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.

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.

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…

My GeekWatch

Of all of the watches that I can afford, this one remains my favorite. I’m now on my third Casio ProTrek. No, they’re not legacy watches: they last about ten years or so, even with regular service. But the last one I owned I literally wore everywhere, including some shallow scuba dives, and it only needed service when I took it below 20 meters too many times. They’re solar-charged, glow in the dark, are lightweight and tough as hell.

Don’t tell my wife this, but I’ve never been a Swiss luxury watch kind of guy, and the Apple Watch just seems like overkill. Between my Casio ProTrek and my Garmin Fenix3, I’ve got all of the timepieces I’ll ever need: geek watches for the trip, trail, and workshop.

 

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.

Field Notes Summer Subscription

Love these six little designs for a lot of reasons – including their reminders that my bucket list includes strolls on all three trails depicted on their covers.

Naturally, the patch helps, too…

It’s Good to be a Swimmer

IMG 2159

As you read this, I am undergoing my BSA Swim Test, designed to determine whether I will be allowed to swim, frolic, tread water, or float in water over my head.

The chit above, given to me two years ago during my Troop’s last sojourn at summer camp, is a matter of distinct pride. Everyone at camp gets a chit. A blank chit is the mark of a “non-swimmer.” You’ll be allowed to get your feet wet, maybe, and only with a buddy. A chit with the top half filled in red is a “beginner,” allowing one to wade into the water up to about their chest. A chit with both the red and blue filled out marks a “swimmer,” basically allowing you in the pool without restriction.

I have taken and passed the BSA swim test twice during my adult life. The first time was in 2018, when I weighed about 325 lbs. It was easier than I had expected, and I realize now that I can attribute that ease to approximately 110 lbs. of buoyant fatty tissue that behaved as a natural full-body life jacket.

The second time I passed I weighed 216 lbs, it it was brutal. Aside from the fact that it was a mountain-spring-fed pool at an altitude of 5,400 feet above sea level, my body-integrated buoyancy was gone, and so was my insulation. And as difficult as it was to haul my body 200 yards through chilled water, the full-minute float was an unaccustomed effort. Between the cold, the altitude, and the extra exertion just to keep myself above water, it was the most exhausting workout I had experienced in a year of hard physical training.

Needless to say, I was pretty chuffed about passing that time, especially given that the last 50 yards I was carrying on a conversation with the waterfront director who was testing me. G-d bless Carlos – he is a force of nature.

For now, once more into the pool, dear friends…

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