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Webelos Outdoorsman Campout August 17, 2009

Posted by thetrainerscorner in Uncategorized.
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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 <><


Campfire Ash – Part 2 March 27, 2009

Posted by thetrainerscorner in Uncategorized.
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Hello fellow Scouters,

Several Scouting friends have recently asked me to provide more detail about how I collected ash for my boys. I have previously blogged about why I collect ash. Here is how I used ash to start a campfire ceremony, and how I collected ash and gave it away.

Starting Campfires – along with being a den leader, for two years I was our pack’s Outdoors Chair. One of the tasks I had the privilege of doing was starting our pack campfires. As I blogged about previously, as I started the fire, I would sprinkle some of the pack’s ash collection on the fire, and say some words. After the campfire was over, I took some of the campfire ash to add to the pack collection.

Collecting Ash – along with collecting ash for the pack, I collected theinfamousmugash from each campfire for my scouts. I was always there with my blue camping mug after a campfire to get ash (one time I forgot and drove away. I had to turn around and go back to the Scout camp to get the ash from the campfire ring). In the past few years in southern California we have started to douse fires to put them out, due to wildfires (before then, we’d just separate the coals and let it burn down overnight. Due to the persistent drought, we can no longer do this). So I would try to get ash when it was still hot with my metal mug and some pliers and heat gloves, and let it cool down overnight in the mug. But if I couldn’t get to it before it was doused with water, then I’d end up with chunks of wet coal that would need to be dried out on my workbench for a couple of weeks. (There are chunks of coal in the ash collection I gave the boys.)

Storing Ash – I would clean and keep pickle jars, mayonnaise jars, ash1or whatever jars I could. Once the ash was dried (if it came home wet), I’d store it in one of these jars, and I’d write the date of the campfire on the lid. This ended up taking a lot of room in my garage, so towards the end I started to put the ash in gallon zip bags, which took less space. I also kept a spreadsheet where I recorded the date of the campfire, the location of the campout, any interesting information (temperature, skit performed, noteworthy events, etc), and who in my den attended that campfire. I kept this from the beginning of our Tiger year to the end.

The Gift of Campfire Ash – after our last campfire at the end of the ashwriteupWebelos program, it was time to divy up the ash. I bought some small canning jars, and printed labels with each scout’s name and attached it to the lid. Then I reviewed the campfire attendance record and took a scoop of ash for each campfire that scout attended. Afterwards I made a write up of each campfire to give to the boys along with their jar, so they’d have a written record of what campfires they attended. 

Some attended all of the campfires, and received a full jar. Some only attended a few and didn’t get a full jar. But they all received the same challenge: keep adding to your campfire ash collection in Boy Scouts. Keep going to campouts and enjoying the outdoors.

I feel that collecting campfire ash is a great tradition. If this is something you are interested in, you can start now. With my first den, I didn’t start collecting until our Bear year. So I only had around two and a half years of ash to give out when we graduated. But that was enough to give away. Even if it’s the ash from your last campfire, that’s OK. The point of this is not to just give out the ash from all of their campfires, but to challenge them to keep in Scouting and add to it. It’s a visual reminder that the some best experiences in life are not in front of a T.V. or computer, but staring at the flames of a campfire with the sky overhead (or even with no campfire and just enjoying the stars and the fellowship).

In Scouting,

 – Scouter Jeff <><

Campfire Ash October 23, 2008

Posted by thetrainerscorner in Uncategorized.
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Hi fellow Scouters,

Hopefully you are a campfire ash collector. If not, you should consider collecting ash from campfires. “Why would I want to do that?” you may ask. Here’s some things to think about.

At the pack level: We started collecting a cupful of campfire ash from each pack campfire about 5 years ago. Each collection gets added to the pack collection (which is in a popcorn tin, of course) once it cools down. What makes this special is that at the beginning of each campfire, we sprinkle some from the pack ash collection to the fire. We talk about the scouts that have gone through our program and are with us “in spirit” when we sprinkle the ash. In my opinion, this is such a great way to start a campfire. Of course, you need to have a pack that’s really active in the outdoors to do this.

At the den level: One thing I’ve done in both dens that I’ve lead is had my own collection of ash from each campfire. I also record the attendance of my scouts at each campfire. When my den graduates to Boy Scouts, they will get a collection of ash from each campfire that they attended, along with a listing of the campfire date, location, and anything noteworthy about that campfire. They also get a challenge: Keep adding to this collection of ash in Boy Scouts. The goal is not to have a momento of Cub Scouting but to get them to keep going outdoors and keep attending campfires. Hopefully the boys will do this.

In Scouting,

-Jeff <><