Archive for the ‘camping’ Category


I was contacted by Dave Lavell as he was creating a video for a new song he had written. He wanted to make a video using the song and photographs found on Flicker. One of the photos he chose to use was a picture from summer camp that I had taken many years ago. I gave him permission to use it but requested he send me the link when the video was posted. Well, the video has been posted and yes, he did use my picture. In fact, it ended up as the first picture in the video. It is a nice easy going song about being at camp and enjoying the outdoors. Watch it here and enjoy…

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    As scoutmaster I always keep an eye open for the latest camp gadgets. I usually only buy gadgets that I think I would actually use, but once in awhile I will buy something because it has the “cool” factor. Unfortunately, I now own so many gadgets that more stay at home in the garage then go along on a camping trip. But that does not stop me from looking for something new.

    This month I added the Kamp Kadi by Nebo to my collection. I was able to buy it at less then half the MSP retail price. It was cheap enough that I thought it was worth giving it a try on the next Boy Scout troop camping trip.

    This gadget is basically a simple camp kitchen organizer. Everything fits on a single metal pole that can be stuck in the ground or attached to the end of a picnic table. It comes with a bag to for storage. This is for drive-up camping. It is too heavy for a backpacking trip.

    While it is not the most elegant looking of camp gadgets, it does appear to be very functional. The two things that first caught my eye were the trash bag and paper towel holders. I am hoping this will create a more “user friendly” environment so the Boy Scouts keep a cleaner cooking area. The shelf and utensil hooks are a bonus to me. (I think we will find something other than a radio to hang on the other bar.)

    Will this Kamp Kadi be worth my investment? We will find out in the spring when the troop begins its camping season again.

    Does your troop use the Kamp Kadi or something similar? Leave a comment on how it has worked for your troop.

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      The following is an excerpt from the journal I wrote of Boy Scout Troop 68′s trip to Philmont Scout Ranch in 1992. It was our last full day on the trail, the day we would climb the Tooth Of Time.

      Saturday, August 8, Day 11

      Today is our last full day on the trail. It is also the day we have been waiting for – the day we climb Schaefer’s Pass. We awaken early to the cries of a cowboy yelling “Hup” to the group of horses he in moving past our campsite. When I first awoke I thought it was some camper yelling about a bear in camp. Josh decides to get everyone up at 5:50 a.m. Everyone’s gear seems to be fairly dry, except for Paul’s down sleeping bag. It feels a bit damp. Hopefully it will dry by tonight.

      It will take a little while for our tents to dry. Usually we set them in the morning sun before we pack them. That is going to be a bit difficult this morning. Our site is in a stand of trees. Sunshine is going to be rather scarce. The dry creek that was next to us last night has quite a bit of water moving through it this morning.

      This is our last camp with a water supply. Josh and Tim use the opportunity to scrub the pots as clean as they can get them. If they do a good job we should not have to clean them again when we get back to base camp tomorrow.

      We take our time as we pack the gear. We are not in much of a hurry to get to our next camp. There is no program or staff there. Only three meals remain to be carried. The sun does not dry our tents and flies very well so we end up packing them wet. We leave camp at 8:45 a.m.

      Today’s hike will be seven kilometers long, almost all uphill. We will be passing through Upper Clarks Fork Camp and Shaefers Pass Camp before we come to the stretch of trail we have been dreading since we began our trek – Shaefers Pass. I have hiked this trail during my last two treks to Philmont. It is steep, rugged, and full of switchbacks. Today we will be climbing it … with our packs on. It will be quite a challenge. We will stop for a rest on Shaefers Peak before we go on to the last camp of our trek, Tooth Ridge Camp.

      The hike from to Shaefers Pass Camp is almost totally uphill. Could this be training for the big hike? The crew is staying together well. We arrive at the Pass Camp at 10:05 am. Josh does not want to stay and rest for very long. He wants to get the pass out of the way as soon as possible. I talk him into let me get a group picture around a post full of signs before we leave.

      Shaefers Pass turns out to be as tough as we expected, but not as long as I remembered it. Josh sets a fairly good pace. Rest stops are frequent, but no one is hearing any complaints from me. The group spreads out as the climb continues. Tom and Al are in the rear and seem to fall behind quickly. Tom is having problems with his legs and needs to take it slow.

      We reach the summit of Shaefers Peak at 10:40. The kids are awed by the view as they drop their packs. Corey is astounded. Tom and Nathan are snapping pictures in every direction. To the North is the valley that we walked through yesterday. In the northwest rises Baldy Mountain. Everyone is glad they made. The hike was worth the trouble.

      The hike to Tooth Ridge Camp is full of switchbacks and seems to go on forever. Every once in a while we would get a glimpse of the Tooth of Time but it never seemed to get any closer. It does not take long before the boy’s spirits begin to fall. Josh, who is still leading the expedition, has suddenly picked up the pace. The crew divides into two groups. Josh, Ross, Jason, Tim, Greg and Pete move ahead as if there is no tomorrow. The rest of us take it easy and try to enjoy the hike.

      I am beginning to grow very irritated with the group ahead of us. They seem to have the attitude that we do not need to stick together. They are so far ahead that they do not hear or answer me when I call to them. Nathan sums up the situation when he says, “This Sucks!” I agree with him. Tom’s knees must be getting pretty painful. He is getting slower and taking more rest stops as we go on. Why is it that every group goes through this? What has happened to the thinking process? Being a team? Sticking together? I keep wondering what would happen if someone in the back group would get hurt. How will be guys in the front find out? Will they care? Where is the responsibility of the crew leaders to keep the group as one?

      Actually, the group had stayed together very well during the whole trek. Until today.

      I am not in a good mood when we finally do catch up with the fast pacesetters. I hold my tongue and do not say much to them about how I feel. In fact, I hardly talk to them at all. They finally stopped at the beginning of the trail that leads to the Tooth of Time. Their packs have already been formed into a pack line. The decision is made to eat our lunch here. The group is somewhat quiet as we eat peanut butter, crackers, and slim jims. Everyone drinks their water sparingly. We will not be able to refill our canteens until we get back to tent city tomorrow.

      The Tooth of Time was probably the highlight for most of the crew. Before we begin climbing I warn the crew that I will not tolerate any horseplay or running around once we are on top. The Tooth can be a dangerous place if we are not careful. I even went so far as to threaten that anyone who does goof off up there will not receive their Philmont patch. They appear to understand my concern.

      The path is well defined for the first half of the journey. Then it vanishes into a rocky outcropping that we end up half walking, half climbing. Soon, it is everyone for himself, trying to find a safe way to get to the top.

      The scouts are glad to have come to Philmont when they reach the peak. It seems that we can see for hundreds of miles in every direction, and probably can. Almost all of Philmont’s landmarks are there for us to see; Webster Lake, Deer Lake Mesa, Urraca Mesa, both Bear and Black Mountains, tent city, the training center, and of course, Baldyæ Mountain. Baldy looks a long way away from here, and it is, about seventeen miles as the crow flies.

      This is what we came for. This is what Philmont is known for.

      The crew spends it’s first minutes exploring the nooks and crannies that the Tooth has to offer. I can not help but think what their mothers would be thinking as they approach the south side which happens to be a cliff over 400 feet high. Several of us look for the three markers that engineers and surveyors have placed on the Tooth. It is a tradition for those who climb the mountain to touch all three of them.

      We spend close to thirty minutes on the Tooth before we head back down to our packs. Finding the trail again proves to be a challenge in itself. Find it we do and soon we are putting our packs back on. A few of the guys express an interest in resting here and taking a short nap. I remind them that once we get to camp they can sleep as much as they want. Besides, it is only a half of a mile from where we are currently standing.

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        Hundreds of thousands of Boy Scouts attend summer camp every year. The Boy Scouts of Melrose Troop 68 are no exception. Five Scouts and two adult leaders attended Many Point Scout Camp, located north of Park Rapids, during the week of July 11-17.

        A typical day at camp began with breakfast in the Buckskin dining hall. Then the boys would spread out throughout the camp as they worked on their merit badge advancements. After lunch, there would be troop activities. The Scouts were free to participate in any of the open program areas in the evenings.

        The Melrose Boy Scouts kept quite busy at camp. Monday afternoon began with an Ethics In Action team building program. Then they spent an hour at the beach enjoying the camp’s aquatramp (sceen above). A service project of installing a new bench around the campfire ring finished up the afternoon.

        The troop helped row a 30 foot long voyager canoe across the lake Tuesday afternoon to visit the new Frontier Camp. The camp was set up to be similar to an 1800′s logging camp. The Scouts cut logs using a two person saw, split lumber with an ax, debarked logs, branded beaver cookies, and played horseshoes.

        Wednesday activities began with a round of disc golf. The Scouts climbed the climbing tower before heading to the archery range for the troop’s annual “Robin Hood” competition. The troop visited the Many Point History Center after supper and climbed to the top of the 100 foot high fire tower.

        Thursday afternoon found the boys at Scoutcraft to learn some new cooking skills, including how to bake lembas bread, the bread of the elves in the Lord Of The Ring series. Then they went to the rifle range for the troop shoot. The afternoon ended with a relaxing hour at the beach front sauna house.

        The troop began Friday afternoon like every troop in camp, with a camp reflection period. Then it was back to the waterfront for two hours of sailing on the Many Point Sunfish sailboats. The closing campfire program was held Friday evening with every troop in camp performing a song or skit. The Scouts of Troop 68 did a great job with their skit and got several laughs during their performance. (Watch for a future MSPP episode for the video of the skit.)

        The five Scouts of Troop 68 did well during their merit badges programs. Each Scout completed two merit badges. The badges earned this year were Weather, Archery, and Lifesaving. One Scout was able to finish his Camping merit badge while at camp.

        The Boy Scouts and adult leaders had a great time at camp this year and already have made their reservation to attend many Point Scout Camp during the 2011 season.

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          The Boy Scouts of Troop 68 used to like to song songs, mix them up a bit, and write new lyrics to them. They would then perform these “new” versions at campfire programs or during their annual Laughs For Lunch Show. This episode of Melrose Scouting Productions Podcast features one of those songs.

          The troop has been spending one spring weekend a year at Camp Watchamagumee (private land north of Melrose). It is one of the Scout’s favorite places to camp. We usually have a great time there, but one year things did not go very well. A local farmer had cattle grazing on the forty acre site. Usually, the cattle are not a problem. We leave them alone and they leave us alone. Not that year. The troop was away from camp for awhile to play some softball. When we arrived back at the site the cows had invaded the camp and had damaged equipment along with a few other problems. It was the one time we left camp due to cattle issues.

          A couple years later we decided to take the song “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer” and rewrite the lyrics to describe what happened during the weekend in which the cows drove us away from our campsite. Everything in the song did actually take place. This video was taken from the 2001 Laughs For Lunch Show performance. I forgot where the cow costumes came from, but they did add a little something to the song.

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            When I was a Boy Scout in the mid 1970′s we needed to earn belt loops called skill awards for the first three ranks. Each skill award was based on a certain set of skills, such as camping, hiking, or swimming. There were twelve belt loops a Boy Scout could earn. The Citizenship Skill Award and one other were required for Tenderfoot. Hiking, First Aid, and one other skill award were required for Second Class. A Scout needed to complete the Camping, Cooking, and one other skill award for First Class rank, in addition to the First Aid Merit Badge.

            When I became a Scoutmaster in 1981 it was easy to use the twelve skill awards as monthly themes for the younger Scouts. Twelve awards, twelve themes. It worked well. Then, in the mid 1980′s, the National Office decided that skill awards would be discontinued and new rank requirements would be created. I hated to see the belt loops dropped from the program, but we had to move on and follow the new “improved” advancement program.

            I thought it might be fun to look back at these old awards and what the requirements of each one were at the time. So today, I start with the Camping Skill Award.

            1) Present yourself to your leader, properly dressed, before going on an overnight camping trip. Show the camping gear you will use, including shelter and food. Explain how you will use the gear. Show the right way to pack and carry it.

            2) Go on two overnight camping trips with your troop, patrol, or other Scouts, using the gear. On each overnight camp, do the following:
            a) Carry the gear on your back for at least 2 km to your camp. After camping, carry it 2 km back.
            b) Pick a good place for a tent. Pitched a tent correctly in the place you picked and sleep in it overnight. Store the tent correctly after use.
            c) Make a bed on the ground. Sleep on it overnight.
            d) Follow good health, sanitation, and safety practices. Leave a clean campsite.
            e) After each trip, tell your leader what you achieved and learned. Tell how good camping practices proved useful.

            3) Whip the ends of a rope. Tie the following knots: square knot, sheet bend, two half hitches, clove hitch, taut line hitch, and bowline. Show their correct use.

            4) Lash poles together with the following lashings: square, shear, and diagonal. Show their correct use. Use lashing for making a simple camp gadget.

            As you can see, all of these requirements are still a part of the Boy Scout advancement program. They have just been broken up into the first three ranks.

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              I am missing Philmont and starting to think it is time to go back to Scouting’s paradise. Here is a short excerpt from my 1992 Philmont journal:

              Harlan Camp is a welcome site. My right foot has just joined the left in protest. We will be doing shotgun shooting at 3:00 and burro racing at 7:00. Advisor’s coffee will begin at 7:00 also. It this a hint as to what we will be watching?

              Our campsite for the night is a nice one. It has tall trees and a few big rocks to climb on. It is also fairly flat. We should get a good night’s sleep tonight. The only drawback is that it is a way away from the program areas. As we finish lunch cleanup I hear Tim singing the Christmas song, Merry Christmas. Did he forget where he was? Did he forget what time of year is was? Did he give me a fantastic idea for something to do tonight? You bet. I talk to Tim about having Christmas at Philmont tonight. We can decorate a tree with rope for tinsel and sierra cups as ornaments. We could sing carols around the fire and have a gift exchange. Tim likes the idea. Josh thinks it sounds like fun. So do most of the others. Tom kind of crinkles his nose at the idea. Ross is not too enthusiastic about it either. I don’t get a chance to talk to Al about it until later.

              Shortly before 3:00 most of the crew heads of to shot the shotguns. Ross, Josh, Nathan, Paul and I stay behind. We want to take it easy. The guys that did go had a great time.

              Josh decided to go up to the top of Deer Lake Mesa. It is a side hike that we had talked about doing when we were planning things back in Melrose. No one shows any interest in going along with him so he tries to go off by himself. I put a stop to that idea very quickly. At least three people will have to go. I would prefer four. We need to practice the buddy system out here. There is no telling what could happen, although it should be a safe enough hike.

              Even though I was not planning to go up to the mesa at first I decide to go along with Josh. I was looking forward to side hiking this mesa when I looked over our agenda back home. Tim also expresses interest but backs out for some reason. Pete and Corey finally decide to join us. We grab our rain gear, canteens, and a map and compass. It is cloudy and looks as if it may rain. If it does we will turn around and come right back. If not, we plan to be back at 6:00 p.m. It is close to a two kilometer hike to the mesa. Two thirds of it is on a four wheel drive trail. This trail is in extremely poor condition and is very steep. I wander how often a vehicle even comes up this way. By the condition of the ‘road’ I would say not very. The storm clouds above us threaten to soak us the entire journey.

              The mesa takes our breath away as we reach the top. It is a fantastic site, an elevation at over 8200 feet. Kinda reminds me of Shangrala. The mesa is actually slightly concave. The perimeter is lined with a hardy stand of trees that block out most of the view of the mountains that surround us. In the center is a small lake. Seventeen cattle graze in the grassland across the pond. For a while the four of us just stand there and try to absorb the scenery. It is the closest thing to Minnesota that I have seen since we arrived in Philmont. Unfortunately, the storm clouds still threaten to drench us so we do not stay more then fifteen minutes. If we are lucky we can make it back to camp before it rains. We all agree that we should have come up sooner. It would have been great to lie back in the grass and take it easy, watching the cattle graze and the birds fly by. We are treated to a spectacular view of Cimarron on the way back.

              We arrive back at camp at 5:45 p.m., fifteen minutes sooner then we thought we would. It still has not rained. The four of us play Frisbee as Ross, Jason, and Al prepare supper. Nathan is sleeping in his tent about twenty feet from us. The flap is partly open. We take turns trying to throw the Frisbee into the tent but are not very successful. Greg comes by as states that he can do it. We do not believe him but let him try. He does it on his first throw. That ends the game.

              Supper is delicious. There is very little mash potatoes, gravy, beef, or lemon pie left over when the group finishes.

              Al and I both went to advisor’s coffee which began at 7:00. The porch has a swing on it. Al and I claim it for our own as we visit with the advisors and staff. There we discovered that our friends who were with us at the beginning of our trek are back with us after a short split apart. These leaders are the ones who were so sick at the start of their trek.

              The burro races, tonight’s activity, are set to begin at 7:30. A few of the older scouts were not very excited about participating in this event. Yet, when the group arrives the whole crew is present. I am glad to see that. They head down to the corral which is just a bit downhill from where we advisors are drinking our coffee and hot chocolate. The races will be held in the open area in front of us. We will not even have to leave the porch.

              The crews choose their own burros from the selection in the corral. The first heat, in which two burros will race, does not include us. The second heat does. The gang chose a donkey with the name of Big Louie. According to the odds posted on the lodge the odds on Big Louie are three to one. Not bad. The race consists of three scouts ‘leading’ the burro down the raceway. One scout holds on to his reins while the other two make noise and try to coax the critter along. At mid point three other boys take over and bring the animal back to the starting point which is now the finish line.

              We won our fist race, but not because of our amazing speed and animal handling skills. The other team lost control of their burro, providing us with the chance to pass them and win. The third heat had all four teams involved. This will be the championship race. We have Daryl as our steed, four to one odds. Josh, Nathan and Ross will guide the animal through the first half. Tim, Jason, and Corey will lead Daryl through the last half. Tom and I are standing on the sidelines with our cameras to capture the thrill of the event.

              We win easily. The guys are riding high as we walk back to camp. Tonight’s Christmas party should be a good one since everyone is in such a good mood. Al has stayed behind to wash out our cups. When he arrived back at camp Al informs the group to go back up to the lodge. It seems that the group which wins gets more then just recognition. There is a prize waiting for us. Spirits soar as we parade to the lodge once again. The staff tries to make a bit of a ceremony out of it as they present Josh with a package of…pinto beans! Ha ha! Josh hands them to Jason as the staff hands over the real prize … a half gallon of cold, fresh milk! It could have been a bottle of champagne as far as the group was concerned. We had not had any milk since we left tent city a week ago.

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                The current incarnation of Boy Scout Troop 68 began in December 1979, nearly thirty years ago. The troop had virtually no money and only a small amount of gear that had been salvaged from previous troops. The charter organization was not able to, or chose not to, give much financial assistance to the fledgling troop. One of the committee members loaned the troop a couple hundred dollars to get things started. (That was quite an investment, don’t you agree?)

                Due to that lack of funds over the first couple of years the troop bought inexpensive gear, including tents. Those first tents were small dome tents which I believe cost about $60.00 or so. They were small. Two boys and their gear filled the tent. But they did the job for a few years until we were able to purchase something better.
                After a few fairly successful fundraisers, and a couple of letters to local service groups, the troop was able to buy better equipment. After some research we decided to buy some Eureka Alpine Meadows tents. The Alpine Meadows were a midsize tent, about 5′x7′, which could house three small boys and gear fairly comfortably. They were a good quality tent and lasted for many years. We were happy with the $200 per tent purchase.
                It was a sad day for Troop 68 when Eureka decided to discontinue the Alpine Meadows series. As those tents wore out we began buying the Eureka Timberline tents, which were simular to the Alpine Meadows, less a couple of features. We had noticed that many other troops in the area were using the Timberline tents and seemed to be satisfied with them.
                In the late nineties the troop bought a large two room Eureka tent for the adults who attended the camping trips. The fathers and adult leaders could now bring cots so they could sleep more comfortably, especially those that had back problems. We are still using that tent but it is showing its age. There is a rip in the front door, currently held together with duct tape. This summer while at Many Point Scout Camp door’s zipper decided to quit working. I am sure we will soon be looking for a new tent. The Eureka brand has been good for us over the last 25 years so I bet the new tent could end up being a Eureka also.
                What kinds of tents have you had good luck with using?
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