Monthly Archives: January 2008

The Road less traveled

The Theme for this years Friends of Scouting Campaign is “Scouting Changes Lives”. And that is a fact.. unarguably a fact.

Scouting offers those life changing moments, moments that shape our young men, build character, and most of all provide for lasting memories.
Some of the older guys in the Troop are getting to that point were Scouting may not look to cool to their friends. This is were the life changing happens. Providing a relevant program for them is critical, keeping them engaged in Scouting paramount. As I gave this thought, I thought about the poem “The Road Less Traveled” and how it fit for our young men today. Talk about relevance..

Lets encourage our young men to take that road less traveled. While it may not be cool or popular the rewards of the Scouting trail are many and differences are beyond belief.

ROAD LESS TRAVELED

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth

Then took the other as just as fair
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear
Though as for that, the passing there
Had worn them really about the same

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet, knowing how way leads onto way
I doubted if I should ever come back

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence
Two roads diverged in a wood
And I took the one less traveled by
And that has made all the difference

by Robert Frost

Happy Scouting!

Categories: Scoutmaster minute | 1 Comment

Our Mission

The mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law.

It has been said over and over that we need to know what “Right Looks like”. Knowing that will guide us in making those ethical and moral choices or decisions over the course of our lives.

I have been thinking lately as we have had Webelos Scouts paying us visits, what do those kids want out of Scouting? Answering questions from their parents and getting a feel for what excites, bothers, and concerns them has lead me right back to “RIGHT”.

I think that sometimes the expectation of Scouting is to turn out Eagle Scouts. And while it is my hope that every Scout earns his Eagle Award, I will not be saddened if they do not… AS LONG as along the way we see that young boy become a good man that in fact makes ethical and moral choices. A young man that we see a measurable change in his life for the better. In short, a young man that lives the Scout Oath and Law.
Not every Scout will earn the Eagle Award, and we should not get wrapped up in making Eagles. We should take the time and teach skills, not just knots and cooking, but leadership and decision making. We should be shinning examples for them to follow and grow to be like us. We need to encourage and demand that they accept nothing less than RIGHT. The right found in the Oath and especially the LAW.
In the course of our programs we need to keep the Scout law in everything we do. In every skill, every camp out, every hike. The more the Scouts hear and see the Law in action the more they will emulate it and therefore learn to make those ethical and moral choices.

This is the bedrock of Scouting. Without it we are merely a boys club.

Happy Scouting!

Categories: Oath and Law | Leave a comment

Leave No Trace Awareness Award

For those of you that need another patch…but more importantly, learn and share the Leave no Trace information…

Leave No Trace Awareness Award

Scout Requirements
1. Recite and explain in your own words the principles of Leave No Trace, and discuss how an ethical guideline differs from a rule.
2. On three separate camping trips with your troop or team, demonstrate and practice the Leave No Trace skills appropriate to the trip.
3. Earn the Camping and Environmental Science merit badges.
4. Participate in a Leave No Trace-related service project that reduces or rehabilitates recreational impacts. Discuss with your troop or team which recreational impacts were involved with the project.
5. Give a 10-minute presentation on a Leave No Trace topic approved by your unit leader to a Scouting unit or other interested group.
6. Teach a Leave No Trace-related skill to a Scouting unit or other interested group.

Adult Leader Requirements

1. Recite and explain in your own words the principles of Leave No Trace, and discuss how an ethical guideline differs from a rule.
2. On each of the three camping trips in Scout requirement 2, discuss with your troop or team the impact problems encountered and the methods the unit used to eliminate or at least minimize those impacts.
3. Read chapters 7 through 10 (Leaving No Trace), chapter 27 (Understanding Nature), and chapter 34 (Being Good Stewards of Our Resources) in the BSA Fieldbook. Share with another adult leader what you learned.
4. Actively assist (train, advise, and supervise) a Scout in planning, organizing, and leading a Leave No Trace service project that reduces or rehabilitates recreational impacts.
5. Assist at least three Scouts in earning the Leave No Trace Achievement Award.
6. Teach a Leave No Trace-related skill to a Scouting unit or other interested group.

Here’s the Application Form
Download the application form [PDF - 384K] for the Leave No Trace Awareness Award

Happy Scouting!

Categories: Leave no trace | Leave a comment

LNT – Camp and Travel on Durable surfaces

To continue our discussion on Leave No Trace we will talk about the second principle.
Camping and Traveling on Durable surfaces.

DURABLE SURFACE= refers to the ability of a surface or vegetation to withstand wear or remain in stable condition.

Some ways that we can tell what a durable surface looks like is simply by looking at it.
Durable surfaces when selecting a campsite is often confusing. Where to pitch your tent? Well look at dry grass areas and hard ground. Yes, I know it may not be the most comfortable, but you have a sleeping pad and remember our focus is less impact.
Select camp areas that have been established. Even when in the wilderness look for places that others have used. Try not to make new camp sites.
Spread out. This lessens the impact on the ground also.
Durable surfaces on the trail. Rule number 1. STAY ON THE TRAIL. Do not make new trails.
Do not short cut switch backs. This causes unsightly trails and also starts the process of erosion of the hill. Take the extra 20 steps and make the full turn.
Do not leave trail markings for those to follow. These become unsightly too. When traveling in small groups leave your meet points on the map. Discuss rest stops and link up points and plot them on your map. It is the only marker you need and leaves no trace.

If you are heading cross country, choose durable surfaces such as dry grass, rock, gravel, or snow. You impact will be small in these conditions. If you can’t then spread out. Try not to bunch up and “Herd” across an area. The solitude will help you enjoy the wilderness a lot more.

Finding durable surfaces to camp on and travel through is an important part of leave no trace. Often over looked, it sets the tone once you arrive in the wilderness. Going back to Planning ahead, plan for durable areas and trails. This will help you to help our Wilderness areas, parks, forest land, and yeah… even our urban areas.

Happy Scouting!

Categories: Leave no trace | Leave a comment

You might be a Scout if…

Yeah… it’s play on the Foxworthy hit.. but it is too fun not to do.

We had a great weekend of NYLT (JLT) this weekend followed up by a good night of Fun at our annual Troop lock in. I had no idea how bad I was at video games… but it was fun none the less.

So you might be a Scout/Scouter if….

You can turn Ramen into a 5 Star meal.
You wear a headlamp to bed.
You can sleep anywhere any time, and a foam pad is actually called a bed.
You can feed a family of 5 from one pot.
You take better care of your hiking boots than you do your car.
You have received camping gear at every Birthday and Christmas since you were a Tenderfoot.
Your favorite Lullaby is Vespers.
You always know were North is.
Its not a good vacation unless you can bring your hiking stick.
REI is not just a store… its a place of worship.
And finally…
There is no place you would rather be on a crisp morning than sitting in the vestibule of your tent, sipping a cup of coffee looking out over the the Wilderness that God has so graciously given Scouts to wander in.

Happy Scouting!

Categories: Just fun, Scouting | Leave a comment

If you believe it…

It will happen…
I’m talking about the Scout Law of course… You need to believe it to live it.
I have said it many times before, but you never have to look for Good Deeds, they are all around you, you just need to keep yourself open to it.

“A Scout is helpful” “To help other people at all times”

Cartoon by Rich Diesslin, www.the-cartoonist.com, used with permission

But you need to believe that. Not just say it. Opportunities present themselves all the time, but if you are not living the Oath and Law, you will not see the opportunities.

I am constantly seeing opportunities to be helpful, simple stuff like holding a door open, carrying a bag or two for someone, clearing the table at home etc.
The opportunities are all around. Ever since I started talking about it, it seems as though the chances to helpful have seemed to increase.

Believing…
Do you say the words and mean what you say? Do you say the words and forget about it? The choice is yours, but a part of being a Trustworthy Scout is that you actually mean what you say.
You can associate this with Loyalty also in that people expect Scouts to “Do a Good Turn”. Those that know that you are in Scouting just expect you to live the values of the Oath and Law, even if they have no idea what the Law says.
It is an easy part of Scouting.. to be helpful. Part of each level of advancement requires you to “DEMONSTRATE SCOUT SPIRIT”. You do this by LIVING the Scout Oath and Law and not just reciting them.
We had a discussion the other night where I asked a Senior Scout what he could do to be better at being a positive influence. Of course the Scout had all the right answers, so I asked him to look me square in the eye and tell me what he could do.
Looking me in the eye the answers became a lot more honest and real. Suddenly you could see the Scout realize the expectation of living the Scout Oath and Law. And what it really meant to him. Sometimes it can be tough to live the Law. It forces you to go against the Social grain in some cases. And that’s ok. It is better to be right than cool.
As a Scoutmaster I spend a lot more time in conferences talking about the Oath and Law than anything else, especially for those Scouts Star and Life. Believing the Oath and Law is the foundation for demonstrating it. And the Oath and Law is the foundation of Scouting. Without our Oath and Law, we are just guys that get together and camp.

If you believe the Oath and Law… really believe the values and promises contained within, than you will be a better Scout and a better person. Standing on the Oath and Law as your foundation you will see opportunities to demonstrate it.

Being Helpful is a value of Scouting. It is also a promise that we make to ourselves and to those around us.
Believe in the Law and Oath and opportunities will come to live it.

Happy Scouting!

Scout Knots cartoon by Rich Diesslin

Categories: Scout Law | Leave a comment

Content of Character

During last nights Scoutmaster Minute at the Troop meeting, I talked about the Content of your Character. Taking from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in his speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial were he said that “… one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” (read the whole speech here)

What is the content of your Character and how did it get there… or better yet, how is it going to get there?
The content of your Character is that which makes up your Character. It is developed and learned, but most of all given as you consistently demonstrate those characteristic of good virtue.

As you may know, I am a collector of Scouting memorabilia, especially Scout Handbooks and the like.
Here is an excerpt from the Boy Scouts of America 1911 Handbook

Scout Virtues, Pg 8-10.
There are other things which a scout ought to know and which should be characteristic of him, if he is going to be the kind of scout for which the Boy scouts of America stand. One of these is obedience. To be a good scout a boy must learn to obey the orders of his patrol leader, scout master, and scout commissioner. He must learn to obey, before he is able to command. He should so learn to discipline and control himself that he will have no thought but to obey the orders of his officer.
He should keep such a strong grip on his own life that he will not allow himself to do anything which is ignoble, or which will harm his life or weaken his powers of endurance.
Another virtue of a scout is that of courtesy. A boy scout ought to have a command of polite language. He ought to show that he is a true gentleman by doing little things for others. Loyalty is also a scout virtue. A scout out to be loyal to all to whom he has obligations. He ought to stand up courageously for the truth, for his parents and friends.
Another Scout virtue is self-respect. He ought to refuse to accept gratuities from any one, unless absolutely necessary. He ought to work for the money he gets.
For this same reason he should never look down upon any one who may be poorer than himself, or envy any one richer than himself. A scout’s self-respect will cause him to value his own standing and make him sympathetic toward others who may be, on one hand, worse off, or, on the other hand, better off as far as wealth is concerned. Scouts know neither a lower nor a higher class, for a scout is one who is a comrade to all and who is ready to share that which he has with others.
The most important scout virtue is that of honor. Indeed, this is the basis of all scout virtues and is closely allied to that of self-respect. When a scout promises to do a thing on his honor, he is bound to do it. The honor of a scout will not permit of anything but the highest and the best and the manliest. The honor of a scout is a sacred thing, and cannot be lightly set aside or trampled on.
Faithfulness to duty is another one of the scout virtues. When it is a scouts duty to do something, he dare not shirk. A scout is faithful to his own interest and the interests of others. He is true to his country and his God.
Another scout virtue is cheerfulness. As a the scout law intimates, he must never go about with a sulky air. He must always be bright and smiling, and as the humorist says, “Must always see the doughnut and not the hole.” A bright face and a cheery word spread like sunshine from one to another. It is the scout’s duty to be a sunshine-maker in the world.
Another scout virtue is that of thoughtfulness, especially to animals; not merely the thoughtfulness that eases a horse from the pain of a badly fitting harness or gives food and drink to an animal that is in need, but also that which keeps a boy from throwing a stone at a cat or or tying a tin can on a dogs tail. If a boy scout does not prove his thoughtfulness and friendship for animals, it is quite certain that he never will be really helpful to his comrades or to the men, women, and children who may need his care.
And then the final and chief test of the scout is the doing of a good turn to somebody every day, quietly and without boasting. This is the proof of the scout. It is practical religion, and a boy honors God best when he helps others most. A boy may wear all the scout uniforms made, all the scout badges ever manufactured, know all the woodcraft, camp craft, scoutcraft and other activities of boy scouts, and yet never be a real boy scout. To be a real boy scout means the doing of a good turn every day with the proper motive and if this be done, the boy has a right to be classed with the great scouts that have been of such service to to their country.
To accomplish this, a scout should observe the scout law.
Every boy ought to commit to memory the following abbreviated form of the scout law.
1. A scout is trustworthy.
2. A scout is loyal.
3. A scout is helpful.
4. A scout is friendly.
5. A scout is courteous.
6. A scout is kind.
7. A scout is obedient.
8. A scout is cheerful.
9. A scout is thrifty.
10. A scout is brave.
11. A scout is clean.
12.A scout is reverent.

After last nights meeting there was a short discussion regarding Troop Junior Leader Training. One of the Scouts engaged brought up the question about why we have to “Relearn” the things we learned last year. My answer was simple, and not meant to be harsh, but it was “Because we have not demonstrated with any consistency that we know what we learned last year.” We do not act like we know the material and so it is worth revisiting.
It is for that reason that we can never reinforce the Scout Oath and Law enough. The values that make up the Law are those things that shape ones character. And that becomes the Content of your Character.
It is what people will judge you by, and yes my friends, like it or not.. you will be judged and it will be your character good or bad that stands out the most.

Happy Scouting!

Categories: Character | Leave a comment

Scouting Blogs

There are many Scouting Blogs out there, and in the “Scouting Blog community” there are a bunch of really good folks sharing their Scouting experience, ideas, and stories.
I started this blog last year with the idea of sharing and using it as another method of communicating Scouting’s program, especially as it applies to our Troop.

Over the course the last 6 months or so, I have met some great Scouters via the blog network. They have helped me out with finding direction for the blog and of course sharing ideas.

Tonight, as I jumped on the net and checked a few of my favorites, I found a new one called the HalfEagle.com. This blog is a compilation of Scouting Blogs and a great way to get a “Shot gun” blast of whats happening in the world of Scouting Blogs.

Check it out, it is worth the look…. that and I am proud to say that the Scoutmaster Minute has made it among the company of other great Bloggers.

Happy Scouting!

Categories: Scouting | Leave a comment

Leave No Trace – Plan and Prepare

As the book says, “Proper planning and preparation helps back country travelers accomplish trip planning goals safely while minimizing damage to the land and having fun“.

And that my friends is what it is all about.

As you all know poor planning results in campers having a miserable time and often leads to damage to natural resources. It does not take much research to find stories of numerous campers that have gone into the wilderness ill prepared and without proper planning. They are the news all the time.

So here are some things to consider when planning a trip:

1. Identify and record the goals or expectations of the trip.

2. Identify the skills and ability levels of the participants.

3. Select destinations that match the goals, skills, and abilities of the participants.

4. Seek information about the area that your group plans to visit from land managers, maps, and literature.

5. Check the normal weather patterns for that area. Get projected forecasts for the area and adjust our plans accordingly.

6. Choose equipment and clothing for comfort, safety, and follow Leave No Trace principles.

7. Axes and saws are not needed for collecting and preparing wood for a leave no trace fire. Downed, dead wood is gathered from the ground and broken by hand.

8. Plan trip activities to match the goals, skills, and abilities of the group.

9. Evaluate your trip upon return; note changes to make next time.

That is a sampling of considerations, I am sure you can come up with a few more. Remember, our goal is lessen our footprint and leave the smallest impact possible. When making your list of considerations ask yourself if it passes the impact test. Consider your meal plans, fires, swimming, camp site set up, and garbage. They all have an impact on leave no trace.

Going prepared and properly planned will ensure successful camping experiences as well as leaving no trace.

Happy Scouting!

Categories: Leave no trace | Leave a comment

Leave No Trace – Getting Started

Most people that enjoy the out doors, that really appreciate what we have in the wilderness area practice some level of leave no trace. While others seemingly take for granite the wide open spaces and figure that someone else will clean up after them, or that their impact will not be that harmful.
The fact is that while we may not be at a danger level in our wilderness, the foot print we leave today may have a lasting impact on how we use it tomorrow. It is for that reason that we need to learn and practice a leave no trace philosophy while getting out there.

To get started it is a good idea just to ask a few questions.

Do we plan ahead for all circumstances and go prepared?

Do we always travel and camp on durable surfaces? Do we know what that means? Do we know what surfaces are not durable?

Do we know how to properly dispose of our human waste and wastewater?

Do we minimize site alterations and leave natural items and artifacts for others to discover?

Do we minimize our campfire impact?

Do we only observe wildlife, or do we disturb them with our actions?

Are we always considerate of other campers?

Do we understand and follow the Leave no trace principles?

I think an honest review of your answers will tell you that you may be close to actively participating in the leave no trace program, but may be falling short in certain areas. That’s ok, its a starting point and a place from which to build.

It is important that Scouts know and understand, not just the verbiage, but why we need the Leave no trace program. It is always a good idea to get them out into the wilderness. Have them sit quietly and look around. Then ask about Leave no trace. Right before their eyes they will see the “WHY” we need it.

I think about it in these terms as it relates to our Troop. We camp a lot. So over the 30 plus nights we camp over the course of a year, what is the impact that we can potentially leave? OK now.. what is the impact that we actually left last year? Can we answer those questions and feel good about our answer. I know that we fall short.

Happy Scouting!
Categories: Leave no trace | Leave a comment

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