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Easy Delicious Dutch Oven Burritos May 24, 2010

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Hello fellow Scouters,

We had a family in my former pack that were some of the nicest people you could meet. Along with being wonderful people, they were awesome outdoor cooks! They were so good that I would do whatever I could to make sure my campsite was next to theirs, so I could mooch food. And yes, it got so bad that I even abused my position as Outdoors Chair to get my campsite next to their campsite. I’m not proud of it, but I’d do it again! We would exchange food when we camped, but I have a feeling they got the short end of the deal, as their food was so much better than my cooking.

One of my favorite recipes they made was their Easy Dutch Oven Burritos. This recipe was so easy to make, and tasted so, so good. I am so glad they gave this recipe to me! It’s so good, in fact, that we make it at home (we half the recipe listed below).

The recipe below will serve around 10 – 12, making 20 – 22 burritos (depending on how much you stuff them). A 10″ or 12″ Dutch oven would work for this recipe.

  • Ingredients
  • 1lb bulk sausage
  • 1lb ground beef
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 medium onions (sliced fine)
  • 1 bell pepper (sliced)
  • 2 cans pinto or black beans (drained)
  • 2 small cans chicken broth
  • 1 package taco seasoning mix
  • 1 can whole kernel corn (drained)
  • 3 cups (1 small box) Minute Rice (white or brown)
  • Vegetable oil (a couple of tablespoons)
  • 20 – 22 flour tortillas
  • Shredded cheese
  • Your favorite salsa
  • Optional: sliced avocado and cilantro

If you have a legless Dutch oven like I do, you can do this on your stove. Or you can prepare around 9 to 10 coals and do this in your Dutch oven stand (and have a few extra coals ready if needed). You can even cook this on a small stock pot on your stove – but where’s the fun in that :-)

Spread out a little oil in the bottom of your hot Dutch oven. Add the onion and sweat them until they are translucent. Add the meat and a pinch or two of salt and chop/crumble the meat with your spoon and brown the meat, stirring as needed. As the meat is just about finished, add the bell peppers. If your beef or sausage produces a lot of juice, you can use some tongs and paper towels to sop up some of this (this isn’t required, though).

When the meat is cooked add the beans, chicken broth, taco seasoning, and the corn. Bring to a high simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally (add a few more coals if you’re not getting a good simmer). After 5 minutes of simmering, stir in the rice, cover with the lid, and remove from heat. Let sit around 10 minutes, or until the rice is soft and most of the moisture is absorbed. (If it’s cold or windy, add a couple of coals on the top and bottom to keep the Dutch oven warm).

Once the filling is done and the moisture has been absorbed, spoon on to your tortilla, and add some cheese and your favorite salsa. If you want extra goodness, add slices of avocado or cilantro, or whatever else you like to add to your burritos (sour cream, olives, or whatever gives you your perfect burrito!)

[Please note that the image I used for this blog post was an image I pulled from the Internet, and not fully reflective of this recipes' results]

This is not some generic recipe out of a book that I’ve posted. This is one I’ve eaten at campouts, and I’ve cooked at home. And it’s so good that even my teenage picky eater loves it! Try it and you’ll see why I picked campsites close to my friends!

Enjoy!

In Scouting,

- Scouter Jeff <><

The Toilet Paper Game May 10, 2010

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Hello fellow Scouters,

Games are a vital part of your Scouting program, and some of the best games are the ones that take very little setup or supplies to do. If you have enough Scouts, and a couple of rolls of new toilet paper, you have what you need for a fun game!

We played the toilet paper game a few years ago when my den were Webelos. Due to the skill level required, I would keep this game to Webelos and above.

The rules are simple. Select teams of 3 or 4 Scouts. Have the Scouts stand back-to-back-to-back (basically so their shoulders are touching). One Scout gets the roll of toilet paper, and he has to press the beginning of the roll against his stomach and pass the roll to the Scout on one side. Then that Scout takes the roll of toilet paper, and wraps it around his stomach, and hands it to the next Scout. The toilet paper is then passed from Scout to Scout, unraveling the paper and wrapping it around the team. If the toilet paper breaks, they have to hold the broken ends against themselves and wrap the paper around the team so that it covers this break and holds the wrapping in place, and then continue to wrap. The winning team is the first to hold up the empty roll with the paper wrapped around themselves.

The main challenges are keeping the toilet paper from breaking while passing it and not dropping the roll. If the team drops their roll, then they have to figure out a way to pick up the roll without breaking the wrap around themselves.

Not only does this make for a fun game, but imagine when you hold up the bag and announce “and the main equipment for this game is…” then bring out the package of toilet paper! When I did this in my den, the boys were laughing out loud when they saw this (and so were the parents). I had 8 boys show up to that meeting, so I had two teams of 4 boys. But best of all, I had 4 parents stay for that meeting. Guess who was team 3? Right! I talked the parents into playing too! They had a lot of fun, and finished their roll first, but since they had more girth than the boys, I disallowed their score and only took the winning boy team. But all had a blast!

So if you are looking for a fun game for your older Scouts, consider the toilet paper game. It’s a fun game that they will talk about for quite a while!

In Scouting,

- Scouter Jeff <><

Lemon and Chopstick Relay Game May 3, 2010

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Hello fellow Scouters,

It’s so important to have a game anytime you have a den meeting. When I was a Cub Scout den leader, I loved relay games. You can make almost anything a relay game. A balloon that doesn’t touch the ground, an oversized shirt pulled from one Scout to the other (with both Scouts locking hands), balancing any item that will fit on a spoon, taking a bucket of water and a spoon and filling up a cup at the other end, the sweep potato game, etc. You get the idea – as long as you have enough Scouts, a level surface, and you match the relay game to their skill level, you can have a fun time.

One of my favorite relay games was the chopstick and lemon game. The equipment consisted of one lemon for each team (all lemons should be similar in size), one chopstick for each team (plus some extra chopsticks as back ups), and something to mark off your start and finish lines and something to separate the “lanes” of the relay (blue painter’s tape works well, or you could use orange sports cones). It’s always good to have a couple of parents volunteer to be line judges. The game play is easy – the boys divide into teams, get in a line, and try to roll the lemon from start to finish while staying in their lane. And they are not allowed to touch the lemon with anything except the chopstick. Since the lemon is oval, it doesn’t roll well, so that adds a lot of the fun to the game (so make sure you get really oval lemons!).

As far as the relay goes, you can split the team up and have some boys at each end of the lane, and hand off the chopstick (which works well if you have a decent number of boys in a team). Or if you don’t have a lot of boys on each team, you can have the boy run from one end of the lane back to the beginning, then hand off the chopstick to the next in line to repeat.

There are a lot of leaders that don’t like competition games, but I always liked to have games that had a winner. The boys seemed to enjoy the games more when there was something to win (I never gave prizes, though. It was all about bragging rights). To keep things somewhat fair, I usually chose the teams, and if there was one Scout who had a particularly difficult time with the skill level of the relay, I’d rotate the teams after a round so that everyone had a chance of being on a winning team. But this is how it worked for my dens. Each den has a unique make up, and what will work for one den might not work well in another.

Cub Scouting should be fun, and a great way to have fun is playing games. Relay games are a great way to have fun and burn energy off at a meeting. Plus, they can be thrown together with very little planning. You can even keep some relay supplies in your game backpack.

If you need a game for a meeting this week, raid your kitchen and see if you have a lemon and a chopstick. Then you’re all set for a fun game!

If you have a favorite relay game, please leave them in the comments so others can try the game at their den meeting.

In Scouting,

 – Scouter Jeff <><

Pancake Batter in Ketchup Bottles? January 28, 2010

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Hello fellow Scouters,

Recently, MSN.com ran an article on new uses for old items. One of the things they showcased was using ketchup bottles for pancake batter (see #5 on their list). When I saw this, I immediately wondered if that would be useful in a camping situation. I could see the benefits: pre-measured mix, easy to transport, and easy to pour. Just add water, shake, and pour on your camp griddle. But would it work? The only way was to put it to the test!

We are big pancake fans around my house, and my recent Cub Scout den were pancake fans as well. When I go camping, I’ve always used those Bisquick “Shake N Pour ” pancake shakers, because they are so convenient. But when you look at it as cost per ounce, the Bisquick shakers run around $0.23 per ounce when on sale, while a box mix of Krusteaz runs around $0.09 per ounce. So clearly, a pancake mix like Krusteaz is a better bargain (if you couldn’t already tell, I’m an accountant by trade).

To test this, I used a ketchup bottle we had (which was 36 oz). I took out the small silicone stopper around the pour spout, and ran the bottle and cap through the dishwasher, with no-heat drying, to clean it out. I knew that this ketchup bottle could hold approx. 4 cups of pancake mix and liquid with room for air (36 oz. divided by 8 fluid ounces per cup). So I used 2 cups of pancake mix to start.

When I went to add the mix, I found that it was very hard to get the 2 cups of pancake mix into the ketchup bottle! I tried a funnel we had in the kitchen, and it took a long time to get the mix in. To try to speed things up, I tried making a funnel out of tin foil, then a paper towel tube. None of them worked really well. Once the mix was in, I marked the line with a Sharpie so I could add it again with out using a measuring cup. (I also added the number of pancakes the bottle would make).

Next, I added the water, based on the directions on the box for 2 cups of the mix. And again I marked the line for future use. Of course, I forgot that pancake mix contains baking soda, and when shook the bottle and opened up the cap, I had a mini pancake mix explosion! Next time I tapped the bottle on the counter before opening it.

The pancake mix was fairly easy to pour. Occasionally a lump of mix clogged it up, and I had to push it back with a pointed knife. But it was pretty easy to make them this way, as long as your batter is not too thick. They made a great pancake breakfast!

So is this method a great new way to bring your pancake mix to a campout? For me, I would say no. I can see how having some ketchup bottles with pancake mix ready to go would be convenient.  But I found the hassles outweighed the benefits. First, the ketchup bottles should be completely dry before you put in the dry pancake mix. So that’s a bit of a hassle, albeit a small one. But the “deal killer” for me was that it was a real pain to get the dry pancake mix in. It just wasn’t an easy process.

So I would vote “thumbs down” to this idea from MSN.com. But feel free and try it for yourself. Since this will reduce dirty dishes at your next campout, and is very easy to pour on your camp griddle, it might be worth it. And the ketchup bottles are convenient since they take up less room in your camp kitchen box than the box of mix itself. With the ability to measure out the mix, you bring exactly what you need to a campout, which is always good.

Whatever you decide, make sure you and your boys are out camping. Spring is coming, and the outdoors are calling!

In Scouting,

 – Scouter Jeff <><

Little Smokies in Biscuits Recipe October 23, 2009

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Hello fellow Scouters,LittleSmokies

If you are looking for an easy-to-make and great tasting Dutch oven dinner for your Scouts, consider Little Smokies in a biscuit! You and your boys will love them!

Here are the ingredients:

  • 1 tube of refrigerator biscuits (makes 10). Use the smaller biscuits, not the “Grand” biscuits.
  • 10 “Lit’l Smokies” cocktail links per biscuit tube (one link for each biscuit)
  • 10 slices of cheddar cheese per biscuit tube (the slices can be cut before the campout. They need to be about the same size as the Little Smokie link. I used mild cheddar, but you can use whatever grade of cheddar you like).
  • Dipping sauce (I like BBQ sauce, but my boys like ketchup)

These are so easy to make! Just separate the biscuit dough and slightly flatten each biscuit out. Take a Little Smokie link and a slice of cheddar, put them in the middle of your biscuit, and fold up the sides of your biscuit and pinch it completely closed. (You shouldn’t see the link or cheese when you are done).  Put them in your Dutch oven so that the “seam” is facing up (that way if they open up the cheese won’t run out).

Since the link is pre-cooked, all you really need to do is bake the biscuit (using the directions on the can). If your biscuits bake at 350° F, then use around 23 – 24 coals to bake the biscuits. Since biscuits can easily burn, I would use only 9 coals on the bottom, and the rest on top. And make sure you remember to rotate the Dutch oven and the lid every 15 minutes to control any hot spots.

A pair of tongs would be useful to get them out, but you can use a spatula and a spoon as well (a spatula will come in handy either way, in case the biscuit sticks to the bottom of the Dutch oven). You should be able to cook the entire tube of refrigerator biscuits in one 12″ Dutch oven – just make sure that you don’t crowd them too much.

Since these are small (and taste great), it would be a good idea to double this recipe and have two Dutch ovens going at a time. And if your crowd is large or your boys are extra hungry, you can quadruple the recipe and cook a second set of them while the boys are eating the first set (you would probably need fresh coals for this second baking). Since a 16 oz. package of links contains about 45 links, you can easily quadruple this recipe if needed.

A note about the Little Smokies – a package of these are pretty expensive. I usually see them over $5.00 per 16 oz. package. But they do go on sale, so keep an eye out for that. The last package I bought was around $3.50 on sale, and considering you get around 45 links, that was a pretty good buy in my opinion.

If you are looking for an easy and great tasting meal for your campout, try Little Smokies in a biscuit. Boys love food they can dip, so they should really enjoy them. But be warned! You might need to make a good amount of them. They taste so good the boys (and any adults nearby) will probably devour them quickly!

Enjoy!

In Scouting,

 – Scouter Jeff <><

Instant Camp Coffee October 20, 2009

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Hello fellow Scouters,

As you know, I’m always looking for good camp coffee (maybe to Viathe point of obsession!). One thing that I’ve never considered is instant coffee, because instant coffee is usually just plain terrible. Recently, however, Starbucks has come out with their own “Via” line of instant coffee. I have tried it and I have to admit it’s not bad. It’s not quite as good as a regular brewed coffee, but since it’s instant coffee, it’s easy to make with very little mess.

I probably won’t be drinking a lot of this around the home, but I’m starting to keep a stockpile at work. It’s great to heat up a cup of water and make a quick cup of coffee (remember – I’m an accountant. Caffeine is a survival tool!).

This is also a good option for camping. Although I’m not going to retire my new GSI coffee press anytime soon, I plan on bringing Via along with me when I want to make a quick cup of coffee at camp. On those mornings where you are running short on time or packing up your equipment, a quick cup of coffee with no grounds to deal with would be nice. Plus, since you can avoid bringing coffee-making equipment, I figure this would be a great backpacking option.

If you are looking for an easy coffee option for your next campout, consider Starbucks new Via blend of instant coffee. The taste isn’t bad, and there is very little clean up. And no, this blog post isn’t sponsored by Starbucks in any way – although a portion of each of my paychecks seems to end up going to them :-)

In Scouting,

 – Scouter Jeff <><

Scout Omelets In Bag October 12, 2009

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Hello fellow Scouters,Omelet6

I learned an excellent way to make omelets a few years ago at Baloo training. These are easy to make and would be great for your next campout. They create very little mess, and although aren’t the greatest looking omelets, they taste wonderful and are easy to make! Plus, you can make several at a time, so your Scouts won’t go hungry.

Here’s the equipment you need:

  • 1 to 2 large stock pot(s), depending on the number of omelets you will make (a large pot can make around half a dozen of these bagged omelets)
  • Tongs
  • Ziplock Heavy Duty quart-size freezer bags (must be Heavy Duty)
  • A sharpie (to write the scout’s name on the bag)

Here’s some optional equipment:

  • A lid for the stock pot (to bring water to a boil faster; you won’t us a lid while cooking the omelets)
  • Scissors to cut open the bag (the omelets roll out fairly easy, but cutting the bag when done gets them out faster).Omelet1

Here are the ingredients:

  • Two eggs per omelet
  • Salt and pepper
  • Whatever fixings you like in an omelet

First, have each Scout write his name on his bag. Then they crack Omelet2two eggs in the bag and kneed the bag to break up the yokes and mix the eggs. Then they place whatever ingredients they like in an omelet (I’m partial to crumbled bacon and cheddar cheese). Don’t forget the salt and pepper!  Then they mix the ingredients and then squeeze the air out and close the bag (I like to keep the mixture at the bottom of the bag and roll the bag up as I close it).Omelet3

 

 

Next, place the bag in a pot of boiling water. You can place several bags in the pot, depending on its size (you just want to make sure that there is some room for them to float free). When I Omelet4make mine, I don’t like the Ziplock bag to touch the sides too long, so I rotate and move it around. Plus, I don’t like the top of the bag to be in water, so I like to keep the zipper part out (you will see in my picture that I folded the zipper on the omelet, which floats after about a minute while cooking. You can do that if you have one or two omelets in the pan. If you have a lot of omelets, then you won’t have the issue of the zipper getting in the water).Omelet5

Boil the omelet(s) for 13 minutes, rotating them around the pot to keep the bags from touching the sides of the pot, and to let the omelet cook evenly.

Using the tongs, take the bags out and set them aside. They cool down quickly, and they will roll out of the bag on to the plate when cooked evenly. You can eat it as is, or add any toppings you like. I like to top mine with my wife’s awesome salsa!

Another great thing, other than how easy they are to make, is that you can do some of the prep ahead of time, before the campout. You can fry up the bacon, cut the ham, or prepare whatever you want at home before you leave. Then you just have to place the fixings in the bag and put them in the water!

A note about bacon – although unhealthy, so many of us like bacon.Bacon1 The boys in my second den were bacon-lovers. It didn’t matter what we had for breakfast, as long as we had bacon! Bacon can be fried at the campground, but for something like this it’s easy to fry at home before the campout. When I did this, I’d fry it, pat the slices dry with paper towels, then put two slices in a sandwich bag. It’s easy to crumble in a sandwich bag and it’s pre-measured – just grab a sandwich bag and you are guaranteed two slices of bacon!

Finally, make sure you know of any food allergies or dietary restrictions your boys may have. You don’t want to get to the campout and find out that someone is allergic to eggs or is a vegetarian (both of which I’ve seen in Scouts). Know ahead of time so someone doesn’t get to the campout and aren’t able to eat breakfast.

Cooking with your Cubs is such an important part of the program, as I’ve blogged about here. You can teach them to cook in den meetings, and when they are Webelos you can take them and their parents out camping and teach them to cook in the outdoors. Consider adding a Ziplock bag omelet to your meal plan – it’s easy to make and tastes great! And the cleanup is a breeze.

Writing this has made me hungry! I’m off to make a gruyere cheese, bacon, and mushroom omelet in a bag.

Enjoy!

In Scouting,

 – Scouter Jeff <><

Tabletop Campfire October 1, 2009

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Hello fellow Scouters,

There are many great tabletop TableTopCampfirecampfires on the Internet. Here’s one that I made for a centerpiece for our pack’s 2005 Blue and Gold banquet. Actually, I made three of these for that banquet, which celebrated the 75th anniversary of Cub Scouts. Even though this was a stationary item, I wanted to have something to make it stand out. So I decided to have a flickering flame effect, done by using a battery-powered fan to blow the flames. While reading this, please note that what was done in a den meeting as a den project is noted by “we”, as in “we made a…”. I didn’t make all of this – my Scouts did a lot of the work on this centerpiece (which they should!).

I started with a 12″  x 12″ x 12″ box. I sealed the top with glue and cut off the bottom flaps. Then, I cut a hole in the center of the top of the box the same diameter as the fan that I bought for this project.  I then painted the sides blue and the top brown (to simulate dirt).

Then we wired the fans. We did this as Webelos for TableTopCampfire_FanAndWiringEngineer #6 (making a circuit – we substituted the fan for the light). The fans were connected to a battery pack with a switch in the line so we could turn the fan on and off from outside the box. We purchased the fans, battery holders, and switches from Radio Shack. This was the most expensive part of the campfire.

Next, I cut out some thin press board to fit inside of the box, as I TableTopCampfire_Switchdidn’t want to mount the electronics to the cardboard (due to their weight). I cut a circle in the middle of this to mount the fan to. I then cut holes in one corner to mount the battery pack to. The fan was held in by small machine screws, and the battery pack was held in by zip ties (which also held the batteries in the battery pack). To replace the batteries, I would need to cut the zip ties and replace them. I mounted this pressboard to the underside of the box lid with machine screws and washers (the washers help the cardboard to support the weight).

Our next step was to make the logs (because every good campfire TableTopCampfire_CloseUpneeds fuel!). We made this as a den craft project. The logs were just sections of newspapers rolled up then wrapped in tan masking tape. The masking tape’s texture gave our “logs” a wood grain look, which we were real happy with. We spray painted these brown (we used a craft spay paint which was made to look like wood). I think these came out great!

Then we took some small styrofoam balls and made the rocks TableTopCampfire_Rocks(because every good campfire needs to be contained!). We filed one side flat so we could glue it down, then I let the boys shape the rocks as they saw fit. Since we were working with styrofoam, this was very messy! I had some grey primer spray paint around my house, so I used this to paint the rocks.

Then it was ready to put together. We set up the logs in a criss-TableTopCampfire_Sidecross formation, to simulate a log cabin campfire. We hot glued the first two to the base, then the next set on top of the first set of logs. The logs were spaced apart so they wouldn’t block the flow of the fan. Next we hot glued our rocks around the perimeter of our little campfire.

Next we found some orange and yellow tissue paper and cut pieces to look like flames. We used white glue to glue it to the top logs. We even stuffed some real newspaper in the logs for effect! As I noted on a recent podcast, it did take some time to find the orange tissue paper. But tissue paper flickers so well with the fan!

One hurdle we had to overcome was getting enough airflow to cause the tissue paper to flicker. I tried cutting some vent holes, but this hurt the look and really didn’t give us enough air. So we ended up placing 1″ x 2″ wood spacers at each corner and lifting the entire box off the table. Not necessarily attractive but it did the job. These little fans took in quite a bit of air.

If I had it to do over again, one thing I’d do differently is to mount a light inside the box. I saw this on one on the Internet, and I thought that would be a great effect. I’m not sure how that would have worked with the fan’s spin, so I would need to test this first.

Although these were made for Blue and Gold centerpieces, they can have other uses. You can use them for a skit, a Cubmaster minute, or maybe a talk about the outdoors at a pack meeting (although you might need to make a larger one for a pack meeting). Or you can have an indoor campfire with some fire-free smores. I am going to use my indoor campfire as a training aid. What better than to have a talk about campfires and the outdoors while sitting around our tabletop campfire!

Making a table top campfire is a fun craft to share with the boys. Not only do they look good, but they can have many uses. And what shows the spirit of Scouting and the outdoors better than a campfire!

In Scouting,

 – Scouter Jeff <><

Gear Review – GSI Personal Java Press September 5, 2009

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Hello fellow Scouters,GSI_Java_Press

For my first ever gear review, I will look at the GSI Outdoors Personal Java Press. If you’ve listened to one of my recent podcasts, you will know that I’m fairly obsessed about coffee, maybe at an unhealthy level. As I’m changing my camping gear from car camping to backpacking gear, a lightweight coffee press is one important item I needed,  so I went out and purchased the GSI Personal Java Press for this.

First, a warning: I am not a backpacker, at least not yet. So I don’t know the in’s and out’s of how gear works on the trail. Also, this was not tested in the outdoors, but in my kitchen (but you could consider our home’s air conditioner as a simulation of a fall morning!).

Here are the pluses:

  • It was easy to use.
  • The coffee was fantastic. It really tasted good!
  • The mug and press are both insulated, to keep the coffee warm longer than if they weren’t insulated.
  • The mug and press are both plastic, keeping them light.
  • The mug fits inside of the press, so it doesn’t take up a lot of room in the backpack.
  • The mug didn’t dribble at all when I drank from it.
  • Per GSI’s website, the carrying weight is under 11 oz.
  • The press rod is steel.
  • It’s only $20 at Amazon.com, which is really affordable.

Now, for the minuses:

  • The mug and the press are plastic, and is therefore breakable. I would hate to drop my backpack and have this break. It’s not cheap stiff plastic, though, so it might take a fall and not break.
  • After 1/2 hour, the coffee wasn’t very warm (in comparison to my Thermos 34 oz. coffee press, which would keep the coffee piping hot after a half hour). But if you are planning to drink this right away, then this wouldn’t be a big deal.
  • The plunger has two rings on it, similar to a car’s piston rings. I noticed on clean-up that coffee grounds were in the rings, especially the gap. This made clean-up a bit of a pain, and could affect the amount of grounds in future cups if this isn’t fully disassembled and cleaned out.
  • There were some grounds in the last drink I took out of the mug. This is fairly common with coffee presses.
  • Clean-up is a real pain, especially from a Leave No Trace point of view. Getting the grounds out is a messy job. But this is a problem with all coffee presses, not just this one.

The biggest minus:

  • When I first poured coffee out of the press, a considerable amount of coffee dribbled down the front of the coffee press, staining the insulating sleeve and spilling on the counter. I read on the one review on Amazon that they had this issue too. This could be a deal killer to some. After cleaning the coffee press, I tried pouring from it again with water. I noticed that this dribble is from the lid, on both sides of the spout. If you press down on the lid while pouring it, this greatly reduces the dribble. Hopefully GSI will note this and correct this with future Personal Java Press designs.

Overall, this is a great coffee press for the money. For only $20, you get a lightweight insulated coffee press and insulated mug, which stores compactly for backpacking. And there’s enough room in the mug to store your coffee grounds (the steel rod from the press stores in the mug, so you would probably do best with two sandwich bags of grounds that you could fit around the rod while stored). This gives you about one and a half cups of coffee, and the coffee I made tasted great!

GSI Personal Java Press – official site

Here’s to great camp coffee!

In Scouting,

 – Scouter Jeff <><

Webelos Outdoorsman Campout August 17, 2009

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Hello fellow Scouters,

Since the Webelos program allows you to camp as a den, why not Outdoorsmanconsider working on your Outdoorsman activity badge at your own den campout? When I was a den leader, I would only work on the Outdoorsman pin at an outing – I just couldn’t work on any of the requirements at a den meeting. Although just my opinion, the very name implies that you should be in the outdoors!

We worked on the Outdoorsman badge for the two dens I led at a Webelos-only campout (all the Webelos dens from the pack participated). We broke out many of the requirements into rotation stations, and spent two hours or so working on these requirements:

  • Leave no Trace discussion, for #5
  • Fire safety and fire starting, for #7
  • Whip and fuse the end or a rope, for #10
  • Set up a tent fly using knots, for #11 (#10 and 11 were combined into one station)

Then, in in the afternoon, we went on a 3 mile hike, to fulfill requirement #9. (This is just for an example – you should tailor the program requirements as you want).

Apart from the rotation stations and hikes, we worked on cooking with the boys (for #8). The boys helped pitch their tent (for #3), and had them present themselves to us and show us how they packed their bags (for #1). By the end of the weekend, not only did we have a great time outdoors, but the boys earned all of the Outdoorsman (and one or two requirement to spare).

Since you have the Scouts for the whole weekend, you can also add other activity pins. We did the Citizen flag requirements as part of the rotations, and for the evening campfire each Webelos den did a play for a Showman requirements (which also fulfilled Oudoorsman #2). We did allow plenty of free time, however, so the campout wasn’t only about Webelos requirements. Even with as much work as we did, though, all the boys had a great time at these campouts.

If you decide to hold a Webelos outdoorsman campout, I would recommend working with any other Webelos dens in your pack. This way you share the workload. And I would recommend doing this early in the program. This way if any Scouts are unable to attend, you have time before the Arrow of Light to work with the Scout on this required activity badge. And don’t be afraid to ask your parents for help – my den parents were more than willing to help and did a great job teaching the boys on some of these requirements. They just needed to be asked.

The Outdoorsman activity badge is a fun achievement to earn. And it is so much fun to work on in the outdoors. So as you plan this Scouting year’s schedule, take advantage of being able to camp as a den and consider scheduling your own Outdoorsman campout. Campouts are always fun and build great memories. And lest face it, by the time your boys are Webelos age, they often would rather do their own camping apart from the younger boys in the pack. So consider taking advantage of this and have your own campout.

Here’s to a great outdoor Webelos experience! Don’t forget to collect campfire ash!

In Scouting,

 – Scouter Jeff <><

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