Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A Venturing Celebration by Hundreds of Youth in the Woods of Pennsylvania

Crew 2001 at the Venturing Summit: Central Region Area 4 plays in Area 4 of the NE Region

Crew 2001 at the Medieval Festival
of the 2013 NE4AVOA Venturing Summit
Imagine 350 high school and college-aged young adults from perhaps a dozen states all converging on a patch of woods in Pennsylvania wearing chain mail and all manners of medieval dress.  What you just conjured up is a typical event for Venturing.

Everyone had fun, some did not want to leave, all wished they had more time to enjoy the fun of the Venturing Summit sponsored by the northeast region area 4 Venturing Officers Association at the Heritage Scout Reservation in Farmington, PA.( see @NE4AVOA)

Crew 2001 in the
Medieval Spirit
Our crew, Crew 2001 from Akron OH,  backpacks, camps, goes climbing, caving and other typical outdoor activities. However, the weekend of April 19-21, 2013 was truly unlike anything we had ever done.  Our planning complete and 180 miles later, 20 Venturers and their Advisors pile out of five cars and on to the grounds of the beautiful Heritage Scout Reservation of the Greater Pittsburgh Council.

BSA's Program
for young adults
After checking in at the Keystone building, we were given our "knights of Heritage" t-shirts, patches, and maps.  We were directed to our cabin, actually a five bedroom, 2 bath house with kitchen, dining room and living room, named for George Washington, and the last one on the lane. A special weekend was about to begin.

We spent the evening playing games and meeting other venturers at Pathfinder Lodge. Games of Twister, pool, ping pong, DDR, Rock Band, and so much more kept our youth laughing and playing until the building closed.  Back in our house, card games began and we quickly got comfortable and settled down for the night anxious for the next day.

Live Action Role Play
at the Venturing Summit
Our venturers then climbed, COPEd, shot pistols, threw tomahawks, did AtLatl, Archery, played video games and board games, branded leather and other things, learned to dance, LARPed, and much more.  The highlight of the day was when the youth and adults donned costumes for the Highland Games,
NE4AVOA Staff for the Venturing Summit
Canterbury Feast, and the dance and party Saturday night. Sunday morning was given to devotions and waffles.

NE Region President Luczka
& National President Readenour
We got to meet and hear from the Northeast Region Venturing President Christine Luczka and the National Venturing President Dustin Readenour.  While we would have liked to hear more about what venturing changes are coming, we heard that the Venturing Pants are redesigned and about to be released.  (If they only change the side pockets that would be fantastic.)

Crew 2001 at Venturing Summit
This was the first Area, Regional or National event that our crew have attended. As we did a thorns and roses on Sunday morning it was obvious this won't be our last.  Thanks to the staff at NE4AVOA and all the others for showing our youth what Venturing can be.  Venturing is more than just what happens in the local crew.   Everyone went home pumped.

Crew 2001 helping with
Sunday morning devotions
The camp was beautiful, the facilities outstanding, the programming was quite good, the food was the only low point.  OK April is supposed to be warm and lack snow, but it did not deter the young adults of Crew 2001 nor anyone else.  

Check out the pictures below and we may have more available for you to see later.

Most of these pictures are of Crew 2001.   

Good Scouting, Venture onward
Steve and Kimberly Myers
See us at the National Jamboree (Troop B326 and Crew F610)

2013 National Jamboree App Available

"Download version 1.0 of the Jamboree app on Android; coming soon to Apple

"They say this summer’s National Jamboree will be the most-connected ever. Well, this is a great start. Version 1.0 of the Jamboree Summit App is available on Android devices. The app clocks in at just over 10 MB and costs $0.99 in the Google Play store. The iOS version for Apple’s iPhone and iPod Touch should be available later this week."

Read the rest at

Initial Review

Well it will not let me sign in, but it has identified me as the scoutmaster and  shows the names of all of the members of my troop.  There is a section to add friends, so I can keep track of Mrs. ScoutingCouple.   Links to activities, daily schedule and times that areas are open readily appear.  The map appears not to load for me yet, but under "more" you can sign-in (I couldn't), and find links to their Facebook, twitter, YouTube, Flickr and blog sites.

My first impression is very favorable.
Steve Myers

Monday, April 22, 2013

Young Girls, Future Venturers

Venturing for All

Two Venturing Guides "guiding" the Pocket Crew
and celebrating a new Eagle
Update:  Our female crew guide pictured to the left has received one of the three Council Venturing Leadership Awards to be given at the council annual meeting on May 13 in part for the work she has done with these future venturers.

Second update (June 2013):  a good explanation of Frontier Girls Clubs is published in the Daily Caller

Venturing is typically for youth 14 to 20.  Now two Venturers guide the next generation.  In a Boy Scout troop the older scouts are Troop Guides to the younger, now older Venturing Crew Guides are working with the youngest girls who want to be in venturing, but are not yet old enough. How do you make sure the young ladies can hold their own in the outdoors against highly skilled young men?

Imagine how hard it is for a young lady to join a Venturing Crew when she knows nothing about surviving and thriving in the outdoors.  Imagine how hard is it to camp and backpack alongside young men highly skilled in those same skills.

Our Pocket Crew & Crew Guides at the Great Trail Council
Old Portage District Klondike, 2013
Venturing is for young adults in high school and college, both boys and girls. Boys get to be Boy Scouts and camp from age 11 and as they age they can join a Venturing Crew.   Boy Scouts who enter at 14 have three years of experience and can demonstrate their proficiency in outdoor scout skills at the drop of a hat.  So when girls join an Outdoor Venturing Crew like ours, they have from zero to little outdoor skill experience.  In short they are at an immediate disadvantage.  This is changing. It can change for you too if you act to support a girls program affiliated with your unit.

So how do you get the inexperienced girls, experienced?  

First, you can just dive in and start learning by doing at age 14.  This of course works and is how scouting has progressed for years, but who likes being the novice next to the Eagle Scout?  Second, you can schedule weekend first timer camp outs and run courses like backpacking 101, but what if they can't make that one or are not ready?  Third, you can approach your council course director for Introduction to Outdoor Leader Skills (like Steve) and bring those Venturers who have never had the Boy Scout Outdoor Experience to the training.  Throughout a busy weekend the youth can learn a little about a lot from tenting to compasses to axes.

Venturing Crew Guiding Frontier Girls

A Venturing Leadership Position Patch.
A guide is typically older, skilled, experienced and
passionate about helping new venturers learn.
But the best we have seen is point four. One parent of two boys in our troop and crew wanted the same experience and skills for her daughter that her son's received.  The fourth way is to form a young Venturing-type crew.  Our girls (ages 8 to 13) are chartered as a Frontier Girls Club (Troop 201) precisely because their program allows the Pocket Crew to use Boy Scout and Venturing resources.  Further, the Frontier Girls actively encourage such a  partnership.

 "8. Are Frontier Girls troops allowed to partner with Boy Scouts troops or other local scouting organizations?

"Yes. Frontier Girls is a very flexible program and we encourage interaction with other scouting programs. We will also honor badge requirements from these other programs as long as they are age appropriate. This way if you have a Boy Scout troop that you would like to work with for a particular activity, you may use the Boy Scout badge requirements for earning your badge rather than the Frontier Girls ones, making programming easier for all involved. We also
encourage Frontier Girls to be active in any local all scout activities such as community service projects or jamborees."

Venturing Crew guides with
Pocket Crew at Raccoon Creek in PA
photo by Teresa Michaels
Critical to the successful merging of the Pocket Crew into Crew 2001 is the guides appointed by their advisor upon request from the Frontier Girls leader. We even went so far to have our Chartered Organization, The First Baptist Church of Akron (Akron, OH) to be the sponsor to the Frontier Girls.  While not required by the Frontier Girls organization, this brings them into the First Baptist Family of Scouting with the same status as our three BSA units, the Cub Scout Pack 3001, Boy Scout Troop One and Venturing Crew 2001.

Can you spot the two Venturing Crew Guides to these girls in each of the pictures?  He is an Eagle Scout and past SPL of the Boy Scout Troop and current VP Administration in Crew 2001.  She is a director at the Great Trail Council summer camp, Camp Manatoc, and a past VP of Program for Crew 2001. He is active in the Order of the Arrow and attended the 2011 SummitCorp and the 2012 Shakedown at the new Summit Bechtel Reserve.  Both are popular with the girls and setting extremely important examples of what each girl should want to become.  Each of these girls wants to be in the crew and will be soon.  They chose the name pocket crew because they wanted to be in the pocket of the crew and the pocket crew is growing in numbers.  Oh how the crew will change when all of these arrive.  It's kind of exciting don't you agree?

Frontier Girls Facebook page
Venturing, BSA Facebook page

Steve and Kimberly Myers

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Summit CamelBak® Podium Bottle - an excellent addition to our stash

Summit CamelBak® Podium Bottle

We love this bottle.  It is branded for The Summit (@BechtelSummit) and made by Camelbak.  Picked it up on a lark since we like to review gear and have a room full of gear, this bottle has surprised us. Not only is it unbreakable, it is truly leak-proof even when open.  That needs some explanation, you can see in the image of the top, you can dial it from closed to open.  When open it is still hard to spill.  You can squeeze and it will come out, but the bite valve works to keep the water in your mouth and not one everything.  Turns out we have used these on our night stands.  Sure beats knocking over a glass in the middle of the night! Water does not taste like bottle from these which is a real bonus.

The shape is comfortable and the size fits in the side pockets of our day pack and the side cargo pocket on our scout pants.  (That is why we have cargo pockets isn't it?  Steve has a 16 oz Stanley leak proof coffee mug that is usually there.) These bottles might make the cut for water at the jamboree, but we are not yet sure. 

As of April 9, 2013 it was $7.99 at  Non-BSA versions can be had at amazon here.   From scoutstuff: "Stay focused to maximize performance when you hydrate with the ultimate insulated bike bottle! High-tech Zeroloft® insulation makes the bottle ultra-lightweight while keeping water cool four times longer than standard bike bottles. Also keeps beverages warm for your cool-weather rides.

Made of BPA-free TruTaste™ polypropylene with HydroGuard™ so all you taste is fresh, clean water! Innovative, self-sealing Jet Valve™ eliminates splatters and spills.

Great-looking 21-oz. bottle features the new Summit logo, so carry it everywhere! It’s a great way to start conversations about the Summit Bechtel Reserve™—Scouting’s exciting, new high-adventure base."

As of April 9, 2013 it was $7.99 at  Non-BSA versions can be had at amazon here.

Try it, you will like it.

Steve and Kimberly Myers

Ultralight Camp Chair - 1.7 lbs of Pure Pleasure

This BSA Ultralight Camp Chair is Going to Jamboree!

The Lafuma next to the BSA chair.
Update (4/18/2017):  now offers a 2017 Jamboree Version. Rated at 300 lbs. I cannot say how it compares, but it looks like the original versions we love so much. It is slightly heavier at 2.25 lbs and more pricey than the 2014 version at $75.99.  Here is the link
Item: 636658
We took our original chairs to the 2013 Jamboree and they were the single best piece of gear we had for the duration.

Big Agnes / Helinox have really expanded their chair line from the ultralight to larger car-camping versions and even a rocker. Do check out Big Agnes / Helinox at this link

Update (3/31/2014):  The Chair is back at  We have no idea how long it has been there, but it was there today. Here is the description.
Item: 618758
Availability: In Stock
This BSA-exclusive, top-quality design combines affordability with strength and durability. The sturdy frame-with 250-lb. weight capacity-is made from anodized aluminum tubing with reinforced aluminum alloy joint hubs for added stability. Seat, back, and arms are made of 600D PVC with mesh inserts. Lightweight and portable, chair folds up quick and easy, and weighs just 1.9 lbs. Black. Imported."
These were the greatest comfort at the National Jamboree and has been on most of our camps and trips since! 

Update (5/6/2013):  We took the BSA UL chairs to the NE4VOA Summit in PA and toted and used these chairs in a number of instances.  We can assure you that these chairs are worth it!..

Our review of the LaFuma Micro Popup Chair from REI last July is our second most popular blog post.  We still like those chairs, but two new chairs from the Boy scouts of America are now here in our house and part of @scoutingcouple's favorite gear.  We first saw them in the jamboree catalog and you can see them at where they currently sell for  
Even holds a Jamboree
Scoutmaster comfortably!
$59.99.  We showed these at our Jamboree Troop and Crew meetings and there were a lot of promises to run out and buy them.  The fit in a duffel or a backpack and while 1.9 lbs packed is heavy by ultralight standards, it is so worth it to have a back and a comfy spot when you stop moving.

Turns out that Kimberly's National Jamboree crew (F610) will be camping about 2 miles from my Troop (B326) at Jamboree and it will be great knowing that when we meet in her camp or mine or at Summit Center or a ton of other places we can "sit a spell" in the beauty of those WV hills and watch the action of scouts and venturers having fun. (Or we might just find a quite spot in them their woods and sit and visit in solitude. Wondering if it is possible to visit in solitude when 40,000 youth as so near... ).

carrying case in the seat
As the ad in scoutstuff.or says this is "The ultimate camp chair!" It features "the same aluminum pole technology used by DAC in their trekking poles and tent poles, this camp chair is light, strong, and comfortable. With a carrying bag and breathable mesh backing, this chair is one to always keep on hand in your pack or gear bin."  While they list the weight as 2 lbs, I pulled out the backpacking scale and packed the chair is 1 lb 14.2oz and without carrying case it is 1 lb 11.2 oz.  Seriously ultralight - 1.88 lbs packed and 1.7 unpacked.

If fits sideways in my day pack,
yes completely inside.
I have it sticking out for scale.
It is a 40L REI Lookout Day Pack
We will be testing these out at the NE Region Area 4 Venturing Summit and will let you know how they worked out, especially in and out of our day packs and how they fit with all the other items we may want to carry daily at the Jamboree.  I can already tell you that setup and take down is a snap.  I even handed our two packed chairs to two scouts that had never seen them and asked them to set them up and they did so pretty quickly.  then didn't want to get out of them.  There is no way to set it up incorrectly since the pole structure is ONE PIECE where every link is shock-corded.  The joints seem very heavy and strong plastic.  The "feet" seem on tight and secure. I did worry when some of the scout leaned back in them, but while I was worried the chairs seemed to take it.

The BSA chair is 13.5" off the floor
compared to the Lafuma's 8.5"
Sitting in the chair is very comfortable, at first it doesn't seem firm and then you realize it is flexing giving you a feeling that is moves a bit with you almost like a bit of rocking.  Not sure I am explaining that well, but the flex moves from worrisome to comfy very fast.  The other night I sat in it for an extended time during a meeting (when I could get one of my assistant scoutmasters out of it). I love the Lafuma Micro Popup Chair, but this one wins hands down for me for two reasons.  First is its smaller size (14" packed vs, 29" folded) and lighter weight (1.9 lbs. packed vs. 2.5 lbs folded).  Second, the seat height of 13.5 inches vs. the Lafuma's 8.5 for me makes all the difference in how gracefully one can get up out of the chair.  One of my 6'5" friends agreed, the seat height really helps.  If the Lafuma gets better points, it has to be in the feet.  If the ground is mushy, I think the rounded feet of the Lafuma will hold better than the sharp points of the legs on the Lafuma. 

Specifications from ScoutStuff:
The BSA UL chair in its bag.
Best Use: Backpacking Chair
Frame Type: DAC Aluminum Pole Technology
Pack Weight: 2 lbs / 900g (actually 1.88 lbs packed 1.7 unpacked)
Pack Size: 14" H x 4" W x 5" D / 35 × 10 × 12 cm
Assembled Dimensions: 26" H x 21" W x 20" D / 65 × 52 × 50 cm
Seat Measurements: 13.5"/ 34 cm from ground; 13.5"/ 34 cm deep
Load Capacity: 300 lb/ 136kg

Here is a puzzle, the BSA chair looks exactly like the Big Agnus Helinox, but the specifications seem to be a bit different, for example the BSA chair is rated for 300 lbs, the Big Agnes at 350 lbs.  I have included a link to the BigAgnus Helinox so you can see for yourself.  Also, my favorite store REI carries a REI branded Flex Lite Chair that looks just like the BSA chair, but is rated for 250 lbs.  It lists 1 lb 12 oz weight which is consistent with ours.  I think a road trip to REI is in order to try theirs out.  The REI and Big Agnus Helinox are both more expensive than the BSA chair.  Good job BSA!The advantage of spending more is you can get them in their offered colors.  For example here is the red one at our store.

Steve and Kimberly Myers

Saturday, April 6, 2013

@Scoutingcouple goes Bridgewalk-ing in the New River Gorge

What is the best 1.25 mile hike we have taken?  Well most of the trail was steel and what we missed in having our @lowaboots Renegades in good clean dirt, was made up by the awesome view and our great bridge walk guide Doug.  Doug took us on a private look on the underside of the bridge and was quite the historian about the structure. (Who knew Homeland Security regularly inspects it, who knew that those massive beams are all hollow, who knew that you can zip line off the underside of the bridge on Bridgeday?)  We loved this trip and it was worth every dime of the $69 we each had to pay.  In fact, Steve thought he had his money's worth about 100 feet onto the bridge.  The remainder of the 3,031 feet length of the bridge cat walk was pure free fun.
@ScoutingCouple on a cold March Saturday high on (and in) the New River Gorge
From the Bridge Walk webpage:
"Walking on the catwalk through the interior structure of the New River Gorge Bridge gives visitors a whole new perspective of what an engineering marvel it really is. Spanning the New River Gorge required great design, engineering, and construction skills. It is truly amazing to be so close to the very bolts and beams that came together to form the Bridge." Head to their website for the story of the engineering and construction of the bridge.  That bridge turned a 40 minute drive through the gorge on mostly one lane road into a 4 minute 4 lane trip and connected two halves of WV that rarely saw each other on a daily basis.  Living in Mount Hope meant trips to Fayetteville to the west was possible and across the gorge to the east nearly impossible or impractical.

Standing 851 feet above the river is a truly awesome experience and everyone should do this. Watching the falcons and the pigeons was also lots of fun.  (... so few pigeons because of the park service introduction of falcons and you have to ask Doug why that is a great thing for the Bridge.)

Follow @WVBridgeWalk and get your boots up in the air...  851 feet up to be exact!
Looking south to Fayette Station Rapids and the old bridge on the 40 minute trip through the gorge.
The shadow of the bridge on the North Side

See lots more pictures after this jump...

Monday, April 1, 2013

Boy Scouts are Coming to WV with T-Shirts

The @scoutingcouple stopped by Tamarack in Beckley WV to have a great meal by the same people that bring you meals at the world famous Greenbrier in White sulfur Springs.  After we enjoyed our meal we took time to look around.  There was a great display with Summit T-shirts that we had not seen in the catalogs or at -- we thought you would like to see them.  And yes the Boy Scouts of America are coming to WV!  Steve's favorite is "Change Your Perspective: Experience the Mountains" and Kimberly's was the flag colored WV shirt (although not a Summit Shirt... just really cool).

See @tamarackWV.

Steve and Kimberly Myers