Archive for the ‘camping’ Category


The PLC Meeting.

The patrol leader council held their monthly meeting today to review April and plan for May’s meetings and activities. Although they did get sidetracked a few times, they were able to plan next month’s meetings and service project.

There was one thing that came up that I was disappointed to hear. The program, menu, and duty roster for this weekend’s camping trip had not been planned yet, and more Scouts decided they would like to attend the outing, even though they should have been registered two weeks ago.

It looks like we may have to postpone the camping trip one week to get everything planned out at next Monday’s troop meeting. Luckily, it is a local campout held on some nearby private land.

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    100 Days of Scouting: Day 60.

    Tuesday night, at the Scenic District Roundtable, a short discussion of iPads, iPods, and cell phones came up. Most of the troops represented stated they have a no-electronics policy on camping trips, similar to my troop. We also agreed, somewhat reluctantly, that these policies may need to be changed in the not-too-distant future. The boys are growing up with these gadgets and are becoming  an important part of their lives. Add to that the growing number of apps available that are Scouting related and I can see Boy Scouts and adult leaders wanting to bring these things along.

    I have been wanting to buy an iPad since version 2 became available. Before the roundtable, I stopped at Best Buy to play with one and look at the accessories. I think I am going to hold off with that purchase for awhile. Here is what the budget looked like:

    iPad 2, 64 GB – $700.00 (Wi-fi only)
    Smart Cover – 40.00
    Digital AV Adapter – 40.00
    Charger        – 40.00
    Misc Apps   – 50.00
    Subtotal  – $870.00
    Tax                 – 60.00
    Grand Total – $930.00

    Wow! The sticker shock got to me a little. Yes, I can use it for apps and games. Yes, I can use it as an e-reader. Yes, I can watch movies and Podcasts (like Melrose Scout Productions Podcast). This gadget would nicely compliment my Mac Pro computer. However, I do not think I would get $900.00 of use out of it. It would be a very expensive toy, one with a very cruddy camera system.

    I still want one though.

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      It is the sixth week of 100 Days of Scouting. Time for another Scout Trivia quiz. Today’s theme is outdoor skills. These ten questions come from the Scout Mania trivia book, and are based on the 1984 Boy Scout Handbook. Are you ready to begin? I thought you would be.

      1) How can you prepare questionable water for drinking?

      2) There are two basic primitive fire making methods. What are they?

      3) For quick pot washing, what should be done before cooking?

      4) A good map tells five things. Name three.

      5) Name four knots used to tie a rope to an object.

      6) Name three types of poisonous snakes in the United States.

      7) When you mask your ax, what are you doing?

      8 ) What is “bird seed” used on a hike?

      9) When hiking, how often and how long should you rest?

      10) How did the sheet bend get its name?

      And a bonus question: 11) What does green on a topographical map represent?

      Yeah, that is right.

      Eleven questions this week.

      I know you can handle it.

      At least I thought you could.

      Are you ready for the answers?

      Okay then, let’s begin.

      1) Boil it or use purification tablets.
      2) Fire by friction, fire by flint and steel.
      3) Smear soap powder or softened soap on the outside of the pot.
      4) Description, details, directions, distance, designations.
      5) Half hitch, slippery half hitch, two half hitches, clove hitch, timber hitch, tautline, lark’s head.
      6) Copperhead, rattlesnake, coral, cottonmouth.
      7) Sheathing it.
      8 ) It is a hiking snack.
      9) Every half hour, and no longer than three to five minutes.
      10) From “bending” (tying) a “sheet” (rope on a sail).
      11) Woodland areas, swamps and marshes, orchards and scrub lands.

      How did you do this week?

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        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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