Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Finding the way, while being healthy, and tracking animals

Monday's meeting combined several different topics from outdoor skills to staying healthy. It was also marked by the return of a number of Webelos Scouts who have decided to join our troop in the coming months. Senior Patrol Leader William started the meeting by introducing the troop to the SCOUTStrong program, which is associated with the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award Challenge. The goal of the program is to promote a  healthy lifestyle through good eating habits and a regular regimen of physical activity. To earn the SCOUTStrong award, youth are required to meet an activity goal of sixty minutes per day, for at least five days per week, for six weeks out of eight. Adults can also participate with a daily goal of thirty minutes of activity. Along with the physical activity, participants set weekly goals for healthy eating. It was revealed during the presentation that the scoutmaster had already registered to start the program and completed sixty minutes of activity earlier in the day. Further information may be found at http://www.scouting.org/scoutstrongpala.aspx. The login for the online tracker is found at https://www.presidentschallenge.org/BSA_91/.

Next on the program was the Assistant Senior Patrol Leader, John, who conducted a class on identifying animals in the wild. This met requirement six of the Second Class rank requirements. He covered the ability to stalk wild animals by following their tracks and distinguishing between similar species based on small differences in the tracks. He also discussed how to determine an animal's identity by the type of habitat it creates and the scat it leaves behind. The visiting Webelos eagerly joined in the discussion and asked a number of interesting questions.

John fields questions from the multitudes
With Ethan standing in for the sun,
it is shown how the movement of the
 stick's shadow creates an East-West
line on the ground.
The final part of the program was spend on land navigation. Mr. Baird explained how contour maps can be used to identify the terrain features of an area and how knowing the shape of the terrain can help you find your way. He also showed how to determine the steepness of a grade by using trigonometry, although that exhibit was mostly met with quizzical looks. In a more practical demonstration, Scouts were shown how the shadow cast by an upright stick can be used to determine north, south, east, and west. Other methods for determining direction were also demonstrated, including the use of an analog watch to find south. Unfortunately, the rain clouds hid the stars from view, which precluded a visit to the parking lot to identify the North Star.
At the close of the meeting, the Scouts were once again congratulated on reaching the gold level of the Journey to Excellence in 2013. Scouts and leaders were presented patches for their uniforms to signify this important achievement.