Friday, November 28, 2008

Weekend Patrol Box #12

After Thanksgiving dinner yesterday and a weekend full of leftovers coming up, the Weekend Patrol Box is here to give your hands something to do that doesn't involve a fork. But I'll keep it light.

Turkey, sausage stuffing, pecan pie, frozen pumpkin pie, broccoli casserole, mashed potatoes and giblet gravy all have their place. On a plate!

I hope you and your families and friends all have a great weekend.

What a great holiday to remember duty to God, family and country.

Please pass the sweet potatoes...

  1. Get in a walk and a little fun--try letterboxing!
  2. Keep your dog healthy on the trail, from
  3. A great Scout skill: pick a campsite.
  4. And a Backpacker video to round it out: hiking sand dunes.
  5. Good weekend to get in a little astronomy--hide Venus, Jupiter and the Moon behind your thumb at arm's length. Thanks NASA.
  6. Speaking of Astronomy--Scoutsigns' Merit Badge of the Week.
  7. Need new Scouting blogs to read? Try
  8. Cook your turkey in a trash can. Really.
  9. Enjoy a joke at Boys' Life online.
  10. Black Friday--at

Coffee would go good with that pie... ;-)

See anything you like, or that you think should be here? Email me and let me know.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Merit Badge of the Week: Astronomy

Space, the final frontier.

And we have a new Star Trek movie to remind us!

We continue to learn new things all the time. Want to see a new planet in our solar system? Or one in another solar system?

Amazing, especially since we have just found Nicolaus Copernicus's final resting place right here on Earth. (He figured out that the Earth orbits the Sun, and not the other way around. Kind of important.)

An "out of this world" 10,087 Astronomy merit badges were earned in 2007. (BSA Fact Sheet)

In the Astronomy merit badge, you will cover first aid and safety; understand the impact of light pollution; explain astronomical tools; identify stars and constellations; demonstrate knowledge of planetary movement; sketch astronomical data; participate in observation or other astronomy project; and discuss the educational requirements and career opportunities in astronomy.

The latest Astronomy merit badge requirements from the BSA:

1. Describe the proper clothing and other precautions for safely making observations at night and in cold weather. Tell how to safely observe the Sun, objects near the Sun, and the Moon. Explain first aid for injuries or illnesses such as heat and cold reactions, dehydration, bites and stings, and damage to your eyes that could occur during observation.

2. Explain what light pollution is and how it and air pollution affect astronomy.

3. With the aid of diagrams (or real telescopes if available), do each of the following:
a. Explain why binoculars and telescopes are important astronomical tools. Demonstrate or explain how these tools are used.
b. Describe the similarities and differences of several types of astronomical telescopes.
c. Explain the purposes of at least three instruments used with astronomical telescopes.

4. Do the following:
a. Identify in the sky at least 10 constellations, at least four of which are in the zodiac.
b. Identify at least eight conspicuous stars, five of which are of magnitude 1 or brighter.
c. Make two sketches of the Big Dipper. In one sketch, show the Big Dipper's orientation in the early evening sky. In another sketch, show its position several hours later. In both sketches, show the North Star and the horizon. Record the date and time each sketch was made.
d. Explain what we see when we look at the Milky Way.

5. Do the following:
a. List the names of the five most visible planets. Explain which ones can appear in phases similar to lunar phases and which ones cannot, and explain why.
b. Find out when each of the five most visible planets that you identified in requirement 5a will be observable in the evening sky during the next 12 months, then compile this information in the form of a chart or table. Update your chart monthly to show whether each planet will be visible during the early morning or in the evening sky.

6. At approximately weekly intervals, sketch the position of Venus, Mars, or Jupiter in relation to the stars. Do this for at least four weeks and at the same time of night. On your sketch, record the date and time next to the planet's position. Use your sketch to explain how planets move.

7. Do the following:
a. Sketch the face of the Moon and indicate at least five seas and five craters. Label these landmarks.
b. Sketch the phase and the daily position of the Moon, at the same hour and place, for a week. Include landmarks on the horizon such as hills, trees, and buildings. Explain the changes you observe.
c. List the factors that keep the Moon in orbit around Earth.
d. With the aid of diagrams, explain the relative positions of the Sun, Earth, and the Moon at the times of lunar and solar eclipses, and at the times of new, first-quarter, full, and last-quarter phases of the Moon.

8. Do the following:
a. Describe the composition of the Sun, its relationship to other stars, and some effects of its radiation on Earth's weather. Define sunspots and describe some of the effects they may have on solar radiation.
b. Identify at least one red star, one blue star, and one yellow star (other than the Sun). Explain the meaning of these colors.

9. With your counselor's approval and guidance, do ONE of the following:
a. Visit a planetarium or astronomical observatory. Submit a written report, a scrapbook, or a video presentation afterward to your counselor that includes the following information:
1. Activities occurring there
2. Exhibits and displays you saw
3. Telescopes and other instruments being used
4. Celestial objects you observed
b. Plan and participate in a three-hour observation session that includes using binoculars or a telescope. List the celestial objects you want to observe, and find each on a star chart or in a guidebook. Prepare an observing log or notebook. Show your plan, charts, and log or notebook to your counselor before making your observations. Review your log or notebook with your counselor afterward.
c. Plan and host a star party for your Scout troop or other group such as your class at school. Use binoculars or a telescope to show and explain celestial objects to the group.
d. Help an astronomy club in your community hold a star party that is open to the public.
e. Personally take a series of photographs or digital images of the movement of the Moon, a planet, an asteroid or meteoroid, or a comet. In your visual display, label each image and include the date and time it was taken. Show all positions on a star chart or map. Show your display at school or at a troop meeting. Explain the changes you observed.

10. List at least three different career opportunities in astronomy. Pick the one in which you are most interested and explain how to prepare for such a career. Discuss with your counselor what courses might be useful for such a career.

Resource List:

  1. Always start with Introduction to Merit Badges for the steps to a successful merit badge.
  2. Worksheet on Astronomy from This is a great tool to organize your work, projects and thoughts.
  3. Dress for astronomical success! Stay warm!
  4. Basic first aid from BSA videos (use your manual, too).
  5. Observe the Sun safely at Sky and Telescope. Don't miss the tiny link at the bottom for page two.
  6. Lots of space news, multimedia links at
  7. Great resource on the Hubble telescope.
  8. Skywatch podcast--almost 200 episodes.
  9. The constellations--lots of good information.
  10. National Air and Space Administration website has video, TV, links, space mission updates and more. Also, a section for students.
  11. Backyard Astronomy for Amateur Astronomers
  12. The American Association of Amateur Astronomers online.
  13. Light pollution from Wikipedia--broad coverage of the subject.

Related BSA merit badges: Art, Photography, and Space Exploration.

Do you have a resource for the Astronomy merit badge? Please let me know via email or the comments below.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Weekend Patrol Box #11

The snow is beginning outside my window. Lows this weekend in the teens--but a whole lot warmer than my years growing up on Eielson AFB, Alaska!

Yep, I'm still in t-shirts. And loving the cool weather.

I do try to encourage my Scouts to mentally fight the cold. A little toughness can go a long way with the weather. You learn a few tricks walking to school at 40 below zero!

Like how to hustle.

(By the way, if any Scout or Scouter from the Fairbanks or Eielson area see this, I'd love to hear about the troop on base!)

This week's Patrol Box will help you think about something besides the cold, too.
  1. Going somewhere? Use's Online Tour Permit--you can edit it online, save it to your system, and not have to hunt down the information each time.
  2. Maybe we could feature a recipe from their site, too: Train Wreck
  3. Let the cold motivate you to earn a merit badge indoors: Art is online at Scoutsigns and will keep you busy.
  4. In case you missed it, Architecture was posted. Dr. Architecture wants to help spread the word to your Scouts, too.
  5. Go to Iceland! Roverway registration for Scouts 16 and up, per It should be warmer that time of the year...
  6. Probably a good time to review hypothermia with, a part of their Survival 101 program.
  7. Free BSA basketball: spend $75 at (until 31 DEC or until they run out of basketballs!) Use Promo Code BB24108 at checkout.
  8. Autumn is a great time to collect things for a nature table, courtesy of the National Wildlife Federation. We have had one in our house for decades now. Kids love it!
  9. A Scoutmaster's Blog has a number of good things this week, but I'm partial to the manual collection.
  10. Christmas ornament from Hallmark (in store only): Snoopy and troop on Beagle Scout Day Out.
  11. Does anyone else wish we could order these ornaments (not just on cards)?
  12. The last Patrol Box mentioned woodworking--Bell Forest Products have an inexpensive assortment of exotic woods your Scouts might like to see (think Craftsman, Wood Carving and Woodwork).
  13. reminds us that the Pinewood Derby is just around the corner...thanks...
  14. OK, Scoutsigns isn't listed, but I'm sure it was an oversight: 30 Links for Cub Scouters
  15. A random click at Ropes and Poles brought me to "Fun with Ropes and Spars" at The Dump.
  16. Mike Rowe, Eagle Scout, just in case you are the last Scouter in America to see this letter.
  17. Do you need a copy sent to your Scout? From the bottom of the page:
    All you have to do is mail a self-addressed, stamped envelope to: Eagle Scout Letter, Pilgrim Films and Television, 6180 Laurel Canyon Blvd., #350, No. Hollywood, CA 91606. Please allow 12+ weeks for Mike to fill it out, sign it and get it in the mail to you. And folks - this is an offer, a nice thing, a volunteer deal Mike wants to do for you - please don't complain if it takes a while to get to you, OK?

See anything you like, or didn't and you think should be here? Email me and let me know.

Now off to add Mike's show to my DVR...

Monday, November 17, 2008

Merit Badge of the Week: Art

Art merit badge has the distinction of being the shortest named merit badge.

Since I cannot draw a straight line, even with a ruler, let us say I never considered this one when I was a Scout.

Many Scouts can tell you that there are 8 basic colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, black, and white . "Brown" is a fancy name for "dirt". Any 8 pack of Crayolas is more than sufficient.

Despite this limited selection, art surrounds us. From pictures posted to your refrigerator, to movies, to comic books, to photography, to music, to a limitless list of things crafted out of other things, art is everywhere.

Artists even help design products so we will want to buy them--think iPod.

Despite my efforts to personally avoid the Art merit badge, it remains wildly popular. It has a lifetime total of 1.1 million, and 27,112 new badges issued in 2007. (BSA Fact Sheet)

In the Art merit badge, you will tell a story with a picture; design a logo or something useful; create 4 different images of the same thing with different mediums; visit art; and learn about careers in art.

The latest Art merit badge requirements from the BSA:

1. Tell a story with a picture or pictures or using a 3-D rendering.

2. Do ONE of the following:
a. Design something useful. Make a sketch or model of your design and get your counselor's approval before you proceed. Then create a promotional piece for the item using a picture or pictures.
b. Design a logo. Share your design with your counselor and explain the significance of your logo. Then, with your parent's permission and your counselor's approval, put your logo on Scout equipment, furniture, ceramics, or fabric.

3. Render a subject of your choice in FOUR of these ways:
a. Pen and ink
b. Watercolors
c. Pencil
d. Pastels
e. Oil paints
f. Tempera
g. Acrylics
h. Charcoal
i. Computer drawing or painting

4. With your parent's permission and your counselor's approval, visit a museum, art exhibit, art gallery, artists' co-op, or artist's workshop. Find out about the art displayed or created there. Discuss what you learn with your counselor.

5. Find out about three career opportunities in art. Pick one and find out the education, training, and experience required for this profession. Discuss this with your counselor, and explain why this profession might interest you.

Resource List:

  1. Always start with Introduction to Merit Badges for the steps to a successful merit badge.
  2. Worksheet on Art from This is a great tool to organize your work, projects and thoughts.
  3. How to write a comic strip.
  4. Google helps you with free 3-D software: SketchUp
  5. has good notes on storytelling.
  6. About painting with acrylics--lots of links.
  7. About painting with watercolors--tons of links.
  8. About painting with oils--scads of links.
  9. About painting with pastels--more links.
  10. Artist's magazine online.
  11. How to draw with charcoal and pencil. Um, the piece of paper is drawn, too...
  12. Details behind careers in art--U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Related BSA merit badges: Architecture, Basketry, Cinematography, Photography, Pottery, Sculpture, Theatre, Wood Carving, and Woodwork.

Do you have a resource for the Art merit badge? Please let me know via email or the comments below.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Weekend Patrol Box #10

Cold and blustery are coming your way.

Make sure that your patrol box is stocked with plenty of coffee (sugar and cream, if you like that) and hot chocolate mix to get through the weekend. And extra cups. Why do some of the Scouts always forget to bring a cup?

Oh, and plenty of spoons or coffee stirrers.

  1. The cool weather is making me think of indoor work, like woodworking. My Scout work would improve if I had the tools and space to make some projects happen. This is the winter...
  2. We signed up a new Cub Scout, fresh from Mexico. He speaks very little English right now, but is very excited. Our Bear Den Leader and I are rapidly learning about Spanish resources for the BSA online. Tip: we ordered a Spanish version of the Bear manual through our Scout office (for the parents) and an English version for him. Spanish edition was $2 cheaper! Scoutstuff pricing was the same though.
  3. Adult application in Spanish.
  4. Youth application in Spanish.
  5. Scouting...Vale la Pena! And in English!
  6. BSA Innovation Engine--lots of new ideas for Scouting. After the first of the year, you can contribute, too. Vote! C'mon Robotics Merit Badge!
  7. 0 (Zero) degree sleeping bags at for $30. Quick, while they last.
    "We recently received some Crescent Lake 0 Regular mummy sleeping bags which arrived to us with a minor cosmetic mistake. Our factory embroidered Crescent Lake 20 instead of Crescent Lake 0 on the outside of the bag."
  8. Don't forget to log your "Scouting for Food" into Good Turn for America.
  9. And read up on your BSA Good Turns. 100 train carloads of peach pits, really?
  10. brings us good advice on surviving disasters in the wild.
  11. Advanced Buddy System: Stay or Go?
  12. Hammock camping is a great way to be mobile in the video.
  13. Signal miror--can you use one properly? Do you own one? Image.
  14. Veterans Day is a good time to bring up the US Heritage Awards: Silver for Cub Scouts, Gold for Boy Scouts. Our Cub Scouts earn them while working on Citizen activity badge for Webelos rank.
  15. shared info on an ArrowCorps5 documentary coming.
  16. Webelos to BSA transition--great questions to know the answers to before you are asked.
  17. And those new Scouts are ready for the National Honor Patrol award over at

Lots to work and and think about this weekend. If there is anything you'd like to see on here, please let me know.

What do you like to read about for Scouting?

Friday, November 07, 2008

Merit Badge of the Week: Architecture

Architecture brings to mind images of great churches, ancient buildings like the Acropolis, and the Taj Mahal.

It should also bring to mind your post office, where you live and go to school.

Architecture is about the structure and construction of buildings.

Everywhere you look, an architect has helped to create the places you live and work.

This is a short merit badge, and yet still only 2104 were issued in 2007. (BSA Fact Sheet)

In the Architecture merit badge, you will list the types of buildings in your community and sketch one; meet with an architect and discuss career and education options; visit a construction site; learn how building plans and materials are related; interview and understand client needs; and draw a scale representation of your bedroom.

The latest Architecture merit badge requirements from the BSA:

1. Tour your community and list the different building types you see. Try to identify buildings that can be associated with a specific period of history. Make a sketch of the building you most admire.

2. Arrange to meet with an architect. Ask to see the architect's office and to talk about the following:
a. Careers in architecture
b. Educational requirements
c. Tools an architect uses
d. Processes involved in a building project

3. Arrange to visit a construction project with the project's architect. Ask to see the construction drawings so that you can compare how the project is drawn on paper to how it is actually built. Notice the different building materials. Find out how they are to be used, why they were selected, and what determines how they are being put together.

4. Interview the owner or occupant of a home or other building (your "client"). Find out what your client's requirements would be for designing a new home or business facility. Write down all of your client's requirements that you think would affect layout or design of the new facility.

5. Measure your bedroom. Make an accurately scaled drawing of the floor plan indicating walls, doors, windows, and furniture. Neatly label your drawing, including your name and the date. (Drawing scale: 1/4 inch=1 foot)

Resource List:
  1. Always start with Introduction to Merit Badges for the steps to a successful merit badge.
  2. Worksheet on Architecture from This is a great tool to organize your work, projects and thoughts.
  3. An overview of architecture from Wikipedia.
  4. Wikipedia also has a basic list of architecture topics--very informative.
  5. Find an architect in your area
  6. Learn about careers in architecture at ArchCareers.
  7. Be an architect in high school--summer opportunities to investigate at a college near you.
  8. If you lucky enough to be in the area, participate in programs at Frank Lloyd Wright’s studio.
  9. The National Trust for Historic Preservation is a great place to run into architecture.
  10. Don't know how to draw to scale? Now you do.
  11. If you can't find the information you need, just Ask Dr. Architecture.

Related BSA merit badges: Citizenship in the Community, Drafting, Electricity, Engineering, Landscape Architecture, Model Design and Building, Plumbing and Surveying.

Do you have a resource for the Architecture merit badge? Please let me know via email or the comments below.