Fixing Concrete Steps for a Church in Albany

Volunteerism is one of our main beliefs.  Those who have must help those who do not, and when we work together to achieve our goals, we can accomplish great things.  That’s what happened on Sunday in Albany, New York.  Many of our Boy Scouts are from there, so everyone has some family in the area.  That’s a great reason to go back and visit, but there are always organizations in the area that need our help as well.  This past weekend, we drove back up to the capital to help with a local improvement project for a church in Albany.  The church has been around for more than 50 years, so the concrete steps, sidewalks, and walkway have begun to crack and fade.  It’s unsightly and it’s also a trip hazard since many of the church-goers are disabled and require the concrete handicap ramp.  The church took up a collection to pay for some of it, but still needed assistance.  Per usual, our awesome group of scouts volunteered to help out, so we drove back upstate to work on the project.  In collaboration with a local concrete company, Albany Concrete Contractors, we installed a new walkway, replaced the cracked concrete on the sidewalk, and put in new steps.  The team at Albany Concrete Contractors was great to work with.  Their experts handled the heavy lifting and worked at their cost to support the local community.  It’s always great to see for-profit companies assist a non-profit out of the kindness of their hearts.  They took it as a volunteer day and also spent time teaching our boys how to do some concrete masonry work, which was very interesting to learn.  The new walkway is an intricate S-curve that runs from the road to the staircase, and the concrete handicap ramp was completely replaced and extended to the main sidewalk.  Overall, the accessibility of the building has improved dramatically, making it more aesthetically pleasing and safe as well.  After the work was done, Albany Concrete Contractors hosted a neighborhood barbecue to celebrate.  The event lasted for about three hours and included hamburgers, hot-dogs, ice cream, and some live music from local bands who volunteered to play.  I wish we had recorded the event because I believe someone was taping it and a few of the boys were live-streaming at one point.

If you’d like to see our handiwork, do visit the church and check it out.  I think we all did a great job, and I’m proud of our scouts.,-73.7645445,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m5!3m4!1s0x89de0a30902478e7:0x9c1c4337fbf3ec49!8m2!3d42.6567869!4d-73.7623558

Boyscout Survival Guide 101

Basic Survival Skills Every Boy Scout Must Know

To be worthy of the name Boy Scout, you should have the necessary knowledge and the basic skills required to survive in the wild. Practicing safety at all times is important, but it is also just as important to be prepared when possible danger or disaster strikes, not that we are asking for any of that. Survive the wilderness with these important survival skills that every boy scout must know. There are seven elements that you must remember to prioritize in order to survive in the wild: water, heat, shelter, food, first aid, navigate, and rescue.

  1. Finding and Purifying Water:

Remember the ‘Rule of Threes’: you can survive three weeks without food, three days without water, and three hours without maintaining your core body temperature (which may also mean heat and shelter). Water is one of your top priorities during emergency situations in the wild. Dehydration is something you do not ever want to happen because as you lose water in you body, will also lose energy and enough oxygen, resulting to nausea, exhaustion, and collapse. The survival skill of finding a clean water source and knowing how to purify it can actually be a matter of life and death.

  1. Building a Fire:

Building a fire is a survival skill that is just as vital as securing a clean water source. Fire provides your body with heat and may also be used to boil water and cook food. Fire can also keep the wild animals at bay during night and may be used as signal for rescue. Aside from dehydration, hypothermia is also a no-no. It occurs when the core body temperature of the body drops due to low temperatures and can be worsen by damped clothing.

  1. Build a Shelter:

A shelter will provide you with protection from the harsh elements of the wilderness. Knowing how to build a shelter is a survival skill that will protect you from the cold or extremely hot temperatures, strong winds, rain and dampness, and from exposure to wild predators.

  1. Look for Food:

Food will give you the nourishment and energy that you will need to survive in the wild. Surviving requires doing a lot of activities such as walking long distances, carrying your gear, building shelters, scouring for water, and more. Not being starved, you are able to think clearly and make better decisions in the wild.

  1. First Aid Skills:

In the wilderness, you are more prone to accidents and injuries. It is bad enough that injuries occur but what will make matters worse is if you do not know how to heal these injuries or provide first aid to others. It may be a minor injury such as a sprained ankle but it will be such an inconvenience and may even hinder your chances of surviving. So, it is very important to know and practice on your first aid skills.

  1. Know how to Navigate:

By learning this survival skill, you can be confident that you will be able to navigate the area that you are exploring. Gather as much information of the area first and learn how to use navigation tools such as maps, compasses, and natural markers. A lot of people who venture into the wild get lost and that is usually when a lot of disaster can sprang up. Be sure to stick with your team because what is worse than getting lost is getting lost on your own.

  1. Signal for Rescue:

When things go from worse to worst, be prepared to ask for rescue. Signal for rescue by drawing attention to yourself and to your location. Make sure that your signals can contrast the environment (like wearing bright colored clothes instead of earthy tones) and that it is clear that a human has made the signal and not part of the wilderness (shout ‘help’ instead of mimicking animal sounds).

Bonus: Naturalist Skills:

Another useful survival skill is having a good stock knowledge of nature. This knowledge will help you tons and tons in surviving the wild – you may be able to identify plants that are medicinal or are okay for eating, know animal behaviors during day and night, recognize natural markers for navigation, and more. Knowledge of the natural sciences can be very advantageous for you in the wild.

Back Home In Albany, New York

I truly believe that one of the best parts of traveling is returning home to see your family and friends.  Your time abroad or visiting other states is always fun, especially when you go with boy scouts, but going home has no comparison.  I grew up in Albany, New York in the 90’s and moved away after graduating college, just outside of Latham.  I didn’t stick around the area though. I traveled all the way down to NYC to start my new life.  Even though I was always bored when I was home, I still really enjoy driving back up and hanging around in the Capital District.  The Capital Region is a nice place, even if I get tired of it after a while.  There’s a lot of things Albany County has that New York City does not, like trees.  Central Park aside, the Albany and Latham areas are loaded with greenery, shrubs, and colorful foliage.  It’s an amazing site to see if the summer and in the early fall when the leaves change color.

The fellow boy scouts and I will be heading back home this coming weekend, and we’ve already started hearing about all the changes in the area since we left.  Demolition contractors from Latham were installing solar arrays on a large patch of land and collaborated with an Albany land clearing company to remove trees and stumps before the new construction starts.  These types of business partnerships are common because each company brings different skills to the table.  The demolition experts are best at removing buildings, while the arborists are great at tree removal.  We’re going to drive over to the location on Saturday afternoon to see how the project is coming along.  We’ve had boy scout meetings about sustainability and using solar power for electricity generation, so this will be interesting to see.  If they do successfully install the full-sized solar array, SUNY Albany will be contacting them to setup a field trip in the very near future.

Off to Miami for One More Week in Florida

December was a blast!  Our boy scout troop spent a little over a week working with a family-owned business in Jacksonville to support the local food bank.  Now, we’re driving 5 hours down to Miami to help a local roofing company, Z Roofing & Waterproofing, whose pledged a portion of their profits to a local food bank.  Troop 95 will roll up its sleeves and help tear off and replace old roofs with state-of-the-art metal roofing materials.  Unlike many of the other roofers in Miami, Z Roofing is a family-owned business started by a father and handed off to his son.  They mainly serve Hialeah and Miami, offering roof installation, repair, and replacement.  They also offer waterproofing as an add-on service, which is truly necessary with Florida’s typical rainy season and penchant for hurricanes.  You can learn more about Z Roofing on their website.  We’re excited to see a day in the life of a roofing contractor and help where we can.   We expect a busy 5 or 6 days as homeowners begin requesting projects after the holiday break. After this coming week, the boy scout troop is headed home.  We’ve kept the guys away from their families for quite some time, so we’re ready to head back.  Next update to be provided in a couple weeks.

Update: 2/4/2019

We’re back home from the trip now.  A couple of the guys got fried because they weren’t wearing any sunscreen (despite it being advised).  Back to normal activities and helping these guys work toward their next badge.

Volunteering in Jacksonville

Part of the Boy Scout code, and even the requirements to become an Eagle Scout, is volunteering.  Some people choose easy tasks like helping serve food at Thanksgiving’s Equinox event, or handing out flyers for a church or a non-profit organization.  Troop 95 has a long debate over what form of volunteering we’d like to do, and we decided on a much different approach this year.  We’ve been in contact with the Jacksonville Business Networking International (BNI) chapter, who turned us on to a number of minority-owned companies working in small business.  After sorting through a few potentials, we selected the concrete contractor Jacksonville Pool Decks.  They’re a small, family-owned business who handle pool deck repair and resurfacing for homes and commercial properties within a 100 mile radius. You can read more about them on their website  They came highly recommended due to quality craftsmanship and a surprising number of impressive reviews.  We’re planning to fly from JFK to JAX on 12/27, right after Christmas and stay for one business week.  We’re going to assist Jacksonville Pool Decks with a number of tasks from answering the phones and scheduling to traveling to see customers for estimates.  Now, while we don’t normally assist for-profit businesses, we’re doing so because their team has offered to donate all profit from the month of December to the local food bank.  That’s a noble cause we can certainly support.  Troop 95 BSA will provide updates after the completion of the trip.

How to Find the Right Mentor for your Business

Did you know that the founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates, accredits his success to his mentor Warren Buffet? Even the richest man in the world needed a mentor from whom he could get insights on building his business. Whether you are starting a new business or looking for opportunities for growth, a mentor provides business advice, encouragement, and the necessary support. If you’ve ever wondered how to find the right mentor, keep on reading.

A business mentor is a person who has significant entrepreneurial experience so that you are able to hone your abilities and take up new challenges with confidence. Although it is easier today to get some advice over the Internet and to read stories of successful people, you need someone who understands your business and its needs. You need a mentor who works closely with you and provides valuable insights to improve your business strategy, to improve your networking and to help you understand why something is not working.

How to Find a Business Mentor

According to Richard Branson, the founder of virgin airlines, the first step to find the right mentor is to acknowledge that you need one. Whether your business is new or established, having a mentor empowers you and helps your business grow. Let us look at the tips to find a good mentor.

Be Clear About What You want

Every business has a different need. If have just started out you need someone who has a wide range of expertise and skills. However, you need to make sure that you are comfortable with the person you choose.

You should know what to expect before looking out for someone. Start by asking yourself a couple of questions. What is the vision that you have for your business? Do you know what are your strengths and weaknesses? Is there any specific quality that you are looking for in your mentor? Knowing the answers to these questions will give you an idea of the sort of the person you are looking forward to as a mentor.

Look for the Qualities of a Good Mentor

In the business world it is difficult to know someone whom you can trust with information, so a good mentor is a person who is trustworthy and reliable. Also, he should be someone that you respect so that you value his opinions.

Your mentor should also be successful in the area that you want to grow in, so that you get the necessary insights. People who are passionate about their work are good mentors because they feel the need to teach about their craft. Apart from these qualities, your mentor should be a good listener. He should listen to your problems not to give you a solution but to help you to arrive at one.

Find a Person who is Available When You are in Need

Staying regularly in touch with your mentor helps you in staying motivated. A weekly meeting would be the best in the initial stages however, later on you may need less time. It is important that your mentor has the time when you need his help and he is committed to mentoring you.

a meet up with your business mentor

Meet the Potential Mentors

Start asking your family, friends if they know people with the qualities that you are seeking. The next step is to follow up with your potential mentor. Meet up with them over coffee and have a conversation about your business, the goals and vision that you have, and also whether you feel that you two have a chemistry. You need not settle for the first person you meet but keep meeting more people until you are convinced that a person can be a good mentor to you.  Learning how to find the right mentor and selecting the perfect one for you is a process, so stay patient.