July 18th, 2015
Operation “ON TARGET” is an activity developed by Doug Brewer especially for Varsity Scouts here in Utah. He designed this program in about 1980 and it has been held annually every year since. Each District needs to have an adult “On Target” Program Chairman to coordinate the activity in your district. The Utah National Parks Council (UNPC) no longer provides leadership; it is up to district leaders to make it happen. Look at Varsity Team Program Features (VTPF) Vol. II on page 80 for detailed information.
Here is a Huddle agenda we put together several years ago for Operation “ON TARGET.” June is a good month to give this presentation to your District leaders for the July 18th activity.
Learning objectives for your Coach’s:
- To create the vision for a Team Coach that explains why On–Target is a valuable ultimate
- To increase the probability of a Team’s On–Target participation by motivating and training the
- To provide general On–Target skills and experience in the area of mirror–building and
- To provide valuable information on resources to coaches and to inform them specifically in detail about this year’s On–Target program.
Signal Mirror Materials needed to build a signal mirror:
Mirror–making materials: (see Fig 3)
- Two pieces of glass mirrors for each participant
- One or two tubes of Crazy Glue
- Two or three straight–edges
- Two or three pencils with good erasers
- A sharp knife with a good point
Retro-reflective Fire-Ball signal mirror
- See the April 2015 Varsity Vision newsletter (last month) for details in construction.
- Several signal mirrors for demonstration purposes.
Does someone in your district have a giant fold-up signal mirror on a tripod? See Fig. 1 below and in the VTPF Vol. II On–Target volume for directions on how to build a large mirror if you are interested. Why not begin to accumulate some gear?
Make a Giant Fold-up Signal Mirror…
A 2–by–2 foot square mirror would accomplish the same function, but it is big and bulky. This one below (Fig. 1) folds up and will fit into a backpack. Use standard 1–by–1 foot decorative mirrors (approximately $2 each at a discount store). Cut a 1–by–1 square foot piece of 1/2–inch plywood (if it’s thinner, it may warp). Drill five holes: one in the center, the others 1½–inches from each corner. These are to accommodate the little “jiggers” (hammer–in permanent nuts, as shown). Use ¼–inch coarse threaded jigger with a wing bolt and a 1½–inch washer plus a homemade rubber washer from an inner tube. Buy an extra jigger and put it near the center (but offset) and on the other side of the plywood. You’ll find it will hook up perfectly to a standard camera tripod, which will let you, hold the signal on someone you know is there…until they notice you.
Use cellular phones and Family Radio Service (FRS) handheld radios for set-up mirror signaling from point-to- point. Almost everyone has a cell phone, including the Varsity boys. This gets the boys more involved than using HAM radio.
Find a large map of your area of the state that shows mountain peak locations. Your adult “On Target” Program Chairman can get map information from the following web sites.
The embedded Google Map below shows the locations of some of the many peaks that have been used in the past or recommended for, signaling during Operation On-Target. To bring up this map in a separate window, use this link: Operation On-Target Peak Map
If you click on a peak marker, you will see the peak latitude and longitude, and often also see hyperlinks to more information about that peak. When researching a peak, there are other good resources to check including these links:
- Peakfinder for a synthetic view from the peak (pannable, zoomable, with “click on peak” bearings)
- HeyWhatsThat.com for tons of information about what you can see and bearings. FAQ, QuickStart Video.
- Gmap4 for free printable topo maps.
If possible, pictures and slides from a Team in your district from past On–Target experiences.
“We do not recommend that you expend lots of money on this Huddle. You will involve more people if you scout around to find existing resources. You will be surprised at the number of people who have On–Target resources ready to use. Most of these will be pleased to come and share what they have with others. The list above is an accumulation if ideas, not a suggestion to go out and buy.” Andy Gibbons
Arrange for a team to be on a nearby mountain peak (a low ridge is satisfactory) with their mirrors to signal your group in the valley during the Huddle. It will give the Team a good activity meeting that they can use for their own On–Target preparations. If possible, send a cellular phone and (FRS) handheld radio with them and have several with you at the Huddle meeting.
Fifteen minutes before the start of the Huddle, arrange a display on tables and walls of On–Target pamphlets, picture prints from previous years, pins, and mirrors. Varsity Team Program Features Vol. II, page 80.
Set up the slide projector if you have slides to show. If there is a blackboard, write on it the question. “How far can an On–Target flash be seen on a good day?”
Welcome the group and announce the topic of the Huddle. Ask the group to stand and recite the Scout Oath and Law with you.
Ask a member of your committee to read this poem, written by Kristen Pinegar, Elder Pinegars Daughter:
With a glimpse of what’s above, beyond,
I’ll climb—that’s my decision.
No mountain top could be too high,
For I have caught the VISION.
Despite rugged terrain, my hopes maintain
Though some may tire.
And in the face of thirst, fatigue and cold,
I’ll still go higher.
I’ll never doubt that force that leads me up
—I’ll not forsake it,
But link up with the power of God.
Alone I’d never make it.
“Yea, I know that I am nothing
As to my strength I am weak…
But in His strength I can do all things.”
No matter how high the peak.
Ask the group to name which of the points of the Scout Law you recited together is most likely to be taught by an On–Target experience. Name the points of the Scout Law off slowly as they consider each one in relation to On–Target.
The answer you are looking for is “Reverent.” Point out that On–Target can be a reverence–building experience which brings a young man closer to his team, to his coach, to himself, and to his God. It can bring him into contact with thoughts and feelings that are different from everyday concerns and give him a chance to re–evaluate where his life is going. It can also provide a chance for him to thoughtfully recommit himself to his ideals and his values.
Ask the group to step outside into the parking lot. Take with you as many signaling mirrors as you can. Pray for sun. Flash the Team on the ridge (see Fig. 2)
and receive their flashes in return. The Cell phone and FRS people will not be able to resist the urge to talk to the people on the ridge. This will be the only automatic part of the Huddle. It will be very interesting to the participants, especially to those who have little experience with hand–held FRS radios.
Learning how to aim a mirror takes a little patience, and knowing where your flashes are going can be critical when you see a mirror flash across the valley or on a neighboring peak. Those light beams create fun and excitement for Varsity Scout teams.
Using a signal mirror is fairly easy, though it may seem complex at first. With practice and use, it becomes second nature and a valuable resource in your ability to survive.
- Look through the hole at your target.
- Find the “sun spot” in the back mirror (usually on your face, chin or shirt).
- While looking at your target, arrange the mirror such that the “sun spot” crosses back and forth over the hole.
In other words, while looking at your target, align the reflected hole with the real hole, and you’re on target. To check yourself, sight in on a reflector such as a license plate, tail light or freeway sign, these will really light up. However, never flash a moving vehicle or airplane.
Flash as long as there is light and as long as there is interest. Give mirrors to as many participants as you can and teach them how to aim a flash. The On–Target pamphlet shows how. This can be a real involvement activity. Make it fun.
Back inside the meeting room; ask the question on the blackboard: “How far can an On–Target flash be seen on a good day?” You will get lots of interesting discussion from this one. Frankly, we do not know the correct answer, though we have heard some interesting stories. The main point is the discussion and interest that you can raise with the question.
Let the group know that in a few moments you will be showing them how to build On–Target signaling mirrors, but that before you do you want to show them a valuable resource that will assist teams to form their On–Target plans.
Hold up the Varsity Team Program Features Vol. II On–Target volume. Ask the group if they know what it is. If you find that there is little knowledge about the pamphlet series, take a moment to explain the importance of the three manuscript volumes to the Varsity program.
- Each of the three volumes describes ten ultimate activities that a team can plan.
- Each volume encourages a series of preparation meetings, training, and work–up activities aimed at one major “ultimate activity,” in this case, On–Target.
- The three manuscripts cover: (a) major sports, and (b) high adventure activities. On–Target is an adventure.
- The VTPF Volume I, II, III adventure pamphlets contain useful information. These are extremely useful as a guide and for ideas as your Program Managers (boys) take the lead in planning the team’s activities.
- The sports activity pamphlets contain suggestions for drills fitness activities, and work–out schedules.
- The volume encourages a team to make each ultimate activity into an occasion for training, leadership, planning, and group action. They widen our vision as scout leaders and give us a tool for training boys in leadership and involving them in the experience.
- At the end of one ultimate activity, the boys can have earned the “V” letter or Bar, and the activity pin for that ultimate activity. The Coach is the judge. The exact requirements are contained in the pamphlet itself.
- By participating in five On Target activities (in the five fields of emphasis) a Varsity Scout has filled the requirements for earning the Operation “On Target” Pin, which is worn of the “V” letter.
- By participating with the boys, in five ultimate activities, an adult leader has filled most of the requirements for earning the Varsity Letter and the boys work for the Denali Award.
Have your Cellular phone and FRS radio people demonstrate the equipment used for hand-held communications and describe briefly the regulations covering use of the radios. Learn how to use radio communications to support the aims of On–Target, and how to confirm flashes using the Cellular phones or FRS handheld radios.
Begin to make the On-Target signaling mirrors. Every participant should make one (see Fig. 3). You will want to demonstrate each step carefully for the group by making a mirror for all to see. Then turn them loose. While everyone is making mirror (and you and your committee are helping), ask the group to consider the number of practical uses a signaling mirror might have on a typical backpack trip. Ideas might include: emergency signaling, long-distance communications, and long-distance games.
Also during this period, review the important information about On-Target for this year. Emphasize the date and the hour of signaling (July 18th at 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM), and remind teams to contact your district’s On-Target Coordinator to sign-up for a peak at: bsaontarget.org/registration (See page 6 May 2015 Varsity Vision)
Signing up will not reserve a peak for a team’s exclusive use, but it will reduce crowding by warning teams away from peaks that everyone wants. The coordinator will also have information on peaks which are not in high demand.
Remind the group that a Cellular phone and FRS handheld radio network will be set up for those teams that want to have phone and radio communications with them. Phone numbers and FRS code and channel along with peak assignments will be published in this newsletter just before On-Target on July 18.
Ask an experienced Coach to share an On-Target experience with the group which shows the benefits of On-Target to boys individually and to the team.
Use the mountain you have climbed for Operation ON TARGET as an object lesson. The peak is your goal and/or life. At any one moment you are either climbing toward your goal, at your goal, or moving down from your goal. Relate to religious situations or self-reflection if appropriate
The focus should be on how On-Target built team unity, built commitment to ideals, or deepened a scout’s understanding of himself in relation to others. A short slide show at this point may be done.
Finally, express your own feelings briefly about the value of On-Target and the peak experience. Emphasize the benefits of a fireside on the mountain the night before On-Target. Emphasize the need to mix fun with thoughtful activities and to have a well-rounded but not rowdy experience. Wish them all well as they help their boys planning a meaningful On-Target experience.
End with your closing ceremony.