Category Archives: Scouts

It’s about time – Boy Scouts vote to include openly gay youth

The news is just beginning to trickle in, but it’s official, the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America has voted to allow openly gay youth to become members, reversing a long-standing and polarizing policy. From my perspective, this is about time, but is not as complete as I’d like to see, since openly gay leaders are still not accepted in the BSA. However, this goes a long way to erasing the stigma that’s been growing around scouting for the last several years.

I’ve been a scout and scouter for many years, including stints as a Cubmaster, Scoutmaster, and my current position as District Chairman of Orange District, Occoneechee Council. I’ve seen the impact of this divisive policy, and am looking forward to putting at least some of this controversy behind us…

I found my pocket knife!

A southern boy likes to have a pocket knife, and better yet, a Leatherman. I’ve got several, but after New Year’s, I could not find my small Leatherman “juice” model (which is small enough to go in my pocket to work). It has blade, pliers, screwdrivers, a corkscrew and a bottle opener/can opener. What else do you need? I’d given up on it, figuring that I’d not see it again…but tonight, I did a presentation at a Scout meeting, and as I was unpacking the computer bag, the Leatherman was in the pocket with the dongles and cords. I think I put it there during our holiday travels at some time and forgot it was there. That particular bag is one I sometimes use for traveling but not day-to-day going to work, so I’d not looked there. I’m a happy camper!

Mind maps

While mind maps have been around a while, I’ve really not used them. It’s a concept that works really well in software and less so on a whiteboard, I think, as changes are easier when you are using bits.

I spent the day at Boy Scout Leader training (I’m District Chairman for Orange District, NC). We had a goal-setting exercise at the end. I tried the mindmap software MindNode on my iPad ($5.99 iPad, free from the MacOS app store). It’s a simple piece of software, but I think that this might be pretty useful for this sort of brainstorming activity. One thing is that this is just the sort of exercise at which a tablet computer excels. Orange District committee members spent about 20 minutes brainstorming about what we can do to improve the program in our district and meet the requirements set for us by Council and National; we came up with this. The point of this post is not to talk about Boy Scout district planning, but to really use that to talk about mind maps and the MindNode tool. Its simplicity is a virtue, I think. It does say that it supports VGA output from the iPad, which should be very useful, though I’ve not tried it yet.

I’m intrigued by the software, and now that I’ve got this tool, I think I’ll try this concept in some other settings.

Welcome, 2010…

OK, so it’s already January 12th…it’s still early in the new year! 2010 is off to a good start. We’ve got both kids back out of the house again, off at their respective schools, so peace and quiet reigns. I’ve been trying to keep on top of communications and planning for my new BSA role as District Chairman. I think that the key is to do what I need to do right when I think of it; if I let it sit, too much time will pass and I’ll also stand a better chance of dropping a ball. Electronic communication will be important, and I plan to try to use Skype for conference calls, and also leverage either the current Yahoo site or a Google group. We’ll also make use of collaborative editing with Google Docs. I’m gearing up to teach at UNC-CH again this semester in my role as an adjunct in SILS. Last semester was the first time in 10 years I’ve not taught a class, and I feel energized to do it; it’s been good to take the time off. I’m working on getting my vacation schedule set up and coordinated with my colleagues at UNCG. I want to be sure that I get some time for shad fishing in March, Bassclave in June or July, and beach time in August. Time flies, and the cold weather we’ve been having will be gone soon, and the fish will be biting. I do plan to try for some trout in early February. There’s a local pond/lake that gets a trout stocking during the winter. I’ll be giving that a try this year. What’s that whooshing sound? Time rushing by 😉

Need to kickstart the old blog…

It’s been just over a month since my last posting. I’ve thought about several things to blog on, but somehow it never happened. Lots of excuses, busy at work and at home. I’ve taken on the role of District Chairman for Orange District, Boy Scouts of America…that will keep me busy. However, if I don’t tend my digital garden, no one else will (they better not, ’cause then I’ve been hacked 😉 ). I’m off work until January 4th, so hopefully I’ll have something to say. I have read a couple of books, Neal Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon and Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol. I really liked Cryptonomicon, and the Lost Symbol felt like a lightweight after reading Cryptonomicon. I should do a book review of that one. Over Winter Break, I’ll try to catch up on my RSS feeds, update all the computers in the house, do a few blog entries, maybe go winter trout fishing, shoot some clay birds…hmmm…better take off a few more days!

Jan and I have done a few fun things. The weekend before Thanksgiving, we hopped a plane to Buffalo to catch the last stop on the Rippington’s 2009 concert tour (great show!). Also did a quick trip to Niagara Falls while we were there. So, what’s a question that you don’t answer affirmatively to the border agent on the Canadian border? Do you have any firearms on your person? Sure, I alway pack heat when I visit tourist destinations…geez, what the world must think of us Americans 😉 . Oh well…

Also, in early December, did the annual Chapel Hill Wine Company Champagne dinner at Acme Food & Beverage in Carrboro. Great food; Champagne really is a great dinner wine.

Can’t think of much else now…to be continued!

Troop 449 goes backpacking…

The time between Christmas and New Year’s day is a great time to get out and enjoy the outdoors. Here in the Southeast, the winters are relatively mild, and though it can be pretty nippy it’s often a very nice time to be out, and with the leaves off the trees, the views in the mountains can be quite spectacular.

I took my scout troop on a backpacking trip in the Shenandoah National Park, hiking the 28 miles from Thornton Gap to US522 (the northern section) from 12/28/2007 through 12/31/2007. There were three adults with eight scouts — the leaders were Carlton (1st pic in the slideshow), me (2nd pic in the slideshow) and Dave. Dave’s two boys were there, as well as Carton’s son and my youngest son.

We left Orange County NC around 8:15AM on the 28th and drove to Thornton Gap, where US211 crosses the Skyline drive. Dave took the scouts down the trail about 3.5 miles to the first campsite (Beahm’s Gap) while Carlton and I shuttled cars to have one at each end of the hike. It was cool & overcast, but not raining. The scouts got to the campsite around 3PM, and Carlton and I arrived about 4:30PM. It was a good thing I’d stopped at REI to pick up some tarps, since it started raining about 4:45…we cooked and sat around under the tarps. The guys seemed to have a great time hanging the food up a tree in the “bear bag”, given the laughter, despite the rain.

Dawn Saturday broke to overcast skies, but with the promise of clearing. It was a very nice day, no rain, and temps pushing into the low 50’s. Met some PATC trail workers who told us of a forecast for freezing precipitation on Sunday, so we started gearing up. Hiked to Gravel Springs shelter for the night, about 11 miles. That “vitamin I” (ibuprofen) is a good thing ;-). Made camp about 3:30PM. A nice night, mild, no rain, and plenty of room in the shelter.

Sunday started cool and cloudy, with the promise of rain. It was a great day for hiking, with temps in the upper 30’s and just a few spits of rain, never enough for raingear. Made the 10 miles to Tom Floyd wayside by 3PM. This was a small shelter, and we crammed our group in like sardines ;-). The freezing precipitation never materialized at our lower elevation, and we just had rain on the roof.

On Monday morning (New Year’s Eve), Carlton and I got out early, about 7:15AM, to go to US522 and shuttle the cars. There was a little bit of ice on the road, but the VA DOT had been out and salted and sanded, so things were fine.

We got the cars back to 522 by 10:15, and we loaded up and headed for home, not before eating out the buffet at Golden Corral in Charlottesville.

A great time was had by all!


Glad to have some time off! I don’t have to be back at work at UNCG until January 2nd; am looking forward to some time off to recharge. Family holiday stuff early in the week, and then taking the scouts on a winter backpacking trip in the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. We’ll hike the northern section of the park, from Thornton Gap to US522 near Front Royal. It’s about 30 miles; we’ll spend 3 nights on the trail, getting back on New Year’s Eve…

Look for some pictures in a couple of weeks!

A big week for Jeff…

Jeff, my youngest son (17 now) had a big week. On Saturday the 15th, he passed his karate Black Belt test, and then on Tuesday the 18th he received his Eagle Scout award. Jan and I haven’t seen him at karate much since he started driving himself, and we were pretty impressed with his skills. His Eagle award is the culmination of several years of hard work (but a lot of fun too!). Only about 2% of boys who start in scouting get their Eagle. Jason, my other son, received his Eagle award as well, back in 2002.

New Eagle Scout!

My youngest son, Jeff, passed his Eagle Scout board of review Tuesday night, 10/2, and has now joined both me and his older brother in achieving Boy Scouting’s highest rank. I’m quite pleased! I was Jeff’s scoutmaster for much of his scouting career (I’ve just passed that on, as I “retire” from scout unit leadership). Scouting, Marching Band, and Karate have been big things for Jeff. Now, he can focus on trying to finish his black belt in karate.

Cell phone karmic convergence

So, back on Feb. 21, I lost my cell phone at scouts.  I was pretty hacked with myself, but hey, I’ve flushed a pager, so what’s dropping a phone in the woods.  I went to the cell phone store, bought a new one, and went on about my business.  So, today, Mar. 27, we were cleaning out the scout hut and sorting gear.  Apparently I did not drop it in the woods, it was in the hut, and was actually still powered on (albeit very low battery).  What makes this really funny is that today, my younger son forgot to take his phone out of his pants pocket before mom threw them into the washer.  Killed that phone, and I was heading to the store to buy him a new one tomorrow.  So, manna from heaven.  I will get this one reprogrammed for him, as it’s a nicer phone anyway.