Sea Scouts. On Land.

At their request, we took our Sea Scout ship camping at Lake Piru last weekend. In order to work themselves into a pre-kayaking sweat, the boatswain suggested a hike. Here we are near the end of our 4.7 mile trek through the September heat.

Needless to say, the Scouts were ready for lunch and some on-the-water time when they got back. A fantastic two days in the hills, and more proof that the BSA is just an unbelievable organization.

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It’s Good to be a Swimmer

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Passed my BSA swim test at age 54 – and while swimming in a cold pool at an altitude of 5,500 feet above sea level. Needless to say, I’m chuffed, especially given that the last 50 yards I was carrying on a conversation with the waterfront director who was testing me.

Note one of the downsides of going from “obese” to “healthy:” you lose a LOT of natural buoyancy. Swimming is easier. Floating, on the other hand…

Patch of the Month: Yuletide Special

Opening the holiday greetings, I was pleased to find a card from the Ventura County Council. I work with the team there rather a lot, and they are dedicated, caring, and inspiring.

Enclosed was this gift, a little blessing to a patch collector like myself: a limited edition council-specific patch with the Council’s legendary summer camp, Three Falls, with a visitation by Mr. Claus and his personal herd of Rangifer tarandus. This one will not find its way to eBay: it’s a keeper.

Merry Xmas, Happy Kwanzaa, Good Festivus, and a belated chag sameach to all, and to all a Happy New  Year.

The Kid Sleeps

While the rest of the troop curls up in their tents, our intrepid Senior Patrol Leader throws down a ground cloth, a pad, and his sleeping bag alongside his backpack, curls up, and snores contentedly. Behind him is his camp chair, to which he has tied his crutches, upon which he has neatly hung his field uniform (“Class-As”), water bottle in reach.

He’s come a very long way since our first campout together 9-1/2 years ago. Now he wants to take me backpacking along the Pacific Crest Trail.  He has gone from video game couch-potato to an intrepid outdoorsman, and I give all the credit to the Boy Scouts of America and the encouragement of his teachers at school.

A little note to my friends in China and elsewhere who disparage the value of extra-academic endeavors beyond those that will polish college applications: when we slash everything out of our children’s lives but academics, we not only shortchange our offspring: we shortchange society, our nations, and the world at large.

Never in our history has it been more important to raise resilient children.

Start now.

Shadow of the Inferno

Wildfire morning. The flames are a dozen miles away, but here downwind, you wouldn’t know it. The smell of burning brush hangs heavily in the air and the cars are covered with ash. We’re not worried for ourselves: that dozen miles is all flat, and there is a six mile wide fire break in the form of vast berry fields twixt the flames and our town.

But we worry for our friends in the hills, and for the kids in our scout troop who are going through the stress of evacuation.

We toy with the idea of cancelling our family campout, but decide to go ahead. A good thing, too: two of our Navy families being evacuated out of Point Mugu can’t find housing nearby for the night, so the campground is the best alternative.

And, frankly, everyone needs a little distraction to relieve the stress, so where better than in the minutiae of setting up camp?