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Archive for the ‘Scouting’ Category

So here we are, it’s time for camping again.

Awesome.

I love the time spent with friends and family about a campfire, relaxing and swapping stories.

Then again, this past weekend was in the mid 40’s, windy, and drizzling with a cold soaking rain the whole time we were there. You know, that kind of weather where even your bones are starting to ache?

Well, that was this weekend.

Here, let me show you around the place.

Here is my house, at least for half the weekend. It finally gave up the ghost in the Friday night windstorms. A replacement was then purchased at the nearest wally world, which I failed at taking pictures of.

 

Here is my kitchen for the weekend (well, that a fire pit, and a grill). Note: the 25 foot trailer with the deck is not part of my campsite, though I envied them with their furnace.

 

Last but not least the trucks that took us there. My pair of old Jeeps. (one to haul gear and the other to haul firewood for four families)

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Now, I didn’t come here today to show off my awesome collection of mismatched coolers, or to post the past rites of my 10 year old tent (may it rest in peace, or more likely in a landfill).

I came here to talk about one of the most important aspects of camping.

You can have all your friends with you, have a week in the campground with no lost or broken items (or people), you could even have that iPhone app that pours unlimited beer, but if you don’t have good tasting easy to cook food your trip will be a bust.

Guess what we were all talking about Saturday night?

Not about the cold, or the recurring drizzle, or even about the laundry list of things we thought about bringing with only after we were there.

We talked about lasagna.

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Here I think I am going to give a day in the life, though I don’t have all the pictures I thought I took. You see, Apparently I had consumed several adult beverages by then, and took many pictures of my thumb.

You are stuck with whats left.

Don’t like it? Well then come camping with me next time and take your own pictures. =)

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For starters we have breakfast. (go figure right?)

Saturdays choice was eggs in a bag. Tastes good, easy to make, virtually no clean up.

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 eggs per person.
  • half a handful of shredded cheese per person
  • 1 sandwich or quart sized zip top freezer bag per person
  • any other fixins you would normally put into an omolette, diced or minced as needed

In my case I was having a simple ham and cheese omelette.

First things first, get yourself a big 'ol pot and boil yourself some water.

 

My fixin's. Eggs, shredded cheddar, diced ham, and a bag.

 

I put it all in the bag (it is eggs in a bag, after all)

 
 

Then I proceeded to squish it all about till it looked like the uncooked omelette that is really was, just make sure you get most of the air out of the bag while your at it. The kids love this part.

 

A ten minute or so visit to the big pot of boiling water is next on the agenda.

 

Once the time is up, pull the bag out of the pot and enjoy. You can toss them on a plate if you choose, or do like I do and simply eat it straight from the bag.

 
Will, that takes care of breakfast. What should we do for lunch?
 
Remember that big ‘ol pot you boiled I boiled my eggs in? Well, it’s next in line to get what my wife likes to call “crazy soup”. It an old camping favorite since just about forever.
 
Do I have pics? Well, kind of.
 

This might be a picture of me boiling the eggs, or cooking the soup, or perhaps boiling the lasagna noodles. Either way we will pretend that there is soup in the pot for now.

 
 
 
Crazy soup is pretty easy. You take one can of any kind of non-cream based condensed soup for every 1-2 persons, add in a can of water per can as well, and boil it. In our case we had chicken and rice, minestrone, beef vegetable, and two cans of garden vegetable.
 
It was awesome, and especially welcome in the chilly weather.
 
last but not least was the dutch oven lasagna. It came out pretty good, and was actually really easy to make.
 
Dutch Oven Lasagna:
 
Ingredients:
  • 3  Cans of tomato sauce (or spaghetti sauce) 16 oz each
  • 2 lbs of ground turkey (or beef I suppose)
  • 2 lbs of Italian sausage (I used turkey for this as well)
  • 2 lbs shredded mozzarella cheese (finely shredded works best)
  • 2 lbs ricotta cheese (others use cottage cheese, I prefer ricotta, your mileage may vary)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 lb lasagna noodles

 

Equipment:

  • 14″ dutch oven
  • skillet (to brown the meat, or do that at home)
  • large pot (to boil noodles)

Instructions:

Brown the meat, set aside.

Mix the cheese and eggs, set aside.

Boil the noodles, set aside.

Build the lasagna by placing first a can of sauce, then alternating layers of meat, cheese, and noodles, with another can of sauce at the halfway point. The last layer will ideally be the last can of sauc topped by cheese. (usually I reserve some of the mozzarella to make sure.)

Put the lid on and cook with coals top and bottom for about 45  to 55 minutes.

I suppose you could use a regular pan in the oven too, but this is about camp cooking after all.

It goes well with toasted garlic bread, but I’m sure you could figure that part out without help.

So who wants to go camping?

I’ll cook, you take the pictures.

 

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I have been doing a lot of thinking lately.

Real thinking, beyond things like “what am I going to cook for dinner”.

I have more and more found myself thinking about what if.

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It all started innocently enough. I was working on ideas for my NaNoWriMo project, when the thought just occurred to me.

What if, one day, in one fell swoop, every oil well on the planet simply dried up.

No warning, no decades of preparation, just dry.

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In my story I was going to have science develop a bacteria that eats oil. You know, something to pour into the water the next time an oil rig blows up. Something that sounds like a good idea, right up until it turns out to be a bad idea.

In the case of my story, the bacteria had spread and multiplied beyond what it was designed to do and essentially ate the world’s oil supply.

The reasons that my mind was taking a walk down Apocalypse Lane are really not important though, at least not now.

More important by far is what I saw when I took that walk.

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I started with that first what if, and started thinking about what the effects would be. I opened up my mind’s eye and I could see things clicking together like the pieces of a puzzle. Actually it would be more accurate to call it a house of cards.

That was the day I realized just how much we depend on the energy we derive from fossil fuels.

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The first and most obvious thing that would happen is that within a week or two my cars would all become nothing but lawn ornaments, slowly rusting away as there would no longer be a way to get fuel for them. I would bet just about anything that within a week all remaining petroleum supplies would be federalized to keep the military and emergency services functioning as a more long term solution was found.

I suppose if I were driving a diesel I could try to use Bio-diesel, vegetable oils, or other alternative fuels, but likely those would be federalized pretty quickly as well to keep vital systems online.

Then I asked myself, what happens when the trucks and trains stop running?

What happens when no more supplies are reaching cities?

Thats where I think whatever bio-diesel we are able to produce would go. It would go to bringing food and other vital supplies to where it needed to be. There simply would not be enough left over for recreational use.

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As I continued with the world building for my tale I started thinking about what other ways the loss of oil would affect things. After all, I am a maintenance guy. I fix things both for a living and for fun.  Some people just see separate things, I see systems, interactions, everything is part of a puzzle, even you and I.

One of the primary things I do is look at interactions, cause and effect. I see the effects, and use that to tell me the cause. It’s what I have done my whole life, and I consider myself pretty damn good at it. 

This time I am looking at a cause and trying to predict the effects.

Let me tell you, it ain’t pretty.

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If the oil goes away what goes with it?

Gasoline.

Diesel fuel.

Natural gas.

Heating and lubricating oils.

Many plastics, and a lot of artificial rubber.

Add synthetic fibers like Nylon and Rayon into the mix.

Asphalt (though it won’t be needed near as much, since most cars will be obsolete)

It’s used in the pharmaceutical industry for some drugs, and in the crafting of damn near everything.

Whether it’s an actual part of the product or not, oil is used to make just about everything we touch. It’s so prevalent that attempting to live in such a way that you used none would be very difficult.

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Nearly impossible.

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What happens to the house of cards when someone comes along and pokes the base real hard with a big stick?

It all comes crashing down.

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Look at it from a local level, instead of globally. Focus on the small scale, you and your immediate family and friends.

How would you heat your house this winter?

Where would your food come from?

How would you get to work?

Would you even still have a job?

What would your community look like a year later? 

How about after five years?  

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The more I think about it the more I realise, 150 years ago the only oil we burned was to light lamps against the darkness. People survived, indeed they thrived, without oil.

People would go back to it, they would adapt and survive. As a race, we would go on.

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The world though, it would be a very very different place.

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What would you do if suddenly all the technology you use everyday without thinking about it suddenly just went away?

Yes, the world would be a different place. How would you fit into it?

Would you be able to adapt, or would you be one of the many that perished in the attempt?

Are you so addicted to technology that you would literally die of withdrawals if it you couldn’t get your fix?

Just something to think about.

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Happy Earth Day.

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Ok, let me start off by saying this is not a 30 minute meal.

30 minutes is the time you will actually spend in the kitchen, but if it’s already 5:30 and you need dinner on the table by 6 it ain’t happening with this recipe.

Also keep in mind, this recipe was designed with feeding a household of 6 in mind, possibly with guests and still have leftovers. I bring it to pot luck type things, and cook it for my Boy Scout troop when we are camping.

One batch is a lot of food, just so you have been warned.

On the plus side, it goes really well into freezer bags. Just thaw before reheating or it turns into glop.

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Alrighty, here’s what we are going to do.

First fire up your imaginations, because all the pics I took were on my phone when I plugged it into my computer to charge, wherein it promptly erased everything and put a new version of the iPhone software on in its place.

Don’t blame me, blame Apple.

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Anyhow, we are going to be doing several things at once here. I’ll divide it up into groups.

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Group one.

Grab yourself  3lbs of ground turkey that you already thawed out. I suppose you could use some other kind of meat, or possibly even a meat substitute. I honestly don’t know how it would come out though. Never tried it with anything but turkey.

Take the turkey and brown it with a bit of cooking spray, drain and put it in the big pot.

That was the easiest one, but the others are not much harder.

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Group two.

Take one medium white onion and dice it up as fine as you can. Then take one medium-sized jalapeno pepper seed it and dice it. (Rubber gloves are you friend for this step, especially if you wear contacts like me)

Put the onion and pepper in a skillet with a bit of oil and saute over medium heat until the onions begin to get translucent. I also shake on some garlic salt during this, probably about a half teaspoon or so, I never actually measured it. Also, I use olive oil when I cook. Your mileage may vary.

Once they are ready, toss them in the big pot as well.

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Group three.

Boil some water, once it’s rolling good add 2 cups of elbow noodles (measured dry of course). Cook for 7 minutes and then drain.

I’m pretty sure you can handle this part without detailed instructions.

Once drained, add to the big pot.

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Group four (also known as the big pot)

Take a good large pot, I use the same stock pot I boil whole ears of corn in, and set it on the counter.

Bust out your can opener and put  three 14-16 oz cans of chili beans, three 14.5 oz cans of peeled diced tomatoes, two cans of water (use the ones from the chili beans, you’ll rescue extra sauce as well) and one package of store-bought chili seasoning dust (I use McCormick medium heat, grab what you prefer) into the stock pot.

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Finally

Once all four groups are dumped into the pot, stir it all up, cover it up, and simmer over medium heat for at least 30 minutes, but all day works too.

Serve with buttered bread, crackers, and/or corn bread for an awesome meal that really sticks to your ribs.

Hope you like it.

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There are songs, vespers really, that are traditionally sung at the ending of a scouting campfire.

They are both sung thoughtfully, quietly, almost reverently, to the tune of  “O, Christmas Tree”

I am putting the lyrics here both to share with my friends who may not be a part of scouting and to ensure I always have a place to find them if I need them. There are two different versions, with individual groups choosing which they plan to use.

From my experience the most common is the traditional Boy Scout version, however only the first verse is sung. After that the second is hummed as the scouts file away towards their campsites.

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Traditional versions:

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Cub Scout Vespers

Softly falls the light of day,
While our campfire fades away,
Silently each Cub should ask,
Have I done my daily task?
For my country done my best?
Prayed to God before I rest?
Helped a friend along the way?
Have I done my best today?

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Boy Scout Vespers

Softly falls the light of day,
As our campfire fades away.
Silently each Scout should ask,
“Have I done my daily task?
Have I kept my honor bright?
Can I guiltless sleep tonight?
Have I done and have I dared,
Everything to Be Prepared?”

Listen Lord, oh listen Lord,
As I whisper soft and low.
Bless my mom and bless my dad,
These are things that they should know.
I will keep my honor bright,
The Oath and Law will be my guide.
And Mom and Dad this you should know,
Deep in my heart I love you so.

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Second Version:

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Cub Scout Vespers

As the night comes to this land,
On my promise I will stand.
I will help the pack to go,
As our pack helps me to grow.
Yes, I’ll always give goodwill,
I’ll follow my Akela still.
And before I stop to rest,
I will do my very best.

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Boy Scout Vespers

Quietly we join as one,
Thanking God for Scouting fun.
May we now go on our way,
Thankful for another day.
May we always love and share,
Living in peace beyond compare.
As Scouts may we find,
Friendships true with all mankind.
Quietly we now will part,
Pledging ever in our heart,
To strive to do our best each day,
As we travel down life’s way.
Happiness we’ll try to give,
Trying a better life to live.
‘Til all the world be joined in love,
Living in peace under skies above.

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It was a dark and stormy night.

OK, not really. It’s more like a dark and boring night.

It is a night for plotting and planning. Everyone has to have goals. Without some kind of plan a person will just randomly go from task to task and never get anything accomplished. Well that’s the way it works for me at least.

The same might be said for an organization.

Seeing as how I am up while most sane people are sleeping I figured I could entertain myself by coming up with a plan. Not a concrete order of things to do, more like a list of goals to work towards.

Will it provide me with focus and fill me with determination?

Meh.

More likely it will be something to look back on in a couple months and mock myself for.

 

Be warned… after this line there be dragons.

Ok, actually there are no dragons, but there is a whole lot of me trying to organize my thoughts by writing them down. I am not going to attempt to be funny, I am not going to attempt to entertain, I am simply going to put down what I am thinking.

If it somehow does not ring true when I write it then I need to find the problem and fix it before it hurts someone.

If you just hit “mark as read” at this point I will totally understand.

 

Ok, back to the topic at hand.

I attended a ceremony over this past weekend that confirmed three of our most seasoned scouts with their Eagle Scout advancement. That was the last activity where I was an assistant, as of the next get together I will be taking the reins as Scoutmaster.

One of the things that I will be helping to do is to come up with a plan. Actually it is one of the most important things I will do.

Scouting not about the destination, it’s about the journey.

Never leave on a journey with an idea where your going, you’ll just end up lost.

Depending on just how detailed you want to be a plan can be anything from horribly confining rigid to more of a “lets wing it” type thing. 

I have had some success with winging it over the years, however I think things would go a bit better with an actual plan. Yes it needs wiggle room, but just kinda winging it is unfair to the kids.

 

Actually I am thinking of having three plans, all interlocking at different times. Each individual scout should also have a plan. Nothing to detailed, but more of a to do list kind of thing.

Now I am really new to this. I have been a leader with the cub scouts for years, but it is an entirely different approach. Once they make the transition from Cub scouts to Boy scouts it becomes much more of a scout run organization. At any rate, no one can get anywhere if we don’t know where we are going.

Here is what I am thinking of bring up at the leaders meeting we are soon to have.

  • Long term plan. Set a goal, a special trip of some sort that will require extra effort to attend. Set this for (based on the ages of the scouts we are working with) perhaps two to three years into the future.

There are many great opportunities within scouting that support this. For instance several years ago this same troop spent a week touring the Caribbean as crew members of a sailboat run by the BSA. 

Something like this will give them (and the adult leaders) a framework to work within as we plan other activities. It would also teach the boys the value of planning, training, and working towards a long term goal. This is an especially important lesson in this day of instant gratification.

  • Mid-range goals. Those are really what this meeting is about. Within the framework of the long term goal we will need to set up annual goals. There is a lot that goes on each and every year that needs to be planned for, while staying flexible enough to still be able to allow the boys to do a good bit of the planning. 

This will be the real meat of the plan. Where do we want to be a year from now? What has to happen to get us there? How many trips can we reasonably take this year? What opportunities are available to us? We need to narrow some of this down so that we have something to present to the scouts and their parents when meetings start back up next month.

Yes,  in an ideal world the scouts would be doing all (or most) of the planning themselves. However the three boys that I mentioned as getting Eagle Scout earlier on in this post area all now over eighteen and all are going away to college.  We have two older boys that are coming back (14-15 year olds) and the bulk of our troop is made up of first and second year scouts.

That is one of the major reasons I am thinking of putting the long term special trip at two to three years out. It is still soon enough that the older scouts will be able to attend before becoming adults and losing their chance, while it also gives time for the younger boys to mature and develop the skills needed for something like this.

  • Short term goals. What are we doing this month? This meeting? Is there something coming up that needs prepared for? Who is going to be doing what and when?

This is where having a mid-range plan comes in. Most of these questions will already be answered by it.  This will boil down to the “what are we going to do today” type thing. Very flexible, but still a plan.

 

As I was writing this I realised that while there is most definitely a need to have an overall plan of where we want to go as an organization there is one more thing that need some planning not covered by them.

each of the boys is an individual, and as such deserves an individual plan. Particularly when it comes to working towards their merit badges and rank advancements. That however, is not something that I want to do more than touch on at the leaders meeting. That is something that we should work on with each scout as an individual.

So, there is my random stream of thoughts on the subject.

Four plans, all intertwined. All working together to aim the group towards a long term goal, while still maintaining the  flexibility to be able to take advantages of opportunities as they occur.

Yes I would like them to learn as they make their trip through scouting.

Yes I would like it to be fun. After all, if it’s not fun no one will want to be there. 

I suppose I’ll bounce this off the other leaders in a few weeks and see what their thoughts are.

 

If you have stuck this rambling wall ‘o text out to the end, thank you.

If you see any holes in what I am thinking, or you have any ideas that might help, please let me know. This post is more about trying to organize myself than it is a declaration of what must happen.

In a way I am trying to plan out the way to make the plan =)

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