Archive for March, 2009

Cub Scout Lock In

March 31, 2009

Buffalo Ridge District Cub Scout Lock In Patch 2009

Our District tried a new event this year, a Cub Scout Lock In, at the YMCA.  The event combines the District Pinewood Derby (traditionally held at the spring Scout Show) with a night of fun and games—swimming, basketball, video games, jumping on mats and running around until 1:00 in the morning.  A good time was had by all.

Scout-O-Rama is a sort of trade show of Scouting.  Scouter Mark Ray wrote for Scouting Magazine last year:

Fifty Years (and More) of Fun

Although the Lincoln Heritage Council’s Scoutorama dates back 50 years, it’s an outgrowth of an older activity. Scouter Bob Rudd, who attended the area’s very first Scoutorama, said the event grew out of Scout circuses held in the 1940’s by what was then the Old Kentucky Home Council.

The circuses looked more like trade shows, with rows of booths where Boy Scout troops and Explorer posts demonstrated Scouting skills and merit badge requirements.

“Since many of the Scout leaders worked in jobs involving electricity, carpentry, masonry, railroading, plumbing, and the like, these types of merit badges were always promoted,” Rudd said.

Highlights of early Scoutoramas included chariot races, wall-scaling competitions, tower building, even concerts. In 1961, for example, the Old Kentucky Home Council Boy Scout Band offered three “concert and dance-band programs.”

The band went silent long ago, but many traditions have endured, including unit displays, the “pushmobile” races, and the country store. Something else has stayed constant as well.

“Scoutorama was, is, and always has been the foremost public demonstration of Scouting in action for the Louisville community to see and appreciate,” Rudd said.

I did a tour of duty as District Activities Chair before being tapped out as Scoutmaster.  The Committee didn’t quite know what to do with the Scout-o-Rama, our annual Scout Show held each spring, rotating between cities in our district.  The mall in the largest city on the Minnesota side of the district had seen better days.  The mall in the largest city on the South Dakota side of the district at least still has their anchor department store.  Some Councils charge for tickets to Scout-O-Rama but we couldn’t give away prizes if we tried… and my home units never attended so I didn’t have much perspective to attract participants.  We needed to do something to re-invigorate this long-time event.

Last year our district fused the Scout-O-Rama with Spring Camp-o-Ree for a Camp-O-Rama at a centrally-located county fairgrounds.  It was a great time, with all of the events held outdoors except for the District Pinewood Derby.  This year our Camp-o-Rama is at beautiful Camp Shetek.  However, Camp doesn’t have a large indoor facility like the fairgrounds, so this was a good time to try something different moving the derby to a separate event.

I’m a fairly died-in-the-wood traditionlist when it comes to Scouting.  I love trying new things, but at the end of the day the best things are usually the tried-and-true.  It’s a difficult balance to hold on to the treasures of our fathers without locking out the dreams of our sons.


John Hope Franklin, Boy Scout

March 27, 2009

Lessons of days hopefully gone by:

“It was my first year as a Boy Scout, and I’m very, very excited about fulfilling all of the obligations of the Boy Scouts, and I’ve got so much enthusiasm and so much anxiety to be the best Boy Scout I can possibly be,” he told his son, John W. Franklin, last year.

“One of the admonitions that we had was that we had to do a good deed every day,” he said. So, while standing at a street corner in downtown Tulsa, Franklin was eyeing an opportunity to help while waiting for the light to turn, he recalled.

“And I saw this woman as she was stepping off the curb — and she had a cane — and I thought, ‘Oh my goodness, she can’t see,’ ” Franklin said. “And so I walked up to her and I said ‘Could I help you cross?’ She said, ‘Oh, yes, I’m so glad.’ And she grabbed on my arm as though I was the last person on earth.”

“We got about halfway across the street — and she’s so happy and laughing and talking — she said, ‘Are you white or black?’ And I told her I was colored, and she said, ‘Get your filthy hands off of me,’ and I got my hands off of her,” Franklin said.

John Hope Franklin was a noted historian at the University of Chicago and Duke.  Read the rest of the story, or listen to the audio, on NPR.

Scoutmaster Minute- The High Cost of Getting Even

March 24, 2009

Years ago, you could go to Yellowstone National Park and watch the bears feed on garbage [see below].  An old Scoutmaster tells about one night when he sat on a stand of bleachers facing a dense growth of pine and spruce.  Eventually a grizzly bear, the terror of the forest, strode out into the glare of the lights and began devouring the garbage that had been dumped from the kitchen of one of the park’s hotels.  Now, a grizzly bear can ship any other animal in the Western world, with the possible exception of the Kodiak bear; yet he noticed that night that there was one animal, and only one animal, that the grizzly permitted to come out of the forest and eat with him under the glare of the lights—a skunk.  The grizzly knew that he could kill the skunk with one swipe of his mighty paw.  Why didn’t he do it?  Because he had found from experience that it didn’t pay.

I have also found that to be true.  I have encountered both four- and two-legged skunks during my life and found from sad experience that it doesn’t pay to stir up either variety.

When we hate our enemies, we are giving them power over us-power over our sleep, our appetite, our blood pressure, our health, and our happiness.  Our enemies would dance with joy if they new how they were worrying us, exasperating us, or simply getting even with us.  Our hate is not hurting them at all.

Our hate only hurts ourselves.


(adapted from BSA Troop Program Resources, pp. 11-12)

From Bearman’s Guide to the Bears of Yellowstone National Park:

Grizzly bears…frequented the open pit garbage dumps that were located off the roads where food scraps and refuse was deposited from the nearby motels and restaurants in Yellowstone National Park. Grizzly bears are not as tolerant of people as black bears and never really hung out near the roads like the black bears.

     Having readily visible bears in Yellowstone Park was very popular with park visitors. It was also “considered to be the primary cause of an average of 48 bear-caused human injuries per year from 1930 through 1969.” (Cole; 1974 Yellowstone National Park Bear Management Order-4).  

    In 1970 the park service initiated an intensive bear management program designed to restore the grizzly and the black bear populations to subsistence on natural foods and reduce bear-caused injuries to humans. Regulations prohibiting the feeding of bears are strictly enforced as well as regulations requiring human food to be kept secured from bears. The garbage dumps have been removed and all dumpster’s and cans have been bear-proofed.

    As a result of this bear management plan we are left with a wild bear that feeds on natural foods and is a little more elusive in the park. However, we still have a few problem areas outside of the park, where bears come into contact with garbage and human foods and this results in many bear deaths each year. (Sanders, et al; 2001 Gallatin Canyon Bear Proof Trash Research Project)

Lower Sioux Agency changes hands

March 20, 2009

Last month I posted a fact sheet on resources to learn about Native American history and culture in Southwest Minnesota, which I wrote for one of my Wood Badge Tickets.  One of those resources is the Minnesota Historical Society’s Lower Sioux Agency site between Redwood Falls and Morton, MN.  The Redwood Falls Gazette is reporting a change in operations at the site.

Minnesota Historical Society (MHS) and the Lower Sioux Community have announced a management agreement under which the two entities are going to work together to present the Lower Sioux Interpretive Center history to the public.

Under the agreement, Lower Sioux is responsible for the day-to-day management of the site. MHS, however, retains ownership of and responsibility for the site’s capital needs and provides technical assistance.

The transfer takes effect April 1, 2009.

MHS noted in a press release:

The Lower Sioux Agency is an important historic site with a crucial story that needs to be preserved and told. The U.S. government administrative center for the Dakota in the mid 19th century, it was the scene of the first attack in the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862. The goal of its interpretive program is “to accurately and sensitively portray the powerful and complicated history of the site as well as its historical context,” according to Heather Koop, head of the Society’s southern district historic sites.

There is a direct link to Lower Sioux Agency by way of Charles Eastman, an early organizing of the Scouting Movement 100 years ago.  This is a nice small museum with an authetic setting on the Minnesota River.  The museum is kid-friendly, yet engaging for all members of the family from studious to short-attention-span.  Make your plans now and head out for a day in the Old West this spring.

Scoutmaster Minute—The New Scout

March 15, 2009

There was a boy named Jim who moved into town just after his 11th birthday.  For a long time he thought about becoming a Scout.  Jim was a bit shy, maybe too much so.  He didn’t push things; usually waited for an invitation.

Well, one night Jim came down to visit our troop meeting.  He looked in through the window and saw us playing and heard our voices.  But he couldn’t quite force himself to come inside.  Now don’t laugh-it wasn’t so very long ago that you might have been in Jim’s place.

Jim waited around awhile and went home, without getting his nerve up to come in.  He was pretty miserable about his failure, but he came back a week later.

He waited outside the door again.  He just couldn’t force himself to come in uninvited.  Finally, he saw a Scout coming down the street, heading for the meeting.  That Scout was you.

Now that’s all of the story I’m going to tell you tonight.  What happened?  Did you brush by him, or did you invite him to come in?

(Adapted from Troop Program Resources p.10)

BALOO Training

March 12, 2009


Attention Cub Scout Pack and Den leaders!  Are you trained so you can take your Cub Scouts camping?  If not, here is your chance to take the Basic Adult Leader Outdoor Orientation (BALOO).  This training is open to all Cub Scout leaders and interested Scouters. 


After a leader (or leaders) in your Pack receives this training, your Pack can go camping under their supervision.  BALOO will train Cub Scout leaders on the basics of Cub Scout Camping.  You will receive the knowledge and confidence in planning an enjoyable Pack campout.


The BALOO training will be held on Saturday, April 4, 2009 at Lewis & Clark Scout Camp, near Tabor, SD. 


Registration begins at 8:30 AM and BALOO begins at 9:00 AM. Training will be completed by 5:00 PM.  The training fee is $5.00 per participant. 


Topics Covered:

  1. AIMS and Purposes
  2. Planning
  3. Equipment
  4. Campfire Program
  5. Health and Safety
  6. Program
  7. Cub Scout Cooking
  8. First Aid and Sanitation  
  9. Nature Hikes and Games
  10. Stoves, Lanterns and Fire Safety

(Reposted from Sioux Council website.)



I would be tempted to re-take BALOO cub camping training just to spend an extra weekend at Lewis & Clark Scout Reservation on the beautiful banks of the mighty Missouri River.  Looks like Sioux Council is also offering BALOO at the Girl Scout Camp near Huron, SD, same weekend.  I took the course at the much-less-scenic Scout house in Marshall, Minnesota, a couple years ago so I could take my Webelos Den camping.  We had great hands-on training that was also a good introduction to Oudoor Leader Training for Troop leaders.


The Scoutmaster’s Other Handbook

March 8, 2009

All Scouters have been there.  You signed up for a Leadership position and dutifully attended training, right?  You were a little confused by Fast Start, but it was fast and it was just the start.  So on to New Leader Training you go.

If you are a Scoutmaster or Assistant Scoutmaster, you went to Scoutmaster Specific Training.  It was a bit more involved, but also fast paced and the trainer may have told you they would answer your more practical questions at Introduction to Outdoor Leader Skills… My ODLS class was held in March.  It was so cold, the only thing I retained was the importance of dressing in layers and the benefit of putting mittens over gloves.

The official BSA Scoutmaster Handbook has been somewhat helpful, but it’s a big and bulky notebook, long on policy and short on practice.

Into the breach stepped Scouter and freelance writer Mark RayThe Scoutmaster’s Other Handbook is Ray’s 2003 offering of the essential elements in paperback.  He offers three reasons—the official handbook he feels is too simplistic, “the Scouting program and the world around it are changing rapidly”, and he wanted to share some good ideas.

The internet is full of interesting ideas (especially on JohnScout) and the web is free, so why pay for another Scouting book?  Well, this slim volume has some really good ideas.  However, the real value for me getting them all in one place, knowing each idea had been put to the test on the ground by real volunteers.

Here’s an example:  The Boy-Led Program.  The model troop run by and for the Scouts seems the holy grail of the Scouting Movement.  The SPL who runs a tight Patrol Leaders Council.  The Patrol Leaders who selflessly put the needs of their members before their own.  It seems like a distant chimera beyond all hope.  Ray offers a needed reality-check:

The first thing to remember about leadership development is that it’s a method of Scouting, not an aim… Work toward a boy-run troop, but don’t let it become a boy-run-in-the-ground one!

I found several other ideas that addressed clear and present issues, from patrol sizes to camping gear.  Scoutmaster, ASM, Troop Committee member, Merit Badge Counselor or Scout Parent, this book is a clear, concise and practical guide that deserves a place in your pocket.


  1. Introduction
  2. The Annual Troop Program
  3. Outings
  4. High Adventure
  5. Philmont
  6. Travel
  7. Troop Meetings
  8. Ceremonies
  9. Advancement
  10. Patrols
  11. Membership
  12. Adult Leaders
  13. Parents
  14. Youth Leaders
  15. Troop Administration
  16. Safety
  17. Equipment
  18. Money
  19. Communication
  20. Resources



March 1, 2009

Scoutmaster Minute—Giving

In Israel, there are two major bodies of water.  Both are fed by the waters of the River Jordan.  One is the Sea of Galilee, which is full of fish and surrounded by lush vegetation and trees.  It is a living body in every sense.  The other is the Dead Sea.  There is nothing green there, there are no fish, and the sea is stagnant and dead.

The difference is that that Sea of Galilee overflows.  For every gallon of water that flows into the sea, a gallon is given up and is passed on downstream.  It is constantly renewing itself. It gives as much as it takes.

The Dead Sea, on the other hand, because of its geography, only takes.  It gives up nothing.  The water there is never cleansed;  it stagnates and dies.  And everything that depends on it dies also.

Some people say that there are only two kinds of people in the world—those who constantly give of themselves (who help other people at all times), and those who only take.

Which kind are you?

Troop Program Resources, p. 9