Archive for the 'District' Category

Scouts on Ice

January 24, 2013
Roundtable Commissioner Paul Horn with Zach S of Pack 25, Slayton

Roundtable Commissioner Paul Horn with Zach S of Pack 25, Slayton

Sioux Council’s Buffalo Ridge District back home hosted an Ice Fishing Derby once again this month, attracting Packs and Troops from across Southwest Minnesota and South Central South Dakota.  As the Murray County News reported:

Those on the ice that day kept busy chasing their wind driven equipment across the lake.

Boy Scout Camp Shetek near Currie hosted the event where 9 Cub Scouts, 14 Boy Scouts and 19 adults participated.

Some years we had good fishing. Other years we just had good fun.  Either way it’s one more option to get the boys (and boys at heart) out into the Great Outdoors between Christmas and Klondike Derby.



Scoutmaster Minute—Pride and Goodbyes

October 2, 2012
Longs Peak Council

Longs Peak Council (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

SM Minute—Pride and Goodbyes

“I’m proud of you guys.”

That’s all I could squeak out Sunday night in my final Scoutmaster Minute for Troop 25, Sioux Council, BSA.

See, I found a new job, back in Longs Peak Council of Colorado and Wyoming.  I like what I do professionally, but this is a great opportunity.  Frankly, it’s harder to leave behind my Troop after 5 years as Scoutmaster than my job of 8 years.  Maybe that’s because I’m satisfied my work is done at my job, but there is so much I still wanted to accomplish with the boys in my troop.

I am proud of my guys.  The boys my wife & I started into Tiger Cubs 8 years ago are filling out the Patrol Leaders Council now.  Brodie and Nathan and Matt have grown through Wolves and Bears and Webelos, and are all First Class or Star Scouts now.  Zach and Dylan are close behind, and my younger son earned his Tenderfoot at Summer Camp this year.

I was planning to talk about all the fun and adventures we’ve had the past 5 years—summer camp at Lewis & Clark and Camp Wilderness and winter camps at Lake Shetek.  Klondike Derby and Ice Fishing Derby, hikes at state parks and swamping canoes among the leeches.  All I could squeak out was, “I’m proud of you guys”

It’s easier knowing I’ve got—we’ve got—great Assistant Scoutmasters and Troop Committee members ready to step up.  I kept my Troop Committee Chair in the loop when I applied for a new position (he agreed to be a reference), and we talked it out ahead of time.  Our new Scoutmaster is ready for a seamless transition, and I will be eternally grateful for that.

So yes, Scouts and Scouters, I am proud of you.  I’ll be scouting campsites up in the Big Horn mountains.  Keep your Tour Permits up to date and we’ll see you Back at Gilwell.


Spring Camporee: Rails on the Prairie

April 1, 2010

Buffalo Ridge District, Sioux Council BSA, presents Rails—From the Past to the Future, Spring Camporee 2010, 16-18 April at Prairie Village, Madison, South Dakota.  Registration is $10 in advance, $12 after Roundtable.

Railroading Program, including model railroading, Gandy Dancing, railroad safety, train history, railroad engines, and railroad cars and equipment, capped off with a ride on a restored steam train.

The program will feature most of the Railroading Merit Badge.  Individual scouts are responsible for seeing merit badge counselor and completing the final requirement.”

2010 Buffalo Ridge District Spring Camporee (short)


Relief of Maefking Camporee

October 12, 2009

Our District’s Fall Camporee this weekend took on ‘The Relief of Mafeking‘. The troop planning the program put on a 24-hour survival operation based on proficiency in First Class skills. Scouts were tested on their ability to react to a high stress, low-rest environment while performing Scout Skills in an outdoor environment.

Stations included:

  • Scavenger Hunt
  • Action Archery Lane
  • Canoe Crossing
  • Swimmer Rescue
  • Land Navigation
  • River Crossing (simulation)
  • Submarine Battle game
  • Bear Bag Hang
  • Shelter Establishment
  • Water Boil
  • Victim Extraction
  • Minefield Clearing
  • Breakfast
  • Scout Oath and Law

The Camporee guide outlined materials required for each Scout and each Team of 4. Individual Scouts were to carry items such as a 2nd Class First Aid Kit, mess kit, 2 quarts of water, raingear, a canoe paddle and PFD. Team equipment included a tarp, 100′ and 500′ lengths of rope, large skillet and spatula.  The guide recommended that Troops train to:

  1. Become familiar with identifying certain trees and shrubs
  2. Become familiar finding sings of certain prairie animals
  3. Become proficient tying two-half hitches, tautlines, bowlines, and timber hitches
  4. Develop methods of carrying victims long distances
  5. Develop methods to throw ropes with great accuracy
  6. Figure out how to light fires quickly, with and without matches
  7. Determine an azimuth and measure distances for land navigation

I like the idea of a challenging event. Our camporees often center around a Merit Badge, which is nice to expose Scouts to different topics but can end up too much like Scout School. The thing is, we have boys from age 7 to 17 in Scouting (and up to 21 in Venturing) with many different skills and interests. There’s a big difference in interests between a new Tiger Cub & his Akela and a 2nd year Webelos about to earn his Arrow of Life. Activities that draw a high school freshman Star Scout may draw yawns from the college freshman Venture Scout.

There has to be some balance in our Troop programs between learning skills and opportunities to demonstrate proficiency. This event drew the interest of several of our older Scouts, but the other half of our troop are still working on their First Class rank. It’s one thing to challenge youth. It’s another thing to set them up for exclusion and failure.

Even so, our Troop put together a team and was ready to go a week out. Then we got a look at the weather forecast. Low of 20*F and 4” of snow. This is doable with the right equipment; however, our Troop does NOT have the right equipment for 4-season camping. By Friday night there was One Scout standing: a Tenderfoot. Two Assistant Scoutmasters had volunteered to help out with the event so they did camp Friday night. I myself took the opportunity to be Akela with my Bear Cub for the Cub Scout day camp activities.

Hopefully next year we’ll Be BETTER Prepared.


Scout-O-Rama + Camp-O-Ree = Camp-O-Rama

May 5, 2009

Camp-O-Rama 2009 Flag Ceremony

There are a precious few spring days that approach perfection.  Crisp nights give way to a clear dawn, sunshine enveloping still-bare limbs to warm the ground below.  Those few days when the promise of summer is more full than any actual summer day can be.

We had a day close to that out at Camp Shetek.  Several troops and packs from Buffalo Ridge District gathered for the Spring 2009 Camp-O-Rama.  I previously wrote about our challenges with the traditional scout-o-rama.  This is the second year our District has combined the spring camp-o-ree with scout-o-rama for a Camp-O-Rama.  Troops camp out at a different location in our district, then are joined by packs at noon for an afternoon of fun, games, and scouting skills.

Our Troop won Best Event for an obstacle course.  Scouts started scooting under a low tarp picking up tennis balls, then high-stepping through low ropes in a diamond pattern moving footballs from one side to the other, then weaving thru a line of garbage cans picking up dodge balls, and finally diving into a bin (made of snowfence) searching for a small rubber ball in a sea of balloons.   We were careful to adjust scoring easier for Cubs, more difficult for older Scouts, and there was a line all day.  Other units did things like:

  • Monkey bridge
  • Boiling egg over an open fire in a paper cup
  • Baseball toss (with tennis balls)
  • Orienteering
  • Pioneer games
  • Duck game
  • Flag retirement
  • Knot-tying contest

Last year we held Camp-O-Rama at a county fairgrounds that is more centrally located in the district.  Camp Shetek is on the far east side of Sioux Council and we didn’t have as large a crowd this year.  We also tried convening our District Awards Banquet with the Camp-O-Rama this year.  I don’t usually go to banquets, so it was nice to see some good Scouters recognized.  It’s good to try new things I suppose.

A good time was had by all.


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.

Trip to Alaska! Klondike Derby 2009

February 27, 2009

Klondike Derby 2009 Patch

Buffalo Ridge District Boy Scouts took a trip to Alaska in February for the 2009 Klondike Derby. Well, we stopped at Hole in the Mountain Park in Lake Benton, Minnesota, since it was good, snowy and cold enough right there in the middle of our district.

Cub Scouts cycled inside and out to foil the wind & frigid temps, taking part in:

  • Fishing for mouse traps
  • Alaska flag craft
  • Slingshot shoot (led by BSA-trained Scouter)
  • Leather kneckerchief slide craft
  • Snow soccer

Boy Scouts & Venturers were outside for the duration.  A Troop from Marshall, MN, even camped out (Polar Points for all!).  Scouts hauled neccesary gear on sleds of their own manufacture to six different stations:

  • Tent building
  • Animal tracks
  • Fire starting
  • Knot tying
  • First aid
  • Snow catapult

Our district has been fortunate to receive assistance running stations for the older guys from parks & rec students at South Dakota State University at Brookings.  A couple of my Scouts remarked that they didn’t have enough to do during a couple stations—that’s good experience for the college kids before they get out and run summer rec programs, as well as good experience for our Scouts to make sure they’re dressed warm enough not to freeze during downtime.

The Klondike Derby finishes up with a great race after lunch, when the Boy Scouts & Venturers line up and race dogsled fashion across the park to the cheers (and jeers) of the Cubs and Scouters assembled.  Our Troop won a couple years back and we had a good team this year.  We had great buffalo chili for lunch and  I believe I can say that a good time was had by all.

Ice Fishing Derby

January 15, 2009

1009 Ice Fishoree patch

Buffalo Ridge District, Sioux Council BSA, sponsored an Ice Fishoree on Lake Shetek, in Murray County, MN, on Saturday 10 January 2009.

Our Roundtable Commissioner initiated the event and we had about 120 Scouts & Volunteers attend. Some even caught fish!

The night before the event, our Cub Scout Pack slept in the Lodge at Camp Shetek with a Pack from Marshall, MN.  The Venture Crew slept outside in a teepee.

Shetek Lodge Fire

The Cubs made ice fishing rigs, watched a movie (Kung Fu Panda), ate pizza, went on a night hike, had a lot of fun. Hope to do it all again next year.