Category Archives: Merit Badges
Last week, I had the honor of serving as the Summer Camp Scoutmaster once again. This was the 7th time I have served in this role. All of the experiences have been great and rewarding but this camp was also very trying and stressful. I learned a lot last week and grew some as an adult leader and as an adult in general.
The highlight of the week for me was being at camp for the first time with both of my sons. Drew is 17 and an Eagle and Cameron is 12 and advanced to Star while we were at camp. Cameron and I went to camp together last summer at Slippery Falls and I had hoped to have Drew with us but him and my wife decided that Sea Base sounded better than the southern Oklahoma heat and humidity. I can’t imagine why.
Cameron and the rest of the Scouts spent the week working on merit badges and honing their Scouting skills. Cameron earned merit badges in Rifle, Environmental Science and Indian Lore. He still has some requirements left in Orienteering.
Because of his age and the fact that he is already and Eagle, Drew got to be an ‘adult’. He spent the week hanging out in camp, mentoring the older leadership Scouts and going to town with whoever he could bum a ride from. I think he ate New Mexican food five of the seven days we were there. He also learned that New Mexico has some really hot Green Sauce and the sopapillas there are huge.
It was also a great opportunity for he and I just to hang out together. He will be 18 in a few months and a Senior in high school and this was one of the last chances we will have to hang out before he begins his life in the world. I cherished every minute of it.
Thank you Scouting and Troop 168 for giving opportunities with my kids. I can never repay what you have given me!!
During our last planning session the Scouts made a decision that they wanted the adults of the Troop to plan a Mystery Campout. They wanted us to completely plan the campout but keep the actual activity and the location a secret. The Scoutmaster agreed and the date was set.
David, who is an Assistant Scoutmaster in the Troop, was assigned the task of coming up with the plan and location and started planning. He decided that we were going to do a Search and Rescue scenario following a recommendation of a Troop Committee member that recently attended the Philmont Leadership Challenge. We decided that use our Council’s summer camp property as the location. The Leadership Scouts in the Troop were brought in on the plan so they could run the scenario and serve as the command center at the base camp.
The older Scouts went through the specifics of the Search & Rescue Merit Badge and how to look for an individual that is lost on Saturday morning. In the afternoon, “victims” were placed all over camp and clues were left that enabled the three search groups to go out and attempt to locate the lost individuals and then administer first aid as necessary. The Scouts were all given radios, maps and GPS units so they could relay their information back to the Incident Command (IC).
While all of this was happening the new Scouts that had just crossed over from Webelos spent the day getting to know one another and their Troop Guides by working on joining requirements in the morning and in the afternoon they worked on their Totin’ Chip and Firem’n Chit. For many this was their first camping experience and from what I could hear they really seemed to enjoy it.
After the SAR time was over everyone came back to camp and started on dinner and the Scouts got to work on their desserts for a Best Dessert Contest. The Scouts had a great time learning a real life skill and as a adults we learned an appreciation for doing the job they do every month. Thanks to everyone who helped make this campout fun.
Recently, I got the privilege of teaching the Geocaching Merit Badge to seven Boy Scouts at our Troop’s Annual Merit Badge Fair. We usually host a Merit Badge Fair (MBF) every spring with about 150 or so Scouts attending. This year was no different.
This was my 4th time to teach at the MBF but it was my first time to teach Geocaching at the MBF. Heck, it was my first time to EVER teach it. I tried Geocaching several years ago with a low end GPS unit and it was ok but not that great. Fast forward to today and with rise of the smartphone and apps it has become really easy and really fun. I have even got the family involved.
We spent the first part of the day doing the “book work” portion of the badge. They learned what GPS means and how GPS works. We discussed Geocaching etiquette and Leave No Trace. We also talked about using a map and compass and UTM (Universal Transverse Mercator) system. It was fun and then learned some new things.
in the afternoon we got in the car and went caching. I took the Scouts to an area that had several Geocaches located around an old abandoned park. All of the Geocaches were within walking distance from each other and all were in different containers. As a bonus, one of the caches was a Boy Scout related cache from the Council Centennial Camporee in 2009. it was located next to the property the campout was at and was cleverly disguised as a dove.
One of the requirements was to activate and release a new Travel Bug. A travel bug is a trackable tag that you attach to an item. This allows you to track your item on Geocaching.com. The item becomes a hitchhiker that is carried from cache to cache (or person to person) in the real world and you can follow its progress online. We got one from a fellow Scouter who was teaching a class and we walked through activating it. We attached a Scout coin with the Scout Oath on one side and the Law on the other. We put it in an ammo can and are waiting on someone to pick it up and move it.
It was a great time and they had a blast learning what may become a lifelong hobby. I had fun teaching the class and will likely teach it again next year.
I wrote last October about my oldest son and his Eagle project. When I wrote that he still needed to complete two merit badges and work on his project. Well I am happy to report that today at our Troop’s Court of Honor he received the last two merit badges. They were Personal Fitness and Personal Management. Neither of these are easy to earn and took a while to complete.
He has started writing his project and has begun making contacts for supplies. Things are starting to move forward and with hopes of not jinxing myself I hope to be standing on stage sometime in 2012 and putting the Eagle neckerchief around his neck.
Hopefully the next update will come soon!