Posts Tagged ‘safety’


A Time To TellThe theme for the Boy Scout Troop 68 meetings in April was personal safety. The troop had a local police officer come to the first meeting to talk to the Scouts about how to stay safe and what sort of things officers look out for when dealing with youth. It was my turn to talk about safety during the second troop meeting. I grabbed my flat screen television with the built-in DVD player and my copy of A Time To Tell. We would be watching some of the videos during the meeting.

A Time To Tell is a series of videos produced by the Boy Scouts of America. The DVD contains five videos. According to the scoutstuff.org website: With introductions and “reality checks” by teens for teens, A Time to Tell presents a variety of situations that young people may encounter. These scenes stress the importance of the three R’s of Youth Protection: Recognize strategies and situations used by child molesters to isolate an adolescent that can lead to attempted molestation; Resist attempts of child molesters; and Report individuals who attempt to molest or who have molested in the past.
http://www.scoutstuff.org/bsa/literature-media/dvd/educational/a-time-to-tell-dvd.html

Due to the subject matter of the videos I invited all the parents to attend and watch the films with the Scouts. Several of them took the offer. Due to the time limit I was only able to show three of the videos. After each video I would ask the Scouts a couple questions and hold a short discussion. Later, as the boys played during their game time, I had the chance to talk to the parents. They all agreed that the videos did a good job of getting the message across to the boys and that we did a good job of highlighting the important parts of the videos.

Have you ever used the A Time To Tell videos within your own troop? How did the Scouts react?

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?

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.

The first time the Boy Scouts of Troop 68 went spelunking at Eagle Cave in Wisconsin they had a great time. So it was not a surprise that we scheduled another trip to the cave a few years later. (Pictures of the trip can be seen on our troop website HERE.)

This time the troop “camped” toward the back of the cave. It was a nice area, with very little traffic that went by us. The cave ceiling was a little low, causing some of the boys to crawl to their sleeping bags. At least our area was dry. unlike the troop a little further down the cave which had plastic over their gear and bags to protect it from the moisture dripping from the ceiling.

As noon on Saturday approached, I was outside near the dining hall. The boys would soon be arriving for lunch. In fact, dozens of boys from other troops were already gathering. I spotted a couple Scouts from my troop running toward me with a look of concern on their faces. “Mike’s hurt!” they told me between gulps of air. “His head is all bloody.” Of course, as a scoutmaster all sorts of possibilities went through my mind. I understood that a head injury could be pretty serious, and hoped that the boys were exaggerating.

As I made my way to the cave I caught site of a few boys leading Mike toward me. His hair was a bloody mess. Several lines of blood had trickled down his face. My first thought was, “Wow, that is a lot of blood.” But then I noticed that he was not bleeding anymore, and that the blood on his face was already drying. After a quick look at the top of his head I could see the injury was very minor and had already clotted. He seemed to be fine, just shaken up a little.

Since we were near the dining hall I walked in and asked for a first aid kit. To my surprise, they did not have one. I asked for something to clean the blood off Mike and they handed me several white dish towels. I could not help but think that for a place that sees hundreds of campers each weekend they were totally unprepared for accidents.

As I walked with Mike up to the shower house I noticed that many of the campers had lined up in front of the dining hall. I could guess what would be the topic of conversation at many of the tables during this meal.

It took a few of those towels to get Mike cleaned up.The wound was the size of the tip of a ballpoint pen. Mike said that he had stood up to fast in a low ceiling portion of the cave and hit his head on the ceiling. One of the little pointy bumps on the ceiling had caused the injury. Knowing how slimy the cave ceiling was, I decided we should take him into town and have a doctor look it over to prevent any infection. One of the fathers joined us. The doctor cleaned it, sealed it with a drop of a crazy-glue like substance, and sent us on our way.

By this time we had missed lunch in the dining hall so we stopped at Pizza Hut for something to eat. Mike later declared this as one of the best parts of the weekend. I was happy that everything and everyone turned out fine.

The first time the Boy Scouts of Troop 68 scheduled a trip to southern Wisconsin to spend a weekend at Eagle Caves we had one young Scout who was very excited about going spelunking. In fact, after a month about hearing him talk about nothing except spelunking we finally had to turn down his excitement a bit because it was getting on everyone’s nerves.

Eagle Caves is a large privately owned cave. Scouts and youth groups can make arrangements to spend the weekend camping in and exploring the cave. Campgrounds, a shower house, and a dining hall are all located on the site. We visited the cave during the winter months so we chose to stay inside the cave, along with a couple dozen other troops.

Due to the seven hour trip from Melrose to Eagle caves we did not arrive until after 11:00 Friday evening. The staff placed us just inside the entrance to the cave. The entrance had a door to keep the cave at a constant year round temperature.

After breakfast in the dining hall Saturday morning, the boys began their spelunking experience. The cave was quite large and they were many nooks, crannies, and tunnels to explore. The main areas of the cave were large and easy to walk through. Other areas, especially the tunnels, could be so small that you would crawl on your belly to get into them. It did not take long for the boys’ clothes to be covered in cave dirt and slim.

Jeff, the father of one of the boys, and I were relaxing in the cave when his son and another Scout ran up to us. They were excited about a tunnel they found and they wanted us to follow them and explore it. Okay, we were game.

The tunnel entrance was small, like crawling on your hands and knees small. The boys charged into the tunnel, leaving Jeff and me to follow. We were starting to have second thoughts but we got down to the floor and followed them. Soon, we were flat on our bellies creeping through the shrinking tunnel. We could hear the squeals of delight ahead of us. The tunnel finally opened into a small area in with Jeff and I could stand at an angle, but the tunnel continued through another small opening.

As we stood there in that tight little area, I had a completely random thought. “What if an earthquake would happen?” I asked Jeff. That was the last straw. We were done. We could back on our bellies and shimmied our way back out of the tunnel.

Jeff and I did not explore anymore tight tunnels that weekend, but the boys had a great time.
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