvantage. Instead, he talked about what made English soldiers fight and what in all probably would allow them to prevail the next day against terrible odds. Remember this is a monarch talking to his men:

This story shall the good man teach his son; From this day ending to the ending of the world, But we in it shall be remembered; We few, we happy few, we band of brothers; For he today that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother; And gentlemen in England (or America) now a-bed Shall think themselves accursed they were not here, And hold their manhood’s cheap whiles any speaks That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.

You all here assembled inherit the spirit of St Crispin’s day. You know and understand the strength of comfort that those whom you protect, those in America now abed, will never know. You will live a life of self awareness and personal satisfaction that those who watched you from afar in this country who hold their manhood cheap can only envy.

I don’t care that virtually all of America is at the Mall rather than at this memorial today. It doesn’t bother me that war is an image that America would rather ignore. It’s enough for me to have the privilege to be among you. It’s sufficient to talk to each of you about things we have seen and kinships we have shared in the tough and heartless crucible of war.

Some day we will all join those who are resting here. Over a campfire of boiling coffee and frying bacon you will join with your Civil War band of brothers to recount the experience of serving something greater than yourselves. I believe in my very soul that the almightily reserves a corner of heaven, probably around an inextinguishable campfire where some day we can meet and embrace, all of the band of brothers throughout the ages to tell our stories while envious standers-by watch and wonder how horrific and incendiary the crucible of violence must have been to bring such a disparate assemblage so close to the hand of God.

Until we meet there thank you for your service, thank you for your sacrifice, God bless you all and God bless this great nation

Have a Great Scouting Day!
Happy Memorial Day- 2009

A short Video to say thanks

Tomorrow is Memorial Day.

A day to say Thanks to all of those men and women that selflessly serve our Nation.
Thursday evening the Scouts of Troop 664 joined the rest of the Thunderbird District at Willamette National Cemetery to participate in the Flag placement Ceremony and then place an small American Flag on the markers.  At nights end 137,013 Flags were placed with reverence and care to honor those that have served.
Here is a Short video to say thank you to all that serve and have served.
Pictures in this video are from the Troop placing the Flags at Willamette.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

To be so Honored

In my life time, I have had the opportunity to be honored for many achievements.  Not tooting my horn, but it is fair to say that in 21 years in the Army and many years a Scouter, accolades and recognition comes your way.  I have been honored by our Nation through the Army, I have been honored by civic organizations, I have been honored by the Boy Scouts on many levels, but never have I been so Honored as I was last night.

Last night I was Honored to stand up for a young man that made a big choice in his life.  He chose God last night.  He chose to be a person of Christ and to live a life that is filled with virtue and the understanding that what he does to the least of his brothers he will have done to Christ.  I was Honored to be the Sponsor of one of the Scouts in my Troop as he was Confirmed in the Catholic Church.

After the Confirmation, a small reception was held at his home.  Gifts were given as we celebrated a great day in the life of this young man.  Before the end of the evening, he gave me a gift that I will cherish.  He did not have to do this, and I am certainly humbled.  Not only to be the person he choose to be his sponsor, but that he cared enough to recognize me with this gift.
It is a simple framed passage from Ephesians most of us are familiar with regarding the Armor of God.

“Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.

And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints….”  Ephesians 6:10-18

We talk about a Scout being Reverent, but we also talk about a Scout being Brave.  Putting on the Armor of God requires all of the Scout Law to withstand the evils that are around us.

I am so honored to be a part of Parker putting on the Armor last night and making that choice.  I am so honored to be chosen to be his stand up… his sponsor.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Pride and Community

Ok… so based on the title.. where is he going with this?  Pride in the Community?  Pride for ones Community?  Proud to be a part of the Community?

None of the above.  Or all of the above.
This week is a proud week for me, there are a lot of events and gathering that foster a great deal of pride in people of our community.  Namely, some of the kids.
I’ll start with this weekends Camporee.
Because our district is made up of predominately young men (and women) of the greater Gresham, Troutdale and Eastern Portland area, I have had the opportunity, especially through the Order of the Arrow to get to know many of them.
The vast majority of the youngsters in the district go to one of two High schools.  Reynolds High School or Gresham High School.  My children go to Reynolds, and so I get to see many of the Scouts from our district at High School events.  And so it comes full circle when they see me out at Camporee or OA events.
This weekends Camporee was a lot of fun.  And as always, I ran into the many young people that I know from our community.  As you may have figured out in the 400 plus posts, I’m not the shyest fellow and have a passion for seeing young people become successful.  Watching the Scouts this weekend, not only from my Troop, but from the many Troops that make up our community, achieve success was fun and gave me a great sense of pride in the them.
Last night I participated in a rehearsal for one of the Scouts in my Troop.  He is being Confirmed in the Catholic Church on Wednesday.  Some time ago he asked me to be his sponsor.  I am honored.  I have a great deal of pride in him and the choices he is making in his life.  Choices not only to stay with Scouting, but choices to gain a deeper relationship with our Lord.  Choices to do the right thing and put other people first.  I was humbled when he asked me to be his sponsor.  Of all the people, friends, family, other members of the Church, he asked me.  I am proud of him.
Tonight I went to the High School to listen to some fantastic musicians.  The High School Symphony, Concert Band, Orchestra, and ensembles put on a heck of a show tonight to present friends, family, and the community their talents and to present to the community the awards they earned as musicians this year.  And they were many.   As we gathered and sat in the concert hall at the High School, friends chatted and we celebrated the achievements of these good young people.  Many Scouts from the community were there, either in the band or watching a brother or sister play.  We exchanged hand shakes and pleasantry’s and I was introduced to parents.. one kid even introduced me as “He’s the cool Scoutmaster from 664” to his mother.
The concert was second to none.  I enjoyed every second of it.  I am proud of all of those talented young men and women, especially a certain young lady that plays the clarinet.   Tonight was her night and she took center stage in Dad’s eyes.
This Thursday our Troop will participate along with all of the other Troops, Packs, and Crews in our District in the Flag Placement ceremony.  Our District will place American Flags on every head stone, grave marker and memorial at the Willamette National Cemetery in Portland.  This will be 41st year our District has done this.  This simple act makes me proud.  To watch the Scouts of our community pay respect and honor those that have served gives me a great sense of pride and rightly so.  This single event teaches Scouts about citizenship, honor, selfless service and sacrifice, and duty.  It teaches them about character and determination and that there are greater things in this world.  It makes me proud to be apart of.
So pride and Community…  Yeah I am both Proud and a part of the community, a community made up of many great outstanding young men and women.  They should be proud also.
Have a Great Scouting Day!