Category Archives: Scouting

Carly Rae Who? A Train bound for nowhere…

BSA #2013Jambo is about to start. With millions of dollars of private support, the Scouts have built a 4th high adventure base in West Virginia and it’s about to open with a grand ribbon cutting ceremony – BSA National Jamboree 2013. Hundreds of thousands of volunteer hours have gone into preparing the Bechtel Family Summit Reserve. Thousands of volunteer staff members are putting on the finishing touches. Monday morning, approximately 40,000 Scouts, Scouters and a few visitors will turn this old coal mining mountain into a city.

Jamboree organizers have done a great job providing something for nearly everyone and they’ve planned a few concerts, one with a huge fireworks show, to spice up the fun. You may have heard that Carly Rae Jepson, and Train were contracted as the headliners. These two musical acts are on the pop charts and popular with many. Unfortunately, neither of them understand the first point of the Scout Law; A Scout is Trustworthy.

Ms. Jepson says she “prays that her decision to” breach her performance contract will “help shock the organization to rethink its ban on admitting openly gay Scouts and leaders.” Its too bad she wasn’t smart enough or business savvy enough to think about that before she signed the contract. Instead, she found herself in the interesting position of needing to decide whether she’ll garner better publicity by keeping her word and honoring her contract or by breaching her contract to granstand for a cause we’ve never heard her champion before. Either way, its all about her and that’s not what Scouting is all about. I’m glad she won’t be entertaining.

Train, in my opinion, is an even worse offender. Not only did they announce they were breaching their contract, they staged a blackmail campaign targeting the BSA stating “we’ll come after all if they make the right decision” about the gay membership issue. Sorry. I don’t want you regardless of the decision. You’re a terrorist blackmailer and you breached a contract. No room for you at a Scout jamboree.

We don’t know who the BSA has found to replace these acts – they’ve been pretty tight lipped about that, presumably to minimize the opportunity for a related media circus – but I’m sure they’ll be fun! And, we’ll know soon because Jamboree starts the day after tomorrow!

The BSA take on all this? “We appreciate everyone’s right to express an opinion and remain focused on delivering a great jamboree program for our scouts.” I’m glad they’re remaining focused. I hope they sue the pants off these two performance acts for their contract breaches…after they host a fantastic jamboree experience.

All Gave Some, Some Gave All

We interrupt your regularly scheduled stream of blogs about our trip to Italy to pay a special tribute to all veterans. I spent last night on the USS Cobia, docked at the Wisconsin Maritime Museum in Manitowoc, WI with my scouts. Plenty of places on board to think about the veterans who have served our country, for all of whom I am thankful!

Yes, space was tight on the USS Cobia. Seventy submariniers, seventy days, eight hours on the surface running the diesel engines to charge batteries for every twenty two hours submerged. Three bathrooms like this one.

There was one shower in the officer’s quarters. The rest of the crew washed at small sinks. We joked about launching any scouts who got too “energetic” out the forward torpedo tubes…

World War II submarines aren’t very big…but this shot through the bulkhead leading to the officer’s quarters and mess makes it look long…

One of the things they did while they were running the diesels on the surface to recharge batteries was desalinate water. These two “stills” distilled 1000 gallons of freshwater from seawater during the 8 hour charging stint.

One of the benefits of sleeping on the USS Cobia, besides the overpowering aroma of sweat in confined quarters, is the opportunity to go a few places where the daytime tours don’t, including the conning tower and lower level of the engine room.

The “wheel” on the right controlled the trim of the “wings” or hydrofoil near the bow of the submarine while the one on the left controlled the rear hydrofoil. Note the “saltwater depth to keel” gauge with three key depths noted by a red mark.

48 feet was the maximum depth where the radar mounted on the conning tower could be used

67 feet was the maximum depth where the periscope could be used

150 feet was the minimum depth where the subs were safe from enemy aircraft and also the depth where they switched to the “deep range” gauge higher on the wall between the two wheels.

I asked Matt Karolek if he wanted to be awakened in time for sunrise through the periscope…but he passed on the opportunity.

I like the composition and content of the shot I took of the port side of the large deck gun better…but the lighting on the starboard side makes this a much better picture. The submariner who sat on this side adjusted the elevation of the gun. The guy on the other side turned the gun. They were both quite exposed to enemy fire. Because of this only a few men were allowed on deck at any given time.

Submariners who worked in the engine room or who shot the deck guns sacrificed their hearing for our freedom. 52 US WWII subs were “lost”, including over 3100 submariners. All gave some, some gave all.

Fortunately, there are places we can go to learn about their sacrifices and reflect on the things we have because of them.


Potawatomi Area Council’s newest Eagle Scout

Eagle is the highest rank advancement in Scouting. Since 1912, over 2 million scouts have earned the rank of Eagle. This represents, however, less than 5% of all scouts. Today, Matt Kaarolek became the newest Eagle Scout in Potawatomi Area Council (Waukesha, WI).

To earn the rank of Eagle, Matt progressed through the ranks of Scout, Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star and Life. He has earned over 21 merit badges including; First Aid, Citizenship in the Community, Citizenship in the Nation, Citizenship in the World, Communications, Environmental Science, Personal Fitness, Camping, Family Life, Personal Management, Emergency Preparedness and Swimming. He served a minimum of six months in a leadership position while a Life Scout. He planned, developed and lead a service project for the community. He took part in a Scoutmaster conference. And, today, he passed his Eagle Board of Review.

While a Scout, Matt has gone on numerous events, outings and campouts including High Adventure camps at the Florida National Sea Base, Northern Tier Canoe Base and this summer will travel to Philmont Scout Ranch to complete the Triple Crown of Scouting. Matt is a Brotherhood member of the Order of the Arrow, a national service organization within the Boy Scouts of America and has worked at a local scout camp for two summers and will be on staff there again this summer. Matt has also been accepted to work on staff at the 2013 National BSA Jamboree, opening the newest national high adventure base at The Summit in West Virginia. He’ll be working in the extreme mountain biking area. What an exciting opportunity!

Scouting has been good for Matt, and Matt has been good for Scouting! His mom Teresa and I are extremely proud of his accomplishments! Obviously this experience hasn’t happened by accident and I wish to extend a heartfelt thanks to the primary leaders who have worked with Matt over the years including:

  • Greg Bomberg, Pack 294 Cubmaster
  • Lisa Murray, Pack 294 Den Leader (Wolves, Bears, and Webelos)
  • Trace Stoller, Troop 24 Scoutmaster
  • Lisa Murray, Troop 24 Scoutmaster
  • Rob Wucki, Troop 24 Assistant Scoutmaster & Eagle mentor
  • Assistant Scoutmasters, Troop 24 Committee Members and Scout parents who helped with our programs

Outlive Your Life

For the past month, the morning show hosts of the radio station I listen to most while commuting have had a daily segment with Max Lucado. They’ve been discussing his book, “Outlive Your Life: You Were Made to Make a Difference”. This is not a review of the book, there are plenty of those on This is, rather, a reflection on a few gifts I have received – things which will long outlive the giver.

Last weekend, I rode a portion of the Elroy-Sparta bike trail ( some of the Scouts from BSA Troop 24 in Hartland, WI. They’re in better shape and rode many more miles than I, but we had a great time doing it. Purchased by the State of Wisconsin in 1966 for $12,000, The Elroy-Sparta was the first conversion of an abandoned railway to a recreational trail in the nation. I’ve visited this trail, with beautiful scenery, cool damp tunnels, and friendly faces, many times, with family, friends and scouts. Likewise I have enjoyed the Sugar River trail, the Glacier Drumlin trail, the Bugline trail and the Lake Country trail closeer to home and the Paul Bunyan trail in MN. Why? Because my Dad introduced the family to these trails many years ago as a relatively inexpensive way to see cool places while getting a little exercise and enjoying nature!

This morning, my wife referenced a copy of the Wisconsin Natural Resources Magazine, pointing out some fabulous photos of “The Ledge” and how we should put it on our bucket list. I knew in an instant the reference must be about the Niagra Escarpment. As I read the article, I smiled as I recalled the portions of the ledge I’ve already visited – Cave Point and Eagle Cave in Door County; Ledge Park in Dodge County; Lime Kiln Park in Cedarburg and countless rock outcroppings in the Kettle Moraine overlooking scenic vistas along twisty roads and hilly trails. How did I know of these things? Of course, my Dad introduced and reintroduced me to them years ago and I have done the same for my children and my friends.

Tonight, my brother will take his sons and other scouts from their troop to Devils Lake. Along the way they’ll probably cross the Wisconsin River via the ferry at Merrimac. While the foot bridges haven’t yet been rebuilt from the 2008 flood damage, they might hike into Parfrey’s Glen nearby. They may have started conditioning earlier this year with a hike along the Root River trail, as I have dozens of times. How do I know of these things? Yes, Dad’s influence again.

Camping. Hiking. Biking. Canoeing. Scouts. Ping-pong. Church. Family. Friends. Driving down random roads and finding wonders like Kitchi t kippi springs ( and always having a camera to capture some of the memories to rekindle the magic when it begins to fade and blur with time. These are but a few of the many things my Dad has done to outlive his life and help enrich the lives of others.

Thanks Dad, for making a difference! I hope and pray that I will be able to outlive my life in ways you are outliving yours!

Memorial Day – The Reason For The Season

We all may celebrate Memorial Day in different ways, thankful for a long weekend which includes a paid weekday away from our normal work routine. No matter what your traditions, please consider taking some time to ponder “The Reason For The Season”, an opportunity to remember the sacrifices made by those who have served in the military and their families. Some ideas for things to do this weekend, in addition to, or instead of, picnics and parties, include:

Go to a parade or cemetery service in your community.

  • If you see a current soldier or a veteran in uniform, look them in the eye and thank them.
  • Watch a related movie (e.g., Saving Pvt Ryan, We Were Soldiers, Band of Brothers, The War Tapes, etc.) and discuss it with someone
  • Display the American Flag and a POW/MIA flag if you have one
  • Spend some time in quiet reflection on all of the freedoms we enjoy and the tremendous sacrifices made to defend them

Have a great Memorial Day Holiday, and THANK YOU to those of you who have served in the military and/or sacrificed to support others who have served.