stories

How far is it?

Under the Dining Fly

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

Prepared. For Life

As everyone that reads this blog knows, the BSA’s new(er) slogan is as the title reads… “Prepared.  For Life”.   I have often stayed away from advertising gimmicks and jingles.. “An Army of One”, and “Be all that you can Be” come to mind.  But this one hit home as I thought about how Scouting does impact our lives.  Yesterday was my first day back from vacation and so I spent a little time catching up on emails, reading my favorite blogs, and cleaning camping gear.  My good buddy Adam posted a piece about his vacation last week.  It is a great article and illustrated just how Scouting is Preparing us for life.
I was and I suppose still am reluctant to tell this story in light of Adams blog post, but once again I find myself in need of sharing this wonderful thing called Scouting.
Last week we spent at Glacier National Park.  If you have never been.. GO!  It is truly an amazing place.  So as you can imagine when I go camping I go prepared.  We are ready to sustain for a week in comfort and have a good time out in the woods.  This time was no exception.  Since it was family time, I went a lot heavier than I am used to, the big cabin tent, the big stove, the coolers etc.  But I still had my day pack which had my 10 essentials in it and since we were in Glacier NP, a canister of Bear spray.
One afternoon as we sat in camp, a scream came from the road in front of our camp site.  The boys were throwing a football around and one fell.  HE ran straight into our site crying.  Why our site and not to his parents.. I don’t know.  Maybe instinct told him that I had just completed the Wilderness First Aid course, or that I was a Scoutmaster, or he had no idea where he was.. either way.. here he ran into our site bleeding from the hand.
I had him sit down and told him to look me in the eyes.  Josh, my youngest son, had already got to my day pack and retrieved the first aid kit.  I told this youngster to relax and that he was going to be fine.  His alligator tears started to dry and I just kept talking to him.  Found out that in three days he would be turning 9 years old and that he was from Canada.
All the while I gloved up and started treating his cut.  He had fallen on his hand and took a good layer or two of skin off his palm.  Cleaning the area and bandaging with non stick pads I was done with the bleeding part.  Then I started looking for possible fracture.  He asked why I was poking and pressing on his wrist and hand.. I told him I wanted to make sure he was ok.  He was.  Right about that time, his dad came into our camp.  He said he had heard the scream and started heading in this direction.  I told what I had done and that I think everything is going to be ok, keep it clean and if he needed I would change the dressing the next day.
He saw the Scouting stickers on the back of my truck and made a comment about them stating that his son had run to the right place.  “Who else would be ready to anything”, he said referring to the stickers.
So all of this got me to thinking about just how we Prepare our Scouts for life.
It’s not just first aid and camping skills, but as the mission statement states, Making ethical choice throughout their lives.
I often talk in this blog about character and making choices.  Being fit and healthy, being of service to others, and of course skills that will help them get through life.
Scouting is a great platform for this learning, discovery, and practice of the life skills that these young men will need as they go through it.  Being Prepared for as Baden Powell said.. Anything.
So it’s not just about camping and fun.  It truly is a game with a purpose and all of us should remember what that purpose it.  This new(er) slogan.. Prepared.  For Life.  Is the Boy Scouts of America mission statement in three words.  It is our call to action as Scouters.  It is what we are here for.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

My Son, the Eagle Scout

Tonight my son was presented his Eagle Scout Award. I can not express in words how very proud I am of him.  Over the past 11 years him and I have been on a great adventure.  At times the trail was rocky and hard to navigate.  At other times the trail was smooth and wonderful to pass.
Over the past couple days we have been gathering the memories of his Scouting career.  He had a great experience in Scouting and I am glad that I was able to come along.
This video is the presentation that we showed at the Court of Honor tonight.  After the video he was given the Eagle Challange and Charge and repeated the Eagle Oath.  This was presented by my father, John’s Opa and our Troops Eagle Mentor.  He was presented his Eagle Certificate by my father in law, an Eagle Scout.  The voices you hear in the video are my wife (John’s mom), his twin sister, and me.  John’s brother, currently a Life Scout was the master of ceremonies.  There was a great crowd of Scouts, Scouters, family, and friends in attendance.  I am a little biased, but it was one of the finest Eagle ceremonies I have seen.  John delivered a wonderful speech about his Scouting experience and thanked many people for helping him along the way.
Enjoy the video.  I am so proud of this young man, he’s the kind of young man you would love to have as your son… but he’s mine and I am proud.

C.O.P.E and Scouting

Spending time with your Scouts on C.O.P.E courses is a wonderful experience.  Scouts are challenged to step away from what they know is comfortable.  The team building exercises and challenging tasks push Scouts to push themselves, not only for the sake of pushing themselves, but for the sake of the team.  Challenging Outdoor Personal Experience courses test the Scouts to do their best.
The other thing that C.O.P.E teaches is the idea that Scouting is among other things a “Personal Experience”.  Now it is wrapped up within Patrols, Troops, and buddy teams, but at the end of the day, it is up to the Scout to demonstrate self-reliance and have an attitude that he is willing to accomplish any task that he gets the personal experience.  Our Method of Advancement is one way that is completely a personal experience in Scouting.
The Scout is responsible for his advancement.  If he wants to be an Eagle Scout, there is nothing in his way except for himself.  The requirements are clearly outlined in his handbook, he has the support of his Adult leadership, and he is driven to complete the task.  Advancement is up to him.  Not his buddies, his Scoutmaster, or parents.
The merit badge program is much like the advancement method in that it to is a personal experience for the Scout.  There are required merit badges, but by and large with the large amount of badges spanning every vocation, hobby, sports, and skills, the Scout can pick and choose what he likes, wants, and needs to move forward with his Scouting experience.
Last night I talked with many of the new parents about Summer camp.  They had questions about merit badges and what we expect the Scouts to do… more so… what merit badges I expect the Scouts to earn while at camp.  My answer was received better by some parents than others.  My answer was that it was up to the Scout on what he earns and how many merit badges he try to earn.  My expectation is that they have fun at Summer camp.  If that means 6 merit badges or no merit badges I am ok with that.  “But we are paying a lot of money for summer camp” a parent said… yes I understand that.  What do you think you are paying for?  In my opinion we pay for the personal and shared experiences that are found only at Summer camp.  Summer camp is a week-long C.O.P.E course.   There are challenges, skills, and tests all week.  How the Scouts handle those both as individuals and as a team determines the success of the week at camp.  Merit badges and how many the Troop can earn is not the measure of success.  In the end, not one merit badge will lead to a memory that they share.  I can tell you stories all day long about the summer camps that I attended from 1978 to 1984.  But I can only tell you 1 story about a merit badge, and it really had little to do with the badge, it had more to do with me falling asleep and getting lost while trying to earn it.  My expectation is that the Scouts have fun and build a catalog of memories.  I want them to have a great Personal Experience in Scouting.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

SMMPodcast # 103 – Talking with Bob

In this show I have a lengthy chat with a fellow Scoutmaster and great Friend Bob Pierce.    Join us as we talk a little bit about everything.  Jamboree, Dutch oven cooking, Troop Guides, JLT, Anuual planning, Parents and Philmont just to cover some of the bases.  It’s what happens Scoutmasters get together and shoot the breeze.  The show was recorded on location at the Annual rendezvous of the Order of the Arrow at Camp Meriwether, so the crashing of waves and other camp sounds fill the background of this nice talk with my buddy Bob.
Hope you enjoy the show.
Please leave some feedback, drop us an email, or leave a comment in the comments section.  Thanks for listening.
Have a Great Scouting Day! 

Direct Download

The Scoutmaster Pay off

Over the last quarter of the year last year (2011) we received a bunch of new Scouts into the Troop.  They all seemed real gung ho about joining and could not wait for the adventure to begin.
We are preparing for our first winter camp out with the new Scouts right now.  In two weeks, we will be taking them up on Mt. Hood for their first weekend with the Troop and after the last few weeks and what’s left of January worth the training, they will step off on their Scouting adventure.
Last night at the Troop meeting the Scouts demonstrated layering.  Each Scout showed up and was inspected by the older Scouts in their winter clothing.  They were given a pass or no pass on their choice of winter clothing.  They all did great.
I gave out a bunch of spare stuff I have been collecting and outfitted about 5 Scouts with pants, sleeping bags, and other cold weather items.
When these new guys crossed over in November we talked about gear expectations and what they needed to have versus what we would provide.  I explained to them that they were joining at the perfect time.. Right before Christmas and gave them suggestions for their Christmas wish list.
So last night as I talked with a few of the new parents and answered their questions and concerns the subject of gear came up.  It became obvious that lots of camping gear appeared under the Christmas trees of many of the Scouts.. nay.. all of the Scouts got some piece of new gear.
One of the new Scouts came up to me and said he was excited about the up coming camp out.  He asked if he was going to be cooking for himself and his buddy on the trip.. I replied that most certainly he would be cooking if he was going to eat.  He got a huge smile on his face and said . YEAH!!!  I got a stove for Christmas!  So I asked him what kind.. “The Jet Boil SOL” he said.  Now, I have said before that I am not a big fan of the Jet Boil… but these new units are much improved.. so I may be swayed a little.  Then the little guy got me… he said he’d been cooking on his new stove at home.  I said fantastic.  His mom chimed in stating that he had made spaghetti and a few Mountain House meals.. then the Scouts told me.. “A MINUTE 45!”  I said “Whats that?”  He said he can do Hot Choco in 1:45!  His smile was from ear to ear.  Just then, I had a crowd of the new Scout patrol around me.. They were all sharing with me all the cool camping gear they had got at Christmas.  I was smiling and laughing with them.. and of course shared the list of cool camping gear I got for Christmas too.  One of the mom’s told me that I had created a gear monster!  SCORE ONE FOR THE SCOUTMASTER!
These new kids are ready to go and pumped up!  They are embracing the adventure and I look forward to many adventures with them!
Last night’s Troop meeting was the Scoutmaster Pay off!
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Feathers

There once was two young Indian braves that were best of friends.  They grew together, hunting, playing, and learning to be men in the tribe.  Over time, both of these men caught the eye of a young women in the tribe, and they both began to try to win her heart.
As time went on, the young women favored one over the other and they began to court.  This angered the other friend and he began to speak of his friend in ways that ultimately destroyed their friendship and the honor of young man preparing to be married.  He said vicious things about his family, he talked about this character in ways that ruined the reputation of the brave.
One day as the two former friends passed, he noticed that he had truly hurt him, a tear was in his eye.  The brave that slandered his fellow tribesman ran to the Wiseman of the tribe.
He asked the Wiseman if there was any way to repair the damage that had been done.
The Wiseman instructed him to go and climb to the highest peak, there he would find the nest of an Eagle.  In that nest would be feathers, he was to gather up all of the feathers and bring them back to the village.
The young brave set off of the journey to the highest peak.  Days upon days, he walked, always thinking about the things that he had done.  He reached the mountain and began to climb until he finally found the nest on the peak.  He gathered the feathers and started his journey back to the village.
He was greeted at the village gate by the Wiseman.  “I have done as you instructed” he declared showing the feathers.
“Good, now return to the peak and let the feathers go.. let them fly to the North and the South, the East and West” said the Wiseman. 
And so the brave turned and started his second journey to the peak.  He arrived at the mountain top and let loose the feathers.  They blew in every direction.
Upon returning to the village, the brave once again was greeted by the Wiseman.  “I have let loose all the feathered and they have blown across the land” said the brave.  “Good, my son, now go and pick up all of the feathers that you have scattered” the Wiseman replied.  “That is impossible, I can never find, nor pick up all of the feathers that I have spread across the country side.  There are to many, and I do not know where they have gone.”
“Such are your words” the Wiseman began, “Once you loose your words, like the ringing of a bell or the letting go of the feathers, you can never take them back or collect them again.  They are gone, in the wind, and where they land you will never know.  Hurtful words and words that bring pain and disrepute can never be taken back, so if you are to spread your words, make sure they are good and helpful.  Words that heal and are friendly.” 
The words of the Wiseman are so true.  Words mean nothing, until they touch the ears of the listener.  Make them count.
Think before you talk and be watchful of how you speak.
All of us can learn from this message, I have.

Have a Great Scouting Day!