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.

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. 

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