Month: December 2012

Cottage Industries

phoenixOne of the best parts of heading to the beach here in Oregon is walking through the ‘Mom and Pop’ shops.  Little art galleries,  home-made crafts and unique items flavored for the coast.  It doesnt matter if it’s the beach or the mountain, Central Oregon, or the little town I live in, you are sure to find that store that just has that touch that makes you feel at home.
Cottage Industries have long been a tradition in America.  The “Mom and Pop” shop whether it is a local hardware store or nick nacks people are out there and have talent and skill and have turned those talents and skills into a business.  Often times these cottage industries are over looked unless you are in a touristy section of an attraction destination, like the coast.
The internet has become a wonderful place to see the American cottage industry at it’s finest.  You can buy and sell almost anything on the internet and if you are one of those that have the skill and talent and know how… well your cottage store can do well… once again though, most of these internet cottage outlets are also overlooked by people afraid to shop online or the limited advertising inherent in the internet.
Lately I have been turned on to a hand full of great cottage industry outlets on the net.  Specific to the world of backpacking and in particular hammock camping.  And by the nature of most hammock campers.. lighter weight camping.
What I have found is that the customer service is 100% better than what you get in the big ‘chain’ stores and while I may pay just a tad bit more, the quality is second to none.
Two years ago I bought my hammock from a fellow in Boulder Colorado.  He has made his niche in the internet cottage industry with a company called Warbonnet Outdoors.  They handcraft a number of hammocks, tarps, top and bottom quilts, and other accessories for hammock camping.  The guys name is Brandon, and he actually answers the phone when you call with a question.
After my purchase from Warbonnet, I started looking into other backpacking business’s on the net.  I came across a great site of multiple cottage industry stores that specialize in backpacking.  Outdoor Trail gear.com is the host to a couple really neat online stores.  There is a guy named Dutch there that sells ultra lightweight hammock and tarp suspension hardware and accessories.  Then there is Butt in a sling, they make light weight hammocks and accessories.  If you are looking for a good alcohol stove, Smokeeatter908 has machine tooled stoves that really do the job.  He also has cook gear for the backpacker looking to shave weight.
Jacks R Better is an online store for shelter, quilts, and other essentials.  They are a great company started by two retired Army guys… so they must be good.
If you are really looking for the ultimate weight savings you need to visit zpacks.com.  They are there to help you shave grams from your pack and they do it with high quality, state of the art, super light materials.
I just got an order in from them today and I can’t wait to see the weight savings in my pack.  Once again when you are looking for quality craftsmanship and outstanding customer service these online stores are the place to shop.
Recently I placed an order for an underquilt for my hammock.  I went to a site called Hammockgear.com.  I had some questions so I called the phone number listed on the web site.   A man named Adam answered the phone.  Him and his wife own, operate, sew, take orders, raise kids, answer the phones, emails, and maintain the web site.  And they turn out one of the leading quilts in the industry.  Adam spent about a 1/2 hour on the phone with me, first we talked a bit about my order, then we spent the rest of the time talking about backpacking in the Northwest.  I really felt great about spending my money with him.
I guess the point of all of this is like I discussed in yesterday’s post on Scouting Blogs.  There are people out there with talent, skill, and passion for what they do and we need to support them.
My need to seek information, skills, and gear for backpacking has led me to the cottage industries on the internet where I am finding great products and outstanding people who provide customer service.  I could just head to the nearest REI and hope they have what I want, or I can get exactly what I want from people the make it, test it, use it, and sell it.
Find your niche and see if there is an online resource for it by way of a cottage store.. the online ‘Mom and Pop’ shop.
I am sure you will find that they will not disappoint.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Year in Review

It’s that time of the year when we all take a look back at our year and take stock in what we have learned, what we accomplished, and what we look forward to in the coming year.  It is also that time of the year that all the “Lists” come out and WordPress sends us bloggers our report card.
So lets start with that.    The blog is doing very well and it is all because of you the reader/viewer.  Now I don’t claim to understand how blogs are rated and ranked, and I don’t know where the Scoutmasterminute.net rates among the really big blogs out there.  I guess deep down inside I wish the blog was massive and only because then the world would see our Scouting world in the light in which we want it to be seen.  I surf around at some of the blogs out there that are truly about nothing and see that they have thousands of followers, get millions of hits, and have what I consider sub par content.  Scouting blogs seem to not get the views it should.
Resolve this coming year to tell a friend about a Scouting blog.  It doesn’t have to be this one, but pick one.  There are great Scouting blogs out there.
You can start with Bryan on Scouting.  The official Blog of the BSA (Scouting Magazine).  In typical well produced fashion the BSA has a nice product in this blog.  I like that it is pretty interactive and does a nice job of telling Scouting’s story.
Then you need to check out the blogs of my Scouting friends.  Scouter Adam for the Cub Scout folks out there, mixes up his personal touch as well as telling a great Scouting story.  A stop in at the Boy Scout Trial is a nice site for resources, stories, and fun stuff.   No list of Scouting blogs could be complete without Clarke Green’s Blog.  That is a site that every Scouter should have bookmarked and visit often.  Doug Metz has a nice blog out there also.  I wish he would put more out there.  He has a great story and I love to hear about his journey.  Bobwhites Blather is another good site.  I like blogs that stay current, are on topic, have fun, and speak to not only their Scouting world, but the writers other interests also.
I could list site after site that I am sure do not get enough visits and would love to see more.   You can get a great idea of the Scouting blogs that are out there by visiting my friend Gregg’s Half Eagle.com.   I would be remiss if I did not give a shout out to the guy that pretty much got me interested and encouraged me to keep it going.  Steve.  His Blog has been out there for a long time.  Steve has a unique take on Scouting from the perspective of a small town and small troop that has been there and done that.  Steve was a Scoutmaster for 30 years and just can’t walk away.  And for that we are all better.
If I left you off the list it is not intended to slight you or say that you do not have a great story.  The list I just named was pretty much in the order they appear on my favorites list.. which is pretty random at best.  There are great blogs out there.. but google Scouting blogs and see what you get.  We need to be up on the top of that list.
The point is we need to get better at supporting one another.  We need to tell Scouting’s story and get Scouting out front in a positive light.
Today I did receive my “Year in review” from WordPress.  They give an option to share, but the numbers really do not mean anything unless they are placed in context.  So I thought I would share, but in the context of you the great reader.
This blog was visited 52,000 times this last year.  That to me is pretty darn good.  But once again, I think it is to the Choir that we preach.  And yep, the Choir needs to hear the sermon, but telling Scouting’s story and sharing tips and tricks for the trail is something that I want more to see.  Believe me when I say that my ego does not this blog.  I do it cause I like it and it is helping I am sure.  In some small way 52,000 views lended a hand in someones Scouting life or life as a camper.
I was surprised to see that I only posted (as of yesterday) 133 new posts to the blog.  And then upon further review I noticed that there were some real thin months for blogging out there.
So for 2013 I resolve to write more and post more to the blog.
2013 saw a major increase in feedback to the blog also and I want to thank everyone that made a contribution to the conversation.  I especially want to thank Allan Green.  Allan was the top contributor to the blog, lending his comments and feedback more than anyone else.  Thanks Allan.  Send me your address and I have something for you.
This year in Scouting for me took me to Philmont.  Scouting’s paradise and I fell in love with the trails, the mountains, the canyon country that is the Sange de Christo range.  The trip to Philmont for me was extremely special in many ways.  Taking 2 crews from our Troop on an adventure of that magnitude was a challenge and an experience of a life time.  It was not a once in a life time adventure, but a mountain top experience that touched me spiritually, physically, and mentally.  I got to see the very best in Scouts and Scouting while watching our crew grow and develop and have a lot of fun.  Philmont was the Scouting high light of the year for me.
Our grew again this year, and we lost some boys along the way.  But in the end, the program got stronger and the Scouts got better.  Youth leadership met many challenges this year and came out better for it.  With a great plan going into 2013 I look forward to the many adventures that lay ahead.
Personally I grew this year.  My relationships and my friendships are stronger.
And then there is the obsession with my backpack.
I have set a goal to reduce volume and weight from my pack.  This is going to be a lengthy project and one that I will have fun doing.  Playing with gear, testing new items and ideas and developing a lighter philosophy when it comes to hitting the trail.  I look forward to that and sharing that with you here on the blog.
2012 was a good year.  2013 is going to be better.
Resolve to make changes in your life.  Resolve to make your world better, your self better, and those around you better.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

More Scouting Blogs that I failed to add to the post:
Scouter Mom’s Blog
Scoutmaster Shawn’s Blog
Phil Pecks blog
Nick from across the pond
Bryan Spellman’s blog
John Scout
Arlen Ward.com
Kevin Devin’s Blog of his interest!

And there are a bunch more.. make sure you visit them.  Hit the like button and share them!

Sunday Mornin’ Coffee 12-30

Hey everyone, this week we try out the Taster’s Choice instant (singles).  It turned out to be a good cup of coffee and the price can not be beat.
We are introducing a new segment to the video and blog this week also.. 52 ways I’m shaving weight in my pack.  I need to come up with a better name for that… but I will be sharing the ways in which I am lightening the weight and volume of my pack in an effort to get to my target base weight of 16 lbs.  I think that is doable and if I get shave more.. well all the better.
This weeks weight saving came from ordering new stuff sacks from zpacks.com.  I found it amazing how heavy my old stuff sacks are.  And now that I see how every ounce adds up, this order will make a big difference in my pack weight.
Enjoy the video, leave your comments, suggestions, and questions either here on the blog, at the YouTube Channel, or send me an email.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

My First Aid Kit

A few weeks ago I showed my First Aid Kit while drinking coffee from the hammock.  I have since received multiple emails asking for a break down of what is in my First Aid kit.  Well.. here you go.
Feel free to ask questions or leave a comment here on the blog.
If you click on the video and open it up in YouTube, please subscribe to the channel and show us some YouTube love!
FYI… for those of you counting the ounces… The First Aid kit weighs 8.7 oz.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Packit Gourmet

Hey folks.. THIS IS AN UNSOLICITED Blog post about perhaps my favorite of the packaged “Just add water” meals.
Packitgourmet.com makes some fantastic food for backpacking or for those of you that are getting ready for a zombie attack.. I suppose you can add this to your preper stock.
But seriously, I order from Packit Gourmet frequently and enjoy their meals.  They are hearty, great tasting, and pretty inexpensive compared to some of the name brands that you may find at your local outfitter.
The customer service at Packit gourmet is fantastic and they are great at answering questions, getting your order to you on time and following up with any issue you may have… I promise it won’t be with the food.
For Scout units, the pot is even sweeter… Sign your unit up and you can let your Scouts reap the benefits of great meals and financial savings.. on the food that is.
When you sign your unit up for the Scout Discount, you and your Scouts can save 15% on every purchase.. and that’s not a one time thing.  Every Purchase!  You don’t have to order as a unit, you don’t have to order a specific amount and no you are limited to a few of the meal selections.  The store is open to you and you get the discount every time you order.
Look for a video review of my favorite meal from Packit Gourmet coming real soon here to the blog!
This is from the Packit gourmet website… I encourage you to head over there and check it out.

All About Scouts!

Recently read about Packit Gourmet in Scouting Magazine? Looking for more information?

Check out our Scouting Resources area for information on our Scout Partnerships (15% off for all scout troops!), articles, helpful links and more.

Plus, be sure to request some of our free Packit Postcards for your next meeting which include a coupon code for a free Austintacious Tortilla Soup – yum!

 

Again.. I get nothing for this.. I wish I did, I mean.. heck, I’d love for Packit Gourmet to throw some meals my way.. but nope.. I am just passing on this great deal for all of my Scouter friends.  If you are not a Scouter get on over to Packit Gourmet anyway and see why Packit Gourmet wins Backpacker Magazine Editor’s Choice awards!
Enjoy the great food on the trail!
Have a Great Scouting Day
!

Character v. Reputation

Yesterday all over sports talk radio they discussed the recent incident between Tim Tebow and his head coach.  Now I don’t know all the details as they never really got into it, but the jest of the matter is that for obvious reasons Tebow is not to happy about his role on the New York Jets and tried to explain to his coach the reasons he did not want to play in a certain scheme (The Wildcat) when he does not have a real role as a Quarterback on the team.
Having said all of that, and it really does not matter what the conversation between coach and player was, the radio jocks made it an issue of character and reputation.
Even though you may know little about football and or Tim Tebow, it is pretty well-known that he (Tebow) prides himself as a man of character and integrity.  He has often been bashed for his religious convictions and is also often portrayed as a pouting player that has been wronged by his team.  The rumors about his work ethic in practice but his tenacious play while on the field contradict at times and calls into question his character and reputation.
One of the radio personalities asked the question yesterday “What is more important, your character or your reputation?”
Well, the answer to me was simple.  Character is way more important and if you are a person of character, you will never have to worry about your reputation.
If you focus on being a person of values and character and define your life as such… well then that will become your reputation.
A good team-mate, strong work ethic, willing to do what is necessary to help the team.. those are all traits that mark a man of character.
When we let reputation get in the way of our character to be popular, liked, and paid.. then we chip away at our character and as a result that becomes our reputation.
It thought this answer was simple.  What amazed me was how complicated the sports talk radio personalities made it.  They did not seem to get that one leads to the other for good or for ill.
Think about it.  This is a great life lesson and like Tim or not.. he is doing a great job (good and bad examples) of how we should live a life of character.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Christmas 2012

Merry_Christmas_1The wrapping paper is thrown all about, smiles on every face.  Hope everyone got what they wanted or needed and the smell of Christmas cooking is filling the air.
I wanted to take just a minute and share my Christmas wishes to you all.
Christmas for me is a special time.  Enjoying the time with my family is by far more precious than any gift that can be wrapped.  The time that I get to share watching the kids open their gifts, sharing in their joy and company is the very best that life can offer.
I have had the pleasure of spending far to many Christmas’s away from my family.  Georgia, Alaska, and Iraq just to name a few of the wonderful locations that Christmas morning was spent without loved ones.   Those Christmas’s are the times that I really understood the value of family.  It’s when you don’t have them around that you realize just how special they are.
This year as we celebrate our Christmas we celebrate with the heaviness in our hearts that next Christmas our oldest son may not be with us to celebrate.  John leaves in two weeks to serve our country in the Army.  And while I am extremely proud of him and know that he will serve with honor and pride, we are going to miss him dearly.
So this year, we make the most of the time spent with him and the whole family.
So the giving of gifts and the exchange of Christmas wishes are always met with the blessing of our family.
From my family to yours.
Merry Christmas!  I hope you got some new gear and are ready for the new year!
Have a Great Scouting Day!