I don't often have the opportunity to participate with the younger kids in Scouting activities as most of my time is spent with my own Troops success. Fortunately every October the Old Hickory Scout Council sponsors two Parent-Son Camporee weekends at the 3,200 acre Scouting paradise in northwestern North Carolina known to us as Camp Raven Knob.
The Camporee is a great opportunity for the Cubs who are about 6 to 10 years old to have an excellent outdoor camping experience with their parents and Cub leaders in a safe, fun, and educational environment. They can test their skills at shooting BB guns, archery, and slingshots in addition to making a personalized walking stick, scurrying up a 30 foot climbing tower, fishing on the lake, or attend a soap carving class.
In the video above I have described my experience at leading the soap carving class where Bear Cubs had an exciting opportunity to earn their "Whittling Chip" cards and obtain their Shavings and Chips Achievement #19 in the Bear handbook.
This was the first Camporee that I've attended and I was immediately asked to lead the Whittling Chip class after the regular instructor canceled out for the event. The experience ended up being one of the most enjoyable experiences of the year for me! I was caught a little off guard when asked to lead the class during the first Camporee because I only had a couple of hours to prepare. I then had two weeks to prepare for the next class and as the video shows, I invented a very effective carving knife for the Ivory soap fashioned from Popsicle sticks which have a two inch blade on one end and a nifty scooper-scraper on the other end for detail work.
I also started the class with a 20-25 minute lecture, discussion, and question period on pocket knife safety, carving methods, how to sharpen a knife, and a show-and-tell on many different carving ideas. Once again I was so humbled and impressed with the respectful attention and participation of all the kids and parents during this pre-carving time. These folks, both young and old, were really interested in what I had to offer. I would also like to thank all of the parents and Cub leaders who were there with their Cubs which was the real key to their sons' successful carving experience after I had planted the seed.
All of the classes were a great success and I was impressed with the enthusiasm of the kids to make a unique soap creation of their own, some of which are showcased in the video. We went through 234 bars of Ivory soap during the two Camporees and including the supportive parents and leaders I estimated that a total of 350-400 folks must have attended the carving class and that's impressive when you consider that BB guns, archery, slingshots, and fishing were also on their minds.
In conclusion it was my goal for everyone to have a safe, a fun, and a new learning experience. Finding ways for kids to have a lot of positive experiences in a safe environment has become a tall order in a time where gangs, negative mass media, and broken families present a challenge like never before. If you're a parent and have risen to the challenge of putting kids first no matter what, then I commend you for ensuring the success and happiness of the next generation. You are the real heroes of this generation.
Living in the mountains of North Carolina I have spent almost 30 very
rewarding years working with at-risk kids in a wilderness camping program as a counselor, outdoor educator, and woodshop teacher. To learn more about what my blog is all about, just scroll down this sidebar to "About my blog..."
1. Woodcarving/Woodwork: Working wood has been a lifetime obsession for me and I enjoy sharing what I know. It is my belief that hands-on and experiential learning has a direct and profound effect on the development of a child's intellect, confidence, and character. Projects of mine (and my students) will be posted as they progress and I will occasionally include a video tutorial. All of my videos can be found here .
2. Bushcraft/Primitive Living Skills: Finding ways to live closer to the land has always fascinated me. Whether it's building a shelter, fire starting, animal tracking, or just making rustic furniture... you'll eventually see some of it here.
3. Long Distance backpacking, canoeing, & bicycling: Some of my long distance adventures include thru-hiking the 2,600 mile Pacific Crest Trail, Mexico to Canada and I solo paddled the 1,800 mile Yukon river across northwest Canada and Alaska to the Bering sea. More detailed accounts of these and many other adventures can be found here
4. Sustainable Living: I'm always looking for better ways to do more by using less. It's not so much an "environmental" thing to me as it is a quest for personal independence from material things and finding a path to more substantive living .
5. Scouting Activity: As a scoutmaster of 6 years (and currently assistant scoutmaster) I'm actively involved with the troop and "Order of the Arrow" where it is a joy to volunteer hundreds of hours each year because investing in the next generation insures a better tomorrow for everyone. In an era when most schools don't value hands-on learning, outdoor education, and the arts... scouting soars in meeting these critical experiences for boys.
6. Profiles: Behind everyone's success you can usually find a trail of some very significant mentors and teachers along the way. And sometimes you don't completely understand how someone affected your life for the better until many years later. You'll find some of those stories here.