Monthly Archives: December 2011

2011 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 29,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 11 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Saying Goodbye to a Great year of Scouting

2010 ended on the heals of one of the most exciting things I had ever done in Scouting having gone to the National Jamboree.  Making that super special was that I got to go with both of my sons.
2011 ends with some challenges, but looking back, it was a fantastic year of Scouting.
Our Troop won the Troop of the year award.  That really put an exclamation point on our program and launched the Scouts to be better and looking for new and exciting adventures.  It helped in the growth of our Troop, and while we did end the year by dropping some Scouts, our net gain was great than it ever has been.
In the last 4 months of the year 9 new boys joined the adventure of our Troop.
Personally my Scouting life grew stronger this year and I enjoyed being on the Wood Badge Staff.  It had been a while since I went to Wood Badge and participating as a Staffer reinforced the program within me and I feel in love with it again.
The bonds and experiences of Wood Badge were solidified in my Scouting life and new friendships were forged and old friendship rekindled.
2011 hosted some great outings with the Troop.  Kicking the year off up on Mt Hood in snow and ending at the base of Mt. Adams in the snow.  Every outing in between seemed to lead us to fun and adventure.
Our Troop was featured on the Outdoor Channel this year.  It was a great opportunity to show the world that Scouting was meant to happen in Oregon.  The Scouts and families of our Troop really thought this was a big feather in the 664 hat.  I think it was one of the greatest things that can happen for a Troop.  To be selected and then show cased because of your reputation within the Council for doing Scouting the right way really meant a lot to me and the other leaders of our unit.
Finally, it was a fantastic year for our family in Scouting.  John completed and earned his Eagle Award.  A great personal achievement for him, a great source of pride for us.
And so we say goodbye to a great year of Scouting!  We welcome the new adventures that lay ahead in 2012.
Philmont, new adventures with a bunch of new Scouts, a cool Summer camp, and lots of time spent in the woods!
I hope your 2012 is a blessed one.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

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Advancement Changes

The more things change the more they stay the same… I am referring to the new Advancement guide of the BSA.  You can download now at the or here is a direct link GUIDE TO ADVANCEMENT 2011.  In it you will find much of the same policies and practices that have governed the advancement process for years.  You will also find new merit badges and some new twists to some of the requirements.  I encourage everyone to download a copy and become familiar with the changes and renew your understanding of how advancement is supposed to work within the Boy Scouts of America.
The reason that I am bringing this up now is because of a discussion that I have been participating in on another “Outdoors” type forum.
I try not to get into debates on forums, I really do not think that forums provide an atmosphere that allows both parties to articulate their sides, concerns, and evidence on any given subject.  And keeping with that, I refused to get into a debate about advancement policies and changes on the forum.  I did however, give an opinion and yes try to explain how I understand the policy or changes.
Here is specifically what I am referring to, the comment made by a poster to the forum:
It has lots of changes.  It looks like BSA is adopting a “No Scout left behind” attitude.
For example:
Scouts can’t fail Scoutmaster conferences.
The Scoutmaster Conference is not the last thing done before a BOR.

“ Unit Leader (Scoutmaster) Conference The unit leader (Scoutmaster) conference, regardless of the rank or program, is conducted according to the guidelines in the Scoutmaster Handbook, No. 33009.
Note that a Scout must participate or take part in one; it is not a “test.” Requirements do not say he must “pass” a
conference. While it makes sense to hold one after other requirements for a rank are met, it is not required that it
be the last step before the board of review. This is an important consideration for Scouts on a tight schedule to meet the requirements before age 18. Last-minute work can sometimes make it impossible to fi t the conference in before then, so scheduling it earlier can avoid unnecessary extension requests. “

Ok.  The writer starts by stating that the BSA is “Adopting a ‘No Scout left behind’ attitude”.  I did not see that in the advancement guide.  There is no policy that states that No Scout shall be left behind or not advanced.  This perception that the BSA wants to hand out Eagle Scout badges is false and comes from Scout leaders that see this PRACTICE going on in units around them.  They want to swing it so hard the other way, that they feel the BSA does not support them in its policy changes.  I see this in our area too.  The best course of action would be to look at the policy and do what the BSA actually says.
The statement ( states that “a Scout must participate or take part in one; it is not a “test.” Requirements do not say he must “pass” a conference.”  This is nothing new.  The Scoutmaster Conference has not been a retest in a long time.  Further more the language has also said “participate” for some time also.
There was a lot of grief given to the statement “While it makes sense to hold one after other requirements for a rank are met, it is not required that itbe the last step before the board of review.”  That also is true and has been for some time.  It does not make sense to hold the Scoutmaster Conference prior to completion of the requirements, but I can see circumstances in which the Scout may ask for a Conference prior to completion of all the requirements.  Circumstances like participating at Summer Camp where the remainder of the requirements will be completed before the end of the week, or in the case of a young man who needs to have his Scoutmaster Conference before his 18th birthday in order to earn that rank.  Yes folks.  As long as the Scoutmaster Conference has been completed before the 18th birthday, a Scout can have his Eagle BOR after the birthday.
Still, I think the advancement guide is clear in its policies and still I do not see how the BSA is trying to make it any more easier or a hand out.
Most of the issues in the discussion could be dealt with if Scoutmasters just did their jobs.  Scoutmaster Conferences should never be a retest.. why would it need to be?  The Scout should be tested along the way as he completes each requirement.  A Scout is Trustworthy and if signatures are delegated, the Scoutmaster should trust that the task, skill, or other requirement was completed.  If the Scout is having maturity issues, leadership challenges, skill development failures.. then these should all be worked with as they happen.. waiting for the Scoutmaster Conference is doing a disservice to the Scout and the process.
And yet again, I bring it all back to Adult leaders that do the wrong thing.  The right thing is not to make things up, rather do the program as the Boy Scouts of America outlines.  Doing this insures and the advancement process is fair for everyone.
Get a copy of the advancement guide and remember to do what is right.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Advancement | 2 Comments

The Pulk Project continued

I hope everyone had a great Christmas, along with spending some great time with family and friends, I did get some upgrades to my gear.  I will be shooting some reviews on the new stuff in the near future.
I did take advantage of some good weather and time off to finish my Pulk Sled also.  Here is a short video of the Pulk.  Its ready to go and I will be taking it out on the 13th for a “Test Camp out”.
More on the Pulk and other gear later!
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Backpacking, camp skills, gear | 1 Comment

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all of you that share this blog with me.  2011 has been another great year and our Scout world has grown smaller as we have learned from one another and you have shared emails, comments, voicemail,  your thoughts with me. From my family to you and yours… A heart filled Merry Christmas and the very best in the coming year!

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There once was two young Indian braves that were best of friends.  They grew together, hunting, playing, and learning to be men in the tribe.  Over time, both of these men caught the eye of a young women in the tribe, and they both began to try to win her heart.
As time went on, the young women favored one over the other and they began to court.  This angered the other friend and he began to speak of his friend in ways that ultimately destroyed their friendship and the honor of young man preparing to be married.  He said vicious things about his family, he talked about this character in ways that ruined the reputation of the brave.
One day as the two former friends passed, he noticed that he had truly hurt him, a tear was in his eye.  The brave that slandered his fellow tribesman ran to the Wiseman of the tribe.
He asked the Wiseman if there was any way to repair the damage that had been done.
The Wiseman instructed him to go and climb to the highest peak, there he would find the nest of an Eagle.  In that nest would be feathers, he was to gather up all of the feathers and bring them back to the village.
The young brave set off of the journey to the highest peak.  Days upon days, he walked, always thinking about the things that he had done.  He reached the mountain and began to climb until he finally found the nest on the peak.  He gathered the feathers and started his journey back to the village.
He was greeted at the village gate by the Wiseman.  “I have done as you instructed” he declared showing the feathers.
“Good, now return to the peak and let the feathers go.. let them fly to the North and the South, the East and West” said the Wiseman. 
And so the brave turned and started his second journey to the peak.  He arrived at the mountain top and let loose the feathers.  They blew in every direction.
Upon returning to the village, the brave once again was greeted by the Wiseman.  “I have let loose all the feathered and they have blown across the land” said the brave.  “Good, my son, now go and pick up all of the feathers that you have scattered” the Wiseman replied.  “That is impossible, I can never find, nor pick up all of the feathers that I have spread across the country side.  There are to many, and I do not know where they have gone.”
“Such are your words” the Wiseman began, “Once you loose your words, like the ringing of a bell or the letting go of the feathers, you can never take them back or collect them again.  They are gone, in the wind, and where they land you will never know.  Hurtful words and words that bring pain and disrepute can never be taken back, so if you are to spread your words, make sure they are good and helpful.  Words that heal and are friendly.” 
The words of the Wiseman are so true.  Words mean nothing, until they touch the ears of the listener.  Make them count.
Think before you talk and be watchful of how you speak.
All of us can learn from this message, I have.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Character, comments, Ideals, Oath and Law, respect, stories | Leave a comment

SMMPodcast #99

Welcome Back, In this show we talk about a new Charter, My Son’s Eagle Award, and Christmas.
The music at the end of the show is provided by the Reynolds High School Symphony and Winds Ensemble playing “What Child is this”.  It is recorded live from their Winter concert.  My daughter plays Clarinet in the band and they are very good. 
Enjoy the Show and the music.
Please leave feedback, drop us an email or shoot a tweet.. let us know what you think and how we are doing.
This show is sponsored by Badge Magic, without their help.. merit badges would not have been on John’s sash for the BOR.

Have a Merry Christmas and a Great Scouting Day

Categories: Advancement, Ideals, podcast | 2 Comments

End of the Iraq Campaign

The other day I shot out a tweet about the end of the Iraq Campaign.  I said that I had some thoughts on it.  I will share those, but first I thought it was worth mentioning that the war is not over.  The war, is the Global War on Terrorism.  The campaigns of this war are Afghanistan and Iraq.  The Iraq campaign has ended.. not the war.
Having said that…
Here are some thoughts on the Iraq campaign as we knew it and as it has now changed.  First of all let me speak to the man power issue AKA Soldiers.
While many soldiers will be returning to either their state side assignments or homes as the case is for our Reserve component soldiers, the United States military will not be leaving Iraq anytime soon.  Following the end of combat action in World War II the United States committed to the stabilization of Europe.  We are still there.
After the “cease fire” in Korea on 27 July 1953, the United States Army moved to the DMZ and there it has remained.  Vietnam has been a different story, but history, even recent history including the 1991 Gulf War proved that we were in the “Stabilizing” business.  The Army has maintained a presence in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait since 1991.  The infrastructure, personnel, and ability to quickly mass forces in that region are in place and will not move any time soon.
So now that we know a bit about history and how we do our business, it is clear to see that although the campaign is over and the bulk of the combat forces will be redeploying to their next assignments, we are hardly out of Iraq.
The Iraqi government, military, and civil authorities are now in charge, but we will maintain our watchful eye on a region of the globe that is extremely volatile.
So here are my thoughts.
I served in Iraq at the beginning of the campaign.  Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) 1 in 2003.  Each new phase of OIF was marked with a number.  I was part of OIF 1, OIF 1 was the Liberation of Iraq and later OIF 2 was the second deployment of combat units and Transition of Iraq, OIF 3 began the rebuilding and Governance of the country, then the surge (2007), all phases of OIF since have led to stability in Iraq.
What I saw in opening phase of OIF was a country that was in need of change.  30 + years living under the control of a dictator and his mob had taken its toll on the country.  The people were beaten down and looking for nothing more than getting on with their lives in peace.
My Battalion was assigned a sector just outside Baghdad, a farming community that hated the Saddam regime.  They wanted to farm and live.. and beyond that really had little to worry about.  They loved us and appreciated the ousting of Saddam.  The town connecting to Hilla is Haswa.  It is the most dangerous place I have ever seen.  Haswa, unlike Hilla, was not a friendly place.  It was a haven for insurgents.  We found countless cache’s of weapons and munitions in Haswa along with “bad guys” that really did not appreciate our disruption of their gang activity.
They had very little loyalty to any one good or bad and no real cause other than to cause harm.  They had a problem with us treating the population of Hilla medically and assisting with the opening of Schools and care facilities.
The city of Baghdad was pretty much the same, as could be said for many of the hot spots that you have heard about on the local news.  Pretty much thugs trying to impose their will on the people seeking peace and those that were sent there to make sure it happened… Us.
By the time we redeployed on Easter of 2004, the area we operated in was starting to adjust to their new way of life.. Freedom.
Still the thugs tried to keep the people down and gangs grew out of the instability.  Back here in the states, the news called them Sunnis and Shiites.. but religion (at least in Iraq) played very little if not any part in combat operations or why ‘they’ were fighting.
From the way I saw it the only thing that separated the Sunni from the Shi’ite was a highway.  They had different color flags and the tops of their Mosques (used many for storage.. not prayer) were colored either Green or Blue.
The reason I think stabilization is so important is because of the tribal nature of the people of Iraq.  I think that they now have had a taste of freedom and democracy.. in what ever form they are happy with, but just like in Germany, they will need to have a force their to ensure they stay on the right track.
The other consideration here is the we have a platform in Iraq to project force.  Strategically, Iraq is right smack dab in the middle of the some of the hottest spots on the planet.  Say what you will… this is the business we the people (via our representatives) have gotten us into.  I am not going to debate that with anyone.  I have been to war and do not wish that on anyone.  It seems to be a necessary evil, proven to be that way since the beginning of time.  As long as there are governments, terrorist, and those that oppress others.. well we will have to fight them.
So what do I think about the end of the Iraq campaign.  I think it is a little late in coming, but at the end of the day, its all just dates on the calender.  We will not leave Iraq for a long time.  We will maintain a presence in the region for years to come.  Combat forces will be moved to the Afghanistan campaign and we will continue to fight the Global War on Terrorism until our Government or the people have truly had enough.  I do not see that happening for some time either.
Every day soldiers ruck up and deploy in support of the GWOT.  I pray that they all return home in one piece physically, I am certain that they will never be the same.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: blog | 2 Comments

The Pulk Project

This year our troop has decided to expand our winter camping skills by making a piece of gear that will assist in a better cold weather camping experience.  We are building Pulk Sleds.
A Pulk sled is a sled that is used to haul gear, tools, wood, whatever in the snow.  There are many designs out there and many price ranges.  We thought we could make them a lot cheaper and get more out of it in the long run.  So the search began for a sled that would work.  We did not want to break the bank on the sleds.  I saw a few YouTube videos of people making Pulk sleds out of ordinary kids plastic sleds.  We figured.. this would work for us.
But I wanted one for me that would last longer and be sturdy enough to take my load.  I purchased the Jet Sled Jr. from Shappell. Jet Sled Jr.  It is a sled designed for ice fishing and conversion to a Pulk sled.  The cost was $29.99, so that’s not to bad.  But for the sleds for the Troop a bit to much for our budget.  Back to the kids sleds.   I found a good sturdy sled at Big 5 Sports for $15.  Then we took the design that would stay within our budget and meet the needs of the Pulk sled.
So here is the list of materials needed to build the sled.Flexable Flyer
1 Sled.  We bought the Flexible Flyer Winter Lightning sled – $15.00
100 Feet of synthetic rope (100 feet will make about 4 sleds)- $8.00 ($2 per sled)
6 snap links -$5.88 for all 6
1 10 ft. length of 1/2 inch PVC – $1.68
Total cost of the materials – $25.00
Start by cutting the PVC pipe in half.  Run a length of rope through the PVC and tie off each end with a loop.  Run a snap link through each loop.
Drill holes at lengths where you want to have tie downs.  Run the rope over and under, tieing a knot so the loops maintain their shape.
Tie loops at the front.. connect the PVC arms and you are finished.
A $25 Pulk sled.
The Scouts of the Troop will be making 2 per Patrol, and if they want to go out and make their own, like I am.. they are welcome to.  This is a great project that is extremely simple but will add to our winter camping experience.
I will do a video on the making of my Pulk sled, and will more than likely shoot some video of the Scouts making their sleds.  And of course you will see them in action in January.
Here are the pictures of the “Prototype” sled that I made to show the Scouts what we are talking about.

So there it is… A pulk sled!  A fun project.. can’t wait to get it in the snow.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: camp skills, Skills, technology | 4 Comments

December 7th

December 7th, 1941 is a day much like September 11th, 2001.  They are days in our history that live in our hearts and minds.  70 years ago today we were attacked thrusting us into war with Japan.
At 12:30 PM on December 8th, 1941 President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered those words that we hear every year on this day in remembrance of the attack on Pearl Harbor;
Yesterday, December 7, 1941—a date which will live in infamy—the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.
Much like the attacks on September 11th we should always remember those brave souls that died on December 7th at Pearl Harbor.  We should take the time to thank veterans of the Second World War, they are getting to be fewer and fewer each day.
Take some time today to reflect on just how good we all have it.  Sitting at our computer or smart phone reading blogs and going about our daily lives.
Today, as was the case 70 years ago, soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines lean forward doing our Nations bidding. Provoked or not, these brave men and women serve so we may have the Freedom that we enjoy.
As a Veteran that has served in armed conflict and lost some dear friends along the way.. every day to me is both Memorial Day and Veterans Day.
December 7th, 1941… a day that will live in infamy.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

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