Author Archives: Scoutmaster Jerry

Understanding the Charter Organization

charterEvery Unit within the Boy Scouts of America has a Charter partner or Charter Organization.  These organizations come from within the community in which the unit belongs.  It can be a Church, a School, or a Civic group like the Elks, the VFW, or Lions Club just to name a few.
In many cases these organizations sign on to be a Charter Partner without really knowing what their responsibilities or function is.  They are approached at some point with the “ask” to be the sponsor of a Scouting unit and because they understand that this is a good idea, they agree.
Charters are granted by the Boy Scouts of America for the period of one year.  This contract is able to be renewed annually as long as the Charter Organization meets all of the requirements and agrees to the conditions of the Charter.
Many Charter Organizations and it’s representatives do not understand their Charter agreement nor do they take the time to really understand the Scouting program.  While this is not always the fault of the Charter Partner, often times they just don’t know what they don’t know, nor do they take the time to learn, the units typically do not create that need for the Charter Partner to learn and gain an understanding of their role.
To most units, the Chartering Partner is just a signature and place to meet.  This relationship, while often times meets the needs of the unit and the Chartering Partner is not how the system is designed to work and does not allow for the full benefits of Scouting to be realized.
So what is the role of the Charter Organization (CO)?  The CO is responsible to the Boy Scouts of America in its agreement to host a Scouting unit.  The CO is to conduct Scouting in accordance with its own policies and guidelines as well as those of the BSA.  In other words, the CO can apply rules based on the values, beliefs and standards of the organization.
The CO must include Scouting as part of its overall program for youth and families.  The CO should use Scouting as an extension to provide programs within the organization, not to compete or conflict with that organization.
The CO is to appoint a chartered organization representative who is a member of the organization and will represent it to the Scouting district and council, serving as a voting member of each.  This is an important function of the Charter Organization as it has a voice and vote at the District and Council level that is often not used.
The CO select a unit committee of parents and members of the organization who will screen and select unit leaders who meet the organization’s leadership standards as well as the BSA’s standards.
The CO must provide adequate and secure facilities for Scouting units to meet on a regular schedule with time and place reserved.
And finally the Charter Partner is to encourage the units to participate in outdoor experiences.
These are the responsibilities of the organization that has received a charter from the Boy Scouts of America.  Again, often overlooked and not held to the standard of the Charter.
The CO is not at fault most of the time here, we Scouters rarely take the time to have the Charter Organization Representative (COR) trained.  We use them for their facility and their signature and that is all we typically expect from a “Good COR”.
The COR is a great resource for our units.  They are the link to the CO which can provide many opportunities for the Scouts of our units.  Merit Badge counselors, Board of Review panelist, service opportunities, and much more.  The COR is a voice at the table on the district committee.  I often hear unit leaders that complain “The District” this or the District that”… well, you have a voice through your CO in the District.  If you are not happy or your CO is not happy about the direction an issue is going, remember, they sign on to conduct Scouting in accordance with policy, so if they are not satisfied that Scouting is not holding up its end, they have the right and the seat at the table to change things.
The COR should be trained so they know what to expect from Scouting and the policies they are to uphold.  They should know what “right looks like” in order to pick the right leaders.  Contrary to popular belief, they parents of a unit do not hire and fire the leaders.  The Committee Chair in concert with the COR is the final authority on the selection of adult leadership.
This is a critical task to ensure that the Scouting program is being delivered as promised.  If the CO has any issues, they have the right to address them with the unit and change, replace, or move leaders within the unit.
The CO and the COR also have a role in the annual budget.  All funds, equipment, and supplies belong to the Chartering Partner.  They have a say in how it is being used.
As you can see, there is a great role and responsibility of the Chartering Partner and the Charter Organization Representative.  They need to be trained and in the loop.  It is easy to see a unit why some units keep them out of the loop, but that is not the right way to do it.
The Boy Scouts of America grants charters to organizations within our communities.  They do this to keep the units local and under the control of local interests.  This decentralization assists the BSA as well as organizations within your community.  Those bonds strengthen both the BSA and the Chartering Partner.
Get to know your CO and COR.  Invite them to be trained and provide that opportunity.
Understanding the role of the Chartering Partner and its representative will strengthen your unit and build lasting relationships in the community.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: blog | 3 Comments

The Great Knife Debate

bsknifeYou can always tell when we have officially run out of real problems.  We make some.
In a recent discussion with a group of Scouters the issue of knives came up.  What is the “Official Policy” on what a Scout can and can not carry.  What is the length that he can or can not have?
OK.. so I will give you the “Officially Policy” and then some opinion.
Page 60 of the Guide to Safe Scouting states; “A sharp pocketknife with a can opener on it is an invaluable backcountry tool. Keep it clean, sharp, and handy. Avoid large sheath knives. They are heavy and awkward to carry, and unnecessary for most camp chores except for cleaning fish. Since its inception, Boy Scouting has relied heavily on an outdoor program to achieve its objectives. This program meets more of the purposes of Scouting than any other single feature. We believe we have a duty to instill in our members, youth and adult, the knowledge of how to use, handle, and store legally owned knives with the highest concern for safety and responsibility.Remember—knives are not allowed on school premises, nor can they be taken aboard commercial aircraft.”
Further, from the Boy Scouts of America website “Sheath knives are not prohibited by the BSA, but they may be regulated by state or local ordinances and/or by camp “rules.” We recommend that the right tool for the job be used (cutting branches or ropes). We do not encourage wearing them at the waist as injury could occur during falls.” reference General Health and Safety FAQ’s
The BSA does not restrict the length of the blade, nor does it require a blade to be folding or fixed.  The policy requires that we abide by state and local rules and that we use the right tool for the right job.
The question came up as to what I allow the Scouts in my Troop to wear/use.  Here is how I see it.
The Scout is required to earn his Totin’ Chip before he is allowed to carry and use a Knife, Saw, and Ax.  The Totin’ Chip certifies that the Scout has the right to carry and use woods tools. The Scout must show his Scout leader that he understands his responsibility to do the following:
Read and understand woods tools use and safety rules from the Boy Scout Handbook.
Demonstrate proper handling, care, and use of the pocket knife, ax, and saw.
Use knife, ax, and saw as tools, not playthings.
Respect all safety rules to protect others.
Respect property. Cut living and dead trees only with permission and good reason.
Subscribe to the Outdoor Code.
Once the Scout has demonstrated that he can use the knife safely and he agrees to use it as a tool then the Scout can be held in account.  He can lose the privilege of carrying a knife as quick as he earn the right to use it.
If a Scout would like to carry a sheath knife, I have no problem with it.  I recommend that he chooses one that is the right tool for what he is using it for.  I recommend that the blade be no more than 4 inches.  This way he has good control over it and it complies with local rules.  Since I live in Oregon, it is important for me to know what the laws are.  According the Boy Scouts of America, it is the local laws and policies that dictate what a Scout can and can not carry.
In Oregon, it is legal to own pretty much any knife and you can carry it (open carry) anytime you want.  Certain exceptions apply of course, but for our purpose a Scout can carry pretty much any knife he wants.
Now, having said that, it comes down to the right tool for the job.
So the discussion then becomes, what does a Scout use his knife for?
Cutting kindling for fires, cutting line or rope, preparing meals, and whittling for the most part.  So what is the right tool for those jobs.  Certainly a sword would not be appropriate and a Rambo survival knife is not necessary either.  A simple pocket or sheath knife will do.
This is where the adult leader steps in to be a teacher.  It is not a matter of what they can carry, it becomes a matter of what do you use it for?  In that discussion with your Scouts you outline the right tool for the job and allow them to make that reasonable choice.  I will tell you with 100% certainty that we have had that talk and have never seen a “Rambo Knife” on a camp out.
lmfknifeI personally carry a Mora knife.  It is sharp, handy, and useful.  The particular model I carry is made by Mora and Light My Fire.  It has a striker in the handle.  It has a 3 1/2 blade and I have used it to butter bread and baton wood for a camp fire.  It has a hard sheath which locks the knife in place.  Here is a little video from Light my Fire on the knife that I carry.

We recommend that our Scouts only carry a small knife.  A pocket knife or a sheath knife either one is ok.  We ask that they focus on the job and using the right tool.  Many of our Scouts carry a multi tool like the Leatherman.  This is fine also.  The fact of the matter is that I just want them to use it properly… or get your right taken away.
That is the rule that we should focus on, not the knife itself.
Like I said, I think we have far too much time on our hands and not enough real problems that we are worried about the length of a blade.  As with most if not all things in Scouting you must train them and then trust them.
Do you have a unit policy when it comes to knives?  I am curious to hear what that looks like.
Please share.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: blog, camp skills, Camping, Character, Cooking, gear, Just fun | Tags: , , | 12 Comments

Map and Compass

mapcompassHere is the Scoutmaster Minute that I gave to our Troop the other night… Hope you find it useful.
As you travel on the trail to First Class Scout you find that there are many skills that you develop.  You learn them and eventually master them well enough to use them in your daily lives, while on camp outs and even teach them to other people.
Learning to use the Map and Compass is one such skill that takes practice and hands on use.  Once you master the use of the Map and Compass you will always know the direction you heading and will be able to find your way.
The Map shows you the terrain.  It lets you know where you are and where you are going.  It’s colors represent what is on the ground around you and the obstacles that you will face.  As you read the map, you see the hills and valleys that you will be trekking on.  It shows you where you can find water and other resources.  The map can tell you where the trail is easy or hard or give you options for a detour.  Using you map, you always know where you are and a clear path to where you want to go.
The Compass is the other tool that when used with your map gives you clear direction.  Knowing how to use the compass properly will allow you to set your course in the right direction.  It orients your map and gives you an accurate picture of what is ahead.  Without the compass, the map is just a picture of the section of earth you are traveling on.  Add the compass and you have accurate and steady direction.  The compass is always true.  It can set you on the path that will get you to your destination.
These two tools are important in your life.  Yes, we have GPS now and that is very helpful, but the GPS will never replace a good map and compass.
We have another map and compass that get us headed in the right direction and keep us on track to our destination.  The Scout Oath and Law.
The Oath is our map.  It gives us a clear picture of the person that we should be.  It has features much like the map.  Duty, Honor, and being Selfless are some of the marks we see in Oath.  If we use it, we will know the landscape of our lives and will be able to stay the course.
The Scout Law is our compass.  It is the steady set of values, unchanging, that when used with the Scout Oath will be our guide on the trail of life.
The Law points you in the direction of our values that make you the person that you are.  Like the compass it has a steadfast needle that ensures your heading is true.
Using the Oath and Law together, like the map and compass these tools will set your course to being a man of Character, a good Citizen, and promote in yourself and other fitness in your mind, body, and heart.
As we have traveled that trail to First Class, weather is is recent or in the past, or if you are just starting that journey, remember that the skills you develop today are there for you to use for the rest of your life.  Focus on these skills they will make a difference not only on a camp out but every day that you wake up and look in the mirror starting your Great Scouting Day!
Set your azimuth to achieve your goals and keep checking your map to stay on course.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: camp skills, Character, Citizenship, Ideals, Leadership, Scout Law, Skills, Values | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Here’s your sign…

We don’t say it enough… at least I know that I need to work on saying it more… THANK YOU.
Thank you for hanging with the blog.
Thanks you for your comments.
Thanks for spending your valuable time here.
Thanks for being a Scouter.. you make a difference.
Thanks for being a Teacher, Coach, Mentor, and Trainer to a young man.  He needs it and it matters.
Thanks for your dedication and effort.  It does not go unnoticed.
Thanks for everything.  I appreciate it.
This weekend as we departed the University of Scouting, there was a simple sign that said it all.  It was a great parting message that I think needs to be shared and shared often.
signthanks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you!
Have a Great Scouting Day!

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Tradition

growthofaleaderI consider myself a traditional Scouter.  What I mean by that is that I believe in the program as it has been and how it should be.  I am a fan of William “Green Bar Bill” Hillcourt and the program as Baden Powell set in his vision for Scouting.  I am sure that the program as outlined by those men hold up today as they did back then and one of the elements of that vision is or are the traditions of Scouting.
Each Troop has it’s own traditions and customs.  They give the unit identity and connect the current and future Scouts with the past.  Traditions run deep in the Scouting movement.  The handclasp, the salute, and the sign.  They are not just elements of identity, they go back to the founder and there are reasons we have them.  The handclasp for example is not just a handshake, the root of our handclasp in Scouting comes from Baden Powell’s service in Africa.  He noticed that the warriors would place their shields on the ground when meeting with a stranger.  They kept their spear in the their right hand when then joined hands with the stranger using their left hand.  This was a sign of trust.  They were in essence putting down their guard showing the other person that they were trusting the exchange would be friendly.
The Scout neckerchief was not just a fashion statement, but a way that early units identified themselves.  Before Troop numbers, the color of the neckerchief seen from afar could identify a Troop to other Troops.  Again, it served a purpose other than fashion.  It was a useful tool in first aid and kept the sun off of the neck.  Today, most units opt away from the neckerchief.  I wish we all still wore them, they are a great piece of Scouting.
Campfire songs and Patrol flags are yet more of Scouting’s great traditions.  A Troop that enjoys the cheerfulness of the campfire is truly living the vision of Scouting’s founder.
Many Scout camps have traditions they use to promote the camp atmosphere and create a connection to the camp.  A camp song, flags in the dinning hall or lodge, some icon that is the beacon or icon that is used to connect the camper to the camp.
Troops establish traditions that connect older Scouts with newer Scouts and lay the foundation for the Troop to live long into the future.  A troop hat or special patch, the troop yell or song and the way they set up camp.  In our Troop, we have a wonderful tradition of singing vespers at the end of each meeting and camp fire.  We are a singing Troop.  Camp fires are always fun and full of song and laughter.  We have a distinctive hat.  It has become a feature of ours that is easily identified within our district.  We also have established the tradition of being a Backpacking style Troop.  The Scouts pride themselves in their ability to pack it all in and pack it out quickly.  The Troop does it’s best to be the first Troop packed and loaded at Camporee.  What started as just a method of camping has become a tradition.
Some of Scouting’s other great traditions are the way we wear our uniform.  With the exception of the uniform style changes, the uniform is the uniform, not only a method, but again a way of identifying us as Scouts the world over.
Wood Badge is a great Scouting tradition that links us to the founder.  His way of passing on the importance of trained adult leaders and that link for leaders all over the world to provide quality programs to the youth they serve.
When most people think of traditional Scouting they think about Scouting “back when I was a kid”… for the most part “Traditional Scouting” represents Scouting before the 1960’s.  This is that period of Scouting found in the paintings of Norman Rockwell.  It is the the vision of Scouting we all see when we close our eyes and think about what Scouting should look like.  That is the Scouting, even though I was not a Scout “way back then”, that I consider traditional and where most tradition comes from.
The basics are still there and always have been, but we know that starting in about 1972 the Boy Scouts of America looked for new identity.  The Scouting movement in America changed drastically to meet the needs and changes in American culture.  I can remember back in the ’70’s as a Cub Scout and young Boy Scout the Scouting programs of “Boy Power” and finding a way to bring Scouting to the youth of the era.  But the traditions of Scouting were still there just waiting for Scouts to pick them up and rally to the vision of the Founder.
The Order of the Arrow is full of it’s traditions.  Mainly found within the purpose and values of the organization and it’s ceremonies.  From it’s beginning the tradition of service has been the mainstay of the Order of the Arrow and has strengthened Scouting as a result.
The Uniform, the Outdoor Program, the Patrol Method, and Patches are all traditions of Scouting.  They serve as methods to achieve the Aims, as well as provide lasting ways that we pass Scouting on from generation to generation.
Patch collecting and trading, Jamborees and Conclaves, and playing games within the Patrol all help in providing traditional Scouting programs.  They are the things that we think about when we talk about Scouting.
Looking at our Scout Slogan of “Doing a Good turn Daily” is as tradition laced as it gets in Scouting.  From the very beginning when William Boyce found himself lost on a foggy London street assisted by a Scouting that would accept no pay for his help the tradition of service and values based programming have long lasted in Scouting.
It’s more that old stuff that we keep doing.  It is our identity, our program, our organization that is steep in tradition and we are the keepers of that tradition.  It is up to us to create traditions with our Scouts and promote those traditions that have for over 100 years been apart of Scouting.
Singing, collecting patches, hiking, camping, and helping old ladies across the street… it’s all Scouting and we need to preserve it and make it stronger.
What are some traditions in your Troop?  What are some traditions you love in Scouting?  What is that one tradition that you love from your Scouting past?
I would love for you to share.  Scouts Honor.. (That’s another tradition in Scouting)
Have a Great Scouting Day!

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The Boy in the Bubble

fboldI am often critical of how our boys are being, or seem to be being led down a path that is removing them from adventure, fun, and testing their ability to grow into men.
I am talking about how we hypocritically rail on about how things were when we were kids.. you know, drinking from a hose, climbing trees, mud clod fights, staying out till the street lights came on, loading up our packs and getting on our bikes and heading out for over nighters… You know, that stuff that made our childhood and for many of us our Scouting experience fun and exciting.
We talk about the good old days with fondness and make it a point to tell those stories to our kids and our Scouts, but no way in hell are we going to allow our kids to do that great stuff… No way in hell.
We are so afraid of lawyers and our kids getting a little hurt that we have placed them in a bubble.
For the record, I am not one of those.
My boys climbed trees and we made it a point to allow adventures. The first time I ever took my two sons backpacking we hiked about 2 1/2 miles up to a little lake. They were 5 and 7 years old respectively. The weather was not the best, but it was time to get out. Hey if you live in Oregon you can’t be a fair weather camper. I will never forget that outing. After I showed them how to use a MSR Whisperlite stove, we cooked dinner and the temperature started to drop. We climbed into the tent. It started to snow. We made up stories and ate dehydrated ice cream sandwiches.
Why do have to change things? The answer is that we don’t.
I am a collector of Scouting literature. I have a nice collection of all of the Boy Scout Field Books. The worst of which is the current edition.
Looking back at some of the older Field Books, especially the Field Book from when I was a Scout, they are full of skills and adventure. They open the doors for boys to develop self reliance and skills that help them both in the outdoors and in their daily lives.
Cooking fish over an open fire, building shelters, heading out into the woods to hang out with your buddies. Pioneering that could actually be used for something other than demonstrations.  The picture in this post.. God for bid we actually build a bridge today over real water.
So why? Lawyers? Really? It’s not the lawyers… it’s the parents. After all, who is calling the lawyer. Lawyers don’t hang out in the woods waiting for you to allow a Scout to climb a tree. Lawyers are not there when you head to a lake and take a swim. Lawyers are not there to say no.. we say it because we are afraid that a parent would not approve of her little darling be let out of the protective bubble.
I was talking to a group of new parents (to Boy Scouts) the other night. When we presented the annual plan to them, I could see on their faces that they were not to comfortable with some of the high adventure activities that we do. Backpacking, canoeing, shooting sports, you know.. scouting. Seeing this look, I asked what concerns they have. It turns out that they are just concerned about their son being able to do all of this without them.
That, I told them, will be just fine. The boys do well without their parent hovering over them. I went on to explain that we don’t just drop off their son in the woods and pick them back up on Sunday. We have qualified adults that are there to teach them, coach them, and mentor them. Not do it for them, but prepare them to do it alone or with their patrol. I told them that it will ultimately come down to trust.
You either trust that we doing Scouting right or you don’t. If you do, your son will have an awesome time in Scouting. If you don’t, he will not be able to participate because you won’t let him. If that is the case, you should find another activity for him.
Building that Trust is up to the unit leaders. Assembling the right group of adult leaders that are willing to go the extra mile to be trained and seek additional training for the type of activities your unit does. It is easy to be a STEM troop. You just take your Scouts to the Science museum and pick them up in an hour. Having skilled , trained leaders to execute a Scouting program is important. I have mentioned this before but it is not our job to tell the Scouts no. If they want to put something on their calendar that is adventurous, find a way to do it. In our Troop we never say no. And we find a way to facilitate their adventures. Among the Assistant Scoutmasters and I we have thousands of miles on the trail. Hundreds of hours climbing, canoeing, kayaking, and winter camping. If we can’t find an expert, we become on. I can not tell you how much money has been spent to get extra training and gear just so we could do a great outing. We are not afraid to share that resume with the parents, it is all about building their trust and confidence in us so they will let their boy out of the bubble.
I don’t blame society on this. Nothing has changed. The water is still wet, the trees still grow, and night falls about the same times as it did when we were kids. The BB gun stings just like it did when I was kid, and fish still taste better than ever over an open fire. What was fun for us is just as fun for our kids today. Let them be boys.
Bob Mazzucca once said that we need to take Scouting where the boys are. So we have taken them to the zoo, to the museum, and to all the safe places that parents have pushed the boy into the bubble. Boys used to be outside and looking for adventure, and that is where we need to take them. Taking Scouting to where the boys are used to mean something a bit different. I don’t want to take Scouting where they are right now. Scouting belongs outside not behind a computer or in the lab. Yes, before I get beat up by all the STEM guys.. there is a time and place for that, but Scouting is Scouting.. just take a look at what it is in the old field books.
Flipping through those pages I find that there is nothing in them that we can not do today. We just won’t because it is to comfortable in the bubble.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

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The Solo Stove

I have been talking quite a bit as of late about the Solo Stove.  In fact, I became an affiliate of the Solo Stove this week.  The more I use this stove, the more I like it and realize I should use it more.  I have had this stove for about 2 years now and it has gone on a couple of hands of camp outs.
Never have to carry fuel.  I live in Oregon, so fuel is never an issue.  I even burned soaking wet sticks in it.  Pine cones will get you a boil in no time.
Small.  The Solo stove fits in most pots.  And it doesn’t weigh much either.  The stove weighs in at 9 oz.  It is 3.8 inches high and 4.25 inches wide.  I keep it in a 12 cm imusa mug when I take it on the trail.
The construction of this stove is second to none.  Yeah, you may be able to make a hobo stove that looks like it, but put the Solo Stove in your hands and the 304 Stainless steel material and rock solid construction, beautiful lines, seams, and detail will blow you away.
It takes about 8 minutes to get a good rolling boil.  That’s pretty good considering the source.  Besides, where are you going… you’re camping.. relax.
Leave No Trace.  This is a perfect stove when trying to leave no trace.  Why?  Because it leaves no impact.  You burn stuff lying around, small sticks etc.  It doesnt leave a mark on the soil, you don’t need a fire pit, and what’s left after the burn is fine white ash that with less than a cup of water completely disappears.  Not allowed to have a campfire.. no problem.  This stove does not produce sparks and staying right inside the burn chamber.  It is totally contained.
Like I said, I really love this stove.   It is not quite my go to stove, I still love my Blackcat alky stove.  But the more I play with the Solo Stove, the more I want to use it more and more.  And for 9 ounces, it is worth throwing in the backpack.
If you are interested in learning more and ordering a stove.  Use the link over here on the right to click-through to Solo Stove.  If you are looking at getting your favorite Scoutmaster on the internet a nice Christmas gift… I would love the Solo Stove pot 900.
Enjoy the video.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: camp skills, Camping, Cooking, gear, Just fun, Leave no trace, Skills, Winter Camping | Tags: | 4 Comments

Troop Leadership Corps

tlcpatchFrom 1972 to 1989 the Boy Scouts of America had a program called the Troop Leadership Corps.  This program was designed for Scouts 14-16 to serve their Troop in leadership roles.  They were not a member of a Patrol within the Troop, but held direct leadership within the Troop.  They served as guides for new Scout Patrols, they served in traditional leadership roles and they were charged with being skills instructors and role models to the Troop.
In 1989, this program was replaced with the Venture Patrol within traditional Troops.  At this point the older Scouts now became a patrol and Troop positions of leadership were created to fill the void.  The Instructor and Troop Guide Positions were created and added to the leadership roll of offices.
Since 1989 many Troops however have held on the Troop Leadership Corps (TLC) as a foundation of leadership in the Troop.  It is also a great way to maintain older Scouts keeping them active in the Troop and engaged with the younger Scouts.
Our Troop is now among them.  We are rebuilding the Troop Leadership Corp, with our own spin on it.  during the heyday of the TLC the Scouts that made up the Corps left their patrols and entered the group of leaders to form a patrol.  In our situation the Scouts will remain a part of their Patrol.  The TLC will be made up of those Scouts that demonstrate leadership and leadership potential.  They will be Scouts that buy into our leadership philosophy and are willing to step up and lead.
This is an incentive program.  The Scouts that choose to belong to the Troop Leadership Corps will have high adventure opportunities and time set aside for them to be teenagers.  We have a group of Scouts that are taking the lead on this.  They are motivated and willing to lead.  They all believe in our core values and leadership philosophy and want to see the Troop become more successful.
We are doing this to keep the older Scouts engaged and maintain them longer as members of the Troop.
Here are the 5 leadership principles (philosophy) that we maintain in the Troop.  It is these 5 principles that the Troop Leadership Corp will center their leadership on.  It is these 5 principles that they will use to teach and coach the troop to success.
1.  Never Stop Learning, Be a life Long learner.
2.  Focus on the Little things.  Focusing on the little things make the big things happen.
3.  Model Expected Behavior.
4.  Communicate Effectively.
5.  Be a Servant Leader.
When we do these 5 things the Troop works like a well oiled machine.  Leadership is not a chore, and everyone finds success.
So we are bringing back the Troop Leadership Corps.  We will report back on how it is going.
Does your Troop use the Troop Leadership Corp model?  How is that going for you?
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Character, Ideals, Leadership, Patrol Method, Scouts, Service, Skills, training, Values | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

The Membership Discussion

WSJpic1Lets talk about membership.
We all know that we need members to keep Scouting alive.  There are many different angles and directions to answer the membership question.  I am not going to solve this issue in this post, rather, I am opening up the dialogue to see what you all think.
Scouting in the United States if a bit different from the rest of the World Organization of the Scouting Movement (WOSM).
First, we are not Coed, until you get to the Venturing Program.
Second, our programs are not connected.  Yes, Cub Scouts go to Boy Scout etc… but in most cases outside of the US, a Scout group is made up of youth from 7 to 21.  The units are formed from a group.  This allows for continuity in the program and allows for leadership and example to be promoted from within the group.  Personally, I like this idea.  I think it solves a few of the issues we have in Scouting in the US.  Namely keeping youth in Scouting.
I have become pen pals of sorts with some Scouters from outside of the United States.  While they do have their own issues it seems that young people stay in Scouting longer and have a great Scouting experience along the way.
Starting off as a young 7-year-old and staying in Scouting till they are in their young adulthood.  I think this creates a better Scouting life for them.
Anyway, as stated, I am not going to answer the question, just start the discussion.
I think that the BSA will need to explore the COED option sooner than later.  With declining membership and the Girl Scout program not what most girls want… I think that opening the doors to a COOED program may go along way to saving Scouting in America.
So how does that work?  Will we lose our values and program?  I don’t think so.  I think we can move forward with the program we have.  We need not tailor the program to girls, they will fit right in.  Look at the Venturing program as it is?  It would be much better if it were filled with young people and adventure.
OK, membership at the core.
I think that our professionals at the National and Council level have the very best of intentions when they talk membership.  It is a simple equation.  Get more youth in and membership will fix itself.
A few things that I know for sure.
You will never be able to out recruit your losses.  You will never be able to keep Scouts in a program that is floundering.
When I was a young Scoutmaster I was told the three keys to a successful troop were Program, Program, and Program.  If you build it they will come.  Boys do not join Scouts for Monday night meetings.  They join for cool programs and camp outs.  Parents bring their sons to our program.  Not to our meetings.  They need to be able to see value in the program.
Program will drive membership.  So I think sometimes we put the cart before the horse.  The horse is our program, the cart is membership and money.  Now, you can’t have one without the other, but if your priority is not program, you won’t get members.  That, I know for sure.
So where is our effort more effective?  Building programs or recruiting?  I think we build programs and let them come.
There are more factors to this discussion to be sure.  It is not always that simple I understand.  At the unit level programs need to be the priority.  Build it and they will come.  Recruiting efforts need to be a part of the annual plan.  Focusing on Cub Scouts is not the only answer.  We need to sell Scouting to all eligible youth.
This is where I see other WOSM get it.  They appeal to youth of all ages and keep them in longer.  There is a coolness factor about hanging out with their peers and they longer they stay, so do their friends.  I think this is an important part of our membership issue.
So.. lets take a few posts and explore this issue?
What do you think?  Let’s discuss this.
Here is a little video I stumbled on that really got me thinking.  It is from the Scouts in Germany.  I would love to see our youth in American Scouting like this one day.  I got to see Scouting like this when I was a kid in the Transatlantic Council as we did many International Scouting activities.
Also take a moment to check out the Kandersteg International Scout Center videos.  See what they look like and lets see how we can implement some of this here.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

A Sky Full of Scouts from Andreas Herten on Vimeo.

Categories: blog, High Adventure, Ideals, Journey to Excellence, Just fun, Leadership, Methods, Scouting, Scouts, Values, Webelos to Scout Transition | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

Philmont, A love letter

Found this as I was bouncing around the internet.  Tucker Prescott pretty much sums up my feelings for Philmont in this short video.
I WANNA GO BACK TO PHILMONT..

Enjoy..  And great job Tucker!
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Philmont: A Love Letter from Tucker Prescott on Vimeo.

Categories: blog | 4 Comments

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