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#268604 - 03/26/14 08:46 PM Re: tips to teach wilderness survival merit badge [Re: Mark_F]
hikermor Offline
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Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 6854
Loc: southern Cal
Isn't this the way life works? You provide good instruction and guidance and your students(scouts) go out the door and make of it what they will.

Some will take their kit and use it just as intended. Some will put the kit on a shelf and never touch it again. Some will "use it up" but will retain your main point and fabricate a good kit when the occasion demands.

Scouting builds character, but there are always some(not just scouts but people in general) who don't get the message. I'll bet there are ex-scouts serving life terms.....
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#268605 - 03/26/14 08:49 PM Re: tips to teach wilderness survival merit badge [Re: Mark_F]
Montanero Offline
Veteran

Registered: 10/14/08
Posts: 1482
Loc: North Carolina
The boys will always have difficulty keeping track of their gear, they will always pulls the cool stuff out to show others how to use it, and they will always forget what you told them. Constant reinforcement is always necessary, with many reminders and some discipline when things are not done as they are supposed to be.

I have them build their own kits, with some advice and assistance from our adult leaders, and we spot check and run scenarios occasionally in survival, first aid, emergency prep, or other important skills just to place a little stress on them to keep better track of their stuff. They are adolescent boys, and it is part of growing up into men. I always have what is really necessary for their survival, and they are never without an adult, not yet (young troop). It is one way you can assess your scouts as well, who does keep track of their stuff, who can perform the skills, and who demonstrates enough responsibility to lead.

It is also one reason why I always have the "practice" survival gear, so they can start fires, build shelters (some do think it is fun), and practice signaling.

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#268608 - 03/26/14 09:29 PM Re: tips to teach wilderness survival merit badge [Re: Montanero]
Mark_F Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 06/24/09
Posts: 714
Loc: Kentucky
yes, both of you are right, I cannot control what the boys will do with the information provided, or any materials they walk away with. It is a harsh reality I am struggling to accept. Heck, even DS is having difficulty right now keeping up with his stuff so I think it is something to do with the age group, and as you said adolescent boys growing up to be men.

Montanero, I feel your pain, our troop is young as well, and not likely to get any older any time soon, a lot of first year webelos who were pushed through quickly to get their arrow of light to be able to join the troop, and a new group of first year webelos coming here in the next few months as well it looks like.

If i can talk the troop into it, I'd like to have selected campouts as survival campouts, where they can make do with limited equipment, or just their survival kits, or deal with survival scenarios. As you said, reinforcement of skills and reminding them to keep their kit items on hand or even bringing them in the first place. Another thing I'd like to see our council do is something a neighboring council does, a pioneering and wilderness survival camporee. It's sad that it seems like this is such a difficult sell in our area and in the scouting program at that, but in our council it seems to be, I might have better luck trying to get this to go as a district event.

I am wondering if some kind of reward system might work with the boys and their survival kit items, maybe start them with a few key items (thinking whistle and large contractors garbage bag, I think I have some spare mirrors and maybe a few other items too) to be awarded to those who stick with it and complete the merit badge. Then, as a reward for the boys who remember to bring those items to future outdoor events and activities, have some additional items for them to add or replace. not really sure but just thinking out loud.
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#268612 - 03/26/14 10:24 PM Re: tips to teach wilderness survival merit badge [Re: Mark_F]
Montanero Offline
Veteran

Registered: 10/14/08
Posts: 1482
Loc: North Carolina
I do provide these types of incentives, but always useful gear or a learning tool. As I have known many of my scouts since they were born (I am referred to more often as "Uncle" than anything else), I give them these types of birthday and Christmas presents as well. Acknowledge and reward good behavior, strong effort, and successful work. Do not reward unsuccessful work, but spend the time with that scout to make them successful. Be honest about failure, but show them in detail why it failed and how to do it better. In many cases, just showing the honesty of addressing failure, and the care to make them successful will win over the scout, without any reward. I have had some scout complain to me that I spend too much time with the less successful scouts, and I just respond to them that they should be spending the time with them as well. The troop succeeds or fails as a troop, and it is in all of their best interests to make everyone successful. Some parents are actually more difficult to manage with this though.

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#268617 - 03/27/14 01:45 AM Re: tips to teach wilderness survival merit badge [Re: Mark_F]
bacpacjac Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 05/05/07
Posts: 3601
Loc: Ontario, Canada
Originally Posted By: Mark_Frantom


don't think we are ready for processing game and turning it into a meal yet, maybe in a few years we can look into something like that wink



Here's an idea to help you move in that direction:

One of our former Scouts, now an Activity Leader, is an advd hunter. We weren't ready for a processing lesson yet either, so our hunter brought us a processed turkey and we cooked it in a pit, using the coals from the fires the youth started in our firecraft lesson.
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#268618 - 03/27/14 01:50 AM Re: tips to teach wilderness survival merit badge [Re: Mark_F]
bacpacjac Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 05/05/07
Posts: 3601
Loc: Ontario, Canada
Originally Posted By: Mark_Frantom
correct MDinana, the actual requirement reads that they must build a shelter from natural materials (preferrably utilizing LNT principles to minimize the impact) and spend a night in it, but during their shelter session, i'd like them to see what other options they can have with items that are really easy to carry on their person

for the overnighter, I'm gonna use a trick I read in a thread from several years back, about using glow sticks to mark the boy's shelter locations and the location of base camp, and allowing them a water bottle and flashlight ... considering allowing a poncho for them to wear if it rains and their shelter is less than waterproof lol


Our badges and requirements are different up here in Canada, but we did the same thing with our troop. They made a natural shelter and slept in it, but we also practiced using other materials, like tarps. Have to take advantage of those teachable moments, and cover is something they can carry in their PSKs. Proper clothing is a must, so raingear may well be appropriate. Would that cover your use of ponchos? Personally, I prefer them because their multipurpose and can be used for shelter... It would be neat to see if and how they improvise.
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#268620 - 03/27/14 02:13 AM Re: tips to teach wilderness survival merit badge [Re: Montanero]
hikermor Offline
Geezer in Chief
Geezer

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 6854
Loc: southern Cal
You are doing good and necessary work. This thread leads inevitably me to remember an extensive search for three scouts who set out to climb a local peak for a sixteenth birthday celebration - right into the teeth of a raging winter storm. They perished before anyone knew they were in trouble. It turned out that the troop was planning some survival training the next month. This transpired over fifty years ago and the experience profoundly influenced my life.

I will never forget the sight of the scout master in base camp - sobbing and wringing his hands ineffectually.

Keep on going.
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#268621 - 03/27/14 02:16 AM Re: tips to teach wilderness survival merit badge [Re: Mark_F]
bacpacjac Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 05/05/07
Posts: 3601
Loc: Ontario, Canada
Originally Posted By: Mark_Frantom
... Plus, I am not confident the boys are old enough yet to fully grasp the concept that their survival kit is emergency gear to be saved for an emergency, and not a box full of toys they can take home and play with, tear up, and show up at an outdoor activity without. I can almost see the boys telling me what one of my former webelos said to me when I asked him what happened to his survival kit and he replied, "oh I used all that stuff up"


The power of play! LOL! Let's hope he used it up by using it somewhat like how you were envisioning, only without the drama of a real life emergency.

There's real value, IMO, in letting them use the gear in their survival kits, or at least duplicates or similar items, in guided or freestyle survival skills practice. (Just be diligent about checking and restocking, which is easier said than done, I know.) Because they likely don't have real world survival experience, and are probably limited in their wilderness survival experience, their ability to improvise and adapt may be limited as well. Not to mention that there's a real difference between theory and reality sometimes.

Example - my son understands how to build a super shelter and he carries all the materials in his survival kit, I gave him duplicates of everything in his kit and we practiced building one a few weeks ago. He was really challenged. It took more time than he expected, wasn't as simple as it looks, the materials were sometimes fragile (think ripped plastic sheeting caused by overzealous knot tying and underzealous pole placement), his arms weren't long enough, he wasn't coordinated enough, a bitterly cold wind froze his fingers and made it hard to work, etc...

He got really frustrated sometimes. We were just in the backyard, and I was there to help, but it made me think about how much more difficult it would have been for him had he been on his own and in a survival situation. We've made some key adjustments to his kit as a result, BTW.

Seems like a good time for a PSA: Watching my son struggle to combine theory + his kit + a real world application reminded me that it's a good idea to take our gear out and test it, and ourselves, regularly. Trial and error has been my best teacher, but I'd rather work through some of those errors in advance of when TSHTF. wink

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#268623 - 03/27/14 02:35 AM Re: tips to teach wilderness survival merit badge [Re: bacpacjac]
hikermor Offline
Geezer in Chief
Geezer

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 6854
Loc: southern Cal
In the future, when it inevitably will hit the fan, your son will draw on this experience...


Edited by hikermor (03/27/14 01:26 PM)
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#268628 - 03/27/14 12:29 PM Re: tips to teach wilderness survival merit badge [Re: Mark_F]
Montanero Offline
Veteran

Registered: 10/14/08
Posts: 1482
Loc: North Carolina
Thanks Hikermor. I use real world examples such as that to illustrate points, show examples of what people did right and wrong, and to impress the importance of the training on the scouts and their parents. I collect every news article I can find of people who end up in survival situations. It combats the "it will never happen to me" attitude.

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