Building Solar Ovens

Outdoor cooking techniques and recipe exchange.

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Building Solar Ovens

Postby Chris Taylor » Fri Oct 26, 2012 8:56 pm

I've got a lot of scouting experience... not a lot of scouter experience though... so after being a Cub Leader for about 5 years, I am easing into Boy Scout leadership as just a Scout Parent. Until I get things figured out, I hope I can supplement the outstanding efforts of our SM and ASM, and I'm thinking perhaps a good way for me to do that is to help facilitate individual patrol activities.

With that thought in mind, I recently saw an old solar oven that was constructed by a boy scout friend of mine back in our heyday, and remembered how much fun we had with that thing. So I'm thinking of hosting a patrol activity of building solar ovens. From reading other threads on this site, it seems there might be some things I need to be concerned about. Of course 2 deep leadership... what else? Power tools? Is there a MB that I should have them focused on that relates?

Thanks...
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Re: Building Solar Ovens

Postby Nuts4Scouts » Sat Oct 27, 2012 2:12 pm

Being a Scout Parent does not make you the leader of your son's Boy Scout Patrol. It also does not make you a Merit Badge Counselor.

Doing crafts is not a big Boy Scout activity.

If your Scout is interested in learning about, and building, a solar oven, he should talk to his Patrol Leader(PL).

If you want to "ease into Boy Scout leadership" I suggest you first talk to the Scoutmaster, and/or the Committee Chair, to see what you can do to help.
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Re: Building Solar Ovens

Postby Chris Taylor » Sun Oct 28, 2012 12:26 am

Your tactful response was very helpful.
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Re: Building Solar Ovens

Postby FrankJ » Sun Oct 28, 2012 9:35 am

On the other hand building a solar oven sounds like a neat activity. Lots to learn from a crafts point of view & cooking. As Nuts4 said, the trick is how to work it into the program. Talk to the scoutmaster & take his advice on how & when to present it the boys. Good scoutmasters are always looking for new content. If it doesn't work now, it could be a future thing.

Your son is always free to talk it up to his patrol. It doesn't have to be just the PL. When it is his turn to cook he could bring one along. The big thing is it needs to be something the scouts are interested in, not just a good idea.
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Re: Building Solar Ovens

Postby ismellbacon » Sun Oct 28, 2012 10:41 am

Sounds like an excellent idea! I always try to encourage the scouts to think of new ways and new reciepes when it comes to cooking (and discourage the weekend of beef jerky and poptarts). I'm sure doing a meal or two in an unconventional oven would be a memorable experience!

I can see it tying into the Cooking MB, not so much the use of it, but the sample act of getting the scouts to thinking about good food.

Talk with the Scoutmaster and see about what angle you can work. BSA is not a secret organization and parents are always welcome on scouting activities (as long as they understand they are observers, not doers). I started out as a MB counselor, then Troop Committee, then ASM, then... so be careful what you wish for! HA

Best of luck, and I would like to see your designs!
Yours in scouting,

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Re: Building Solar Ovens

Postby kwildman » Mon Oct 29, 2012 11:27 am

i think it is an excellent idea. My experience is that kids like to do hands on things where they can see value in what they have done. Talk to your SM and see if he is interested in it and ask how to pursue it. As a scoutmaster, I love it when someone comes to me with an idea and volunteers to own it. I teach my scouts that if they come to me with a problem or an idea that I expect them to offer a solution or at the least being willing to help implement it.

Being a youth led organization doesn't meant that adults don't participate or never lead a meeting/event.

Go get trained! :)

Good luck and welcome to group.
No one can pass through life, any more than he can pass through a bit of country, without leaving tracks behind, and those tracks may often be helpful to those coming after him in finding their way. - Lord Baden-Powell
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Re: Building Solar Ovens

Postby Chris Taylor » Mon Oct 29, 2012 9:59 pm

Thanks guys. I had to take a couple days to think about that first response and didn't log back in until just now. I sincerely appreciate that there were other points of view when I did log back in.

I'm an Eagle scout, Brotherhood member of OA, was on camp staff as a youth leader, went to Troop Leadership Training ( ancestor to NYLT I believe), but my adult involvement is nowhere near equal to my youth involvement. I understand the relationships and positions... that's why I used the word "facilitate" at the end of my first paragraph...

Really, the one thing in that first response that stopped me in my tracks was the statement that doing crafts is not a boy scout activity.... I get that Boy Scouts don't make doillies for the Blue and Gold dinner...haha... but based on what I've seen since I came back to scouting I am wondering if there has been a philisophical shift? For example, my son's troop needed patrol boxes so they wrote a check to a cabinetmaker father. I don't think any boys were involved in the creation. Back when I was a scout, the boys built the patrol boxes under guidance from a cabinet maker dad. We made them well enough, the dad made sure of that, and then we painted them horribly! I figured the new troop's decision to have the patrol boxes built was probably a situational decision but now I wonder if I need to change my paradigm as it relates to crafts and scouts??
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Re: Building Solar Ovens

Postby Nuts4Scouts » Tue Oct 30, 2012 12:11 am

Hmmm, yes. "Facilitate individual patrol activities". "Hosting a patrol activity".

I guess a lot depends on how you plan on "facilitating", or "hosting". While I might very well be wrong, to me it sounds like you are still in "Cub Scout Leader" mode.

Solar ovens can be a fun activity. Yes, they can probably be integrated into the Cooking Merit Badge, or some of the cooking requirements for T-2-1.

However, you need to go about it the correct way. You can not simply contact all of the boys in your son's patrol and state that they are to attend a solar oven building day at XY place, at 123 time. You further, can not state that the ovens made at the activity can/will be able to be used for ABC requirements, or XYZ merit badges.

Only the merit badge counselor for a particular merit badge can decide what they will, or will not, accept as work toward the merit badge they are the counselor for. If you have an interest in cooking as a hobby, or avocation, I suggest you sign up with your council to be a merit badge counselor for the Cooking merit badge.

Only the Scoutmaster can designate who is responsible for approving advancement requirements as completed.

It is up to the SCOUTS in the patrol (guided perhaps by their Troop Guide) what kind of activities (if any) they want to do individually as a patrol. It is up to the Patrol Leader to get the Scouts in his patrol together and coordinate any activity that the Scouts have decided they want to do.

If this is an activity your son is interested in doing I suggest he talks it up to the other Scouts in his patrol, and his Patrol Leader.

I also suggest talking to the Scoutmaster, and the Senior Patrol Leader, with your offer to run a solar oven class at either the patrol, or Troop, level. If there is Scout interest in this activity, the SM, and SPL, will be able to assist you in making the class a reality.

On another note, have you considered it might have been the SCOUTS decision to have the patrol boxes built by an outside source - NOT the Troop adults.
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Re: Building Solar Ovens

Postby ismellbacon » Tue Oct 30, 2012 8:28 am

Chris,

I think the aims of scouting are still the same as when you were in, but some things change... esp. within our culture. As most have observed or stated: This generation is all about themselves... mucht different than when I was a kid. There are distinct generational issues that Scouters will have to overcome when dealing with this generation of youth. Yes, some things shouldn't change in the way we do things, but we do have to recognize our differences. If we don't make scouting fun from them, then we will lose them to video games or whatever... Embrace the change :)

That being said, it seems each troop generally does things their own way (within acceptable parameters of scouting). I would recommend asking the Scoutmaster (politely) why the scouts didn't make the chuck boxes. It is all about what resources are available within the troop...

Good luck with your boy's troop. I hope that you are able to help out and I'm sure you have a ton to offer, esp. with your own scouting experience!
Yours in scouting,

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Re: Building Solar Ovens

Postby Chris Taylor » Tue Oct 30, 2012 10:15 pm

Jeff Smith and others, thanks for the encouragement!

Nuts4Scouts, leave me alone. You're wasting your time typing your responses to me. I understand the role of every adult leader in the system. You've got something playing in your head that isn't happening. Your gears are grinding.

As to the patrol boxes, they are beautiful. It never bothered me, nor did I ever really care to spend time thinking about why they weren't scout built until Nuts4Scouts said crafts aren't boy scout activities. It says "eagle" under the screen name so it caused me to suddenly wonder if I missed some significant change in the program. Our troop has amazing leaders. I am sure they made the right decision, how ever they arrived at it.

From my experience with this specific thread, and from reading through other threads, I conclude this forum has a really weird dynamic, like a dark side. I thought it looked like a great resource for scouters when I first found it, but somethin' just ain't right.
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Re: Building Solar Ovens

Postby Nuts4Scouts » Wed Oct 31, 2012 1:13 am

Chris Taylor wrote:Nuts4Scouts, leave me alone. You're wasting your time typing your responses to me. I understand the role of every adult leader in the system. You've got something playing in your head that isn't happening. Your gears are grinding.

As to the patrol boxes, they are beautiful. It never bothered me, nor did I ever really care to spend time thinking about why they weren't scout built until Nuts4Scouts said crafts aren't boy scout activities. It says "eagle" under the screen name so it caused me to suddenly wonder if I missed some significant change in the program. Our troop has amazing leaders. I am sure they made the right decision, how ever they arrived at it.

From my experience with this specific thread, and from reading through other threads, I conclude this forum has a really weird dynamic, like a dark side. I thought it looked like a great resource for scouters when I first found it, but somethin' just ain't right.


Wow - Just wow.

It seems you are right about "somethin' just aint't right".

While you might "understand the role of every adult leader in the system", you obviously do not understand what the Scout Law is all about. Or at the very least the Friendly, and Courteous, part of it.

Good Grief!
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Re: Building Solar Ovens

Postby kwildman » Wed Oct 31, 2012 8:53 am

Chris - the "eagle" is only a rank on this forum based on the number of posts you have. I think mine says palm but I never made it out of cubs as youth.

Nuts4Scouts - i think you should reread your original reply. Your response was very short, terse and not very helpful. You may not have meant for it to come off this way but obviously it was not received well. Generally, I find your contributions very helpful.

Also, as for crafts not being a "big" boy scout activity. Seems to me that Arts and Handicraft areas at summer camp is one of most popular areas of camp. I have alot of 16 and 17 year old scouts that play sports but also like doing wood carving, leather work, and have done the basketry merit badges. I see a lot of our youth in OA doing bead work and sewing their own regalia. So I guess it really depends on how these things are presented to the youth. Attitudes reflect leadership.
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Re: Building Solar Ovens

Postby Nuts4Scouts » Wed Oct 31, 2012 1:39 pm

kwildman wrote:Nuts4Scouts - i think you should reread your original reply. Your response was very short, terse and not very helpful. You may not have meant for it to come off this way but obviously it was not received well. Generally, I find your contributions very helpful.

Sorry, but I will take short, and terse, over extremely rude any day of the week.

As for "unhelpful" - I told him what just about every other poster told him - talk to your Scoutmaster.
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Re: Building Solar Ovens

Postby kc9901mom » Wed Nov 07, 2012 10:59 pm

Nuts4Scouts wrote:Being a Scout Parent does not make you the leader of your son's Boy Scout Patrol. It also does not make you a Merit Badge Counselor

I think Chris understands that he is not the leader of his son's Patrol. He never said that he was. Chris never said that he was a merit badge counselor either. I still consider myself :mrgreen: even though my boys' crossed over last year. IMHO, Chris is taking a positive action by becoming a member of this forum and seeking advice. I understand exactly where Chris is coming from (I think, although I could be wrong). He would like to "maximize the potential" of this project should the boys in the troop (or patrol(s)) decide that they would like to do this project. You are on the right track in your thinking, Chris. In the past, I have had ideas for camping trips or troop-run week long camps that would/could potentially add life-long memories to any scout's experience. You have to "sell" your idea to the patrol(s) and/or troop leadership. You can start by looking at the list of merit badges and awards and their requirements along with the list of materials and also rank advancement requirements (for example, first class 7b). This will help you identify possible merit badges (Composite Materials, Indian Lore, Art, Graphic Arts) that could be earned or where some requirements would be met by doing this project or using the product of the project. The next step would be to talk to the Advancement Chair to find out if the troop has counselors for the badge(s) that relate to the project (make sure that the AC understands that you only want to know if there is a counselor not necessarily who the counselor is or his/her phone number). You can also check your District's web site (if they have one) for a list of counselors. Next, find out by asking the SM or ASM if the troop uses the Troop Program Themes and what the themes are for the next few months (to identify if the project could fit in with the Troop Monthly Theme). Obviously, you would also want to compile a list of materials and the cost related to completing the project. Lastly, talk with the SM/ASM and ask if you can present your idea at the next PLC meeting or have your boy talk it up with the members of his Patrol (as mentioned already). If there is not a counselor for any of the badges then this is a way to ease into a leadership role (by volunteering to be the counselor for the badge(s)). I believe one of the Art requirements is to design a logo and use your logo on an item (after Counselor approval). Each boy could design his own logo, vote on the best logo(s) to use on the solar oven(s).
Nuts4Scouts wrote:If your Scout is interested in learning about, and building, a solar oven, he should talk to his Patrol Leader(PL).

Why should his son talk to his Patrol Leader about this? My oldest son does a lot of things at home without talking to his PL such as splitting hydrogen and oxygen using graphite and a battery just for fun.
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Re: Building Solar Ovens

Postby kc9901mom » Wed Nov 07, 2012 11:27 pm

Facilitate: to make easier; to help bring about.
Chris could help bring about the building of solar ovens by providing the materials.

Host: one that receives or entertains guests socially, commercially, or officially; one that provides facilities for an event or function.

Chris could invite the adult leaders of his son's troop along with scouts in his son's patrol to build solar ovens at Chris' house should his son's patrol decide to do this project.

Don't worry, Chris, I understand what you are writing (I think). :wink:

A few more comments: Just a friendly reminder, in case you have forgotten from your experience, it is the individual scout's responsibility to ask the SM (or designated person) for permission to work on merit badges and get a signed blue card. Every troop is different so find out who is responsible for what if you don't already know. Either the troop scribe and/or troop instructor is responsible for contacting and scheduling merit badge counselors for group instruction (although in some troops the AC does this).

By the way, my oldest son built a solar oven 2 years ago. He used cardboard for his solar oven so we don't have it anymore. He used it a few times to dry out fruit such as bananas. I think that he might want to build a more permanent solar oven but that is on the back burner for now.
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