Porta-Casa

If I can’t be on a train, I want to be in a tent.

Camping out with a well-run Troop, by about 10 in the evening the Scoutmaster can relax. The youth leaders are in charge: the Patrol Leaders have their patrols in their tents, and the Senior Patrol Leader has held a quick meeting to plan the next day before everyone else turns in. It’s now 10:30pm and totally quiet in the camp.

I change my socks, put my shoes by the tent door, tuck into my sleeping bag, zip up, set my alarm for 6:30, prop my head up on my extra sleeping bag, and turn on my Kindle.

After a long day and a superb dinner, the quiet forest and a warm sleeping bag conspire to shorten my time catching up with Fyodor Dostoevsky, and I am snoring within minutes.

Patchology: Procrastinating Goldfish Patrol

My Life Scout son Aaron was elected as leader of his patrol in the contingent that our Council assembled to represent Ventura County at the 2017 National Scout Jamboree.

Soon after, the patrol named themselves “the Procrastinating Goldfish Patrol.”

Against all odds, I managed to find them appropriate BSA-regulation patrol patches. As you can see, the patch above shows a goldfish clearly in the act of procrastinating. At the Jamboree, the patrol wore this and all of their other insignia and regalia with slightly snarky pride.

Hoping the BSA can get back into the post-COVID game with a Jamboree in 2023. I won’t be there, and Aaron won’t, either, but at least that gives us a shot at going to one together in 2027.

Home on the Range

My favorite tent ever. Retro look, seven feet long, easy up, easy down, weighs two pounds, fits into a bag the size of a 32-ounce Nalgene bottle, and set me back a whopping $52 delivered.

I should buy two.

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.

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