Quicksilver at a moderate pace

We’re back – with backpacks!

About 25 youth and adults spent Saturday morning doing hike at Almaden Quicksilver County park. This follows our successful Alviso salt flats walk a few weeks ago, but we upped the game, introducing loaded backpacks for anyone wanting to attend this summer’s 50-miler.

It’s been over a year since many of us have had a big pack on, and we need to ramp up to being ready for a week-long trip. For some new scouts, it was their first experience of a few hours under load.

The pace was moderate, the spirit was strong. Excellent work by all.

(PS – Scouts, bring maps next time >;-/ )

Cover photo - Almaden quicksilver 210501 photo gallery
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Eagle project completed! – Emily C

Starting back in August 2020, Scout Emily C completed her Eagle Project this past weekend. Despite a number of Covid-related delays and setbacks (including having to send a bunch of Troop scouts and family members home who turned up to help!) the beneficiary – Our City Forest – now has a spanking new, eco-friendly plant pot solar sterilizer!

OCF wanted more sterlizer capacity, and an upgrade to the old unit. Emily focused on building a more robust design and on adding additional heat-absorbing features like the plastic under the lid and matt black paint in and out.

Emily started adventures with the Troop in 2015, doing her first 50-miler in the Hi-Sierra in 2016 when she was 10. The inaugural Patrol Leader for our female youth, Emily is now working on the rest of the badges she needs to complete her Eagle rank.

Well done Emily!

Emily and Alison paint
Full Gallery link, or click the above image

#PixNParks #1 – January ’21

Right. We can’t hike together as a Troop with the current viral situ, so in a masterful stroke of program leadership, the Troop is instead using the Santa Clara County PixNParks 2021 challenge to encourage each troop family to get out.

Once per month, we set a particular park challenge, and during that weekend we are all encouraged to (separately) head to the location and grab a pic of ourselves there (and on the way).

Month 1 (January) was the Bass Pond at Joseph D. Grant park. An easy ~2 miles to get everyone back into the swing of things after the holidays. Nice effort T260!

Scouts Richard and Erika M at the Pond (click for full gallery)

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)

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