Month: November 2012

What’s in a name?

First of all I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving.  Mine was fantastic.  Spent the day at my Mom and Dad’s house surrounded by my family and my sister and her family.  It was a wonderful day and my Mom out did herself once again on that meal.  Thanks Mom.
During the course of the evening a question was brought up, If you could change your name to any name.. what would it be?
We kicked around some names, mostly joking, but then I started to think.. what would I change it to?
My name is who I am, I guess.  After all.. I’ve always been me and the me that came with the name.  But it is interesting about how and why we got our names.
There are family names, traditional names, names that sound unique, are spelled in a non traditional way.  And I suppose that at some point you just are who you are and the name, well, it is a part of that.
I don’t have an answer here or a piece of advice.  I’m just thinking out loud.
In the backpacking community, many hikers have trail names.  Those come from all sorts of ways.  A style the hiker has, a favorite piece of gear, a blunder that was made on the trail, or a certain personality trait.
What I did realize last night is that I have always just been called by my name, no nickname, no trail name.. just Jerry.
So if you could change your name or give yourself a trail name… What would it be?
Leave you comment here at the blog.
If you have one for me.. share it.. I’m curious.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Why Wood Badge?

For those of you that have been to Wood Badge you understand the great training, the lasting friendships, and the spirit of Scouting that comes in every Wood Badge course.  You get idea that every Scout deserves a trained leader and that in Wood Badge you are participating in the Advanced Leadership Course of the Boy Scouts of America.  You understand the committment that it takes in time and money to seek out the best training and then follow-up that training by spending up to a year and half working a ticket designed to make Scouting better for the youth we serve.  You get all of that.
So why should a Scouter go to Wood Badge.  Yes, it’s all of the stuff previously stated but it’s a lot more than that.
Why Wood Badge?  Well for starters it is the best Scout leader training the BSA has.  No matter at which level you serve in Scouting, Wood Badge has something for you.  Whether you are the Chief Scout Executive or a Den Leader, Wood Badge will teach you how to provide a great program for our Scouts starting with why we do this thing called Scouting.  The Wood Badge experience gives you insight to the World of Scouting, not just your little piece.  It reinforces methods and Aims and gets all Scouters on the same sheet of music, and yep, you will be singing a lot!
Wood Badge allows you the much-needed opportunity to step back into the hiking boots of a Scout and be that Scout as he experiences Cub Scouting, Boy Scouting, and is introduced to Venture Scouts.  You get to learn like a Scout learns and in doing so you become a better communicator and teacher.  You learn to train and lead using the EDGE method.  I think you will find that this method satisfies every learning style and will assist you in sharpening your leadership skills.
Wood Badge sends you back to you unit with a song in your heart, a smile on your face, and a mission to make Scouting better.
The training at Wood Badge will make you a better Scouter, a better Spouse, a better employee when you use the tools taught in the course.  It gives you perspective on everything in your life and a method to work you future plans in and out of Scouting.  The Wood Badge training is world-class and is used in corporate America and in organizations big and small.
So why Wood Badge?  Well, for one thing, it is our direct link to Baden Powell’s training of Scouters.  The methods may have been refined, the uniforms certainly are different, and Scouting has changed with the times, but the Wood Badge is the Wood Badge and our history and tradition in Scouting is brought full circle in the Wood Badge experience.
When Baden Powell held the first Scoutmaster Training at Gilwell, he organized the participants into Patrols.  This is the foundation of a Boy Scout Troop and BP understood that we learn by doing and do it with our Patrol.  During the Wood Badge course the instruction all leads to doing.  Within the Patrol, the participants work together to become a high performance team.  Once this is realized, the experience can be taken back and applied in the Scouters unit. 
Wood Badge has four specific objectives and as a result of attending Wood Badge, participants will be able to:
First, View Scouting globally, as a family of interrelated, values-based programs that provide age-appropriate activities for youth.
Second. Recognize the contemporary leadership concepts utilized in corporate America and leading government organizations that are relevant to our values-based movement.
Third,  Apply the skills they learn from their participation as a member of a successful working team.
And finally, Revitalize their commitment by sharing in an overall inspirational experience that helps provide Scouting with the leadership it needs to accomplish its mission on an ongoing basis.
So Why Wood Badge?  Back when I became a new Scouter helping out with my oldest son’s Pack I was invited to go to Wood Badge.  I did not give it too much thought, after all, I was just a Cub Scout Den Leader, why do I need more training?  Then I became a Cubmaster, and again, an invitation to Wood Badge was extended.  A group of Scouters that were (and still are) super active in the District kept encouraging me to go to Wood Badge.  They kept telling me that this “Mountain Top” Scouting experience was something that I really needed to attend.  And again, I blew it off thinking that everything was going great in the Pack and I really didn’t need more leadership training.  In 2004 I became a Scoutmaster, and again the same group of Scouters encouraged me to get to Wood Badge.  I went to a Wood Badge dinner in January of 2005.  It was a gathering to recognize Wood Badge participants that had completed their tickets and introduce Wood Badge to prospective participants.  My wife and I went and enjoyed the evening.  The room was filled with the most enthusiastic Scouters I have ever seen.  They were from every corner of the council and represented every level of Scouting.  Toward the end of the program a Scouter stood in front of the crowd and asked if “There were any Beavers in the house?”  At first I thought he was referring to the Oregon State Beavers.. but what happened next sealed the deal for me.  About a dozen Scouters stood up and broke out in song, when they were finished, the whole room (well those Scouters with beads on) stood and sang.  They all sat down and about another dozen different Scouters stood and sang a verse about Bobwhites.. and so it went till the whole room was singing.  The staffers closed out the song and everyone began hugging and shaking hands and there was nothing but smiles and laughter in the room.  I sat there with my wife with a big grin on my face.  My wife looked at me and said.. “Well… go sign up.”  And that night I registered for the next course. 
I participated in WE1-492-1-05 and was placed in the Beaver Patrol.  I did have a “Mountain Top” experience and took all I learned back to my Troop.  In 2009 I was asked to be on Staff.  I had to turn it down because I was over extended as not only the Scoutmaster of my Troop, but the Scoutmaster of a Troop heading to the National Jamboree.  In late 2010, I was asked again to be on staff for the 2011 course and I immediately said yes.  I served as a Troop guide for W1-492-11 and as I have shared with my fellow Troop guides and the mighty Buffalo Patrol, “I had a great experience when I went to Wood Badge, I fell in love with Wood Badge on staff.”  Early this year I was asked again to staff a Wood Badge course.  And again, I said yes. 
The people who attend Wood Badge and those that staff Wood Badge are the greatest Scouters out there.  Their dedication to Scouting and the youth we serve is second to none.  Their committment to training and making the Scouting organization better is beyond compare.
So Why Wood Badge?  Why Not?
If you have been invited to attend Wood Badge, please consider it.  You will not regret it.  If you are concerned about time and money.  Contact your local Wood Badge staff, ask at your next roundtable, there are ways to get you into the next course.  The benefits of Wood Badge outweigh the excuses not to go.  You are a dedicated Scouter, I know this, because you waste you time reading my blog.  SO if you have not been to Wood Badge..  GO!  And you will have a great experience.  I promise.
If you are a Wood Badger… What’s your Critter?  Leave a comment and share your Wood Badge story.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Thoughts on gear

As you are fully aware by now, I like gear.  I have had many discussions with parents of the Scouts in my Troop that my obsession with gear is rubbing off on their sons.  Half jokingly I often reply that it’s a good thing.  I say “Half jokingly” because I think that gear is an important part of the camping experience…  Well no duh right?
A long time ago in a Scouting world far far away I had a Scoutmaster that would talk about having the right gear for the type of camping that we were doing.  He would wax on about taking care of that gear so that when needed it would be there for you.  “If you take care of your gear, it will take care of you” he would say.  And I believe that.
Later in life as I started to get back into camping and backpacking, I began to toy with different types of gear.  Cook kits, stoves, backpacks, sleep systems, tents, hammocks, gizmo’s and gadgets that make camp life fun and easy.
It seems that the more you play with gear, the more you find your likes and dislikes, what works for you and what doesn’t.  In the backpacking community there is a saying online when offering advice, gear reviews, and opinions.  YMMV.  That’s.. Your mileage May Vary.  Meaning, to each his own and what works for me, may not work for you or you may get different results.
So back to our Scouts.  Now, I don’t want to break their bank, but I do want them to start learning what they like and what works for them.  I understand that I do have an influence on these young men and that when I come out with a new piece of gear or start playing with a new camp gadget, they tend to watch and learn.  I do want these guys to develop a habit of exploring what works for them.  I want them to try new things and not just gear that someone says is a must have a piece of equipment.  Developing that habit now will keep them interested in being outdoors and hiking.  It is a way that will test them and keep their minds thinking about different ways to accomplish different tasks.  I assume that my old Scoutmasters wanted me and my Troop mates to develop an appreciation for the outdoors and that is what I wish for my Scouts.  Gear is a big part of that.
When your gear fits, works, and is fun to use, you have a tendency to want to go out and use it.  A backpack that is ill-fitting and squeaks a lot is not something you want to take on the trail.  A comfortable pack will keep you on the trail longer.  If you are cold at night because you got a cheap Walmart sleeping bag rated for slumber parties, you won’t want to be in after your first miserable night.  Spending a little more up front though and getting a good sleeping bag makes for toasty comfortable nights of good sleep and you want to be out in it more.
It seems that I have turned a lot of our Scouts in to gear junkies.  And that may or may not be a good thing for their parents, but it’s a great thing in my opinion for the Scout (YMMV).
With the fast approaching Holidays coming up, I am encouraging our Scouts to get their list together.  Ask for a new pot set or stove.  Maybe that single person tent you have been eye balling or better yet, join the hammock way of a great nights sleep.  How about some new gaiters or winter boots?  New rain gear is aways in vogue here in Oregon.  Maybe it’s just a new spork that tops your Christmas list, either way this is the perfect time to add to your backpacking gear loft.
Thanksgiving a time to be with family and give thanks for all we have.  It’s also a great opportunity to corner Grandma and Grandpa and slip them a copy of your gear needs.  Or you can slip it into the Dinner conversation.  “Grandpa, can you pass the gravy?  You know, there is this pot set that I have been looking at that would be awesome for making biscuits and gravy while on our next camp out.”  You know, be subtile, but get your wish list in where ever you can.
The other side of the gear collection is what you can share.  As I collect new gear I have two bins.  One for the stuff that I really love and can’t part with and the other for the stuff that I have tried, didn’t really fall in love with, but there’s nothing wrong with it, just not my cup o’ tea.  That stuff usually ends up going home with one of the Scouts.  This last camp out and set of rain gear that my boys out grew a set of gaiters, and some odds and ends made their way into the packs of a few of our Scouts.  I don’t mind sharing (giving away) gear that I’m not using.  If it helps with meeting their gear fix needs than I really find it nice to be an enabler. 
So parents, understand that yes, I am trying to turn your son into a backpacking gear junky.  And yes, I am trying to develop in them the habit of discovery.  And yes, they are doing a great job in joining the cult of Backpacking gear guys.  You don’t have to worry about them wearing uniforms.. errr wait.. scratch that..  You won’t have to worry about them hanging out in gangs.. ahhh.. scratch that too… Ok.. yeah, they will be with their partol and they will be in uniform, but you will never have to worry about them wearing foil hats and chanting to the golden pogo stick.  They will be out in the woods having the time of their lives, comfortable, cooking great meals, singing songs, and exploring a world of adventure.  And all that great gear is going to help them in their journey!
Thanks for being patient and understanding.
Now I have to go play with my stove and put new guy lines on my tarp.. you know we have a camp out in January I need to prepare for.
Oh and my list of gear that I need…
A new wind screen for my cook kit.  An underquilt for my hammock.  Griz beak doors for the Tarp.  Oh, I can go on and on.. after all, if it’s gear, I want it.
Whats on your gear list for this Christmas.  Leave a comment and share you gear needs and wants.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

My Cook Kit

I was recently asked what I use when backpacking, or camping in general, for my cook kit.  So here it is.  It’s real simple and it works extremely well.  I am very happy with this set up having used many different cook kits, pots, pans, stoves etc.  This set up is by far my favorite and most used.  And yes, this cook kit set up is used all year long, even in the snow.
If you have questions and/or comments, please drop me an email or leave a comment here on the blog.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Be Prepared

“Be prepared for what?”  I always ask our Scouts.. “Anything” is the answer and they are correct.
This last weekend, the Scouts of my Troop went camping out at one of our favorite Scout properties, Royce Finel on the Oregon Coast.  Heading out to the coast in November is as the young guys say “Sketchy”.  You never know what kind of weather to expect, but for the most part you can expect to get wet.
The plan for weekend was to work some camp skills and have a cook off for the dinner meal.  The weeks leading up to the camp out I kept hearing the SPL announce to Be Prepared to be cold and wet.  The week leading into the camp out a couple of the older scouts brought in their packs to show how to pack for wet weather and gave some tips on staying dry.
Well, the proof is in the pudding as they say and Friday night arrived and it was time to go.  It started raining while we gathered in the parking lot at the church and got the packs loaded into my truck.  When we got to the trail head the rain had let up a little and we started our hike in to camp.  The heavy coastal rains from the last couple days made the trail interesting, especially when we got to a couple of areas where crossing swampy land was made difficult due to high water and some of the foot bridges being washed out.  But we arrived in camp and got things set up.
The first thing that I noted was that instead of jumping right into setting up tents, they had carried tarps in and set them up and got all the packs under the cover.  Then the older guys helped the newer Scouts get their tents set up and their gear put away.  The next morning after a night of heavy rain, everyone was dry and ready to have a great day.  The Troop cooked breakfast and got things cleaned up and we decided that since it was raining, and it looked like it would rain all day, that we would hike back out to the cars and head to Ft. Stevens and tour the museum there. 
After a couple of hours at Ft. Stevens we loaded up and headed back to camp.  The hike in this time was drier as it stopped raining.  Lunch was prepared and the Scouts started working on skills, namely getting a fire going.  There was nothing dry in the camp, but they managed to find some undergrowth beneath a fallen tree that would prove to be just the thing to get a fire going.  They gathered anything, wet or dry, lying around that would burn and they were successful in getting a fire going.  I checked on the guys sometime after the fire was roaring, the scouts were dry and having a great time.
The cook off went well, and everyone was thankful that the rain held out.  Around 6 PM it was dark and we all stood around the fire singing songs and telling jokes.  At 7:30 it started to rain, then came the thunder and lightning.  The guys decided it was time to head to their tents and we all went down for the night after the fire was put out.
Sunday morning we had a little drizzle, but the Scouts got packed up, ate breakfast, and we hiked back to the parking lot.  At the end of the parking lot is a dock going out into the lake, it was decided that the dock would be a good place for our Scouts own service.  At the conclusion of the service, the SPL went around the circle and had each Scout tell us what they learned over the weekend.  Some talked about how they learned to make fire in the rain, some talked about their gear, some talked about what they need to do better next time.  As I listened to them talk I heard one theme come out, and that was being prepared.
Knowledge, skills, learning from mistakes, the right gear used correctly.  All of these things lead to being prepared.  Prepared for anything.
As we arrived back in town for pick up, one of the parents made a comment about how clean everyone was.  Yeah, we had muddy boots, but uniform pants, and wet rain gear, were all clean.  One of the newer Scouts looked to his dad and said, that’s how you stay dry and warm and have a good time camping.  I smiled and said to the dad, “well I guess they do listen.”
Whether it is gear, skills, or knowledge, putting it together is the key to being prepared.  It is great when you see it put to the test and when the Scouts see themselves a success in being prepared.  It is a lesson that they will never forget and one that they will use more often in scouting and in life.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Veterans Day 2012

This year as we celebrate Veterans day I would only ask that you remember that veterans represent America.  They come from every neighborhood, they come from every economic status, they come from every county and state.  They are the sons and daughters of America.  They do not ask to go into harms way and many don’t, but what they all have in common is that They say “I will go”.  They serve for many reasons.  They are looking for a way to see the world, they are looking for money for education, they serve because their family has a long tradition of service, what ever the reason they serve.
Many veterans had a great time in the serve, some hated it.  Some stayed for a single term of enlistment, some made it a career.
Some veterans were drafted, most volunteer.   They do every job the military asks and some find a skill of trade that they can use outside of the military.
Not all go off to war, but all are ready when they get they call.  Those that do end up in a combat zone do their duty and want nothing more than to get back home.
Some veterans are known as the “Greatest Generation”, while others were not welcome home at all.  Some are real hero’s and others just did their job.  But none that really made sacrifice and saw the pain of battle will glamorize it or share the real horror.  Those that never heard the bullets fly have better stories, just ask them.  Regardless, they served and they deserve the honor of recognition this Veterans Day.
My family has been one that has given much to the service of our country.  My Grandfather served in the Army in World War II.  My father served for 24 years in the Army and did his time in Vietnam with the 23rd Infantry Division.  He saw his share.  My Uncle served in Vietnam also.  I served for 21 years and had the pleasure of serving with my Battalion in Iraq.  My father in law served in the Army reserve and my brother in laws served in the Navy and Army.  And now our family will add another soldier to the roles of service.  My oldest son will be departing soon for the Army, following in my footsteps as an Airborne Ranger, and following in the shadow of not only our families record of service, but those generations of warriors that our country has counted on since 1775.
On this veterans day, celebrate and honor those that give so much for our country.
They are not all hero’s and they all don’t have a chest full of medals, but they are are deserving of a simple thank you.
The truth be told, most veterans when asked will tell you that at the end of the day, they served for their buddies, the guys and gals in their unit.  Flag waving and singing patriotic songs mean very little to the those that fought alongside their comrades in arms.  Mom, Apple pie, and the great American way are reduced to your battle buddy, the guys that feel your pain, live through the discomfort, and share you loss.  They live through the blood, sweat, and tears of the grind of being away from home in a land far away.  They understand what it means to be afraid, they understand that everyday matters and they love each other like family.
This is the Army my son will join and this is the brotherhood that he is going to be a part of.  I am proud of my service and the service of my Father and his Father, we are proud of John and the bond that he will join in us.
This veterans day, I am remembering all of those that answered the call and became Veterans.  No matter where or when they served.  If they were part of something great or just accomplished great things.  Whether they served during times of peace or times of war, they all have one thing that no one can change or take away.  They served.
Happy Veterans Day
Have a Great Scouting Day

Election 2012

I have no comment on the results of the election.  I hope that everyone voted and did their civic duty.
What I do think about the election and our election process is this.  No matter who won there was a process that we the people agree is the best way to elect our leadership.  It may not be perfect but it works for us.  Not everyone is happy about the results.. about 49% of America is not to jazzed about the outcome, but that is how it works.  If we want to change the way it works, we have the ability to do so through the process.
This is a great teaching opportunity for our Scouts, who I am sure have also had their collective fill of TV commercials, junk mail, and dinner table conversations about the election.  Now is the time to answer those questions that they may not understand, encourage them to be a part of the process starting with their student government, but most importantly the fact that whether it is a school election or a national election, they must get out and vote and let their voice be heard.  Even if that voice is a small oval on a ballot.
I am trying real hard to keep my political opinion to myself here.  As we should when talking with our Scouts, but this is my blog and I suppose I can say what I want, but in the interest of being Loyal, Courteous, and kind… I will reserve comment on how I feel about the bad choice we American’s made… Again.
Have a Great Scouting Day