Camp Santa

Opening the holiday greetings a few years ago, 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.

It’s official

I am honored and humbled to report that the membership and the Executive Board of the Ventura County Council, BSA met today and confirmed my nomination as Council Commissioner for 2022-3.

In this role I will be responsible for supporting two District Commissioners, two dozen unit Commissioners, and over a thousand adult leaders spread out across 2,200 square miles.

Sadly, I will be compelled to step away from my role as Scoutmaster of our Troop, but I am blessed to be able to leave it I’m more capable hands than my own.

Onward.

Patchology: Saddleback Butte

As the Summer turns to fall, the shores turn chill and the hillsides to tinder, the eyes of the camper (and Scoutmaster) turn toward the desert. October through March is prime camping time in California’s arid regions. Days are comfortable, nights are chilly but not arctic, and enough animals are active during the day to make hiking more than a long walk.

One of my favorite places in the desert is Saddleback Butte State Park, a modest, Joshua Tree-girt peak located in the heart of a triangle between Palmdale, Victorville, and Edwards Air Force Base. The campsites are mostly primitive, but there are toilets and showers, making extended stays possible.

I have been twice, and only on the last trip – in early 2020 – was I in the kind of shape to take on the crest of the Butte. It’s about a 1,200′ rise in about 4 miles, but the altitude is enough to tucker someone in poor shape, and the last 100 feet is a scramble not far from some fairly sheer cliffs. Summiting this modest promontory was more satisfying that I had imagined it would be, and vistas from Palmdale to east to Victorville and Edwards south to the ridges behind Wrigtwood on a bright and clear day were a huge payoff. I only regret not having taking better pictures.

I rewarded myself and my scouts with the above patch, purchased from the park gift shop in a trailer at the north end of the park, just as I had watched my predecessor do on our last trip.

This will go on a brag rag of some sort, either a blanket or a shirt. Either way, it is a favorite. I hope to go back soon: the campground is a delight and worth the drive.

On the Trail Again

It’s fire season, so I am avoiding all back-country camping for a few months. That said, we have Scouts and Scouters who need to break in backpack gear and get used to our packs.

So we took some of our Scouts out on a shakedown hike to Sycamore Falls in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. It was warm, a couple of our number did not bring enough water, and it was more strenuous wearing masks, but it was a lot of fun and a real confidence-builder for a Troop that has made car camping a habit over the last few years.

I can’t wait to head into the back country in a few months…

Early Morning, BSA Golf Classic

I swore my retirement would not be about golf, but here I am, not four weeks in, on a golf course at 8am Monday morning.

In my defense, I am here for a fundraiser for our local council of the Boy Scouts of America, and I am not playing, just carrying drinks and snacks to the foursomes as they work their way around the course.

I am more of a hiker than a differ, but on a day like this, with the temperature a modest 73F and a light breeze blowing off the Pacific onto the Spanish Hills, I see the appeal of the game.

Bucket List #489: Short-Term Camp Administrator

I am now officially overqualified to plan and lead a camp-out.

Seriously, though, attending National Camping School not only prepares me to run or oversee huge multi-day events like camporees, it also better equips me to plan and manage complex outdoor activities for our Troop.

I am chuffed as heck. This was a big bucket list item for me.

Urban Hiking

People say to me “urban hiking isn’t real hiking. After all, what is there to see aside from cars, lawns, office buildings, panhandlers, and pavement?”

The answer: everything great about a city is revealed when you approach it with the eyes of a hiker, a seeker, an explorer. 

The landscape is layered, and the eyes see the layers they seek. Look one way, and  you see a city of art. Look another, and you see a city of food. Peer at a city through the spectacles of the fourth dimension, and you see a city of history. Focus on the faces, and you see the souls that form the living contours of the city’s geography.

Walk a city, and you have the time to see all of those layers, individually and together. Hike a city, and you become a part of it all, and it invites you in to become a part of the story. 

Achievement Unlocked: Scouter of the Year

It takes a village to form and run a Sea Scout Ship, and I have been privileged over the past two years to work with a village full of heroes. A team of yachtsmen, Coast Guard Auxiliarists, and Navy NCOs who all make me realize how little I know about the sea have made it all possible. It was great to see fellow scouters Marie Edson, Liz Conner, and Jon Conner also recognized for helping bring this program back to Ventura County.

Note the Eagle Scout photobomb…

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