Tuesday, September 25, 2007


Since we don’t have a “feeder” pack, recruiting has always been a challenge for us. In our 27 years of existence, only a handful of Webelos have ever visited our troop, even though we have invited them to every type of event conceivable. Most Webelos crossover to the “Pack’s Troop,” the one where you don’t have to buy new numbers for your uniform.

Except for us, this system probably works okay, right? Actually no, our district isn’t very successful at keeping Webelos in Scouts. Some say it’s because they do too much Scout-level stuff while they are Webelos. Sometimes the troop-of-the-same-number doesn’t fit the new Scout’s interests. Sometimes the new Scout quits because there is a conflict between Scouts and other activities. Sometimes the new Scout moves to another area. And occasionally, the troop itself falls apart.

Danny Olivas and Nancy Elliot of Houston’s Pack 266, sponsored by West University Methodist Church, have a new answer for this. The pack invited several area troops, including ours, to a “Meet The Webelos” event, held at their meeting place. It is the first time we have ever been invited to such a thing. Each troop was encouraged to make a 5-minute presentation about their program. Refreshments were provided. A counter that ran along the sides of the room was home for each troop’s display board. A mingle time followed the presentations. Danny promised he would encourage the Webelos to visit the troops.

Our Scouts had a lot of fun mingling with the Webelos of Pack 266. We hope each one of these fine boys finds just the right troop for them and stays in Scouting to Eagle and beyond. Any of them would be an asset to our troop. I hope that it made an impression on the Webelos to know that they were so wanted by the dozen or so Scout troops who attended.

Dan and Nancy, you and your pack have started a great thing here. Thank you!

Monday, September 17, 2007


Today ten of the stories I’ve been telling around the campfire are published in the new book, HAUNTED CAMPS: The Campfire Stories of Scoutmaster B.C. Justice. The details are on the book’s website, http://www.hauntedcamps.com/.

Although these stories are too mature for the Cub Scouts (I was never a Cubmaster), they’re perfect for the 13-and-up crowd that demands more than a joke story or cute parable. Some of them have a moral message, but it’s left up to the reader or listener to figure it out.

On one occasion, after I told the story “Black Stain” at Lost Maples State Natural Area (Texas), a patrol who claimed they were not bothered by the story picked up their tent and moved it right next to the staff tents. Even while doing this they claimed the story had nothing to do with it, but they couldn’t come up with another reason!

One Scout, who is still with us, heard me tell the story “Vernal Pools” at Pedernales Falls State Park. He was a new Scout then. A little nervous, he made it a point to ask his mother if there was such a thing as a vernal pool. Unfortunately, there is. He’s almost Eagle now.

An assistant Scoutmaster, age 23, made a gentleman’s bet with the Scouts he could go to the abandoned bridge in the story “Sheoll Creek” at night. The Scouts followed him there. He got to within a hundred yards of it and decided it took more courage than he could muster.

Monday, September 10, 2007


Recently, as we are now between the birth of Scouting and the birth of the B.S.A., Scouters have been harking back to the beginnings a la Baden-Powell. In one of his 1909 writings, B.P. describes the preferred arrangement of campsites with patrols separated by a hundred yards or more.

When we have good, functioning patrols, they naturally pick out an area removed from the staff and the other patrols. But when the individual patrols are weak, they try to establish their area where it’s practically in the staff site or so close to another patrol that the tent ropes cross each other.

At other times we have been so small as to have only one patrol. Though we have tried numerous ways over the years to keep the single patrol motivated, it has never been viable for long.

The patrol in the picture had me fooled. I thought they were not only mentally asleep, but stupid. What I didn’t know is they had been meeting on their own and working on Scouting skills—which vaulted them to near the top in Camporee competition. Now I know that the less I see of a patrol hanging around the staff campsite, the better.

Do you camp by patrols, always?