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Spring Backpacking Season – Get Ready

Posted on 03 April 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 50Miler.com. 

Its Spring – a time when every good Scout starts thinking about his backpack. Across the country, people are pulling their packs out of the closet, cleaning out the leftover food from last year, and getting ready for the practice hikes ahead. Many with the goal of completing a 50 mile backpacking trip before the end of the summer.

Everyone agrees that wilderness backpacking embodies all of the core Scouting values. Accordingly Scout leaders often ask, “How do we start a backpacking program in our Troop or Crew?” It’s not really complex, but here is a straight-forward plan for getting your guys onto the trail. The steps are not necessarily in chronological order but ,the last step loops back to the first step every year.

50miler group shot

Promote the backpacking program with pictures and exciting stories.

1. Promote backpacking in your Troop: Younger Scouts and many adults will not associate the idea of idea of carry heavy packs over long distances with fun – so they have to be convinced. Start slowly, schedule a few short trips and propagate stories about success and overcoming adversity. Then get everyone to agree on a goal of completing a 50miler or going to Philmont in the near future. Remember, it’s not just the older Scouts and Scouters that have to be won over – parents also have to understand the benefits of a backpacking program.

2. Pick Dates for the adventure: With everyone’s busy schedules, spontaneity is not possible. Select a week for the big trip about six months in advance and let everyone know so they can arrange their calendars accordingly. (If you want to have your hike in August, then select the dates in February.) Most of the details, including where you are going, can be worked out later. (Philmont participants usually have to commit to their dates 18 months in advance!)

Schedule a 50 miler six months ahead of time.

3. Have a planning meeting: Schedule a gathering of potential hikers and then advertise it in ways that attract most of the target audience. This planning meeting is about building enthusiasm for the backpacking program, scheduling practice hikes, assigning responsibilities, discussing dietary restrictions or physical challenges, and electing leaders. It is also a great opportunity to talk about the dates of the 50 miler and potential locations.

4. Publish a Pack List: Successful youth backpacking trips require good pack lists and the leadership to enforce their use. However, developing a pack list is a philosophical exercise with many possible and contradictory outcomes. Every unit has their own list, based upon location, leadership philosophy, anticipated routes, and even hiking history. (leaders can be very passionate about their own lists!) Publishing the pack list (months or years) ahead of time allows parents to buy what they need without pressure. Set a deadline about a month before the 50 miler for acquiring all the gear and conduct a rigorous pack check about a week before you leave.

5. Conduct Practice Hikes: Arm the group with a practice hike schedule that includes dates, times, required pack weights, locations, responsibilities, and discussion topics. Each hike, in addition to the conditioning aspect, is an opportunity to increase the group’s knowledge about topics like wilderness first aid, maps and compass, bear bagging, water purification, hygiene, trail safety, and cooking. In addition to the regular outing schedule, our Troop schedules ten Venture practice hikes including three overnighters every Spring. The minimum requirement in order to go on the 50 miler that summer is four hikes with appropriate weights, including one overnighter.

50miler practice hikes

Practice hikes are an important part of the 50 miler experience.

6. Complete the 50 miler: Armed with a map, permits, medical forms, emergency plan, food, and all the equipment on the pack list the group is transported to the trailhead for their big adventure. Remember to take lots of pictures for the Court of Honor. It’s also nice to have parents waiting at the end with fruit, root beer floats, and pizza to welcome home their young warriors and listen to them talk about their misfortunes and exploits.

Unfortunately, many potential hikers ( and parents) balk at wilderness backpacking because of the perceived risks and potential hardships – or because they fear the unknown. Other families are hesitant because they panic at the thought of investing in equipment before they even know if their son or daughter is going to enjoy the experience. This irrational fear, panic, and paranoia keeps too many Scouts and Scouters at home.

However, it is not uncommon for Scouts to stand up at their Eagle Courts of Honor and talk enthusiastically about how backpacking experiences changed their lives or inspired them to new achievements. One said, “I don’t remember many days of my life, but I do remember vividly every day of every 50 miler I have ever been on.” With this kind of testimonial, adult leaders should do everything in their power to provide opportunities for Scouts to experience wilderness backpacking as often as possible.

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Mike Dubrall writes about backpacking, snow camping, and other high adventure outings at 50Miler.com.. His email is miked@50miler.com or you can be connected through the 50miler.com Outing Resource Center on Facebook.

 

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Earth

Lights Out!

Posted on 29 March 2012 by CharlesN

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Want to be able to see the stars for once within the city limits?  Want to show that you are concerned about the environment?  Well, Earth Hour 2012 will give you that opportunity to do just that.

Scouts and people alike from around  the world are called upon to participate in Earth Hour 2012.  Earth Hour 2012 will be from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. this Saturday, March 31st, 2012.  During the span of one hour, millions of people from across the world will turn off their lights.

Earth Hour originated from and inspired by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) of Australia in 2007.  The initiative quickly caught on across the globe.  In 2011, hundreds of millions of people from 135 countries took part in this annual event.  The World Organization of the Scout Movement (WOSM) supports this global initiative and invites all Scouts to join in.

What to do?  Simply turn off your lights for an hour between 8:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. (your local time).  Have fun, be safe, and let’s turn off the lights!

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Scouts Canada Logo

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Scouts Canada Invites All Canadians to Join “Good Turn Week”

Posted on 22 March 2012 by Press Release

Scouts Canada LogoOttawa, ON – March 21, 2012 – One “Good Turn” can make someone’s day. Imagine what 100,000 “Good Turns” could do! Scouts Canada has designated April 14–22 as Good Turn Week and is calling on all Canadians to step up and join them by doing a “Good Turn” for a friend, family member, neighbour or the community.

“Scouts Canada’s National Youth Network created Good Turn Week as a way to inspire every Scout to do something great. We invite Canadians to emulate Scouting’s virtues and make the effort to deliver a simple act of kindness,” said Dylan Reinhart, National Youth Commissioner and Chair of the National Youth Network of Scouts Canada. “It’s really not difficult to do, and our goal is simple: to foster a stronger sense of community and friendship in Canada through consideration for and assistance of others.”
Good Turn Week exemplifies the principles of Scouting: to always help others. A recent York University study found that people who did Good Turns saw a marked increase in their happiness and self-esteem. In its third year, the Week not only encourages Scouts but also challenges all Canadians to recognize the importance of doing a “Good Turn” and taking the time to go above and beyond.
“Good Turn Week is an opportunity for all Canadians to put into practice the values that we teach our youth,” said Steve Kent, Chief Commissioner and Chair of the Board of Governors of Scouts Canada. “We’re proud of the efforts our Scouting youth have undertaken to create a week that inspires numerous acts of Canadian goodwill. With each simple act of kindness, we can help make Canada a stronger community.”
During the week Scouts Canada members will be out in the community doing Good Turns. After each good deed, they will pass along a ‘Good Turn’ bracelet and encourage them to “pay it forward” – creating a cycle of goodwill that will spread throughout communities across Canada.
There are countless ways to do a “Good Turn”. From passing along a parking ticket with time left on it to a driver who’s just parked, to assisting an elderly neighbour with their yard work, the possibilities are endless. Canadians can share their “Good Turn” on the Scouts Canada website by texting “Good Turn” with a description of their good deed to 51051 or submitting it via scouts.ca/gtw.
Doing a “Good Turn” is a practice rooted in the values of all Scouting youth: Beaver Scouts (ages 5–7) promise to “help take care of the world;” Cub Scouts (ages 8–10) promise to “do a good turn every day;” and Scouts (ages 11–14), Venturer Scouts (ages 14–17), Rover Scouts (ages 18–26) and volunteers promise to “to help other people at all times.”
For more information or to see what Good Turns Canadians are doing visit: scouts.ca/gtw

About Scouts Canada

Scouts Canada, the country’s leading youth organization, has more than 100,000 members nationwide representing every faith and culture. Scouts Canada groups offer programming in more than 19 languages reflecting Canada’s multicultural landscape and communities. Kids in Scouts have fun adventures discovering new things and experiences they wouldn’t discover elsewhere. Along the way, they develop into capable, confident and well-rounded individuals, better prepared for success in the world. For tens of thousands of children and youth across Canada, Scouts is the start of something great. For more information visit scouts.ca
Scouts Canada is a not-for-profit organization (Charitable Registration No. 10776 1694 RR0028) and a member of the World Organization of the Scout Movement.

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