Archive for the ‘safety’ Category


As a scoutmaster I constantly preached about having a campfire “cold out” before going to bed or leaving a campsite. The Boy Scouts probably got tired of me being on their case when I discovered a fire ring of which I was told was cold, but my hand said otherwise. Too bad. I was the scoutmaster, and it was my job to train these young men how to camp safely and responsibly. Get the water bucket and get that fire COLD OUT!

A couple of my neighbors came over Tuesday night to help remove a few dead branches from a large tree in my backyard. I ended up with a nice pile of new firewood and a lot of branches to burn. Wednesday night I decided to have a campfire using my newfound fuel wood. For nearly three hours I, along with my nephew, enjoyed sitting around, shooting the breeze, and burning a large pile of dead wood and branches. We never let the fire outgrow the fire ring, and I had my garden hose next to my chair just in case any little sparks tried starting a new fire on the dry lawn. I even wetted the lawn around the fire site before I began burning anything. You can never be too safe you know. (All that BSA training!)

When 9:00 arrived I decided to start letting the fire die down to coals and quit putting new fuel on the flames. There was already a large pile of coals. At 10:00 I decided it was time to go inside and call it a night. I wet down the fire, stirred the coals, wet it one more time, and stirred the coals again. I put my hand over the fire site and felt a little warmth, but nothing really hot. I went inside the house.

At 1:30 I woke up and went into the kitchen for a glass of milk. I looked out the window and noticed there were a few red coals glowing in the fire ring. That is interesting, I thought. Did I go outside and put out the coals? No, I did not. I went back to bed.

In the morning I woke up, ate breakfast, and prepared to go to work. I thought I should check out the fire ring as I walked by it on the way to the garage. I put my hand near what I thought should be cold coals, but I felt some heat. Not burning hot, but very warm. Did I take the garden hose to the fire remains? No. I walked into the garage, hopped into the car, and went to work.

I decided to eat lunch at home. The warm coals had been nagging the back of my mind all morning. Before I even made lunch I walked to the backyard to check out the fire ring. The first thing I noticed was that there was more white ash then there had been when I left for work. My hand quickly determined there was more heat then this morning also. I did not see any red coals but there definitely was something smoldering inside that decorative metal ring. I turned on the garden hose and drenched the coals and stirred them well. I did not need the neighborhood going up in flames after I left to go back to work.

When I arrived home tonight I walked straight to the fire ring. This time it was cold out. There was not any heat or warmth to be felt. But it had me thinking about it all day. Even after 15 hours of “putting out” the fire there was still enough heat to turn coals to ash. I had better start practicing a COLD cold out test from now on. It would be quite embarrassing for this retired scoutmaster to start a lawn fire in his own neighborhood.

Maybe I should tear off a corner of my Firem’n Chit card?

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    It is amazing the things you can discover while visiting a museum. Yesterday, Monday, May 7th, the Boy Scouts of Melrose Troop 68 had a field trip at the Melrose Area Historical Museum. While we were there we took a look at the Scouting display and saw some new items added since the troop visited two years ago. Some of these items came from the first Eagle Scout of Melrose, Minnesota. His name was John Johnson. He earned his Eagle Rank in 1966.

    As John got older he joined the Explorer Scout Post in town. One day he saved the life of a young child who was playing on the train tracks. John received the B.S.A.’s Honor Metal for his quick action. Boy’s Life magazine, the official publication of the Boy Scouts of America, was notified about this. John was featured in the magazine during the mid-1960′s on the “Scouts In Action” page. A copy of the page from Boy’s Life is found in the museum.

    I knew that John Johnson was the first Eagle Scout of Melrose. In fact, he was a guest speaker at an Eagle court of honor in 1992. But I never knew he saved a young child’s life and that he was mentioned in Boy’s Life magazine. Amazing what a person can discover at a local museum, isn’t it?

    Here is a photo of the Boy’s Life page found at the Melrose Area Historical Museum.

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      The Cub Scouts of Pack 68 had a special field trip on Tuesday, April 26, 2011. Two members of the local volunteer fire department gave the boys a tour of the firehall and of the trucks used by the fireman. The Scouts were able to see some of the equipment used by the men.

      After the tour, the boys received an awesome treat when they were allowed to sit in the firetrucks and see what it is like behind the steering wheel of these large trucks. They enjoyed themselves, and I am sure this is one day they will remember for a long time.

      Click here to DOWNLOAD and watch this Podcast
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        Have you read it yet? If not, you should. The plot is riveting. The characters are interesting. The story’s climax will leave you waiting for the sequel. Okay, okay. The Guide To Safe Scouting (G2SS) is not quite that exciting, but it is a good book that every Cub Pack and Boy Scout Troop leader should read and have a copy kept nearby. There is a lot of useful information in it, and it can help you through some troubled events. For example, do you have a problem with a boy that continually misbehaves or hurts other boys, and nothing you try seems to help?  The G2SS has an app guideline for that. It states:

        All members of the Boy Scouts of America are expected to conduct themselves in accordance with the principles set forth in the Scout Oath and Law. Physical violence, hazing, bullying, theft, verbal insults, and drugs and alcohol have no place in the Scouting program and may result in the revocation of a Scout’s membership in the unit.

        If you do not have a copy of the Guide To Safe Scouting you should get one today. Stop by your Scout office or go to scouting.org to download a pdf version.

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          Merit Badge AppSo, you are a Boy Scout, or a Boy Scout leader, who has an iPhone or an iPod Touch. Did you know that there are a few apps available just for you in the Apple iTunes App store? Yep, that’s right. There are now apps available for the Scouting geek in us. These apps range in price from $.99 to $9.99. Too bad they are not free.

          The Boy Scout Handbook – $9.99 – Here is the complete version of the latest handbook for your favorite gadget. http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/the-boy-scout-handbook/id327240445?mt=8

          eBook, Boy Scout Handbook – $2.99 – Here is a copy of the first edition Boy Scout Handbook. http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/ebook-boy-scout-handbook/id338143841?mt=8

          Merit Badges – $.99 – Would you like a copy of the requirements for each of the merit bdages available to you on your iPod? Here is your wish fulfilled. http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/merit-badges/id358082137?mt=8

          Guide To Safe Scouting – $2.99 – This one is for all the adult leaders out there that have an iPhone or Ipod Touch. http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/guide-to-safe-scouting/id359071452?mt=8

          ScoutTracker – $1.99 – Keep track of one Boy Scout’s requirements as he earns the various Boy Scout Ranks. http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/scouttracker/id347388213?mt=8

          Unfortunately, I do not own am iPhone or iPod Touch, yet. I own an iPod Classic. I am waiting for the iPod Touch to come out with a camera. However, that has not stopped me from downloading some apps I wish to put on my iPod Touch. I already downloaded the Merit Badge app and will soon be downloading the Guide To Safe Scouting app. If you have already downloaded and used any of these apps leave a comment here about what you think about them.

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            Aquatic activites are a huge part of Boy Scouting, at least here in the land of 10,000 lakes. The aquatics beach at summer camp is probably the busiest area of the camp. You will find Boy Scouts swimming, sailing, rowing, canoeing, and snorkeling. Water polo and greased watermelon are two popular team activities.

            Safety first is always on the beach staffers’ minds. Safety Afloat and the Safe Swim Defense are the rule, not just something to think about. The number of staff members at the beach front is probably greater then any other area of program activities.

            Since these rules are enforced it can leave Scouts who are not good swimmers out of some of the activities. For example, if a Scout who has not passed his “swimmers” test wishes to go canoeing with the troop he will need a canoe partner who is a certified lifeguard. If a troop has a few non-swimmers then this could create a logistics problem.

            So what happens if your scoutmaster is a non-swimmer? Well, I can talk about this from a first person perspective because I am that non-swimmer scoutmaster. (Yeah, I know. A scoutmaster in the land of a quadrillion lakes who cannot pass the BSA swimming test. Pretty bad huh?)

            Let me explain. I like swimming, but I have never been a strong swimmer. I probably could be a stronger swimmer if I would actual go swimming more often then once or twice a year, but I really do not see that happening any time soon.

            I have a “condition” that usually keeps me out of the water. No, it is not a skin condition or something that others can catch from touching me. My body temperature drops very easily. I only go swimming when it is a hot day, with little wind, and in very warm water. All three conditions need to be met by Mother Nature.

            When my body temperature drops I begin to shiver uncontrollably. My muscles tense up through my body. Sometimes, in the worse cases, it becomes painful. And it takes a while to warm back up again. So, I seldom go swimming with the boys. I know my limits.

            Unfortunately, this means I miss out on many of the aquatic activities at summer camp. I will swim with the troop on a nice hot day but usually I am found in the non-swimmers areas. I can only go canoeing with the Scouts if there is a staff member available to be my partner. I have never gone sailing with the boys.

            Yes, it bothers me that I cannot participate in these activities. I understand the reasons for the BSA’s policies, but to tell you the truth, it does make me feel worthless as a scoutmaster at times. I have even though about resigning the position of scoutmaster and let someone else take over who could be with the Scouts through all these activities. But then the troop moves on to the climbing tower, or the archery range, and I forget all about what I missed, until the next time we go to the beach.

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              Totin Chip

              on February 13, 2008 in camping, safety 1 Comment »

              Safety first! That is the motto of Scout leaders as we take the boys into the outdoors. The BSA has plenty of rules, regulations, and guidelines to follow as we head into the woods. One guideline is for the Scouts to earn their Totin Chip card before they use pocket knives, axes, hatchets, and saws. I agree. Troop 68 has used the Totin Chip nearly since the troop started in December of 1979. We take safety seriously and so far, knock on wood, we have had very few injuries during the last three decades.

              Think you know your Totin Chip safety? Check it out! Take the test at the Melrose Troop 68 site and see how you do. You will find it HERE.

              Take the test and then check your answers. No cheating! Let me know what you think of it, and if you are not shy, post your score for others to beat by posting a comment to this blog. Have fun.

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                Today’s adult Boy Scout leaders are well aware of the BSA’s “two deep leadership” rule. It states that a troop function must have at least two responsible adults in attendance. At least one of these adults must have attended “Youth Protection Training”. One part of Youth Protection states that an adult must not share a tent with a Scout unless that Scout is his own son.

                Overall, the Youth Protection guidelines are excellent rules to follow, and unfortunately are needed in today’s (can you say “twisted”?) society. It was not always this way. In fact, two deep leadership did not become the rule until the late 1980′s.

                I remember the first several years I was the scoutmaster back in the early and mid eighties. There were several occasions when I was the only adult leader on a troop activity. In fact, in 1986, I was the only adult adviser of our troop’s Philmont crew. I shared a tent with one of the Scouts, as did many adult leaders. Adults and Scouts used the same shower facilities. At the same time. And you know what? No one thought it was wrong! It was normal.

                Then the winds of change began to blow. As my troop began to make plans to attend Philmont in 1989, we discovered some of the rules had changed. Two adults would needed with each and every crew. My first reaction to the new policy was “They have got to be out of their mind! Where are we going to find a second adult to attend when we have enough trouble finding adults for our troop’s weekend outings?” Then I thought, “Am I not good enough to take the Scouts on outings on my own? Have I not proved myself capable? Am I not trustworthy?”

                Yeah, I know, it was stupid to think that and take it personal. Once I sat down and actually thought about this new two deep leadership policy I began to realize this was a smart move by the BSA. I began to think, “What would happen if I was the only adult and something happened to me. What would happen to the boys?” And then I thought about the lawsuits involving a couple scoutmasters who were not trustworthy and had taken advantage of boys in their troop. Yes, I began to agree more and more with the wisdom of two deep leadership.

                It is nearly twenty years since that first trip to Philmont. Troop 68 follows the two deep leadership rule for its outings. And yes, there have been times were we have had to cancel an outing or activity because we did not have two adults who could attend. The rules can sometimes be a pain in the neck, but I have come to appreciate them. These policies were created not only to protect the boys, but also the adult leaders. I think they have worked out well.

                There are times when I look back to those early days and think that it is a shame that society has changed so much that we have had to add these policies. I hate to say it (because it makes me sound old) but I almost long for the “good old days”. Those days seemed to be so much more innocent and carefree then they are now, or is that only the way an “old” scoutmaster remembers them?

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