Archive for the ‘Boy Scouts’ Tag

A Scout Is Thrifty   2 comments

Thrifty

Boy Scouts participate in the Postal Savings System, led by Gordon F. Chance, patrol leader. Love the boots! 1913. Photos from Shorpy Historical Photos.

Thrifty 2

More

Boy’s Life: Postal Savings For Boy Scouts, Nov 1913, p11.

Shorpy Historical Photos

Posted March 31, 2015 by henrymowry in Scouting

Tagged with , ,

Boy’s Life, July 1936   Leave a comment

Boys Life, July 1936

Posted May 27, 2013 by henrymowry in Scouting

Tagged with , , , ,

Ten Essentials   1 comment

Here we are on a day hike at Yosemite in 2007. Yes, we carry the Ten Essentials!

Here we are on a day hike at Yosemite in 2007. Yes, we carry the Ten Essentials!

Spring is upon us … and it’s time to go tromping into the back country.

I’ll never forget the time a group of boys & Dads from our church decided to do the Half Dome trek in Yosemite National Park as a day hike. (note to self: don’t do THAT again). It’s a 20+ mile hike, and the technical term for this hike is that it’s a butt kicker. Many, many people do this hike in season; it’s one of those “gotta do it” hikes in California.

While on the trail, our group caught up to a young boy, about 13 years old … and his parents had sent him alone on this trail with a bottle of water and a peanut butter sandwich. I often think about that young man. I don’t know how close he got to Half Dome, but I know his parents failed in their responsibility that day.

Hiking is something that the Boy Scouts do very well, and so it’s timely to consider the Ten Essentials that Boy Scouts take on every hike. You should do the same thing … they just might save your life.

  1. A Pocket Knife: You don’t need a weapon, but a small folding knife can help you do many things … including opening that tough bag of beef jerky you will want to bring. I prefer a Swiss army knife. Some like lock blades or multi-tools. Your mileage may vary.
  2. A First Aid Kit: You just don’t know when you’ll need this. Moleskin is great for ill-fitting hiking boots that rub you the wrong way … duct tape can do in a pinch as well.
  3. Extra Clothing: It’s a pain, I know, but you need to layer up. It gets cold at altitude, even in the summer.
  4. Rain Gear: You need a poncho. You need a poncho. You need a poncho. See # 3.  A sudden cloud burst, you’re cold and wet and you will not be having fun – especially if you have whining kids that you haven’t done a good job preparing for the trail.
  5. A Flashlight: I used to swear by Mini Maglights, but now I prefer LED headlamps. And yes, take extra batteries.
  6. Food: Nothing tastes better than a good meal in the back country. And if you burn enough calories, you can eat trail mix without gaining weight (something you can NEVER do sitting on the couch).
  7. Water: Some like Nalgene bottles, others prefer Camelbacks … which can provide the little backpack you need to carry everything. If you’re out for any length of time, you need 2 quarts of water. If it’s hot, plan appropriately.
  8. Matches: Don’t start a fire unless you have a permit.
  9. Sun Protection: The sun is fierce if you’re hiking at altitude.
  10. Map & Compass: You need to know where you are and how to get to where you’re going. A GPS is great, of course, as long as you know how to use it, and have extra batteries. And it doesn’t fall in a creek.
Half Dome is one of the most beautiful sites in California.

Half Dome is one of the most beautiful sites in California.

You may also want to carry

  • Insect repellent
  • Sunglasses
  • A camera & lenses, up to the amount of weight you want to carry!
  • Water purification system – you need to stay hydrated, and if you’re not carrying enough water to drink until your safe return, then you’re in trouble without pure water
  • A walking stick or trekking poles (which can double as a monopod for the camera) – which will ease the pressure on your knees. But please, please, do not use unprotected metal tips on rocky trails, as they will mark the rocks
  • Nylon cord (great for rigging a shade structure with your poncho)
  • A watch
  • Any medications you are to take, if they’re not in your first aid kit
  • Extra socks – if you are blister prone, it’s wise to be careful
  • Swimsuit – If you like to swim in the wilderness, you need to wear a swimsuit
  • TP & a trowel
  • A whistle

Everyone should carry their own gear! Adults, you do not carry the gear for the kids. They get to be responsible for their gear – it saves you the weight, and teaches them something about hiking.

Remember … take nothing but pictures, and leave nothing but footprints!Yosemite creek

Now we know what she looked like: Catherine Pollard, first woman Scoutmaster   Leave a comment

This is the story of the first woman Scoutmaster in the Boy Scouts of America. Kudos to Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub for telling a great story!

John Wayne’s 12 on 12/12/12   1 comment

John WayneOne of John Wayne’s last public appearances was at a Scouting fundraiser. His cancer was advanced, but he appeared at this dinner to help fund a new Boy Scout camp which would be called the John Wayne Outpost Camp.  This camp belongs to the Los Angeles Area Council.

In his presentation, Mr. Wayne recited the Scout Law, and then said the twelve points are “nice words”. “Trouble is” he continued, “we learn them so young we sometimes don’t get all the understanding that goes with them. I take care of that in my family. As each boy reaches Scout age, I make sure he learns the Scout Law. Then I break it down for him, with a few things I have picked up in more than half a century since I learned it.”

Here’s what John Wayne said:

TRUSTWORTHY

The badge of honesty. Having it lets you look at any man in the eye. Lacking it, he won’t look back. Keep this one at the top of your list.

LOYAL

The very word is life itself; for without loyalty we have no love of person or country

HELPFUL

Part sharing, part caring. By helping each other, we help ourselves; not to mention mankind. Be always full of help — the dying man’s last words.

FRIENDLY

Brotherhood is part of that word. You can take it in a lot of directions – and do – but make sure and start with brotherhood.

COURTEOUS

Allow each person his human dignity; which means a lot more than saying, “Yes, ma’am” and “Thank you, sir.” It reflects an attitude that later in life you wish you had honored more… earlier in life. Save yourself that problem. Do it now.

KIND

This one word would stop wars and erase hatreds. But it’s like your bicycle, it’s just no good unless you get out and use it.

OBEDIENT

Starts at home. Practice it in your family. Enlarge it in your friends. Share it with humanity.

CHEERFUL

Anyone can put on a happy face when the going is good. The secret is to wear it as a mask for your problems. It might surprise you how many others do the same thing.

THRIFTY

Means a lot more than putting pennies away; and it is the opposite of cheap. Common sense covers it just about as well as anything.

BRAVE

You don’t have to fight to be brave. Millions of good, fine, decent folks show more bravery than heavyweight champs just by getting out of bed every morning, going out to do a good day’s work, and living the best life they know how against the law of odds. Keep the word handy every day of your life.

CLEAN

Soap and water helps a lot on the outside. But it is the inside that counts, and don’t ever forget it.

REVERENT

Believe in anything that you want to believe in, but keep God at the top of it. With Him, life can be a beautiful experience. Without Him, you are just biding time.John Wayne

Mr. Wayne then thanked the Scouters in attendance, and expressed his appreciation for the new camp that would be named after him.  He then said, “I would rather see it here than on all the theater marquees the world over.”

The 12 points of the Scout Law

The 12 points of the Scout Law

 

Irving Berlin’s Gift   Leave a comment

Irving BerlinThe song was written in 1918, and then set aside.  Berlin thought it was “not appropriate” for the project he was working on.

It sat on a shelf for 20 years.

In 1938, Berlin wanted to find a song that properly expressed the peaceful sentiments that he felt America needed to hear.  Kate Smith, who was perhaps the most popular American singer of her day, wanted a new song … and after trying to write  a new one, Berlin remembered the song from 20 years ago.  He asked his assistant to get it out of a trunk.

He tweaked a few lines, and it was the closing number on Smith’s radio show on November 10, 1938.  It was an instant sensation, and Smith continued to sing it every week on her show.  It was read into the Congressional record.  There was a movement to make it our new national anthem … that Smith discouraged.  But the popularity of the song was immense, and Smith continued to sing it.

The song was “God Bless America.”

Irving Berlin donated all his royalties, in perpetuity, to the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of America.  He especially wanted those royalties to go to the areas in greatest need, and the money has gone to the New York Area Councils recently.

In the 70s, the song achieved a new level of popularity … as a hockey anthem.  The Philadelphia Flyers adopted it as a good luck charm, and played it before many games … on their march to the Stanley Cup.  They repeated that feat — along with a live performance by Smith — when they won the 1975 Stanley Cup. That was great for hockey, and great for Scouting.

Here’s a clip that recreates the national premiere of the song on Kate Smith’s # 1 nationally radio show.  This dramatization was a part of “The is the Army,” a 1943 movie starring Ronald Reagan!

More

On Kate Smith‘s website

New York Times

Los Angeles Times

CNN

Wikipedia

The Role of Parents in Scouting   Leave a comment

A tough campout for parents is to accompany their son on their first Boy Scout camping experience.

They find that the rules have changed.  No longer are they in charge.  No longer are they primarily responsible for their son.  No longer do they set up the family tent for Mom, Dad, their son and other children.

Instead, a boy is in charge.  The parents are “encouraged” to take a break, and let the boys do it.  And that is often very, very hard — for the parents.

Scouting begins for many as a Tiger Cub.  Your son is in first grade and a flyer comes home from school.  Your son can join Scouts!  You’ll go to a recruitment night, and there you learn that you’ll join Cub Scouts with your son … he must have an adult partner in Tiger Cubs.  You’ll go to his Den meetings every week or two; you’ll go on outings with the other Tigers and their adult partners.  It’s a blast.

Velda signed Christopher up for Tigers while I was on a business trip.  I had left Scouting when I went to college in 1974 … I had never even heard of Tiger Cubs in 1989!

What I soon discovered is that Scouting had expanded the program to include first graders.  At the time, I was traveling extensively for my job, so Velda was Christopher’s adult partner and attended most of the meetings and monthly field trips.  She loved it almost as much as Christopher did:  he had a wonderful time!  I attended a couple of meetings, and I remember feeling a little lost.  Pack meetings helped get me in the swing of things, though, and by the next year, we were ready to volunteer our time to build the Pack up.

Cub Scout campouts are about families. This campout was in the Sequoia National Park at Camp Wolverton. I’ll never forget the Cub Scout’s big sister that thanked me: she had never been to a real campfire before.

Velda became a Den Leader and I became the Pack Treasurer.  We were all in, having fun with the kids, planning events and making sure the boys — including our sons — had a fabulous time at every meeting.  For the youngest boys, that is especially important.  Cub Scouting is a family event.  Velda was the Wolf & Bear Den Leader for both of our boys; I was the Webelos Den Leader, Committee Chair and then Cubmaster.  The Pack grew from 9 boys to 60+ boys.  We did many, many campfires and campouts.  Our garage had a permanent table and benches for the twice-a-week Den meetings.  As I said, we were all in.

As the boys grow from Wolf to Bear to Webelos (2nd to 3rd to 4th grade), the parents’ role does subtly change.  At the beginning, parents are with their son at every meeting, every event.  As the boys enter third grade and begin work on their Bear badge, parental attendance often becomes more optional.  Note that their participation is not an option, but there are times they can physically miss a meeting.  The Pack provides trained, adult leadership — and backups — to make sure that the boys are motivated, educated, entertained and well supervised.  The boys will spend time with their peers and learn to follow Akela … their leader.

At the same time, parents will contribute in the way they can best contribute.  Some are Den Leaders or assistants … and some help to set up the chairs before a meeting.  Helping set up meetings or bring snacks are also important tasks that help make the Pack run smoothly.

The boys in Cub Scouts learn a dizzying array of skills.  They will learn how to be responsible.  They’ll learn first aid.  They’ll learn about our country.  They’ll even learn how to communicate with their parents.  And, they’ll get to do Scouting stuff, too:  sing songs, camp out and build campfires.  The boys will have a GREAT time, and they’ll do it with their family.  My daughter still says she was a Cub Scout — she went to every Den Meeting, she went on every outing.  Note that she is in the middle of the Cub Scouts in the campout picture, above.  Cub Scouting is about family.

Every Cub Scout learns the motto:  Do Your Best.  And they have fun as they do their best, learning how to use a pocket knife, how to tell a tall tale, how recycling works and how to bake cookies.

As the boys transition to Boy Scouts, however, they learn a new motto.  As a Boy Scout, they must “Be Prepared.”  It’s no longer acceptable to simply do their best — now they must be ready for all challenges that come their way.

And that takes us back to their first campout.  It’s five years after your little boy became a Tiger Cub, and their world has changed.

It’s inevitable, really.  Families go on Cub Scout campouts, and Moms & Dads are in charge.  They set up the tents.  They make sure everything gets done.  When the boy goes to Boy Scouts, however, that all changes.  Who runs a Boy Scout troop?  The boys.

When that fifth grade boy, 10 or 11 years old, goes on that first campout with a well-run troop, he will answer to his Patrol Leader, often a 13-year old boy, who has taken on the responsibility to teach the new Scouts in Patrol.  That 13-year old Patrol Leader, in turn, reports to a Senior Patrol Leader who is the elected boy leader of the Troop.  The SPL is in charge of the outing.  He will consult with the adult leaders of the troop when he needs to … and the adult leaders will advise him as they need to.

Boy Scouts learn a lot from adults, of course … but I have always felt they enjoy learning skills from older boys much more. That is good on two levels: both the students and the teacher are enriched by the experience.

The parents aren’t in charge.  They’re not in their son’s Patrol.  They are not in charge of the Patrol Leader or the training that their son will receive.  The parents are welcome at the campout, especially at a first campout.  However, their role is not to set up their son’s tent.  They should not camp overnight with the Patrol — they will camp in the adult section of the campsite.

One of the goals of Boy Scouting is for the boys to learn leadership skills.  They do that by leading younger boys and teaching them Scout skills.  As boys advance in rank, they will learn how to set up their own tent.  They’ll learn what makes a good site for that tent.  And they’ll learn how to cook their own meals.  And then they will teach those skills to younger boys as they join the troop.

Parents should be a part of the adult leadership of the troop.  Typically that goes in one of two directions:  the Scoutmaster and his assistants, who help the boys plan and implement the events the troop participates in, or the troop committee that does everything from budgeting to transportation planning.

As our boys joined their troop, I went along with them and became an Assistant Scoutmaster.  Velda decided that she would not formally volunteer as an adult in the troop, but she did help with transportation and other volunteer tasks as needed.

However, even as I continued to be “very” involved, I still made sure that I gave my boys plenty of room to grow on their own.  As one example, the troop did an extended Alaska trip with floating, fishing and camping.  I did not go on this outing, but both of our sons did.  They had a great time, and I’m certain they experienced things differently with me not there.

And that is a wonderful thing.  Boys need to learn to be self-reliant as they grow from 2nd graders to 9th graders.  How are they going to do that if their parents are at every outing, every event?  By not going to Alaska, I helped the boys grow up.

And that, ultimately, is the role of parents.  The Scouting program can help, as I know it did for me in Maitland, Missouri’s Pack 58 and Troop 58, and as I know it did for my sons in Pack 575 and Troop 2 in Saugus, California.

Ultimate Family Event   2 comments

When you set a goal, it should be challenging.  Otherwise, what’s the point?  If the goal is easily, quickly obtained, then it’s not a good goal.  Don’t waste your time “working” to meet a goal that you can do with your eyes closed.  When you’re going to go to all of the trouble of saying you have a goal, working towards it … make sure that it’s worth the effort so that when you get there, it’s going to be worth the effort to celebrate!

“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” — Harriet Tubman

In business, it has been called a Big Hairy Audacious Goal.  If you can get every member of your organization to buy in to a seemingly impossible goal … then you can achieve amazing things.

will.i.am

Setting big goals isn’t a new idea, of course.  It’s a pop culture phenomenon, too:  will.i.am got NASA to help him premiere his new song, “Reach for the Stars,” which became the first song broadcast from another planet when it was beamed back from Mars this year.  Here’s a sample of the lyrics:

Why they say the sky is the limit

When I’ve seen the footprints on the moon

And I know the sky might be high

But baby it ain’t really that high

And I know that mars might be far

But baby it ain’t really that far

Let’s reach for the stars

What’s this got to do with the Ultimate Family Event, you ask?  EVERYTHING!

Our family tradition was to go camping every Memorial Day in the sequoias.  There’s a pair of adjacent National Parks, the Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park, that are about 5 hours north of Los Angeles.  Our family built big memories there.  When we went camping one year, we had to set Lauren’s playpen up in a snowdrift (it is not warm in May at 7,000 feet!).  Another year, the kids got their first (unsuccessful) fishing experience.  We explored caves.  We saw really, really big trees.  Every year we did it, and every year it was great.

The Mowry family, ready to GO! Kings Canyon National Park, 1995.

In 1995, I wanted the family to go hiking.  By this time, Christopher was well into Boy Scouts, Michael was a Bear in Cub Scouts … and our Cub Scout Pack regularly went hiking locally.  But it was our big annual vacation in the Sequoias, and I wanted to push the envelope.

Two things happened during this vacation that became legendary in the family.  The first was Velda’s immortal announcement during our first dinner, “Look at that big dog!”  The “dog,” of course, was not a “dog,” it was a “deer.”  And so began Velda’s reputation for, uh, having trouble identifying wildlife.

The important thing that happened, though, was that we had a wonderful hiking experience.

It was in Kings Canyon National Park, and it started, appropriately enough, at “Road’s End.”  From there, we did a 9 mile loop hike to Mist Falls, which is the entrance to Paradise Valley.  Sounds gorgeous, right?  Yup.

John Muir is famous for his love of and passion for the California wilderness. His packing advice couldn’t have been simpler: “Throw a loaf of bread and a pound of tea in an old sack and jump over the back fence.” I don’t think he was traveling with a 5 year old, however.

Here’s the hitch:  Lauren was 5 years old.

5 years old.  9 mile hike.  At altitude.  Really?  Yup.  Let’s reach for the stars.

That was our family’s Big Hairy Audacious Goal.  We began talking about this hike weeks in advance.  The kids were always excited to go to the Sequoias, and were absolutely excited about the big hike we had planned.  They wanted to go.  They wanted to see Mist Falls.  We were going to conquer a 9 mile hike, and we were going to do it together with a kindergartner.

The morning went great.  The forest was lovely, the trail very well maintained, the King’s River was splashing merrily along with snow melt.  It was really a gorgeous hike.  We had lunch on the granite rocks overlooking Mist Falls.

And then it began to rain.   We were about 4 miles from the car.  This was a great mountain rain, with a quick temperature drop of 30* and grand claps of thunder in the thin mountain air that sounded like the world was ending.  There were guys on the trail in shorts & a t-shirt that were fighting hypothermia as they ran for their cars … which were 4 miles away.  “Road’s End,” remember?

The Scouting motto was and is key to our preparation for family outings.  Be prepared, indeed.  We had layers of warm clothing, and we had ponchos for everyone.  The temperature was not an issue, and the rain was not an issue.

Except for our kindergartner.  The poncho was actually too long for her short legs.  She had to be very careful; it was often a trip hazard when walking uphill.  She had to hold the poncho up, or it would drag on the ground.  No problem.  She looked like a yellow ghost as she chewed up miles of trail in the rain.

Did she hike 9 miles — 4 in the rain?  Absolutely.  There was never really a question in anyone’s mind, and the family achieved that big, impossible goal.

With poncho held high, the Mist Falls trek proved to be one of the best parts of this great family vacation in Kings Canyon National Park.

Get Big Ones   3 comments

I grew up on a small family farm in rural Missouri.  My world was pretty small … a trip to St Joseph, 32 miles away, was a very big deal.

I joined Scouting while in second grade, and loved reading Boy’s Life and dreaming big dreams about what I would do in Scouting.  One of my biggest dreams was to go on the ultimate Scouting adventure:  backpacking at tbe Philmont Scout Reservation, near Cimarron, New Mexico.  Understand, my Troop never went backpacking.  Such a trip was way, way beyond the resources of my family, and of my troop.  It simply wasn’t going to happen.  But the dream … did not die.

1970, after receiving my God & Country award. I was 14 years old, and wouldn’t have lasted on the trails of Philmont, even if I could have gotten there.

It’s important to have goals.  Really, really big goals.  You need to get big ones.

I wrote in a recent post about “The 2012 Plan.”  This plan took 15 years to complete, and the best part was that I didn’t have to do the work!  I graduated from Mizzou in 1978.  Beginning in 1997, it was up to the wife and 3 kids for them to earn their degrees.  15 years and 5 degrees later, we deserve the family celebration that’s just a few days away.

I’m sure that Velda will say that the worst part of the Plan was that the family had to eat my cooking while she was studying for her Masters in Nursing from UCLA.  I never understood what the problem was: not only am I proficient in the kitchen, I prepare dishes that Velda never will.  And the kids didn’t complain (too much) about the 3 dishes they said I prepared … not even the Hamburger Helper!  Good news:  we all survived!

No one will mistake what I do for the artistry that Velda performs in the kitchen.  But the choice to miss her cooking for a few meals in order for her to achieve one of her big goals was not a choice at all.  She’s been happy as a nurse practitioner ever since.

But, back to Philmont. I did not reach that goal until I was 46.  But that’s really not the story.

Climbing the Tooth of Time is a part of the Philmont experience that no backpacker should miss!

The problem for me was that Boy Scouts are serious about backpacking, and, thank goodness, they expect the boys and leaders to be in shape.  You have to make a goal weight based on your height … or you don’t go on the trail.  Once I understood that my boys wanted to go to Philmont, I had to prepare myself.  And lose about 60 pounds.

I’ve never been a gym rat.  Velda had achieved great success with Weight Watchers, but that didn’t seem like my thing, either.  I started doing what I had not done since high school:  I decided to run.

The problem, though, was that I wasn’t able to run any distance at all.  I started walking in my cross trainer Reeboks, wearing sweats … and worked myself up from there.  Eventually, I could run 2 miles without walking.  That was a very big day, let me assure you!  But I was not nearly done.

I fixed my diet (a calorie-counting shake from Costco in the morning, a banana and an apple for snacks, Subway for lunch, and a sensible dinner from Velda.  I kept pushing.  And the weight fell off.  Running became a daily obsession, and I eventually got up to 7-mile runs on the weekends.  I faithfully kept a running log every day, and used a GPS system to track my times for each segment of the runs I did.

By the time I went to Philmont with my boys, I was in the best shape of my life.  I had lost 70 pounds.  Hitting the trail with 50+ pounds on my back for a 10-day, 52-mile trek was still nothing to sneeze at, but I was ready.  I was 46, but keeping up with 17-year old boys was not a problem.  We sat on the Tooth of Time at sunrise, and we proudly proclaimed “Go Big or Go Home” while we reveled in the burro races, the trail food, and a feeling of self reliance that’s very difficult to discover if you’re sitting on your sofa.

It was the most personally fulfilling thing I have done in Scouting.  And I got there because I had a goal.  A big one.

We made it: Michael Mowry, Christopher Mowry, myself, and Lyle “The Destroyer” Wohlfarth with the map he was in charge of for all 52 miles. 2003.

%d bloggers like this: