Monday, June 8, 2015

A New Declaration of Religious Principles for the Boy Scouts of America

The boy Scout of America needs to update the declaration of religious principles. The following declaration of religious principles appears on all applications for membership. Youth and adult volunteers must agree to this declaration in order to become members of the Boy Scouts of America.
“The Boy Scouts of America maintains that no member can grow into the best kind of citizen without recognizing an obligation to God. In the first part of the Scout Oath or Promise the member declares, ‘On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law.’ The recognition of God as the ruling and leading power in the universe and the grateful acknowledgment of His favors and blessings are necessary to the best type of citizenship and are wholesome precepts in the education of the growing members. No matter what the religious faith of the members may be, this fundamental need of good citizenship should be kept before them. The Boy Scouts of America, therefore, recognizes the religious element in the training of the member, but it is absolutely nonsectarian in its attitude toward that religious training. Its policy is that the home and the organization or group with which the member is connected shall give definite attention to religious life.” ~Declaration of Religious Principle, Bylaws of Boy Scouts of America, art. IX, § 1, cl. 1 [Link]
Parts of this declaration allow for a great deal of latitude in religious belief. Other parts are very narrow in their definition, to the exclusion of nontheistic religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. These religions all sponsor special awards for their members to wear on the scouting uniforms, but none of them believe in a god that "rules the universe".
Likewise, deists such as Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and Neil Armstrong, our most celebrated eagle scout, did not believe that God granted favors or blessings upon men.

The Boy Scouts of America needs a declaration of religious principles which includes such religious diversity. I think this could be done quite neatly by simply removing the following sentence: "The recognition of God as the ruling and leading power in the universe an the grateful acknowledgement of His favors and blessing are necessary to the best type of citizenship and are wholesome precepts in the education of the growing members." In deed, this sentence seems to contradict one of the following sentences:"[The Boy Scouts of America] is absolutely nonsectarian in its attitude toward that religious training."
Simply eliminating this sentence would create a more inclusive, less contradictory declaration of principle; however, we could go one step further, and replace it with a sentence that might also include at least some of our agnostic and atheist neighbors. I believe that this can be done without trampling all over tradition. I believe this can be done without changing the Scout Oath or the Scout Law. The Girl Scouts of the USA found a way to include atheists and agnostics quite easily in 1993. They simply allowed girls to substitute any word they wish for the word God. I appreciate the elegance of this solution, and I propose something like the following: "God might be the ruling and leading power of the universe. God might be the universe at large. God might be the love that binds us all. God might be a mystical concept of oneness."

How might an atheist define God in a meaningful way?

It was my brief study of Unitarian Universalism that lead me to the realization that God can be defined in much broader ways than I have previously imagined. So how might an atheist define God in a meaningful way? Why do some people believe that "recognizing an obligation to God" is so critical to "grow into the best kind of citizen"? I think it has a lot to do with the similar importance placed on a citizen's obligation to the community and family. Every religion has stories of great men and women who sacrifice everything for their faith. Every culture has stories of heroic people who are willing to sacrifice everything for their country or their family or their community. What else is worth such sacrifice?


Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed for his work as a civil rights leader. He wasn't exactly defending his country, but he was working for his community. Ghandi was also killed working for his people. He had already achieved his primary goal of Indian independence, but he continued to work toward other goals of social justice. These were both religious men, but they were not religious martyrs. They might be described as martyrs for JUSTICE. Justice might just be the sort of ideal that an atheist could feel passionately about in a religious way. If so, what might be his duty to justice?
The duty of justice requires that one act in such a way that one distributes benefits and burdens fairly and to prevent an unjust distribution of benefits or burdens so far as possible. ~W. D. Ross in his book, The Right and the Good (2002)
In my experience with children in the public schools, I find that many youth do indeed feel passionately about JUSTICE. They are acutely aware of every situation which is NOT FAIR, and some are quite eager to point out such injustices to whatever authority might be close at hand. I think that this is right and good and should be encouraged.


I once read about a scouter who considered himself an atheist and a Buddhist. He reconciled his unbelief with the above quoted declaration of religious principles by maintaining a "reverence for the higher power of REASON." I appreciate this response very much. It makes me think of our Founding Fathers who were so very much influenced by the Enlightenment and valued reason above all else. What might be a scout's duty to reason?
The ancient Romans often viewed REASON at odds with passion: the conflict between the head and the heart. From century to century, philosophers have debated which is the nobler path. One's duty to reason might include meditation during which one searches ones thoughts and feelings to determine the best course of action.
Here is my proposed, updated declaration of religious principles for the Boy Scouts of America:
The Boy Scouts of America maintains that no member can grow into the best kind of citizen without recognizing an obligation to things greater than himself, such as his family, his country, and his God. In the first part of the Scout Oath or Promise all members declare: ‘On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law.’ The recognition of some power or principle worthy of self-sacrifice is necessary to the best type of citizenship and is a wholesome precept in the education of youth. No matter what the religious faith of the member may be, this fundamental need of good citizenship should be kept before them. The Boy Scouts of America, therefore, recognizes a religious element in the training of youth, but it is absolutely nonsectarian in its attitude toward that religious training. Its policy is that the home and the organization or group with which the member is connected shall give definite attention to religious life.
I wish to acknowledge that Boy Scouts are very young. Typically they follow the religious path set down for them by their parents, so I have written this article in the hope of reaching parents. It is my hope that atheists and agnostics who want their sons to participate in the Boy Scout experience will do so in spite of the current, exclusive declaration of religious principle. If you agree that your son has a duty to something bigger than himself, bigger than his family, bigger than his country, then I think you can call whatever-that-is god and sign the declaration in good faith and work through the advancements to the benefit of your scout.
Perhaps my solution to the controversy is completely impossible for reasons I haven't thought of. I look forward to your comments.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Favorite Camp Songs

These were my son's three favorite camp songs he learned last week

#3 Scout Vespers

Softly falls the light of day,
While 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?

#2 If I were not a camp counselor

If I were not a camp counselor
a Cub Master I would be
There's a trail, it's not far
Take a hike, I'll take the car.

If I were not a camp counselor
a farmer I would be
Give, Bessie, give,
The baby's gotta live!

If I were not a camp counselor
a cow I would be

If I were not a camp counselor
a lumberjack I would be
Chop the tree, chop the tree

If I were not a camp counselor
a tree I would be

#1 Bluejay with a whooping cough

Out in the forest a way down yon,
A bluejay died of a whooping cough,
He wooded and he whooped and he whooped so hard
He whooped his head and tail right off!

Second verse, same as the first,
A little bit louder and a little bit worst.

What's your favorite camp song?

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The first camping experience

I just got back from Cub World. We had a great time, but there were things that could have gone better. I just found this in my email box, and I thought it would be a good idea to reprint it here, give it a little more circulation maybe.


For many boys, the first campout will be their first time away from home. Even if mom or dad is there, it will still be a new experience filled with some wonder and some fear.

It must be fun and it must make so much of an impression on a boy that he will want to go on many more camping experiences. Here are some ideas to make that happen:

  1. Have an information night a week or two before the campout at a pack meeting. Get a digital projector and show pictures of previous campouts or show a scrapbook with photos. Pass out a packing list to parents and include the leaders’ names and phone numbers for questions. Take lots of time for questions and answers from parents.
  2. Reserve a cabin for two nights and make it an option to stay one or both nights.
  3. Reserve the camp’s council ring for a big campfire program. Don’t fly by the seat of your pants. Plan it out with lots of songs, goofy things, and s’mores. Light the campfire in an impressive way. Make memories.
  4. Don’t give the boys hot chocolate before bed. The sugar will pump them up and they won’t sleep. They may also have to get up to find the scary latrine in the middle of the night.
  5. Once the boys are in their bunks, stoke the fire and play a CD of Native American music. You could also read them a story, a long story filled with adventure. But, not scary! This can comfort those who may be scared and give the whole group something to listen to as they fall asleep.I actually love this idea. This would have been a great thing to do at Cub World. It was so hard to get them to go to bed and go to sleep, but there were so many boys in nearby cabins that it might not have worked out in the end.
  6. Attend one of the Council Cub Adventure Weekends. Everything is planned for you.
  7. Have each boy build his own big tin can camp stove and have him cook his supper on it at camp. This might not be a great idea. Some of the tin can camp stoves that were popular years ago are considered unsafe now.
  8. Find things for each parent to do on a campout. If parents are bored or feel like they are not wanted, you’ll lose them. You need to get them involved, which will keep the boys involved as well. They did a good job of this at Cub World. They gave us a sheet with a whole list of things to do. If we got enough things signed off, we earned a patch.
  9. When a Cub Scout shows up for his first campout, present him with his own hiking stick. These can be easily made. Use different wooden brands or other ways to mark each event on the hiking stick. I like this idea, but I know they would have started using them as kung fu batons.
  10. Impress on the older boys that they must make the younger boys feel welcome.
  11. Always have a Plan B and Plan C. Many first campouts have been ruined by a cold rainy day with boys cooped up in a cabin with nothing to do.
Please leave your comments below. Which ideas do you like? What tips do you have for giving boys a great experience at camp?

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Cub World, Scouters' Mountain, Happy Valley, Oregon

I just got back from three days at Cub World at Scouters' Mountain in Happy Valley, Oregon. I understand that other councils also offer camps called Cub World, and they even feature sleeping quarters shaped like forts, tee-pees, and box cars; so maybe my comments here will be of use to others.

I'm going to start with the list of suggested personal gear, and add comments where I wished I had known a little more, and I hope I remember better for next year.

"What to Bring - Suggested Personal Gear"

"Clearly mark all items with your name." This was totally very important for me and my son. My son is seven-years-old and very irresponsible with his things. I found a great product called Kid Labels that helped me label all of his stuff. I should have ordered labels for myself as well and brought them along to label the stuff he bought and made at camp.

"Note: this equipment list is meant to serve as a guide. Use your discretion in choosing what to bring and what to leave. Things do get broken or lost. Please plan accordingly and leave valuable items at home."

"Dress Code for adults. No short shorts or inappropriate, revealing attire. Swimsuits should be restricted to the shirt and shorts look This goes for women, too. I took my swimsuit, but all the other women went down the slide in shorts and t shirts, and I did the same even though I didn't have extra shorts. Please, no two-piece or Speedo bathing suits, tube tops, or other revealing attire."


  • "Sleeping bag"
  • "Pad (sleeping pads not provided)"
  • "Pillow"
  • "Folding cot (not provided)" I guessed that I needed to bring a pad OR a cot and not both, and I was correct. There were bunks without pads, and there was plenty of floor space for cots, in the fort, at least.
  • "Tents for adults (Cub World only)" I brought an 8-man tent and shared it with another mom. My son slept in there with me the second night, too. IT was VERY comfortable. I saw a lot of people in very small tents. I fully recommend buying the biggest tent you can afford. If it says it sleeps 8, it probably only really sleeps 4 comfortably (and 2 luxuriously).


  • "Pajamas"
  • "Uniform and camp T-shirt" At the leaders meeting they told us to leave our neckerchiefs and slides at home since they get lost so easily. Technically, the camp t shirt is the uniform. It is the activity uniform, but they wanted the boys in their official uniforms for the closing flag ceremony. At least I think they did. They only mentioned it once.
  • "Poncho or rain gear"
  • "Hat or visor" My son doesn't like wearing his hat, it blocks his vision, so we left it in the car. I noticed lots of other boys without their caps, too, but its too bad. You can't really tell the wolves from the Webelos without neckerchiefs or caps.
  • "Jeans or shorts (jeans are required for C.O.P.E., rock climbing, and horseback ridding)"
  • "T-shirts"
  • "Extra shoes" This turned out to be especially important in the morning. We did so much walking through a grassy field full of morning dew that my socks were soaked by lunch, so I wore my boots in the morning and my tennis shoes in the afternoon and evening.
  • "Tennis shoes"
  • "Lots of extra socks and underwear"
  • "Sandals or flip flops (to be worn only in shower)" The shower is only available to campers between 7am & 9pm.


  • "Toothbrush and toothpaste" I actually did send my son to brush his teeth every night and every morning, but he couldn't find his toothbrush.
  • "Towel and washcloth"
  • "Comb"
  • "Soap for body" The staff had exclusive access to the showers between 9pm and 7am. I found that schedule impossible, so I did not shower for three days. I suspected this might happen and I packed some ready wipes which worked very well for freshening up each morning.
  • "Deodorant"
  • "Sunscreen"
  • "Large towel"
  • "Bug repellent"

"Camp Necessities"

  • "Flashlight and batteries"
  • "Personal first aid kit"
  • "Canteen or water bottle"
  • "Swimsuit (not cut offs) for Cub World slip and slide" I brought a swim suit, but realized that women should really wear shorts and t-shirts when sliding down the dragon's tongue.
  • "Pack or duffel bag" I used a stuff sack, but I think a duffel would have been better.
  • "Pencils and note pad"
  • "Pre-addressed envelopes and stamps" My son didn't actually use these, but I did. Leaders earned points for writing letters home.
  • "Close-toed shoes if horseback riding"

"Very Important"

  • "Signed medical form" Check in went VERY smoothly because we had all our forms. We were supposed to have sent them in weeks ago, but no one complained about that.
  • "Spending money (about $40)" My son spend about $5.00. He bought candy. Other boys who earned their whittling chip cards bought knives. They sold for $15.


  • "Sunglasses" I found these very useful myself. I bought them at the trading post for $3. My son is not responsible enough to keep track of sunglasses for more than a few hours.
  • "Camera and film" The kids LOVED taking pictures with disposable cameras that they bought in the trading post. I used my digital camera.
  • Glow sticks - Several other boys had these, our boys really wished they had them.
  • Stuff for s'mores - one of our moms brought firewood, marshmallows, sticks, graham crackers and chocolate for all the boys in our pack. The boys in other packs felt a little left out, but we were able to share with a couple of the most patient fellows.
  • Pack flag - our fort had a flag pole, but no one brought a flag to fly on it. It would have been fun to run up a pack flag.
  • Small back pack to carry around all the time. My son and I both brought one of these, but I'm the only one who actually carried mine. It was very small, perfect for my water bottle and all the things that were overflowing my pockets, and I found it at Good Will, best find all year.
  • Eight outdoor essentials - summer camp is the perfect time to help scouts learn about the eight essentials, encourage them to assemble them and request that they carry them around outdoors. This is the second requirement for earning the outdoor activity award.
  • Folding chairs - other adults thought to bring these, but I didn't think of it.they would have come in handy.

"Items to leave at home"

  • "Pets"
  • "Radios"
  • "Tape decks"
  • "Portable steros"
  • "Walkman or iPods"
  • "Electronic games"
  • "Sheath knives" I actually had to confiscate a sheath knife from a little Cub Scout. It was a very small sheath knife. It was cool souvenir that his dad brought him from the Caribbean. I felt bad taking it from him, but he was a good sport about it. He went to the Whittling Chip station later and earned his card and bout a pocket knife.
  • "Fireworks"
  • "Firearms"
  • "Ammunition"
  • "Slingshots"
  • "Bow and arrows"
  • "Hatchets"
  • "Tobacco"
  • "Alcohol"
  • "Illegal drugs"

Cub World Schedule

Next I'm going to copy out the schedule we followed while we were there, and add my comments as I go along in the hopes you find something helpful.

"Day One" Thursday, July 5, 2012

  • "12:45 Arrival" We met at 10:00 am, drove 35 miles (50 minutes) and ate lunch at McDonalds before arriving at Cub World right about 12:45. I'm very glad that we arrived so early. There were plenty of staffers ready and willing to help us pack our stuff across camp. We had plenty of time to pick out the best spots for our tents. The boys had plenty of time to choose their bunk and hang their mind three times and then chase each other around the fort before the opening ceremony.
  • "1:30 Opening" The opening ceremony was so much fun! The staff sang songs and told jokes and performed skits. They were really awesome!
  • "2:00 Name tags" The adults were supposed to have a meeting while the kids made their name tags, but the director forgot. There were all sorts of snafus like this that they wrote off as start up jitters. This was the first week of camp for this staff, and this was the director's first camp in Oregon.
  • 02:45 Camp Tour - Medic Check The adults in our group missed the medic check. We went to the office to check in our campers, pick up our t shirts and pay our adult fees. We had all our medicals, so it was a simple process. They didn't have our shirts for us, but they did have some blue sheets with schedules and a cool leader award worksheet. When we caught up with our group they were playing duck-duck-goose waiting to go to the next thing, and I jumped right in there to earn my first points toward my award.
  • "3:20 Camp Tour - Den yell and skit" We sort of messed this up. We made up separate yells for the packs in our camp den when we were supposed to have made up a yell for our new den that we were going to be hanging out with at camp, but we fixed it before flag. Our camp den was the Olympians. Other camp dens were the Corp of Discovery, Gladiators, Knights of the Round Table, Merry Men, Mountain Men, Pan's Lost Boys and the Red Tails (Tuskegee Airmen). Our skit was cute. I call it Throwing Pebbles in the Lake.
  • "3:55 Camp Tour - Dining Hall" Here we learned where we would sit at meal time and about the need to send two waiters per table (four from our pack) to the dining hall early each meal, and they would help set the table and bring the food.
  • "4:30 Camp Tour - Range Safety" Here we learned the phrase: Range Master, may I please enter the range?
  • "5:00 Fire Drill" This is when the program director first mentioned that we should put on our official uniforms for flag ceremony.
  • "5:45 Flag and Scrubby" The flag ceremonies were extremely simple. Scrubby turned out to be the hand washing procedure conducted before each meal.
  • "6:00 Dinner" They served ham and potatoes au gratin with green beans and cake. My son was upset that he didn't like what they were serving. He tried to eat some things from the cereal bar and the salad bar, but mostly he left disappointed. I grabbed some extra pieces of cake to give him later, but his buddy had a pack full of candy, so they ate that in their bunks. At the leaders meeting I would have learned about peanut and butter sandwiches available at every meal.
  • "7:00 Evening Program" This evenings program was a game of capture the flag and sharks and minnows. I was disappointed that the capture the flag course couldn't be marked out better. We used ropes at my summer camp when I was a kid, but the fields at this camp were so huge, they could have used paint.
  • "8:15 Campfire" The campfire featured songs, skits and jokes by the staff. They were completely excellent.
  • "9:00 Sleeping Quarters" I encouraged all of our boys to brush their teeth. This would have been the best time to make ice cream or s'mores.
  • "10:00 Taps" I didn't actually hear taps, but I did walk around trying to get all the boys to turn out their flashlights, but not every pack leader did. I was pretty disappointed. Lots of boys were running around and chasing each other. Enforcing lights out should have been an item on our award list. After about an hour, I gave up and went to bed. Some boys were still talking. I think some of them were too scared to go to sleep, so they wanted their buddies to stay a wake with them, and I think some boys just didn't want the fun to end. I should have read them a story or played Native American music. That would have been cool.

"Day Two" Friday, July 6, 2012

  • "7:20 Rise & Shine" I did not sleep well. I got up at 6:00 when I heard voices that I recognized. I couldn't believe that the boys were awake so early, and itching to get started. I made one boy wait until 7:00 before I let him start waking the camp. I didn't read this schedule carefully.
  • "7:30 Waiters Report" We had no trouble getting waiters to volunteer this first day.
  • "7:45 Flag and Scrubby" I missed flag since I was with the waiters.
  • "8:00 Breakfast" They served eggs, sausage and hash browns. My favorite breakfast. My son didn't like any of it. He tried to go to the cereal bar, but there was Raisin Bran under the Fruit Loops in dispenser. There was a long line at the cereal bar. He did get one bowl of Fruit Loops but when he went up for seconds they were all gone. Poor guy. He asked me to take him to the salad bar, but it wasn't set up for breakfast. I still hadn't learned about the peanut butter and jelly bar, so I took him back to my tent where I had stashed extra pieces of cake from last night's dinner. I was a hero for a minute and a half.
  • "8:45 Chores" I don't know what our boys did for chores. They finally held our leaders meeting at this point, and I learned about the peanut butter and jelly bar. It's usually set up near the coffee as a self serve, but because we have peanut allergies in the camp this week, it was set up in the kitchen as a single serve.
  • "9:00 Session 1 - Navigation" We were a little late because the staff meeting went a little long, but this was a really good session. The staff tried to teach the boys a little orienteering. This is a difficult subject, made more difficult by the young age of the students and nearly impossible by the faulty compasses, but this is a very important Scouting skill, in my opinion, and I wish they had included the cost of a new compass in the fee for camp, so everyone could take home a new compass rather than not teach this station effectively. They cost about $20.
  • "9:45 Session 2 - Archery" Super fun. One of our boys shot a bull's eye and received a special star-shaped bead.
  • "10:30 Session 3 - BB Guns" Again, campers who scored bull's eyes received special star-shaped beads. My little guy didn't do very well, but he was having a lot of fun before he saw his target didn't have any holes in it.
  • "11:30 Waiters Report" I was having trouble rounding up volunteers for this duty. After breakfast the staff had been doing a lot of yelling at the boys, giving them instructions. It was no fun. I didn't want to ask the boys to do that again, so I let Linda worry about this. Her solution was quite elegant. She only sent one boy for each table, and served as the second waiter herself.
  • "11:45 Scrubby"
  • "12:00 Lunch" They served hot dogs and joe joes for lunch. My son was thrilled to have food that he liked to eat.
  • "1:00 BOB time" Bodies on Bunks
  • "1:35 Session 4 - Olympic Games" The boys played tug of war, threw a medicine ball (shot put) and ran a silly relay.
  • "2:20 Session 5 - Cooking" The boys hollowed out an orange and filled it with cake batter.
  • "3:05 Session 6 - Wood Craft" The boys glued together a wooden model of an airplane
  • "3:45 Open Program - archery, BB guns, branding, slingshots, slip and slide, trading post, whittling chip and wood working" The boys could not wait to try the slip and slide. I tried to get in at archery, but the range master was only taking one adult for every 7 scouts, so I went to BB gun instead. I got my bulls eye for my award. I also tried the sling shots. I think my son did slip and slide the whole time. I thought about it, but I just couldn't bring myself to put on my swim suit.
  • "5:30 Waiters Report" My son finally agreed to serve as a waiter tonight as long as I served with him.
  • "5:45 Flag and Scrubby"
  • "6:00 Dinner" We had spaghetti for dinner, another meal my son liked.
  • "7:00 Evening Program" Tonight's evening program consisted of a presentation from a mad science professional. I think it was the astronomy presentation that we heard at Intel a few months ago, but I left. I was trying to bus my table when the presentation started. The program director asked me not to finish while the presentation continued. I told myself that I didn't want to sit in front of my dirty dishes, but I think I was just too tired to sit for anything, and my hay fever was trying to kill me, so I went back to my tent. I learned later that my son fell asleep under the table. The other half of the evening program consisted of a human foosball match between adults and staff.
  • "8:15 Campfire" I finally left my tent for campfire. All the dens performed their den yells and their skits. Our skit was a hit. Our boys did great.
  • "9:00 Sleeping Quarters" We planned to cook our s'more and make our ice cream tonight. In retrospect, we should have done it the first night. Everyone was too tired. They might have actually gone to bed on time tonight. The s'mores were good, but the ice cream was a lot of work for very little. I don't recommend bothering with campfire ice-cream.
  • "10:00 Taps" We were up way past ten tonight. My son decided to sleep in my tent with me. I don't think he was scared so much as tired, but maybe both. A friend gave me some Benadryl for my hay fever, and I slept much better tonight. In fact, I overslept. I didn't wake until 7:30.

"Day Three" Saturday, July 7, 2012

  • "7:20 Rise and Shine"
  • "7:30 Waiters Report"
  • "7:45 Flag and Scrubby"
  • "8:00 Breakfast" Today they served pancakes and bacon. My son was thrilled that it was all food that he liked.
  • "9:00 Session 7 - NOVA" This was a science station. The boys learned about refracted light and reflected lasers. The staff actually ran out of things to talk about before we ran out of time which was too bad. When the boys were interested in what he was doing, they were VERY interested, but when he kept talking about the same thing, they got bored and drifted away.
  • "9:45 Session 8 - BMX Course" My son was very nervous about this since he has not yet learned to ride a two-wheeler, but he wasn't the only one, and I was able to run along side and help him.
  • "10:30 Session 9 - Nature" On the way to this station, my son was teasing another boy in an attempt to get him chase him. It worked. My son ran down the trail and tripped on a root and scraped up his face. It was a long time before I had him calmed down enough to rejoin the group. This was a nature hike in which the boys learned a little about plant identification. This was important material and the staff member was very patient, but it was a lot of talking and listing and the boys didn't do very well. Their exhaustion level was really starting to show.
  • "11:30 Waiters Report"
  • "11:45 Scrubby"
  • "12:00 Lunch" Today they served hamburgers for lunch with potato chips. My son was able to eat everything again.
  • "1:00 BOB Time" Today I used BOB time to pack up some of my things. I finally convinced my son to pick up some trash which was our service project for earning the chaplain's aide award.
  • "1:35 Chapel" The boys kept asking, "What's chapel?" I answered, "It's just like church only way more fun because it's outdoors." It was a very nice presentation.
  • "2:15 Open Program" My son promised to do archery with me and I promised to go down the slip and slide with him, but our plans fell apart when his buddy asked him to go to the BB gun range. I helped out at the archery range until the range master let me shoot. I didn't do very well at all. It was depressing. I was good at archery in college, but the adult bow that they had didn't have a good shelf for nocking the arrow and no finger grips. It would have taken dozens of arrows for me to learn how to use that bow properly. I went down the slip and slide and got all wet and fell and hit my head, but my son complained that I was the only Mom who hadn't done it, so I did it for him. I was able to find the last few signatures that I needed for my leader award, so I turned that in and collected my patch.
  • "4:45 Flag and Scrubby." There were a lot more family members visiting camp now. They had arrived for open program and were staying for dinner. It was a long line after scrubby. The staff sang themselves horse entertaining us while we waited in line for our dinner.
  • "5:00 Dinner" They served barbecue chicken with corn on the cob, potato salad and watermelon. My son didn't complain, so I assume he liked something there. I finished early and went back to the fort to take down my tent. I should have changed back into my short pants, but they were still wet from the slip and slide.
  • "6:00 Closing" The closing ceremony was much simpler than I expected, but two of our boys had their names called out for scoring bulls eyes on the archery range. We collected our patches and we took a group photo.

We were one of the first scouts to arrive, and we were the very last scouts to leave. We got home at about 8:30pm.

Please leave your comments below. Was anything here helpful or interesting? What advice do you have for scouters heading to a cub scout resident camp?

Friday, March 16, 2012

Cub Scout Neckerchiefs

How do you keep the neckerchief slide from sliding off the neckerchief? This problem has been puzzling me for years, and then one day, not too long ago, I read a website that offered an answer. I've been trying it out on my little tiger cub and it works great. I wish I could give proper credit to the person who shared this idea with me, but I think its on a forum somewhere. Anyway, this solution is so simple, I'm almost embarrassed to admit that I never thought of it, and I've been struggling with this for so long. Here it is:

Loop the ends of the neckerchief through the slide again.

It's really that simple. Don't squeeze the neckerchief slide tight. Don't tie a knot anywhere. Don't raid your sisters collection of hair ties. Just slide the neckerchief slide up the neckerchief, then take the ends and loop them up around behind and down through the neckerchief slide again. It's a little tough to poke them down in there a second time, but with some practice, you'll get the hang of it, and that slide will NOT fall off.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Totem Pole Den Doodle

Well, the whole thing finally came together and it looks great (if I do say so myself). I think it took me a long time to finally get it done. I spend a lot of time thinking about each step. I'm much more comfortable making things when I have step by step directions to follow, so here is my attempt to give you step by step instructions on how to duplicate my den doodle.

The first thing I did (02/09/2012) was cut the board for the wings to length. As I described in my earlier post, I started with a photo of the totem pole, and I was very careful to duplicate the scale of the original. One quarter inch on my photograph was equal to one and three quarters of an inch on my den doodle. As you can see in the photo, I tried to cut the board with a jigsaw, but I couldn't figure out how to get the blade to lock into the tool properly,

so I ended up using a chop saw. The chop saw did very well,

but it could not cut the curves. (2) For those cuts, I used a coping saw (02/13/2012). I bought this coping saw to shape my son's pinewood derby car. I didn't use it for that, but it sure came in handy for this project. As you can see, I drew a grid on the board to match the grid on my photo so that I could get the shape of the curve just right.

The third step (02/20/2012) was to cut the notches in the wings. By this time, my husband had showed me how to lock the blade into the jigsaw. These cuts were super easy and super fast.

The fourth step was to cut the notches in the tube. I cut these notches with a razor knife. I started with a fresh blade, and it didn't take long to get these cut. (5) Then I added the handles. The handles in the wings are simply installed with screws. The handles in the tube are installed with bolts and washers on both sides of the tube. By this time, my six-year-old son has discovered me in the garage, and he has been lending a hand. He is posing in the photo below behind the den doodle.

The sixth step was paint. I started with a coat of primer. I have skipped this step before, and I have regretted it. For this project I thought it was particularly important to put primer all over the tube because I was pretty sure that printing would eventually bleed through. I had to buy two cans of primer to coat the den doodle thoroughly.

The seventh step was to draw the image of the totem onto the den doodle. I used a pencil and I started with the grid. Then I sketched in the image. I had a little trouble transferring the flat photo onto a round surface, but I managed. The part of the image in the very center of the pole looked good, but the part of the image on the edge of the pole (in the photo) appeared distorted on the den doodle. I compensated for this by taking another photograph of the side of the totem pole. It was impossible to match up my grids exactly, but having the two photographs did make it much easier to eliminate the distortion.

The eighth step was to add the paint. I choose acrylic craft paint. I did not believe that the old paint in the garage would be any good, so I bought four new tubes of paint. At almost $5.00 each, I was disappointed. I needed four colors, but I didn't think four tubes of paint would be nearly enough, so I experimented with the old paint. Not only did it work perfectly, it was all I needed. I was able to return the new paint. I did a little research online and I found this to be the case with most people who use acrylic craft paint. The stuff lasts nearly forever.

After painting the den doodle, the ninth step was to add the strings and beads. I purchased the longest leather shoe laces I could find. Then I tied a four inch loop in the middle. This loop will be used to tie a larks head through the eye in the wing. In our den meeting, I finally let the scouts do something. They picked out the beads to spell their names and added them to the strings.

The den doodle made its debut at our February pack meeting (02/27/2012). It was a big hit. Some of the boys fought over who got to carry it down the hall. It is much larger and more imposing than most den doodles, but it made a great decoration at the pack meeting, so I'm actually itching to make another one. I'm not sure anyone else would be willing to cart the thing in and out of den and pack meetings though.

So far, I have simple plastic pony beads in various colors. I bought these at the dollar store. My color code goes like this:
white - complete a step on the bobcat trail
red - attend a pack meeting or activity
pink - bring a parent to a meeting or activity
orange - complete a step on the tiger trail
yellow - complete a step on the wolf trail
green - attend a den outing
light blue - complete a step on the bear trail
blue - wear your uniform to a meeting or activity
purple - bring your book to den meeting
black - do a good turn
I printed this color code with my label maker and attached it to the back of the wings as a reference. I also have labels in my bead box in case I forget what any color is supposed to mean.

The only thing my totem pole is missing is to identify it as belonging to our den, so I've decided to buy some extra patches and then I will glue them to the owls chest. I'm going to get a council patch, the pack number and the den number. Here is the finished project.

Next project: a cub mobile.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Totem Pole Den Doodle

I volunteered to serve as my son's tiger cub den leader in December 2011. A few days ago, after our second den meeting, I finally got a brilliant idea for a den doodle. Making a den doodle requires a bit of time and effort, and I didn't want to do it at all unless I could do something really cool. I made one about 15 years ago when I was a den leader in Provo, Utah. It was shaped like a ferret. My husband and I had pet ferrets back then, and we thought they were really cool and unique, and I was proud of our doodle.

Since moving to the Northwest I have become rather fascinated with totem poles. There are three in my current hometown of Scappoose, Oregon. One of them is in front of my son's elementary school. It's about 40 years old. It was recently restored (repainted), and it is featured on the schools letter head and t shirts and things. When I spied a photo of a totem pole in the den leader how to book, I knew that was the doodle for my den.

A quick internet search provided only unsatisfactory methods of creating an appropriate model of a totem pole. One idea: to make it from recycled plastic jugs, I liked very much except that it did not appear very mobile, and I couldn't figure out how to hang beads from it. Even the pole in the how to book didn't seem to incorporate the beads and string motif that seem to characterize every other den doodle. I think each head on the totem pole represented a different boy, and you switch their positions or something. That did not appeal to me.

Finally, I figured that if I modeled the den doodle after the totem pole at school, then I could hang the strings from the cross piece. The pole at school features an owl with wings outstretched. But it was my husband who thought of making the pole from a large cardboard tube, the kind they use as concrete forms.

I went to the building supply store yesterday, and the man at the counter was only too happy to help. He used to be a cub scout, too. He sold me an 8-inch concrete form tube (4 feet long) for $5.79, and he sold me a 1x8 pine board (4 feet long) for $2.07. I also bought some hardware so that I could attach two handles to the tube and two handles to the wings. 4 handles form $7.16. 4 bolts, 4 nuts & 8 washers for $1.68. And 8 eye screws for $1.29. The eye screws are for hanging the strings of beads.

I plan to cut a notch in the tube to set the wings into, and I'm hoping the handles will make it that much easier to put it together, take it apart, load it in my car and store it in my garage. I'm sure I can attach the handles to the wings without any trouble, but I'm worried about attaching the handles to the tube. I bought nuts, bolts and washers, hoping to protect the cardboard. We'll just have to try it and see how it works. I think it should hold up okay as long as it doesn't get wet.

The next thing I did was to print a photo of the totem pole and measure it. I don't know how tall the actual totem pole is, but the pole in my photo is 7 inches tall and 1.25 inches wide, so I figured that if my model is 4 feet tall, then it should be 8.75 inches wide. I could shorten it to get the width to come out at exactly 8 inches, but I think I prefer the height, and I think the width is close enough. I also figured out that at this height my wings should be 38.5 inches wide and 7 inches high. This will work out nicely with my 48 inch long 1x8 (which is only 7.25 inches wide).

So, the next thing I need to do is cut out the wings, notch the pole and add the hardware. Then I can start painting. I expect that to be quite time consuming, but I think I can do a good job. I hope to have the whole thing finished by our next den meeting 02/20/12 - President's Day.