Category Archives: Teens

Allagash or Bust!

Submitted by Nicole Conte, Crew 345 President, Lone Tree Staff Member

Only days after all but two of our members graduated from high school, we set out for Allagash Maine, or as we like to call it, “Almost Canada.”  TheAllagash2 trip began early Sunday morning.  We gathered together, clad in traffic-cone orange Crew 345 T-shirts and brimming with a surprising amount of energy for teenagers that early in the morning.  We packed up quickly then painted decorated the van; “Crew 345,” “Allagash or bust!” and venturing symbols covered all sides of the van in vibrant red, white, and blue letters.  With group pictures taken, and goodbyes to parents said, it was time to begin our journey.

The road trip up to Maine was full of excitement.  We talked, laughed, had a couple dance parties and even listened to old folk tales about the Allagash River and mountains.  After reaching the outfitters, we pitched camp.  We cooked up spectacular diner and shared our eagerness to get on the river the next day.  In the morning, we packed up headed for the Allagash and then, the rain began.

We decided not to let a bit of rain deter us from adventuring down the class three rapids which began our river run.  The rapids went very well at first, it felt epic and thrilling racing down the river dodging rocks and aiming for the most treacherous sections of rapids, just for the fun of it.  Then, the first canoe tipped, then the second, and the third.  Thankfully, we had dropped our gear at the bottom of the rapids so nothing was lost.  The journey down the rapids quickly turned into a series of rescue missions in which one canoe would sink in the process of turning another one upright.  Eventually, this vicious cycle was righted and we made it to the bottom of the rapids drenched through every layer of clothing, but thrilled to have survived the river.       The weather was frigid and we still had miles to go before reaching our next campsite.  After a rugged two mile paddle, we reached camp in not the highest of spirits.  However, the chance to dry out by the fire and devour an impressively delicious steak dinner replenished our moral.

The next couple days brought icy rain, a major test of willpower and a peculiar conversation with a park ranger about his crusade to find the best sushi in Canada.  The days were cold and despite our best water proofing efforts, everything was wet.  Every time the rain let up for a moment we were quick to hang things up to dry.  But then, the rain would start again and it was back to square one.  Though this leg of the trip proved difficult, it may have been the most important for us.  We powered through by depending on each other for encouragement and with excessive joking about our own misfortunes.  As tough as the first few days may have been, Wednesday made it all worth it.

AllagashEarly in the afternoon on our third day on the river day the clouds broke and we saw blue sky for the first time in what felt at like ages.  With clear skies came a warm sun and lifted spirits.  This change could not have come at a better time because that was the night we stayed at Allagash Falls.  Camp
was completely set up by late afternoon.  Now, we had a chance to go exploring.  After a short venture through the woods the trees parted to reveal a beautiful forty foot waterfall shimmering in the afternoon sun and rushing down the rocks with awe inspiring natural power.   Hours past exploring the falls, climbing the rocks, taking pictures and swimming in the slower waters.  In one section of the falls we found a massive snow pile tucked in a curve of the rock formation.  So there we were, in the middle of June, next to a waterfall, having a snowball fight!  Our time at Allagash Falls was probably the greatest part of our entire trip.

We stayed at the falls late into the next morning.  Nobody wanted to leave, but we needed to press on.  Leaving the falls was sad, but the weather continued to be beautiful. We had covered so much ground during the rainy days that the last couple days were enjoyable and relaxing.  Sometimes we paddled and raced and other times we held on to the gunnels of each other’s canoes and just floated down the river as one big raft while singing camp songs and          Josh’s favorite Taylor Swift hits.  We even encountered more rapids toward the end.  But this time, we were ready.  Not a single canoe was tipped!

As we reached our final reach our landing space on our final morning, a sense of triumph flooded over us.  We had accomplished something significant.  We had made it together as a team and as closer friends than we had ever been before.  It felt like if we could make it sixty-two miles down the Allagash River in four and a half days, we could do anything.Allagash3

Months later, I asked my fellow crew members to reflect and tell me what their favorite canoe trip memory was.  For some it was the chance to go explore something new every day.  For others it was the conversations we had around the dinner table or late into the night by the fire.  Our trip down the Allagash really had something to offer everyone.

Since the Allagash, our crew has changed.  Some of our crew members have moved on as they began college and new members have joined, bright eyed and ready to learn.  This is the life cycle of a Venture Crew.  While things change and we move on to new adventures, our good times, and bad times on the Allagash will always be a part of crew 345 history.  In our future we will be hiking Mt. Chocorua.  This coming winter we hope to do some ice climbing, and the springtime may bring zip lining in the White Mountains.  And after that, who knows?

Engaging and Empowering Leaders Through Training

Submitted by Darrin Johnson, General Manager at New England Base Camp

When I was told that I would be writing this piece, I decided that I was going to have a little fun with it. I asked a group of Scouts to answer one simple little question, “If you can do anything with your Scout group, what would it be?” Some of them were Boy Scouts, some were Venturers, a couple were Girl Scouts, and a few were Cub Scouts. The list was just want I was hoping for – varied, extreme and long. Here are just a few things that they mentioned: hiking the entire Appalachian Trail (AT), a white water rafting, a trip to the Florida Sea Base, running in a triathlon, build a robot, go ice climbing… The list went on and on, spawned from the imagination of youth.

Personally, I was very fortunate with my Boy Scout Troop growing up. We were youth-led and when we had an idea or something that we wanted to do, our adult leaders did everything to help make sure that it would happen. As youth, we never worried if we would be able to execute some program idea that we came up with (and we came up with some good ones, though never as big as hiking the entire AT), our leaders just did what they had to do in order for us to go on the trip. Some of my favorite outings growing up were getting to shoot a black power rifle, a water skiing weekend, going to Philmont, and a cooking competition that would make “Hell’s Kitchen” look like Sesame Street. Looking back at my Troop now, I have a greater appreciation as to what Mr. Pou and the other leaders of my Troop had to do in order for us to do these activities.

My leaders went out and found the trainings that they needed to take. They attended the courses and then they took us on the camp outs where the program took a special training. Most did not have the skills before they took the course. Some discovered a new passion for the activity that they went to the training for. In fact, at least three of my Assistant Scoutmasters are still assisting with the trainings almost 30 years later! Some took the course because the Scouts in the Troop needed a leader in attendance.

I have a challenge for each of you: expand your horizon.  Every weekend at the New England Base Camp we offer one of more trainings for you to participate in.  Some of these trainings are the more traditional Scouting trainings- like Baloo and Den Leader Specific.  We also offer more specific trainings like Climbing instructor and ServSafe.  This year, we have been introducing more fundamental outdoor trainings like Outdoor Cooking, Introduction to Camping and Introduction to Backpacking.  Take a look around and find one that you want to take.  When you find it, register, attend the class and then share your knowledge and experience with the Scout from your unit leaders.    I promise that they will appreciate it and so will you.

Here are just a few that you can register for today:

This is just a sampling of the type of courses that you can take.  On November 13th, we will be releasing the full training schedule for winter and spring with over 25 different trainings or clinics.

As our founder, Lord Baden Powell, noted, “Every boy deserves a well-trained leader”, and we are here to help.

The Spirit of Adventure Needs YOU!

Remember that Boston Globe article about ice climbing at New England Base Camp?

We want your comments about this article and New England Base Camp in general! Head over to Facebook by clicking here, or on the image below.

Please help us to “engage youth and parents in physical fitness and the outdoors, as well as helping youth from all walks of life increase self-esteem, confidence, and strengthen character” by telling us how we can do that!

SoAC FB HeaderSoAC FB Header

Scouts, What Did You Do on Your Vacation?

As the New England Base Camp starts to come into its own, as the first ever public outdoor adventure experience “Powered by Scouting.” We have developed a series of free activities and displays throughout the Egan Center.  The displays inspire and encourage and include

  1. Famous Massachusetts Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts
  2. Brain puzzles and riddles
  3. Bouldering
  4. Mammals in the Blue Hills
  5. What to pack for the outdoors
  6. Scouting heritage in Massachusetts
  7. Animal tracks
  8. 3-D printer
  9. Science and STEM
  10. Your New England Adventure!

Number 10 is where you can help!

We are creating a display of Scouts all around New England. Send us your group photo in front of a recognizable New England landmark or while participating in a uniquely New England activity.

The collage above is meant to provide some ideas and shows: a hundred Scouts visiting Battleship Cove, a Girl Scout troop at Fenway, Boy Scouts cycling on the Cape, a troop with their flag atop Mount Washington, a couple troops along the Freedom Trail, a Brownie Troop at Plymouth Plantation, and a Venture Crew whitewater rafting in Maine.

To submit your New England Adventure send a high resolution photo along with a brief description of your adventure. Selected photos will be printed and framed along with a description of your trip. Some items will be displayed on line through social media.

Winning photos will receive a $200 voucher to Base Camp valid throughout 2016. So take a moment, submit your recent New England Scout Adventure here, and start planning your next one!

#letsPLAYoutside

Show your Spirit!

The Patch has been finalized and will be available later this fall. For those of you unfamiliar with the thought process behind the name of the council please read this email from the spring. We’ve heard all the feedback about the name 😃 (here are the responses to our name).

All that being said – the name is only a small part of our corporate identity. Our BRAND IDENTITY is really the focus and our brand is related to the mission – what we do for kids and families.

Our Council Strip Patch attempts to represent the essence of our unique, collective Scouting experience.  Over the next few weeks, the details about how to earn the patch or purchase the patch, how to get the inaugural patch with your town name and other details will emerge.

EMPOWERING LEADERS- OUR COMMITMENT TO TRAINING

By Chuck Eaton, Scout Executive and CEO

SCOUTINGHANDSBecause of my Scouting background and my wife’s personal make up, we were eager volunteers when our two daughters where in elementary school. We immediately raised our hands to be Girl Scout leaders, run the PTO family fun nights, run the family church outings or the youth group. So no one had to coax us in, or cultivate our involvement. We were “those parents.”

However, many parents need a little support and a welcoming environment to help them step forward. They WANT what is best for their kids, and they WANT to be involved, but may not be able to see a role for themselves. If the parents are not technical – it’s difficult for them to see themselves serving as the robotics team coach. Or if the parents are not athletic they don’t can’t visualize themselves teaching soccer drills.

Years ago, my younger sister was learning to play softball in a community league. As an older teen, my schedule didn’t permit me to coach but I wanted to help out. A father who was involved in the organization had a conversation with me about my love for the Red Sox, and my years in organized sports. Through that conversation he got a fairly good read on my understanding of the game. He told me a few differences between little league softball rules and baseball rules. Next thing you know he gave me an umpire’s vest and voila – I was a “stand-by ump” ready to be put into the game whenever I was around.

Just like that, I was part of girl’s softball. No training was required – no forms to be filled out, and no criminal background check was performed. That was just the way the world worked back then. It was a simpler time and the path for involvement was shorter. However the basic technique to getting people involved is still valid today. Our most successful packs and troops are really good at doing exactly what that dad did for me by empowering me to help. Our best Troops, Crews and Packs are great at securing that first level of volunteer participation. They begin by talking to the parent and discovering their interests. They find a way to translate to interests into contributions to the program. They start out by finding a small task that the person can do that will ad value to the effort. This is the process of “parent engagement.” It’s a technique that creates enthusiasm in the parent as much as the child. (See the Oreo cookie blog for some great tips on the first steps of volunteering.)

Once the parent is engaged they begin to appreciate and understand the game of Scouting. They are often ready and eager to contribute more.

The challenge with Scouting compared to being a little League umpire is that Scouting is not as widely understood as softball. When I was 17, I knew the baseball rules so it was easy for me to step right in as a “stand by ump.” However, knowing the ins and outs of camping, or the nuances of the BSA advancement program, or having the logistical experience to coordinate a 50 person camping trip requires more in depth knowledge. Although they may be willing to assist, the average mom or dad doesn’t feel comfortable raising their hand and serving as a Den Leader. That’s a bit daunting for even the most willing parent. The BSA’s answer to this problem is adult training. Yet the navigation through the many BSA training programs can be just as daunting- even though in the end it makes volunteering easier.

For a new BSA volunteer they may not understand why they need training. “What training course should I take? When is it offered? Where is it offered? How long is the course? What is a roundtable? How will all this help me control 10 rambunctious 8 year old boys? “

The BSA has done a great job of putting a ton of training on line. However for some things there is no substitute for human interaction. A deeper and more successful training experience allows individuals the ability to raise their hands and as questions. There are significant benefits from interacting with others and practicing the skills hands on. These human to human experiences greatly help build the confidence to feel comfortable at the next den meeting, or the first camping trip.

The Spirit of Adventure Council is committed to supporting the development of adult volunteers. Here are just two examples:

The training search engine – to help people navigate BSA training and find the most appropriate training for their needs we have created a link. This will allow individuals a source to find answers to most of the questions above. Check it out and find the right course for your needs. Click here to try out the training search engine!

New England Base Camp Leadership and Training Center – Almost every Saturday we run 2 or 3 hour long courses, many of these courses are free of charge . These courses include lots of classic Scout training events, as well as recognized trainings from other partner agencies such as CPR, or Lifeguard training. Bring your kids! While your in the training the youth can enjoy the programs at New England Base Camp. Click here to see the list of upcoming trainings.

The Spirit Of Adventure council is committed to providing training to help parents and leaders improve the Scouting experience for children and young adults. You can use the training search engine to find a class near you, or you can stop by the New England Base Camp to sharpen your skills.

[infobox title=’EXPERIENCED LEADERS WANTED! ‘]We are always looking for great people to help. If you have a great skill you’d like to share or you’d like to join the training team, please leave your contact info here.[/infobox]

Eagle Scout Scholarships

New Due Date – October 31, 2015

One of the great benefits of being an Eagle Scout is being eligible for Eagle Scout Scholarships.   There’s some important news about Eagle Scout Scholarships, both the National Eagle Scout Association(NESA) Scholarships and our own Spirit of Adventure Council Eagle Scout Scholarships.

1)   The scholarships are larger – The National Hall/McElwee Scholarships are now $5,000 each.   Our Spirit of Adventure Scholarships are now $1,000.

2)   THE APPLICATION DATE IS EARLIER – You must enter and complete your application(s) by OCTOBER 31, 2015 for the National scholarships.   You are eligible if you complete your Eagle Board of Review by October 31, 2015.   Don’t wait – get in your application now even if you haven’t finished your Eagle Board.   There is no penalty if you submitted scholarship applications and don’t finish your board by Oct 31.   You just don’t get considered this year.

3)   Application for our local scholarships is automatic when you apply for the National Eagle Scout Merit Scholarships.   If you earned your Eagle in the Boston Minuteman Council, the Yankee Clipper Council or the Spirit of Adventure Council, you will be considered.  Nothing extra is needed.

4)   The application process is on-line and is available now.   You can find the application process at www.nesa.org.

5)   There are two different types of National scholarship:  Merit and Academic.   Two different applications.   Two different ways to be considered.  You should absolutely apply for both regardless of whether you think you’re eligible.

 

If you are a graduating high school senior or a college student up through your junior year,  you can apply.   You earned your Eagle and you earned the right to be considered.   Good luck,  Eagle Scout.

Transforming Tomorrow – Operational Update August 19th, 2015

NEW COUNCIL, NEW NAME, NEW WEBPAGE

It has been an extremely busy, challenging, and productive season. Our Council is less than eight weeks old and together, we are preparing for the 2015-16 Scout Year.

Our mission remains to make Scouting Thrive in our communities. Here are a few announcements to help our scout leaders stay up to date with our progress.

ENHANCED WEB COMMUNICATIONS

Council and district events, meetings and training programs are found HERE.

By the end of next week, all the Council programs will be on the front of the scoutSPIRIT.org webpage. Information for Scout leaders will be listed HERE. A new feature will allow you to see calendar events under activities in list format for age appropriate use.

STAFF ADDITIONS AND RE-ORGANIZATION

If you follow us through Facebook or social media you know we have been hiring staff over the summer. We have gone through a reorganization of staff responsibilities over the past 4 – 5 months. The objective of these changes is designed to effectively and efficiently help Scouting thrive in YOUR community. It is a work in progress and will take some time to work out the kinks, and get everybody acclimated to the new council. We anticipate you will see measurable improvements soon, and we expect everyone to experience a higher level of service.

FACILITIES UPDATES

We continue to make progress with Camps, offices, Scout shops and other facilities. The council is working to assure that every facility has a specific purpose that helps deliver and enhances Scout programs.

This summer we began the linking of Wah Tut Ca and Storer Scout Reservations. We are now developing and implementing strategy to combining the two camp through unique camp programs. We are planning on implementation of adding and expanding programs such mountain biking, equestrian, and sailing. We are developing hiking trails to support inter-camp activities. This will include Parker Mountain. This effort will enable thousands of scouts to participate in unique adventures every summer. Winter operations will be consolidated at Wah Tut Ca and open only to Spirit of Adventure Units.

Lone Tree will remain a year round camping facility. It will continue to host Cub summer camping and Cub family programs. We will secure a summer tenant to utilize excess capacity and keep the property full and active throughout the summer months.

Camp Massasoit is currently on the market to be sold – the ideal buyer would meet the market price, keep the camp green, allow camping and provide space specifically for Scouts.

Camp Sayre will become open to the public and provide full service year round weekend adventures for Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts youth groups, individuals and families. Currently over 17,000 people use Camp Sayre and we are developing programs and facilities to support significant growth this year.

The properties committee is working to consolidate operations at the Haverhill office, North Andover store, and Woburn Store. The vision is to create one large and prominent retail location in the northern suburbs, (128/93 Belt) as well as satellite locations in the Merrimack Valley.

MARKETING UPDATE- THE NAME GAME

Names used by the council can be confusing, particularly to new volunteers and the general public. Is Yankee Clipper a boat company? Is Boston Minuteman a troupe of colonial re-enactors? As part of our efforts to grow Scouting we are simplifying our names to avoid confusion. Camp Sayre is now identified publicly as the New England Base Camp. It is a full service, year round, and program center. When you call the Milton Office the person answering the phone will greet you with, “Boy Scouts of America, home of New England Base Camp, and can I help you?” If your questions or interests are about joining Scouting, outdoor activities, camp programs, the next adventure for your son, or learning more about leadership for yourself – the New England Base Camp support team will provide you information you need.

If you are a member of a district or council committee and the questions are a little more “Scouting Specific”- such as a policy question about a specific activity, a concern about journey to excellence etc.- the call will be routed to the staff advisor for that interest.

YOUR FEEDBACK MAKES THIS WORK

All these changes the results of feedback we got from our community and leaders. We depend on your feedback and to enhance future programs and improve services.

We are moving quickly and a lot of good people are hard at work to improve Scouting for our children and young adults. We will continue to provide plenty of updates and information as we make progress. The Spirit of Adventure council is evolving rapidly. Please follow us through Facebook and be sure to forward all Scout messages to your Scouting community.

Thanks.

Everyone is Invited

Baden Powell described Scouting as a game with a purpose. For generations of Americans the Boy Scouts and the Girl Scouts helped develop character through the game of Scouting. This is not a game that requires dice, a controller, an avatar, cards, or a penalty box.  This game is a metaphorical game of life that prepares young people to make ethical decisions. Our game board is the great outdoors, our video controller is a cast iron skillet, a knife and carabineer, our internet is a shout across the campsite and our avatar is a child’s earned reputation.

Like life the rules of the game are held in the hearts and minds of the participants. How you play (with integrity or without) will have a direct result upon your avatar – your reputation. The referees  or umpires are parents who provide oversight and safety but they DON’T stop the play clock, instead they let the game play out. By letting the game consist of real world skills and real world consequences with umpires sometimes let the players fail. The dinner is burnt, the tent leaks, the fire doesn’t start the bickering slows the group. That is all part of the game. The parents (also known as scout leaders) respond to these direct consequences with love and the best interest of the children.

The skills and activities themselves are wonderfully fun. Because failure can exist, the sense of accomplishment is unrivaled. When the 15 year old learns to lead and the 13 year doesn’t burn the dinner and the 12 year old lights the fire with relative ease – the whole group rejoices and enjoys the meal!

This is the game of Scouting!

Sadly, over the years less and less people have played the game, there are a TON of reasons for that decline – but the short answer is we inadvertently stopped helping people feel welcome. We in  eastern Massachusetts always worked hard to create a welcoming environment but today our local efforts are in the past. We owe the community more – we owe the community our apology. We, Scouting, have this great program and great resources that we allowed to become the best kept secret. We inadvertently held the secret close, when in all honesty; we have a responsibility to share Scouting. During recent decades when Scouting was needed most, yet we weren’t there for enough families. We are sorry. We have collectively learned a lot and we would appreciate a second chance.

Today, we’d like to invite every family to participate in the activities of Scouting – no strings attached. No uniforms, no barriers – just great fun activities for the whole family. We have completely renovated our local camp and Everyone is Invited. Families of all shapes and sizes can enjoy an afternoon, a birthday party, an overnight or an entire weekend. We are located just minutes from Boston and we are excited about the chance to share. This is an outdoor game with a purpose! This is a game that brings families together, a game that challenges teens and a purpose that instills character and leadership.

This fall, join us in the outdoors, invite your friends, and we’ll see you around the campfire! It’s a game with a purpose, #LetsPLAY #outside #NewEnglandBaseCamp

Oh, one last thing for the Scouting Community, we’ve added a name for our collection of activities and skills offered year round at Camp Sayre; it’s called the New England Base Camp at Camp Sayre. During the assent of a significant mountain the Base Camp is the stop before the summit – climbers fuel up, refine any last minute skills and make final preparations for the journey to the top. Let the New England Base Camp be that stop along your skill development and youth development journey.

Check out the new Facebook page too!

[su_button url=”http://newenglandbasecamp.org” background=”#003f87″ size=”10″ center=”yes” icon=”icon: star”]Start Your Adventure at Base Camp[/su_button]

Ticks, They’re Out There

Nature. The great outdoors. The organic world around us is unequivocally a magnificent and wonderful thing. However, just as a coin possesses an intrinsic duality, so too does the environment contain elements which (from the human perspective, particularly that of a citizen from a post-industrial society) can be construed as negative or “bad”. At the very least, we can settle on “icky”. I speak, of course, of ticks and other blood-sucking species indigenous to the forests and woods frequented by the Boy Scouts of America.

There are many types and varieties of ticks. Take the time: educate yourself. It is crucial to know what to expect when you’re out there. The essence is this: ticks bite, suck blood, and potentially spread disease. Lyme disease is pretty serious business, but the good news is there’s something you can do about it.

Prevention is the best cure (some clichés exist because they are extremely appropriate and accurate). When outdoors in the rough (or any grass or foliage of reasonable length), wear long socks. long pants, and everything tucked in. Ticks are jumpers, and baggy clothes provide opportunities for them to latch onto you. Bug sprays and repellents have been known to be effective . Apply the recommended amount to exposed skin. It may also be prudent to get some on or around the openings of your pant legs or sleeves, or on your socks, as a preventative measure against the buggers crawling inside your clothing. Check yourself frequently, and shower as soon as you can.

Above all, the important thing to remember is this: if you are in the right environment, ticks are an inevitability. They are part of nature, it will happen, but that’s okay. Worst case scenario: a tick gets on and bites you, and is a carrier of a disease. We live in an age where medicine and miracle are nigh-interchangeable. Modern treatments are able to completely remove the fangs of illnesses that once were considered inevitably catastrophic. If you get bit, relax. It really is going to be okay.

In the words of Douglas Adams, don’t panic.