PTC: The Place To Be

Prairielands Training College returns Saturday February 13th at the High School of Saint Thomas More. This is your opportunity to take interesting and useful classes from some of the area’s finest Scouters and subject-matter experts. Returning from hiatus are classes on things that make you go itch and on gender differences (always a crowd pleaser).  Flint Pellett is offering his primitive fire-building classes and our minimalist camping friends from Monticello will teach you how to thrive in the great outdoors without lugging the kitchen sink along (Bear Grylls and Les Stroud have nothing on these Scouters).

New classes include plant and animal identification from a retired biology teacher and understanding drugs (legal and illegal) from a professional law enforcement officer/paramedic. Disabilities awareness is being taught by one of the finest presenters you will ever hear. Venturers have their own track—so it is all Venturing, all day. It is not too early to teach Cub Scouts map and compass skills or outdoor ethics—we have the classes and the expertise


Tony Martin returns this year with the NRA Range Safety Officer class—get certified and be able to help out at the range. If you are into knots there are manly-man classes taught by Hoosiers Eric and Gary and Girly Knots taught by our own Dakorie McElhaney.


There are literally classes for everyone. Go to the council website, look at the course catalog, print/fill out the registration, and get it to the council office. A great experience awaits you!


Shooting Sports in Cub Scouting

With the discontinuance of the Sports and Academics program of belt loops and pins last year, a lot of leaders have asked about the future of shooting sports programs in Cub Scouting. I have just received information from Supply Group about the new program, including an outline of requirements and ordering information for the emblems and pins.

The new program will allow Cub Scouts of all ranks to earn rank-level patches and discipline pins in archery, BB  gun, and slingshot. The familiar restriction to council and district level events under the supervision of trained Cub Scout range masters remains unchanged.

I have attached illustrations of the new emblems and pins together with pricing for those who will be considering it in our event budgeting. The emblem is awarded for completing Level 1 in one of the three disciplines in a given program year; the pins go on the emblem and are awarded for completing Levels 1 and 2  rank-specific requirements in a given discipline. A boy can earn one patch and three pins in each program year.


A PDF with more detail about requirements exists as well. Like its predecessor pamphlet I doubt that it will be generally distributed.


Scouting’s Anniversary Week

Make your community aware of Scouting during the anniversary week of Scouting.  Scout Sunday is on February 7 and Scout Sabbath is on February 13. This is a time for Scouts and leaders to celebrate their religious heritage. In many cases, this heritage is shared with a chartered organization.  Scouts could conduct a patriotic display for the community at a public event.   A simple display at your local school will publicize our program to potential Scouting families.


Council Candy Sale Details

The Camp Candy Sale starts on Friday, February 26.  Please place your order by Sat. Feb. 13 for pick-up in either Champaign or Danville offices.  I have already had a few Units contact me about Candy Bar pre-orders.  The Council site has been updated for the 2016 sale.    All the forms are available online.  If someone else will be handling your Unit’s candy sale make sure to   contact Elliot at the council office. The Camp Candy Sale has changes to a new company with options to help your Scouts earn their way to summer camp.  World’s Finest Chocolate provides choices in a Variety pack or One-of-a-Kind case with 60 $1.00 candy bars.  The types of candy include:  milk chocolate, almond, crisp, caramel and dark chocolate.


Eagle Scouts of 2015

Congratulations to the Eagle Scouts of the Prairielands Council for 2015. Show your support for these fine leaders of tomorrow at the annual Council Youth Recognition Dinner on February 20. It is a proud achievement for a young man, his family, and his troop to attain the highest rank in Scouting. It is also a monumental moment for the Scouting movement in the Prairielands Council for providing the support system required to keep our programs healthy and prosperous.


Popcorn Party Club

Letters for the $1000 and Over Club were mailed and we are coming up on the reservation deadline.  If you have a Scout that did not receive a letter let Elliot Smith know so he can get them added to the list.  There is still time to reserve tickets for the game February 13.   If you have a Scout that isn’t able to attend the party they will still be able to get their recognition from the office at a later date.





 Again this year Parkland College’s own astronomy expert David Leake will be offering two opportunities for Scouts to earn the astronomy merit badge.    Those dates are May 17 and May 25, from 7-9:30pm.   We have a registration form on our planetarium web site.   Scouts would only need to come to one of the two dates, not both.  Advance registration is required.  For more information go to the Planetarium website at

                Thanks again David!


PRAIRIE FIRE DISTRICT goes all out to get re-charters in before due date!!  Thank you to all the dedicated volunteers who worked extremely hard to get those re-charters in by the January 15, 2016 deadline.  Out of 91 packs, troops, crews, ships, teams and posts; 47 made it in and paid by the 15th.  Most of the others made it in within the next week.  I sincerely appreciate your dedication and efforts!  Be on the look-out:  Next week we announce the $100.00 prize winning unit.



 Unit commissioner meeting on Wednesday Feb. 10 at 6:00pm in the usual location.  Please email me with a summary of your unit(s) issues (strengths and weaknesses) going into 2016 if you will not be able to attend the meeting.

Prairie Fire roundtable Wednesday Feb. 10 at 7:00pm in the usual locations (LDS Church on Windsor).  Cub Scout section will be focusing on activities for the upcoming months and summer camp options.  Boy Scout section will be focused on the new Boy Scout advancement requirements.




Friends of Scouting Fundraising in February

The annual Friends of Scouting family fund-raising campaign will begin in February with unit presentations throughout the district.   The Friends of Scouting campaign is an important component in helping packs, troops, and crews to solicit funds for the Prairielands Council. The fifteen minute program highlights important mission of the Boy Scouts of America and reviews the need for financial support. Each unit is encouraged to schedule a presentation for their Scouting families this spring.


Many Trails Meeting

The next district meeting of the district will be held Thursday, February 11th at the Hoopeston United Methodist Church at 403 Main Street, beginning at 6:30 pm.  All district committee members and unit commissioners are encouraged to attend this gathering to gear up for the 2016 Scouting year and create plans for upcoming efforts.  Your help in supporting units is needed.


North Fork Scout Fun

A great weekend of Scouting events is planned for the North Fork Lodge near Danville.  The 2016 Many Trails Spring camporee will be held on the weekend of May 20-22.   The campground has scenic trails, a wonderful fishing lake, and an excellent shooting sports area.  For more info, please contact Camporee facilitator Robert Sloan at




Klondike Heroes

 A large round of applause for the 2016 “Bold in the Cold” Chairman Scoutmaster Kris Hoogstraat of Ashkum.   Special thanks to Kris for his leadership and enthusiasm is conducting the Klondike Derby at Camp Drake.  Thanks to all the great event judges who made the activities fun, challenging, and safe, along with the Order of the Arrow support team for their service.  Kudos to Administrator Kurt Brown for his “i” dotting and “t” crossing.   Fabulous appreciation to James Mills for his work as Klondike Chef in the kitchen, as well as the food service staff volunteers.  The 2016 Klondike Derby was a tremendous success on many levels, due to the leadership and teamwork of this year’s great event staff.


Klondike Patrol Sports page

For the 2016 Klondike Derby, the “Bold-in-the-Cold” patrol events provide challenges for all levels of Scouting.   Physical abilities, communications talents, outdoor skills, and Scouting techniques were critical in completing the eleven judging stations at Camp Robert Drake.  Here is a listing of the events and the top patrols as awarded on the plateau at Camp Drake on Saturday.


Convoy….Traverse the trail as a team with a weighty object in hand

TOP HONORS:        Blade Runners  Patrol   Troop 393    Williamsport, IN



Cold Spell…Break the letter Code using only a Compass and Magnetic North

TOP HONORS:        Blue Phoenix Patrol   Troop 158    Clifton, IL



Home Sweet Tarp…Provided supplies, build the best winter shelter in allotted time

TOP HONORS:        BATS Patrol   Troop 101    Champaign, IL



Surprise…Astronomy Knowledge

TOP HONORS:        Dragons Patrol          Troop 29    Gibson City, IL

TIE                             Wild Coyotes Patrol   Troop 118    Hoopeston, IL


Texting…Semaphore Flag Message Sending, do not try while driving

TOP HONORS:        Blue Phoenix Patrol   Troop 158    Clifton, IL



Bold Inferno…Exhibit .fire-building skills in a popcorn popping race

TOP HONORS:        Woodchuck Norris Patrol   Troop 101   Champaign, IL



Secrets Retrieval…Save the Message in a Bottle floating in the ocean with lashing techniques

TOP HONORS:        Dragons Patrol          Troop 29    Gibson City, IL



Clove That’s Bold…Tie a Clove Hitch around the Flag Pole

TOP HONORS:        Scorpions Patrol   Troop 25    Mahomet, IL



Round & Round…Team balancing Act with Rolling Sphere and large wooden disc

TOP HONORS:        Phoenix II Patrol   Troop 55    Tolono, IL



Cold Aid…Display First Responder Care to Wounded Men in the Cold

TOP HONORS:        Dragons Patrol          Troop 29    Gibson City, IL



Boldly Save….Rescue Your 2 Liter Beverage without Touching the massive Electrical Charge

TOP HONORS:        Border Patrol   Troop 393    Williamsport, IN



Conquering Dragons at the Klondike Derby

Congratulations to the Dragons Patrol of Troop 29 in Gibson City, IL for attaining the top score in the Prairielands Council’s Klondike Derby at Camp Robert Drake.  Over the 12 challenging skill stations throughout the camp, the Dragon Patrol scored 166 points to earn the “Pan of Gold” trophy as the leading patrol.   A wide variety of winter weather contests were set up for patrols to use their team work and problem solving skills.  Events included fire-starting, shelter building, team knot tying, and pole lashing. The Elite Squad Patrol of Troop 42 in Homer, IL placed second with a score of 159 points.  The third highest tally was also from a patrol from Homer Troop 42, the Fowl Excessive Blizzard Patrol with 155 points.   Over 425 Scouts and leaders participated in the 2016 Klondike Derby on January 30, 2016 at Camp Drake near Oakwood, IL.


Fastest Klondike Sled Overcomes the Heat

The tropical weather conditions on Saturday, January 30 at Boy Scout Camp Robert Drake near Oakwood created a difficult travel plan for entrants in the outdoor skills challenges event known as the Klondike Derby.  As part of the cold-weather competition, Scouting patrols from 43 different communities race their boy-powered dog-sled across the muddied plateau field. The warm weather changed the normal charge across the frozen tundra into a tromp through a mucky, boot sucking quagmire.   Yet, the Boy Scouts adapted to the swampy conditions to compete in the annual grand tradition of the Klondike Derby Championship sled race.


Despite the muddy conditions, congratulations go out to the Boy Scouts from Mahomet for being the fastest patrol in their heat, then the record setting time in the championship finals.    The winning dog-sled was pulled by the Scouts of Troop 333 of Mahomet, chartered to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.   The members of the Fire-Breathing, Rubber Ducky Knights Patrol won the “Yukon Jack Plaque”, awarded by the Prairielands Council annually to the fastest patrol of the Klondike Derby. 




Placemats with Castle Maze

The big Cub Scout Challenge on the Cub Camping placemats is the mini-castle maze on the top left corner.   The small pathways of the old stone structure are providing difficult travel for meek Cub Scouts.  BOLDNESS is required to traverse the tiny paths.   GOOD LUCK YOUNG SQUIRES.  The placemats are available at the Raymond Lee Scout Service Center in Champaign or the Danville Scout office. 


Two Months to Four Two

Focus on getting families to attend a camp promotions night with a troop this spring. Also encourage their participation in COMPASS Day on April 2nd, where they will receive recognition from the Council Camping Committee and Illini Lodge of the Order of the Arrow.  Inform your fifth grade Webelos Scouts and parents about this special opportunity to experience a day of camp activities, take a tour of program options, start working of Boy Scout level advancement, and receive a compass.   Summer is on the way!


Plan Now to Create Summer Adventure

Look to plan a summer calendar that will provide simple day events, as well as extended outings and trips, to provide each family a choice for their family schedule.   Most importantly, encourage a variety of leaders to coordinate and prepare administrative details, in order to share the organizational load.  Finally, communicate the plan to all the families as early as possible, to allow time for Cub Scout campers to make their own schedule adjustments and meet financial and/or equipment requirements.


Medieval Times for Cub Scouts

The kingdom of knights will rule in the exciting world of Cub Scout Adventure Camp.  Traverse the pages of history for the outdoor opportunities of the Blue and Gold campers for the fishing, swimming, and boating skills at Camp Drake.  All ages of Cub Scouts are encouraged to explore the abundant options for advancement, enjoyment, and thrills at Cub Scout Adventure camp.  Look to your calendar for the Blue Session July 6-July 9, 2016 or Gold Session, July 24-26, 2016.  Prepare your den of Cubs for the ultimate outdoor escape this summer. 




Merit Badge Registration Opens Today

Merit badge registration is open for Camp Drake 2016.   Troop 272 of Veedersburg is all signed up for summer advancement! Get your Scouts online as soon as possible.  After your deposits are paid, get your code and get on your way! Go to


Vermilion Trex

The 2016 older Scout program at the Camp Drake includes several exciting options including pistols, SCUBA, and motor boating.  Participants in the older Scout program can be housed in the tree house built near the arboretum at Camp Drake.  These special older Scouts will headquarter their activities from the tree house with the option to travel in and around the camp property, and still work on advancement, depending on available space.  The older Scout program is titled Vermilion Trex and a flyer is available at




Important Elections for Troops

Whether you plan to conduct the election on your own or bring in assistance from the council, it is important to designate the date of your election and announce it to the unit as early as possible.  Please inform your Scouts early about the date of your OA election, in order for Scouts with the 2nd Class rank to focus on completion of the eligibility requirements. Under the Order of the Arrow link on the Prairielands Council website are the forms and procedures for the successful completion of troop/team elections in the lodge.  All troop/team leaders should review their materials to prepare for the election requirements.   Contact your OA leadership, if you need assistance in conducting the election in your troop/team.  Election consultants are ready to help your troop conduct a successful Order of the Arrow election.  


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