Teach Me About Citizenship

I haven’t blogged about the Man Scout Project in forever, because it’s been so slow–last year, I only made time to work on it in the Spring and Summer.  Without going over all the activities I’ve done, right now I’ve done everything for tenderfoot and second class, and I’m finishing up first class. 

One of the requirements I still have for that is #5:

Visit and discuss with a selected individual approved by your leader (elected official, judge, attorney, civil servant, principal, teacher) your constitutional rights and obligations as a U.S. citizen.

So, I’m appealing to the online community for help with this one.  What are your thoughts about our rights and responsibilities as citizens?  I’m happy to hear all ideas here, including those that might be based on political values different from my own: I won’t be criticizing them here, just thanking you for your help.  If you think you have any special background or experience to support your comments, please explain. 

The forum is now open.

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Man Scout Project Update

“Hey Huston,” you say.  “Whatever happened to that project where you were gonna do all the Boy Scout stuff?  Gave up, huh?”

No, but I have neglected it.  As I haven’t mentioned it for three months, I can’t blame you for thinking I’d quit.  I still have half of the second class items to do, but they all deal with outdoors stuff.  Last November, my family and I went out to try a new campground where I was going to knock out the rest of it, but we couldn’t find a good spot, so we went somewhere else, but by then it was too dark and cold to set up.  Long story short, we ended up at Burger King that night and I’ve had the project on hiatus ever since, tentatively waiting out the cold weather. 

Still, there’s plenty I could have done, especially after I read that I could work on second class and first class things at the same time.  The only thing I’ve done in the last few months was requirement 5, “Identify or show evidence of at least ten kinds of wild animals (birds, mammals, reptiles, fish, mollusks) found in your community.”  Using the animal index from Desert USA’s Mojave Desert page, the family and I took turns picking local animal life (mostly bugs) and sharing a few facts about them.  (Note that not all animals on that page refer to this desert.  Elephants?  Ostriches?  Uh…no.)

This delay has set me far back on my original schedule; I should be working on Star requirements by now.  I’ve resolved to finish both second class and first class ranks by the end of May, so I can take a big chunk out of Star over the summer.

MSP: Second Class Requirement 4

  4. Participate in an approved (minimum of one hour) service project.

Last Saturday morning I went and did some yard work for a woman and her mother in my area who need help with physical chores around the house.  For those of you who don’t live around here, weeds can take root in this hard ground like an oak tree would!

MSP: Second Class Requirement 8

8.  Participate in a school, community, or troop program on the dangers of using drugs, alcohol, and tobacco, and other practices that could be harmful to your health. Discuss your participation in the program with your family.

 

On Monday, I brought home a DVD from the library of a school documentary called Drug & Alcohol Awareness.  It was a very cheesy production, but short (only 20 minutes), and it gave us as a family a chance to discuss the dangers of substance abuse.  It got the job done. 

 

MSP: Second Class Requirements 3, 6c

3.  Participate in a flag ceremony for your school, religious institution, chartered organization, community, or troop activity.

I started our weekly family home evening this week with one of the younger kids helping me unfold the flag, which we then all saluted as I led us in the Pledge of Allegiance.  Another little kid helped me fold it back up. 

6c.  Demonstrate first aid for the following:

– Object in the eye
– Bite of a suspected rabid animal
– Puncture wounds from a splinter, nail, and fish hook
– Serious burns (partial thickness, or second degree)
– Heat exhaustion
– Shock
– Heatstroke, dehydration, hypothermia, and hyperventilation

We went through each of these in the handbook as a family, discussing bad advice/outdated methods that we had heard in the past for first aid.  We acted out the handbook’s methods and then had a quick oral quiz.  This is the kind of thing that we think is fun.  My family is awesome. 

Lest you think that October has been fairly unproductive for me, let me assure you that progress is being made.  I have dates set for camping and a service project in November.  I just got a book from the library about local animal life, and a DVD is on hold about drug abuse.  I’ll relate the stories of how each one goes as they come up in the next few weeks.

MSP: Second Class Requirements 7 a,b,c

Second Class Reqiurement 7:

  1. Tell what precautions must be taken for a safe swim.
  2. Demonstrate your ability to jump feet first into water over your head in depth, level off and swim 25 feet on the surface, stop, turn sharply, resume swimming, then return to your starting place.
  3. Demonstrate water rescue methods by reaching with your arm or leg, by reaching with a suitable object, and by throwing lines and objects. Explain why swimming rescues should not be attempted when a reaching or throwing rescue is possible, and explain why and how a rescue swimmer should avoid contact with the victim.

I wish I’d looked at this sooner.  Now I have to go swimming in October. 

This afternoon I called a family friend who has a pool.  When I asked if I could come over and jump in for a bit, she said it was fine, but asked if I was sure.  “It’s really cold!” she said.  Yes, even in Las Vegas, pools get cold in October.

I picked my son up from school this afternoon and told him that we were going to make a quick stop to work on one of my Scout activities.  His main reaction was that he wanted to dunk his head in the pool. 

First, I did requirements a and c, which did not make me get in the water.  Yet.  I summarized the handbook’s rules for safe swimming and demonstrated how to rescue a swimmer in trouble. 

Then it was show time.  I regret now just how long I stood at the edge of the pool and hesitated before jumping in.  I was pretty afraid of the cold. 

Finally I did.  The cold didn’t hit me until I broke back up to the surface.  I swam the length of the pool and back with a loud gasp from the chill every time I took a breath. 

I figure if I’m going to follow in the footsteps of Boy Scouts as much as possible, I should probably get used to occasionally getting into very cold water.  It actually felt a lot better as soon as I got out.  In fact, mostly to make up for my sad hesitating before jumping in, I jumped in again and did another lap.  I still hesitated, but not quite as long, which is something, at least.  My son almost missed that second try, as he was busy dunking his head. 

I found out soon after that the water was 62°.  This experience at least let me teach my son by example an important principle that he probably gets tired of hearing me preach: suffering builds character.

MSP: Requirements 4a, 6, 11, 12b, & 13-14 = Tenderfoot Done!

I ended up doing exactly what I planned NOT to do: I waited until the last week of my scheduled time to finish the requirements for this rank.  I could have done it earlier, and I had wanted to add the extra time to my next rank, but life got the better of me. 

6. Demonstrate how to display, raise, lower, and fold the American flag.  Last week I emailed the principal of my kids’ school and asked if we could use the flagpole for this demonstration tonight, adding that I have my own flag to use.  He wrote back that it was fine, and this was the first activity in my family’s weekly home evening tonight.

As we drove over, I recounted all the material from the handbook about displaying the flag.  When we got there, I showed the kids how to fold and unfold it, then one kid helped me attach it to the line, while the little kids helped me hoist it up and then down again.  While it flew at the top for a minute, we decided to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.  Afterwards, the oldest child folded the flag, as I had shown them all, while I held the other end. 

11.  Identify local poisonous plants; tell how to treat for exposure to them.  I went over the handbook’s section on this, adding my own warning about oleander, which are very popular in Las Vegas.  Of course, one kid pointed out that it was unlikely that any of us would ever eat one. 

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MSP: Tenderfoot Requirements 8, 10b, and 12a

Yes, I have been working on my project, but I’ve been very busy with school starting.  Here’s what progress I’ve made recently:

8.  Know your patrol name, give the patrol yell, and describe your patrol flag.

Since my patrol is my family, I figured our patrol name would be “The Huston Family.”  Silly me.  When I discussed this with everyone, we had just watched an old episode of a certain great 80’s show that we’d borrowed from the library, so everybody quickly decided that we would call ourselves “The H-Team.”  Our yell is based on an old inside joke we share–when people ask for comments or feedback from us, we respond with the most random, inane thing we can imagine: “I like pie.”  This is our yell.  “I like pie!”  Inspiring, no?  Surely it will strike fear into the hearts of any opponents that we might meet in some game. 

We brainstormed a list of things that should be on our flag, and I slapped some related clip art together from the list.  We made our list last Monday, but I just made the “flag” today (in Microsoft Paint).  A copy is printed up and “flying” on the wall of our kitchen.  Here it is:

familyflag

  

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MSP: Tenderfoot Requirements 4b and 9

In our weekly family home evening yesterday, I did something that I think the family will have to get used to–I spent a few minutes demonstrating Scout stuff so I could check it off. 

First I explained why we use the buddy system (requirement #9), then I showed how to tie a double half hitch and a taut line hitch.  I used a cheap little nylon rope that came with some camping stuff and which I’d never used. 

As I tied my knots, I told the kids that when we went to Lake Powell with their grandparents last week, I tried to help anchor the boat by tying a couple of ropes together with a square knot.  I did this twice, and one of them came out as soon as it was pulled.  I thought I’d gotten it right, but maybe the ropes were just too big for that to work.  I was a little discouraged by that, but then on Saturday this knot practice really paid off.

We went out to eat with our kids and they were each offered a balloon.  They’re too small to handle balloons reliably on their own without losing them and crying as the colorful toys float away, so I usually just tie the string around their wrists loosely, but in a simple knot that can’t be undone.  This time, for the first time, I was able to do better.  I tied the strings with a taut line hitch, and slipped the loops over their wrists.  They could adjust them, and take them on and off when needed (like in the van), but they stayed on with no problem when we wanted them to. 

As I told my kids about the practical value of knot tying and showed the family what I’d learned, my wife smiled at me.  But then I had to untie my practice rope from the leg of her piano.

MSP: Meeting Boy Scout Joining Requirements

There are ten:

1.  Meet age requirements.  Wow.  The first thing to do on the first day of this project and I’m already defaulting.  *sigh* 

2.  Complete a Boy Scout application and health history signed by your parent or guardian.  I printed one out from the Scout Web site and filled it out.  Unit type?  One option was “lone Boy Scout.”  I guess that’s me.  After filling in a birthday from the 70’s, I wondered what to put for grade.  I have several courses done beyond a Master’s Degree.  I estimate I’m in grade 19, and put that down.  For school, I put the name of the school at which I work.  I do not check the box to subscribe to Boy’s Life: my Webelos-age son already gets it.  Each month when it comes in the mail, I read it before giving it to him.  Parent or guardian signature?  I go ahead and sign.  I have no health history form, but no health history problems, either.

3.  Find a Scout troop near your home.  I figure that when a requirement says “troop or patrol,” I’ll just substitute “family.”  Check. 

4.  Repeat the Pledge of Allegiance.  Continue reading

The Man Scout Project

The following post is the first in a new series dedicated to my efforts to do all of the work needed to become an Eagle Scout.  In fact, I’ve created a new blog to go along with this: The Man Scout Project.  Why a new blog when I have a well established habit of throwing together all of of my disparate interests here, in this lovingly disjointed junkyard that I call Gently Hew Stone?  Because this project is specific and special; and because if nothing else this might help motivate me.  But fear not, connoisseurs of GHS’s amalgamation of incongruous juxtapositions: I’ll cross-post everything here. 

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I am 31 years old, and I want to be a Boy Scout. 

I’ve been surrounded by Scouts all of my life, and they always seem to have the most exciting lives, full of fun, camaraderie, new experiences, and adventure.  The ones who’ve gone the furthest with it appear to have gotten the most out of it, and are often the most fulfilled people I know. 

Like a lot of people, I wasted my teenage years watching TV, playing video games, obsessing over trendy music, and feeling sorry for myself for no good reason.  I was never very happy, and as amazingly wonderful as my adult life is, I’ve always regretted those years of freedom, strength, and opportunity that I threw away on nonsense.  I admit it: I feel like I need to atone for that great blank canvas that life handed to me and which I only ruined with thoughtless scribbling.  It’s not that I did a lot of terrible things, it’s that I just didn’t do very much at all.  And I hope that I can make up for it a little now–and enjoy life to the fullest–by becoming an Eagle Scout. 

Of course, this isn’t official.  Boy Scouts ends at 18, and nobody older than that can become an Eagle Scout.  I have no illusions about joining a troop of teenagers, or having a Court of Honor, or anything like that.  I simply intend to go through the Boy Scout Handbook and do all of the activities on my own.  I want to have the skills and experiences that an Eagle Scout would have had. 

I’m beginning with the following expectations: Continue reading