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.

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:


PLC via Discord

It may be the last day of the year, but that doesn’t stop the Troop from holding it’s PLC to plan January events.

SPL Tristan had the great idea to do it using Discord – the scouts have settled on Discord as their default messaging tool. Live planning without the burden of leaving your house on a chilly New Year’s Eve 👍

Bear Grylls becomes Chief Ambassador for World Scouting

Ever watched this daring do programmes where Bear drinks water from camel dung, or fashions a jacket from the skin of a dead seal? Did you catch the purple Scouting emblem on his jacket?

Currently UK Chief Scout, Bear is taking on a new role as Chief Ambassador for World Scouting.

One of my first tasks as Chief Ambassador, will be to represent us at an event at the United Nations headquarters to launch Scouts for SDGs – a mobilisation of 50 million Scouts, with the goal of making the world’s largest coordinated youth contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs

Read the blog post here.

New Eagles (almost)!

A massive “well done” to Scouts Aidan and John for successfully completing their Eagle Scout Boards of Review on Wednesday this week!

Once we hear back from National that they are fully confirmed, they will be the Troop’s 103rd and 104th Eagle Scouts.

Dates and details of their Eagle Courts of Honor will be available in the coming weeks.

Aidan – Eagle Board of Review

John Eagle Board of Review