stories

The more things change.. the more they stay the same

DanielBooneThose of you that have followed the blog for a while know that I am a fan and collector of Scouting literature.  I don’t just collect the books, magazines, and other literature, I love to get into them and see how Scouting was, how Green Bar Bill wrote and what the program looked like over the decades.
A common phrase I hear often from “older” Scouters is how things were “Back when I was a Scout”.  It seems that things were so much better back when we were Scouts.  But then I got to digging in to the literature and what I have found is that the more things change.. the more they really do stay the same.
Yes, before I get hate mail… Scouting has changed a lot over time, but really, it has stayed the same.
In the 1959 edition of the Boy Scout Handbook the Boy Scouts of America talks about YOU, the American Boy.
Before I get into this, I was listening to a podcast the other day.  The host of the podcast was talking about kids today and some of the things that they have lost over time.  Some of the heritage of America has not been adequately passed down to our kids.  I remember when I was a kid that we played like we were on the wild frontier of America.  I was Daniel Boone and some of my friends would play the roles of Davy Crockett and Kit Carson, and Wild Bill Hickok.  We would fight the battle of the Alamo, build rafts and float down the “Missouri”.  We built forts and tried to live the legends of American History.  I once met Daniel Boone at Frontier land in Disneyland.  It was a great day, you would have thought Daniel Boone came back just for me to meet him.
I think everyone I knew could sing every word of Davy Crockett.  You remember.. he was the “King of the wild Frontier”.
I think watching the tv shows, seeing our hero’s at Disneyland, and learning about them in Scouting, School, and out in the woods shaped how we played the game with a purpose then.
Who are the hero’s today?  Who are those Davy Crockett’s that the kids today run through the woods acting like?
The 1959 handbook talks about the American boy…
“Have you ever dreamed of hiking the wilderness trails that were worn down under moccasins hundreds of years ago?  Do you hear in your imagination the almost soundless dip-dip of Indian canoe paddles or the ring of the axe of an early pioneer hewing a home out of the American wilderness?  Have you followed with your mind’s eye the covered wagons on the trek across our continent?  Have you thought of the men and women who built our country by their determination and devotion?  You are the descendant of those people.  You are the guardian of what they built.  You are the American on whom the future of our wonderful country depends.”
Great writing.  It inspired Scouts for years to learn about our heritage and not feel ashamed of being an American boy.  It valued the spirit of the pioneer, the frontiersman, the explorer an encouraged the Scout to seek that adventure and become a part of the American Narrative.
We have lost that kind of writing in our current handbooks.  Now the handbook gets the Scout to the next rank.  But the more they change, the more they are the same. Where we have lost it is in us.  We have stopped teaching them.  We have stopped allowing them to be American boys.
“Today you are an American boy.  Before long you will be an American man.”  The ’59 handbook continues.  “It is important to America that you become a citizen of fine character, physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.”  We all agree that there is no change there.  The handbook, as in today’s handbook sets the course for the Scout to begin a life of values and adventure.  “Yes, it’s fun to be a Boy Scout!  It’s fun to go hiking and camping with your best friends… to swim, to dive, to paddle a canoe, to wield and axe…  to follow in the footsteps of the pioneers who led the way through the wilderness…to stare into the glowing embers of a campfire and dream of the wonders of the life that is in store for you.”  Do we make that promise to our boys today?  Why not?  Nothing has changed there.  The world is not that much different.
I always tell our new Scouts as we sit around the campfire to watch the older boys as they join us in the circle.  There is a magic in the campfire.  It is a magic that no matter who you are or what your job is in the troop, it plays true every time.  That magic is in the embers.  It forces one to stare and quietly be a part of it.  And sure enough, someone will join us in the circle and their eyes will immediately move to glow of the fire.  Where once a loud noise came is now silent and engaged in the magic of Scouting.  It is for us to not allow things to change.  Scouting is rich in tradition, values, adventure, and spirit.  The more things change, the more that will always stay the same.  If we want it to.
I think that we need to go back and take a look at old handbooks.  Look at the writing of William Hillcourt and how he could draw the imagination of the boys of America.  Look how he engaged them to being a part of the rich heritage and adventurous spirit of Americans before them.
We have lost that spirit and way that pull the boys of America into this great adventure.  It will be gone if we don’t share it.  If we don’t allow them to be American boys.
Building rafts like Huck Finn and standing atop the Alamo defending an ideal.  Hanging out in a tree house and hiking off into the wilderness in search of new land.  We hold them back in the name of protection, we kill their spirit of adventure and call it safety.  I cringe at the thought of not passing on our American spirit to this generation of boys.
They want it.. they just don’t know what it is.
The more things change.. the more the American boy is the same.. Let him be one!
“When you are a Scout, forest and field, rivers and lakes,  are your playground. You are completely at home in God’s great outdoors.  You learn to notice every sound,  to observe every track.  Birds and animals become your friends.  You master the skills of walking noiselessly through the woods, of stalking close to a grazing deer without being noticed, of bringing a bird to you by intimating it’s call.  You learn to find your way cross country by map and compass, to make a meal when you are hungry, to take a safe swim when you are hot, to make yourself comfortable for the night in a tent or under the stars.  You become a true outdoorsman.”  Boy just like when I was a kid acting like Daniel Boone.. the king of the wild frontier.   This was Scouting when I was a boy… and it is Scouting now.  We just need to remember that things really have not changed that much.. it is us that changed.  The wilderness still calls, adventure still yells for our boys to come.  Are you going to let them?
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Sing.. it’s a part of Scouting

singI once heard a quote somewhere in which supposedly Baden-Powell said, and I am paraphrasing “the mark of a real Scout troop is one that sings.”  I can’t remember where or when I heard that but when I think about my Scouting experience as a youth some of my fondest memories are of us singing.  We sand while we hiked, we sang while we sat around the camp fire, and we sang at meetings.  Singing was a big part of Scouting and it just did not seem right if we did not sing.
This is a tradition that I have passed on in my Troop.  Our troop loves to sing.  We sing around the camp fire, we sing while we hike, and we sing to close every meeting.
Some of the Scouts love to sing more than others, but once the singing starts, it is contagious.  There are certain songs that are staples in the Troop.  Songs that get everyone involved.  The Quartermaster Store is a favorite of the boys, they can go for a half hour trying to find new rhymes and ways to poke fun at one another.  Old Lady Leary is another favorite of our Troop and they see which patrol can out shout the other.  Staying on the Sunny side of life is yet another song that gets the guys singing.
I think that singing is a huge part of Scouting and needs to be a part of every unit.  Once they start this fine tradition they will look for ways to work it in to their program.
There is something about the Scout spirit that comes with song.  It leaves lasting memories that will last forever.  Songs that will come back again and again that make those camp outs memorable and fun.
I was searching the internet for a song that was my all time favorite when I was a young Scout.  It was called “It’s a lie”.  I found it yesterday and immediately smiled as I thought about the summer camp when I first heard it.  It was 1978 at Camp Freedom in the Transatlantic Council.  The opening camp fire was spectacular.    The camp staff led an action packed night, songs and skits and lots of stories about the camp and Scouting.  The camp fire ended with the Order of the Arrow doing a tap out ceremony.  But that song stuck in my head and for the next week I sang it all day long.  I think my Scoutmaster finally had to get another song stuck in my head before he went crazy.
Anyway.. it was singing and a song that brought back a flood of great memories.
Here are the words to my memorable song… you find yours.

I was born a hundred thousand years ago. (YEARS AGO) 
And there’s nothing in this world I do not know. (DO NOT KNOW) 
I saw Peter, Paul, and Moses playing ring-around the roses, 
And I’ll lick the guy who says it isn’t so. (IT ISN’T SO)

Chorus:
It’s a lie; It’s a lie ; Ship ahoy, ship ahey, ship a hi-hi-hi!
Oh, I’ve sailed the seven seas and I’ve sniffed the salty breeze, 
But I never, ever, ever saw a mermaid. (A MERMAID)

I was there when Satan looked the garden o’er. (GARDEN O’ER) 
I saw Adam and Eve a’driven from the door. (FROM THE DOOR) 
I was round the corner peekin’ at the apple they was eatin’ 
I can prove I was the guy that ate the core. (ATE THE CORE)

I was there when Caesar crossed the Rubicon. (RUBICON) 
I’m the guy who built the raft he crossed it on. (CROSSED IT ON) 
I saw Nero burning Rome, and Hannibal at home. 
I even saw the fall of Babylon. (BABBLE ON)

I saw Washington afloat a cake of ice. (CAKE OF ICE) 
I saw Sherman, Lee, and Grant a shakin’ dice. (SHAKIN’ DICE)
I saw Roosevelt’s great laugh that split his face in half, 
While Pershing set a trap for German mice. (GERMAN MICE)

You may thing that all this bunk, it isn’t true. (IT ISN’T TRUE)
But what difference does it really make to you? (MAKE TO YOU)
I’ve been feeding you this line just to pass away the time, 
And now I’m going to quit because I’m through. (YOU’RE THROUGH)

Sing with your Scouts!!!  It makes a difference.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Attack of the Snow Blower

This weeks Sunday Coffee with Scoutmaster Jerry is full of coffee and adventure..
This weekend our Troop camped out up at White River on Mt. Hood.  It was a great time and lots of skills practiced and learned.
Sunday Morning around 4:00 AM our Troop encountered an unexpected attack.  We typically camp on the other side of a creek that flows adjacent to the White River snow park.  This is a good location as this camp out is always the first Winter camp out in snow for the new Scouts.  The location provides a good bail out plan and the comfort that the cars are not to far if we need them.  Anyway… this year the snow bridge was gone so we picked a camp site a bit closer to the parking lot.  We have camped there before, but this year was different.  At 4:00 AM the Oregon Department of Transportation snow crew cleaned up the snow park.  They plowed the parking lot and then sent in the snow blower  Now I don’t know about you but I had never felt the wrath of 100 lbs of snow shot from a cannon before.. until this morning!
Hope you enjoy the video.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Are we still Delivering?

all togetherThere has been much said, yeah.. even here on this blog, about how Scouting has changed to meet the needs of the lowest common denominator.  A greater emphasis on merit badge work shops and staying within an arms reach of a cell phone.  Sometimes I wonder if we in Scouting are still delivering the promise.. you know the promise of Scouting.
I find it interesting that when we look back in the not to distant past that Scouting was much different.  Even as far back as when I was a Scout there were not the concerns of life as we know it in today’s Scouting world.
Now I am a believer that we do need to bring Scouting to where the boys are.. but sometimes we should take the boys back to where we came from.
Baden Powell once said “By the term Scouting…is meant the work and attributes of backwoodsmen, explorers, hunters, seamen, airmen, pioneers, and frontiersmen.”
The 1947 Handbook for Scoutmasters goes on to add, “The word ‘Scout’ opens up to the boy the picture of open spaces, woods, rivers, and lakes, mountains which are to be his playground and where he will have his fun.”  It goes on to say, “It is this promise of adventure, of camping and life in the outdoors that lures the boy into Scouting.  We MUST keep faith with him by giving him that adventure – not just to satisfy him, but because it is the best way we have of holding him.”
There is more written in the Handbook for Scoutmasters that reinforces this idea of adventure and the promise of Scouting, I wonder when we stopped talking about that.  There is no mention of it in the current Scoutmaster Handbook.
We have allowed lawyers to dictate that adventure.  We have allowed video games and laziness to dictate our levels of activity and we worry about Scouts leaving the program because we need the numbers.
I believe that every boy should be in Scouting… but not for merit badges or bobbles and beads.  I think they should be seeking adventure!  Like we did when I was a boy.  Adventure!  Parents need to allow this to happen.. that’s where it starts.
You know, there were just as many creeps in the world in the 70’s and 80’s as there are today.  The world really is not more creepy.. the difference… we have 24 hour news now and this wonderful thing called the internet.
We rode our bikes to and from Scout troop meetings.  Heck, we rode our bikes everywhere.  We were told not to talk to strangers and never to take candy from them.. and you know, we came out alright.  Every day in the summer we left in the morning and came home in time for dinner.  Looking for adventure.
In Scouts we found adventure.  We camped with our Patrols, we did not need… nor did we want, all the adults hanging around.  The fewer of them the better.   Our parents were concerned about us, but knew that we would be ok.  We trusted our Scoutmaster and the skills we were taught and we looked for adventure at every turn.
Not every Patrol got a ribbon at Camporee.. but then again, they were not all about competing either.. they were about skills and discovering new things.
Our PLC had a blank check to plan the next big adventure.  I remember when I was a Tenderfoot Scout we had the biggest adventure ever.  Our Troop was dropped off in Belgium to take a ferry across the English channel.  Once we arrived in England we took a bus to the Baden Powell house and stayed there for a few days.  We explored the local area and got to camp at Gilwell Park.  2 weeks from when we left home, we boarded the ferry and back we went.  We only had 2 adults with us the whole trip and it was an adventure of a life time.
The old Handbook for Scoutmasters suggests that we can retain Scouts because “it [adventure] is the best way we have of holding him.”  The best way!  I firmly believe that if we just allowed it, we can get back there.  I don’t think that boys have changed much… it is the parents that did the changing.   You know.. I can’t remember one kid when I was growing up that had peanut allergies.. now you can’t even say the word peanut without some Mom yelling that her son is allergic.  I think it’s time we give our boys their adventure back.  I think it’s time that we go back to actually delivering the promise and not just Eagle Awards.  I think it is time that all of us Scouters ask the simple question.. are we still delivering the promise?
Just my buck and half.. curious to hear you thoughts.  Weigh in.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

The Ultimate Hang Book Review

Derek Hansen, Scoutmaster, lightweight backpacker, and as his website says  “hammock enthusiast”, recently sent me a copy of his book “The Ultimate Hang”.  It is an illustrated guide to hammock camping and a book that even the most experienced hammock camper or backpacker should have on their shelf.
I read the book, skimming through some parts and diving into others in a weekend.  It is an easy read and Derek has made learning more about hammock camping fun and simple through great illustrations.
I started hammock camping after the 2010 National Scout Jamboree where Hennessey Hammocks had a cool display.  What first caught my eye was the affiliation that the hammock campers have with Leave No Trace.  Even at the National Jamboree the Hammock display was set up next to the Leave No Trace organizations (LNT.org) display and activity center. I had just finished the Leave No Trace trainer course and so pairing the two was a natural fit.  I wish I would have had “The Ultimate Hang” when I started gearing up for hammock camping.  Starting on page 34 Derek covers the principles of leave no trace.  Perfect!
The book takes the novice and experienced camper step by step to ensure a great hammock camping experience.  Now, it won’t say that in the book, but take it from me.  If you do the things in the book, picking a choosing the gear that meets your needs and the set up that you are comfortable with, you will have a great experience.
That brings me to gear.  Derek does not tell you what you should have.  He demonstrates it all in this book.  From whoopie slings to webbing and buckles.  Bridge style hammocks to the “Bat hammock” he shows it all and lets the reader decide what he or she would be most comfortable in.
Even if you are not a hammock camper, there is something in this book for you.  How to select a good camp site.  The “Bearmuda Triangle” and an extensive discussion on tarps.
The book is interactive with QR codes that lead to web sites for more information.
Over all I find that this book is a great resource and a must have certainly for hammock campers, but for backpackers alike.
I highly recommend this book.  You can order the book at The Ultimate Hang.com.  At the website you can also get some fantastic advice, ideas, and thoughts on backpacking in the blog section.  You need to check this out.

illustration from "the Ultimate Hang"

illustration from “the Ultimate Hang”

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Random Thought

newsmmheader1.jpgIts been a few days since my keyboard and I sat together and jotted down some thoughts… It’s been a long week and a pretty eventful one at that.
Monday we had our weekly Troop meeting, and to be honest.. I have no idea how it went.  I was upstairs with a group of parents and a couple of the Assistant Scoutmasters showing what is expected in the type of gear our Scouts should have.  In particular the winter gear that we need to see on the next couple camp outs.  I thought it went well.  It can be an overwhelming discussion to some parents and I try to keep it simple and show the parent that you don’t have to take out a loan to get the right gear.  I reinforced with the parents that is about the Right gear and Not a lot of gear.  To many grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles feel the need to get all the cool gadgets for their Scout and not the right stuff.  Anyway, that went pretty good and I think will be an annual thing with all of the new Scout parents.
Tuesday, I got an email from a reader that really made my week.  The reader called me an opinionated a**.  That’s ok, I can live with that.. what really got me was the reader said that “someone who gets paid from the Boy Scouts of America should watch what I say”.   Now that’s where I draw the line.  There are many good Professional Scouters out there.. but I’m not one of them.  I pay to do this thing called Scouting and like it.  I have not worked a day in my life in the employment of the Boy Scouts of America… nope.. I’m just a Scoutmaster, a run of the mill volunteer.  And yep.. I am an opinionated a**… but it’s my blog and so unless I am spouting off nonsense contrary to Scouting’s Values and methods… ahhh.. it’s just not worth the time.  But thanks for that nice email and I appreciate your comments… Kill ’em with kindness my dad always said.
Wednesday I replaced the continuous ridge line on my tarp.  I ordered 50 ft. of  1.55 mm Z-line spectra cord from zpacks.com.  This stuff is amazing!  It will hold 200 lbs.. not that I will ever have that much weight on my tarp.. but what it really did was cut weight.  The old continuous ridge line was Nite ize cord.  It is really good stuff too and I like the reflective taping in it.. but the Spectra is super light and tough.  I only need 25 ft for the ridge line.. so I configured it like I had the old set up and went from 38 grams of line to 18 grams.  Considerable weight savings.. and I am going to need it to get to my goal base weight of 16 lbs.
Thursday my kids ordered (with my help) a birthday gift for me.  They ordered me a Solo Stove.  I got a tracking number Thursday night and it will be here on Tuesday.. more to come on that one.
And here we are Friday night.  I am getting my uniform together for tomorrows Trainers EDGE class.  I am helping on the staff.  Looks like I am teaching and being a guide throughout the day.  It should be a great Scouting day!
I’m not sure if what I am about to say is for public consumption yet.. but I’m going to tell you anyway.  I got an email the other day from Chris, our partner with PTC Media.  Actually he is the leader of our network, but anyway, after months and months of no contact, Chris sent an email to all of the show hosts of PTC Media stating that essentially we are done.
The network will remain up and available so folks can listen to the shows, but so far as the future.  Well, PTC has run its course.  So what does that mean for me and my podcast.  Well, after all the great feedback I received I did promise to keep it going.  I will do one more show on the PTC network and then my affiliation there will be over.  I will look for a server or a way that I can run a podcast from the blog but in the mean time I will continue to blog and produce the videos.  For those of you that came to the blog via the podcast, please know that the blog was here first and has always been that medium that I have preferred.  It was the blog that got the attention of Steve and an introduction to Chris and then a podcast.  So the blog (which I pay for) will remain unchanged.
I want to thank everyone that supported PTC Media for the last 8 years and in particular my show.  I hope that I can find the time and passion to put more out.
I thank Chris for given me the opportunity and the forum to talk about Scouting!  It was a real fun ride and along the way I have personally met many of you and have developed some great friendships.  Again.. nothing really will change in that regard.
Well, time to go and get a good nights sleep… I get to hang out with Phil and Adam tomorrow and I am sure I will need all the rest I can get.
Thanks for letting me get random with you.  After all… I’m just an opinionated a**!
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!