EDITORS NOTE: This is an excellent example of carpe minutea or ‘seizing the minute’ from contributor Larry Gieger. It also gives us all a look into the thought processes and keen observational skills of a veteran Scouter. What are you seeing when you are out camping with your Scouts? I, for one, am anxious to hear exactly how far a Gieger Mile is – do you use a Gieger counter to measure one accurately?
We just came back from about 20 miles on the Oklawaha River. I have enough material for about 40 (okay 30) Scoutmaster’s minutes. That’s about 1.5 per mile:
1. The ASM (me ) lost his mess kit. (I found it this morning. Go figure). I had backup stuff.
2. How far is a Geiger mile?
3. Where are the gas bottles for the adult stove? Can the adults make a mistake? How did they cope?
4. Two Scouts go sick and went home with one of the leaders Saturday morning. What happens when plans MUST change? Who decides? How did you guys handle the change in plans? Food distribution? The Scouts had different canoe buddys.
5. Did you see the wild monkeys? Yes, there are wild monkees on Silver Springs Run and the Oklawaha River. Why are there wild monkees there? We live in Florida. What are some exotic species that you know of (pythons, monkees, pepper trees, water hyacinths, …)? Are exotic species a problem? How to combat the problem?
6. Is it a hamburger if there is no bun?
7. Why do the adults always get Jambalya and bread and salad and brownies and IBC Root Beers and we have leftover pop tarts and warm water bottle water for dinner? Hmmmm.
8. How many different trees did you see along the river? How many trees do you know? How many should you know? Why?
9. How many different wildlife species did you see a long the river? Monkees? Deer? Otters? Woodpeckers? Ibis? Heron? … How many wild species do you know? How many should you know? Why?
10. How long did it take your patrol to get their boats into the water Saturday morning? How long to get them out Sunday morning? Why the difference?
11. Why was your pillow wet? Why was your sleeping bag wet Saturday night?
12. Were you prepared? What does that mean for canoeing 20 miles in two days?
13. What does Helpful mean on a canoe trip? What about Kind?
14. Did your Senior Staff support you on this troop? How well did they prepare you? Were you prepared? (One patrol leader did a pretty good job of getting his Scouts ready. The Senior Staff is new and didn’t prepare as well as the previous leadership group did. They need some work. They are 14/15. The previous staff is 16/17!)
15. What was your biggest challenge on this trip?
16. Did you swing off the tree swing? Was it fun?
17. Canoe partnerships. How did that go? Was your buddy helpful? Everyone made it back before Mr. Geiger (odd man out paddling alone!) so they must have been doing OK!
18. Planning. Was September a good time to go canoeing? Should we plan more canoe trips in the future? What should we change? What times of year are good to go canoeing?
19. Outdoor Code. Is it different on the river as opposed to backpacking and regular campsite camping. Wilderness waste disposal along waterways. Pack it in, pack it out.
20. How tall is a Cypress Tree? How can you tell? Are they taller than the Pine Trees around home?
21. What is Rodman Reservoir? How is it related to the Oklawaha River? What is a drainage area? Why is the river important to that part of the world?
22. What is the best way to bail a canoe? Was your canoe dry when you pulled in to camp Saturday evening?
23. Did we exercise the buddy systems while swimming and swinging on the rope swings? Did we adequately check out the area that we were using for water activities? Who should do this? Should we wear out paddling vests while swimming?
24. What do we learn from paddling? How are my powers of observation different from when I’m hiking down the trail? From sitting in a campsite?
25. Was our new SPL effective? That’s not what I would say in a SM minute, but I would try and bring out ways in which the troop leadership could be more effective.
26. If my canoe was swamped or sprung a leak and I was stranded in a swampy area of the river, how would I handle it? Would I try to hike out? Would I swim down stream? What should I do? What would I be tempted to do? What if it was colder? What if it was raining?
27. Have Mr. Miller come up and explain what it took to reserve and pay for this trip. He spent about two months getting it just right. Four or five calls to the outfitter, reviewing maps, and conferring with the Troop Committee about costs. The Troop committee bought the trip down to $25.00 per person.
28. Two Scouts lost their glasses on the trip. One Scout had a pair that he is supposed to wear on trips, with a headband and everything. How could this be prevented? What is the cost of a loss like this? Did anyone learn anything from this.
29. When the SM tells you that you don’t need your iThingy because there is no reception in the bottom of the Oklawaha River will you believe him next time? Ha ha, no bars anywhere. I gave him his phone back Saturday evening from my dry bag. I told him he wouldn’t need it but he insisted so I handed it over. He was pretty flabbergasted when it wouldn’t work. First time that had happened to him What happens when you are “out of range”. Do you have the skills to cope? What skills do you need? Who brought a compass with them?
30. How come the old guy, paddling by himself, can keep up with canoes loaded with less gear and two paddlers?