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Board Game Camp 2017

posted Dec 12, 2017, 6:39 PM by Michael Hartford

This was our 3rd board game camp at Kiwanis Scout Camp, following a familiar pattern:

* 14 Scouts and 4 adults attended, which seemed like a perfect number for this trip
* We made reservations at Kiwanis Scout Camp about a month and a half in advance; the camp isn't very busy in December (we shared the camp with a Grey Wolf training session; in past years there have been one or two other units in camp), but early reservations ensure the right space
* We rented two cabins (Otter and Wolverine), and divided into roughly older Scouts and younger Scouts; these cabins are at the far end of camp, giving us privacy, and the cabins are very close together
* Cooking was done primarily inside with hot water from a coffee percolator, though the older Scouts made a Dutch oven supper in the fire pit
* We brought one patrol box, two sets of wash tubs, two water jugs, an axe, and a hatchet, which seemed like the right amount of gear for this camp
* Scouts mostly played board games, and ventured outside for games and fire building

Things that worked well:

* Hot water or no-cook menus (noodles, oatmeal, bagels, sandwiches) kept things simple; there are no cooking facilities in the cabins (though the radiators run hot and can be used for toasting bread or warming a pot), and it's too cold to use propane outside
* Scouts left boots outside and wore slippers or socks inside, keeping the dirt in the cabins to a minimum
* Scouts organized their own games, and my sense is that everyone participated and had opportunities to play the games they wanted to play
* We were able to work on advancement as well, with casual discussions on T21 requirements and merit badges

Things that were challenging:

* In a mixed-patrol cabin, establishing leadership is difficult. This wasn't a problem in the older Scout cabin, but in the younger Scout cabin there was dissension and argument, which prevented lunch from being made until 2PM (with adult intervention).
* The younger Scouts' menu was a little sub-par; we've made it a goal for upcoming troop meetings to establish better guidelines for meal planning and to try to add diversity and more nutrition to camp meals.
* The younger Scouts' menu also had communication problems--they selected one meal at the prep meeting without having the recipe, and didn't get the recipe to the grubmaster in time for him to buy the food; we will include this recipe in the troop's cookbook, since it's popular, and also work to establish better guidelines for camp menus having a recipe that everyone agrees to.
* We only had one coffee maker, so one cabin had to use a thermos to carry hot water; we will get a second coffee maker and a couple of hot plates, since this kind of camping situation isn't uncommon (Game Camp, Ski Camp, often a camp in late fall or early spring with a mix of outdoor and cabin cooking)
* The cabins have one table each, so long games (Risk, Monopoly, etc.) tend to take over the game space; one possible solution is to bring a couple of folding tables, or improvise a playing surface that can be put on the floor so each cabin can more easily have two games going at a time.

This is a popular camp, and I expect the Scouts to want to make it a tradition.

November Camp 2017

posted Nov 13, 2017, 7:35 AM by David Martin

November 3-5, at Stearns Scout Camp
  • Attendance: 7 scouts, 3 adult leaders 
  • Leadership: Peter Edstrom (adult leader in charge), Eddie McDonald, Corey Needleman (arriving Saturday)
  • Activities: hiking, cooking, orienteering, helping out with the Pack 1 Fall Camp activities
  • Reservations: The Troop reserved the Dechenbach cabin
  • Food: The crew selected a grubmaster and made a meal plan. Scouts joined the Pack for supper on Saturday, where they helped with the meal service and cleanup.
  • Expenses: Scouts paid an equal share of the food purchased for their patrols (appx. $10-12 for the weekend), while Troop fundraising paid the camping registration fee.
Preparations:
  • Michael Hartford made campsite reservations
  • Because Michael would not be attending, Peter Edstrom volunteered to serve as Adult Leader in Charge and as Health Officer
  • Michael drafted the communication to participants, which Peter sent
  • Janel transferred health records & notes to Peter the week before departure
  • Michael got Peter a key to the shed and staged the necessary equipment there
  • Michael got a $45 check from Treasurer Brad and got it to Peter to deliver to the campmaster when checking out on Sundar.

Back to the Woods Camp 2017

posted Oct 17, 2017, 9:45 AM by David Martin   [ updated Nov 6, 2017, 2:11 PM by Michael Hartford ]

The Troop departed on Friday 10/13/2017 (6:30 PM) and returned on Sunday 10/15. They stayed at Rice Lake State Park near Owatonna. Michael Hartford was the adult leader in charge, with Corey Needleman and Eddie McDonald attending (and Ruth Wikoff-Jones Friday night). 13 scouts attended. 

Planning notes:
  • Michael Hartford made reservations - 1 month in advance
  • A Tour Plan was not needed
  • The driving/seatbelt situation was tight. In order to make it work, the Troop had to recruit a volunteer driver each way.
Notes for Next Time

  • The group site at Rice Lake SP is nice--surrounded by a 1 mile trail loop through meadows and woods, about a half mile from the main camping area, good for a low-key camp where Scouts stay at the site and do Scout stuff.
  • Water was a challenge: there is a water pump about 100 yards from the site, but it was closed for the season, so we had to go to the main camp loop to fill up. This was made more difficult by the fact that the Scouts forgot to pack large water jugs, so we were relying on individual water bottles ...
  • Gear was a challenge: Scouts were short on stoves, and partly due to cold weather being bad for propane breakfast was delayed; water jugs were not packed; Scouts had trouble setting up T4s in the dark.
  • Younger Scouts mostly goofed off and did some advancement work (two Scouts completed Tenderfoot outdoor requirements, three earned Totin' Chip), older Scouts hung out and napped. For a low key camp with a focus on Scouts having independence to run their own affairs, this is not a bad thing. Some interpersonal conflicts came to the surface and had to be addressed (swearing, sticks, excluding others), but all were addressed in the spirit of the Scout Oath and Law.
  • Older Scouts noted a lack of basic gear skills and at the PLC decided on the following:
    • More strongly enforce the use of T4s and tent buddies until Scouts have earned First Class
    • Use gear checklists in patrol boxes to ensure required gear is not left behind
    • Enforce duty rosters by patrol leaders
  • Meals were mostly successful; adults and older Scouts reviewed meal plans before the camp, and Scouts were mostly successful at preparing meals
    • Breakfast was delayed due to stove issues
    • Gummy Knights' chili was a disaster because it was not sufficiently spiced (due to one Scout's insistence that chili powder not be used)

Ski Camp 2017

posted Feb 28, 2017, 6:25 AM by David Martin   [ updated Mar 6, 2017, 6:56 PM ]

The Troop departed on Friday 2/25/2017 (6:00 PM) and returned on Sunday 2/27. They stayed at Fred C Anderson, the Peterson 1 and 2 cabins. Michael Hartford was the adult leader in charge, also with Ned Johnson, Glen Champion and Louis Hoffman (grubmaster).  12 scouts attended. Pack 1 was also camping at Fred C Anderson.

Planning tasks:
  • Michael Hartford make reservations 1 year in advance ($200 charge to Troop)
  • A Tour Plan was not needed
  • Michael Hartford invited scouts to register for the event in late November (3 months in advance)
  • Michael Hartford sent another communication to scouts on 1/16
  • Michael Hartford sent a "know before you go" communication to participants 3 days in advance
  • Dave Martin cross-check adult training across planned activities about a week in advance
  • Dave Martin cross-checked the roster against vehicle/seat count a few days in advance
  • Michael Hartford coordinated with health records keeper to obtain and review participant health information
  • Louis Hoffman planned the menu and purchased food
  • Michael Hartford purchased lift tickets in advance
Notes for Next Time
  • Michael has booked Peterson 1 and 2 for the troop for 2/2-3 for 2018's ski camp. (Pack 1 has booked Swanson for the same weekend.)
  • Cross-check roster against vehicle capacity earlier. (1 week was not really enough. The Troop would have been in a jam if Pack 1 hadn't been camping at Fred C Anderson the same weekend and had some extra vehicle capacity.) Also, essentially 4 legs need to have adequate seat count. The number of Scouts may be different for each leg: church to camp, camp to Trollhaugen, Trollhaugen back to camp, and camp back to church.
  • Close registration earlier, with a clear communication with AOL Scouts who are invited about the deadline - we got the group rate at Trollhaugen, but we would have had an easier time at check-in if we had secured the group rate a week before.
  • Overall, this camp ran very smoothly; it's a known quantity and a good system, though personnel changes in the next few years might make this a hard tradition to carry over. It is a favorite of many of our Scouts, particularly older Scouts.
  • Changes to consider: Trollhaugen offers a Scout day 3 times during the winter, usually on Sundays, with deeper discounts and the opportunity to work on the Ski/Snowboard MB; some older Scouts expressed a strong interest in night skiing (Trollhaugen is open late on Friday and Saturday)--this may be a good "High Adventure" trip for First Class and above.
  • Integration with the Pack was challenging because most of the Troop was skiing all day; we did have a joint campfire, and AOL patrol skied with us and ate supper with us, this may be the maximum integration possible.

Board Game Cabin Camp 2016

posted Dec 18, 2016, 1:22 PM by Michael Hartford

We rented two cabins (Otter and Wolverine) at Kiwanis Scout Camp. The cabins were divided between "older" Scouts (Werewolf and Nighthawks patrols) and "younger" Scouts (Flying Penguins and Knights of the Round Table patrols). The division worked well for most daily activities, though we gathered as a troop for lunch and dinner at alternating cabins.

There are no cooking facilities in the cabins, and cold weather precluded relying on propane stoves, so the Scouts opted for cooking over campfires. This proved to be challenging, though; starting the fire was difficult on Saturday morning because of damp kindling (SM and ASM ended up doing the bulk of the work), and the Scouts had minimal experience cooking on a fire (poor temperature control was the primary problem). The menu could have been better planned for the cooking techniques chosen: pancakes are difficult on the campfire for an experienced cook, breakfast burritos would have been a better and more forgiving choice; lunch grilled cheese sandwiches were burned because Scouts didn't wait for the fire to burn down; supper was successful because it involved heating water in a coffee urn in the cabin. In the future, matching the menu to the cooking techniques, or opting for appropriate cooking techniques (hot water, crock pots) would be more successful.

Breakfast started slow: younger Scouts were assigned the task of starting the fire, and lacked leadership from older Scouts. The fire didn't get going until after 9 AM, and the pancakes weren't cooked until 11 AM. When breakfast was served, Scouts grabbed food and scattered rather than eating as a unit. After a brief discussion about the importance of eating as a unit, plans for group meals for lunch and supper were made and we had very enjoyable meals at the table.

Activities consisted primarily of playing board games and building forts inside the cabins. There was minimal outdoor program (chopping wood, building and tending the fire, some exploring of the camp area). Most Scouts retired early on Saturday night, probably owing to a late Friday night and early rising on Saturday.

Big lessons:

* Set up duty roster BEFORE camp, and make sure jobs like fire building are assigned to the Scouts who can be most successful
* Plan menus that can be cooked with available resources: simpler campfire meals, crock pot meals, hot water meals, etc.
* Personal gear management continues to challenge younger Scouts, with several post-camp lost-and-found items; encourage and model good gear management habits, like keeping all personal gear together.

Fall Camporee 2016

posted Sep 23, 2016, 11:52 AM by David Martin   [ updated Nov 13, 2017, 7:15 AM ]

[no notes]

Spring Camporee 2016

posted May 16, 2016, 7:43 AM by David Martin   [ updated May 16, 2016, 7:44 AM ]

Key Facts:
  • Theme: Cave Man Camporee
  • Rum River Scout Camp
  • Meet on Friday, May 6, at 6:00 PM, with departure at 6:30 PM.
  • Return on Sunday, May 9, around 10:00 AM. 
  • Roster: 11 scouts, 5 adults
Tasks:
  • [not documented]
Recap narrative (from Corey Needleman):
  • First Class and over scouts (called 'Chiefs' at the caveman Camporee) taught many of the round robin scout skills in the morning and our T1 taught a host of those skills. We had a dominant Order of the Arrow representation ran the campfire (Evan) and call out ceremony. Troop 1 was recognized for their efficacy in the round robin instruction. 
  • Some of the skills at the round robin were similar to first class reqs but not quite there, for example they taught some temporary quick Japanese lashing that I'd never seen before, but not a straight ahead square, shear or diagonal. Alas, the boys didn't learn anything for advancement purposes but they did pick up some good skills. 
  • There was also some good paddling down the Rum River as well as some afternoon hammocking in camp (by the Werewolf patrol), archery, field games and an epic capture-the-flag experience. 
  • Fortunately the camp master partially  lifted the fire ban Saturday afternoon for charcoal cooking (just before dinner prep time) - good thing for the planned dutch oven and kabob dinners. Everybody had planned to use wood coals and didn't bring charcoal, but I got some from the store. This only seemed fair since the conditions were beyond our control and had changed pretty quickly. 
  • Flying Penguins somehow forgot their eggs for Sat breakfast and only brought clementine oranges for Sunday. Regardless, nobody starved. They also had some duty roster problems. 
  • Though it didn't seem to bother the boys too much, it took 1:15 to get on the road Friday night: not enough tents (then grabbed extras that didn't work from the trailer) we also grabbed water jugs, saw, and axe from the trailer. General gear disorganization with combined patrols, etc. presented these challenges. It was difficult because the chain of command was largely stand in. 
  • Troop 1 accepted 4 wooden patrol boxes from Troop 6 via Greg LaFontaine and the "gear exchange."
  • We need to make a shift in our propane plan. The boys grabbed 5 of the. 1 lbs. bottles before we left. 3 were empty. I had to go to WalMart and buy more. I have a schnozzle for refilling the 1lbs bottles but I think it's a pain. I recommend either moving to the refillable 5lbs. or 10 lbs. containers. 
Notes for next time: 
  • Flying Penguins forgot eggs for Sat breakfast and only brought clementine oranges for Sunday; we'll need to strategize a better way to prep for better success with these things and these guys. 
  • General gear disorganization with combined patrols, etc. presented challenges, especially because the chain of command was largely stand in. 
  • We need to make a shift in our propane plan. I recommend either moving to the refillable 5lbs. or 10 lbs. containers. 

St Croix Canoeing 2016

posted Apr 19, 2016, 11:15 AM by David Martin   [ updated Apr 20, 2016, 4:41 PM by Michael Hartford ]

Key Facts:
  • Departed Minnehaha United Methodist on Friday, April 15, at about 6:30 PM.
  • Returned to MUMC on Sunday, April 17, around 11:00 AM.
  • Camped at Wild River State Park - two sites at Group Area Basic A.
  • For canoes and shuttling on Saturday, we used Wild River Outfitters (http://wildriverpaddling.com/).  We booked 8 canoes, met at the outfitter at about 8:30 AM. It's a 45 minute drive from the park to the outfitter.
  • The roster included 12 scouts (in 3 patrols) and 4 adult leaders (3 of them driving).
  • The estimated cost per scout was $12 for grub, $8 for the group site reservation, and $16 for canoe rental.

Tasks:
  • Make reservation  -  Hartford
  • Make arrangements with outfitter - Hartford
  • File Tour Plan  -  Martin  
  • Communicate to scouts  -  Hartford 
  • Communicate specifics to participants - Hartford
  • Cross-check adult training across planned activities  -  Martin 
  • Cross-check roster against vehicle/seat count  -  Martin  
  • Review health records - Martin, Hartford 
  • Write up "notes for next time" after the event  - Hartford  

Notes for Next Time:
  • Verify training for adult leaders farther in advance. (Doing this 2 weeks in advance did not allow for filling in any gaps.)
  • Set a goal to have at least two adult leaders with current CPR/AED and Wilderness and Remote First Aid certification at for high adventure and other trips
  • Establish firmer "buddy boat" guidelines: toward the end of the trip we got strung out pretty far along the river, and some boats were out of sight of another Troop 1 boat for some time.
  • Establish wait points along the river to help with the line getting strung out; on the St. Croix, we can use the mile markers at camp sites to plan
  • Wind was a challenge! Consider paddler size when setting up canoe pairs in windy conditions, and if a light Scout is in the front find ballast to weight him down (Dan's boulder under Stuart's seat was sheer genius)
  • Scouts did a great job this time of getting loaded quickly with correct gear; one less stove than we needed was taken, which we will address at the 5/2/2016 meeting with a labeling project.
  • Camp set up was also very effective; one tent that was missing bones was brought and had to be swapped--we need to do another tent assessment, possibly as part of the 5/2 meeting or a later meeting.
  • Breaking camp for canoeing was smooth
  • We had a successful campfire program--low key, because everyone was tired, but an effort was made
  • At supper, most patrols ate as a patrol; there was a little bit of wandering and begging for food from Scouts who didn't like their patrol's food; we need to continue to enforce the patrol dining method
  • Breaking camp went very quickly and efficiently. We had time after packing and policing to play games and take walks, and even left a little early to spend more time returning gear to the shed.
  • Early season camping at state parks often means that the office isn't open when we arrive, and if we have an off-site activity we may never encounter the park staff. We were not able to purchase wood at the camp office. Fortunately there was a lot of down dead wood at the site, and we used that despite the no-gathering regulations (the quantity of dead wood was such that no one will miss the little we burned!); in the future, when using state parks early or late in the season, we should be prepared to purchase local firewood at a convenience store near camp.
  • The outfitter, Wild River Outfitters in Grantsburg, http://wildriverpaddling.com/, was great to work with, and I would use them again for a similar or even an extended St. Croix River trip.

Merit Badge Camp 2016 - Planning

posted Feb 21, 2016, 9:23 AM by David Martin   [ updated Mar 17, 2016, 7:43 PM by Corey Needleman ]

Key Facts
  • Departure date/time: 3/11/2016 6:30 PM
  • Return date/time: 3/13/2016 10:00 AM
  • Registration deadline: 3/7/2016 Troop Meeting
  • Adult in charge: Michael Hartford, Corey Needleman
  • Scout in charge/acting SPL:  Zach Jones
  • Health officer: 
  • Patrols/patrol leaders: 
  • Drivers/vehicles:
  • Adult roster: 
  • Youth roster: 
  • Notes from last time: 

Tasks

[what / who / status]
  • Make reservation  /  Hartford  / 
  • File Tour Plan  /  Martin  /  Not Needed
  • Communicate to scouts  /  Hartford /  Done
  • Communicate specifics (when to meet, what to bring, etc.) to participants
  • Cross-check adult training across planned activities  /  Martin 
  • Cross-check roster against vehicle/seat count  /  Martin  
  • Coordinate with health records keeper  /  
  • Write up "notes for next time" after the event  / 

Notes for Next Time:

  • Patrols need to inspect their patrol boxes before leaving (ideally the meeting night before) and confirm that they have everything on the checklist; taking an old and under-stocked patrol box doesn't contribute to success!
  • Patrol QMs who report to the patrol leader, with the patrol leader responsible for ensuring that they have the right gear, is critical
  • Doing a patrol-style camp for MB Camp instead of a cabin camp posed a few challenges:
    • We got off to a slow start in the morning--breakfast cleanup took longer than planned
    • Sticking to schedule is a little harder in the more free-range environment; we covered less material than might have been covered the way we've done past MB camps
  • Incorporating some ILST into the camp was great--we should consider doing reflections throughout the day at other camps, to assess how we're doing, what's working, what we can change, rather than just having a Thorns & Roses at the end of camp
  • The Wilderness Survival activities were fun and the Scouts stayed engaged in the games and tasks
  • Shelter building was also successful; there was enough space for Scouts to scatter and set up their shelters on their own, and the weather was perfect
  • Some camp systems break down a bit on DST changes--our wash water was delivered late by the camp master on Sunday, and check out was a little delayed
  • It was a good opportunity for in the field first aid role playing - we will be incorporating these things into future camps and hikes. 
  • The boys enjoyed working on badges they needed and requested. 
  • Pine bend would be really great next year.
  • I liked the ILST, it was unfortunate the current PLC and Grey Wolfers weren't there. 

Snow Base 2016

posted Feb 16, 2016, 6:31 AM by David Martin   [ updated Feb 16, 2016, 6:31 AM ]

[Corey Needleman's notes]

Took a crew of 5 boys / 2 adults - 1 car

We were early in the season (2nd weekend) this meant there was a need to build Quinzhees for sleeping; there were not enough previously constructed for us to use. Building quinzhees is fun, but we spent most of our day Saturday building the quinzhees. This limited our time in other activities such as XC skiing, Tubing, Snowshoeing, Broomball, etc.


Friday Schedule worked well:

5:30pm arrive at MUMC / 5:45pm depart MUMC

8:15pm arrive at Tomahawk (park backward in lot in case of severe cold - it’s easier to jump)


Fri Night is busy: Get squared away in the bunkhouse, check in at Camp Director w/ Roster and Health forms (they’ll hold until Sunday), go to outfitters for gear. Cracker Barrel then adult meeting. Sleep at 11pm.


Provided Gear: Hat, Balaclava, Awesome Mittens (Black Diamond Mercury - you won’t be cold in fingers), Wool & liner Socks, Suspenders, Wool Pants (sometimes they run out of small sizes), Wool Shirt/Sweater (sometimes they run out), Boots/Liners, Water Bottle & Holster, Sleeping Bag - You pay for what you don’t return, remind scouts to keep track of their gear.


Saturday: Once we leave for the trails around 9/9:30, you do not enter a building again for 24 hours.  This can be challenging in certain weather conditions, scouts and scouters are constantly reminded by our guides to stay warm.  The goal is for each scout to be challenged and have a memorable experience.


Recommended to bring: second wicking long underwear shirt to change into at bedtime, second insulation layer (Wool/fleece Sweater) for daytime and bedtime, a pair of non-cotton / non-jeans pants,   Snow pants or Pants Shell, Winter Jacket / Shell. Hand and Toe Warmers for night, if it’s projected super cold. I gave everybody a set of hand warmers on Saturday night (-20ºF) and that helped with psychology of being warm at bedtime.  


Any gear not needed on trail stays in bunkhouse.

Sunday:

After breakfast gear is turned in.  This greats crazy, so great organization by the crew to do a quick, accurate count of gear is a must.  For space and transport, keep current keep of boot liners in boots, everything is piled, counted and placed in bags.  Designate each scout a job during this phase otherwise it ends up being a job of one being instructed by many others.  


Big lunch at noon is the closing of camp.    


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