Monthly Archives: October 2008

A Happy Life- Communication

“The world needs a sense of worth, and it will achieve it only by its people feeling that they are worthwhile.”- Fred Rogers

So I posted a little while ago BP’s farewell message to the Scouts of the World.
The other day, my good friend Steve, from Melrose Scouting Podcasts posted a new video featuring Buttons in which Buttons recited the message from our Founder.
I watched it and while I was listening I closed my eyes and actually heard what was being said.
And of all of the words that were spoken, it was the message about living a happy life that really resonated with me.
It really is that simple.

“But the real way to get happiness is by giving out happiness to other people. Try and leave this world a little better than you found it and when your turn come to die, you can die happy in feeling that at any rate you have not wasted your time but have done your best. “Be Prepared” in this way, to live happy and to die happy – stick to your Scout promise always”- BP

Over the last couple days I have been dealing with the questions by the anonymous reader… and I am not going to rehash that… but what it has done to me is ask the question, Why are some people that unhappy?
And then if they are unhappy… why take it out on the rest of us?

Leaving the world a better place by making others happy is Scout like. A simple smile, a helping hand, a cheerful word.
I watched a documentary about Fred Rogers last weekend. You know Mr. Rogers. The underlying message was about Fred Rogers and his belief in passing on joy. That he would always try and leave a person happy. Something as simple as changing his philosophy regarding communicating with other people. I won’t detail the entire documentary, but I would like to share the simple communication technique that I learned.
It is simple. Instead of of talking TO someone.. ask to talk WITH them.
When you talk WITH someone, you complete the circle of communication. The Sender and Receiver are both involved in the message.
This makes the communication personal and as a result the message will be received better and both parties leave feeling better about what they talked about.
In leadership when we talk TO someone, we limit the communication to Sender/Receiver.
This limits the response for receiver leaving that person in a position of inferiority.
How does that make them feel? I would venture to guess not better than before the communication started.

So if our intent is to leave the world better… happier… we need to change our style of communication. Even in leadership we can leave those we lead better.. simply by communication.

So why are people so unhappy? What does all of this have to do with unhappy people?
I think that somewhere along the way, they were not communicated to effectively or they do not feel that they are being communicated to in a way that makes them feel worth.
My anonymous friend may or may not fit in that category. It sounds like he or she may not be in the best Scouting situation, and maybe that is due to a lack of communication. I don’t know, I can only guess. Like I said in one of my earlier posts, I am dealing with the same information that is limited due to the nature of time and space on the net.

I would just ask that we all do a better job communicating. Allowing comments opens up that communication so we can talk WITH one another instead of TO.

Help make the world a better place.. make it a happy place for our Scouts and each other.

“If you could only sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to the people you may never even dream of. There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person.”- Fred Rogers

Have a HAPPY Great Scouting Day!
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Gimme the Ball!

So now that the Squabbling is over and the dust has settled.. we can get back to Scouting…and Leadership.
But to get there we need to talk about… yes it’s October.. Football.
Last night the Reynolds Raiders (our High School) won its first game this season. We drove the 17 miles or so to a neighboring town to watch.
It was a cold and extremely rainy night, the visitor bleachers were soaked and we had to cross a nice mud pit to get there, but it’s what you do to support those guys that go out there and give it 100 %. Just like the way we go on those camp outs when we are not feeling well, or the weather is not cooperating.
The game started out kinda slow, the rain was keeping the ball on the ground.. it did not take too long till the middle of the field was a mess. The Raiders scored first, a nice fade pass to the corner of the end zone. The crowd of about 75 went wild.
It seemed like that was going to do it for scoring for Reynolds. The second quarter was dominated by the opposing team.
That’s where leadership came in.
You know it only takes a spark to get a fire going. And that’s were leaders step up and make that spark happen. You can sit around and wait for lighting to strike wishing and hoping that a fire will start.. or you can do something.. take some action to get the flame rising. Hope is never a Plan.
We were sitting not to far from the side lines and could hear certain members of the team trying to get the others fired up. One player in particular walked up to our Quarterback and said.. “Lets get this thing going… get me the ball!”
After a quick 3 and out.. the Raider offense took the field on their 40 yard line. The first play they ran a passing route and the Quarterback hit the receiver (the one that asked for the ball) right down the center of the field. He ran for another 35 yards before he was tackled on the 3 yard line.. a spark had been lit. One play later we were in the end zone. Touchdown!
4 plays later the defense recovered a fumble and within 10 minutes the Score was tied at 21.
The fourth quarter was back and forth and with 1:45 left in the game… and not a seat occupied in the stands.. the Raiders put the game away on a 60 yard drive resulting in a touchdown.

Ok.. Scouting and leadership. Momentum is a crazy thing. We see it move Patrols forward, and we see it keep them still. Just like on a football field, the swing of momentum of the game can be the difference between success or disaster.

Once a Patrol starts doing things well, once they start working as a team. The momentum starts to swing in their favor. They start seeing the rewards of doing things right.
Last summer we saw that in our SWAT patrol. It seemed as though everything they had been taught finally clicked. They started working as a team and accomplished great things. Each day the Assistant Scoutmasters and I picked a “Patrol of the Day”. It was awarded to the Patrol the exemplified the patrol method. That Patrol that demonstrated leadership, helping the troop as a whole, keeping their area clean, being good examples, etc. The SWAT patrol demonstrated great leadership. They were the spark that kept the Troop motivated throughout the week. They cheered at flag, they helped other patrols get meals cooked and cleaned up. They wore their uniforms with pride.. and even came up with a way to hang them up so they would not get dirty.

It was as though the SWAT Patrol asked for SPL to “get them the ball”. And instead of a touchdown they score leadership points. They gained respect of the rest of the troop. They gained respect of the Adults, and they were rewarded with a cool Patrol camp out/ canoe trip.

Momentum has swung for that Patrol. It is fun to watch. Now the secret is to keep it going.. and in Scouting..share it.
It takes a leader to recognize when the group needs a lift. When they are down and what it takes to get them out of the sump. It is important for Adult leaders to let the valley’s happen. It is important to let the Scouts find solutions and a way to get the spark lit.
Coaching and mentoring through the process.

Look for that Scout to ask you to “Get him the ball”. That is the signal that momentum is about to shift.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: blog | 1 Comment

Squabbling…

Ok.. I have been baited, and took the bait.
There is this reader, who chooses to remain anonymous.. and that’s fine. But he clearly is misguided and has bought into the idea what he reads on the Internet is the the whole story.

Cutting room floor… yep I was going to just dump it, but then I thought.. no this guy or gal needs further explanation…
So from my little Shangri- la…

Here is the comment in its entirety.. I have inserted my comments within:

I can understand your desire for the perfect troop, your idea of Shangri-La. [what we can't have a Shangri-la..why live if we can't enjoy life] It’s much easier to start from scratch than to fix what’s broken, [I never said anything was broken.. and like I said, those Troops are still alive and well. Very active even. But if we had to do it all over again... we still would not join those troops. You might want to go back and reread the Troop Shopping post.] especially if many in the existing troop don’t see what needs fixing. [again..nothing broken..just not what we thought Scouting was all about, lack of Boy leadership in one case, a group of what I call den mothers running Patrol meetings in another case. I say it was not broken because it seemed to work well for those units, just not what we were looking for in our sons case. I wanted to make sure they got to lead and learn by doing.. We were not looking for a Webelos 3 year.]

What I don’t understand is how, with the many troops listed for your area, you could not find one that was salvageable by your high standards. You, your wife, other parents and all of your sons did not feel comfortable in any of those groups. Rather than dealing with some adversity you and your little clique [yeah that's what we are... until one Troop visit I did not even know the other parents and Scout leaders. My son was the only one in his den that did not quit after Webelos.] decided to run away and form your own perfect society [No it's called a Boy Scout Troop that uses the 8 methods to teach the AIMs of Scouting] thereby denying the other troops your knowledge, experience and leadership skills. [ You got me there]

You have the same basic view of your blog. You allow the comments that agree with your point of view to post but the others end up on the cutting room floor. [I am trying to portray Scouting as a positive thing... if you read half of the crap I get via email..you would dump it too... Not productive to call names and bad mouth the BSA] Life should be so simple [it is...it's Boy Scouts.. you are making a mountain out of a mole hill]. My main point is that you have deprived your sons of the opportunity to face the challenges that we all face in our lives each day in our less than perfect world. [oh no... our troop faces the same challenges as any other troop. They have an advantage in that they have 4 OUTSTANDING Assistant Scoutmasters that care for them. They teach, coach, train, and mentor the boys through those challenges and ensure that the outcome is one of success.. they call that learning. The boys of our Troop have a Scoutmaster that loves and cares for them and the program. One that lets them lead, make decisions, and learn from mistakes. One that understands that 12 year old boys are 12 year old boys and they have enough crap to worry about... Scouting should be an escape in some cases. No our boys have not been deprived of anything. Where do you think the new Scouts in our Troop come from? Shangri- la? No they are class mates, friends, Sunday School friends, friends from their sports teams. Our Boys recruit their friends to be in the Troop because they have fun and adventure.. the stuff we did not see in other Troops. Our Boys canoe down the Columbia, Climb the big cliffs, snow cave in the mountains, and have logged miles and miles of our wilderness area... Yeah.. come to think of it.. it is Shangri-la. Oh and by the way... the Boys are the ones that write the plan. These are all their ideas.. that is how a Boy Scout Troop works.] They have missed the chance to stand up for what they think is important and invoke change. [see last comment.. I think you are talking out of school] Your boy led troop was created by a parent led ideal of what a troop should be [yep..that's how it is supposed to work. Key here is we created it..they keep it alive] . And you keep it perfect by suggesting to new parents that your troop may not be the place that they want to be [Nope..we offer our flavor, I would rather see a boy and his folks get what they want than drop out. If a kid cringes when we say we do a lot of backpacking, then he will probably not like our Troop. Don't you think that is fair? The fact is that there are options out there.. we just offer another option..]

Shop on! [after 5 years, I think we are happy with our purchase]

Ok.. so now I have officially taken bait and been pulled into the boat.
I hope that Mr. or Mrs.. or Ms. Anonymous is satisfied with the results of the discussion. I have said it before and I know I will say it again..
This program that we love.. its for the Boys. I do not do this for me, although I do get a lot of satisfaction from seeing these young men grow and and develop in character and citizenship. I take pride in teaching them leadership and seeing them practice the things that will make them successful as leaders one day.
I have been trained by the best leaders in our nation and have practical exercises all over the world testing leadership skills and achieving success. translating that knowledge into Scouting and passing it on to the Scouts of our Troop is the best job I have ever had and the most rewarding.
Blogging is a way that I share that, I welcome all comments, although as stated, I will not let negative comments shine a bad light on Scouting. So yep, I reserve the right to throw it to the cutting room floor.. or hit delete as the case is. I am sorry if that does not make it eyes of the “We have it so bad crowd”… It’s only Scouting.

Enough Squabbling!

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: blog | 2 Comments

Kinda Non- Scout related… but it is all about Character in the end…
Last night
, after we got home from my sons football game we were talking about how proud I was of the teams performance, in particular the play of a certain Quarterback.
Josh’s team really played well. They mixed the run and pass and controlled the line of scrimmage. It was a real team effort and when the final whistle blew the Score board told the tale. Mustangs 45- Thunderbirds – 14. It was a dominating game.
The coach for the Mustangs realizing that victory was in the bag had the boys pretty much run the ball the entire 4th quarter. Never punted, and when they did score their final touchdown, they took a knee rather than go for the extra point. I thought it was a classy display of sportsmanship.

I played sports from little league to football and played some in high school too. I remember the coaches always telling us that we never stop playing. If we are down 50, we still play every snap, every down, every play until the whistle blows. It is part of being a competitor.
Competition is healthy, especially when it is done in the spirit of sportsmanship.
That is what the Mustangs did yesterday. They played as a team and they played till the finally whistle blew.

So last night, when Josh got home he told us that their team (the Coach) had to write a letter of apology to the other team for “Running up the Score”. I think this is ridiculous. 45-14 is not excessive in my book, and had the other teams coach been watching the game, he would see that the Mustangs pretty much laid down in the 4th. The fact that he had not prepared his team to play, his lack of coaching during the game maybe? Who is in the wrong here. What are we teaching our boys? Stop playing?
The facts of life are that there are winners and losers. And that’s the way it is. It is ok to be a winner. Being a winner does not mean you rub it in the face of the looser, and it also does not mean you say you are sorry for being a winner.

It boggles my mind.
I am proud of my son and his team. They played well. They played with class and they won. They shook the hands of their opponents and wished them well. No arrogance, no taunting, just boys playing football. It is they way it should be.

I hope the letter that the coach writes is as classy as his team.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: blog | 1 Comment

Anonymous writers…

Today an Anonymous reader of the Scoutmaster minute left a comment on the post “Troop Shopping“.
Now I really do not want to get into the habit of squabbling with readers, and by and large, the readers of the Scoutmaster minute leave some good comments. I do not shy away from the negative comments, and read them all, but sometimes will not accept them to be posted if they really do not offer to the program. That and leave a name or an email so I can shoot you an note back and explain, other wise, it ends up on the cutting room floor and you did not get a chance to get your comment noted.

Anyway- this comment I debated with myself about… I love that the reader takes the time to read the blog, on this subject though perhaps I did not open the curtain wide enough. I did not (intentionally) go into great details.. so the reader does not get the full picture, that not withstanding, should not have an effect on the message.

Anonymous writes:
Not really sure if you follow the AIMS of Scouting. You thought the troops you visited lacked some of the things you valued so rather than help those troops better themselves you chose to start your own. We see the same thing in our area with divisive parents. If you’re not part of the solution…

Yes Anon.. you are correct. Rather than help those Troops, we started our own. And at the time it was the best choice. You see, we, my wife and I and a group of other parents had a vision of what we wanted Scouting to be for our sons. Mine came from my Childhood experience as a Scout and through training etc, I had developed a checklist of what I needed to see.
We also took into consideration how comfortable our Sons felt in the group.
Keep in mind this process lasted over a year, it was not a decision that we made after a one night visit and an outing.
We visited multiple Troops and went on many outings. At the time is was not my place to “Change things”. I did have conversations with the Scoutmasters of the units, it is fair to note that 3 of the 5 Scoutmasters are great friends of mine. Our conversations discussed the reasons why we were not going to come to their unit. If they choose to make changes it was up to them, but I assured them, do not make them on my count.
So we were faced with a decision to make. Go with an existing unit.. or create a new one. Now the District is always encouraging new units, so we received a lot of support in that regard.

So part of the solution or part of the problem? I am going with solution. The problem was not mine to solve. The units that we visited are still very active and good Troops, just not our flavor.
We now have another unit (mine) that offers more options for the boys of our community. So is that bad?
Did I want to help? Sure. Was I willing? Maybe. Was I able? Yes, but starting a new unit made for a lot more fun and if you take the opportunity to ask the 33 guys in our 5 year old troop… I am sure they would tell you they are not to upset that we started it.

I encourage leaders to look around. I have even suggested to parents that our Troop may not be the place they want to be. I give them the phone number and meeting place of other troops all the time. Troops have a flavor. We are blessed in our Community to have many Troops, with many flavors. Why buy something you don’t want. Shop till you find the right flavor for you.
We are not limited. So take the time and find what you and your Scout want in Scouting.

I hope that clears up my position there.
And next time, leave an email.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: blog | 1 Comment

You are what they say about you…

Here is a role model for you…

“Of courage undaunted, possessing a firmness & perseverance of purpose which nothing but impossibilities could divert from it’s direction, careful as a father of those committed to his charge, yet steady in the maintenance of order & discipline, intimate with the Indian character, customs & principles, habituated to the hunting life, guarded by exact observation of the vegetables & animals of his own country, against losing time in the description of objects already possessed, honest, disinterested, liberal, of sound understanding and a fidelity to truth so scrupulous that whatever he should report would be as certain as if seen by ourselves, with all these qualifications as if selected and implanted by nature in one body, for this express purpose, I could have no hesitation in confiding the enterprize to him.”

Thomas Jefferson, 1813,describing Meriwether Lewis.
quoted from the Stephen Ambrose book Undaunted Courage.

I can only dream that one day some one may something like this about me. Talk about Character.
What do people say about you? How do you want to be remembered?

Have a Great Scouting day!

Categories: blog | 2 Comments

My what a good boy am I… huh?

As you know if you read my Blog with any degree of regularity, I am a Football fan. So this is my favorite time of the year.
I have posted before about Sports stars and their antics, and this one will not be any different.
You see they just never seem to quit giving us material for life lessons.
Today on my way to a Cub Scout recruit night, I was listening to a local Sports talk station.
A story came on about Ricky Williams, running back for the Dolphins. They had a sound byte of Ricky explaining how he struggled over the bye week not to smoke Marijuana, to which the reporters in the room and the team gave him praise and support.
The attitude was that he deserved a high five for not doing something he should not do anyway. Kinda like saying I wanted to rob the bank… but I fought off the urge.. My what a good boy am I.

This attitude makes my mad. Mad at our media, for making him out to be a “Good Guy” because he chose not to break the law, not to smoke an illegal substance, in short..not to do something stupid. And to put it on the news, to make him out as a super star… this guy has made a lot of bad choices along the way.. hardly what I would call a role model.. but then again, as a football fan, my expectation is not as a role model. I just want to see him run the ball. Unfortunately, there are kids that look up to this guy.
My son is the starting Quarterback for his 7th grade football team. On the walls of his room are pictures of Football stars. We have had a talk about them and what makes them great.
Skills on the field, talent, athleticism. What about character and integrity? Ricky.. no you missed that. Judgement? Loyalty? Nope missed that too.
Yeah, you can run the ball, and I honestly can say that I enjoyed watching you at Texas as you broke 22 NCAA records for rushing, winning the Heisman in ’98… An amazing talent that has been troubled… pardon the pun… wasted.
And for that you are not a role model, but you know that or you would not do the things that you do.

Next time you are at a Pack meeting, or a Troop meeting, look around the room. There are a lot of tan shirts with people in them that have amazing talent, amazing Character, and amazing dedication.
These people in tan are the Adults that give so much for Scouting. They are great Role Models.
Next time you sit with your son and talk about his Sports hero.. talk about how that man, or women measures up to the Scout Law. Is Ricky trustworthy and Loyal to his team?

Have him thank his Den Leader or Cubmaster. The Assistant Scoutmaster that helped him get through the trail to first class. There are plenty of role models out there. Money and fame mean very little compared to Character, Citizenship, and Fitness.

Have a Great Scouting Day!
Categories: blog | 1 Comment

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