Monthly Archives: January 2011

>Weekend update

>

Just a quick note on the great camp out we had this last weekend.
There were three things that really stand out as the hallmark of this last Troop camp out.  And before I go further, I think that each and every camp out, event, project etc.  should have a “take home” lesson or opportunity for reflection.  That is not to say that you manufacture one, rather, among the goals of the outing should be some benchmarks that are clearly understood by the youth and adult leadership alike.  These are things that you are looking for, want to develop in, or see improvement in the group or individuals as a whole.
So we had three significant items this weekend that I took out of the weekend and will be sharing tonight when, as a Troop we reflect and conduct Start, Stop, and Continue.

First.  The three new kids did great.  Lesson there, they listened during the training and had a willingness to be successful.  Of note, 1 of the three had never been camping ever, and the other two had never camped in the snow.
Second.  The Troop leadership is doing a real nice job.  The success of the younger guys was in their hands and they did real well.  Not only in teach and coaching, but being great examples.
And finally.  This camp out restored my faith in the next adventure.. not that it was gone, but a simple reminder that these boys are looking for something more than video games, movies, and hanging out.  During our camp fire on Saturday night we reflected on the day.  The recurring theme, and it came up over and over again, was “hanging out with my friends, a couple shovels and some work made for a great time!”
Hanging out with their patrol mates out in the woods, laughing, playing, and accomplishing cool stuff in the snow made for a great weekend for these young men. 
And that my friends is what it is all about!
Have a Great Scouting Day!

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>Selecting Snow Shoes

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Snow shoeing is a great Scouting activity.  Giving you the ability to go where you can’t wearing a pair of boots.  Snow shoes open up trails and adventures that make memories.
But there is a lot of confusion when picking the right pair.
Let me see if I can help a little with that.  First of all know that there are many styles, types, and sizes of snow shoes out there.  I am going to talk in general terms here, because by and large the sizes, shapes and types are pretty much universal between snow show manufactures.
First of all lets talk about types.  The type is basically the type of snow shoe for the type of conditions you will find yourself along with the type of activities you will be engaged in.  For example;  powdery snow and trail running. 
Essentially you have a five categories when selecting the snow shoe right for you; Trail Walking, Mountain Hiking, Back country, Speed, and Youth.
Having picked the activity type, its now time to look at the size and style.
If you are trail running or snow shoe running, you are pretty much looking at getting the lightest shoe you can.  The typical length of a snow shoe running snow show is 22″ this length on a durable light weight platform provide a great snow shoe to meet you speed needs.
If you are trekking through the back country, and I mean breaking trail through bush.. you will want a snow shoe that is robust and able to take a beating. Typical lengths of a Back country snow shoe is 24″.
Now for Mountain Hiking and Trail walking the biggest differences are going to be in the frame and platform durability.  The Mountain Hiking series’s may offer a better crampon style for better traction but by and large these two styles bare similar features.  The actual biggest difference is in what you will end up spending.
So when it comes to picking the shoe for you consider this:  What am I doing it with it, how much do I weigh, what kind of load am I carrying, and what is the average combined weight?
Your weight is a huge consideration as it will determine the length of the snow shoe.
The average Scout will wear a 25″ snow shoe.
A 25″ snow shoe will carry a load between 120 and 200 pounds.  A 30″ snow shoe will host between 150 and 250 pounds.  It is important to factor your pack weight in to get the right shoe.
Here is what I know for sure.  If you want a good all around snow shoe get a Trail walking/hiking snow shoe.  I am 189 lbs and have an average pack weight of about 30 lbs.  I own a pair of Tubbs snow shoes they are an 8 25.  That means a trail walking 25″ snow shoe.  I have worn them in varied conditions and with and with out a pack.  They have never let me down.
When we rent snow shoes for our Troop, we always rent 25″ shoes for everyone except the really small guys.. we will go with a 22″ shoe for them (good up to 120 lbs).
The weights are guidelines and obviously not a number that you can not swing one way another… but I would stay in the ball park for the best results.
Snow Shoeing is a great way to keep your Troop active in the winter months.  It is a fun and easy way to head out on your favorite trail no matter what the conditions.
Get out there and snow shoe!  Here is a cool web site that you should check out for your next winter adventure.  http://www.snowshoes.com/
Have a Great Scouting Day!

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>Soothing the worried parents heart

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One of the biggest obstacles in winter camping with Boy Scouts are worried parents.  The Scout is being placed in a “High Risk” situation, and parents get the willies when they are faced with the prospect of their little precious getting frost bite and having his cute little nose fall off.
So how to sooth the worried parents heart.  Skills and Training.
Ok so let me back up just a bit.. where do those skills and Training come from.  You won’t find what you need to know in the BSA Field Book.. well, Chapter 13 has some good information about Cold weather travel and camping, but it really falls short in the practical exercise of a cold weather adventure.  Now I am not trying to be critical here, but as much as the Scout Handbook stops at Basic First Aid, the Field book is a nice place to start in developing an interest in Cold weather camping.
So skills and training at the unit level is very important to build confidence in the Scout… and the adult leaders charged with their safety.
But what about Mom and Dad?  I still have not soothed their trembling heart.
Skills and Training need to be something that Mom and Dad see.  They need to see competent trainers, they need to see an SPL or Patrol Leader, or the Troop Guide carefully sharing his knowledge of the skills required to be successful in the cold weather environment.  A resume` of safe trips, of competent leadership, of well planned adventures and a lack of goofing off when it comes to camping in the cold.. that is what Mom and Dad need to see.
They need to know that their Scoutmaster and Assistant Scoutmasters are skilled in the cold and have the know how to teach, coach, train, and mentor their young man.  They need to know that over many nights of camping in the cold no injuries have occurred.  They need to hear the great stories from the gang that went last year.. how much fun they had and that they look forward to hitting the mountain again… and again.
Parents have every right to worry.. Scoutmasters have an obligation to remove any doubt they may have.
I am a cold weather expert.. I am not shy about telling the parents that their son is in good hands.. why.. because I trained the youth leaders and they are competent in this skill set.
Soothing the parents worried heart is an important and reasonable task of the Scoutmaster.
A Scout is Trustworthy, and that starts by being someone that can be trusted…
Have a Great Scouting Day!

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>When Webelos come to call

>Last night at our Troop meeting we had two groups of Webelos Scouts pay the Troop a visit.  When their leaders called to set up a “Good time” to do their Troop visit, I gave them my standard response… we meet on Monday’s… pick one.  So last night they showed up and got to witness the confusion, the chaos, the noise, the fun and games, the training… well in short.. they got to see Boy Scouts doing what Boy Scouts do.
Last night was the final night of prep before the camp out this weekend.  So their was gear everywhere, there was planning going on, the SPL and one of the Troop Guides gave a quick demo on packing and essential clothing and then they had some inter Patrol competition, a game.. way to many announcements.. a Scoutmaster minute and our Troops traditional closing, we make a circle, join hands, sing vespers, recite the Scout law.. and call it a night.
I had a little talk with the Webelos parents and did some Webelos Scoutmaster conferences for their AOL.
One of the parents came up to me before they left and asked if that was what it was always like.  I had to tell the truth.. yeah.. but the noise level varies from meeting to meeting depending on the activity.. she said no… that’s not what I meant.. is it always run by the boys?  I said yep.. that’s how a Boy Scout troop is run.
I am always proud of the guys in my Troop, but last night, they really seemed to shine.  Made this Scoutmaster feel pretty darn good.
Its nice when they get it… especially when the Webelos come to call.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

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>Purpose, Direction…

>A few years ago when I started this blog it was all about getting some of my Scouting ideas written down and maybe just maybe helping some one out with an idea or two.  I blogged a lot that first year and the second year too, but then it tapered off a bit, I never lost interest, but it seemed that topics came harder and I started asking myself “What for”.  The Podcast had taken off and has a good following, not great in the numbers game, certainly not a top pick in iTunes, but it seems that it is enough to keep going.
Here’s the point… I suppose.  When I started this blog, and let me jump in right here to say that it has never been about downloads, numbers, money, or fame.. ha.. fame.  It has always been about sharing… so having said that.. when I started this blog, I was hoping to get a few readers that would enjoy or at least take home a point or two from what I was trying to say.  What happened though was that I started to meet some great Scouters out there in the Scouting community.  Nick Wood over in England became a follower and I started following him.  Then Scouters from within the states and BSA started corresponding with me, the next thing you know we had an online community of Scouters.  That’s where I blew it.
Rather than growing that community, I let it ride and never really grabbed them when things seemed to be getting good.  The podcast took over a lot of the time I spent rather than writing and it too started to grow a small but loyal following.
There have been many folks out there that have hung in there and I am certainly appreciative for them.  Again, not seeking fortune and fame from a blog and a rinky dink podcast, but I appreciate that there are people out there that care to listen and read.
So where am I going with this?  As I get older and start taking stock of what is really important in my life, as well as a never ended need to learn more and more.. I have given lots of thought to both the podcast and the blog.  Scouting requires no thought in this matter.. it is a program that I am deeply passionate about and that will not change.  Neither will this blog or the podcast.. as in go away.. no it will change though..
After coming home from the staff development session last week I dove into the homework we were given.  essentially.. read, learn, and know the course material.  Well, that lead me to my old Wood Badge stuff and I pulled out some of the things I had written then in developing my ticket etc.  It really got me thinking about where I am in life and in Scouting.. and not to get to philosophical… but it was good to do some soul searching and find where I am when in comes to my purpose and direction.  The good news is that I have not strayed to far.. the trail is still in view and I have a plan to get back on it.  An internal dialog that I have had over the past week has led me to a place that I really think will move me forward.. and in doing so, maybe, just maybe the blog and podcast will get better… OK.. define better.
This may come as a shock to some of you… but I really don’t care how many people read this blog.  I really don’t care how many people listen to the podcast… I really don’t care how big or small my Troop gets.. its not about quantity.. its about quality (very cliche, but follow along).
I think I have something to offer the Scouting community.. and that is my goal with the blog and podcast.  The Wood Badge experience showed me that the value that I add to the program is matched and grows when I share it.  And that is what this is all about.. sharing… community.  So if the community grows and we all can share in it.. it is stronger.  So here is the point about quantity…  I love that people read and listen to this blog and podcast.. I hope that you are getting something out of this and are sharing it with your friends in and out of Scouting.  I hope that what I say and write speaks to you… whether that is 10 of you or 400.  If it is 10, I am happy that I can help you and maintain that community with you.. if it is 400.. the same is true.
Now for reasons that are selfish.. in that I love the Scouting Movement.. I do want the community to be extremely large.. because I believe that the Scouting Movement is the greatest organization on the planet.. just ask any of my Scouting friends.. this message is consistent.
But I will stop looking a numbers to keep up with the other great Scouters out there that blog and podcast.  This is not a competition.  This is a community.
No more looking at downloads and analytics… no more.  Again, 10 or 10,000… it really doesn’t matter.. as long as it is reaching out and helping in the community.  That is the intent, the purpose and the direction of the Scoutmaster Minute.
Well I guess that is all for now.
Here is the deal.. More writing.. expect it…better podcast.. count on it.
Share it.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

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>Every Scout deserves a Trained Leader

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Last night at Round table I was asked to give the Scoutmaster Minute, go figure.
Anyway, I had not really prepared as it was a last minute thing, but as the evening progressed a central theme hit me. We were talking about training.  Someone got up and talked about training for FOS, then another Scouter got up and announced there would be “Candy Sales” training, our District training chairman made an appeal to get any untrained leader out for this weekends Super Saturday training.  He had a banner with him that read “EVERY SCOUT DESERVES A TRAINED LEADER!”
Now we have all heard that at least 100 times and to some that banner and his announcement blew right on by and left the room without so much as a nod.. but I thought, looking around the room.. that’s it.. there’s the Scoutmaster Minute I was looking for.  After all, I would be pitching Wood Badge tonight anyway and thoughts on it were circling my cluttered mind.
So I was introduced and began to talk about why we do what we do in Scouting.  Is it for the money.. hahahaha.. NOPE.
Is it for the headlines in the papers?  NOPE.  Is it for fun and friendships.. well, yeah.. of course.  But then I looked to the right side of the where the young men from the Order of the Arrow stood… I asked for everyone in the room under the age of 18 to raise their hands… of course everyone shot a glance in their direction.  I then said.. that is why we do it.  And if we are going to teach, coach, train and mentor those young men to be the best citizens, leaders, and people they can be.. we need to be trained.
Training in the BSA is not always dynamic or exciting, but it is relevant.  It does lead the Scout leader to a better understanding of the program, its policies, and its vast network of materials, resources, and most all.. fellow Scouters that are out there on the front line of Scouting.
And Wood Badge is the ultimate in that training continuum.  And Wood Badge is FUN and EXCITING.
But the bottom line is that Every Scout does deserve a trained leader to give him the very most that the program can offer.
Get trained.. as much training as possible, and don’t stop with BSA training.  CPR Training, Wilderness Medicine Training or advanced First Aid training, Climbing Training, High Adventure training courses and so on.  Get more training, as a result your unit will be able to do more and you will be delivering the promise of Scouting to those young men in your program!
Have a Great Scouting Day!

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>Driving

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Part of being a Scoutmaster is being a friend to the Scouts and assisting in their everyday lives.. as our Scouts get older they come to you with girl trouble, problems at home, and tips for getting their driving permits…
Here is a joke I had to share about adventures in driving.
Enjoy.
Two elderly women were out driving in a large car – both could barely see over the dashboard. As they were cruising along, they came to an intersection. The stoplight was red, but they just went on through.
The woman in the passenger seat thought to herself ‘I must be losing it. I could have sworn we just went Through a red light.’ After a few more minutes, they came to another intersection and the light was red. Again, they went right through. The woman in the passenger seat was almost sure that the light had been red but was really concerned that she was losing it. She was getting nervous.
At the next intersection, sure enough, the light was red and they went on through. So, She turned to the other woman and said, ‘Mildred, did you know that we just ran through three red lights in a row? You could have killed us both!’
Mildred turned to her and said, ‘Oh, crap, am I driving ?’
Have a Great Scouting Day!

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>Positions of Responsibility

>Ok… so a Scout needs a Position of Responsibility (POR) to complete the requirements for Star, Life, and Eagle, he was not elected to a position so he comes to Mr. Scoutmaster seeking, lets say… Troop Historian.
He figures, well I get to wear the patch and in 4 to 6 months I can call it good.
NOT SO FAST… what do you expect from the young man?
It is easy to see a Scout demonstrate leadership in a POR when he is the SPL, ASPL, PL etc… but what about those “behind the scenes” POR’s?  How do you know when he has completed or at least functioned in the capacity of the job he is wearing the patch for?
There are many resources out there that describe those positions, but are we holding those Scouts to it?  The POR should not be a gimme, by design, the POR is there to teach the Scout and develop in him self confidence, leadership, communication skills, citizenship, and dependability.
I had a young Scout that is nearing the Star rank come to me the other night.  He asked if he could be appointed to the Historian position.  I asked him to speak to the SPL about it and find out if that was something he would really be interested in.  He came back to me and said the SPL ok’d it but wanted to know what he should do.  I told him to get his parents camera, a pen and paper, and a scrap book and start documenting our Troops activity, special events, and any news paper clippings that may come out within the next 4 months.  He looked at me in shock.. “that’s a lot of work and it means I have to go on the winter camp outs” he said.  Well you need to be able to see what the troop is doing to keep its history right?  Well what if I get someone else to take the pictures?  I guess that will work, but then are you demonstrating any leadership by not being there I suggested.. after all this is a leadership position within the Troop right?
Now you may argue that Historian, Chaplains Aide, Scribe, Webmaster.. they are not really leaders.. but I would argue to the contrary.  In teen ager thought.. those that wear patches are the leaders.  Just watch them.  If they don’t have a patch, for the most part… they won’t lead.  I explain it like this to the Scouts that are not “Green Bar” leaders… Every leadership position needs a support staff.. the President of the United States has his cabinet.. CEO’s have a board…and Scout leaders have Scribes, Historians, Librarians, Quartermasters, Webmasters, Leave No Trace trainers etc. that support the functions of the Troop.
So what do I expect from them.. after all, I have to sign off their books… well I just expect them to do the job.. not just wear the patch.  Not adding to the requirement.. not taking away from.  Just doing the job that the patch indicates.
Expect great things from Scouts and they will do great things!
Have a Great Scouting Day!

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