Acknowledging Our Times

1946 Handbook for Boys

In light of current events, I feel that scouts should keep themselves mentally awake to the events around them. As Scoutmaster of our troop, this message won’t endorse any ideology besides the mission of Scouting and its history.

My father’s Handbook for Boys from 1946 states: 

“Scouting is neither military nor anti-military. It carefully avoids political or commercial entanglements.

Scouting knows no race or creed or class. Troops are found in Catholic Parish, Jewish Synagogue and Protestant Church. It is available both to farm and city. It is found in schools–it serves rich and poor alike, It’s aim is to help each of these boys to become the best citizen that he can make himself.”

We don’t wear our uniforms to political events like rallies or protests. We can serve in official functions, providing color guards, but if you attend a political event, you must change out of your uniform after serving your ceremonial duties. Scouting respects the rights and responsibilities of citizenship.

We grow leaders from the youth in our communities, including political leaders. Most of the US presidents of both parties, born in the 20th century were Scouts, but only Gerald Ford was an Eagle Scout. In addition to elected US leaders, other Scouts like Dr Martin Luther King, Jr and Ernest Green of the Little Rock 9, led Americans to challenge unjust laws and to promote civil rights so that our nation would live up to the words that, “all men are created equal.”

BSA is one member of the larger World Organization of Scouting Movements, a worldwide, youth led movement for peace, even from its inception which continues today. Scouts come together peacefully from Israel and the Palestinian Territories. One of the first youth organizations in Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban was the establishment of Scout troops. It is understandable then, that in January 1933, the Hitler Youth adamantly claimed that the Scouting movement “had become a place of refuge for the young enemies of the new state.”

In contrast to today’s public image as a quaint old-fashioned organization, Scouting was once seen as dangerous. “…The Ku Klux Klan had strongly denounced the Scouts for even having segregated black troops. They claimed the BSA was a puppet of the Catholic Church, and it was not unheard of for Scout Jamborees and rallies to be broken up, often violently, by the Klan.”

Lending a helpful hand and doing a good turn for others remains the hallmark of a Scout’s job well done. I have seen several writers who say that our nation has reached an inflection point, a defining moment. We have seen significant events in the last few months, from the pandemic to protests in our streets. There is a sense that civic involvement may have been awakened in our great nation. 

Scouting has also changed, becoming more inclusive of all youth. Brothers and sisters can now serve together from Cub Scout to Eagle and Venture Scouting. I hope and believe that whatever changes we see around us, Scouting will be here to provide the leaders we will need.

Drawing on Outside Talent

Like everyone else, the members of troop 115 have been Isolating at home because of the Coronavirus. That doesn’t mean that we can’t show scout spirit. The troop continues regular meetings with Zoom and we’ve been investigating merit badges that can be done with some online instruction.

Most recently, Our troop has been working on the Animation Merit Badge. We’re having some serious fun, watching and learning about cartoons, animation techniques, and careers in animation.

Last week, we met a professional animator with a funny name. Jonathan Lyons (not our scoutmaster, but the same name) has been a professional animator since 1985. He’s worked on feature films, tv commercials, and video games. He’s also the author of Comedy for Animators.

Mr Lyons told our troop about his experiences working in professional animation. He shared some stories related to projects that he’s worked on and how NBA players get scanned and put into video games.

Samples of Mr. Lyons work can be seen on his website Stupix Animation. Here’s an example of Mr Lyons work. You can see more when you visit his website.

Lofty Heights for Badge Requirements

Greg Cohen of Lofty Pursuits

What can a scout troop do to complete a merit badge requiring a field trip during a time of social distancing? If you’re with Scout Troop 115, you arrange for a Zoom meeting and get your tour without leaving the safety of home.

Merit badge requirement 5b says “Visit a food service facility, such as a restaurant or school cafeteria.” then goes into details about food safety. Business owner Greg Cohen of Lofty Pursuits led our troop through his restaurant to meet this requirement.

In addition to the normal food safety measures, which were discussed in some detail, scouts also got lessons in planning and preparedness as Mr. Cohen discussed in detail, how he saw the news about the coming pandemic and how he prepared for the worst possible scenarios. The attention to details was really amazing, and our scouts got to see the extensive preparations taken by Mr. Cohen and his Lofty Pursuits battle crew. Even a new hands-free door handle has been added so that patrons and staff can open the door with just their forearm.

In addition to regular health standards, Mr Cohen detailed how candy is now packaged and held for additional time based on the latest information about the novel corona virus, COVID-19. He explained how the even the minimum shipping time was figured into the formula for the safest package of sweets possible.

It certainly made for a sweet conclusion for a merit badge which mostly deals with death and illness. Troop 115 thanks Mr. Cohen for his time and help with our merit badge studies.

If you are interested in pursuing merit badges with Troop 115, please use our online form to contact the Scoutmaster. Our next merit badge will begin shortly for Animation. We will also have a special guest for that badge as well. We hope to see you soon.

Eagle Scout Projects Spring 2020

Project crew at The School of Arts and Sciences

Troop 115 is wrapping up the year with a couple very impressive Eagle Scout projects. If you haven’t already volunteered to work on one of our projects, there’s still time. Work days will be announced to the email group and at our weekly meetings.

Ben’s project is a rain garden at the School of Arts and Sciences. Three work days have been planned and the first two days have been completed. The first part of the project involved clearing brush and relocating a boxwood bushes. There was a lot of digging, planting and cutting involved.

The second work day involved moving more dirt and creating berms to direct the flow of water. A stone enclosure was broken into pieces and moved to allow an old berm to be lowered and the soil redistributed. It’s really made a dramatic change to the site. The final day will be announced after spring break for planting new greenery to soak up Tallahassee rains.

I want to extend a big thanks to all the scouts who have participated in this project so far, to Ian M and Ian S, Jake, Ishmael, Avner, Kenny, and Matthew. It’s great to see everyone support their fellow scouts.

Leon High Work Day
The work crew on Matthew’s Eagle Scout project at Leon High, takes a rest.

Matthew’s crew installed new tables and benches in the Leon High School courtyard area. Scouts and adult volunteers broke into work teams to assemble each table/bench set. The ground was carefully leveled and each assembly was moved into position.

A second work day is planned to make a soil retaining structure for around a magnolia tree. Like Ben’s project, the date will be determined and announced after spring break.

Again, thanks to the scouts who showed up to help during spring break, Ian M, Ian S, Ishmael, Kenny, Avner, Robert and Ben. Thanks to our adult leaders as well for all the work you do too.

Camporee Highlights

Two scouts at the campsite gate.

The 2020 SRAC Camporee was a huge success for our council and for Troop 115. The well attended camporee attracted scouts from all around the Suwannee River Area Council to Indian Springs Campground.

scouts at the campsite
Robert and David in our campsite.

Troops assembled their campsites in the open fields of the camp equestrian area, providing for big open spaces with plenty of grass and level campsites. Our troop arrived well equipped for the weekend with our camping gear and lots of scout spirit.

Scouts competeted throughout the day, demonstrating their skills. Of course scouts are dedicated to helping others at all times, and when one troop showed up with only two scouts, we lent them one of ours, but more about that later.

The competitions were done round robin style, starting with campsite inspections. We learned a lot from seeing the impressive gates constructed by other scouts.

scouts light a fire with flint an steel.
Kenny and Robert won their heat of starting a fire with flint and steel.

After inspection, we moved through our stations, starting with a speed lashing. to see who could assemble and raise a flag the fastest with all the required knots. Other stations included bolo throwing, hatchet throwing, and a fire starting race. Troop 115 won their “heat but not the final competition.

After the other competitions, there was a native ball game and Troop 115 won. There was also a paleo cooking competition, cooking a steak with our tripod.

As the sun went down, the camporee was marked by columns of smoke from the campfires at each site and aroma of food.

The final event of the camporee was the campfire, where troops performed and awards were handed out. As I mentioned before, Troop 115 took a ribbon and plaque for winning the ball game earlier that evening.

However, there was one big award for the scout who served as the example of scout spirit for all the other scouts. The scout who left his own troop, early in the day and helped a smaller troop with only two other scouts. That award, a huge spear with an atlatl to launch it was awarded to Troop 115’s Jake. (I’ll get a picture if I can, soon).

Overall, it was an excellent camporee. I can’t wait until the next one.

Scouts lined up for morning flag ceremony.
Scouts lined up for morning flag ceremonies.

Providence Canyon Redux

Our first view of the Canyon from above.
Providence Canyon in Lumpkin, Georgia as seen from the canyon rim

BSA Scouts Troop 115 hiked Providence Canyon this past week. The scenery was amazing and our scouts accomplished a lot. As Mr. Smith says, “we don’t go camping to rough it.” We walked a long way but there were rewards around every bend and over every hilltop.

Troop 115 at Providence Canyon
Scouts and leaders at one of the overlook areas at Providence Canyon State Park.
abandoned cars
Our scouts saw several abandoned cars can be found along the hiking trail. These cars were left behind by land owners when the park land was purchased by the state.

We saw several interesting sites along the hiking trail, like abandoned classic cars, and interesting plants. We had a picnic near one of the streams near the canyon bottom.

When we returned to our campsite, we enjoyed a filling dinner. Scouts had chili and cobbler.

We didn’t let the rain deter us from a good time. We sat under the shelter and talked the night away with the sounds of the raindrops in the background. With full bellies, and a little tired from our adventure, we returned to our tents for a very sound night of sleep.

I know that I can barely wait for the next Scouting adventure.