Month: November 2011

LNT v. The Outdoor Code

Last night I sat with a couple Scouts, they just crossed over on Friday and were having their Scoutmaster Conference for their Scout Badge.  I love this first conference, it is a great way to learn about the new Scout and a little about where he comes from.  What amazes me is how open they are in that first conference.  They always have questions and for the most part, they are anxious to get to Eagle.
Last night as one of these young men recited the Outdoor Code, he stopped and asked if he could ask a question.  I said sure… so he asked, “Why do we need the Outdoor Code when you make us know the Leave No Trace stuff?”  I thought for a minute and told him that I would have to get back to him with a good answer.
I wanted to give him the pat answer of how the Outdoor Code is in the book and is a requirement, but then I thought that Leave No Trace is also in the book and a Second Class Requirement.  So that one doesn’t work.  So I was thinking, why do we need both.
Lets review.
The Outdoor Code:
As an American, I will do my best to –
Be clean in my outdoor manners.
Be careful with fire.
Be considerate in the outdoors.
Be conservation minded.
Leave No Trace Principles
Plan Ahead and Prepare
Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
Dispose of Waste Properly
Leave What You Find
Minimize Campfire Impacts
Respect Wildlife
Be Considerate of Other Visitors

The LNT program is obviously more in depth and covers every type of camping… The Outdoor Code is more of a pledge or promise.
The LNT program are not just rules, but part of the whole outdoor program.  It is a skill set and an attitude.
The Outdoor Code is the promise that we make to live as a steward of the land.
I still do not have a great answer.  I suppose that in the final analysis if I had a vote, I would just go with the Leave No Trace program.  The Outdoor code, while traditional and easy to remember does very little with our Scouts to develop the attitude of stewardship and responsibility that is required for us in the wilderness and front country alike.
So I think when it comes down to giving this Scout and answer next Monday, its going to be a program vs. a code and how we use it to make a difference and protect our land.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Skill and Gear

This last weekend our Scout Troop headed up to Trout Lake, Washington to venture into the longest Lave Tube cave in North America, called Dead Horse cave.  We tried to get up to the cave last year, but with record snow fall we could not get to the entrance.  So the PLC put it on the calender again for this year and in a month that the snow should not be that bad, if there at all.
The temps have been dropping and with the Dead Horse cave being pretty much at the base of Mt. Adams we kept an eye on the weather and told the PLC to be prepared for cold temps.  The 10 day forecast called for around 21*.  We conducted a shake down on Monday night before the trip and found that some of the guys were carrying too much and in appropriate gear for cold weather.
We pride ourselves on learning from mistakes, but more importantly being a self-proclaimed expert when it comes to cold weather camping.  I have spent a great deal of time teaching both the ASMs and the Scouts about cold weather camping, and so it troubles me when we teach and take great care in instructing the Scouts to be better prepared for their outdoor adventures and they choose not to listen or act on the instruction.  What I will tell you though is that with experience comes knowledge and we all learn from mistakes and our lack of preparedness.
So what I have summed up in our first cold weather experience for this year is simply its all about Skill and Gear.
Camping in the cold and extreme cold requires a different skill set than you typical 3 season adventure.  It requires thinking and constant awareness.  This raises a challenge when we are doing this with younger Scouts.  I am going to make a sweeping generalization, but the young Scouts do not always think before they act.  They take the path of least resistance, they make choices based on what seems to be fun and not what is right based on conditions.  For example, they see snow.  Snow equals snow balls and snow angels.  Fun, yes, but the right thing to do when you need to be able to sustain in the cold for three days, No.  So much of the skill we talk about with our young men is staying dry.  We stay dry with Skill and Gear.  Wearing clothing that will keep us dry and staying out of the snow.  Simple things like using your pack cover to kneel or sit on when setting up your tent or cooking rather than plopping down in the snow.  Or staying on the path rather than breaking trail if you don’t need to.
So we teach them before we head out and then stay on top of them during the trip and hope that it starts to sink in.
<START RANT>
ATTN:  SHOE COMPANIES.  I don’t care about fashion and style!  You have assisted in the creation of a generation that can not and will not tie their shoes.  I BLAME YOU for laziness.
<END RANT>
I can not tell you how many Scouts have trouble tying their shoes and keeping them tied.  This is a major issue in the cold.  This weekend I could not believe how many of the new Scouts would rather allow their boots to fill with snow than tie their boots up.  GEAR.  It is so important to keep your feet dry and warm.  A good pair of boots and a set of Gaiters is extremely important in keeping your feet and lower legs warm and dry.
Ok, so I can go on and on, the point here is that just like when you are building something, the right tools are required to do the job right, and with the right skill set and the right gear camping in the cold is fun and exciting.
It’s all about developing in these Scouts those skills.  There are Scouts today that are more than likely not happy with the way I assisted them this weekend.  I was nice, I am not a yeller, but because of the way that they have been taught to be lazy and have things done for them, they had a little more of me than they wanted.
PLAN OF ACTION.
Saturday night, the ASMs and I sat around the camp fire after the Scouts went to bed.  We talked about the challenges we had and how we were going to fix it.
First.  Gear.  We are putting together a list of recommended gear and must have gear.  We will distribute that list to the parents at a mandatory parent meeting.  It will be made clear that if a parent does not attend the Scout will not camp with us in the winter.  That simple.
At that meeting we are going to show the parents what kind of gear we want to see the Scouts have.  We are offering solutions for the lack of gear that some of the Scouts have.  Between myself and the other Assistant Scoutmasters we have a lot of gear.  We are all willing to loan gear until the Scout can get his own.  We want ever Scout to have this experience, but we can not have a Scouts go unprepared.
Prepared for cold weather camping requires the right Skill and the right Gear.  I can not make exceptions when it comes to the safety of our Scouts.
Second part of the plan is to change the shake down plan.  We currently do them the meeting before the camp out.  We talked with the PLC and we are going to start doing the night of the camp out.  We will not leave the meeting hall till the gear is right.  A parent will have to stick around to either make adjustments or take the Scout home when he does not meet the conditions for the camp out.
The Scout will not go with us if he is not prepared.
And finally.  We will make sure that our older Scouts are prepared and able to assist with the training.  Our troop has become every young in the last year, with as many new Scouts as we have brought in there is a need to go back and retrain everyone and ensure that we all are on the same page when it comes these skills.  In the long run we will have a better trained and ready group on our next winter adventures… which by the way is in January.  So the time line is short and the urgency of matter is there.  We start tonight.
Skills and Gear equal success in the winter.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Knowing who you work with

It is not enough as a Scoutmaster these days to take boys camping, teach them a few skills, and hand out merit badges.  Kids today, like kids in the past, and certainly this will apply in the future as society changes, kids grow up differently, and attitudes and norms change, are different.
I think that it is important to know why are the way they are to best be of service to them.  Is this above and beyond?  I don’t think so, I think that we need to do our best to know who we work with.  How else can we be of service.
We are experts at backpacking, or knot tying, or model rockets, but what are we doing to become experts at understanding young men.
I found this set of 5 videos that will help.  I am going to post the first one here.. then just follow the links to the other 4.  Or you can find all 5 video’s at the BSA Internal Communication You Tube Channel.  It is worth your time to watch these two ladies tell the Scout executives about young people.  I learned a lot, I am sure this will help you to.
Enjoy.

Be sure to watch the other 4.. I promise there is interesting information that will make you (and me) better Scout Leaders.
BSA Internal Communication You Tube Channel
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Make them Normal

I just spent the better part of the morning volunteering in my wifes classroom… well I shouldn’t say in the classroom.. in the swimming pool.  Each Friday during the fall and winter months the class, along with a number of other classes go swimming at the Middle School’s pool.
I love to spend some time with her class, they are all real great kids with special needs.  The range is so huge that I don’t even know how they do it daily.  They always love to have male volunteers come in, it make the locker/changing room transition a bit easier on the teachers.
We swam, played and had a good time.  I helped with a couple little guys and we had fun with some float pads and making it a point to get the teachers as wet as possible.
So how is this going to tie into Scouting?  Well I suppose the entire point here is that we all have needs.  Food, Safety, and most of all love.  We all remember Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.. right?   I think far to many times labels are placed on individuals that have adverse impacts on their lives.  As I watched these kids splash around in the pool, they are normal.. whatever that means.  Then I watched them as we rode the bus back to the school.  I wonder what is going on in their heads.  There is something trapped or repressed that is in there, but for what ever the reason they are at a road block in the mind. 
And this is how it is with some of our Scouts.  I have shared before the fact that there are a few autistic boys in my troop.  And though I have no formal training with this, I have learned one sure thing.  They are boys that need Food, Safety, and Love or belonging.  That is where we have taken the approach that every Scout is a Scout.  We treat them all the same.    We do not allow labels to be stamped on them and we give them all the same opportunity to be successful.  The beauty of Scouting is that we get to decide what that success is going to look like.  In the School system these kids are developing “Life Skills” and then it is all about hoping for the best once they move on.
Now I know that my wife and the other teachers of these kids with special needs are doing wonderful things every day, and demonstrate their love for these kids above and beyond that of any teacher I have met.  I am amazed and in awe of how they do it everyday.
Our family volunteers with Special Olympics each year, it does not take a PhD to know that given Love we make them all normal.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Blog update

Well, it took a while to figure this computer stuff out… and really don’t think I have it down yet, BUT.. I did get an update in on the SMMPodcast tab (page).
You can now listen to the last 10 or so show right here on the blog.  You can also access all the SMMPodcast shows at the PTCMedia archive.
Hope this helps you easily find shows that you are looking for.
Thanks for visiting the Blog and listening in on my little show.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

SMMPodcast # 97

Shakedowns, Winter eats, and Service

Howdy, welcome back.  This is show #97 and we are talking about conducting shakedowns for your next adventure, a great reciepe for filling up a cold belly, and providing service opportunities for our Scouts during this season of giving thanks.
The show is sponsored by ClassB.com
Leave some feedback, I love to hear from you.
Listen to the podcast

Here is the recipe from the podcast:
Sanna’s Mashed Potato Dinner
AT HOME
Pack – 1 1/2 cups of instant mashed potatoes
1 tablespoon of butter or butter powder
3 to 4 scallions or 1/4 green pepper (I did both) (Cut and sliced)
1 small carrot (sliced)
1 ounce or one 1 inch cube of cheddar cheese
1 1/3 inch of pepperoni (thats about 1 ounce)(cut and sliced)
Cut up all of that and pack in zip lock bag.
ON THE TRAIL
Boil 1 1/2 cups of water…
Add your potatoes to the water and let stand.
After the potatoes are done add the ingredients folding them into the potatoes.

This makes about one serving of 2 1/4 cups.

Hope you enjoy the show.

Thanks for listening and Have a Great Scouting Day!