Teamwork on Meeting Night

We do our best to teach the boy scouts lessons that will help them in the real world, primarily through projects and service trips.  The projects are often related to working with businesses and leaders in their hometown because that helps them get out of their comfort zone and teaches them how to be resourceful.  Our goal is for every scout to leave with the ability to figure things out on their own when they don’t know what to do.

Our meeting Sunday night was an interesting one and a perfect example of just that.  The boy scout group leaders were out of town at a conference, so the normal meeting was held by one of the older members.  During the event, the power went out because the building’s commercial boiler had stopped working. This type of boiler provides electricity for the building.  On average, electric boilers last 15 years.  The one in the school was more than 20 years old, so it’s surprising it lasted this long.

When the lights went out, the team leader broke everyone into two groups to investigate potential causes.  Group one went to the circuit breaker to check the switches, while Group 2 went downstairs to look at the commercial boiler.  There was nothing wrong with the circuit breaker and the switches were still on, so it had to be a different problem.  Group 2 inspected the boiler and found multiple problems.  The pilot light had gone out and there was a broken seal in the connecting pipes, so they called a local boiler service to repair it.  The heating contractors showed up right away and were able to fix the seal and repair the boiler in under an hour.  The team leader paid for the service with his own money and had to be reimbursed later.  The point of telling this was to show how their leadership abilities are enhanced by this program.  They worked together to solve the problem that otherwise may have ruined the night.  After the boiler company left, everyone came back upstairs, and the meeting continued as normal.  It made us proud to see what they could do without the adults there.

Why NYC Hood Cleaning Becomes More Important Everyday

One of the main things we try to instill in our Eagle Scouts is the idea of being safe.  That doesn’t mean never taking risks, but rather that you should take every precaution within reason to protect yourself and others from harm.  New York City restaurants are a great example of this.  The kitchen inside a restaurant is a dangerous area.  There are open flames everywhere, and multiple ovens, stoves, and burners often running all at once.  All this heat and the cooking of food creates greasy vapors that stick to every surface nearby.  These vapors are highly flammable, which means the at any moment, a fire could start in the kitchen and quickly spread throughout the building, endangering the lives of the kitchen staff, employees, and even the restaurant patrons.  NYC hood cleaning is crucial to sanitizing the restaurant equipment and ensuring the safety of everyone in the building.  Professional hood cleaners scrub down everything to remove the grease and clean the area effectively.

The city of New York has thousands of restaurants lining every street all of which all need a hood cleaning service to help them keep their kitchen sparkling and safe for the people who work and eat there.  Even with strict NYC fire codes and the requirement to keep special grade fire extinguishers nearby in case of emergency, hood cleaning is a necessary expense that all restaurants should invest in.  Recently, we took our Eagle Scouts back to the Big Apple to help in some Manhattan restaurants.  We spent a couple days working at two different places, cleaning up the seating area and the kitchens. It was an eye-opening experience that taught the students our core values of teamwork and safety.

As an alternative to hiring a hood cleaning company, restaurants can opt to have their own staff wash down equipment at the end of each day.  However, based on previous experience, employees tend to shortcut the cleaning to get out of work earlier.  Bringing in a professional cleaner ensures the appropriate chemicals are used and the work is done to health code standards.  The last thing you want is a health code violation because an employee got a little lazy.

Jacksonville Concrete Company Helps Us Out

As many of you know, we recently finished renovating the BSA 757 Florida office in Jacksonville.  The renovation process took 2 months of hard work by all of our employees and a number of volunteers from the local area to complete.  We started with the southeast end of the building and completely remodeled it.  We knocked down the old walls near the fitness center, added 3 new offices, and redesigned the meeting areas to accommodate up to 150 people.  The new space has allowed us to start renting out the meeting rooms to some local businesses that travel in from Neptune Beach and Orange Park; every bit of extra revenue helps since we’re a 100% volunteer organization and have no government funding.

One of the most exciting parts of the new BSA 757 office is the Olympic-size pool we added outside.  The new concrete pool fits about 50 people, holds a few hundred thousand gallons of water, and was designed by 2 of our volunteers.  Prior to calling local concrete companies, 17 volunteers helped dismantle and clear out the old jungle gym to make room for the pool.  The following week,  commercial construction crews dug up the ground, and then the Jacksonville concrete contractors poured concrete and installed a new pool deck in less than one week.  The speed and quality of their work was more than impressive.  The company came highly recommended from one of our member’s who had worked with them before.  Overall, we’re very happy with the result.  The pool was a great addition to our office, especially during the warm weather.

The Jacksonville concrete contractors that worked on the project completed it for free as part of their Save Local Businesses initiative, which aims to help local businesses with funding improvement projects.  We’re grateful for their help with our renovation and truly can’t ever repay them for what they’ve done.  So, we’ve started a fundraiser to send the employees of their small, family-owned company on a vacation to Miami.  It’s not as glamorous as we’d like, but it’s the least we can do.  Please consider donating to the people who’ve helped us.

Big Thank You

Just wanted to post a quick shout out and thank you to Albany Towing Services!  I drove up to Albany, NY to see some family and fellow boy scouts last weekend. Unfortunately, my car broke down on I-87 as I was passing exit 5. I pulled off to the side of the road, called Albany Towing Services, and someone was at my location in about 10 minutes. It was super fast.  I had them tow my car to a shop on Route 155 in Latham to get reparied.  I was very impressed with the speed of service and the employee was very kind.  Thanks again forgetting to me quickly; it was very helpful and got me home faster. I recommend using these guys if you have car trouble or need a tow in the area.

Survival Tips and Preparation for the Great Outdoors

Going into the great outdoors, or into the wilderness, can be an amazing and rewarding adventure. But along the way, you may also encounter some unpleasant and unpredictable situations, such as getting lost, getting injured, getting exposed to strong elements, and more. To survive these kinds of situations, there are three things you must do before heading out: preparation, preparation, and more preparation. Coming prepared may just as well save your life in the wild. And so, we have listed everything you need to prepare for before you go on to your great adventure.


First Things First

            At least a couple of weeks before your outdoor trip, learn everything there is to learn about the location where you may be hunting, hiking, or camping. Research about the terrain, the probable weather, the local flora and fauna, the nearest water source from the site, and even the route you are going to take to get there and other possible routes. Memorize it by heart and use this information to prepare the things which you may be needing. For example, if the temperature is going to be below freezing, then you must bring extra jackets and gears.


Also, make sure to leave important information about where you are going with someone you trust. Send them your itinerary and indicate the duration of your trip. In case you are not yet back on the supposed arrival date, perhaps they may start contacting the authorities to check up on you.


Condition your Body

            If the activity requires strenuous effort, then your best bet is to condition your body through exercise at least a month prior. It will come as a great shock to your body if you have mostly been a couch potato and then suddenly you are climbing up a very steep hill. Without conditioning your body, you get easily tired due to lack of strength and energy and you may put yourself to risk with severe physical injuries.


Prep Your Mind

            Prepping your mind is just as important as conditioning your body. Once an emergency situation happens, our brains sets off to a fight-or-flight mode. This sudden surge of adrenaline may cause anxiety and extreme fear. Do not panic whatever happens. Learn to keep calm and keep your cool during stress-inducing situations. Pause and take a breath. Once you regain your focus, make a quick mental inventory of your resources and prioritize what needs to be done: building a fire to keep warm, locating water sources, building your shelter, etc.


Pack the Essentials

Here are the essentials that you must have with you in the wilderness:

  • Enough food and water; also bring water purifier tablets so you can gather and drink water from anywhere in case a clean water source is nowhere close
  • Shelter and insulation that can protect you from the harsh elements and provide heat, if necessary
  • Fire/Light, or tools for making fire (e.g. matches, lighter, or flint and fire-steel) and tools that provide illumination, such as a high-powered flashlight with extra batteries
  • First Aid Kit, which must contain: gauze, adhesive bandages, antibiotic ointment, antiseptic wipes, aspirin, thermometer, tweezers, scissors, and necessary medications
  • Navigation tools such as a compass (although you must also know how to use this), maps, or GPS tracker
  • Multi-purpose tools or a swiss knife, duct tape, para-cords, and wire saw *tip: have these tools in bright color so you can easily locate it if it falls into the ground covered in leaves or stones
  • Miscellany, which includes a whistle (or even a flare gun), bug spray, and hygiene wipes and sanitizers

Remember these Survival Tips

  • Keep in mind the ‘Rule of Threes’: you can survive three hours without maintaining your core body temperature, three days without water, and three weeks without food.
  • To start a fire, you need these three elements: fuel, oxygen, and a spark or heat.
  • Build your shelter on a flat, solid, and dry ground. Avoid places where an animal may inhabit.
  • To keep extra warm, layer your clothes, insulate your head, and empty your bladder – your body uses up heat just to store urine.
  • As a makeshift compass, put a stick into the ground and mark the shadow’s movement. The sun moves from east to west, which you can use as good indicator of the direction.
  • If you lost your group and is left alone, stay where you are or close where you are so they can easily track where you are. Also wear bright-colored clothes so you stand out among the greens and the browns of the forest.
  • Swarms of bees and lots of birds are good signs that you may be near a water source.
  • Do not travel through the wilderness in the dark. Find a good spot and make camp if you can. Most animals living in the wild are nocturnal creatures and if they attack, you are very vulnerable for not being able to see well in the dark.
  • Organize your bag well; keep you emergency essentials accessible to save yourself time from digging around.

Avoiding Accidents in the Woods

After being part of the boy scouts for years and having been a hunter my entire life, I can certainly provide some advice on staying safe and avoiding accidents in the woods.

The first tip is to watch the weather.  If the weather is terrible, don’t be a hero.  Wait for it to improve before you trudge out into the wilderness.  Heavy rain, blizzards, and high winds are all a recipe for disaster because they lead to wet clothes, falling branches and trees, and an inability to clearly see where you are.  So, in essence, we’re avoiding getting lost, getting hypothermia, and dying.

The second piece of advice is to dress appropriately.  Sure, you might want to go with shorts because it’s easier to move and it’s hot out, but it’s also an easy way to get sunburned.  And what about boots?  Don’t wear cotton socks and sneakers.  If those get damaged or wet (which they will), you’re out of luck.  Get some hiking boots.  If you’re looking for the crucial items to bring, it’s this: a knife, compass, matches, and a whistle. If you have the money for it, buy a SAT phone or rent one; they may be a little pricey, but I’d say that your life is worth it.  No only is the technology something that can help you find your way out, but if you get hurt, people can find their way to you while you wait for help.

The third piece of advice is to take your time.  Accidents happen when people are rushing to get somewhere.  Go slow and take your time as you progress through your hike.  If it starts getting into the late afternoon, don’t keep pushing until dusk – setup camp instead (if you’re staying there).

The fourth piece of advice is to know your level.  If you’ve never been to the area or haven’t done anything as challenging as what you’re about to face, do your research and/or find more experienced people to go with you.

Eagle Scout Process

The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) has a rank know as Eagle Scout, which the highest rank a person in the Boy Scout program can earn.  Of the millions of boys that go through the Boy Scouting program, only 4% ever achieve Eagle Scout status, primarily because of its rigorous requirements.

The primary Eagle Scout requirements are earning a minimum of 13 merit badges, maintaining membership for at least half a year, demonstrating strong leadership among the team, and leading a service (“Eagle”) project that betters the community. All tasks must be fulfilled before the age of 18 to be eligible for the Eagle Scout review process.

The 1st merit badge is camping.  This assures that the man can venture out into the woods with his fellow teammates and survive.  It’s as simple as that.  They must find a way to survive for a couple days in the woods without assistance from troop leadership.  The boy scouts search for a good location to set up camp based on their experience and survival skills.  They may set up a lean-to, they may put a sleeping bag on the ground, or they may build a fort.  Whatever the case, shelter is an essential item to have.  Next, they have to sustain themselves with some sort of food.  The minimal food they packed will run out, so they may be required to hunt or fish for their meals.  Commonly, the boy scouts will go fishing together to catch the evening’s meal.  Upon returning to the camping area, they use their wilderness skills to start a fire and cook the fish or any other animal they killed for meat.

Another primary issue a boy scout may face is sleep deprivation.  It’s not always easy to sleep in the middle of the woods on the ground.  Animals make noises and it’s just uncomfortable at times to lay down because you usually end up lying on a root or get attacked by bugs and insects. Boy scouts may also face inclement weather conditions.  Often, the weather is not favorable.  The boys deal with rain, sleet, and high winds, as they try to figure out how to stay warm in these rigorous conditions. Additionally, wild animals can cause trouble if they’re lurking around in the woods nearby.  There have been stories of boy scouts fighting off bears and other wild animals that got too close.  Luckily, outnumbering these animals is usually enough to make them run away.

After the camping merit badge, there are at least 3 that involve citizenship.  These merit badges are heavily interactive, requiring the boy scouts to learn the material and figure out who to contact for different circumstances.  As an example, for the community service badge, boy scouts must attend a local municipal meeting, take notes, participate, select one of the issues discussed and explain to the troop leader which opinion you agree with and why (with supporting facts).  Next, he must choose an issue that’s important to the community based on the meeting and determine what branch of the government is responsible for it. Then, the boy scout needs to contact the government branch, set up a time to interview the representative in charge, and ask how young people can help assist the cause.  Beyond that, boy scouts must also work with charitable organizations in the community and create a presentation on the unique elements of the community, issues it’s facing, and what can be done, for the public to view.  This is hard work, but teaches a plethora of different skills from project management to organization and more.

Other easier merit badges include cooking, first aid, and physical fitness. Cooking requires practice, but can easily be achieved with a quality cookbook handy.  First aid has a class that the boy scout must attend.  And, physical fitness requires knowledge of the importance of physical fitness and how the nutrition you put in your body affects your health.