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Trangia 27 series

Happy New Year!
I hope that every one is well and is gearing up for the new and exciting year that will be.  I am not a fan of resolutions.. but my 2017 Ticket is written and I am ready to work it for a successful year.
To start off the year, I am re tooling my cook kit for backpacking. In an effort to “practice what I preach” I am switching my alcohol stoves from the Blackcat stove to using nothing by my Trangia stove.
The Trangia switch addresses all of the BSA’s concerns about using Alcohol stoves and so I can use it and share that with the Scouts of the unit.. many already use the Trangia or one of the like stoves.
Here is a little video showing the set up and discussing why I am going with it.  Hope it is at least informative.

Thanks for reading and watching the blog.. let me know what you think.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Christmas 2016

norman_rockwell-christmas_homecoming-1948bWe all have an image of the “perfect” Christmas.  It is one of those images that we hold deep in our hearts.  An image of a Christmas from our childhood, a vision of the ideal Christmas from It’s a Wonderful Life.  We think of bells and decorated trees, the smell of baking and cinnamon covered pine cones.  Whatever the image of Christmas you have in your mind the common thread is more than likely time spent with family.
That will always be the perfect Christmas for me.  No matter where we lived, who was visiting, or whether we had snow or California sunshine, Christmas has always been a celebration with the people that mean the most to me.
While I think that we all strive for that Norman Rockwell vision of rosy cheeks and snow covered wonderlands, it really comes down to family.  That is where we can all find our perfect Christmas.
I have spent Christmas’s deployed and away from family and no matter what I thought about Christmas looking like, it always came back to home and family.
This year has been a good year for me and my family.  We have worked hard this year and are blessed with the rewards for that work.  Our friendships have grown and we were blessed with a new addition to the family, a wonderful Daughter in Law.
Our life is good.
I have been blessed with the friendships I have made through this blog.  It has been nice to correspond with some of the readers and realize that what we are doing here does in fact make a difference.
2017 is going to be a year of blessings.  As the journey of another Wood Badge course steps off we again will look to the impact to the lives of Scouters that will make a huge difference in our world.  Our Wood Badge family will grow and friendships will be made.
Next Christmas that will be part of our thoughts as we again envision a “perfect” Christmas.

“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger’.”Luke 2:8-12

From My Family to Yours.. Have a Perfect Christmas!
Merry Christmas and Blessing in your New Year!

Nerds

concordtotranqI had a talk with a group of Scouts a week or so ago.  I asked them what they thought of Scouting and how their classmates viewed it.  My point was to illustrate that the “pressure” that they feel for being Scouts is no different than it was when I was I kid and a Scout.
They overwhelmingly feel that their classmates view them as nerds, geeks, or whatever the current term is for it.  At that I said that is awesome.  Look at it this way.
All of the movie stars started out as nerds.  They were in the drama club or acting class.  No one thought that was cool when I was in School.. now they are all over the spot light and people think they are the trend setters.  They make it on the cover of People Magazine and are all over TMZ.
Think about the stars that are topping the music charts.  Band geeks to say the least.  They played in the School Band or hung out in dark garages.  Then all of a sudden, they are pop stars and have millions of screaming fans.
What about the science nerds.  The guys and gals that hung out in the library or stayed after School to enter the Science fair.. yeah.. those uncool students have launched into space and circled the planet.  They are driving Mars rovers and finding a way that cars can drive themselves.  They are the reason we have cell phones that fit in our pockets and can function better than a 1990 main frame computer.
Speaking of computers.. how about that Steve Jobs weirdo.. he was the king of the nerds.  No one gave him the time of day.. not voted most likely to be cool in high School.  But every time we see that little apple we know a geek is behind it.
So just how bad is it to be a nerd?  The same as it ever was.  It is what we make of it.
Seems to me that they end up ok in the end. So if Scouting is nerdy, geeky, or un cool.. count me in.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Simple things

20161214_194806We teach our Scouts to focus on the little things and the big things will take care of themselves.  I have lived by that train of thought since I became a Sergeant in the Army.  Little things always add up.  And the other thing that I know for sure is that numbers never lie.
So lots of little things done well will add up to the big things being multiplied.
This theory of mine hit me full force this weekend as we were preparing for our December Court of Honor.  A group of us were putting together the recognition for the Scouts and we started looking at numbers.  We have never really been a “Numbers” driven Troop.  We have always believed that if we do the little things well we will have a great Troop.  We started a bead program to recognize the Scouts for the activities, service, training, and other great Scouting fun they participate in.  It has become a real hit within the unit.  It is a simple thing but makes a big difference.
When the tally was all final it reaffirmed my pride in the Scouts of our Troop. 1330 hours of service last year.  When we talk about the little things. that is a lot of little things that add up to a big impact in our community.  The big thing of teaching Character and Citizenship and Helping People at all times all are added up in that number.  While there are units that may have more or less, this is our number and I think it is fantastic.
Along with Service we added up our nights of camping and other out door activities.  Again this speaks to the greater part of our program.  If we are doing Scouting right, then participation will reflect a positive number.  We gave our Scouts an opportunity to camp 29 nights last year.  That would be 1131 nights of camping if 100% of our Scouts participated in every camp out.  We did not have 100% unfortunately.. however we did have a good percentage attended and we came out with 70% of our Scouts attending everything.  70% I am pretty happy with.. It could be a lot better.. but a number we can live with right now.  It is a little thing that tells us that our program is healthy.  It also caused us to look at the 30% of the Scouts that did not attend.  What we found was a group of Scouts that are growing older, are active in sports, choir, drama, and other activities away from Scouting.  In a year that produced more Eagle Scouts than any other year, we started seeing the decline in some of our Scouts being at Camp outs.  I can understand that.  So we will do better to plan around some of their activities and allow them opportunities to be active in Scouting.
We had a large crowd at the Court of Honor.  It was so nice to see the parents that are supportive of their Scout.  Aunts and Uncles, Grandparents, and family friends.  I was happy to see them as they saw all the little things added up.
We will continue to focus on the little things.. they take care of the program.
On a personal note.
I apologize for slowing down the blogging the last couple weeks.  It is December and as you can imagine, life as a UPS driver is a bit hectic this time of the year.  Long days and short nights have left me without a lot of time or energy to share my thoughts on the blog.
Thanks for sticking around.

Have a Great Scouting Day! 

Little to Big

pennantDo a Good Turn Daily.. That is the Slogan of Scouting.  It is a challenge to each of us to look for some way to be of service.  The slogan asks us to seek opportunities every day to do something… anything that will ultimately make a difference.
It is my belief that when we look at this challenge we feel it is to large.  It is a lofty goal to actually make a difference in this world.
What we need to do is think little.  Little things matter.
When we teach leadership in our Troop one of our principles is to “Focus on the Little Things.”  That principle is all about details and those things that add up to big things.  Little things like keeping your gloves out of the snow.  Just a little thing, but the big thing is cold hands, wet gear, and maybe frost bite.  Another example is ensuring that your tent is pitched properly.  Making sure your guy lines are taught and pulled in line.  Not a big deal, until it rains and your rain fly does not function properly.  Just a little thing that makes a big difference.
And so it is with the Good Turn.  Little things make a big difference.  Holding open a door or carrying a bag.  Little things that make a big difference for the person you helped.
A smile could change someones attitude or outlook on the day.
I think we get wrapped up in service for service sake and not for the difference we make.
Just think.. there are about two million Scouts in America.  They represent about 103 thousand units.  Those units represent Schools, Churches, Communities.   So if 2 million Scouts did their Good Turn each day, just something small, we could change our world.  That does not event take into consideration the Adult Volunteers that teach, coach, train, and mentor those 2 million Scouts.  Add about 1.2 million to that number.  3 million people doing a small act of service every day.  When we talk about little to big.. we can see that we make a big difference when and where it really matters.
In 2015 the Boy Scouts of America logged 1.53 million service hours.  Those were hours of service dedicated to building things, collecting food, and working for our communities.  That seems like a big number but at the end of the day we may not see the big impact.  A lot of our service is dedicated to our chartering partners and people directly impacted in Scouting.  That is great and I certainly would not want to take one minute of those hours away.. they make a difference.  But in snap shots.
Little to Big.. each of us.. every day.  Now that would leave a mark that could be seen from outer space.
Think little to big.  Do your Good Turn every day!

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Scouting for…

HappinessYesterday was our annual Scouting for Food drive.  Scouts from all over our Council hit the neighborhoods with enthusiasm and the knowledge that for two hours of service they will help feed many people in our community that are in need.
Now, we won’t debate here why they are in need, the organizations that profit from their need at times, or social injustice.. we are talking about Scouts doing a good turn.
Our Troop not only collects food from our neighbors, but also work the better part of the day at the St. Vincent dePaul Food Pantry collecting, sorting, and boxing food to be distributed over the course of the next few weeks.
As Packs, Troops, and Crews collect the food items, they bring it to the Church to be weighed, sorted, and given.  So over the morning I get an opportunity to talk with Scouts and Scouters and thank them for what they are doing to make our community just a tad bit better.
A group of Scouts came in and started unloading their pick up trucks full of food.  The Scoutmaster of the Troop and I exchanged greetings and he remarked about how rude some people are.. kind of blowing off the comment I said, yeah you see that everywhere now a days.. he said no.. today when they were collecting food in their neighborhood a lot of people went out of their way to be rude when a simple, no thank you or sorry we are not donating would do.
He even went on to say that many of his Scouts were yelled at for “Begging” for food.  A real sad story.
I let that soak in a bit and then let it go.
An hour later, a group of Scouts and I were standing outside waiting for more units to bring in food items.  A man walking by stopped and crossed the street.  I smiled and said hello.  He asked what we were doing.  I told him today is our annual Scouting for Food campaign and we were collecting food for the pantry.  He asked why the Scouts were doing it.  I replied that this is a good opportunity for the Scouts to do their good deed for the day and also a way of giving back to our community.  It was then that the discussion went South and in a hurry.  The man said that “these boys should not be our here begging for food”.. I thought back to the conversation I had with my friend the Scoutmaster.  I wonder if this is the same guy?
I smiled and assured him that we were not begging.. just simply helping collect food for the St. Vincent dePaul pantry.
He seemed to be getting very upset.  I asked him if there was something I could do for him, offered him a cup of coffee and a place to get out of the cold.  He did not want any coffee and asked again why were out here.  I again explained the Scouting for Food campaign and thought we were through.. and then he said it.. “It is a shame what you are doing to these boys”  Excuse me I asked.  “Brainwashing them into a bunch of robots” What?  Are you familiar with Scouting I asked?  He said sure.. I know all about how you are grooming these young kids to go into the military.  I said to him that while I know of Scouts that do enter the military, Scouting is not a military organization nor does it “Feed” the military with new recruits.  “Then why the uniforms, badges, and saluting?”
Scouting is like a team I tried to explain, we wear a uniform just like a sports team wears a uniform, it gives us a sense of team and pride in belonging together.  It is a great equalizer, we are all the same, no matter where we come from, what economic status, religion, or race.  We are all just Scouts.  The badges and saluting, well, they are to show achievement, teaching the Scouts that when you work hard you get rewarded.  So far as saluting, we only Salute our Country’s flag.  That is just our way of showing respect to the country that we live in.
He kept on.. well you are a “Ultra Right wing radical group”.. At that I had to laugh.  I told him that I was not exactly sure what he meant by that.. he said we were all radicals and want war.  At that it was time to have a little fun.
Sir, you don’t know a lot about Scouting do you?  I know plenty he said.. You said we all want war.. I suppose you are right.. we wage war against poverty, we want to kill hunger, we want to remove intolerance, we fight against our Scouts using drugs and battle against lack of character.  In 1918 after World War 1, Baden Powell moved Scouting’s goal to be a movement for peace… and that is what it has been for over 100 years.  Scouts from all over the world fight for peace in their own way every day.
Do we seem to be very conservative, sure.. it can be said that we have conservative values, you know all those terrible things like being loyal and friendly, Trustworthy and kind, Brave and clean, Helpful and Courteous.  We value hard work and earning our way in the world.  We teach our Scouts how to be people with Character, good Citizens, and young people that are fit.
No Sir, we do not brainwash or indoctrinate our youngsters into the military or force them to vote republican when they grow up.  We teach them to be good people that are self reliant, we do not want them to be a burden, rather people that take away the burden of their neighbor.
And that is why we are here today.. to help our community and those that are in need.
He made some weird sound, snorted, and turned to walk away.  I had to get one last shot in.  I said to him that I hope he has a better view of Scouts and Scouting now and that he is always welcome to come pay us a visit.  I said “Sir, we are just trying to do our part to make things better”.  He smiled and walked away.
Maybe Scouting for food was different this year.  Giving was down and the mood was strange, it has been a long weird year.  I hope that my exchange with that man yesterday was helpful.  He was Scouting for Food.. the food that is knowledge.  I am sure he was looking for an argument, but found Scouting and a group of young men that showed him at our finest. He found Scouts and a Scouter that have passion for what our organization does and believes.
After Scouting for Food, we went to a Cross over Ceremony for Webelos Scouts moving to Boy Scout Troops.  Our Troop received one of the four that crossed.  As I watched our ceremonies team tell the story of the Scout Oath and Law and the trail that these new young men were stepping off on.. I reflected on my conversation of that morning.  Smiled and knew that we did well today.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Horse and Cart

horsecartYou can look at a good Scout Troop like a horse and cart.  The horse has to be strong and steadfast.  The horse has to be trained so as not to buck and run when it’s not supposed to.  The horse works as a part of a team and each pulls it’s share of the weight so the load of the cart can be pulled over the long haul.
The horse represents your adult volunteers.  They need to be trained to understand the Scouting program and what their role is in it.  The adult volunteer needs to appreciate the aims of Scouting and move the unit in the right direction.  Adult volunteers need to be steadfast and keep in mind that the unit is bigger than one person.  They need to know that what they do today will have a lasting impact on the units future.
The cart is the units program.  It can be as full as you want or as empty, but the cart is always moving behind the horse.  The program of the unit is the reason for the horse to be there.  It is the “Why” of Scouting.  The Aims, the Methods, and the thing that keeps the boys coming back for more.  The cart can be loaded heavy as long as it has good horses to pull it.
And what drives the horse and cart?  The youth.  Youth leadership makes the horse and cart go.  It holds on to the reigns and steers the team.  It is their cart.  They get to decide how much or how little gets put in.  They are taught to lead the horse team and see the benefits of what is in the cart.  A good horse, cart, and driver make for a good Scout Troop.  When the elements work together, are trained, and understand how it all works together there is no where the unit can’t go.  There is nothing it can not do.
The cart can not be put before the horse, the horse can not function without the driver, and the driver has not purpose without the horse and cart.

Have a Great Scouting Day!