Webelos visit

We always really enjoy hosting Webelos (incoming Cub Scouts) as they explore troops in the area they may like to join. Normally, we roll-out our standard round of skill stations: knives, campstoves, first aid – to much fun and enjoyment.

Of course, this time our Patrol Leaders had to re-tool for an online approach – and they did a great job, with interactive presentations, quizzes, demonstrations and stories. It’s not quite as good as getting up close to that big knife for the first time, but still fun!

Turnout was high with about 7 Webelos and some of their family members joining.

ONline webelos session

Backyard campout #2 (December 2020)

With the Covid situation in Santa Clara County regressing, and a number of scouts keen to rack-up overnight activity nights for rank advancement, the Patrol Leaders’ Council scheduled another backyard campout in December

The weather wasn’t too cold – but it did rain the next morning! Not a problem for all the expertly pitched tents from T260 🙂

(noting that for team Davis, who were mid-way through a back-yard renovation, this did result in an unexpected mud bath on the way to preparing the morning cup of tea)

Well done Troop in keeping your experience fresh – we are all looking forward to real adventures as soon as possible.

Link to photo gallery

Virtual Eagle Court of Honor

Times might be tough for our Troop and Scouts right now, given the restrictions around our usual outdoor program. However, in true spirit, that didn’t stop our most recent Eagle Scout – Weston S. – from arranging his Court of Honor: virtually!

Weston's virtual Eagle Court of Honor

A great way to close of a year of adaption and ‘firsts’

Weston arranged this all in only a couple of weeks, and we had over 30 groups / people joining. We all missed the food and in-person get-together, but were very pleased to help Weston close-out his scouting achievements.

Junior Leadership Training 2020

With County guidelines allowing some level of distanced but in-person activities, we were able to hold our annual Junior Leadership Training at the scout hall. This was the first time most of us had been back at the hall since March and it was nice to be around some familiar facilities.

Naturally, we were all masked-up, distanced sitting and during the activities and there was gobs of hand sanitizer flowing around!

Our Scoutmaster drive a full 3 hour program of meeting planning, Scouts and Troop organization, roles and responsibilities review, and a focus on the upcoming Troop elections. This was all peppered with some fun 🙂 – including 2 quizzes, and a pioneering (poles and lashings) leadership game.

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Eagle Project, Jimmy H.

[backdated post / published Jan 2021 for a Sept 2020 activity]

Back in September 2020, Jimmy H. took the chance of what turned out to be a short respite between Coronavirus waves to execute his Eagle project.

Jimmy was keen to have an environmental impact, and worked to create four receptacles for used fishing line to be placed at a local park. These had to be built to a standard design and quality and then firmly installed.

By splitting the work up into smaller groups, working outside, and ensuring masks were worn, Jimmy was able to ensure public health guidelines were followed while still delivering this community project. Nice work!

Link to photo gallery

Streaming troop activities with OBS

We have been doing well for a couple of months having scouts share skills through presentations, or discussion, on our weekly virtual meetings. I wanted to go further and experiment with a live-stream of a demo: this would give an experience closer to that or a regular, in-person, Troop meeting.

This post covers the technical setup and experience in streaming a scout meeting live – it may be of interest or use to some!

Hardware and software required

All the hardware components I had at home as part of working-from-home or general home tech.

  • Laptop: MacBook Pro
  • Cameras: 2 x logitech webcams (one a B910, one a C920)
  • Camera mounts: 1 x old tripod from 1990, and 1 x wooden post with duct tape
  • Mic / Speaker: Bose Revolve

Software used was as follows

  • OBS (Open Broadcaster Software) – this is free, open source, and in wide use by the streaming community
  • Google Meet – but this approach should for Zoom, Skype, Teams, other web meeting tools as long as they can accept a webcam input
  • Virtual Webcam plugin for OBS – this is critical, and enables the OBS output to appear as a “webcam” on your computer

How-to

Physically setup your cameras as you wish, plugin them in, and make sure they are recongised by your laptop. Then install your flavour of OBS (in my case, the experimental pkg that included the virtual cam tool for MacOS).

Install the virtual cam plugin tool, or check that it is active under Tools > Start VirtualCam. At this point, i fired up meet.google.com and checked I could see “OBS Camera” as a video input option. If you can’t – restart Chrome, or your mac and try again.

For sound, I wanted to use a mic close to the presenter and the webcam mikes would have a lot of noise. So I bluetooth paired my Bose Revolve to the laptop and simply set the speaker and mic in meet.google.com to use this source.

At this point, you are into the realm of OBS setup – and definitely watch a few YouTube intro guides on OBS: I kept it super simple with a “scene” for each camera (one wide angle and one close-up) and using the Studio mixer to cut between the two as required,

OBS running on macbook pro, output using virtualcam to Google Meet
OBS with virtual cam plugin streaming to Google Meet

Results and lessons learned

The scariest thing was installing the un-signed pkg with the experimental inclusion of the virtualcam plugin for MacOS. I also turned of OBS auto-updates to stop the build breaking. I hope the main branch of OBS for MacOS gets this capability soon – it appears to be in progress in github.

It was fun to do, and I felt the combination of having the close-up and wide camera angles, and the quality mic / speaker near the presenter allowed for a much more natural Troop skill share. You can watch below!

Google Meet recording of the fire lighting demo, starts at 21m50s

YASP (yet another shed post)

Yes, the new shed is up and our gear was in. But it wasn’t in neatly! And a good Scout is organized and tidy, as we all know. So it was back in action for Yet Another Shed Day (YASD) this time getting shelving up.

A nimble cadre of adults and Scouts chopped, trimmed, screwed and hefted for 4 hours, after which we had all of one long side done, and the start of a short side. We were able to fill up the completed shelving and – wow – it is going to make a huge difference in accessing and using our Troop Gear.

One more session to go! (time to be confirmed)

CLICK IMAGE or HERE to see full Gallery

Trip Report: Pinnacles NP backpacking training 2001

Almost a year after our last visit, the Troop once again headed South to Pinnacles NP: only 1.5 hours from San Jose, but a world apart from the bustle and business we experience locally. A healthy sized group of 22 used all the daylight on Saturday to carry full packs almost 10 miles with nearly everyone doing an extra quick 2+ mile loop through some caves to the reservoir.

En route, we didn’t get to see the mythical Condor Whisperer didgeridoo player, but we did get some glorious weather as the clouds broke and enjoyed spectacular views over the rock formations, some hawks and possibly a condor or two. Scouts and Adults alike carried full backpacks, including our evening food. As we enter the new calendar year, it’s essential to get more practice in carrying loads of terrain for longer periods as we get towards 50-miler planning.

The Group campsite in the evening was excellent. A huge oak tree, tables, bear lockers and a bathroom block nearby — luxury not enjoyed on the open trail! The adults enjoyed Chicken Curry and cookies, whilst the scouts boiled tortellini and waved sausages (pre-cooked) at the fire. The night was calm, punctuated with some very vocal owls. 

This trip was an important milestone for two of the party: Tristan and Weston. Both (almost) Eagle scouts turn 18 in a few days time and thus “age out” of the BSA program. We are sad that our future adventures will not have them along as Scouts, but they are always welcome as Adults (providing they do their YPT!). Thanks, and bon chance to both.

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Weston S, Eagle Project

Another 260 Eagle Project has been completed. This time it was scout, and Troop Guide, Weston S making a new garden area for Olinder Elementary School, San Jose. The kids have two large, easy to reach planters (a Troop specialty!) and some large round half barrels that have transformed an otherwise underused and unattractive corner.

Weston is completing his final Eagle Rank stages this month in advance of ageing-out. Great job!

Weston Eagle Project
CLICK IMAGE ABOVE FOR GALLERY, or here

Happy New Shed Day!

An exciting update from the new Troop storage shed project manager – David. On 31 December, the crew came to deliver and install the new storage shed on the space we had cleared on the Church grounds.

They arrived early, and worked hard for several hours setting the foundation, and then completing the build. They achieved a massive amount in a short space of time.

The returning Cycling Merit Badge group got a sneak preview inside!

Next stage is to complete the power, consider shelving, and get stuff moved-in! It’s going to be great for the program and for the Scoutmasters to have all our gear onsite.

Thanks to all involved 🙂

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