Trip Report: Camp HI-Sierra 2019

17 Scouts, 9 adults, 6 nights, 4 black beads, 3 extra drivers and 1 award! What a great year at Camp Hi-Sierra (CHS) for the Troop.

2019 marked some special dates for CHS: it is the 70th anniversary of them operating as a Scout camp, the first year of the new multi-million dollar dining hall block, and the first year that female scouts are attending (not as Staff). Troop 260 had 5 of our Serpents patrol (inc one staff member) there and go down in history as the first female scouts attending CHS. Noice.

The weather was on the cooler side this year, and caught many of us off-guard, even some of the Old Goats. A great reminder that at altitude, and when sleeping without much cover (those platform tents are VERY draughty) a cool night can follow a warm day. The late snow melt this year also contributed to a swim lake that was in the low 40s F – this is VERY cold. Kudos to all the scouts and adults that did their swim test – and special mention to Niko T for doing his aquatics work in this temperature. Brrrrrr.

The Trading Post store witnessed good custom thanks to T260: regular ice creams were a staple, but also an extensive range of knife purchases from both new Scouts that got their Totin’ Chip and old scouts that telt that their three current knives just weren’t enough…

At the end of the week, the Scouts (with a box-man mascot) did well at the camp-wide games getting 3rd place overall. And then continued the tradition of wow-ing the scouts and bamboozling the staff with a campfire skit consisting of YouTube parodies.

A huge thanks to those involved in the planning and organizing and supporting: especially Donna Johns for being our Acting SM the entire week, and Carolyn Calzia for getting all the Scouts signed up for badges. We will have a very busy September Court of Honor.

Click below for photo gallery

Mountain Safety Council 2 minute skill videos

So, another shameless plug for the New Zealand Mountain Safety Council (MSC). However, I hope you’ll forgive me as they offer a fabulous library of short (~ 2 minute) videos covering over 30 aspects of getting outdoors across planning; expedition; and campcraft.

Whilst some bits of the advice is country-specific, the vast majority is applicable here. There are a great way for scouts and adults alike to check / update their knowledge.

While YouTube list here

You will find your own favorites. Some of mine are about sleeping well

and travelling as a group

Lake Sonoma, redux

Lake Sonoma once this season? Why not twice?

The Troop returned to Lake Sonoma this weekend and instead of a full 8-mile day, we focused on a shorter paddle and then an afternoon of skills practice. This went down well: we had a few new / less experienced scouts with us along with a few scouts wanting to progress their Canoeing Merit Badge.

Kudos to John L. for his first actual capsize after around 8 years with the Troop! We all joined him later as part of practicing deep water rescue techniques.

Our scoutmaster challenge this weekend was an Iron Chef breakfast cook-off: rice as the base, with the scouts able to bring some add-ons, and the scoutmaster’s secret ingredient – “Oranges”. The resulting dishes were an impressive display of culinary innovation

  • Cheesy crunchy japeno rice with orange (the winner!)
  • Coconut, orange zest and egg rice

On the way back we stopped for lunch at Olompali State Park that turned out to be a gem, with shady oak trees to lunch under and an heritage that included being used by the Grateful Dead!

Click image below for photo gallery


Explosive growth for spring 2019!

Maybe it’s been the wet and warm winter and spring that we’ve had around San Jose, but it isn’t just the flowers that are blooming: Troop 260 has welcomed 15 new scouts (boys and girls) to its roster in the past few months!

Many have come directly from cub packs, bridging over in key transition ceremonies. [see some pictures of these events below]. Others have joined directly. We welcome them all and look forward to the adventures they will have, and the leadership opportunity they open to our older scouts.

A huge welcome also to the families and guardians of these new Scouts. There are many adventures for you also ahead! Scouting is a family enterprise and we need and expect active family engagement to continue the vitality of our program.

Gail Cahn: a sad farewell, and grateful thanks

It is with much sadness that Troop 260 mourns the passing of one of our own, Gail Cahn.

Gail passed away peacefully at home on Sunday at 12:30am in the circle of husband, Mark, and her children Tzvia and Omri. We feel deep sorrow for their loss, and extend the Troop’s condolences and support to Mark, Tzvia, Omri, Mike, Ruth, Robert, and all other members of the Cahn/Actor family.

Gail’s impact to the Troop spans decades. She infused Troop 260 with the same enthusiasm and joy she brought to her high school science classroom. Gail was an active member on dozens of Eagle Boards of Review, making her personal contributions to the Troop’s style. She guided countless subcommittee meetings that have shaped Troop policy. Gail was an active force in bringing girls into the troop. Gail also ran Troop Committee meetings when called upon, with only the required minimum of objection!

Our summer program would not be what it is if not for her skill and leadership. Gail was a counselor for nine merit badges. With her awesome map and compass skills, Gail was the best navigator that Troop 260 had in the Boundary Waters, on Green River and the Upper Missouri River. Gail was proud parent and Eagle Mom. Gail’s impact on Troop 260 was massive and she will be missed.

A memorial service will be held for Gail on Wednesday, March 27th at 4:00pm: Temple Emanu-El, 1010 University Ave, San Jose, CA 95126. Questions regarding the memorial service can be directed to either Stephanie or Iris at the Temple: 408-292-0939.

Shiva services (mourners’ service) will be held at the Cahn home Monday-March 25th, Tuesday-March 26th, and Thursday-March 28th, at 5:00pm each day: 1617 Knollwood Avenue, San Jose.

Please bring a refreshment to share for the memorial service at the Temple and the Cahn’s when they are sitting shiva.

Ten essentials

Not all of us have caught Mr Nic’s 10 Essentials briefing (with associated stories!) But the scouts did cover 10 essentials a few months ago on a Troop night.

Generally, in Troop 260, your “10 essentials” means a compact kit focused on personal well being and survival that you can keep in a big pocket or stick in a day pack without it taking up too much room.

Of course, the most important thing about your ten essentials is… having it with you! (cough cough senior scouts on the Pinnacles NP 10-miler)

There are lots of resources out there, here are a couple:

A 10 essentials kit is a great thing to start small and cheap, and then gradually build up over time. If you buy one, make sure you know exactly what is in it – and add to it as needed.

Next time we are out somewhere, ask a Scout to show you their 10-essentials kit to get some ideas.

Pinnacles NP, didgeridoo and condors

We were ready and set for snow camping: extra snow shovels and tire chains had been purchased, triple bed rolls and blankets packed. Alas, a severe winter weather warning for the northern Sierras pulled the rug out from under us (it’s our safety and risk management policy to not travel into weather warnings). As s a result, we missed out of 5+ feet of snow and -11F temperatures (our intrepid advance guard, Mr & Mrs Matulich did make it up!).

However, we are scouts – and so ‘prepared’. Plan B was put into action – a 10-mile day hike and overnight camp at Pinnacles National Park.

We caught a luck break in the weather, with a cool but largely sunny day (even if it rained heavily overnight). A group of 11 arrived just after 09:00 and before 10:00 were on the trail. Our route took us from the campgrounds towards High Peaks trail, and then back by Bear Gulch trail. [map]. Including the walk to and from the camp-site comfortably over 10miles (handy for both a rank advancement and a hiking badge requirement!)

To our surprise – it wasn’t the amazing rock formations or great views that made the weekend memorable: it was the “Condor Whisperer”. A man, stripped bare to his waist, standing atop the pinnacles playing a didgeridoo as the condors swooped in and around. And a rainbow appears. Words failed us.

Click below for photos

Trip Report: Elkhorn Slough / Sunset Beach

We decided to repeat our enjoyable December trip and headed back to Elkhorn Slough and Sunset Beach this weekend. The short drive in the winter is appreciated, as is the chance to have an actual fire at the State park campground.

The weather was magnificent again, with partially cloudy skies, a warm-ish day, not too much wind and a cool but not cold overnight.

The tide range and timing meant that this time we did canoe skills first after putting in at Moss Landing. Then after an hour of so of increasingly successful straight line paddles (putting aside the SPL / ASPL combo beaching themselves!) we headed up the Slough about 4 miles.

We couldn’t find a decent place to land for lunch. So much of the waterfront is protected or private land, so we headed back to almost the entrance and stopped at a lovely sandy beach for lunch before heading back to the marina and packing up and heading Sunset Beach. (Note for the future: turns out there are no sanctioned landing/beaching spots *at all* in the Slough apart from Kirby Park – see map )

At the Beach, we did a Scoutmaster Challenge in two parts: use compass bearings to draw a shape in the sand, and then use pioneering skills to build a bridge across the gap. The scouts did a great job with an ingenious design – and one that was strong enough for the Scoutmaster to travel across safely!

Campfire and birthday cake were on the list for the evening – both much appreciated. And several Scouts got multiple requirements ticked off for their ranks.

click below for the picture gallery

We are ready to welcome female youth to Scouts!

Troop 260 is ready to welcome female youth looking to join us having fun and adventure outdoors.

Female youth will join our established Serpent’s Patrol (5 girls and counting), and be administratively a member of Troop 2260. We will operationally be acting as a single unit – Troop 260 – sharing the same program, committee and charter organisation. We have a long history with female leaders, adult volunteers and family members as an integral part of our adventures, and are excited that there is now a chance for female youth to formally participate and be recognized for the experience and skills they gain.

Our Troop has long believed that scouting should be open to all. We have a proud history of including families for decades in our activities. We took a stand in 1992 about supporting gay scouts, and are happy to echo that drive for equality and inclusivity again. We are convinced that the fully gender-integrated approach of programs like Venturing, Sea Scouts, and STEM Scouts will eventually come to Scouts BSA.

At the same time, we do not wish to jeopardize the ability of our female (and female identifying) youth to advance in ranks and earn merit badges. Forming Troop 2260 allows them to have a compliant achievement record in Scouts BSA that will take them through to Eagle Scout.

The policy position that we adopted early in 2018 has guided us well, and we will continue to ensure it is aligned with National policy, especially Youth Protection best practices, the values and goals of our Troop, and common sense.

It is a landmark moment to say that our door is officially open to all youth! We look forward to supporting all our scouts on their own journey of adventure, discovery and leadership.

Lashings & pioneering games

Square lashings, whippings and a bunch of poles – what could possibly not be fun?!

The scouts of Troop 260 enjoyed themselves last night learning some age-old Scout skills and then testing them in an internal carry game. Enjoy some pics below: