Archive for April, 2009

A Sioux Elder on the Petroglyphs

April 23, 2009

Minnesota Historical Society is planning to close Jeffers Petroglyphs except on the weekends, which I previously suggested as a Cub Scout destination to learn more about Native American history and culture.  Today I noticed this video, part of a series posted on Youtube and the Minnesota Stories websites.

Vernell Wabasha, a Sioux Elder, discusses what the Petroglyphs mean to her.  The Jeffers Petroglyphs historic site is arguably one the most significant historic and cultural sites of its kind in the world. Its continued use over 9,000 years attests to its importance in traditional indigenous culture. The Jeffers Petroglyphs podcasts presents a variety of perspectives personal, archaeological, traditional, biological, and geological — in the voices of those who know the site well.

I could say something snarky on the timing, but I don’t want to detract from the heartfelt emotion of this story.  The Historical Society is having to get creative about the budget and there’s no easy answers.


Scoutmaster Minute-The Goose Story

April 20, 2009

Last weekend on Lake Shetek, I saw a lot of Canadian Geese heading north for spring.  When you see geese flying along in a V formation, you might consider that science has discovered why they fly that way:

As each bird flaps its wings, it creates an uplift for the bird immediately following.  By flying in V formation, the whole flock creates at least 71% greater flying range than if each bird flew on its own.

People who share a common direction and sense of community can get where they are going faster and easier because they are traveling on the trust of one another.

When a goose falls out of formation it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of trying to go it alone and quickly gets back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power from the bird in front.  It’s like riding the draft in NASCAR.  If we had as much sense as a goose we would stay in formation with those who are headed in the same direction that we are.

When the head goose gets tired, it rotates back and another goose flies point.  Tonight we have recognized Scouts selected to serve in Troop Positions of Responsibility.  It makes sense to take turns doing demanding jobs whether it’s with people or with geese flying north.  No matter if you’re the head goose or one in formation, we’re all going for True North* together.


(Adapted from BSA Troop Program Resources)

* Ask Andy says: Our primary responsibility, as volunteer role-models and mentors, is to help those youth whom we serve to see the path ahead that points to True North and then help them make the personal decision to aim at it to the exclusion of ethical distractions. We started doing this a hundred years ago; our goal is no different today. But it may be more important today—it may be, in fact, the most important thing we can do with our time, talents, and treasure.

Scoutmaster Minute-Which Path?

April 6, 2009

Winter Paths

It was a cold spring morning and snow had fallen during the night. A young Scout was visiting his grandfather’s farm.

It was still very early when the scout and his Grandpa started across a field to check a fence. Being the curious type, our young Scout first ran down to check the creek to see if it had frozen during the night. Then, as he started back across the field, he noticed a spot where a deer had bedded down for the night, and he just had to check that out, too. Curiosity satisfied, he headed back toward Grandpa. Our scout saw that his grandfather hadn’t reached the fence yet, so he still had time to look for more arrowheads to add to his collection before sprinting to the fence just before his grandfather got there.

Grandpa stood there for a few minutes. Then told the scout to look back across the field at their two paths, which were very visible in the new snow. There were Grandpa’s footsteps, straight as an arrow from the barn to the fence. Our young Scout, his path was scattered here and there-going first to the stream, then to the deer. then all across the field looking for those arrowheads.

The grandfather asked the scout, “Which path was the correct one?” When Scout said, “I don’t know,” he replied, “Both are. Mine is surely faster and easier, but I didn’t get to see all the things that you saw. Remember, you always have a goal, just as we did in getting to the fence today, but sometimes, if you can, take the time to explore the wonders of life.”

(Adapted from BSA Troop Program Resources, p.11.)

Cooking in Camp

April 5, 2009

Lodge dutch oven

Troop 25 went camping last weekend.  Good thing it wasn’t this weekend, because we just had an April blizzard blow through.  This should not deter a Scout, but it makes it awful difficult to keep the tents up.

We are following the Camping program theme at the moment.  A number of our Scouts got started kind of late in their Scouting career on Camping Merit Badge.  Since BSA, in their infinite wisdom, tightened up the requirements for Camping Merit Badge, we have to be a bit more creative in creating Troop opportunities for tent camping.  This has always been a bit of a challenge since we can get snow 10 out of 12 months of the year in Minnesota.


I’m still working out the balance between challenging Scouts to tackle substantive projects on campouts and letting boys be boys.  It seems to be working best if I can get the PLC to wrap their minds around one big goal for an outing.

Our big goal for this outing was Cooking in Camp.

The troop is blessed with several active Assistant Scoutmasters, one of whom is an excellent camp cook.  Our Scouts, however much they love eating, like planning meals much less, and cleaning up after meals the least.  They are guys after all.

I am happy to report that the Scouts of Troop 25 took up this challenge from our ASM:  to go without Mac-n-Cheese one entire weekend.  Taking our cue from the pages of Cooking Merit Badge, one patrol cooked fish and the other patrol cooked soup and sandwiches for lunch.  And we all cooked dutch oven stews for dinner.  There was even desert.

I promised not to tell their moms they’re learning how to cook.  At least not until the Court of Honor.