Technology Cram School Weekend

terminator.robots

Many of the boys of Troop 985 spent hours this weekend working towards their Robotics, Electronics, and Space Exploration merit badges.  On February 2nd a large group of scouts is going to a Robotics and Electronics merit badge fair at UCSD, put on by their student branch of IEEE (which sounds like a cry of pain, but actually stands for Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers).  In order to earn the badges that day, the scouts need to bring their workbooks with 4 requirements (2 for Robotics and 2 for Electronics) completed.  These requirements cover background material for those two badges.

Amy and Christopher H. volunteered their living room, and we set up folding chairs for about 25 scouts.  We propped up a big white board on a ladder, and I spent 2 hours lecturing the scouts and helping them fill in their worksheets for the 4 requirements.  I was so impressed with boys’ focus and behavior, they had a lot of information presented to them and did a great job listening and participating.

I forgot my camera, but this gives you a pretty good idea of what the teaching session was like.

I forgot my camera, but this gives you a pretty good idea of what the teaching session was like.

After spending 2 hours on Friday night learning about robotics and electronics, many of those same scouts showed up at 9:00 Saturday morning at the Rec Center to learn how to build a model rocket, as part of the Space Exploration merit badge.  Mr. and Mrs. F. and their son Daniel held a workshop for the scouts to build their rockets, which we hope to launch at the desert camp out next weekend.  The scouts worked hard, and their rockets came out great.  We will see how straight they fly in a few days!

Boys are ready to learn how to make a rocket.

Boys are ready to learn how to make a rocket.

Brad the dad lends a hand.

Brad the dad lends a hand.

Trevor is confident in his ability to build his rocket!

Trevor is confident in his ability to build his rocket!

Sam's motor mount is done.

Sam’s motor mount is done.

Hard at work.

Hard at work.

Concentrating...

Concentrating…

Mr. F. helps out.

Mr. F. helps out.

Get that glue in there.

Get that glue in there.

Daniel explains how to attach the parachute.

Daniel explains how to attach the parachute.

All done!

All done!

Time to get silly...

Time to get silly…

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Filed under Merit Badge Workshops

Scouts Ahoy!

The tall ship the Californian, off Point Loma near the mouth of San Diego Bay.

The tall ship Californian, off Point Loma near the mouth of San Diego Bay.

Troop 985 headed down to San Diego Bay on a beautiful Saturday in late December, ready for an adventure on the high seas.  The boys did a program through the San Diego Maritime Museum to earn their Oceanography merit badge.  For the new scouts (including Sam), this was their first merit badge!

The program started off on the ferry Berkeley, where our guide James taught the boys about the science of oceanography using exhibits on the Berkeley, as well as about the history of the ferry.  We also learned the history of the parents of one of our scouts, as Noah K.’s dad Doug told us how he and Lisa were married on the Berkeley.

Learning aboard the Berkeley.

Learning aboard the Berkeley.

Next up, what we were all waiting for!   It was time to head out for a sail on the schooner the Californian.  The Californian is a replica of a gold rush era revenue cutter and the Official Tall Ship of the State of California.  It is manned by a crew of mainly volunteers, who taught the boys how to pull up the sails, secure the lines, and avoid getting their head knocked off by a giant boom.  They also gave excellent lessons on tying sailing knots, procuring and examining a plankton sample, reading and interpreting ocean maps, and the types of guns and shot that were used on these ships.  We finished with the ship’s guns being fired (no shot, just powder) as we returned to the dock, the skyline of San Diego beckoning us home.

Thanks to Amy H. and John H. for photos, and to Amy H. for organizing the event!

The boys pulling the ropes to raise the sails.

The boys pulling the ropes to raise the sails.

More sail raising.

More sail raising.

Learning to tie knots.

Learning to tie knots.

More knot tying.  Done with tying knots?  "Frayed knot!"

More knot tying. Done with tying knots? Frayed knot!

Practicing knot tying.

Practicing knot tying.  Honestly, there isn’t that much to do out sailing, so my guess is that sailors are so good at tying knots because they are looking for something to do while they sit out on ships all day.

Amazing photos of the sails that John H. took. Give some perspective on how big they are!

Amazing photos of the sails that John H. took. Gives some perspective on how big they are!

A gang 'o gobs, hearties, jacks, jack-tasr, mariners, limeys, salts, sea dogs, seafarers, seamans, shipmen, swabs, swabbies, and sailboaters.

A gang ‘o gobs, hearties, jacks, jack-tars, mariners, limeys, salts, sea dogs, seafarers, seamen, shipmen, swabbies, and sailboaters.

Mo and Heather are maties!

Mo and Heather are maties!

When it was time to return, the crew climbed the rigging to take down the sails.  They didn't ask for our help, and we did not offer.

When it was time to return, the crew climbed the rigging to take down the sails. They didn’t ask for our help, and we did not offer.

Sam and Mom on the deck of the Californian

Sam and Mom on the deck of the Californian

 

The flag was taken down also at the end of our sail.

The flag was taken down at the end of our sail.

Troop 985 on was what actually did turn out to be..."a three hour cruise..."

Troop 985 on what actually did turn out to be…”a three hour cruise…”

Downtown San Diego, waiting for us to return.

Downtown San Diego, waiting for us to return.

Gorgeous shot of tall ships (found on web, not mine!)

Gorgeous shot of tall ships, not from our trip.  I found this on the web, but it was so pretty I had to put it in.  Posted by Zippo.

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Desert Camp Out – A Rainy, Windy, Rocky Adventure

Smeagol

For Sam’s first camping trip with his Boy Scout troop, we headed inland to the desert, camping at a primitive site just outside the town of Ocotillo Wells.  This is an annual trip that the troop takes, and it is timed to coincide with the Geminid Meteor shower.  Sam and I have been having a bit of a Middle Earth fest at our house (watching the Lord of the Rings, making a Lego Bag End, seeing The Hobbit), and when I started looking at the photos for this post I noticed similarities between some of the landscapes used for Mordor and the landscape in the Anza Borrego Desert.  Since we are one big happy Boy Scout troop, I photoshopped in happy Smeagol and not nasty Gollum.  Trying to eat people (0r hobbits or goblins) that wander into your lair is definitely NOT a trait that goes with scouting, though Smeagol/Gollum would easily earn the Fishing merit badge.

As I said, we were hoping to get a great look at meteors (desert sky full of stars, right time of year), but the weather did not cooperate.  We left Friday night and a few hours into our journey on 8 East, as we were heading over the crest of the Laguna Mountains, it started to snow.  The thermostat said it was 32 degrees outside.  Looking out the windshield was like a scene from Star Wars, when the ship makes the jump to hyperspace.  Huge, fat, white blobs flying out of the black night towards us.  Suddenly, camping did not seem like a great idea.  We passed a few seedy looking hotels, and looked back at them longingly.

Fortunately the temperature rose and weather cleared up for a time, as we dropped on to the desert floor.  There was a bit of difficulty finding the dirt road to the canyon, as the town of Ocotillo Wells is now surrounded by huge windmills that have been put up in the last year.  Many of the windmills have red lights on them, so at night it looks like a forest of staring malevolent eyes.  The dirt road was eventually discovered at the tail end of the new field of windmills, and we drove for several minutes out into the desert.  It was quite windy, but we managed to get the tents up and ensconce ourselves in them just as the rain started.  It rained off and on all night.

The big adventure of the next day was a hike to a Montero palm grove.  It rained on us as we hiked, but not too heavily.   The palm grove was great, the kids had a fantastic time rummaging around the boulders, trees, and little caves.  Some of the older boys continued on for a longer hike out to Goat Canyon, the rest of us returned to camp where the boys spent the rest of the daylight hours scrambling on the boulder-strewn mountainsides surrounding our camp.

After a nice dinner of grilled steak and asparagus, we sat around our fire barrels to gaze at the stars and watch for meteors.  Two meteors were spotted (not by me unfortunately), before the clouds returned.  No rain that night, but there was a howling wind.  Sam and I were snug in our tent, the awesome Meteorlite.  This is actually Dad’s tent that he bought for backpacking years ago, but it held up great.  It is low profile, so when the wind came screaming through camp like a freight train our tent just shook a bit, while other more high profile tents really pitched back and forth.

In the morning we stopped at an abandoned train station on the way out, with an incredibly photogenic water tower and train tracks leading nowhere.  Despite the rain, wind, cold, and no meteors, we had a wonderful time, and it was a great first camp out with Troop 985.

P.S. I didn’t yet have my new portable point and shoot camera (when I heard it was going to rain I left my good one at home), so many thanks to Tony T., Steve H., and Mary N. for the photos!

Our primitive campsite out in the desert.

Our primitive campsite out in the desert  We all circled around the edge of the canyon.

After breakfast on Saturday, getting ready to head out to palm oasis.

After breakfast on Saturday, getting ready to head out to palm oasis.

Why is Tony so grumpy looking?  He has his coffee.  Maybe the sweet, sweet caffeine hasn't hit his synapses yet.

Why is Tony so grumpy looking? He has his coffee. Maybe the sweet, sweet caffeine hasn’t hit his synapses yet.

At the trail head to the palm canyon.  A light rain is starting to fall.

At the trail head to the palm canyon. A light rain is starting to fall.

The Mortero palm tree grove.  There are 50 to 100 palms in this oasis.

The Mortero palm tree grove. There are 50 to 100 palms in this oasis.

Inside the palm grove.

Inside the palm grove.

Sam on a fallen palm trunk bridge.

Sam on a fallen palm trunk bridge.

Sam, Matthew, Trevor, and Mo.  A soggy bunch!

Sam, Matthew, Trevor, and Mo. A soggy bunch!

The race back to camp.

The race back to camp.

The boys spent much of their free time at camp bouldering up and down the canyon walls.

The boys spent much of their free time at camp bouldering up and down the canyon walls.

There were no fire rings (or water, or bathrooms!), so at night we had fires in old washing machine tubs.  The firelight shining through the drain holes looked like a Lite Brite toy.

There were no fire rings (or water, or bathrooms!), so at night we had fires in old washing machine tubs. The firelight shining through the drain holes looked like a Lite Brite toy.

Caravan leaving the canyon, more rain clouds are rolling in.

Caravan leaving the canyon, more rain clouds are rolling in.

We stopped at the abandoned Dos Cabezas train station.  All that is left is a foundation and a water tower.

We stopped at the abandoned Dos Cabezas train station. All that is left is a foundation and a water tower.

Water.tower

Troop 985!

Troop 985!

Sam and I on the old tracks.  I am wearing about 4 layers of clothing, and am already looking forward to my shower when I get home.

Sam and I on the old tracks. I am wearing about 4 layers of clothing, and am already looking forward to my shower when I get home.

Switch.boys

On our way out Tony snapped this last photo of the boys working a switch on the abandoned rail road line.

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Sam’s Scouting Adventure Begins…

Sam has been a Cub Scout since 1st grade, and worked his way from Tiger all the way to Webelo 2.  In October 2012 he and 15 other boys from Pack 22 in Tierrasanta bridged up to Boy Scouts.  Sam was one of many boys in his troop who earned all 20 Activity Badges to become a Superachiever.  It was a lot of fun and he and his den really worked hard.

Now his adventures in boy scouting begin.  He joined Troop 985 in Tierransanta, along with 13 other boys from his den.  They doubled the size and halved the age of the troop in one fell swoop!  His patrol is the Shark patrol, which he is in with his buddy Matthew.

I/we hope to chronicle some of the highlights of his boy scout years.  His troop does lots of camping and other activities, and we are excited for the future!

Sam and his fellow Webelo 2's bridging up to boy scouts at a ceremony at Mission Trails Park.

Sam and his fellow Webelo 2’s bridging up to boy scouts at a ceremony at Mission Trails Park.

Sam and Mom at bridging.

Sam and Mom at bridging.

Sam and Matthew with their Arrow of Light.

Sam and Matthew with their Arrow of Light.

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Filed under Ceremonies