Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Camping Genius: Georgeburgers!

Mmmmmm, vegeburger.
Back when I was a kid I had a paper route that took me up College Drive in Keene Texas and past Blair's Store.  Blairs was an old-fashioned little grocery with a grill inside where Mrs. George, one of the employees made vegeburgers.  They were wonderful.  I much preferred them to "real" hamburgers. 

I would save up my money (I rode a five mile bike route every day and made a stunning $5 a week) and whenever I could, I'd stop and buy one of Mrs. George's vegeburgers and an ice-cold Dr. Pepper in the tall bottle - right out of one of those chest style box coolers. Life was good.

When Blair's Store was closed and the building torn down, I worried about Mrs. George.  She landed on her feet however, along with her secret vegeburger recipe.  She worked for a time in the Southwestern Adventist College Cafeteria, the Rail Head cafe and any other short-lived restaurant that wanted to corner the vegeburger trade.

Shortly before she died, she finally shared the secret recipe with the mother of an old classmate of mine, Stanley Bruce.  Stanley got it from her and shared it with several of us on Facebook.  I wrote it up on my weblog and here it is.

Every youth leader, Pathfinder director and Adventist of high moral character should have a copy of this recipe and know how to make it over a grill or an open fire.  They are best made in an iron skillet, but I've found a little grill plate I can lay over the charcoal grill and cook vegeburgers without losing them through the grill into the coals.

Check out Mrs. George's recipe.  You'll be the hit of the campout, just make this stuff up ahead of time and transport it chilled to the campsite in a Tupperware container. 

These are also great for Pathfinder fund-raisers as well. 

Bon' appetit,
Tom King (c) 2012

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Attack of The Giant Zucchini

(c) 2012 by Tom King

Everybody needs a recipe so you'll know what to do with a giant zucchini.

Adventists tend to be gardeners.  If they aren't gardeners they feel guilty because they aren't gardening. If they do garden, they always, for some reason inexplicable to me, plant squash.  Squash, for those non-gardeners out there, is an obnoxious vegetable that not very many people particularly like and which, accordingly, grows prolifically if you happen to drop a few seeds in virtually any patch of brick hard ground.

Amateur gardeners will gleefully show up at church or even come to your door with sacks of squash they need to get rid of because they have no idea what to do with it all.......especially the zucchini.

Zucchinis come in large, extra-large and awesome sizes. So as not to hurt the feelings of their well-meaning gardening friends, Adventist cooks have developed dozens of exciting recipes that require zucchini as a key ingredient.  It is my opinion that most of these recipes were invented especially for zucchini so that people would have an answer when their gardener friends ask them, "What did you do with that zucchini I gave you?"

Fortunately, for us all, the favorite answer is, "Zucchini bread!"

Every Adventist guy needs a specialty recipe that he can bake. It gets you all sorts of kudos from the wife and kids if you can produce something delicious, especially if it solves the problem of what to do with that enormous zucchini that's been jammed in the crisper in your fridge for the last week.  Having a delicious zucchini recipe accomplishes two things for the Adventist male.

  1. It demonstrates your competence in the kitchen which is outside your usual purview.
  2. It demonstrates your ability to solve problems - and right about now, you're humming "How do you solve a problem like zucchini." to the tune from "Sound of Music".  Sorry about that.

This dish is guaranteed to make you glad to see a gimme zucchini
So, here is a wonderful recipe for zucchini bread, contributed to the Tyler-Athens SDA Churches' "Bountiful Blessings" cookbook by Mrs. Doris Crockett.  It's a wonderfully adaptable recipe to which you can add currents, raisins, chopped apple and stuff to give it flair.

The picture above is me with a gargantuan zucchini donated to us this summer by our over-the-fence neighbor Carlos who grew this baby in a grow-box garden in his tiny backyard.  I plan to add plans for a grow-box garden of the type created by missionary Jacob Mittleider some day in the future, but for now, check out this great zucchini bread recipe for yourself.

Master that and making whole wheat bread and you can capitalize the "A" on your alpha male badge!

Bon appetit!


Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Camping Genius: Homemade Ghillie Hat

(c) 2012 by Tom King

Fred disguises himself as a bush in his trusty Ghillie hat.
If you're taking out a youth group for a weekend bird-watching or other nature observation activity, here's a great campcraft activity you can do to get ready.  Have everybody make a Ghillie hat.  A Ghillie hat is a much less ambitious project than a Ghillie suit and for most nature watching activities it's really all you need.

Also, a Ghillie hat is not as hot and uncomfortable as a full Ghillie suit and much easier to snatch off your head if someone mistakes you for Bigfoot.  That's an important thing if you're up here in the Pacific Northwest.  If people think you're Bigfoot up here, they've been known to try and run over you with their cars.

Go to this link:  Making a Ghillie Hat to get the full instructions.

The materials aren't very expensive and you can make one out of almost any old floppy hat.  You can hang the hat on your backpack or stuff it into a small pack.  I hang mine from my belt where I can snatch it onto my head if I need to disappear quickly.  If everyone has their own Ghillie hat, then you can conceal your whole unit in seconds. When you set up your bird-watching or animal blinds, try this for a fun activity with the kids on the hike out to the observation point.

Have the kids practice disappearing on the trail.  Develop a signal for your unit and have them practice moving silently into cover and putting on their Ghillie hats to camouflage themselves when you give the signal.  Practice with them till they can melt into the brush in 10 to 15 seconds. 

Have the kids practice their concealment skills on hikes.  One thing that's fun is to wait till your unit is out of site of a following group, then go to ground and hide.  Wait till the trailing unit catches up, then jump out and startle them.  It's really pretty impressive when you see how well a Ghillie hat can hide you and still allow you to see.  Three things to remember:
  1. Focus on getting your body out of sight. The Ghillie hat conceals your head and shoulders. You just need some brush to get your body behind.
  2. Camouflage clothing or wearing dark, subdued colors help make it easier for you to blend in. The Ghillie hat breaks up the lines of your face and head making your torso more difficult to distinguish and that's the part of you that's more likely to be spotted. In a pinch, grab some loose brush to take into your hiding spot to confuse the eye of the observer.
  3. Be still.  Movement attracts the eye. If you're motionless, you're much harder to spot.

Be sure, before you practice concealment with the kids, that you teach them how to identify poison ivy and other toxic plants.

You don't want them breaking out in a rash later. Moms get pretty unhappy with you if you let them hide in the poison ivy.

Ghillie hats can be the basis of a whole bunch activities.  Add cameras and teach the kids to shoot photos from concealment.  Have them practice on other Pathfinders passing by on the trail. With digital cameras, pictures are wonderfully cheap.  Post your unit's pictures on Facebook.  Do a photo of an area where you have the whole group concealed and post it online with the challenge for viewers to find your kids.  Better yet do a video of an apparently blank section of trail and then have the kids pop up suddenly.  Very impressive and teaching your kids this stuff will make you THE MAN out on the trail with your Pathfinders or youth group.

Happy hiding,

Tom King

Monday, July 16, 2012

Becoming a Master Guide

(c) 2012 by Tom King

One responsibility of Adventist men is to mentor our young people. The church offers a nice basic training course for would be youth leaders in the form of the Master Guide program. The Master Guide Program, according to the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists website is at the highest level of Adventist Youth Ministries.
Apparently, not quite the highest level, though.  Since I got my Master Guide work completed, they've added three more levels.
You have to be 16 or older to be a Master Guide. The completion of the course allows you to wear the patches and scarves and things in the picture above along with your Pathfinder uniform and to sign off Pathfinder honor cards for your Pathfinder club.

Master Guides serve the church in all areas of the Youth Ministry including Adventurers, Pathfinders, youth/young adult and Youth Emergency Service Ministries. The elements of the course emphasize in-service training and active pursuit of new skills in church youth leadership. Every church needs a Master Guide or two.
It takes a while to earn it, but it's not too difficult given the level of reading and study most of us Adventists do as a matter of course. Just to give you an idea of what it will take:

I. Prerequisites:
   A. Be at least 16 years of age.
   B. Be a baptized member of the
        Seventh-day Adventist Church
   C. Complete a basic staff training course in
         one of the following:
        1. Adventurer Ministries
        2. Pathfinder Ministries
        3. Youth Emergency Services
        4. Teen / Young adult ministries

II.    Spiritual Development
    A. Read the book Steps to Christ.
    B. Complete the devotional guide Encounter Series I, Christ the Way.
         read each day.
    D. Demonstrate your knowledge of the 28 Fundamental Beliefs by completing
         one of the following:
         1. Write a paper explaining each belief
         2. Give an oral presentation on each belief
         3. Give a series of Bible studies explaining each belief
         4.Conduct a seminar, teaching each belief.
    E. Enhance your knowledge of church heritage by:
         1.  Reading The Pathfinder Story by John Hancock
         2.  Earning the Pathfinder Church Heritage Award
         3.  Reading a book about church heritage such as;
              a.  Anticipating the Advent by George Knight (a brief history of
                   Seventh-day Adventists)
              b. Tell It to the World by Mervyn Maxwell (the story of Seventh-day
              c.  Light bearers to the Remnant (denominational history college
                   textbook) Books are available from the ABC or AdventSource.

 III.   Skills Development
        A. Supervise participant's through either the Adventurer class curriculum
             OR AY class curriculum.
        B. Have or earn the following AY honors
            1. Christian Storytelling
            2. Camping Skills I
       C. Earn 2 additional AY honors not previously earned.
       D. Have a current first aid certificate
       E. Attend and complete a 2-hour seminar in each of the following areas:
            1. Leadership Skills br />
            2. Communication Skills
            3. Creativity and resource development
            4. Children and youth evangelism
 IV.   Child Development
       A. Read the book Education       
       B. Read either the book Child Guidance OR Messages to Young People

       C. Read a book OR attend a 3-hour seminar dealing with child development
            about the age group of your ministry

V.    Leadership Development
       A. Read the book Leadership is an Art by Max de Preez, OR a current
            leadership book of your choice.
       B. Demonstrate your leadership by doing all of the following:
            1.  Develop and conduct three worships.
            2.  Participate in your local church children’s/youth group in a conference-
                 sponsored event.
            3.  Teach three Adventurer awards OR two AY honors
            4.  Assist in planning and leading an Adventurer, Pathfinder, or Sabbath
                 School field trip.
            5.  Be an active Adventurer, Pathfinder, YES, or AY staff member for at
                  least one year, and attend 75% of the staff meetings
        C.  Write goals in which you would like to accomplish in your ministry.
        D.  Identify three current roles in your life, one of which is spiritually oriented,
              and list three goals for each.

VI.   Fitness Lifestyle Development
         A. Participate in a personal fitness plan for three months, and evaluate and
              show improvement (recommended: the Cooper Aerobic program or its

    C. Keep a devotional journal for at least four weeks, summarizing what you

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Taking a Trip to Abilene: Why Churches Do What Nobody Wanted to Do In the First Place

By Tom King

Management guru, Jerry Harvey, tells a story to illustrate how organizations often wind up doing things no one in the organization actually want to do.  The story appears in his book, The Abilene Paradox and goes like this.
Jerry and his wife go to visit his parents in Coleman, Texas one weekend.  It’s a dusty West Texas town of 5000 plus souls.  The temperature is 104 degrees and the furnace like wind is blowing fine bits of sand into every crack and crevice of houses, people and property.  The folks don’t have air-conditioning, but there’s a box fan in the window, ice cold lemonade on the table and they’re playing Dominoes which doesn’t require the expenditure of very much energy at all. Everyone is pretty content.
Then Dad up and says, “How would ya’ll like to go to the Luby’s in Abilene for a piece of lemon pie?”  Mrs. Jerry says, “That sounds like a wonderful idea. How about you Jerry?” 
Jerry, not wanting to be a party pooper answered, “Sounds fine to me. How ‘bout you Mom?”
Taken by surprise, Mom twitters, “Of course I want to go if everyone else does. I haven’t been to Abilene in a long time.”  So the whole bunch pile into his folks’ 1958 Buick, no AC and drive the 53 miles to Abilene for supper and pie in deathly heat and blowing sand.
When they get home after a dinner that could have been featured in a Pepto Bismol commercial and drive 106 miles round trip, they all collapse in front of the fan.  “Well, that was fun,” Jerry offers hesitantly.
Mom shakes her head and says, “To tell you the truth I’d have rather stayed at home, but ya’ll seemed so set on it…”
In seconds everyone was arguing over whose fault it was that everybody had been put to such misery.
“Sheeeeeooooot,” Dad says when they all finally remembered that he’d made the original suggestion and ganged up on him. “Ya’ll don’t come very often. I just wanted to make sure you were having a good time.  I didn’t think you’d be fool enough to take me up on it!”
I sat in a church service recently in which our pastor preached his last sermon with us. I’m a new member, so I didn’t know what was going on, though I’d heard some rumblings – nothing definite. Nobody was talking about the mysterious problem when suddenly we all heard the announcement that our pastor was being moved the next week.  During his last sermon, a lady from our sister church with whom we shared the pastor, stood up and called us all to task for having got him moved. 
She got a surprising number of vigorous “Amens” from the group. She kept looking straight at me (I think she thought I was someone else and somehow responsible). I shrugged and shook my head.  It wasn’t me I whispered.  The pastor tried to smooth things over, but it was obvious the move wasn’t his idea either.
Even the elders were squirming a bit. I heard a lot of talk among the members after the service about how whatever was done had been done without the knowledge or approval of most of the congregation.
“Shouldn’t someone have told the whole congregation if there was a problem BEFORE they moved the pastor?” someone asked me.
“You’d think so, wouldn’t you,” I muttered.
I felt like we’d all just got back from Abilene and needed to pick the sand and grit out of our hair and teeth and maybe sit in front of a box fan to recuperate.
How is it that stuff like this happens?  I sincerely doubt you could have got a majority of members of that church to vote to remove the pastor.  I’m not even sure the people responsible had wanted it to happen like it did.  Somehow things got carried away and the conference took the issue out of their hands.
Did most of us want this to happen?  My sense is, no.  So how’d we get there?
There is an insidious trick Satan uses against the people of God.  We are taught to be obedient to God and to our leaders. We are taught that it is unseemly to disagree and argue among ourselves. At the first sign of trouble the appeals to church unity begin and most of us obediently quiet down. Next thing you know something awkward, uncomfortable and unwanted has happened and we’re not quite sure how it all came about.  We’ve driven to Abilene and we really didn’t want to.
The last school where I worked as a teacher was just that sort of experience for me so I can sympathize with the plight of pastors.  When I left, my kids had achieved grade level in their annual achievement tests, having the previous year scored three grade levels behind. The parents of my kids were holding prayer bands in their homes praying I would decide to stay another year. The local elder and school board (who once fired 5 teachers in one year I later found out) were busily destroying my reputation and ensuring that I’d never get another school.  The majority in the three churches that supported the school seemed genuinely disappointed that I was leaving but couldn’t do anything because the decision had already been made.  I walked away from teaching after that and almost from the church.
The last church I was at once got rid of multiple pastors in one year and couldn’t figure out why no one wanted to accept a call there.   And yet, most of the people in that church were good, decent people who wanted no part in the politics that was going on.
Jesus said, “The meek shall inherit the earth.”  He had much harsher words for the church’s leaders who would later decide that it would be better for Israel if they got rid of this upstart young preacher that was causing all the trouble.
So what are the meek in the church to do?  How do we avoid being bullied into supporting or at least not opposing church actions that we disagree with?
Ellen White once said what the church needed was “…men whose conscience is as true to duty as the needle to the pole; men who will stand for the right though the heavens fall.   We need women like that too for that matter. 
Church business must be done in the open and brave men and women need to speak up. The subjects that are discussed at such meetings need to be clearly spelled out in advance so that all who want to have a say can show up and at least register their opinion one way or another. We are a praying people. God does not speak to the elders alone. He gives His wisdom to all of us and sometimes it is the most humble among us that we should listen to – the David’s and Samuels and Gideons. 
One pastor we had back home in Keene had the support of 99% of the congregation and yet he was constantly being hounded and harassed by a small contingent of church members and the meek remained largely quiet about it and allowed it to go on when we should have risen to his defense and pitched out the self-proclaimed “leaders” who were causing the trouble.
Our church board back home once entertained a motion to discontinue the young people’s five o’clock praise service. When we found out about it, some of us began calling the parents of the young people to tell them what was happening and they began calling the pastor and church board members. The board had wanted to have the meeting in secret without announcing the subject of the meeting lest it cause “trouble in the church”. Had they stopped the service, I can promise you there’d have been trouble. The phone calls convinced the board to quietly vote down the proposal.  They might have anyway, but I find it troubling that church leaders would take such a serious decision to a vote without discussing it with the church body first.  They told me later, “See you didn’t have to get everybody so upset over this. We handled it.”
I’m not so sure. I took the attack on our young people as an effort by the devil to undo all the good work that we’d done to bring our kids back into the church. Shouldn’t the church know when the forces of evil are up to that kind of thing so they can resist such things in the future?  You don’t want to wake up one Sabbath and find all the kids headed out the back door because your church board didn't think the members could handle a little controversy.
Like the family in Dr. Harvey’s story, our churches often get driven off to Abilene against their will because in our desire to protect “church unity”, we do not involve our members in decision-making where people might be uncomfortable with the discussion.

Sometimes all it takes is but a single voice to stop a trip to Abilene.  When I heard about the board vote to stop the youth service I called both the pastor and head elder and promised to bring a large contingent of parents to the meeting if need be to show our support for our young people.  Both promised me the program would not be closed by a board vote that was not ratified by the congregation and said I could bring my platoon of parents to that meeting.  The motion failed and our kids kept their service. I’m certain none of them wanted to face a squadron of angry parents. Whether that influenced their vote or not, I don’t know. I do know the people who put forward the proposal were influenced by the reaction of the church to what they thought was a perfectly reasonable idea.
It is time we as church members got over being shy and showed up when things like the fate of teachers, pastors and programs are considered. Disagreements NEVER tear up churches where they are managed in the open. Some may get mad and leave if things don’t go their way, but that is their own choice. If, in the name of misguided church unity, we consent to government by tantrum and threats, we fail to heed Christ’s example.
The disciples were by no means always in agreement, no matter that they were supposed to be "of one accord".  Peter once sided with the conservative Jews in their discrimination against the Gentiles.  Paul called him on it publicly and Peter was properly ashamed of himself and then did the right thing.  David sinned with Bathsheba and God sent a prophet to reprimand him.  David took the rebuke like a man.  Paul and James were on opposite sides on the faith versus works thing, but were able to find common ground and both their opinions were recorded in Scripture.  There were lots of things to be worked out in the early church as well as in ancient Israel, but God's example is to work them out in the open – an example as well to the modern church.  We have no place for secret initiatives and closed door meetings in churches.
We all seek a relationship with Christ and to place ourselves in the hands of the Master Potter.  That is our common purpose. Everything else is management details.  We MUST learn to manage the fact that, given a clear understanding of any issue of church operations, there will always be a clear agreement among most people as to how it should be addressed. We can reliably go with the majority in a community of believers. That’s what Jesus meant when He said that what we bind here, will be bound in heaven. Jesus left us our churches to manage. The essential thing He said was to love God with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself.  The color we paint the lobby or who we have for a pastor is left up to us.
As we paint the church and staff the front office, let’s remember what’s important. Let’s remember we can trust the church body to do what’s right.  We don’t have to protect them from knowing what’s going on. We must never treat them like children. We must allow everyone to say what they really think and talk out our differences in Christian love.
Whatever happens, we must never suddenly, and without warning, load everyone into the 58 Buick and head off to Abilene in the stifling heat like we did last week.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Map Reading & Navigation

Some of the most fun you'll have as a Pathfinder leader is taking the kids out to do a little navigation.  You can make it a game by posting flags or something the kids can collect at various places over a wilderness area.  Mark the locations of the flags on maps you give to the kids and each unit has to go out, follow the map, navigating with a compass and tracking their progress. First one back with all their flags wins.

You can also set up a compass course for each unit to follow. Buy a set of hole punches with various shaped heads.  You can get them shaped like stars, diamonds, clubs and hearts as well as standard round and square shapes.  Set the course by hanging a different hole punch from a waymark tree, post or other landscape feature.  The last group to run the course can pick the punches up for you.  Best time on the course wins.  Sending them out spaced every 15 minutes or so also makes doing supper easier because you can feed them by units as they straggle back to camp.

Another version of navigation games is the map quest. This one calls for strategic thinking.  Give everyone the same map and send them off to collect flags, find and identify waymarks and hurry back.  The groups collect points for each flag they collect and return to camp with, for finding landmarks and telling something about them that you wouldn't know unless you'd been there and for hurrying back.  The speed of completion earns the team bonus points, so efficiency is everything.  The game becomes a contest to collect the most points. The units have to make strategic decisions along the way.  They may have to decide to not go after one point in favor of a speedier finish or to skip a flag to get a couple of landmarks that together are worth more than the flag.  There's a little math involved in this version, it's fun math.

In the meantime, one of my favorite weblogs, "The Art of Manliness" has a piece on how to read a topographical map this month that's a good introduction to the manly art of map-reading.  Print this article up for your Master Guide's notebook and read it often to stay ahead of the kids. 

Don't have a Master Guide's notebook? 

Watch this blog and I'll do a post on the subject soon.

Tom King
(c) 2012

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Rolling Your Kayak

(c) 2006 Some rights reserved by JHo105
Canoeing and kayaking are my favorite sports. Nothing beats a quiet afternoon drifting downstream or playing about in the rapids in a kayak.  If you're a larger guy, like me, getting into and out of a kayak can be trickly. That's where it pays to know how to successfully perform an "Eskimo roll".

Supposedly the reason for learning an Eskimo roll originally was to gets the paddler back upright and dry quickly if you turned over in icy water. A good paddler can make it look easy, but it's not. The first time you do one, you'll likely wind up falling ignominiously out of the kayak and getting yourself a snootful of water. The whole point of knowing the roll maneuver is to keep you safely in the canoe and in control.

(c) 2006 Some rights reserved by JHo105
Rolling a kayak is not a sport for the arthritic or aquaphobic. Unless you are comfortable hanging upside down in the water while not panicking, amd having the paddling strength to lever the canoe upright with a paddle, you might want to work up to it. 

Here's how to perform the kayak roll safely. This is one of the best tutorial films on kayak rolls I've seen yet. The article accompanying the video will walk you through the process step by step.

A trick I learned for getting a beginner accustomed to the movement of the kayak roll is to learn to do it in a swamped canoe.

Swamped Canoe Rolls

Start out sitting in a swamped canoe.  With the canoe full of water, the boat rolls more easily. You can do this alone in a small canoe or with a partner.  Use a single bladed paddle.  It's less complicated. If you do it with a partner, it's easiest to start out facing each other in the canoe both paddling from the same side of the canoe. Once you've mastered the roll, then switch so you both face the same direction and can coordinate your efforts to roll the canoe. Here's the sequence:
  1. Lay the paddle alongside the gunwale opposite your paddling side with the blade forward on the side away toward the direction you are rolling.
  2. Duck your head over the side toward the paddle (the direction you are rolling toward). Lean forward and over the throat of your paddle. Let the canoe roll over upside down. Brace your knees against the sides of the canoe throughout the maneuver to keep from falling out as you turn upside.
  3. Lean forward with your head till it's directly under the boat and you are bent forward with the paddle blade forward.  Allow your hips to straighten.
  4. Now twist your body toward the forward momentum of the roll and sweep the paddle blade down toward the bottom of the lake at about a 45 degree angle toward the direction you are rolling. Sweep the blade down and backward for the push up stroke.  You are upside down, so when you extend the paddle for the stroke, you will feel like the bottom of the lake is "up". 
  5. As you push sweep the paddle blade "upward" (toward the bottom of the lake) and back toward the stern of the boat, twist your head toward the direction where you will roll up.
  6. As the boat rolls the (actually) downward and sweeping stroke of the paddle will continue to propel the canoe in the direction of the rolling motion. As your head clears the water, take a breath, push on up with the paddle blade and snap your hips to give the boat a final lift to roll it back upright.
  7. Let your body twist so that the boat continues rolling. As it gets close to upright, press hard down with the paddle blade and push your body up out of the water. Keeping your head low makes it easier to bring yourself upright again.
It's very much like the kayak roll, but the momentum of a canoe full of water and low center of gravity of the boat will make a swamped canoe roll easier to complete.  It may take you a few tries, but you'll get the hang of it.  Wear noseplugs or a dive mask till you get the idea firmly in your head. 

At Red Cross Aquatic school, my partner and I rolled our boat some 50 times consecutively till the instructor got bored and made us stop.  Then, when we tried it in the kayak, we learned the trick of the kayak roll in just a couple of tries. 

Knowing how to roll a kayak or canoe can save your fuzzy behind if you ever turn over in whitewater.  Tis a far far better thing to be inside the boat than outside it when tearing through a rock garden at speed. Even a half-swamped canoe can be brought back upright with the pry stroke used in the roll maneuver. The technique is well worth learning as a skill for keeping you inside your boat, even if you go over and inside the boat IS the safest place to be in rapids, rock gardens or rough water.

Also, familiarity with the technique can save you a wetting. The same pry technique that gets you out of the water at the end of a kayak roll, will also save you from turning over at all. 

The Save Yourself a Dunking Quarter Roll Pry Technique:
    (c) 2006 Some rights reserved by JHo105
  1. As you feel yourself going over, extend your blade face down with a double blade toward the side to which you are leaning. I've been known to do a pry with the back of a single blade paddle, pressing downward and had it work just find
  2. Straighten your outside arm (the one holding the paddle by the throat) to brace the pivot point of the blade.
  3. Push upward hard on the grip with the grip hand to apply downward pressure to the blade as you pull with the lower arm against the throat. A slight backward sweep will also move you forward and give you some stability as you come up. If you're doing a flat pry with the back of the blade, do the opposite. Press down on the throat and pull up on the grip. Practice both and you'll soon figure out which to use in an emergency.
  4. As the paddle braces the canoe or kayak and starts it back up, follow through by lowering your head quickly to reduce the center of gravity and aid the boat in coming back up.
  5. Snap your hips straight as the boat rolls up and as soon as your nose and navel are aligned, sit up and kill the momentum of the rollup. Take pressure off the blade instantly. If you press too hard, you can flip yourself the other way.

My favorite book on the subject is "Paddle Your Own Canoe" by Gary and Joanie McGuffin. The illustrations are great and everything is very clearly articulated.  It shows simple rolls and recoveries and virtually every other canoeing technique you could want to know. It's worth the price if you can get hold of it. Spend some time practicing before you take the kids out. Especially learn to do a roll if you use a kayak (and I highly recommend one for the group leader so you can move up and down the group when you take out several canoe-loads of kids).

Besides, if you can do a kayak roll, the kids in your youth group will be utterly impressed with the old man's mad kayaking skills!

Tom King

Photo credits
# 1-4: (c) 2006 Some rights reserved by JHo105
# 5: (c) 2006 Some rights reserved by Tom Wardill

Splicing a Loop in a Rope's End

Check out this post on Hubpages.  It shows you step by step with pictures how to splice a loop  in the end of a three-strand grass rope.  This little trick is all kind of handy for rope swings, towing things:  It's not that hard to do once you get the hang of it and it really makes you look cool and woodsman-like.

This splice is stronger than the rope itself.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Building a Washtub Bass

Lexa plays the washtub at the lake.
Like to get some of the kids playing along with the Sabbath School song service?  Here's an easy to play instrument that can be easily mastered by a kid that has an ear for music.

A washtub bass will set you back less than $30 if you have to buy the washtub and all the gear.  I like to use the larger tubs because they make a bigger sound and are more forgiving if the kid has a tin ear. Much of the music is in such a low register it is felt rather than heard.

The musical sound of the tub bass carries very well, due to it's very low resonance. The deacons will surely come stick their heads in the youth room door to find out what that deep rhythmic thumping is all about. Once they see you've got a seven year old playing bass with the Sabbath School band, they usually just smile and go away.

It's a great instrument for providing an element of rhythm to your song service music as well - kind of a big thumpy metronome. Useful if you have a lot of new guitar players with you (which I highly recommend that you do).

Sarah works on getting her foot placement right.
[ This link ] lets yo download a one page PDF file with the basic instructions for making a washtub bass. You can get all the parts for it down at Ace or one of your local hardware stores. Call first. They don't all carry the good steel washtubs anymore .  The picture above shows Lexa Arante playing the washtub bass I made for the Tyler Youth  To the left, Sara tries her hand at it to back up the Sabbath School band. We were out by the lake and people in the nearby houses came out to see what was thumping. Some of them sat down on their porches to listen to the singing.

Making instruments is fun. We also bought a gym bag and filled it with tamborines, triangles, maracas and other percussion devices and had the kids help us with any song that seemed to call for a little percussive rhythm.

The project takes about an hour. The instuctions for making a washtub can be had if you [ click here ].

Have fun.

Tom King

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

On the Practice of Decisive Christianity

"The cause of God demands men who can see quickly and act instantaneously at the right time and with power.  - E.G. White (Gospel Workers, p. 133)

David Gates & Bob Norton with AMA mission plane.
I just finished a book called "Mission Pilot: The David Gates Story" by Eileen E. Lantry.  One of the things that struck me about the book was the utter courage with which Gates faces the challenge of being a mission pilot in remote areas of the South American jungle.

People don't appreciate how brave missionaries are. To do what they do, day after day in the wild places of the world would stretch the nerves of most of us living here in the civilized bits of the United States. What I particularly like about missionaries is that those who work on the front lines of Adventism have that rare ability to decide what needs to be done and then to go out and do it.

A preacher friend of mine once told me, "It's easier to get forgiveness than permission."

I have found this to be true. A decisive personality, however, gets one into a lot of trouble and not just with local witch doctors and drug runners. One of the sure signs that you are doing something God wants you to do is when some church member calls you up before the church board or a conference committee.

If you purpose in your heart to do right and to go where God leads, someone will inevitably question your motives. I can't tell you how many times someone has poked a finger in my chest and demanded to know why I was doing something on my own time, with my own money for some cause that I was not going to make any money on that they could see.  "What's in it for you?" they always demanded.

Sinful mankind cannot imagine why anyone would do anything decent and good without having an ulterior motive. After all, they themselves wouldn't, so why would you?  Mark Twain, a keen observer of the human condition once quipped, "Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest."

If you have a son or you are a mentor to young men, teach them to be decisive. Prepare them to think clearly in an emergency. Train them for the mission fields, even if they never go outside their home county. Skills like first-aid, CPR, camp cooking, knot-tying and simple carpentry are handy to possess in an emergency when everyone else is losing their heads. Learning man-skills helps a boy learn to make decisions based on evidence and logic. And we certainly need those skills in today's world.

My wife and I were reading in our little devotional book today and came upon this text:  "If they serve Him obediently, they will end their days in prosperity and their years in happiness."  Job 36:11 

I smelled a rat and looked it up. Sure enough, the text was quoted from Elihu's speech to Job telling him why he must have committed some sin or other and that's why God was punishing him.  In the story, Elihu was wrong.  If Job teaches us anything, it's that being a good guy can get you into as much trouble as being a bad guy.  The devil doesn't like good guys and makes it his special work to attack them at every opportunity. 

Jesus warned us that things would get rough.  "Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and falsely say every kind of evil against you because of Me.  Be glad and rejoice, because your reward is great in heaven. For that is how they persecuted the prophets who were before you."  Matt. 5: 11-12
We need to prepare our sons for that sort of challenge. We need to provide them with life experiences that train them in body, mind and spirit to be ready so that when God lights their way, they have the strength of character and the decisiveness to act quickly and with power. We are soldiers in God's Army. When we are called to stand in the breach, we should recognize the threat or the opportunity and step forward as Samuel, Deborah, Joshua and Isaiah did and say, "Here am I, send me."

If there were more Adventist men of that character, board meetings would be a whole lot shorter and far less miserable for our pastors. Adventist men, rightly trained should press forward whenever there is a call for someone to help so that there are more hands than are needed. When there is a need or an opportunity, there should be more than enough to help. The pastor and the nominating committee should have to pick and choose, not dig and scrape.

Our women-folk should not have to drag us out of our easy chairs to get us to do the work of the church. I was reminded of that yesterday when I was asked to take, not one, but three jobs at church by the nominating committee. My truck is in Texas and I have to walk or bum rides until I can save up enough to go get it. I almost turned down the call because of I lack transportation.  God kept poking at me while I was on the phone, nagging me to take the jobs.  So, I did.

I read David Gates' story today and realized something. In my weariness (the devil has been waging a fierce round of infernal guerrilla warfare against me lately), I'd almost forgotten who I'm working for. 

This is all God's work. My job is just to show up when called and use the tools He has given me to do the job He wants to get done. God will handle the logistics. If I need transport, He will provide it.

In the meantime, I think I'll go do some stuff to really aggravate the devil. 


Saturday, May 12, 2012

Blowing Up the Dog - Adventist Boys Will be Boys

Grandpa King and Old Bob (left)
I grew up in old oak trees in my yard in Keene, Texas, the home of Southwestern Adventist College. My great great grandpa's name is on the Keene SDA Church Charter and he helped establish the town and the college which was originally known as Keene Industrial Academy.

I must have terrified my mother who finally quit looking out the kitchen window. My brother and I used to swing from the top of one tree to another on those brittle old oak limbs. It was a wonder we didn't fall. I'm sure out angels got a workout.

I blame it on my ancestors. The gene for risky behavior runs strong in my family and we have all these great stories that we don't tell our mothers except on Mother's Day if we want to make them go pale. It's not like they probably don't know, but sometimes pretending you don't know helps mothers maintain a passable blood pressure.

My Grandpa was a great storyteller and he told "this story ". It sounds a bit like an Australian short story called the Exploding Dog, but I figure there's no way this incident hasn't happened before, especially in the days before they invented Child Protective Services and made farmers quit letting their 8 year-olds drive the combine.

Enjoy "the story".  And never let it be said that Adventist Moms raise sissy boys. But do make sure you lock up the dynamite.

Tom King
(c) 2012

Friday, May 11, 2012

The "Get Home" Bag - Companion to the "Bug Out" Bag

Creative Commons License: Some rights reserved by RickC
TV Tech guru James Kim found himself trapped in a snow drift in Oregon while on a family vacation. Kim had his family with him and after two days, decided to go for help. He didn't make it and froze to death. His family survived. These kinds of tragedies happen all the time, largely because we are box people and poorly prepared for emergencies.

By that, I mean we live in boxes, we work in boxes and we travel back and forth in boxes with wheels on them. Living in boxes gives us a false sense of security. The world is a precarious place and all it takes is a little slip along a fault line, a rotating storm system or a large ocean wave rolling ashore to take down the thin threads that hold together our safe little world. At any moment we can be placed in unexpected peril.

A "Get Home" bag is exactly what it says. Whereas a "bug out" bag is for escaping if your home is threatened, a get home bag for getting home if you get stranded somewhere in a crisis. If for some reason you get swept up in a disaster, trapped in a snowstorm or whatever, with a get home bag you'll have what you need to get you home hopefully.

Here's a much better design for a get home bag than the ratty old fanny pack I used to carry around in the trunk of my car. I carry a modified version in a fanny pack similar to the one above for when I can't get to the backpack-sized get home bag described in this article. Here's what I put in my fanny pack version.

  1. Multi-tool
  2. Small AA halogen flashlight and spare batteries
  3. 2 bandanas (head protection, first-aid, lung protection)
  4. Dust mask
  5. Cigarette lighter
  6. Small roll duct tape
  7. Package of energy bars (6-8)
  8. 1 liter water bottle (remember it's refillable)
  9. Parachute cord 25-50 feet
  10. Plastic Camo Pancho (can be rigged as a tent)
  11. Cotton work gloves
  12. Crushable jungle hat
  13. Compass
  14. Small pocket first-aid kit
  15. Cash (credit cards may not be usable)
  16. Acme Thunderer Whistle (accept no substitutes)
  17. Bar of soap/toothpaste/toothbrush (to make you feel human again)
  18. Tube of Neosporin
  19. Pair of dry socks
  20. Pocket Bible (probably should have listed that first) I usually have one in the car somewhere.
  21. Compass
  22. Sealed can of Sterno for emergency heat and cooking
Believe it or not, all that will fit in a fair-sized fanny pack or small carry-on bag. The rest I carry loose in the trunk of the car or attached to my body including:
  1. Smart phone on my hip (has radio in it)
  2. Writing implement and small notebook (shirt pocket)
  3. Watch (on wrist)
  4. Swiss Army Knife (in pocket)
  5. Pair of sneakers or hiking boots (in the trunk)
  6. Machete and/or pistol (weapon in the trunk, shells in the glove box to satisfy law enforcement)
  7. Jacket
  8. Crankable portable emergency radio (Radio Shack - about $40)
  9. Wool blanket
For a full up "get home" backpack capable of an "Incredible Journey sort of check out the Art of Manliness article on the subject. There's also a contest to win a copy of the author's survival book.

Have fun putting your pack together. Get the kids to help you. Explain what all the bits in the pack are used for and let the kids help make decisions about how to arrange the gear in the pack.What items should go on top?  Which ones are seldom used and can go on the bottom?

Remember, this is designed for a situation in which car travel is dangerous or impossible. In a disaster, even if you try to get home in your car (assuming you have four-wheel drive like my truck does) get your pack and supplies out of the trunk before getting underway.  Put everything in the front seat before starting to wend your way home through the devestation in case you get stuck or have to render aid to someone in a hurry.


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Staying Upright in a Canoe

Keep the weight low and the boat is more stable - period
One of my favorite websites for testosterone-infused information, "The Art of Manliness" posted this link this morning describing what canoeing instructors call the "nose over..." rule for remaining upright in canoe. This is an important skill to learn as falling overboard when you're the supposed leader of the canoe trip, really damages your reputation (not to mention making you the target of interminable bad jokes for the rest of the trip not to mention an unfortunate hit video on Youtube given the number of likely cell phones present).

The classic "knees above gunwale" position
The boys in the picture to the left (Noah, Eric and Kirk) are doing it wrong. I used this photo to show what I mean about high knees.  Fortunately, they were doing it right out in the deep water, but got loose in their technique once they were in just a foot of water. Also, Eric sitting flat on the bottom of the canoe helped stability immensely. Also note they are perpendicular to the Earth if you draw a vertical line from nose to navel to that special spot between the knees. If you can figure out the "nose over..." rule and learn to religiously keep the weight low in your boat, a canoe is quite stable.

As Darren Bush, the author of the "Art of Manliness" piece points out, "There are no tippy canoes, only tippy paddlers.  It's really worth spending a few minutes reading this article.

You'll thank me later.


Sunday, April 29, 2012

Oh, How I Love to Go Up In a Swing.....

(c) 2012 by Tom King

Heavy duty homemade swing set.
Every school and every yard needs a swing set. I've posted plans for a swing set similar to one that I built for a day care center my wife and I ran out of our home in Texas. It's tough, creates a smaller footprint on the playground and allows you to play games like "Cut the Butter" without colliding into a support pole. It's all wood and can be built with basic carpentry tools (no welding).  They make great garden swings too and will make your wife happy. Women like swings a lot for some reason.  Something to do with romance, most likely.

"Me and Dad made this!"

At any rate, a nice swing in the backyard will win you some serious brownie points with the missus. Your kids will certainly enjoy them. They look nice and they show off your manly carpentry skills. This is a great father/son or mentoring project and the kids can really help with bolting things together, stirring up concrete in a wheelbarrow, digging and other stuff that may aggravate your arthritis. Also it gives the kid bragging rights for having help build the swings.

Just click on the link and it will take you to the plans and drawings.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Camping Genius: Making a Rope Ladder

Photo by Brian Black - ITS Tactical
Making a rope ladder to help folks climb a precipice or reach an animal blind is a really useful skill.  I found a really good how-to on "The Art of Manliness" weblog complete with pictures and a video. Check it out. You really want to learn how to do this. Knowing how to make a rope ladder, especially using this quick tie technique, will seriously kick up your "Outdoorsman" cred a bunch of notches.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Camping Genius - The Tin Can Billy

Cook over small fires with this rig.
All right guys, we talked about the bugout bag a week or so ago. If you get stuck somewhere and need a hot nourishing meal here's a quick recharge.  All you need is a can of beans, a pocket knife and bit of wire.

It's the hobo's friend - the tin can billy. A billy is nothing but a tin can with a wire loop to hang it from. I like to carry a small roll of lightweight wire for just such a purpose.  All you have to do is take the top off the can with your pocket knife can opener (I'm assuming you DO have a Swiss Army knife or similar clone). Next you poke a hole in the sides, string a loop in the top of the can and hang it from the end of a stick over the fire. (I'm assuming you can find and notch a stick and build a fire. If you've got a good Swiss Army knife, you should even have a spoon attachment on the knife to eat the beans with.

As to beans I recommend Bush's Vegetarian Baked Beans or a can of Ranch Style Beans. Both are kosher for Adventists and are also quite tasty. Check out this webpage for complete pictures and details for cooking with a tin can billy.

If you're taking out a youth group, have everyone bring different things in cans to cook and combine them to make meals cooked entirely with tin can billies.  Here's a sample menu for four to five campers.

Large can of beans
Large can of corn
Regular can of vege-links
Large can of peas (for something green)
Can of fruit pie filling
Package of shortcakes
Package hot dog buns

Heat all the canned stuff and eat it. You can roast the links over the fire on sticks or just heat them up in the can.  Warm the pie filling carefully and pour over the shortcakes for a pleasant fruity desert. If your guys have mess kits, they can simply line up the cans, take their share out and eat. It's an easy and educational camping supper.

People do not appreciate how useful cans are on a campout. Wash them out, fill them with water and set them in the sun.  At the end of the day you'll have warm water for hand and face-washing which, by the way, feels wonderfully good, I'm telling you.

Have a fun campout.


Friday, April 13, 2012

Pathfinder Fundraiser - Secrets of the Vege Corn Dog

by Tom King © 2012

Not as pretty as the frozen kind but incredibly delicious!
Corn dogs make a great Pathfinder or Youth Group fund-raiser. For that matter, they're just plain yummy for any youth party and an alternative to pizza that gets the kids involved. Here's what you need.

  1. Box of corn dog skewers – 1000 (they last for years)
  2. Large cans (20 count) of Vege-links, Linketts or Big Franks (charge more for the Big Franks)
  3. 1 Box of “complete” (add water only) pancake mix
  4. 1 Box Martha White Corn Meal Muffin Mix (no lard)
  5. Mixing bowl
  6. Wire Whisk
  7. Fry Daddy (2 or three is better if you have them)
  8. Gallon bottle(s) of Canola Oil (healthier and doesn't burn like olive oil)
  9. Paper towels
  10. Metal tongs (1 for each Fry Daddy)
  11. Bags of chips
  12. Paper plates
  13. Napkins
  14. The usual condiments

Step 1 – Work Area Prep
Clear a counter so the kids can each do their part of the process without falling over each other. The first station is wiener prep, followed by dipping, frying, plating and order delivery. Fill the Fry Daddy(s) with oil to about three-fourths and start them heating. This takes a while so do it first.

Step 2 – Batter Prep
Mix 1 box of pancake mix with one box of corn meal muffin mix. Add water and stir until the batter is no longer lumpy, but not too thin. That's all there is to corn dog batter.

Step 3 – Wiener Prep
Open the cans of wieners and lay them out on a flat, absorbent surface to dry. A towel will work. If you get in a hurry, blot them dry with paper towels. The skin of the wiener has to be dry or the corn dog batter will not adhere. That's the big secret with corn dogs. Skewer the lightly dried wieners onto the corn dog sticks and set them in a bowl or casserole dish to be dipped.

Step 4 – Dipping the Dogs
Gently dip the wiener into the batter. Allow the excess to drip off and then quickly set the corn dog into the hot oil. The oil should roil around the corn dog or it's not hot enough and the corn dog will be greasy. Let the oil cook the batter a bit before adding another corn dog to the Fry Daddy. This prevents two dogs from sticking to each other.

Step 5 – Timing
Watch the dogs. I like to set them in in a specific order circling the fryer so I know which one has been in the longest. Watch for the skin to turn golden brown. Don't let it get too dark or the dogs won't be as tasty. You're looking for a crisp golden brown coating. Pull them out one by one as they get done. Lay them on a plate for the plating crew.

Step 6 – Plating
Have a separate person handle putting the dogs on a paper plate with a handful of chips and placing the order on the counter. Have your drinks ready at the order counter to add to the orders.

Step 7 – Sales
Don't get too far ahead with dog prep. The secret to deliciousness with corn dogs is to eat them right out of the fryer while they are still piping hot. You'll need a cash box with about $40 worth of ones in it. Sell things in increments of $1 to avoid having to deal with a lot of change. Most people will have fives and tens and after a while you should have enough in several denominations to handle anything that comes. Sales get fast with fresh hot corn dogs. We used to sell these at Family Night basketball games and such. You can always glom onto church socials that don't have food themes and pick up some Pathfinder cash.

Step 8 – Cleanup
Corn dogs are a big favorite and cleanup is pretty easy, especially if you do corn dog suppers every few weeks. Allow the Fry Daddies to cool and then cover them with their plastic lids. The oil stays fresh and ready to go for next time. Keep a few smaller cans of links so that as the sales taper off you don't wind up with a monster can of wieners left over. Watch the kids and see who's been avoiding helping with the prep and sales work and commandeer them to wipe down counters and put things away. Spread the labor and you don't burn out your best helpers.

We used to use the first fund-raiser to build our supplies so if something came up that was appropriate, we could buy a few bags of chips and some drinks and break out the corn dog supplies and make a few bucks. Drat ! All this talk about corn dogs has made me hungry. Guess what I'm making for supper tomorrow night!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Making A Bug Out Bag

by Tom King

A bugout bag should be carryable.

Also called a GOOD (Get Out Of Dodge) Bag or an Evac Bag, the Bug-Out Bag is a custom designed backpack full of stuff you'll need to survive for 72 hours in case of a disaster. These bags are not just for the Apocalypse anymore. Wherever you live, there are natural, political and social forces that can lead to your having to grab and go in a big hurry.

I used to live in Tornado Alley. I've lived where hurricanes periodically sweep through, where prairie or forest fires decimate millions of acres and floods inundate whole towns. Right now I'm living within 20 minutes of feeling the effects of an eruption of a volcano known as the most dangerous mountain in North America. You never know when you'll need to get out of town in a hurry.

Check out The Art of Manliness for a really good description of what to put in a bugout bag.  It's one of the better pieces on the subject I've ever seen. Make a version of this bag for every member of your household to keep you all going for 72 hours in an emergency. It's also a good Pathfinder project.

If you're the kind of person who likes to to go camping on impulse, there's a second article on impulse weekend road trips and campouts that's pretty good. too.  Check it out. My best friend Mark and I used to go camping with the following items.
  1. Sleeping bag and plastic tarp or plastic sheet
  2. Loaf of bread, pita bread or flour tortillas
  3. Jar of peanut butter mixed with honey
  4. Chocolate milk mix
  5. Canteen with a cup
  6. Beach ball deflated
  7. Pillow case to put everything in
  8. Disposable lighter
  9. Tang
  10. Pocketknife
  11. Hatchet
  12. 4 gallons of water
  13. Guitar and/or banjo
  14. 1947 Chevy
We used to throw a sleeping bag out on a rock somewhere to sleep (we had much better bags back then). If you blow up the beach ball about a third of the way and stuff it in a pillowcase, it makes a good pillow for sleeping on a rock. Mark was tone deaf, so he really didn't see the importance of the banjo.  The diet was satisfying if a little monotonous. For fun we'd throw in a can of Vege-links, some marshmallows, bananas  or a bunch of granola bars. 

Tomorrow, I'll show you how to use a nifty homemade cooking tool that every hobo should know about.