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Archive for the ‘Scouting’ Category

This year we again participated in one of our favorite end-of-summer activities:  the annual Youth Outdoor Skills Day put on by the wildlife and parks department.  This is such a great event, and I am always astounded what the kids get to do for free each year.

There were five stations this year:  Orienteering, Muzzle Loading, Shotguns/Air Rifles, Trapping, and Archery.  This was the second year in a row for the orienteering, and this year I actually GOT IT!  For me it was kind of a gradual thing, but I can say that I really do understand using that crazy map and compass.  I don’t know if I could explain it to anyone else or not, but I was able to get it figured out that day at least!  LOL!

We were glad that they brought air rifles for some of the younger kids to shoot while the older ones shot clay pigeons with shot guns.  Those big guns are just too big and heavy for the younger kids–they literally get thrown around by them.  So this year a very kind gentleman took the younger kids aside to shoot targets with air rifles.  He even had a handgun that they got to try.  John and Brock enjoyed the shotguns–and they hit quite a few clay pigeons too.  Each year gets a little better.  Kara, Luke, and Cosette enjoyed the air rifles and had fun trying to knock around some pop cans.

We are always taken with the trapping sessions.  Trapping is just not something that you hear about every day–around here at least.  I guess there are some people who do it, and they can make money when they know what they are doing.  It really is interesting–I don’t know how you’d ever go about getting started doing something like that though!

The kids have always enjoyed messing around with archery.  The instructors this year were very hands-on and gave the kids a lot of attention and advice.

We only had one problem:  ALLERGIES!  Boy, something out in that field got our allergies stirred up.  The sad thing is, though, that it hasn’t stopped since!  Everyone is sneezing, coughing, wiping eyes, etc.  John says he can’t wait for the cold temperatures to come and wipe out whatever has gotten us all stirred up!

It was a very fun day, all-in-all.  It’s great to be able to go out and do these things from time-to-time in a safe and controlled situation.

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A couple of weekends ago, Dan and the boys went to their last official Boy Scouts of America event, a camp in Nebraska.  I haven’t written anything about it in this blog, but we are ending our membership in that organization and are looking forward to participating in a newly-forming organization that shares our family values as soon as it is available.

Anyway, while the boys were away at camp, the girls and I had a special weekend at home.  We had a lot of fun going bowling, swimming, shopping, etc.  The weather was a little odd for July on the Prairie; we almost were not able to swim because it was too cold!  Some of the pools in the area did not even open that day because it didn’t reach 70 degrees, but the pool that we enjoy in a nearby town was open despite the cool temperatures and brisk winds.  The girls assured me that they wouldn’t mind, so I told them we’d go for a little while.  They said that the water was warm, but I can testify that watching from the side was anything but warm!  They had a good time despite the weather, and they deserved it since we had spent most of the morning working hard at the food bank.

The boys had a good time at the camp, and we were glad to have them come home.  They also had a cold swim at camp, although I don’t think it was quite as cold and windy as it was here.  Brock took some pictures on Kara’s camera at the camp.  I haven’t gone through them yet, but maybe there will be some to put together a slideshow for a future entry.

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Flag Raising Collage

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Cosette, Kara, and I just finished our third year as American Heritage Girls Trailblazers.  What a great experience it has been!  Each of the girls will soon be receiving their respective level awards and moving on to the next levels.  Kara will be receiving her Sacagawea Award, and Cosette will be receiving her Lewis and Clark Award.  As part of the end of the levels, we have gone back and reviewed some of the things that we have done during the past three years, and it really is amazing when we start looking at it!

Both of the girls have earned several service stars.  Most have been from helping at the Genesis Food Bank, but they have also helped serve at several fund raisers for local groups, and have done volunteer work for church.

There have been many “special events” that we have enjoyed.  Some of have been with their brothers’ scout troops including a day trip to some museums, and marching in Veteran’s Day parades.  An annual special event that we have all come to anticipate is the Outdoor Skills Day put on by the Division of Wildlife and Parks.  There have also been concerts and special programs.

Cosette and Kara have each completed 9 merit badges:  7 C’s of History, Stick Shifts and Safety Belts, Music Performance, Fishing, Bible Basics, Sign Language, Computer Fun, Internet Adventure, World Heritage.  We are currently finishing a Photography badge and a Theater Badge–those will carry over into their new levels.

As we’ve been finishing up the World Heritage Badge, the girls have been studying the country of Brazil.  That has been quite an adventure!  It really is an interesting place, and we have all learned a lot.  We especially enjoyed cooking some Brazilian food, and Kara has really taken to making fabric yo-yo’s.

So, we are looking forward to continuing our time with American Heritage Girls.  We sure do appreciate their firm stand on moral issues.  We are currently in a state of transition with the boys’ involvement with Boy Scouts of America.  Hopefully there will be a group similar to AHG formed for boys where they can be taught to be responsible, morally strong young men.  I will post more about this as time goes on, I’m sure….

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At our last Cub Scout Blue and Gold Banquet, I ended up making the sloppy joes for the main course.  It was kind of a last-minute arrangement–very last minute!  In fact, I really didn’t know I was going to end up doing this until we went to the church to set up!  Anyway, I was given a recipe that had been used in the past, and Dan had bought the ingredients, so I just jumped right in there and started putting things together!  Unfortunately, I was not working in my own kitchen, so I didn’t have access to my normal equipment.  So, instead of measuring everything, I just ended up mixing a little of this and a lot of that until it “looked and tasted right.”  I didn’t know how it would go over, but it was all eaten up, and Dan said it was some of the best sloppy joe that he had ever tasted!  So, I thought I’d try to remember what I did and post it here on my blog where I can find it  if (and when) I will need to do that type of thing again. There are two pages to this Smilebox. The first page has the original recipe that was given to me, and the second page attempts to explain how I made it.  I don’t know if I’d ever be able to get it the same again, but it sure was good that time!  🙂

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Moving Up to Boy Scouts


We have reached a much-anticipated milestone:  all three of our boys are in the same Boy Scout troop!  Luke has now officially graduated from Cub Scouts and has begun meeting with the older boys.  It is so nice to have one activity for all of them on the same night!  🙂

The Blue and Gold Banquet is the traditional time when 2nd year Webelos cross over into Boy Scouts, and this year’s banquet was just really nice.  It was short and to-the-point; just right in every way.  It was neat to see John lead Luke across the bridge to join his troop, and then it was just really touching to see those big boys surround the new scouts to change over their uniform and to welcome them into the troop.

So, Luke is one of the newest scouts in the troop.  He has many exciting adventures ahead!

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If I counted correctly, there are 37 cars in this picture.  Thirty-Seven Cars!  I guess we’ve made a few of these things over the years….

We have learned a few things about making Pinewood Derby Cars.  After all, I think we’ve made all of the mistakes at least once!  🙂  The cars that are mounted on the display boards were from our first year.  Wow, those were bad cars!  They literally jumped the track on every race they ran!  We had no idea what to do when we made those cars, but that year was a good learning year. By the next year, we had ordered some books and had read some websites about how to make Pinewood Derby cars that would actually get to the end of the track!  Each year we added new steps to improve our cars and learned new decorating techniques.  So, in our later years our cars did decently–not always winning, but consistently doing all right.

A few of the cars really stand out with good memories.  The first car in the top row with the lightning bolt on it was our first car that ran decently.  We decided it must be the lightning bolt sticker that made the difference on that one!  LOL! The 7th car on the top row is our Purple Bomb.  That crazy car is a random rocket! It makes no sense whatsoever, but that year we had an extra car body cut out that we decided to finish for fun.  We used some leftover paint, a few colorful stickers, and just stuck on some wheels.  This haphazard method worked out, though, because it has won official and unofficial races in several different settings.

John’s “paint splat” car (next to last car on the top row) is one of the cutest and most unique cars.  The gold car right in the middle of the picture with a flower sticker on the front was Cosette’s random winner.  That car flew in every race it ran.  The Cub Scouts couldn’t believe it–a girl’s car was the fastest car that year!   The most notable thing about Brock’s cars is that he doesn’t like decorations.  “After all,” he says, “they are racing, not entering a beauty contest!”  So, for Brock, it’s all about speed!  Luke had two winning cars–the junk food car and the igloo car on the front row.  I think my favorite car of Kara’s is the little brown car with the rainbow hearts.  She made it when she was four years old, and I think it is just a precious little racer!

So, now the Prairie Family cars will be put away.  Maybe they will come out for an occasional VBS or a legacy Pinewood race, but mostly they will be saved to hand down to another generation of racers someday.  We are considering looking into the “Big Boy” version of racing with the CO2 cars.  We’ll see, they just may join the growing collection in a year or so!

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2013 Pinewood Derby

We reached a milestone this year: we raced in our last (?) Cub Scout Pinewood Derby.  I put a question mark by that because I guess you never know what the future may hold.  Maybe we’ll enter in family class or something in the years to come, but this was our last year with an official Cub Scout.  Can you believe it?!  Luke is ready to move up into Boy Scouts with John and Brock, so this is the end of an era!

The Pinewood Derby really sneaked up on us this year.  We knew it was coming and everything, but somehow we almost waited too long to start on the cars. Yes, one week prior to the race we had not even cut out our blocks of wood, and I really had my doubts that we could pull it off.  Dan thought it was important to do the best we could to get them finished, though, since this was Luke’s last year.  So, we put in some marathon days and all of the kids ended up getting their cars finished in time.

Luke was the only one of the kids that had a real idea of what he wanted his car to look like when we started the whole process:  he wanted his car to look like an igloo with penguins.  (He has had a love for penguins for many years!) The rest of them just came together as we looked at what decorating supplies we had on hand, and actually I think they came out pretty cute!  John’s car was quite creative.  He made stickers out of pictures of cell phones he found on the internet and stuck them on his car in the color pattern of a stop light.  It made quite a unique design.  Brock, as usual, wanted minimal decorations, but since he had painted his car gold, he just decorated it to look like a gold bar.  Cosette has been going through a Disney Princess phase, so she decorated her car accordingly.  Of course, Luke’s came out as planned–an igloo with penguins. Kara used sparkly duct tape and sock monkey stickers to make a very unusual, attention-getting car!

The actual race went pretty well.  Luke’s car came in first in his class, so he was happy about that.  The rest of the cars did decently in their respective races as well.

As we were putting away this last batch of cars, I decided to take pictures of all of our cars that we have made during our Cub Scout years.  That will be the subject of my next entry.

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Veteran's Day Collage

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