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.
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.
[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!
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
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,
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!
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.
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!
We had over 30 adults and youth take part in our annual venture to Mt Umunhum for shooting sports and archery. Our own range-masters Ray and Nic ensured a safe and fun exposure to a range of gun types and bow types.
As is tradition, we did a service project clearing scrub for the property owner, and after our second night camping got up for a sunrise hike to the “Umunhum Box” – all very 2001: A Space Odyssey in the dawn!
Click the image below to open the full photo gallery
This past weekend, an 18 strong group (11 scouts and 7 adults) enjoyed the dappled shade and warm Bay scents of the Skyline to Sea Trail.
We arrived at the glorious new Castle Rock State Park entrance just before 0800. With 90 spaces, 6 bathrooms, a ranger station, electric car charging, WiFi and landscaped grounds with water and picnic tables, this upgrade is immense. It really opens up the Park compared to the old cramped area (which is now the overflow / secure overnight parking zone).
From the carpark we had a gentle down slope for about 5 miles until arriving at Camp Chesebrough for lunch shortly after noon. We had a number of scouts or adults that were new or returning to backpacking on the crew, or taking their first weekender with the Troop. All of them did well, settling in with their gear, adjusting straps, putting moleskin on blisters.
The campsite (Shingle Mill Point) was reasonably exposed, but there was enough shade in the trees and around the side to keep us comfortable. Scouts T and M did some orienteering / geo requirements and M also got a cracking campfire going early.
Dinner for the scouts was beans and sausages. The adults had rice and tuna/chicken. Both were enjoyed.
The return journey had a bit more uphill, but mostly just the first part from camp to the trail. We arrived back at the (fabulous) Castle Rock entrance around 11:30 for lunch.
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.