Monthly Archives: May 2012

Get Skinny?

After our last backpack trip we sat with the Scouts and had a good session of Start, Stop, and Continue.  I took the opportunity to do a little coaching on physical conditioning and that is where it got messy.
During our discussion on what we needed to do to get better at backpacking, I made mention that if you were overweight you needed to get skinny.  I was not targeting any one Scout, after all, we can all stand to lose a pound or two, I was simply stating that being overweight is not a good thing.  It leads to lots of problems down the road, the least of which being that ability to keep up on the hikes.
Now I am not Medical doctor, nor am I a nutritionist or health nut… I know that being fat is not healthy.  If you would like to argue that, so be it.  But I think that if you are alive in 2012 and do not understand the risk that you are putting yourself into by being overweight than you need to wake up.
One of the parents thought that me telling the Scouts to “Get skinny” was out of line.  They said that it was insensitive and hurtful.
During my discussion with the Scouts about getting in shape and losing weight, I put myself in with them.  I am in the process of losing weight for our trip to Philmont… but more importantly.. for my health.  I am almost 47 and do not want to let myself go.  The risk of heart disease, diabetes, and other issues are to great and I am not willing to go down that trail.
Childhood  obesity can have a harmful effect on the body in a variety of ways.  Obese children are more likely to have High blood pressure and high cholesterol, which are risk factors for cardiovascular disease. In one study, 70% of obese children had increased risk of impaired glucose tolerance, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.  Breathing problems, such as sleep apnea, and asthma.  Joint problems and musculoskeletal discomfort.  Fatty liver disease, gallstones, and gastroesophageal reflux (heartburn).  And obese children and adolescents have a greater risk of social and psychological problems, such as discrimination and poor self-esteem, which can continue into adulthood.  But what about the health  risks later.  Things like; Obese children are more likely to become obese adults.  Adult obesity is associated with a number of serious health conditions including heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers.  If children are overweight, obesity in adulthood is likely to be more severe.  So says the CDC.  According to the Center for Disease Control During the past 20 years, there has been a dramatic increase in obesity in the United States and rates remain high. More than one-third of U.S. adults (35.7%) and approximately 17% (or 12.5 million) of children and adolescents aged 2—19 years are obese.”
Hurtful?  Sometimes the truth hurts.  I never made it a point to hurt anyone.. but if you are fat.. you owe it to yourself to get skinny.  In the discussion we talked about why people are fat or overweight.  Mostly because of lack of excercise and bad eating habits was the conclusion of the group.  I can’t help but agree with them.
So this parent comes up to me afterward and says that they did not appreciate me calling their kid fat.  I never called anyone “fat” but I apologized for the term.. but asked the parent if they thought it was a good idea for their son to be overweight.  I also asked the parent what they thought I should say.  They hummed and hawwed for a minute and then said that my language only hurt.  I suggested that maybe it was what the Scouts needed to hear.  They are never told this at School and at home they are the darling of the house and we can’t tell it like it is.. right?
I asked the parent what they were doing to help their son get in shape.  How many hours do they sit and play XBox?  How many meals a week include fast food?  Now this line of questioning may seem intrusive.. and it may be.. but the net result is overweight kids.  And to be honest with you, I think it has a lot to do with parents that allow it to happen.
When I was a kid.. oh no.. not “when I was a kid” again…. When I was a kid I don’t remember to many overweight kids.. yeah we had a few chunky kids, but by the time we all hit Middle School, they had grown into their bodies.  The reason I believe is because we ran all day.  During the summer we were outside from after breakfast till the street lights came on (that was our curfew).  We played and we played hard.  We took sack lunches with us and stayed outside.  Our bike was our main mode of transportation.  We all had farmer tans and were not afraid of a good wrestling match or dirt clod fight.  But we were healthy.  Aside from seasonal allergies and a broken arm, life when I was a kid was physical and fun.  We played organized sports and pick up games.  Baseball all spring and summer and football in the fall.  The heavy kids played on the line, but they were fast and could hit hard.  They replaced “kid fat” with muscle when we got a bit older and were in shape.
I am not calling out the kids of today.  They are overweight because we let them become overweight.
We are afraid that they will get hurt playing sports, we are protective of letting them take their bikes across town, we don’t let them go all day without checking in every hour.  We give them money to hit McDonald’s rather than packing a sack lunch.  We have “Gaming nights” and XBox tournaments instead of getting them on the baseball field.
It’s our fault.. and you know what.. The truth hurts!
In the Scout Oath the Scout makes three promises.  The last promise is to himself.  “to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight”.  This promise is there to keep our Scouts well.  Being overweight is not being well.
Parents that do not appreciate our message are not getting it.  If the language was hurtful, then do something about it.  It is not the intent to shame, hurt, or belittle anyone.  But telling a group of Scouts that the right thing to do is to “Get skinny” is life advice that no one else is willing to say.
No one is willing to tell these young men that fat will hurt a lot worse than words in the long run.  The longer we adults caiter to and allow our youth to stay overweight, the more problems we will have to deal with down the road.
I brag about my kids all the time.  I am proud of them and the one thing that they can never say is that I was not honest with them.  They are not overweight or out of shape.  They are allowed to stay outside and play.  My youngest is outside right now throwing the football around with a group of his friends.  They eat well, don’t drink pop, get good rest, and stay active.  They are in sports, band, Scouts, and run with their friends.  They get good grades and have a healthy mental outlook on life.  Why?  Because we make it that way.
There are no excuses.  There is a lack of action or a lot of action.  You pick it!  Money is not an issue, attitude is the issue.  Ironically lower income kids are more likely to be obese.  Why? Because they don’t eat well.  This is a learning thing.  But there is no excuse not to learn.  Lower income families spend more on junk food than other folks?  Why?  It’s more expensive to take my family to McDonald’s than it is to make a good home cooked meal.  In my opinion it is because people are lazy.  To lazy to learn, to lazy to plan and prepare, to lazy to do the right thing.  The truth hurts.
I was in line at our local Wal Mart a few weeks ago behind a lady and her three kids.  She was using her Oregon trial card (food stamps).  And everything she had in the basket was junk with the exception of milk.  I think that with every Oregon trail card should come a mandatory class on shopping for your family.  Healthy choices vs. junk.  And we wonder why we have overweight kids.  They claim that low income children have less access to sports and physical activity.  The schools all have programs that allow for student athletes that are on a ‘Free lunch’ program to participate at reduced or no cost.  How many of them take advantage of it?  There are free classes at the school that are geared to fitness.  How many parents encourage their child to take it?  Our high school offers a Zero period to students to come to the school before school and work out in the gym.  Who goes?  Just the football team… and they are all in shape.
I guess the message here is this.  We are quick to point out that our darling little boys are getting their feeling hurt because I want them to be healthy.  We are quick to take the easy way out and not encourage our boys to run and play and eat right.  We are quick to allow them to get fat and then wonder why.  But are we quick to do something about their weight?  Are we quick to feed them right and let them get active?  Are we quick to recognize the truth about childhood obesity?
It does not take the President of the United States to come up with a nifty program or the NFL to advertise and encourage kids to play 60 minutes a day to change this trend.  On my honor.. I will not let sit by and let it happen to the Scouts that I care for.
If a parent is not happy with the truth.. Let me remind them that a Scout is… Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Kind.. and always trying to do a good turn.  If we can help these young men get fit.. we are doing a great service beyond that of our schools, government, and yeah… even some families out there.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Backpacking, blog, fitness, Leadership, Risk Management | 7 Comments

Memorial Day 2012

Back in the 90’s when I was a First Sergeant in the Army, I was asked to start writing some Non Commissioned Officer Development classes and leadership subjects.  I wrote a few articles and even had one on leadership published in the NCO Journal the Army’s Magazine for Non Commissioned Officer news, issues, and discussion.  While I was on my way to a promising writing career (which never happened) I dabbled in some poetry also.  A Retired Command Sergeant Major and author of “the Three Meter Zone” saw some of my writing and asked if he could publish some of it on his website.  Of course I was game.
A few years back (2008) I posted this poem here on the blog.  It is a poem I wrote in honor of Memorial Day.  It is still fitting now.  As I re read it tonight I could not help but notice that since the poem was written we have been a few more campaigns.  The post in 2008 also made mention of our Scout Troop placing the flags up at Willamette National Cemetery.   That year we (the Thunderbird District) placed 133,000 flags.  This year we placed 140,000.
So here is my poem for Memorial Day.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Rise up
Rise up O’ men of Valor,
A Nation in debt to thee
For the freedom of this Republic,
You fought and died for me.

Rise up O’ men of Honor,
The fields of battle did you go
From Lexington and Concord,
To the Bulge and all its snow.
Gettysburg to Normandy Vietnam and Somalia
You gave it all for me.

So Rise up O’ men of Courage,
For without you we do not share
The freedom of this nation,
Is ours because you were there.Freedoms blood soaked on foreign lands
A soldier’s cry with outstretched hands
Do not forget the price they paid,
They gave it all for Freedoms sake.

Rise up O’ men of Valor
Your Honor and Courage reign.
For the price of Freedom you understood
But paid it just the same.

Memorial Day 2000
© Gerald J. Schleining Jr-US ARMY

Categories: Character, Citizenship, Memorial Day | 1 Comment

The Duke

Most, if not all of us have hero’s, idols, or sports figures that we are fans of.  Now, I am not one to oogle over celebrities or go out of my way to get an autograph.  In fact I am quite the opposite and continuously preach that we need to be careful of who we “worship” in regards to being fans.
Having said that…
Today is one of my favorite actors birthday’s.  Marion Robert Morrison, also know as John Wayne was born this day in 1907.  Now it can be debated that John Wayne may not be the best role model, but as an actor he always played the hero.  He was an enduring American icon, he epitomized rugged masculinity and is famous for his demeanor, including his distinctive calm voice, walk, and height.  He played Football at USC (not my favorite school… but at least it was Football).
John Wayne as a character and man symbolized American values and ideals.  By the middle of his career, Wayne had developed a larger-than-life image, and as his career progressed, he selected roles that would not compromise his off-screen image. In his last film, the Shootist, he refused to allow his character to shoot a man in the back as was originally scripted, saying “I’ve made over 250 pictures and have never shot a guy in the back. Change it.”
John Wayne was and will always be a character that we can look to as a man!  He treated women with respect, he understood the value of service, he lived through his characters a sense of duty.  In his “real” life he believed in these things also.  He raised his family that way and even toward the end of his life, he publically supported conservative causes and promoted a life of ideals and Values.
Now I know that you have all heard or seen this before, but I am going to post it here on my blog just in case you want to use it or be reminded of the great man who was John Wayne.. yep.. one of my hero’s.
So here is how it went.  John Wayne was invited to speak at a fund-raising dinner for a Scout ranch.  The ranch was to honor Mr. Wayne by naming the ranch the ‘John Wayne Outpost camp’.
At the dinner, John Wayne spoke reciting the Scout Law.  He said during his speech that the” twelve points of the Scout Law are “nice words”. “Trouble is” he continued, “we learn them so young we sometimes don’t get all the understanding that goes with them. I take care of that in my family. As each boy reaches Scout age, I make sure he learns the Scout Law. Then I break it down for him, with a few things I have picked up in more than half a century since I learned it.”
Then be broke down the law like this:
“TRUSTWORTHY  The badge of honesty. Having it lets you look at any man in the eye. Lacking it, he won’t look back. Keep this one at the top of your list.
LOYAL The very word is life itself; for without loyalty we have no love of person or country
HELPFUL Part sharing, part caring. By helping each other, we help ourselves; not to mention mankind.  Be always full of help — the dying man’s last words.
FRIENDLY Brotherhood is part of that word. You can take it in a lot of directions – and do – but make sure and start with brotherhood.
COURTEOUS Allow each person his human dignity; which means a lot more than saying, “Yes, ma’am” and “Thank you, sir.” It reflects an attitude that later in life you wish you had honored more… earlier in life.  Save yourself that problem. Do it now.
KIND This one word would stop wars and erase hatreds. But it’s like your bicycle, it’s just no good unless you get out and use it.
OBEDIENT Starts at home. Practice it in your family. Enlarge it in your friends. Share it with humanity.
CHEERFUL Anyone can put on a happy face when the going is good. The secret is to wear it as a mask for your problems. It might surprise you how many others do the same thing.
THRIFTY Means a lot more than putting pennies away; and it is the opposite of cheap. Common sense covers it just about as well as anything.
BRAVE You don’t have to fight to be brave. Millions of good, fine, decent folks show more bravery than heavyweight champs just by getting out of bed every morning, going out to do a good day’s work, and living the best life they know how against the law of odds. Keep the word handy every day of your life.
CLEAN Soap and water helps a lot on the outside. But it is the inside that counts, and don’t ever forget it.
REVERENT Believe in anything that you want to believe in, but keep God at the top of it. With Him, life can be a beautiful experience. Without Him, you are just biding time.”

John Wayne then thanked those at the dinner for putting his name on the outpost camp and said, “I would rather see it here than on all the theater marquees the world over.”

John Wayne is an American icon.  I have been a fan for as long as I can remember.
I will close with my favorite quote from John Wayne:
“Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes into us at midnight very clean. It’s perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we’ve learned something from yesterday.”
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: blog, Character, Citizenship, Ideals, Just fun, Oath and Law, respect, Scout Law, Values | 2 Comments

Selfless Service

Selfless Service has been a main stay of the Scouting movement.  It is the desire to serve others.  It is the motivation to “So unto others…”  It is essentially the Scouting way.
The value of Selfless service is important more than ever in our society.  Today the world revolves around “Me”.  Everything for “Me”.  Self gratification, the need to be served, the entitlement that most people feel they deserve.  Last week as I helped teach at the High School I saw this in many of the students.  “What is the world going to do for me when I walk out of High School?”  Instead of looking forward and seeing the opportunities to serve.
Service need not be in the military, it does not have to come in the form of social work or police and fire.  Service comes from within each and every one of us to do good.
Volunteerism is a big thing right now in our country.  Most major corporations have some sort of “Volunteer” opportunities to get out into the community and do good.  UPS, the company I work for has a program called ‘Neighbor to Neighbor’.  It is a program that goes out and does work on people’s houses, yards, and cleans up neighborhoods that are in dire need of a good scrubbing.  UPS also asks that employees that do volunteer work on their own log those volunteer hours with the company.  It probably gets the company an award or something at the end of the year, but the point is that the push is there to get out and do good.  We see it on TV all the time, campaigns that call us to “Give an hour” or “Live United”.
In Scouting we just make a promise to “Help other people at all times”  That’s all.
Yesterday as we placed all those flags I could not help but think of the great opportunity and habit that we are forming in our Scouts.  Habits of service.  To be selfless in the act of serving.  The meaning rings true when placing a flag on the grave of a soldier.  Not to get to overly dramatic, but that is the ultimate call to selflessly serve.  The knowledge that one day you could pay in full for some one else.
At the top of the hill at Willamette National Cemetery is 4 head stones, much like the rest, but these are inlaid in gold and have a special marker above the name.  These are the 4 individuals that understood selfless service above and beyond that of the average soldier.  They may have just been in the wrong or right place at the wrong or right time, but either way, these for men were awarded the Medal of Honor.  The act which earned them the highest award in our Nation comes down to this.  They were in a situation that when faced with a choice, they chose to serve their buddy.  It always comes down to this.  Citation after citation for the Medal of Honor, it always reads the same.  They stood out above and at the end of the day it was to help one of their own get out of a sticky situation, rescue their comrade, hold of the enemy till help could arrive, move fallen soldiers in the midst of hostile action.  SELFLESS SERVICE.
Now I am sure that not one of the recipients of the Medal of Honor would tell you he wants it or tried to earn it.  They will all tell you that they were just doing their job… they were just serving their buddy or doing their duty.  And I am not suggesting that we strive to earn the Medal of Honor.
Building in our young people a love for service is what I am suggesting.  The need to be of service is a great one and we need to instill in our young people a willingness to go above and beyond what the TV asks and corporations suggest as levels of service.  To truly serve our neighbor, our community, our country.
Selfless Service is a must in our world today.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: blog, Character, Citizenship, Good Turn Daily, Ideals, Memorial Day, Oath and Law, Service, Values | Leave a comment

Flags

On a rainy Thursday evening the Thunderbird District of the Cascade Pacific Council converged on Willamette National Cemetery.  If they didn’t come the 140,000 grave markers would go without a flag this Memorial Day.  For 44 years the Thunderbird District has placed flags on the graves at Willamette.  Over those 44 years the Scouts of the District have seen the number of flags increase.  In 1968 when the District started placing the flags our Nation was burying young men killed in action in Vietnam.  They were serving our community by honoring World War I veterans that were being interned at this hallowed ground.   Then the Cold War saw routine burials of World War II Veterans followed by Korean War Veterans. 
Today the grounds have swelled and expanded from 201 acres to 301 acres.  A new section is filling with Veterans from the Vietnam era and new grave markers host men and women from Iraq and Afghanistan.  I hope we will not have to expand the cemetery further.
This evening in a steady rain my Troop placed flags in section F.  That is our section, the area we place flags in every year.  Each year, as the Troop grows, we cover the area a little faster, but not without reverence and a sense of thankfulness for the reason these men and women are buried at Willamette National Cemetery.  They all served and so we in turn will continue to serve.
As a Veteran and Scoutmaster, I am so very proud of the Scouts of not only my Troop, but the Packs, Troops, and Crews from our District.   The dedication of these Scouts and Scouters to place these flags is special to me and to the families that will be paying their respects, the visitors to loved ones, the children of a Veteran, and the passer-by that stops into Willamette to see what this is all about.
Tonight our Scouts practiced a very important part of being a citizen.  Love for our Country and our fellow Countrymen.
Watching the Scouts tonight renewed my belief in our young people.  Thank you Scouts!
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Character, Citizenship, Good Turn Daily, Ideals, Memorial Day, Patriotism, Values | Leave a comment

New Chief Scout Executive

Well, I thought I would let the dust settle a bit on the issue before I weighed in.  And much to my surprise, there has not been a lot of buzz about the appointment of our 12th Chief Scout Executive.  Wayne Brock was named the new boss this week and there really has not been much said about the man that has been serving as the Deputy Chief Scout and Chief Operations Officer with Bob Mazzuca who is retiring after a great 5 year as the CSE.
Bob Mazzucca has been an active Chief Scout Executive who I really appreciated in that position.  Mr. Mazzuca was the right man to move Scouting into it’s next 100 years.  I had the pleasure of listening to Bob Mazzuca speak on a few occassions.  He said it like it was and was driven to make changes in the BSA, much needed changes.
I had the honor of meeting Bob Mazzuca at the National Jamboree and during the National Meetings in San Diego.  He was a great influence on the Boy Scouts of America and set a course for Scoutings future.  I will not soon forget the night at the National Jamboree in the arena when Mr. Mazzuca led 70,000 plus Scouts and Scouters in the Oath.  It was a moment in my Scouting life that I will never forget.
Bob Mazzuca is a fan of the Scout Oath and Law and believes in the mission.  His message has always been consistent.  Everything seemed to come back to the building a Nation of young people that are able to make ethical decisions, people of character that live the Scout Oath and Law.
Every time I heard him speak, the message always came back to those values.  I applaud his dedication to those ideals even when it was not the popular thing to say or the position to take in our politically correct world.  Over the course of his term he was forced to deal with scandle, law suites, and a rebranding of the BSA.  I think he handled all of it well and the BSA is stronger today than it was 5 years ago.
I met Wayne Brock at the National meetings in San Diego.  He spoke to the group of Scoutmasters invited by the National Council.  It was nice to hear from the then COO and Deputy Chief Scout.  He seemed to me like a straight forward man that was dedicated to Scouting.  He genuinely believes in the program and the organization and it is my opinion that he will not only fill a great pair of shoes that were made larger.. but he will continue the path on the Journey to Excellence that Mr. Mazzuca has blazed.
This week Brock told the PRNewswire “”I am honored to be entrusted with the responsibility of leading this great organization at a pivotal time in our history,” Brock said. “We will build upon the great vision and strategic direction put forth by Bob Mazzuca to strengthen our organization as we continue to serve our mission, instilling the values of character and integrity in America’s youth.” Source: PR Newswire (http://s.tt/1cuA9)
Brock began his career in 1972 as a district executive in New Bern, North Carolina, and then served on the staff in Knoxville, Tennessee. He also served as Scout executive in Athens, Georgia; area director; Scout executive in Orlando, Florida; Southern Region director; and as assistant Chief Scout Executive.
I wish the Mr. Brock all the luck and best wishes as he enters his term as Chief Scout Executive.  Joining a lineage of Chief Scouts that began with James E. West and includes names like Arthur Schuck and Bob Mazzuca.  Wayne Brock will take over in August following the actual retirement of Mr. Mazzuca.  His first big challenge will be the 2013 National Jamboree.  What a great way to get into the thick of things!
I suppose welcome is not in order.. but well done and congratulations are!
I look forward to great years with the new Chief Scout Executive.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: blog, Journey to Excellence, Leadership | Leave a comment

NOS

NOS means “Not otherwise specified” in Military lingo.  It essentially means that we can’t find a category for it.. and so it is with this post.
It has been a while since I posted last, so here is some catching up and thoughts.
I’ll start with the drama.  Last week I volunteered as a ‘Guest Instructor’ for the JROTC class at our High School.  I learned a lot while teaching the 6 classes a day about accountability, military customs and courtesies, and shared life lessons that will (if listened to) help these young men and women.  What I learned about JROTC was that it has very little to do with the military.  Rather, the National syllabus for instruction focuses on Character, Citizenship, Leadership, and fitness… now where I have I seen that before?
Now I understand that there is an Army component to the class.  They structure the class around an Army Battalion, wear uniforms once a week, and use Army language, but beyond that the curriculum is very generic in its content regarding character, citizenship and leadership.  This was a surprise to me not really knowing what to think about JROTC and knowing how the ROTC at the University level works.
I was also surprised to see that very little attention is payed to recruiting or pushing a career in the military to these Cadets.  It was rarely talked about.  Now, of course there were graduating Seniors that are currently making plans for a career in the military, but the JROTC program is not a pool for recruiting. 
I enjoyed teaching the class for the week and had the pleasure of meeting some outstanding students.  I also met my share of students that frankly I fear will not make it in life.  They are lazy, unmotivated, can’t seem to develop study habits, and generally could care less about their school, community, home, or one another.  This shocked me.  All of my kids currently attend this high school and for the last 4 years we have had a very positive experience.  Our daughter has been active with the Marching Band, Symphonic and Concert bands, and has made great friends at the High School.  Both of our sons have been athletes and members of various school clubs and also have made lasting friendships.  All three of the kids have maintained good if not excellent grades over their high school careers and so our view of the school has been shaped by the athletes, friends, and social activities that my wife and I have been fortunate to participate in and get to know.  Our house is always full of kids, mostly football players, and I have gotten to know them and their families and I can honestly say that they are good kids.  So to be at the School and see the apathy that I saw this week, well, it shocked me.
NOW, having said all of that, the School District is in a world of mess right now, the teachers are minutes away from going on strike, the School District Board is not budging and neither is the teachers union.  It has become very ugly in our little neck of the woods.  The climate at the School is very apathetic and so I can see where some of the students have got it.
I hope this resolves quickly.. from the Scoutmaster perspective.  Most of my older Scouts attend this School and it is effecting them.  This close to the end of School, with the impending strike, the students have been forced to scramble to get things done in order to maintain decent GPA’s to round out the year.  The uncertainty has left them questioning the dedication of both the teachers and the school district to their education.
Enough of that… I just hope it gets over quickly.
How this affects Scouting however is clear.  When things are weird in Scouts lives.. it gets weird in their Scouting life.  I had about half the Troop missing from this weekends Camporee.  All high school age students, and students that needed to get much need assignments completed to increase their final GPA.  They called me up and we talked about what was more important.  The least I could do for them is support them. 
Now Camporee… 28 went to Camporee this weekend, a good portion were the younger (First year) Scouts.  They did fantastic!  They proved that they are mastering Scout craft and basic skills.  They were motivated and showed the district that our Troop was there to compete.  We didn’t win the District Camporee Top Troop award, but each patrol came home with ribbons for winning Scout craft events.  They did not win the best camp site, it seems we were missing Patrol boxes and a trailer.  To that, the SPL suggested that we would never win.. and it’s ok.. we are backpackers and if they don’t like our style.. so be it.  I was proud of him and his attitude.
This morning as we packed up and loaded the truck with our packs I overheard a Scoutmaster from a neighboring Troop yell at his Troop this; “Look at them.. while you are struggling with your boxes.. they are playing frisbee!”
We could not help but high five each other.. the Scout leadership had done an exceptional job this morning and ultimately got the Troop and hour and half ahead of schedule.  They ate breakfast, cleaned up and packed in an hour and half.  Made it to the camp wide flag ceremony and awards and departed about an hour before the rest of the district had their camps taken down.  Our boys pride themselves in this style of camping.  One day the district will come around and have a backpacking score sheet for the camp inspection.
On the way home one of the Scouts said to me that when he first started in the Troop, he thought I talked just to hear my voice… but as he grew in the Troop he realized that I was really saying something.  After 4 years of being passed over for election in the Order of the Arrow, he was finally called out Saturday night.  Finally, he is learning to lead, take responsibility, and his peers felt him to be worthy of membership in Scouting’s honor society.  He thanked me for teaching him.  My response was simple.  You are welcome, now… continue to earn the right to be there.
I think this principle can be applied everywhere in our lives.
Well.. it’s going to be an interesting week here.  I hope yours is great!
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Backpacking, blog, camp skills, Camping, Character, Citizenship, Competition, gear, Journey to Excellence, Leadership, Order of the Arrow, Patrol Method, respect, Skills, teamwork | Leave a comment

Methods – Uniform

“Putting on the uniform does not make a fellow a Scout, but putting on the uniform is a sign to the world that one has taken the Scout obligation and folk expect Scout like acts from one wearing it” – Handbook for Boys 1927

And last… but certainly not least.. The Uniform.
I have a strong opinion on this one and I am going to let it be known.  While the uniform is the final method on the list, it is not the least among the methods that should be practiced.  The uniform is an important part of Scouting and should be promoted with zeal and excuses for non uniformity removed.
Uniforms seem to be argued over, dismissed, and modified more than any other method.  People argue the expense is overwhelming, they argue that the Scouts do not like to wear them, they argue that the uniform is impractical, and they argue over the pocket on the sleeve.  STOP IT!
The Uniform has been a method of Scouting since the beginning.  A quick study of Scouting’s history will show that the uniform has always been deemed important.
The Boy Scouts of America state that “The uniform makes the Scout troop visible as a force for good and creates a positive youth image in the community.  Boy Scouting is an action program, and wearing the uniform is an action that shows each Scout’s commitment to the aims and purposes of Scouting. The uniform gives the Scout identity in a world brotherhood of youth who believe in the same ideals.  The uniform is practical attire for Scout activities, and provides a way for Scouts to wear the badges that show what they have accomplished.”
Ok, so what’s the beef?  The price?  The style?  The geeky nature of wearing a uniform?
Lets remove crutches.  Price, yeah, its a bit spendy, but there are many options.  First.  Earn it!  Sell popcorn, mow lawns, get off your butt and earn it.  It’s not that spendy.  Second.  “Experienced uniforms” are always great.  Units should maintain ‘uniform banks’ or ‘lockers’ for Scouts that need assistants with uniforming.  Third.  The Scout uniform is the Scout uniform.  As long as worn properly, any of the styles will do.
Style.  It is what it is.  I like the Scout uniform now.  When I was a Scout it was green and did not have a collar, I hated the beret, and I thought the green pants looked real dorky.. and looking back at pictures of me then.. it was a dorky looking uniform.  But we wore it.
The tan shirt wears well and looks good with the green pants.  I like the move to the green tabs and I really like the more “active styles” in the pants.  Starting with the Switchbacks and moving into the newer pant styles, they are more practical and wear well in the outdoors.
Geeky.  Only if you think so.
Here is my opinion.  EVERY ADULT SCOUTER SHOULD ALWAYS WEAR THE FULL UNIFORM.  You set the example and the attitude for proper uniforming.  NO EXCUSE.  You can send me a note about price and practicality.. and I will argue with you if you would like.  If you want a fully uniformed unit.. and there is only one way to actually wear the uniform.. then you should set the example.
In our Troop we require every leader, youth and adult, to wear the full uniform.  That is a rule set by the PLC, not me… now in all fairness I concur and they know it.
When a Scout crosses over from Webelos he has a tan shirt.  We ask the parents to buy him pants.  That simple.  If they can not afford it, we encourage them to assist with fund-raising and we introduce them to the uniform bank.  We want every Scout to feel like they are part of the team.  And that is exactly how we and the BSA look at this method.  Teams wear uniforms.  You don’t see a football team arrive for a game with some blue shirts on and some red.  Some guys have helmets and others are wearing ball caps.  The uniform identifies each player as being part of the team, even the guys on the bench wear the uniform.  So it is with Scouts.  Each Scout is part of the team.  He shows his team colors and numbers and pride in his patrol and troop.
The uniform is a great equalizer.  It makes everyone the same.  Old or new, it is still the teams uniform and everyone on the team is equal.
I think the uniform method is important.  It brings us together in the brotherhood of Scouting and marks us as a force for good.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: blog, Methods | Tags: | 1 Comment

Methods- Leadership Development

Besides backpacking and teaching skills for the outdoors, my favorite subject in Scouting is leadership.  I know that leadership is but a small part of Scouting, but leadership when done correctly requires the leader to be of good character.  Leadership asks of the Scout to develop good citizenship, and of course being a good leader encourages a Scout to be physically fit.
Leadership is tested in Scouting.  It is a requirement for rank, a Scout must demonstrate his ability to lead others culminating with the Eagle project.  To be an effective leader, the Scout must first learn to be a follower.  Leadership starts early in a Scouts life with following.  The implication is that the Scouts needs to see other Scouts leading.  This is where leadership develop starts to take root.
Scouts that develop strong leadership habits and skills work wonders in a Scout led Troop.  They show what “right looks like” and are examples for others to follow.
Leadership does not require a patch.  Every Scout can start leading.  Being a great example is the best leadership tool.  Every Scout will have an opportunity to develop leadership through active participation in shared and total leadership situations.
Through the leadership development method a Scout see’s how leaders effect the over all good.  Understanding the concepts of leadership helps a boy accept the leadership roles of others and guides him toward the citizenship aim of Scouting.  This is why leadership development is important.  It takes time and energy to become a leader.  Leaders are not born, they are made and Scouting helps get them moving as an effective leader.  He will have skills and tools that will continue to be practiced and tested throughout his life.
Units should provide opportunities to develop Junior leaders.  Troop Junior Leader training, sending Scouts to the National Youth Leadership Training, the Eagle Scout service project, The Order of the Arrow, and various High Adventure base opportunities give the Scout a wide variety of leadership training.  Along with holding positions of leadership in the unit the Scout can find many ways to develop his skill sets and leadership tool box.  Aside from holding unit positions of leadership staffing at Summer camp is one of the greatest experiences that a Scout can have to demonstrate and practice leadership.  Unit leaders should encourage Scouts to take advantage of all of the leadership opportunities that Scouting has to offer.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Advancement, blog, Character, Citizenship, fitness, Leadership, Methods | 1 Comment

Methods- Personal Growth

Now don’t let the word personal get you.  Yes we want each and every Scout to grow, but we want them to find this growth within the context of Scouting’s values (found in the Oath and Law).  Personal growth is a tricky method in that it will sneak up on you as the Scout develops.  Each Scout will grow at his own pace and so we use tools and watch and guide his growth.  First and foremost, his family.  Stay in touch with his family, develop friendship and a relationship with the family.  They should be able to seek your input and you should be able to offer your suggestions also.  You see the Scout outside of the family context on camp outs and other events.  When you see a behavior change, talk with the young man or ask the family if they are seeing something different.  This is the tricky part.  If you are not comfortable getting into their lives, well then, you can’t assist with this.
I recently got a call from one of my Scouts Dad’s.  He was concerned about a change in behavior and wanted to know if I saw it.  We ended up talking for about an hour about different parts of this young man’s life.  It was a great opportunity for me to share some of the things that I see and he was even open to hearing what I thought on the matter.
The second tool we use is the Scoutmaster conference.  I have said this before, but it is always worth saying again… the Scoutmaster conference is not all about rank advancement.  You, Mister Scoutmaster are a mentor, a role model, a friend, use the Scoutmaster conference to get to know these young men and what makes them tick.  You can assist in the personal growth of each and every Scout by talking and listening.  When they know you care and want to listen, they will talk to you.  Sometimes, you are a better set of ears than their parents or teachers.  You are the guy that goes camping with them, plays games, and teaches them skills.  They trust you.  Don’t take advantage of this, but keep in mind that if you want these young men to grow into good men, you need to take an interest in their lives [outside of Scouting also].
And finally, the last tool set we will discuss are the various programs in Scouting.  The religious emblems program, doing a good turn, and being helpful at all times.  These programs/values will shape the young man and develop good habits in him that will last.  You will see growth in the character of the Scout as he serves others and learns about his spiritual world.  But there probably is no device so successful in developing a basis for personal growth as the daily Good Turn.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: blog, Character, Citizenship, fitness, Good Turn Daily, Ideals, Methods, Scoutmaster conference, Values | 1 Comment

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