The Legend of the Stuffy Box

Stuffy BoxFor my twelfth birthday several years ago, my Grandpa Ross (who was a scout with the 30th troop in Hamilton) gave me a small box full of many little treasures. When I opened the box I found inside a rolled up ‘scroll’ bound by a birthday ribbon tied in a bow. The Scroll

You could tell it was (supposed to look) old because of the (tea bag) stains and marks all over it ;) I opened up the scroll and inside I read the following:

The Legend Of The ‘Stuffy Box’

What is a ‘Stuffy Box?,’ more common folk might ask … it is the beginning of a long journey.

Every twelve year old boy should have a stuffy box.

What is the origin of the stuffy box? Well, it is a modern day legend, and let me tell you that legends are very difficult to begin. In fact, this may be the only labelled stuffy box known to mankind, so you are at the beginning, Dorian!

The term stuffy box comes from your Great Grandpa Lloyd. When your Grandpa, Ross, was a boy, he enjoyed rummaging through his Dad’s little boxes that could be found in our shed. They could contain almost anything …. Screws, bolts, springs, washers, pieces of electric cord, broken pieces of plastic from a curtain rod, or whatever.

The great thing about Great Grandpa Lloyd is that he had a lot of stuffy boxes … you could find several in the shed, a couple in his personal desk, some near his easel and paint, easily one in the washroom, and on and on it goes. He is the true founder of the stuffy box movement.

You are now ready to begin your stuffy box journey. Dorian. Do so with honour and pride!

There are things about a stuffy box you should know. First, it can never be made of new material. It must always come from a pre-existing purpose. In your case, this stuffy box was a pre-existing wine box. The lid had to be reversed and many coats of Varathane were applied by your Grandma. Special wood letters were applied to make ownership unmistakable.

Second, the wise care of a stuffy box includes having one place to keep it where it never moves.

Third, it’s preferred if it gets scuffed and chaffed a bit. You want it to look rough and rustic. It’s a working man’s treasure box … in it you can keep anything you want … a favourite screw driver, coins, stamps, nuts and bolts, candy, a pocket knife, whatever. Odd stuff.

It’s not really a secret box … that is the stuff of another legend. It is more a place to put stuff when you don’t know where to put stuff.

Every few years it’s a good idea to add another stuffy box to your collection. It doesn’t have to look the same, or even be labeled … it just needs to be a good container for stuff. Make the year ahead be full of good stuff, Dorian. Collect good stuff. Do good stuff.


Grandpa Ross.

I have shared this letter with you so that you can begin your own stuffy box journey.  Please ‘Do so, with honour and pride!’

Lost on a Mountain in Maine


Here are a couple reflections on the book Lost on a Mountain in Main.

Twelve year old Donn Fendler becomes lost on Maine’s highest peak, Mount Kathadin. Donn spends the next nine days trapped alone in a deadly, miserable wilderness with an abundance of cold, rain, bugs, sharp rocks, and lethal precipices.

Throughout the adventure, despite great pain, fatigue, fear, and hunger, Donn shows extraordinary courage and a will to live.

The reader joins Donn in his fight to survive the brutal wilderness as he spends more than a week alone, with no more than the clothes on his back.

Here is an excerpt from the book, which you can buy here:

“… I had come back to the same sign. For a second I was stunned. I just stood there looking at it. I knew now, for sure, that I was lost. I was running in a circle. I didn’t know what to do, so I stumbled around looking for other marks, on that same trail. I guess I went a long way over rocks and over pucker bush and sometimes under it too, searching and hunting for another trail marker. I didn’t find any, but I kept going down. I remember that. After a while, I came to a place where there was a lot of gravel, and boy, was it slippery! That place was dangerous, for a slip might mean a bad fall – maybe a hundred feet or more. I slowed down. I could imagine myself lying there, in the cold and dark, with a sprained ankle. Meanwhile the rocks were getting bigger and bigger…”

Law #3 A Scout’s Duty is to be Useful and to Help Others

3a4f72a1-6eab-4e27-83a5-00f9ef7e1aa4_zpshz72wdltOne of B.P.’s (Baden-Powell) laws for Scouts is to have them do at least one “good-turn” for someone each day.  Here B-P explains in his book Scouting for Boys:

“So, with the Scouts, it has been made one of our laws that we do a good turn to somebody every day.  It does not matter how small that good turn may be, if it were only to help an old woman lift her bundle, or to guide a child across a crowded street, or to put a halfpenny in the poor box.  Something good ought to be done each day of your life, and you should start today to carry out this rule, and never forget it during the remaining days of your life.  Remember the knot in your necktie and on your Scout’s badge – they are reminders to you to do a good turn.  And do your good turn not only to your friends, but also to strangers and even to your enemies.”

And that’s not just for Scouts either.  Wouldn’t it be great if everyone got into the habit of doing at least one kind thing each day?  Scouts are supposed to be helpful to others as much as possible.  Here is another paragraph from Scouting for Boys:

“…And he is to do his duty before anything else, even though he gives up his own pleasure, or comfort, or safety to do it.  When in difficulty to know which of two things to do, he must ask himself, ‘What is my duty’ that is, ‘Which is best for other people?’ – and do that one.  He must Be Prepared at any time to save life, and to help injured persons.  And he must do a good turn to somebody every day.”

Try to start thinking of ways you can help serve the people in your life!




Camp Breakfast

S0015002.JPGWhen you go camping, it is good to have good healthy food to eat along the way.  For breakfast it is often nice to have a piece of fruit first thing, and then have something else later.  Good foods for breakfast while camping include eggs, oatmeal, pancakes, as well as others.

As a Scout many years ago, my grandfather learned a lesson about eggs. on a camping trip he had brought half a dozen eggs but they were at risk of getting cracked inside his pack.  One of the other Scouts had brought his eggs already cracked and inside a bottle or jar.  That’s a great way to bring eggs on a trip if you are not worried about the eggs all getting mixed around with each other.

For oatmeal, boil 1 cup of water (and/or milk) for everyone who will be eating.  Add ½ cup quick cooking or old fashioned oats per person once the water is boiling.  Stir until it’s nice and thick and not watery.  You can shake in ¼ tsp salt and a spoonful of cinnamon if you want.  You can also stir in raisins, diced apples, or whatever.  Just add whatever you want and have available.

For pancakes it’s nice to use a mix that only requires adding water, but if you have all the ingredients with you, it can be healthier to make your own from scratch.  You can add blueberries or mashed banana if you have them.  Pancakes are best if cooked for a longer amount of time on very low heat.  If they are on high heat, the outside will burn easily and the inside does not cook.  Cast iron pans are best over open flame, but you have to put oil or butter on before cooking.

There are many different options for camp breakfasts, and it all depends on what you have got with you.  Remember, even if you are just camping out in your backyard (see my former post “Scouting from the Cottage”), it can still be fun to make breakfast on an open fire in the morning.

Law #1 A Scout’s Honour Is To Be Trusted

IMG_3438It is important for Scouts (and everyone else too) to be trustworthy and honourable.  So, if you say you will do something, you must do it.  Here is what Baden-Powell (B.P.) thought about in his book, Scouting For Boys:

If a Scout says “On my honour it is so,” that means it is so, just as if he has taken a most solemn oath.

Similarly, if a Scout Officer says to a Scout, “I trust you on your honour to do this,” the Scout is bound to carry out the order to the very best of his ability, and to let nothing interfere with his doing so.

If a Scout where to break his honour by telling a lie, or by not carrying out an order exactly when trusted on his honour to do so, he would cease to be a Scout, and must hand over his Scout badge, and never to be allowed to wear it again…

Often these days it is not considered that your word is trustworthy, unless you say something like “I promise”.  You should always be trustworthy, by not telling lies even in games.  If someone always told the truth, his friends would eventually learn always to trust him.  If you only tell the truth half the time, how will people ever know when they can trust you?  Here is what God thinks about it in his word, the Bible:

But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’

You will make and keep a lot more friends if you do as you say you will, and do not lie.

World Scout Emblem

IMG_0474.JPGThe World Scout Emblem is badge worn by scouts all over the world.  If you bought a Scout uniform, it will already be stitched on over the left shirt pocket.  This badge can be worn by any scout, in any of the more than 200 countries associated with Scouting.  It symbolizes the unity between all Scouts, no matter where they are from.

Here is a paragraph from the Canadian Scout Handbook:

“The World Scout Emblem has two parts: a fleur-de-lis, and a rope tied with a reef knot.  The fleur-de-lis represents the Scouting Movement.  The rope circle, joined with a reef knot, symbolizes the strength and unity of the brotherhood of Scouting…”

The three points of the fleur-de-lis represent the three parts of the Scout promise:

Duty to God, obedience to the Scout law, and service to others.

I like that there is something that can bring Scouts together and give them something in common, even though every country does Scouting uniquely.



Scouting At The Cottage

IMG_00001442For my birthday my Grandparents took me to the cottage, and my Grandpa gave me a list of these four requirements that I would have to try to accomplish within the next twenty four hours:

Build a fire that lasts all day.

Build an insulated lean-to by the fire.

Sleep in the lean-to all night.

Cook breakfast on the fire in the morning.

Each one counted for a reward if I accomplished it.  I started by building a fire so that I could look after it while building a shelter.  I put some small tinder and kindling in the shape of a teepee around some newspaper, and then lit it on fire.  I slowly added larger and larger pieces of wood gradually making a bigger fire.  My original teepee design collapsed but I kept the fire going.  I found a big log in the shed and put it on, and Grandpa found another big rotten log to put on.  After that I only had to check on it every once in a while and throw a few sticks on, because larger logs burn slowly.  But they only burn if the fire is hot, if it is not, the log won’t really burn.

I then started an insulated lean-to.  I picked a location just behind the fire.  I started sticking some forked sticks into the ground.  I lay a long stick across the two of them.  The frame was quite wobbly so Grandpa showed me how to take advantage of a nearby tree, and to use it as one of the end posts.  For the other side we fastened two sticks in an X.  We lay the top stick that we had tied to the tree in the top of the X and tied it down.  We reinforced the main structure with a few more poles.  Grandpa explained that a shelter does not only have to be nature (sticks, leaves, etc.), because scouts are scroungers, which means that they can find uses for anything they find.

IMG_00001438After that, I found an old tarp that we lay over the top and tacked down to the ground using some twigs.  Grandpa found some cardboard and an old shower curtain.  We put the clear shower curtain over the entrance so that I could still see the light of the fire.  Grandpa used the cardboard to cover the opposite side while I dragged some evergreen branches and put them inside for bedding.  Grandpa found a plastic blanket that we put on top of that.  We set up a light in case I needed it, and Grandpa even hooked up a little old heater!

Later that night I went out and got into my sleeping bag.  I had a knife with me, just in case (grin) but I never had to use it of course.

In the morning I revived the fire, quickly prepared a pancake mix, and grabbed some bacon.  I started with the bacon because it takes longer to fry.  Grandpa came out of the cottage and helped me make breakfast.  We tried to find the right place over the fire for the pan so it wouldn’t burn the food but would still cook it evenly.

Later, I fried some sausage and eggs as well.  Grandpa told me a story of when he was on a camp out in boy scouts.  He had brought eggs and he was worried about them breaking in his pack, but his friend had his eggs already cracked into a bottle, so all he had to do was dump them into the frying pan.  I thought that is a great idea if you have to hike to the camp site.

After breakfast we cleaned everything up and Grandpa reminded me of the scout’s camping motto:

“Leave only footprints, Take only photos.”

I learned a lot from Grandpa and had a lot of fun!IMG_00001445