Letters to the editor

The below letters to the editor were submitted in response to Scouting magazine’s March-April and January-February editions. Something on your mind? Submit your own letter to the editor.


Bigfoot’s Big Lesson
Thanks for printing the informative article about Leave No Trace (“Ethics in the Outdoors,” March-April). As an LNT Trainer, I take every opportunity to get the word out. During camporees or hikes, I make sure to present the subject somewhere in the program.

If an issue arises in the outdoors, you can use it as a teachable moment. Avoid preaching to them; just explain the cold, hard facts. If you become educated in LNT principles, it will be a snap to explain why Scouts need to follow them when questions arise.

Remember, we should be able to leave no trace. Bigfoot’s been doing it for years!

Bryn R. Kolbe
Shoemakersville, Pa.


A Solution for Charcoal
I wish to both commend and add to Mark Ray’s piece, “Ethics in the Outdoors” (March-April). The article gives a lot of great Leave No Trace examples for what you should and shouldn’t do on campouts, and I especially liked the section on campfires. There is one particular problem with fires that I feel should be known.

At a campground several months ago, the camp director gave my troop a seminar for the Camping merit badge. One major point of Leave No Trace that he stressed was that if fire isn’t burned to ash, the charcoal should not be spread across the ground. It was thought years ago that this charcoal decomposes in the ground over time, but we now know that it does not. He said that the best place for charcoal is right in the fire pit, ready for another fire.

Jake Lugay
Lagrangeville, N.Y.


Snagged On a Technicality
The article “Lost Lake Scout Reservation” (Cool Camp, January-February) refers to drilling a hole in the ice to “snag” a fish. As defined by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, “Snagging means attempting to take fish in a manner that the fish does not take the hook voluntarily in its mouth. It is unlawful to snag fish.” I’m sure the author did not intend to imply Lost Lake ice fishing enthusiasts were allowed to “snag” northern pike, crappie, and bluegill.

Jim Kibby
Kingsley, Mich.

That’s the catch of the day, Jim. But rest assured, the fish voluntarily took the hooks into their mouths. We hadn’t thought that it could be done any other way.


What I Liked
I’m not involved in the Scouting program, but I have raised two Eagle Scouts. I recently read your January-February issue, and I am so impressed with the valuable information in it. The articles I most enjoyed were “When to Compromise,” “Wall Power,” “Countdown to Showtime,” “Snowed In,” and the information on the Lost Lake Scout Reservation. Thanks for these “nuggets of knowledge.”

Mary Lou Pickering
Bountiful, Utah


Fiery Feedback
It was with disappointment, and a certain amount of incredulity, that I read of your prohibition on the use of popcan stoves on Scout outings (“Not-So-Hot Stoves,” January-February). We have been using these stoves for at least six years on weekend campouts, extended backpack trips, Klondike Derbies, and snow-cave trips in 15-degree weather. There is always the potential for harm, whether through carelessness or inattention. But we have never had an incident where the stove seemed inherently more dangerous than a knife or ax.

Because of our totally positive experience with the stoves, is there a possibility that you might reconsider your position? If not, could you let us know why you came to your decision?

Michael Cullers, Scoutmaster
Klamath Falls, Ore.

Richard Bourlon, Health and Safety director, responds: The Health and Safety Support Committee, on review of incident data from both inside and outside of Scouting, updated the Chemical Fuel and Equipment policy a couple of years ago. Alcohol, as a fuel, and “homemade” equipment continue to cause pain for our membership and others. Therefore, the committee has no plans to review the BSA’s stance on homemade chemical fuel equipment. The health and safety of our members is paramount.


More Heat
I am confused by “Not-So-Hot Stoves” (January-February). The picture with the slashed red circle appears to be commercially prepared, gelled-alcohol fuel in the original container (with the label removed), which is on the Recommended Chemical Fuels list in the Guide to Safe Scouting.

The Guide to Safe Scouting says homemade stoves are not allowed and liquid alcohol is not recommended. I have a purchased stove that holds a gelled-alcohol fuel can. Is my stove allowed in Scouting?

Fran Erickson
Rolla, Mo.

Just say “no” to cat-food cans (or any kind of cans) to make homemade, liquid alcohol-burning stoves. Although liquid alcohol is not prohibited in Scouting activities, it’s not recommended. Gelled alcohol—because of its solid state—is allowed. Get more information on stove and fuel use at bit.ly/SafeStoves


World of Watercraft
As much as I enjoy personal watercraft, the Guide to Safe Scouting forbids them. In an ad in the January-February issue, Tomahawk Scout Reservation quite clearly depicts them as part of their program for the boys. What is up with that?

Jim Makee
Benton, La.

Change happens, Jim, and Scouts of the correct age love ’em. Tomahawk Scout Reservation participated in a pilot Personal Watercraft (PWC) program for councils. The PWC program was approved as an official council-offered program in November 2011. You can read more about the PWC program in “Ready to Ride” featured in the May-June 2012 issue.


What’s Under That Helmet?
I was a bit surprised at the photo inside the front cover of the young man climbing the ice wall and with a few other photos in the story “Wall Power” (January-February).

It’s my understanding that safety helmets are not designed to be worn with a ball cap, or winter cap, underneath. The helmets are designed to fit snugly on a wearer’s head. When another hat is worn under the helmet, there’s a chance that the helmet could slide around and not adequately protect the wearer.

Bob Mayhew, Jr.
Asst. District Commissioner
Thornton, Colo.

Richard Bourlon responds: Right, Bob. Although the BSA does not have specific guidelines for ice-climbing safety, wearing any type of head covering beneath a helmet is not recommended by the BSA or by most, if not all, helmet manufacturers. Please review “Climb On Safely” training for more information (bit.ly/climbingsafety). And follow manufacturer’s directions on the proper fitting of helmets.


The Son Also Rises
In Trailhead (January-February), the story “Salute of the Century,” states that “Scouting’s successor to Norman Rockwell” is “famed artist Joseph Csatari.” On Page 38, I find the article in Health & Wellness titled “Prevention Is Sweet” by Jeff Csatari. If the two Csataris are related, I think it would be best for Scouting magazine to disclose their relationship.

Randall Voigt
Lakewood, Colo.

Nepotism? Nay! Joseph Csatari is Jeff’s dad. But we chose Jeff to write about fitness, health, and wellness for us because that’s what he does. Jeff is a contributing editor to Men’s Health magazine and has authored several best-selling books on weight-loss and fitness.


Predictions of Parenthood
I recently received the January-February issue and have already read every page. I got really excited when I saw that can receive a special centennial patch (“Salute of the Century”) if I make Eagle this year. I’m finishing up the last merit badge for my Eagle Scout application.

Scouting has taught me great leadership skills. I’ve been the patrol leader, senior patrol leader, and assistant senior patrol leader, which has helped me communicate and get along with everyone. And I can’t wait for my son to join Scouts and see him progress by learning some of the leadership skills I have as a Scout.

Corbin Owens
Pearland, Tex.

Always happy to hear from Scouts who’ve gotten something from reading our magazine. We believe that it’s Scouts like you who will inspire those that will take Scouting through the next 100 years.


Required Reading
Recently there were several changes to the BSA Eagle Scout Service Project Workbook and the Guide to Advancement.

The review process of the Eagle Scout Project plan and execution are now much more distributed across many Scout leaders of varying experiences. Some of the changes may require substantial reminders to unit leaders (both experienced and new). From the perspective of a committee member and/or adult leader, I see at least two major changes that should be published in Scouting magazine to help achieve wide dissemination.

First, the forms reinforce and give a very good reminder that “no additional requirements should be added.” Unit leaders must attest to this fact on page 10 of the workbook. I imagine that some units vary the implementation of individual standards, and this was the reason for the clarification.

Second, a keynote is that the candidate’s proposal can be brief. And though it’s a “good idea” for the project plan to be approved by the Council/District, it can now be approved at unit level. The responsibility of reviewing the project plan has returned to the unit committee, where they may be more alert to the learning styles of individual scouts. The Guide to Advancement reminds leaders that the requirement is planning and conducting (completing) the project (to show leadership) and not the development of an overly precise book. This is very good clarification.

It would be good to discuss why there have been changes. I see the clarity as a way to standardize the Eagle Scout rank nationwide. This is a good thing. From my perspective, there has been a difference of implementation standards across several districts and counsels.

The new clarity of the workbook and the Guide to Advancement take into account the educational level of the students that we are dealing with, and reminds the leaders that these candidates for the Eagle Scout rank have the ability to learn as they plan, and their projects do not have to be overly detailed. Sometimes well-intentioned counselors often increase the load on already burdened candidates.

Dan Rusin
Havre de Grace, Md.

Good thinking, Dan. We’re on it. See “Plan and Report” in Advancement FAQs on Page 15. We think you’ll find more clarity there.

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