Monthly Archives: August 2009

Contest Ends today.

Today is the last chance to get your Tip or Recipe in… Act fast!

Tomorrow I will start the final cut and come up with a winner (or two).
A big thanks to all of you that have participated in this contest.  I can tell you that it has been a lot of fun for me… and I have some great backpacking meals lined up for this weekends trip.  Not to leave out the “heavy cookers”… the Dutch oven meals and desserts are also fantastic!!!   My family thanks you!  We do a lot of Dutch oven cooking out on the back deck of the Scoutmaster villa.
Thanks a million!
Have a Great Scouting Day!
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Court of Honor Video

This is the Video that I put together to celebrate a great week at Summer Camp with the Scouts of Troop 664.  We had a great week and the video really shows the fun we had.  Enjoy!
Have a Great Scouting Day!

** This summer camp is at Camp Pigott in the Chief Seattle Council outside of Monroe, WA.
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"He needs Scouting"

There is not a Scoutmaster that I know that has not said those words in conversation.  We all know of a boy that really does need Scouting.  We have them in our Troops, we know them in the neighborhood, we see them in our kids Schools.

Right before summer camp I was informed that we were loosing a Scout from our troop.  Now I won’t go into detail about this boy, but lets just say….”He needs Scouting”.
He is not a bad kid, is not in any trouble, is real smart, and a wonderful kid to be around.   Liked by everyone in the Troop and super enthusiastic.  But he needs Scouting.
Through a series of hard knocks this boy was born into a family that while may have had the very best of intentions, just can not seem to make it.  I am not judging here.. heck I know that we are all a tragedy away from a life we do not choose, be that as it may.. This boy was born into a real rough life.  His mom is doing the best she can, but circumstances just seem to snowball and well you all know how that goes.
This boy was part of a mentoring program and his mentor brought him to Scouting.  A long time Scout dad and Scouter, the mentor thought as most of us do.. this kid could use the structure, the adult male role models, the opportunities and the experiences.  And for about two years this kid embodied the Scouting promise.  He poured himself into camp outs and embraced summer camp like it was his last week on earth.
This kid really needs Scouting.  Once he was home and away from the troop all he had was the hard knock life that awaits him every morning when he wakes up in a small apartment with his brothers and sisters.  He has taken it upon himself to be the male figure of the house and does what he can to help.. but 11 year olds are not and should not be the “Man of the House”.  Scouting taught him life long skills like cooking and cleaning.  Shopping on a budget and first aid.  Things that he will be able to use forever.  He learned to swim, he learned to shoot, he learned to tie knots, he learned responsibility, he learned to be a part of a team.
This kid really needs Scouting and it saddens me deeply that we lost this one.
It has given me a deeper appreciation for what I do as a Scoutmaster.  It has opened my eyes to the importance of what we do as Scout leaders.  I think that too many times we take our roles as Scout leaders for granted.  I know I won’t.. not any more.
We have an award in our troop for the Scout at the end of Summer that best embodied the spirit of Summer Camp.  That one Scout that opened his mind, heart, and spirit to fully experience Camp.  On our last night in camp, the Assistant Scoutmasters and I sat in front of my tent, we talked about this years recipient and concluded that there were a couple Scouts that were deserving, and then our measuring stick presented itself.  This Scout we lost.  He was our first recipient and the reason we came up with the award.  We came up with one super deserving young man and he will be presented the award at our Court of Honor this Sunday.  The other thing we concluded was that from this day forth the award will be presented in the name of the Scout that really needs Scouting.  From now on it will be the Walker Award.  the recipient of the award is presented with a Scouting Memorabilia Box (pictured).  Because Scouting is about the memories.. not the Merit badges.
I wish he did not have to go, and someday, I hope he comes back.  But his memory will live forever in our Troop as a great kid that loved Scouts!
And as a leader, that is what it is all about.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
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So what’s in My Backpack?

NOTE: I am updating this post to reflect some questions/comments that I have received (8-28-09)

What’s in My Backpack. 

Most Backpackers are always tweeking their gear, replacing old stuff with new, looking for lighter, tougher, more useful (multi use) and of course just plain cool gear.

Recently I upgraded some gear, namely my backpack.

After years of carrying my Kelty External Frame Tioga 5500 I have switched to an internal frame pack.  Now, before anyone says I jumped ship on my philosophy of External frame packs being better for younger bodies or beginning Backpackers.. Stop.  I still believe that.  External frame packs offer a much easier platform for the beginner and the young Scout to load and carry.

I have been looking for about a year now and finally fell in love with a pack I could not live without.

Loading it and walking around with it, doing the homework to see what its capabilities are and what I won’t be able to do with it.  Looking at all my gear and how I use it and what I use it for.

A couple things I am not willing to sacrifice some comfort and safety.  So I am willing to carry a little extra to stay comfortable and safe. 

So here is what is in my Pack Now. 

Pack:  Mountain Hard wear Koa 55
Camptrials pack cover
Tent: MSR Hubba
Sleeping Bag: Marmot Sawtooth 15 degree
Bag liner (10 Extra degrees)
Sleeping Pad: Thermarest Z lite
Water pump: MSR Sweetwater

Cook gear:
Stove:  Snow Peak Giga Power
GSI Soloist cook system
Guyot Designs -The Utensils (Spork and Spatula)

Platypus Water Bladders (2 Liters X 2)

Fuel canister

Little Stuff:
Compass- Silva
Light My Fire Fire steel Scout
REI Storm Proof matches
First Aid kit  (personalized)

Trekking Poles: Black Diamond Trail
Snow Shoes: Tubbs Sojourn 25

Gerber Pocket knife (not in pack)

Small role of Toilet paper
Personal kit (toothbrush, toothpaste)

Small Bic lighter

3 Seasons-
Sock liners (1 pair)
Wool Socks (cushion) 2 Pair
Cool max (Under armor) shirt

Long Sleeve sweat wicking shirt

Mountain Hard wear beanie

Marmot light gloves

Fleece Pullover


Columbia Outer Shell

Fleece pullover

Poly Propylene tops and bottoms

Wool socks (3 pair)

sock liners (2 pair)

Mountain Hard wear gaiters- Gaiters I have found to be an essential part of my gear.  I actually wear them in more than just the winter.  I love them when trekking through meadows and in rocky areas as they keep my legs dry and keep little things from getting into my boots.  They work great in the winter keeping snow out of my boots and keeping my laces dry.
Rain gear: Frog Togg Dri Duck top and bottom

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5 Days left

Our first contest is keeping me busy test new tips and of course some good eats.

You only have 5 days left to submit your tip or recipe.  
Trust me when I say that there is NO CLEAR winner yet.. so everyone has a chance.
Get your tips and recipes in sooner than later.
Thanks to all of you that have participated so far… it’s been a lot of fun.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
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Response to a comment

I received a comment on my post about Backpacking Trip planning made easy.  The Reader asked a few questions I would love to answer.

Here is his comment:
Oregon must be a great place for backpacking. Tell us how far you have to go to get to the trail heads around you. And how far is too far away for a weekend camping trek.

I live in the midwest, in a plains state, and have to travel hours to get to even the Ozarks in Arkansas to find more than a 2 mile wilderness trail. Do you go 3 or 4 hours from home base? More than 150 to 200 miles? Do you camp at a park the first night and hit the trail in the morning? Or do you hike a bit at night and camp on the trail? 

Yep Oregon is an amazing place to be a backpacker.  We have a lot of wilderness area and hundreds of miles of trail.  Not to mention the famous Pacific Crest Trail.
In so far as distance and time travel to get to the nearest trail head.  I can be on the Pacific Crest trail in 25 minutes from my front door.  Within a 30 minute drive I can be on any number of trails and fantastic weekend adventures.
Mt. Hood is 45 minutes away, and on it are an endless amount of backpacking opportunities.  In fact my Troop will be backpacking the Historic Barlow Trail over the labor day weekend.  The trail head is 40 minutes from my house.  I live in a suburb of Portland.  From our Troops meeting place (which is 5 miles from my home) we can be backpacking in Central Oregon’s high desert in 2 hours, on a trek at the Oregon Coast in 2 and half hours, and hitting the trail in the Cascades Mountain range in 40 minutes.  So time and distance is not a problem here.
We typically camp at the trail head or a park close by on Friday nights, then hit the trail in the morning.
Thanks for the comments, glad I can answer the questions for you.
Get out and hike…
Have a Great Scouting Day!
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Backpacking trip planning made easy

Planning for a Backpacking trek can be a chore or a pleasure.  Most Scouts shy away from the chore.. SOOOO… here are a few ways to make Trek planning for the Scouts  simple and less “Chore like”.

First and foremost.. the Scouts should be planning their treks.  This develops a good sense of responsibility and above all, a good sense of awareness of the process.
At least once a year it is a good idea to review with your Scouts the elements of Trek Safely.  You can read more about Trek Safely in the Guide to Safe Scouting or other Scouting resources.
Back to planning.
First.  Know where you want to go and get the maps.
Pick a Trek that is acceptable to the ability level of the group.  You may need to have two or three different routes to accomodate ability levels.  Remember Trek Safely and the qualified supervision.  You will have to provide for that on each of the routes.  Do a good map recon of the trail.  Look for acceptable camp site, water resupply, ease of movement (are bridges out etc).  Will you be able to do this trek and practice leave no trace?
Make copies of the map so everyone has one.
Next, Start planning with the group.  Meals are the biggest issue to plan for in most cases.  Plan your meals around the duration and distance of the hike, how much water you need, and the amount of fuel you will need.  Meal planning consumes a lot of time in most troops.  As the Scouts get better at it and know their likes and dislikes, this process will go a lot quicker.  I recommend that the planning is done in no bigger than 3 Scout teams.  You can still excerise the Patrol method this way, but back country camping requires a smaller footprint anyway, getting them used to smaller groups are a great way to stream line planning and increase the fun.
Then communicate the plan to everyone.  EVERYONE needs to know designated drop off points and pick up points.  Planned rest stops on the trail.  Water sources and Camp areas.  Remember if you are treking in Wilderness area, check with your local Rangers.  Most wilderness areas only permit groups of 12 heart beats.  If your group is bigger, you will need to split them up.  Communicate that.  Let everyone know which group is camping where, where they plan of stopping for breaks and water and any other special stops the group is going to make.  Maybe there is a fantastic swimming hole along the way, the whole group needs to know what the plan is.
Communication is the biggest part of the planning process.  Get input from other members of group.  Find out what their needs and wants are before you head out.  Changing the plan on the trail is not a good idea.
File your tour permits and leave a detailed plan of the trek with some one at home.  They too need to know the whole plan.
Hold a Shakedown of all.. and I mean ALL the gear that will be going.  Make a steadfast rule that once it is packed.. it goes.  Younger Scouts tend to “Decide” what is best for them.  While we want to give them opportunities to learn, it is important for young Scouts to learn from mentoring and teaching, they need to take what they are told to take.  There is nothing worse than a new Scout that does not understand the big picture to “Forget something” and end up hurting his mates on the trip.  Something as simple as a pot can make for a long trip for the team if it is left at home.
One thing that we always try to do is plan for our first night to be spent at the trail head.  This gives us a fresh start in the morning.  It is nice to get the drive out of the way and a good night sleep before hitting the trail.
It really is this easy.  Planning considerations will be developed and routines established the more you do it.  Starting this way will get you on the trail and enjoying the best part of backcountry camping.
Fail to plan is a plan to fail.. good planning makes for great treks.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
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Height and Weight

By now most of you have read the most recent issue of Scouting Magazine.   Bob Mazzuca started off the theme of fitness in his “From The CSE” article on page 8.    Then on page 45 there is an article called “Fat Chance”.  In the intro of the article it says, ” People who recite the Boy Scout Oath promise to keep themselves ‘physically strong’.  That goes for adult leaders, too.  It’s time for you and your Scout to get fitter and faster- and avoid missing out on Scouting’s greatest adventures.”

I have talked about height and weight before in this blog and stand behind the BSA’s change in focus to rethink the height and weight requirements and standards of those that participate in Scouting.  Does this mean that I am a “Fat basher” NOOOOOO!  All I am saying is that I have concerns for some folks that choose to push their bodies beyond it’s capabilities.  The BSA is not saying that those that are over weight can not participate either.. the BSA is saying if you do not fit within the guidelines you can not participate “FULLY”.  You can not participate in High adventure activities such as Philmont, National Jamboree, or other High Adventure bases.
But here is the bottom line.  The BSA cares about its Scouts and its Volunteers.  That simple.  It cares enough to say.. we want you to be healthy.. after all, we do make that promise.. Right?
What is wrong with that?  I have heard arguments stating that “Everyone is different”, “Just because I am heavy does not mean I can’t do something.”  And you are absolutely right, but any doctor will tell you that you are putting yourself at a higher risk when you are “Heavier than your body should be.”  It is not an issue of weeding out fat people or pushing people away.  It is an issue of safety and health.
I love that this issue of Scouting Magazine added suggestions to “Fighting the Flab” and on page 66 even gives you some examples of staying fit, particularly for the trail.
As stated in Bob Mazzuca’s column, “…the U.S. Surgeon Generals office reports that today, 12.3 million children are overweight in the United States- more than 17 percent.”  Some one has to step up and say this is not ok.. and so I applaud the Boy Scouts of America for say so.  As a mentor of young men, it is my duty to look and act the part.  Along with the 12 points of the Scout Law that I try my best to live daily, keeping myself physically strong, mental awake, and morally straight are my responsibility.
Not every Scout unit packs up and hits the trail, but it is through the Boy Scout program that take these young men into our care, get them away from TV and video games, and provide them with the opportunities to be fit, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Mazzuca continues; “Scouting can help reverse unhealthy trends by making sure ‘no child is left inside’.  On a weekend outing, a Scout may spend 36 to 48 hours in nature, more than balancing any time spent in front of a screen.  the same outing will help keep a Scout active and physically fit, thereby addressing obesity rates.”
Again, I applaud the BSA for taking this stance.  We all could use to be more fit and healthy.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
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Packing your Tent

I have talked about it before.. but I love to pass on “Expert” advice on backpacking and camping gear.  I always tell the Scouts that if you take care of your gear it will take care of you.  Your tent is more than likely the most expensive or at least in the top three most expensive items you have in your gear collection.  If you take care of it.. it will last a long time.

I carry the MSR Hubba, and have for some time.  It is as good today as the day I purchased it, and has many, many nights under the stars.
Here is an older video on how to pack away your tent, plus some tips on care.  In case you don’t believe what I tell you (speaking to my Scouts)… this is the Editor of Backpacker Magazine.  Enjoy the video.

Have a Great Scouting Day!
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Backpacking gear

We have been talking a lot lately about gear.  I did a couple podcasts on gear and have received lots of great feedback and comments on what is peoples backpacks and what they prefer to use when out on the trail.  Yesterday I took some time and listened to my good buddy Shawn’s latest podcast.  He talked about “gearing up” his new Troop.  He suggested a few things that him and I have talked about at length regarding outfitting a Scout Troop in the “Backpacking style”.  I am finding that many more Troops are going to this style of camping… weather they actually hit the trail or not.. the “Backpacking style” or “light weight” camping offers many more options for both the Scouts and leaders of a Troop.  Without sacrificing any comfort, nutrition, or skills.  The lighter weight style requires the Scouts to have a few more skills and requires the leaders to do a lot more teaching up front.  But once routines are established camping is more enjoyable for the Scouts and the leaders.  

So far as gear.  I am a big believer that you take better care of what you own.  Having Scouts own their gear is a great way to teach responsibility.  It is also a fantastic way to get the Scouts and their parents thinking long term about the their gear purchases.
Starting up a “Light Camping” unit is not hard, but does take a certain degree of knowledge and training.  That is the fun part.  There are a lot of resources out there to help, I would encourage you to take a look at putting away the green Coleman stoves, the cabin tents, and the patrol boxes.  Give packs and trekking poles a try.  Break down the patrols cook boxes and replace them for buddy team cooking and one pot meals.  Backpacking is a wonderful way to teach an appreciation for the outdoors and a great way to show the wilderness to Scouts that may never have another opportunity to see it.
Try it.. you may just like it.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
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