Archive | March, 2012

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Two Councils Merge

Posted on 15 March 2012 by ScoutingNewsStaff

Two councils in Michigan and Wisconsin have voted to merge together. The Hiawathaland Council in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and the Bay-Lakes Council in Wisconsin. There will not be a new council created, instead they will keep the Bay-Lakes Council moniker. In November of 2011, nine councils in the Lower Peninsula of Michigan merged into a single Greater Michigan Council. Merging councils increase the resources available to youth, but may have an unforeseen consequences.

What do you think? Have you been through a council merger or split? Comment below.

Update 3/16/2012: Thanks Dan for the comment below. Visit the BSA Area Project to find more information on how Michigan is innovating a new model on the idea of a Council.

Sources:  Bay-Lakes Council News

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Nail In Fence

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Words of Wisdom Wednesday: Loyal

Posted on 14 March 2012 by ScoutingNewsStaff

“Loyalty is a feature in a boy’s character that inspires boundless hope.” -Sir Robert Baden-Powell

Last week, we introduced what it means to be trustworthy – the first point of the Scout Law. This week, we focus our attention on what it means to be loyal.

What does Sir Baden-Powell mean by saying that a person’s character “inspires boundless hope?” More importantly, what is hope? Perhaps we think of “hope” as something that we want to happen or an event that we wish to occur. Let’s go back to basics and flip open the dictionary… or an online dictionary since we live in the digital age. The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines “hope” as a “desire accompanied by expectation of or belief in fulfillment.” It also defines “hope” as “trust” or “reliance“.

Okay, let’s apply those definitions to the quote. As a Scout, we are charged with leadership positions and duties at every Scout activity. Each Scout is responsible for certain duties that help the Scout Unit grow and become successful. If these duties are not performed, the expected result does not materialize. Each Scout must be loyal to his peers and to his Scout Unit. Without loyalty, no Scout Unit will succeed. This is why loyalty is codified into our Scout Law. While a Scout must be loyal to his peers and Scout Unit, so too must he be loyal to his family, good friends, and worthwhile deeds in life.

Now we can see the big picture. When loyalty becomes a person’s character trait, others can expect positive results and rely on that person to do things right. And when a person is loyal, others will be inspired to put their trust in that person.

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Photo Friday: What is this for?

Posted on 09 March 2012 by BrandonQ

Photo Friday
Photo Fridays are brought to you by Brandon Queen Photography.

What is it and how does it all work?


Now we want to learn about three important functions of a digital camera.  They are shutter speed, aperture, and ISO. Each of these settings act together to determine how bright or dark your photo is, or exposure. Think of them as a triangle and the foundation of exposure. Having knowledge of these functions can help you creating stunning photos!

Shutter Speed

The shutter speed is simply the length of time that the light hits the film or sensor allowing the image to be recorded. Each variation in speed (much the same as the aperture variations) is known as a “stop.” A faster shutter speed gives less more time to hit the sensor. A slower shutter speed gives light more time. Slower shutter speeds can create blurry or noisy photos but can capture images in low light. Faster shutter speeds have the ability to freeze time, but require a lot of light to be useful.

Shutter Speed - Flowers


The aperture is like the iris of the eye. When the aperture is very small, you will get a sharper focus and more depth of field– near and far things in the scene will tend to be sharper. This is because the smaller circle is cutting down on the “confusion” caused by the countless overlapping circles of light being focused on the film or other light sensitive surface in the camera. The down side is that because the iris is smaller, less light is getting to the sensor, and you need a longer exposure to get a good image. When the aperture is larger, you can get a good image with a faster shutter speed, but sharpness and depth of field may suffer a little. The “circles of confusion” are larger, because the  aperture is larger.



In very basic terms, ISO is the level of sensitivity of your camera to available light. The lower the ISO number, the less sensitive it is to the light, while a higher ISO number increases the sensitivity of your camera. The component within your camera that can change sensitivity is called “image sensor” or simply “sensor”. It is the most important (and most expensive) part of a camera and it is responsible for gathering light and transforming it into an image. With increased sensitivity, your camera sensor can capture images in low-light environments without having to use a flash. But higher sensitivity comes at an expense – it adds grain or “noise” to the pictures.

White Balance

White balance is not part of the “triangle” but has a big impact on your picture. It is basically a way to “measure” the temperature (color) of light and to “balance” out the colors of your photography for the desired results.

Ideally, the goal of a conventional photograph is to attain an ideal White Balance where the white color is as close to true, neutral white as possible and all of the colors in your image are “true to life.”

ISO is set to 100 which is good for out door shots on a sunny and part cloudy day.

In Focus Flower: Notice how the flower is in focus and the background is extremely blurred out. That is due to a large aperture.

A small aperture allows for a large depth of field. Notice most of the flowers appear in focus.


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MD Snow Shoe Trip

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Five Degrees of Snow Camping

Posted on 08 March 2012 by MikeD

The following is a Guest Article by Mike Dubrall. Mike “Uncle Dub Zero” Blogs and writes informative articles on backpacking and snow camping at 

Snow camping is a popular winter activity for sturdy Boy Scouts.  Every year, thousands venture into snow covered fields and conduct a variety of maneuvers, all designed to prove that they can survive and thrive in cold conditions that cause their parents to mutter about hot tubs and hotel rooms.   However, while cold weather outings can be challenging, not all winter outings can be called snow camping, no matter what your leaders tell you.

Winter is a great time for Scout outings.

Snow camping requires, at a very minimum, that Scouts build shelters in the snow and sleep in them.  These could be tents, Ice or Hop Houses, Quinzies, Snow Trenches (sometimes called Ice Coffins) or the most popular of all – the classic Snow Cave.   Anything less than spending the entire night in one of these shelters  is just a winter outing with snow involved.

To clear up any confusion, here are the degrees of snow camping clearly defined – from easiest to most difficult.

Zero Degree: Staying in a cabin. Gentlemen, this is not snow camping.  No matter how many times you go outside and walk around in snowshoes or how cold you get making snow angels wearing only your shorts, it’s not called snow “camping” when you sleep in a “cabin.”  Even your little sister knows this.  Give it up and try again next winter.

First Degree: Car Camping.  Adults drive you up to the mountains and park near the snow.  You get to pitch tents or dig snow caves right next to the cars and keep all your shovels, extra tools, snacks, water, and tarps in the trunk, grabbing them as needed.  Adults sit in a Winnebago preparing hot chocolate and there is no need to dig out a cooking area because there is a propane stove in the back of  the truck.  Often you have KYBOS nearby, but you have to be brave enough to use them, partly because of the frigid temperature inside.

Second Degree: Tent Camping.  After arriving, Scouts pack up their equipment and leave the parking area to find a campsite.  Travel from the cars can be via snow shoe, cross country ski, or by booted foot.  Upon arrival at a suitable location, snow is cleared or smoothed and tents are erected with “dead men stakes” covered by snow.  Gear is stowed in the tents and the group works together building  a common kitchen area and latrine before heading off to explore the frozen lake.  After dark, Scouts climb into their tents and hope that the temperatures outside do not drop below 30 degrees or that it doesn’t snow too much.  If it does, they shiver in their sleeping bags and think about real snow caves.

MD Snow Cave

Digging a Snow Cave is much more difficult than just erecting a tent - but is usually more comfortable.

Third Degree: Cave Camping.  Scouts load their backpacks, fasten on their snow shoes, and carry all their equipment across the snow and away from the parking lot until the desired separation is achieved – usually when the weakest camper drops from exhaustion.   (The longer the hike, the more adventurous the outing.)  After testing the snow with an avalanche probe for hidden large rocks and other surprises, Scouts spend hours sitting or lying on tarps digging caves using snow shovels, saws, and their gloved hands.  During the afternoon, volunteers takes turns sculpting a kitchen area near the shelters.  Someone makes sure the cooking stoves are constantly lit and that snow is being melted into drinkable water.  After dinner, everyone climbs into their cave, lights their glow stick, and settles into a soundless trance until morning.

Fourth Degree: Cave or Tent Camping as part of an extended trek.  This is full metal jacket snow camping and only for the strongest and most prepared youth in the Council.  In addition to carrying a heavy backpack full of food and supplies across the snow on snow shoes, Scouts have to get up early every day

MD Snow Camping Levels of Difficulty

Leaving the vehicles for several days is the most challenging kind of fourth degree winter outing.

(when it’s really, really cold), break camp, and start moving so they arrive in camp in time to create new shelters and melt snow for drinking water before it gets dark.  On top of the significant physical and psychological burdens, everyone has to navigate across a frozen and alien geography where trails and landmarks are covered in snow, rending most maps almost useless.

Of course additional points can be earned when something difficult happens an any of these outings.  For example, when a storm unexpectedly dumps two feet of snow on your shelters overnight collapsing tents or forcing campers to dig out of their caves in the morning.  Likewise, when adults inexplicably insist that everyone buckle their snow shoes  after dinner for a night hike in sub-arctic temperatures.

Now that you have a snow camping barometer, what kind of winter camping does your unit do?

Mike Dubrall writes about backpacking, snow camping, and other high adventure outings at His email is and you can friend him on Facebook.


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Words of Wisdom Wednesday: Trustworthy

Posted on 07 March 2012 by ScoutingNewsStaff

“A Scout’s honor is to be trusted. If he were to violate his honor by telling a lie, or by cheating, or by not doing exactly a given task, when trusted on his honor to do so, he may be directed to hand over his scout badge.” -Sir Robert Baden-Powell

In the next few weeks, we will examine the Scout Law. This week, we focus on “Trustworthy”.

What does it mean to be trustworthy? Think back to one of your Scout events when you were told to do something by your Scout leader. Did you do it? Or you told someone else to do something. Did s/he do it?

Whether we consciously know it or not, trust guides our actions everyday, and our successes depends on trust. Without trust, we fail as a leader. To trust others means that we have to give up control. Our Scout Law begins with “Trustworthy” because it sets the tone for and applies to everything else down the list.

Sometimes we take trust for granted. We tell others to do things and we forget that they have the power to choose whether or not to do it. Conversely, we are told to do something and we also forget that the person telling us to do something trusts us to do it.

So really, trust is reciprocal. Without trust, there is no leadership.

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