Sunday, June 18, 2017

The Texas Badge

The Texas Badge is an extra badge that the boys can earn and wear as temporary insignia. In other words, it's a temporary patch that is usually hanging from the button or inserted into a plastic sleeve that is hanging from that button so that you may proudly display said awesome patch that they want to wear as part of their record of awesomeness!

Here is a handy-dandy visual aid for your insignia placement viewing pleasure.

But, I digress, back to The Texas Badge.  Printable here

How awesome that you can EARN AN AWARD just for learning some amazing things about this amazing state.

  • Be an active Cub Scout or Webelos Scout registered in a Pack in Texas. (well, you've all got THAT covered, don'tcha?!  NEXT!
  • Name the State bird (printable here.)
  • State flower (printable here)
  • State motto - Friendship
  • Sing or recite the words of "Texas, Our Texas"(here)

  • Draw the six flags of Texas. Tell something important that happened when Texas was under each flag.  Here's a great resource to use. The flags they draw can be any size they want.
  • Name a famous Texas. Tell why that person is famous, and what you like or dislike about him or her.  There are a TON of these to choose from:  
    • Stephen F. Austin, Davy Crockett among hundreds of others. Try HERE or HERE
  • Visit a historical place in Texas. Tell about the important events, which happened there. If you go on the USS Lexington with us in September, you'll be covered for sure!

  • Read a story about any Texas subject (fiction or non-fiction). Tell what you learned from the story. 
  • Find out about the Indians who lived near your community at any time. Tell about some of their history and customs. If you have already done any of these requirements for another Cub Scout or Webelos Scout award, you must do something different for the Texas Badge. For example, if you visited a historical place for another Cub Scout or Webelos Scout award, you should visit a different historical place for the Texas Badge.  Amazing resource here. 
Once your son has completed all of the requirements for the Texas Badge, complete the application and turn it into your den leader to validate the completion of the criteria for earning the badge. 

Great American Campout - Take the Pledge!

June 24 is the 13th annual Great American Campout sponsored by The National Wildlife Federation features 5,000 new reasons to pledge online to camp between NOW through the end of October 2017. So, if you can't camp on THE DAY... it's okay you can still pledge because we WILL be camping between now and October!  SO GO PLEDGE HERE NOW!  

This initiative is a summer long way to encourage camping which connects you with nature and wildlife.  I mean, think about it -- you can't fully appreciate it if you never are out in it!  Right?

It doesn't matter if you're camping in a tent, in a cabin, in your backyard, in a national forest or in an RV -- just GET OUT THERE AND CAMP between now and October! 

Jeff Probst, Executive Producer and host of CBS' Survivor and avid outdoorsman, serves as this year's celebrity spokesperson. The National Wildlife Federation's beloved wildlife ambassador, Ranger Rick, will help young campers join the fun and excitement with family-friendly downloadable camping activities, recipes, and books.

Richard Louv penned Last Child In The Woods. If you haven't read it, I encourage you to do so. I fully believe that the more and more commercial driven, label seeking, persuasively marketable we have made ourselves, the further the disconnect between us and nature.  That's why we strive to keep the OUT in scOUTing. We need nature! The best thing you can do is to DISCONNECT from your screens and CONNECT outside! So, take the pledge to join us at least once before the deadline!

Collin O'Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation states, "Reconnecting with nature inspires us to care for what we love and rekindles the conservation ethic that lives inside each of us. When you can be present in nature and experience a connection – when you look into a tree and see the eyes of a great horned owl staring back at you – it reminds us of our responsibility to take action and protect the things we value most."

Read more about the initiative HERE.  

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Summer STEM Camps

We are so lucky to be part of the amazing Longhorn Council for so many reasons. Not only do they have an amazing program schedule for scouts Council-wide all year long, but they also have an amazing summer STEM program for boys and girls in grades K-6.

For more information, click on the image below or contact the Longhorn Activity Center at or by calling (817) 231-8537.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Cub Scouts Has a Great Purpose

One of the best gifts you can give your kid through Scouting is a whole new family... all of you!  Values that last a life time.

National Fishing & Boating Week

June 3-11 is National Fishing and Boating Week.  All over the country people are encouraged to get outside and get on the water.

Check out THIS LINK for all the details for events nationwide. A big perk of this week? FREE FISHING! Experienced anglers are encouraged to bring a newbie onto the water to experience the thrill of the catch.  Texas' free fishing day is Saturday, June 3.

There's information to teach you how to fish, find places to fish, and even get a fishing license online.

The best way to explore this national week is to get outside and get on the water!

Thursday, June 1, 2017

June - A Scout is Brave

The BSA point of the Scout Law for this month is Brave -- by definition, the polar opposite of fear. Although, I believe that both can be equally crippling. Being brave doesn't mean you're not afraid... bravery is actually to continue to move forward despite being afraid and frankly, it's something quite different for each and every one of us. 

Bravery could mean something as simple as standing on top of the monkey bars to a Tiger scout or signing your name on the line to dedicate your life serving in our nation's military.  Bravery can be conquering Mt. Everest or having the courage to stand up before strangers to deliver a speech. It could be going away for the first time ever to camp without the creature comforts to which you've grown accustomed... to walking into the meeting of a brand new Pack and trying to make friends with people you don't know. 

Bravery is saying no to the wrong thing. 

Bravery can be having the courage to quit when you know the path by which you travel is not the one you intended.  Listening to that inner voice rather than the masses of people that you may have surrounded yourself with.. is very brave.

Being okay with being different... is brave. 

Bravery is... showing up... in every sense of the word.

{I do have to put a disclaimer here though -- don't let me allow ANYONE to confuse being brave with being stupid because the internet is FULL of people doing really, REALLY stupid things that don't equate to an OUNCE of bravery.} 

Thanks, I feel better now.

Every month in the Boy's Life magazine there is a feature called Scouts In Action.  Many of their stories highlight scouts all over the world who showed bravery.  Check out some of those stories the next time it arrives in your mailbox.  In fact, here's a link to the site with the previously published Scouts in Action pages from the magazine.

So taking on the idea of bravery... did you know that a Scout can face danger even if he is afraid... that's being brave.  Think of all the things people are afraid of.  I'll bet that one of the top fears on more lists than you could even fathom is... 

 !!  SNAKES  !! 

There are lots of people who believe that the only good snake is a dead snake but there couldn't be anything further from the truth. Snakes are beneficial to our ecosystem in more ways than you can imagine. The way to learn to be brave if you're afraid of them is by educating yourself to identify the venomous snakes you might come across so that when you see anything other, you can simply appreciate them (and... perhaps spray them with a water hose to get them to go away if you're still not a fan).

Shaun Hayes has one of my favorite Instagram accounts @tx_snakewrangler and he has given me permission to use his photos for this post.  They're beautiful and amazing and I'm so grateful for his love of herping which enables me to share with you ways to identify these creatures.  Because, the more you know...the more you grow! Please check him out on YouTube too right here.

Coral Snake
  • Coral snakes have one of the strongest venoms of any snake, but because of their small jaws they are not considered as dangerous as rattlesnakes.
  • The snakes are usually between 18 and 20 inches long. Some grow to be 3 feet long.
  • They can be as skinny as a pencil.
  • Their heads are small and look like their tails.
  • Their fangs are always out because they cannot pull them back into their mouths. 
  • There is a harmless king snake that looks so much like the coral snake that people made up a rhyme about their coloring. However, it is a good idea to never pick up any snake unless there is an adult with you. The rhyme is: “Red and yellow, kill a fellow; “Red and black, just stay back.” So, if the red bands touch the yellow bands, you know it's a coral snake.
  • Coral snakes live in a variety of habitats, ranging from marshes to woods and sand hills. They also like to sleep under rotting leaves. They are often found in suburban areas as well. 
  • They eat lizards and other small snakes. 
  • They lay eggs. Babies are 7 inches long when they hatch and are fully venomous. 
  • Most people who are bitten receive the bite when they pick up the snakes or step on them with bare feet.
Here is a photo of a coral snake. See if you can find the head. See how the red touches yellow? 

  • Copperhead snakes get their name from their copper-red heads. 
  • They are pit vipers and have heat-sensing pits on their faces that help them detect prey. 
  • Copperheads have wide, muscular bodies with hourglass-shaped markings. 
  • They average between 2 and 3 feet long. 
  • They live in many different environments, including rocky areas, woods, and mountains; near streams, desert oases, and canyons. Nearer to humans, they also love to live in wood and sawdust piles, abandoned and overgrown yards, and old construction areas. 
  • Although they hunt alone, they are social and hibernate in dens with many other snakes. 
  • Copperheads eat mice and other small rodents, small birds, lizards, amphibians, small snakes, and insects. 
  • They use their pits to sense heat and track prey. After they bite large prey, they wait until the prey dies and then eat it. 
  • Adults sometimes eat only 10 to 12 meals a year if the meal is a larger animal. 
  • Babies are born live with fangs and venom as dangerous as an adult snake’s. 
  • Copperheads give no warning and will strike almost immediately if they feel threatened.

See how the pattern looks like Hershey Kisses? That's a characteristic indicative of one species of copperhead.

This is a broad banded copperhead.
Another view of a copperhead.

  • A rattlesnake’s warning sounds are hissing and rattling of its tail. 
  • Rattlers can grow to be 1 to 7 feet long. 
  • They have a distinctly triangular head. 
  • Every time a rattlesnake sheds its skin, another ring is added to the rattle on its tail. 
  • Rattlesnakes live in many different environments in North and South America. They can live anywhere from desert sands to grasslands, scrub brush, rocky hills, and swamps. They can live in high elevations, up to 11,000 feet. 
  • Texas has NINE native species of rattlers. I've only seen four in my life.
  • Generations of rattlesnakes can use the same dens for hundreds of years. 
  • They give birth every two years to live babies. 
  • They can live up to 30 years. 
  • Rattlesnakes eat small rodents, reptiles, and insects. 
  • Their strike is extremely fast. 
  • They eat about every two weeks. 
  • Most rattlesnake strikes on humans happen when the snakes are stepped or sat upon.
Diamondback rattle snake. The rattle...and diamond pattern give this one away, no?  There is an Eastern Diamondback and a Western Diamondback -- each has a coloration to help it blend in with its environment.

This is a massasauga rattler. Distinctive by the rattle (shocker) and the Pac Man pattern.

This is an Eastern Timber rattlesnake

Cottonmouth a.k.a. Water mocassin 
  • Cottonmouths are the only venomous water snake in North America, but they are also happy soaking up the heat on land. 
  • They have a triangular head and a thick body. 
  • They are also commonly called water mocassins. 
  • They are called cottonmouths because they open their mouths wide when they are threatened. The inside of the mouth is white, like cotton. 
  • They are pit vipers. 
  • Cottonmouths range from 2 to 4 feet long. 
  • They have dark vertical lines by each nostril and pale snouts. 
  • They can be found in swamps, marshes, drainage ditches, ponds, lakes, and streams or sunning themselves on land nearby. 
  • They swim with their heads out of the water. 
  • They eat fish, birds, amphibians, lizards, baby alligators, turtles, small mammals, and other snakes. 
  • Babies are born live in litters of up to 20. 
  • When threatened, cottonmouths will coil up, open their mouths, and expose their fangs.

See how white his mouth is? That's how they got their name. People try to say they're aggressive but you can see video after video of these and they stay coiled and rarely strike. I'm not saying they won't but they are not the monsters they are made out to be. Notice the sharp taper from thick to tail. Very good way to learn to ID these as they are not a slight taper like many snakes are. They go from thick to tail - BAM!
Another beautiful view of how they go from fat to end. Another reason, too, not to go sticking your hand in holes if you don't know what's in it. I zoomed in on this picture, below, too, because I want you to see the mouth and banded eyes. 

Juvenile cotton mouth - showing you some of the variations of coloration. Their tails also have a greenish tip when they're babies, too.

Wanted to show you a SIDE VIEW of the head of a water moccasin / cotton mouth. See how the brown band runs fully along their eyes? That's another way to help you ID this species. 
If anything, nature shows us ways that camouflage and pattern mimicry help species survive and avoid predation.  For instance, the photo below shows two diamondback water snakes with a broadbanded water snake. These are constantly misidentified as cottonmouth snakes. I have personally seen more than one photo posted on Facebook (after they have been killed) by people SWEARING they're cottonmouths. I promise not every snake is a cottonmouth. 

Speaking of mimicry... I want to draw your attention to how these NON VENOMOUS snakes can flatten their heads to LOOK largely triangular (which people like to say is indicative of venomous snakes). Lots of snakes learn ways to appear big and bad so they're not messed with. Another reason to educate yourself. 

This plain bellied watersnake is frequently confused with a cottonmouth. See the vertical bars along its mouth? That's another way to identify this harmless, nonvenomous species.

Below is a video posted by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to help you see these species moving in the wild.

And if just watching this gave you the heebie jeebies -- thanks for being brave and making it to the end!  

National Trails Day

Saturday, June 3 is National Trails Day  

It's a day where everyone nationwide is encouraged to lace up their hiking boots, air up their bike tires, grab their kayaks, or even saddle up their horse and HIT THE TRAILS!

From the American Hiking Society's website: 
National Trails Day is the only nationally coordinated event designed to unite all muscle-powered trail activities with the goal of connecting more people to trails. Every trail beckons adventure and has a story to share with any person willing to discover it, and American Hiking Society believes these trail experiences can improve the lives of every American.  
Each year, on the first Saturday of June, American Hiking Society and the trails community invite Americans of all ages and abilities to find their own adventure and discover their unique story at one of the thousands of events hosted throughout the country.  
By coordinating a wide array of trail activities on a single day, National Trails Day attracts new trail users and helps connect existing trail enthusiasts with local clubs and organizations with the hopes of creating trail advocates and stewards. The task to protect and maintain more than 200,000 miles of trails in the U.S. requires a collaborative effort among trail clubs, organizations, government agencies, and most importantly passionate trail advocates and stewards.

There are lots of activities going on nationwide so if you won't be in town to join us Saturday for our outdoor experience with leader, Eric James, please CHECK HERE for something near where you will be! Check ScoutBook for Saturday's location, time and to RSVP so we know to expect you.