Scouting September 2000

Where learning is spelled A-C-T-I-O-N

By Lori Murray

An Ohio council's annual Show-N-Do is a fast-paced, fun day during which leaders gain experience in basic outdoor skills and other program activities.

On a cool autumn morning, Patty Huff was maneuvering her car through thick fog when a pickup truck materialized a few feet away. Huff smiled when she saw that the truck's occupants were wearing Scout uniforms.

"Follow us! We know the way!" the friendly voices called out. And Huff gratefully tagged along as both vehicles made their way to Camp McKinley, site of the Buckeye Council's annual Show-N-Do.

Despite the widespread fog, Huff and more than 160 other Scout leaders traveled from the small towns and villages of eastern Ohio to attend the hands-on training event that weekend.

"This is about learning the basic skills of outdoor activity," said council camping director Randy Toland. Volunteer leaders new to Scouting especially benefit from the sessions, he added, because although "many of them like to go camping, most don't know how to start a fire or set up a tent."

That certainly described Patty Huff. She was the new Scoutmaster of Canton's Troop 117, but Huff admitted she lacked knowledge of many Scouting outdoor skills.

"For example, I had no idea how to use a compass until today," she said. "And this event offers a great way to learn a lot of information in a short amount of time."

Training for every level

The training also goes beyond instructing first-time leaders, H. Arden Tohill Jr., chairman of the Show-N-Do, pointed out. The organizers want Scouters to return often, and "the event is designed so those who have been here before will want to return," he said.

"We are developing ways to bring leaders back for 'fine-tuning,'" Tohill noted, explaining that plans for this year's event call for all classes to include both basic instruction for beginners and expert or advanced training.

A group of about 30 organizers combine their talents and know-how to mold the Show-N-Do planning process. Without them, Tohill emphasized, the event would not be possible. When it comes time to recruit instructors, he said, "they all seem to know people who can volunteer in various capacities."

Ideas, old and new

At the 1999 event, leaders could participate in up to six training sessions from a list of 27 classes. And from early morning on, Camp McKinley was alive with the buzz of learning activity.

Outside a grove of trees at the bottom of a hill, Emerson Roth of Troop 36 in East Canton led a session on basic knots and rope work. Some Scouters were busy making rope from baling twine, while others attempted to master basic Scout knots, like the sheet bend and bowline.

"It's important to learn not only how to tie the knot but also where and when to use it," said Roth, as he demonstrated both to his students.

In a nearby meadow, seven Scouters listened to geology expert Chuck Moyer of Troop 45 in Hartville. "Geology is about 50 percent observation and 50 percent research," he said, acquainting the leaders with maps and other reference materials for studying local rocks and minerals.

Joel Stevens of Troop 12, North Canton, taught a class on "Scouting and the Internet." His topics ranged from using troop management software to finding sources of Scouting clip art.

A short walk down a wooded path to a small campsite found about 10 leaders developing their whittling skills—carving a piece of soap rather than wood. Their deliberate efforts indicated they were heeding the advice from instructor Dave R. Turpin of Troop 74 in Wooster to work "slow and easy."

"It's not as easy as it looks," more than one student commented as each shaved through the soap with a plastic knife, diligently crafting it into the shape of a human hand.

Learn by a-c-t-i-o-n

The word that best described the day's events was "action." In virtually every class, Scouters were urged to participate fully, to personally experience the fun of Scouting's outdoor program.

And no class offered a more exciting experience than climbing and rappelling.

Instructor Mark Smith, Scoutmaster for Troop 3 in Salem, demonstrated how to climb a 30-foot rock formation, located on the side of a hill that was bathed in early fall color.

"Does anybody else want to try it?" he then asked. The 18 trainees checked their palms for sweat and looked around to see if someone else would be the first to volunteer. Then Mark Waggoner of Troop 68 in Wooster accepted the challenge and donned the climbing gear.

"This is a lot different from the indoor gyms where I usually climb," Waggoner observed after his successful ascent. Unlike an indoor climbing apparatus, "Here, you have to find your own handholds," he said, adding that while some adult leaders might hesitate to try a climb, the boys in his troop "would love the activity."

Other Scouters overcame their hesitation and followed Waggoner, either climbing up or rappelling down the vertical rocks. Among them was Annette Gann, a den leader for Pack 170 in Alliance.

"I'm doing this for my son," she announced while standing at the top of the rocks, mustering the strength and courage to take the backward step off the edge and rappel to the bottom. Her descent was undramatic, however, and when her feet finally made contact with the ground, she was greeted with a cheer from fellow classmates.

A dose of practical know-how

After lunch, the sun worked its way through the clouds. The fog that had dominated the morning hours vanished, revealing a lake in the distance, its water mirroring the tall trees with their early fall foliage.

Near the water, a group of Scouters listened to Tom Bomba, Scoutmaster for Troop 10 of North Canton, as he discussed backpacks and other hiking equipment.

Not far away, another group was learning about woods tools. Using an ax and a chopping block, the participants fashioned a tent peg out of a piece of wood.

A session on storytelling had its own version of "hands-on" learning.

"In this class, everyone gets the chance to tell a story—which is not an easy thing to do," said Cy Laughlin, Scoutmaster for Troop 181 in New Philadelphia. "You can get a lot of teaching done by telling a story to young people," he added, noting that five minutes is plenty of time to make a story "really interesting."

Dennis Manbeck of Pack 430 in Dennison said the opportunity to try out different skills in each Show-N-Do class helped him better understand which activities were most appropriate for various age-groups.

"Compass reading, for example, will be fascinating to my boys," he said. "They are still Webelos Scouts, but they like camping, and it will help them get ready for what they'll be doing as Boy Scouts."

Assistant Scoutmaster Lynn Butts of Troop 25 in Canton appreciated what she learned about using the Internet. "When the time comes [for my Scouts] to work on the Computers merit badge, I want to be ready to help them," she said.

Greg Stephens of Troop 250 in Massillon was attending his second Show-N-Do. He enjoyed the geology session so much that he planned to take his troop to Camp McKinley to study the rock formations.

As the weekend came to a close, it was clear the Show-N-Do sessions had provided the Scouters with more than just new knowledge of outdoor skills.

Equally impressive was their enthusiasm for passing on the skills they had learned—and the accompanying excitement and adventure—to the boys in their own packs and troops.

Freelance writer Lori Murray lives in Columbus, Ohio.

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