Proud moment

January 8, 2008

Landon Smith (left) recites the Eagle Scout Promise. He is led by his brother, Logan. Scoutmast Jeff Sipes looks on.

My younger son, Landon, recites the Eagle Scout Promise last night in his Eagle Court of Honor. He is led by his brother and fellow Eagle Scout, Logan, while Troop 224 Scoutmaster Jeff Sipes looks on.

What you don’t see in the photo is Logan and Landon’s parents falling all over themselves with pride.


A Scout is brave

January 8, 2008


The president of the Maldives was saved from assassination Tuesday when a boy scout grabbed the knife of an attacker who had jumped out of a crowd greeting the leader, an official said.

UPDATE: Lone Star Scouter has some interesting information on Scouting in Maldives, which is remarkably similar to Scouting in the USA.

Did somebody say there was a drought in the Southeast?

October 23, 2007

Caney Fork River

This ain’t no creek bed.

This is the Caney Fork River at Virgin Falls Pocket Wilderness. As Wikipedia puts it:

The Caney Fork River is one of the major streams draining the Cumberland Plateau region of Tennessee and a major tributary of the Cumberland River system.

But on a recent backpacking trip we discovered there wasn’t a drop of water to be found.

Fortunately, the falls had a trickle of water. The source of this water is a cave. The water plunges more than 100 feet, then drops into another cave.

So how much water is normally in the river? Well, even in late summer there’s usually plenty of water. To give just an idea of that, the spot where I took this photo is a swimming hole, complete with rope swing.

I wish I had thought of that

September 10, 2007

measuring cupOver the weekend I joined some Boy Scouts and a couple other leaders on an easy and relaxing backpacking trip in Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area.

At dinner time I was confronted by a problem I’ve faced many times: Trying to estimate the amount of water needed for my dinner.

The obvious way to do that is to use a measuring cup. Ah, but that requires carrying a measuring cup.

My double-walled titanium mug doesn’t have measuring marks, but I’m not about to give up that. And I don’t want to add the weight of a second cup just for the purpose of measuring water.

So what’s a gram weenie to do?

Jason Klass came up with a great idea. He says, make a measuring stick.

It’s nothing more than a strip of paper with measurements for different volumes of water in my pot. To make it waterproof, I simply sandwiched it between 2 pieces of packing tape but if you want to get fancy, you can laminate it.

Brilliant! You just stand the stick up in your mug and pour water to the correct mark.

But then I had a better idea. I’ll etch those markings on the handle of my spork. Then, I won’t have to carry (and lose) the measuring stick. And the sporkto hot water.

That’s not only one of those why-didn’t-I think-of-that-before ideas, it’s a why-didn’t some-backpacking-gear-company-come-up-with-that idea.

UPDATE: Chris at A reader named Chris pointed out to me that demonstrates the idea here.


July 13, 2007

cornFrom the Lancashire (U.K.) Evening Post:

A 10-acre maize field has been transformed by a 22-year-old woman into a two-mile maze in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the scout movement.

Gotta get me home by the morning light

March 20, 2007

Today a 12-year-old Boy Scout, Michael Auberry, was found safe and in good shape after spending four days lost in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

From initial reports, it sounds like he helped himself stay alive by practicing some of what he learned in Scouting. And it seems his dad understood that Scouting helped him.

“(Kent) Auberry, a Greensboro, North Carolina, attorney, said if he had it to do all over again, he would allow Michael to take part in the camping trip.

“‘I trusted the Boy Scouts to take him on this trip,” Auberry said. “When we find him, I will trust the same group to take him on a trip again.”‘

What’s more, it’s heartening to hear some people understand that being in the outdoors is full of risks, and you can’t protect yourself from all of them.

But after the elation of Michael’s safe return, we learned why he had wandered away from camp.

He said he got homesick because some of his closest friends had not gone on the camping trip, so he planned to walk to a highway and hitchhike to his home in Greensboro, North Carolina.

That brings new meaning to a phrase we often repeated when I was a Scout: A Boy Scout is never lost; just sometimes confused.

Oh, the things I do for the Boy Scouts

December 7, 2006

View from near Camp Creek Bald, Cherokee National Forest
Cherokee National Forest

It was tough to take a day off from work. I hated to, but I had to go hiking. I needed to check the route for this weekend’s backpacking trip with my Boy Scout troop.

Wouldn’t you know it, but the weather was incredibly gorgeous. The scenery was spectacular.

I’m just glad I was able to make the sacrifice.

And now that I’ve checked out the route, I have to go again this weekend.

Oh well.