Month: September 2012

The 3 Meter Zone

When I became a Platoon Sergeant in the Army I attended a leadership Development course called the Advanced Non Commissioned Officer Course (ANCOC).  I learned a lot in my leadership development courses in the Army, but what it really came down to was doing the job, hands on training, and working with my Soldiers.  While I was at the course I picked a book by a Retired Command Sergeant Major named J.D. Pendry.  The title of book was called ‘The Three Meter Zone: Common Sense Leadership for NCOs’.  This title caught my eye, so I picked up the book and read it cover to cover in about 2 afternoons.  Now the book had a lot of great ideas and thoughts on common sense leadership, but essentially it all boiled down to this.  Worry about and lead that which you can touch.  If you stand and put your arms straight out on both sides you can see your three meter zone, worry about what is inside of that circle.
I began to adopt that philosophy in my leadership.  As a Platoon Sergeant, my only real concern was 4 Squad leaders.  They in turn would lead their team leaders, and the team leaders would then lead their teams. When leadership is broken down to that level leadership is simple.
The other day I was digging through my “Army box” and I found my copy of “Three meter zone”.  It got me to thinking about how we teach our Scouts to lead and in particular a discussion I had the other night with one of our Scouts about leadership challenges.  The Scouts concerns were that it seemed like leading his Patrol seemed to be a task to big for him.  He shared with me a laundry list of worries he had about this and that and at the end of the conversation it seemed that his worries were out of his control.  He was worried about seat belts for the next camp out, he was worried about guys in other patrols, he was worried about one of the other patrols and their task for Webelos Woods.  I asked him what any of his concerns had to do with his patrol and if his Assistant Patrol shared the same concerns.  He told me that none of it had to do with his patrol and that he had not talked about it with the APL.
I had him stand up and hold his arms out parallel to the ground out to his sides.  I had him turn in a circle and tell me about how many of his patrol mates could fit in that circle.  He said his whole patrol could fit in the circle.  I told him that was his 3 meter zone and that is all I want him to worry about.  We talked about the idea that if his APL and him stood an arms width apart and did the same thing would it make it more comfortable for the patrol to stand in the circle?  Yep, he said.  Then that is where I want him to practice his leadership.  There is no need for him to worry about the next level yet, there is no reason for him to worry about seat belts, that is committee work.  All he had to do was stay focused on leading his patrol.  It was his job to ensure that the Scouts inside of his 3 meter zone had Purpose, Direction, and Motivation.  And that is the essence of leadership.
I think that I will be adding my thoughts on the 3 meter zone in our future Junior leadership training sessions.  It reduces the pressure on the young leader and helps illustrate that effective leadership starts with managing your own leadership development and confidence.  When it is reduced to that which you can reach out and touch, leadership gets small and simple.
This rule works at the Patrol level and the Army level.. those that lead Divisions of 10,000 really only lead a handful of people.  Decentralizing leadership makes for effective leading.
Senior Patrol leaders need only lead the Patrol leaders of the Troop.  Patrol leaders only need to lead their patrols, and when that happens leaders are developed.
You can pick up a copy of J.D. Pendry’s Three Meter Zone through Amazon.  It is Army focused, but the principles apply everywhere.


The other day I went to the high school to pick up my youngest son from Football practice.  Practice was running late, so I hung out and watched as the players ran sprints and did up downs.  Now, for those of you that have played a little football, you know that after 3 hours of practice the last thing you want to do is wind sprints and up downs.  But the team seemed to run and run and run.  After each lap and set of up downs the coach would tell them to watch the ball and then they would get in a ready position.  The idea was to be disciplined and ready to finish games in the fourth quarter.  He asked the players to give more effort.
The longer they ran.. the less effort the coach would see.  They were tired and as they got more tired, the less effort they would give.. the less effort they gave, the more mistakes they would make, the more mistakes they would make, the more they ran… and so went the cycle.
It all came down to effort.  Who was willing to give more when it counted.
I stood there and watched and thought.. yep, it is about effort.  Life is about effort.  You can over come many things with more effort.  The harder you work, the more you will be rewarded.  If you apply the effort to any task you will eventually see results.
In the fourth quarter, weather that is on the football field, in the classroom, or in a Scout troop effort matters.
Here is what I see way to often… a lack of effort.  I see this in most things in life.  Way to many times we see our young men just try to get by, to “Max the Minimum”.  To give the least amount of effort and expect the same results.
We see that a lot in our Scouts..  Way to often do we see them avoid patrol chores, planning, or pitch in when they are needed.  Way to often do we see them demonstrate a lack of effort when it comes to finishing tasks like service projects.  And then there is advancement.  I see a lot of Scouts that expect to be moved along, just like when they were in Cub Scouts, with their peers.  Or I see the effort coming from their parents.  That lack of effort will not get the work done.  I suppose that’s why only 4% become Eagle Scouts.
Now, we won’t make them do wind sprints and up downs.. no we just encourage them to “Do their best”.. well, I guess what I am saying is that maybe “Their best” is not good enough.  Maybe they need to apply more effort and make their best better.
This is the game of life and where do we want them to be in the fourth quarter.  I want them to be winning.
I want them to be successful.  I want them to work hard for what they get, not expect a hand out or to be “moved along” with their peers.  No I want to see them give the effort to their lives.  It is then that they will appreciate the things that they earn.  It is with more effort that they will be great men.
I love these teachable moments they seem to pass in front of us each day.  Watching as my son and his team mates ran until they proved that they wanted to be winners made me look at other areas of our life.  Wouldn’t it be great if every one in the School gave that much effort, or in the neighborhood and community.
Living the Scout oath and Law takes effort.  It’s not easy and it’s not designed to be.  People that do not give effort just get by.  Those that give extra effort succeed.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Gear Pick of the Week

This weeks gear pick is not really a piece of gear that floats around in my pack.  This week I want to review the most essential part backpacking gear.. My boots.
I had to get new boots before the Philmont trek and boots are one of those things that I get real picky on.  Like I said they are the most essential piece of backpacking gear.  Now, I know that there is a trend these days to wear trail runners or just plain running shoes or cross trainers on the trail, but when it comes to putting lots of miles with your pack on the trail, a good pair of boots, in my opinion, can’t be beat.
So, while we were getting ready for the Philmont trip I shopped around for a pair of boots that would meet all of my needs.
1.  Comfort.  2.  Stability, I have aging knees and ankles and need a boot that is going to carry me. and 3. Light weight.
The boots that I found, the Keen Gypsum mid hiking boots.

Here is the number one thing to remember when buying your next set of hiking boots. TRY THEM ON AND WALK IN THEM.
I went to my local REI and tried on about 10 different pair of boots.  Walked up and down the stairs in them and even that little fake rock thingy they have.  The Keen Gypsum mid hiking boot met all my criteria.
The boot is durable.  I like the leather and breathable material mix.  It is waterproof, but still allows the foot to breath.  The sole of the boot was a big selling point for me.  The heel stabilizers and the sturdy mid sole keep the foot balanced.  For those of you that have crossed Tooth ridge you know how those rocks are.  The boot never gave and my knees and ankles weathered the hike with ease.
The design and construction of the boot is second to none.  Keen really put a lot of thought into this one.  The toe cap is a great idea, especially when walking through the rocks and bushwacking.
They are super comfortable and my feet feel great in them.  I wore these boots at Philmont with both sock liners and wool socks and with out sock liners and I never got blisters or hot spots in the boot.  The upper most lace stay is metal.  I like that.  I did break my boot laces but that is no big deal.
Here are the specs on the Keen Gypsum Mid Hiking Boot.
The Mid hiking boot goes over the ankle.
It is a lace up closure boot and is waterproof.
The boots upper is made of Waterproof nubuck leather.
The boots lining is KEEN.DRY waterproof breathable membrane/polyester.
The Gypsums support comes from Thermoplastic urethane shank/hard EVA ESS plate in the mid sole and sole.
The outer sole is a non marking rubber.
Weight: 2 lbs 4 oz. but they don’t feel that heavy to me.
They retail for $140
So that’s my pick of the week and the boots that I wear.  I love them.
Tell us what you wear while on the trail.  I am interested in hearing what keeps you moving and your feet happy.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

How far is it?

Under the Dining Fly

It was our third night on the trail at Philmont.  We had hiked into Harlan Camp from Dean Cow that afternoon.  It was a monster hike taking us out of Dean canyon, under the highway, over the Cimarron river and then back up through Vaca Camp and then into Harlan.  We got into camp with enough time for the crew to reload shot-gun shells and then shoot some.  After camp was set up and dinner cooked, it was time for the Burro racing event and then settling into our nightly in camp routine.  Part of that routine was our nightly round of Roses, Thorns, and Buds.  A great time of reflection and a nice time to get something off your chest.  By day three on the trail we were all dealing with what they call “Day Three syndrome” at Philmont.  In reality it didn’t really hit our crew that hard, but the back to back long days and lots of miles were taking its toll on the crew this evening.
After the Burro racing, the crew made its way back to camp and got the “oops bag” hung.  As was the common trend the rain was heading in for the evening.  We dodged it on the hike that day, but the clouds rolled in quick and it began to thunder.  The crew thought it may be a good idea to do Roses and Thorns under the dinning fly.  Now if you have never been to Philmont you may be thinking pop up or big tarp.  Nay Nay.. at Philmont the dining fly is about 3 feet off the ground.  It is a 12 X 12 tarp with grommets all around.  It is pitched low using trekking poles.  It is the first thing to be set up in camp and is the host of the crews toilet paper for those trips to the Red Roof Inn in the middle of the night.
Needless to say it is a tight fit when you get a whole crew under the fly… but we did it.  We got under right as the rain started.
And it rained, hard.  And the thunder boomed, and then the lightning started.  A spectacular show of light in the sky.  The crashing of the thunder kept the Scouts of the crew oohing and awhing why we shared our Roses and Thorns.  The show really picked up as we wrapped up our nightly discussion, but the rain was telling us to stay put.  So, as darkness fell on our camp, the jokes added to the symphony in the sky.  All the while one member of our crew took the time to count the flash to boom.  Announcing each lightning strike with the distance.  It started to get funny as the distance announcement seemed to always follow the punch line of a joke.  Then, just when we thought the laughter could not get more loud, here came the gas.  Yep, whatever we had for dinner started to revisit us in the form of an aroma that would gag a skunk.
And the rain kept coming down, harder still and the lightning became more frequent.  And then it was a flash of light, a boom of thunder, a fart, and .. “Wow!  That one was 1 mile away”.    Then again, a flash, a boom, a fart… “Wow that one was 6 miles away!”.. and then a Flash, a boom, a fart.. and another voice chimed in.. “Wow! That one was three feet away!”  An eruption of laughter!  It was laughter that I had not heard in years.  The crew laughed so hard most of us were in tears.
Then silence.  Just the sound of rain on the tarp, the crash of thunder, and the sighs of a group of backpackers that were having the time of their lives.
We laid there under that tarp for another hour or so and finally it was time to get to our tents.  The rain never let up that night and as we climbed into our sleeping bags the only sound we heard besides the rain was voices from inside the tents looking forward to another great day on the trail at Philmont.
It started to sprinkle here today, for just a minute.  And just for a minute I thought of that night at Harlan camp.  A flash, a boom, and a fart.. How far was that?
          Have a Great Scouting Day!

Stinger Honey Waffle

Here is a great energy snack for your next trek.  The Honey Organic Stinger Waffle.
I had never had one of these tasty treats until they appeared in our food bags at… You guessed it.. Philmont!
I immediately fell in love with these and would search every swap box for them.  As luck would have it, there seemed to be plenty.
The Stinger Waffle is perfect with a nice cup of coffee, but is tasty anytime.
The waffle is light weight, great tasting and available online or at local sporting goods shops.  I’m already getting stocking up for future trips.
I am always looking for good trail snacks that are better for you than candy bars, and trail mix gets old.  This is a great option.
Now I did not care for the Stinger Energy bars while at Philmont, so I won’t say that all of the Stinger products are to my liking, but the Stinger Honey Waffle may just be my favorite snack on the trail.
Give them a try next time you hit the trail.  Let me know what your favorite trail snack is.  Leave us a comment.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Scoutings Honor Society?

Time to stir the pot again and call out those Scouters that choose to be Patrol leaders, Mommy/Daddy Coddlers, baby sitters, in short.. those that don’t do it right.
Yep.. I’m gonna piss some folks off with this one and to be honest.  If the shoe fits wear it.
I am going to preface all of this by saying in our Troop we have kids with ADD, ADHD, Autism in many spectrums, ADOS, OCD, etc…
The reason I must say that is because we don’t treat any of them different.  They are expected to be Scouts.  They do the work, they learn, they participate, and they don’t have their moms and dads hovering over them.  Nope they have a Troop guide or a Patrol Leader that expects them to be part of the team.
They eat, sleep, play, and work as part of their patrol.  That is the way it is supposed to be.  We don’t let the moms and dads camp with the patrols when they go.  They stay with the adults.  They are not part of the program, they are just there for the fresh air.  And some of them are in the Order of the Arrow.
So this morning I got an email from one of my ASMs.  He is down at the Conclave for our OA Section.  The Order of the Arrow, you know, Scouting’s honor society.  Anyway, his email was simple.. he asked; “The OA is Scouting’s honor society right?”  Those that have demonstrated their ability to be considered an honored camper, one that is dedicated to serve, and a Scout that has been chosen by his peers as someone who represents values found in the Oath and Law.  Right?
Well, I suppose not any more, at least according what he witnessed down at Conclave.  Dad’s hovering over Scouts to make sure they got out of their tents.  Rolling up the sleeping bag for the Scout?  Making sure the Scouts clean up after themselves?  Now th  is is minor stuff I guess, but what I know for sure is that when minor stuff happens, so does major stuff.
Now, I am a Brotherhood member of the OA.  And very proud to say so.  I consider it an honor to have been chosen to be a member.  I also expect other members to act in accordance with the values and attitudes set forth by the Order of the Arrow.
Here is what I think the problem is.  Too many people are just getting in.  There are no secret clubs within the BSA, but if we are going to call the OA Scouting’s Honor Society.. well then lets act like it.  Lets be selective on who gets in.  Why not honored campers or Scouts… it is not for everyone.
I see this at ordeal weekends.  The candidates are supposed to spend a day laboring in silence.  This is not a suggestion, it is asked of the candidate so they can spend time-serving and thinking about a life of service.  I don’t want to give too much away here, you may want to go through the ceremony one day… but I can’t tell you how many times I have asked Scouts and Scouters to remain silent explaining to them the reasons only to get a roll of the eyes and “Whatever dude”.
So how does this get fixed.  The Scoutmaster.
The Scoutmaster sets the ballot for the annual election.  The youth vote on the candidates, but the Scoutmaster sets the ballot for those eligible.
Just because a Scout meets the criteria of being 1st Class, 15 nights of camping with 6 of which are at resident camp does not gain him entry into the Order of the Arrow.  Sorry, but true.
So Scoutmasters hold the key to making sure that honored Scouts get into the Order.  This makes the OA stronger.  At least it will take on the appearance of an Honor Society.
I am glad that kids that make “C’s” are not in the National Honor Society.  I am glad that you must have good grades to get in.  I am glad that not everyone that trys out for the Varsity Football team make it.  I am glad that not every Scout will be an Eagle.  Do I want them all to try, yes.  But I am glad that only 4% will make it.  It makes it special.  Sometimes, less is more.  When there is less there is harder work to get to it.  If it is Scouts goal to be an Eagle Scout he needs to work hard for it.  If he wants to get into the OA, he will demonstrate leadership, service, and living the Scout Oath and Law before he gets elected.  If he wants to be on the varsity Football team, he will hit the weights, run, and practice all summer to get there.  If he wants to be on the honor roll, he will study hard.  He will work for it.  None of it will be given to him.
When I was in the Army, I was promoted to Command Sergeant Major at the age of 36.  I worked real hard, went to all the right Schools, and applied my self.  On any given day in the United States Army there are only 550 Sergeants Major.  I was one of them.  It was an honor to be the Sergeant Major of an Infantry Battalion.  And it was an honor to be counted among the 550 other Sergeants Major that put themselves in that position.
So it is with anything that is deserving of the title “Honor”.  Not everyone gets a participation ribbon in life.  And when we push Scouts through, or allow the nature of organizations to be less for the sake of having more we tear away at the organization.
So when we see mom and dad rolling up sleeping bags or hovering to make sure that Franky First Class gets to meals on time, we have failed.  We have failed the Scout and we have failed the organization.  It is no longer an honor.  It’s just another weekend in a tent.
Ok.. I know you have an opinion, I gave you mine, lets hear it.  Please leave a comment.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Gear pick of the week

Since I am a self-proclaimed gear junky I thought that I would start a new weekly post to the blog introducing some of my favorite gear and some of the cool gear that is out there.
This is not an ad for the gear, simply gear that I use that I love, hate, or must have in my pack.. or gear that I want to put in my pack or stuff that I think would be nice to have.
This week we kick off the gear pick of the week with the Sea to Summit X-mug.
This is a great little mug that is collapsible and light weight.  The jury was out on this little piece of gear, but after a few trips with it and taking it to Philmont, I am sold.
The X-mug holds about 2 cups of liquid, hot or cold.  I was a bit worried about how it would handle the super hot water, but after many cups of coffee in it, it is holding up just fine.  The mug is compact and stores anywhere.  I keep it in my cook/eating kit, and it did spend some time in my pocket at Philmont to and from Advisor porch time.
The Sea to Summit X-mug is made of food grade silicone and cleans up real well.  The reinforced rim at the top keeps the mugs shape and gives a nice place to hold on to the cup without burning your fingers.
I used to carry an REI insulated mug, but find that the Sea to Summit X-mug serves all the same functions, from drinking to using it as a measuring cup.  Inside of the X-mug are gradient markings for measuring.  This mug is not insulated, but my coffee never seemed to get cold.
I highly recommend the Sea to Summit X-mug.  It is a piece of gear that I carry and at least until the next piece of cool drink ware comes along.. it will remain a must have in my pack.

Here I am at Philmont having a nice cup ‘o joe with
With the Sea to Summit X-mug.

OK.. here are the stats on the mug.
The cup hold 16 Fl oz or 0.47 liters.
It is not insulated and will not fit in a standard cup holder.
Made of Food grade silicone with reinforced nylon rim.
The dimensions are; 4.25 x 2.75 (collapses to 0.5) inches.
And it weighs 2.4 ounces.
Dishwasher and microwave safe.
Retails for $11.95 just about everywhere.
So that is the Sea to Summit X-Mug.  Let me know if you have it and what you think.. Also, what cup or mug do you use out on the trail (or trailer for you heavy campers).
Have a Great Scouting Day!