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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 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.

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13 year old Eagle.

From the Facebook page of Steve Harvey

I thought I would let it simmer for a bit before I weighed in.. and now I just can’t keep my blog silent on this.
So, at a risk of pissing a bunch of folks off.. here it goes.
By now, if you are an active Scouter, you are aware of the young man named James Hightower III.  He was presented his Eagle award on the Steve Harvey show.
This ambitious Scout earned his Eagle award at age 12.  (he is now 13) He earned 61 merit badges, the last of which, the ever so tough Fingerprinting on the Steve Harvey show.
He is a member of the Order of the Arrow and appears to rank among the young genius’ of our time.  Band, Leadership in his Church, etc etc.
OK.. you all know that I am one that believes in maintain standards.  First, there is no age limit other than 18 for earning the rank of Eagle Scout, I get that.. but let’s do the math.
He crosses over at a minimum of 10 1/2 years old.  Earned his Eagle rank at 12.  From First Class to Star the Scout must be active with his Troop for at least 4 months.  During that 4 months, he needs to serve as a leader for that time period.  Then from Star to Life, the Scout needs to serve as an active member of his Troop for 6 months.  During that time, he needs to serve in a leadership position and do service.   We are up to at least 10 months… not to mention the 30 days it takes to earn Tenderfoot and at least a few months to get to First Class.  Since joining, he would have participated in 10 separate troop/patrol activities (other than troop/patrol meetings), three of which included camping overnight.  In most Troops that would represent at least 3 months.  So the simple math is 14 months.  He is now 11 1/2 or 12 depending on when his birthday is.
Then he must serve for another 6 months as a Life Scout to earn Eagle.  We are now 20 months into this young mans Scouting life.
20 months.
Some one please tell me.  Has he really practiced real leadership?  How much leading has he done?  Was he the Librarian and Historian for his leadership?  I know they count, but really.. we are talking about an Eagle Scout here.
Yes I know that this wunderkind is active in many areas of his life.  Which begs the question.  When did his have all this time to lead, earn merit badges, rank, perform service projects etc?  Band, Church, Junior National Honor Society, active in the Order of the Arrow, Top Teens Program… 20 months as a Scout.  Just think about the Scouts in your Troop.
OK.. 20 months… Most Troops camp 11 times a year and go to Summer camp in that 11 months.  He needs 20 nights camping for the Eagle Required  Camping Merit badge.  That’s 6 camp outs plus a 6 night summer camp.  So that’s the first year.  12 of the 20 months got the basic nights out-of-the-way.  I assume as a leader he attends most if not all camp outs.. after all, that is where leadership and the Patrol method are really practiced.
10 1/2 to 12 years old is one and a half years.  That’s 18 months.  Now we don’t know when his birthday is, but the numbers do not add up.  From a math point of view and a practical point of view.  What has this young man got out of the Eagle experience.
The article says he plans on staying in Scouting.  That’s awesome.  Maybe now he will become the Eagle that he is.
I am sorry if I seem to be bashing this young man.  I am not.  I am really bashing his Adult leadership for not ensuring that the process is producing Character, Citizenship, and Fitness.. not just Eagle Scouts.
I applaud this young man for his achievement… I don’t know how he did it… 61 merit badges alone takes time.. when did he find all that time in 18 months.  I am sure he has friends, school, and eats and sleeps on occasion.
When people see the Eagle badge, they think leadership, accomplishment, self-reliance, the ability to serve and accomplish tasks.  When I see a 12-year-old.. I think HOW?  I wish I could applaud and not question.  But I have been a Scoutmaster for a long time and just can not see how this works.
For me, it takes away from every person that has earned the award and has come through Scouting with Knowledge, experience, and the ability to lead as a servant.
Again, I am sorry if I question this young mans achievement.  I just can’t see how this math works, which makes me believe that those standards are being manipulated some how.  And that my friends, I can not tolerate.  I never hold back a Scout, but I do make sure that he does it right.  I make sure that he is completing the requirements without short cuts.  I do not add to or take away any requirements and produce no false road blocks.  As a Scoutmaster, I just make sure that the experience is more important than the badge.
Congratulations?

Have a Great Scouting Day! 

 

Categories: Advancement, blog, Character, Citizenship, comments, fitness, Ideals, Leadership, Oath and Law, Order of the Arrow, Patrol Method, Scout, Service, Skills, Values | Tags: | 17 Comments

The Triangle

vigil2Before our youngest son left for college, he wanted to get a tattoo.  I am not a big fan of “ink” even though I now have two tattoos.  But that was something he wanted and to top it off, he wanted me to get one with him.  I suppose you can call it a weird father son moment.  To add to the deal, my Dad also went with us and so the three of us all got new tattoos.
When it came time for me to decide what I wanted to have permanently embedded into my body I had to think long and hard.  Like I said, I’m not that big a fan of tattoo’s even though, like I said I have two.
So I decided on something that means a lot to me and upon further review the new tattoo developed more meaning.
First, the tattoo is the Vigil symbol of the Order of the Arrow, essentially, the triangle with three arrows in it.
Now I am not sure why the Order of the Arrow picked the triangle as its symbol for the Vigil honor, but it stands to reason that the triangle with its three sides and it’s three arrows represent the three W’s, Wimachtendienk, Wingolauchsik, Witahemui.  We also know that E. Urner Goodman, one of the founders of the Order of the Arrow was active in the Masons.  The triangle is a symbol that is prominent in the Freemason organization.
Be that as it may, I started thinking about it a little more and did some checking.  This made my new tattoo a lot more meaningful.
At first, it was all about the Vigil Honor and what it means to me.  Couple that with the three arrows, each representing one of my kids.  Then I learned more about the triangle.
The triangle represents stability.  It represents the Holy Trinity, it also represent Earth and Water.  The triangle pointing upward represents masculine energy or fatherhood.  As a three-sided polygon, the triangle represents the number three, which is meaningful to many groups. As such, triangles and other symbols made of three parts may be used to present such concepts as past, present, and future or spirit, mind and body.
I know that a lot of this is weird, and believe me, I have not spent too much time over thinking this, but I did find it interesting about what triangles represent.  I am not into numerology or over use of symbols, but when I look at the symbols in Scouting and how much Scouting means in my life, it all comes together.
The Fleur de Lis is a universal symbol in Scouting.  It represents the point of the compass, it is a flower that represents Mary the Mother of Christ.  It has three distinct points that remind us of the three promises found in the Scout Oath.  In Scouting history Baden-Powell first used the Fleur de Lis to recognize his reconnaissance scouts in the Army.  He carried the symbol to Scouting.  The stars that are attached to almost every Scouting organization on the Fleur d Lis represents Truth and Knowledge.
There is symbolism all around us in Scouting and by adding that symbol of the Vigil Honor to be a part of me forever I think that I have increased the meaning for me.
It’s certainly is not for everyone, and I do not promote or condemn tattoo’s.  They are what they are.  I think having this triangle on my chest where I have to see it every day is a great reminder of my Obligation and my life in Scouting.

Let me know what symbols impact your life?  I know a couple of guys that have really cool Scouting tattoo’s.. do you?

Have a Great Scouting Day!

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LOTS

debateLIFE OTHER THAN SCOUTING (LOTS)
And the great sports debate continues.  Last night I attended our parent meeting where the annual plan was discussed.  The plan is set, so now it is time for the Troop Committee to figure out how they are going to fund and support it.
When it got down to brass tacks and dates, the out cry of “What about the guys that can’t make it because of sports” hit the table.  The answer is simple.  Pick one.  As you all know I am a huge advocate of organized team sports.  Both of my sons played team sports and did Scouting.  How did we make it work?  We just did.  We understood that we could do both.
“But you scheduled summer camp right during conditioning camp for youth football!”  Yep.  That’s a great week to go to summer camp and if you talk to the coach, your son can go to summer camp and make up the conditioning week.
I understand that the conditioning week is important, but it’s youth football, he’s not playing at Notre Dame.  Most coaches are reasonable and will work with your son.  If not… find another team.. yeah… find another team… it’s youth football.
My youngest son finally had to make a choice between Scouting and Football.  Football won, but he’s now playing in College.  So the choice paid off for him.  Was his Scouting experience diminished in any way.  No, he still went on camp outs when he could and attended meetings here and there.  But while he was coming up and even at the high school level, the coaches were reasonable.  In 2010, Josh wanted to go to the National Jamboree.  It fell on the High School “mandatory” conditioning week.  He talked to the coach and the coach told him to go to Jambo.
He did the conditioning when he got back and still won the starting Quarterback position.  If he is good, he will play.
So the great sports debate will always continue.
Here are a couple of things to keep in mind.
1.  Sports and Scouting are both fun and can be done together.
2.  At some point choices will have to be made.  Reality must set in.  If your little athlete is the next Tom Brady… Maybe football is the choice to make.  If he is playing just for the fun of it… Scouting is always there for him.
3.  Scouting is year round.  Sports are seasonal.  Know that and come back to Scouting when the season is over.
4.  Keep the drama out of the discussion.  It is a fact that of the 114,ooo high School football players in the Nation, only 1000 of them will play another down after high school.  So enjoy the time and stick with Scouting.  Boys that stick with Scouting fair a hell of a lot better in the long run in college and in business.
5.  Don’t make it an either/or.  You can do both.  Just make the right choice for your son.  This is not about Dad’s need to live vicariously through his son on the football field, it is about growing a young man to be one of good character.  Sports and surly Scouting do that.
This debate is going on all over Scout meeting places in America right now.  It is a debate that both sides get to win.
Just my thoughts on the matter.  2 sons, 2 scouts, 2 athletes, 2 great Scouting experiences.

Have a Great Scouting Day! 

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Fraternity

orderofstMfra·ter·ni·ty
frəˈtərnətē/
noun
1.
a group of people sharing a common profession or interests.
“members of the hunting fraternity”
synonyms: profession, body of workers; a male students’ society in a university or college.
synonyms: society, club, association; a religious or Masonic society or guild.
2.
the state or feeling of friendship and mutual support within a group.
“the ideals of liberty, equality, and fraternity”
synonyms: brotherhood, fellowship, kinship, friendship, (mutual) support, solidarity, community, union, togetherness; sisterhood
“a spirit of fraternity”

When we hear the word fraternity we often think of college, parties, and the movie Animal house.  And there is certainly something to that.  But today I want to talk about fraternity in a few other ways.  I was never a member of a college fraternity, but I have been to a frat house or two.  But we will leave those stories for another day.  In the broader sense of the word fraternity as I show in the definition, a Fraternity is a group of people who share something in common.  But to truly define that group there is a bond, something that brought them together for a common purpose or goal.  Whether that was to get through college, fight in a war, or be of service to others that bond defines the group and they have an ever lasting kinship because of it.
If you are reading this blog, you more than likely have a bond with me and your fellow readers in Scouting.  The Boy Scouts of America created an Alumni Association just for the purpose of rekindling that spirit of fraternity with those people who have for over 100 years been associated with Scouting in America.  Through this effort many people have reconnected with Scouting and as a result the fraternity of Scouting grows stronger.
Within Scouting there are fraternal groups.  Wood Badge and the Order of the Arrow just to name a few.  There is a connection of greater purpose within these groups that take Scouting to a higher level.   Within the common bond of Wood Badgers and Arrowmen is greater sense of duty to others, promoting the Scouting movement, and of course fellowship with the membership.  It strengthens our ties to Scouting and increases our willingness to make Scouting a lasting part of our lives.
You may also be reading this blog and thinking of other fraternal groups that you belong to that are outside of Scouting.  The Elks, Masons, Eagles, and Moose Lodges are all Fraternal groups that share a bond of service and fellowship.  The Veterans of Foreign Wars and the America Legion are Fraternal organization made up of men and women that share the bond of serving in the Military, some during times of war and others that served waiting to be called.  Their bond is thick with the experiences, hardships, and of course friendships made during their service.
Why is this all important?
First, we need fraternal groups because they promote that common bond.  With that common bond we tend to want to be a part and share in it for no other reason the fellowship and knowledge that we are a part of something that is like us.  In Scouting, in college, in the Service, we shared a bond that is unique to us and we are a part of it.  Being a part of something that is greater than us gives us that sense of duty to it.
Second, these fraternal groups are the vanguard of the bond we share.  The membership of that organization leads the way in promoting its ideals, activity, and development of its membership.  Thus the group continues to grow and last.  For example, Scouting.  Those that came before me and you have set the course for Scouting for us.  The Alumni association and men and women that believe in Scouting continue to make the organization what it is through their dedication continued service to it.  Scouting’s membership is the life of the organization, but without the support of the folks behind the scenes, making contributions of time and talent and a lot of treasure, Scouting would soon begin to fade.  The organization is bigger than merit badges and camping.  It’s fraternal bond is in its ideals, values, and memories of the members.
I belong to a few fraternal organizations.  Scouting of course and within Scouting I love my affiliations within the Wood Badge community and the Order of the Arrow.  They make me a better Scouter and keep me directed in my desire to serve.  In Wood Badge that service comes by teaching fellow adults and promoting the great program of Scouting.  The Order of the Arrow fulfills that in me that wants to serve others, demonstrate to fellow Scouts and Scouters the idea of Leading to Serve.
I am also a Life member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.  This is important to me as I have a bond with those members, especially those that served in my era.  This group is all about fraternity in the sense that we belong more to one another than to be of service to others.  It is a group of shared experience.
I am a Life member of the National Infantry Association.  This group is also one of shared experience, it is the professional association for Infantrymen and Infantry supporters. The NIA, supports the Infantry’s role in the security of our nation; helps Infantrymen build closer affiliations with one another; and helps preserve the Infantry heritage. Our membership promotes the only organization dedicated to supporting the Chief of Infantry and the entire Infantry community. Our membership strength ensures that the Infantry voice will be heard by decision makers.  We share the camaraderie of like-minded soldiers and citizens who believe in maintaining the Infantry spirit and recognize those Infantrymen that have made a contribution to our Infantry community.
Now to most of you this is meaningless and I get that, but it is something that is important to me.  I share this with you because you belong to something like this.  Whether it is with the Optimist Club or the Rotary club, your fraternal organization means something to you.
I am also a member of an unofficial fraternal group made up of soldiers from the last Battalion I served in.  We gather periodically (not enough) to share stories, talk about our lives, and share our camaraderie.
We had a gathering yesterday, which prompted me to write this post.  Why, because it all matters.  In Scouting or a Military fraternity, it is all the same based on our bond of fellowship and shared experience.
Yesterday the Wildcats gathered to celebrate our bond 10 years after we returned from Iraq.  The gathering was not limited to those of us that deployed, but in keeping with the fraternal group, any one that had ever served in the 1st Battalion 162nd Infantry.  I was pleased to see old friends, soldiers I had served with and led.  It was special to meet with an old Battalion Commander.  I never served with him, he commanded the Battalion when I was small child, but our bond was being a Wildcat, no matter the era.
I had the honor of serving the Battalion as the Command Sergeant Major before and during our deployment to Iraq.  I had been in the Battalion for years prior to that promotion serving in different companies and at many levels.  So my bond to the 1/162 Infantry is strong.  I love that Battalion.
Our Battalion has a long and rich history and tradition.  Established in 1898 as the 2nd Oregon Volunteer Infantry and thrust in action in the Spanish-American war the Battalion was later reconfigured in 1917 as the Army transformed during the First World War.  It was re-designated the 162nd Infantry Regiment with 3 Battalions.  1st and 2nd Battalion in Oregon and the 3rd Battalion in Montana.  The 162nd Infantry along with the 161st, 163rd, and 186th Infantry made up the Infantry Regiments of the 41st Infantry Division.  In the Second World War, the 41st with all of its Regiments served in the Pacific Theater.  It fought from 1942 till the end of the war in 1945 in the Pacific.
The Battalion stayed ready for the Korean war but never was called to deploy as was the case in the Vietnam war.  It was not until the call came for the Battalion to support Operation Iraqi Freedom that the Battalion once again saw action in 2003.  It served from 2003 to 2004 in OIF.
In 2006 the Army once again reorganized and the Battalion Colors were folded and the Regiment disbanded the 1st Battalion.
But through these gatherings we maintain our bond and the spirit of the Wildcat Battalion.  It’s rich history is something that we helped write and is something that we hold close in our hearts.  Through our fraternal spirit we keep it alive.
Yesterday at the Wildcat reunion the National Infantry Association along with members of the Battalion recognized me and one of the finest soldiers I ever served with the Order of St. Maurice.  It is an honor that I will cherish because the group that I was with and the soldier that I had the pleasure of standing with during the ceremony.  Our local chapter of the National Infantry Association, specifically MSG Morgan Olsen presented the award.  He is a dear friend and a soldier that I had the opportunity to help develop along his career path.  More though, he is a dear friend and I am glad that he was the one to not only present the award, but put together the entire event.
He demonstrated everything that is great about this group of men that I have had the privilege to serve with and for.
Our bond, the bond of this fraternity is stronger than life.  It is important to me.
You all have some group that you share this type of bond with, if nothing else, you share a bond within Scouting.  It need not be in combat or strife, the bonds we share in service and fun are just as strong.  What you do with that bond is what is important. How you share that bond and become a stronger part of that group is what is important.  It is important to you.
Do not let time pass without reaching out and reconnecting, establishing a stronger bond of fellowship, service, and camaraderie.  As I get to know the “old guys” in our VFW post, I have come to understand that for many of them this bond has been recently awakened, they have regret that they had not kept those ties closer in their younger days.  I don’t want that regret, and I am sure that you don’t either.
Fraternity.  It is an important part of our lives.  Strengthen it.
I shared a lot about my military fraternal life today… so I will close this post with the words of a song that I hold very close in my heart.  The words of the official song if the Order of the Arrow.  It sums up many of my feeling about Fraternity and why I belong.
Firm bound in brotherhood, gather the clan
That cheerful service brings to fellow man.
Circle our council fire, weld tightly every link
That binds us in brotherhood, Wimachtendienk.

Yours in Scouting, WWW
Have a Great Scouting Day!
In the picture:  Left is Sergeant Major (Ret) Kevin Stanger and I receiving the Order of St. Maurice.

Categories: blog, Character, Ideals, Just fun, Leadership, Order of the Arrow, Service, stories, Values, Wood Badge | Tags: , | Leave a comment

September Blog Update

Here is a little update.  I thought I owed it to you to hear it from me about the progress of my Blog ticket which in turn has led to me seeing that I am falling short on my goals.
It is good to review once in awhile as I now know that I need to regain some focus and get back on track delivering the promise thought the blog (and Youtube channel).
Pardon all the “um’s”..
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: blog | Tags: | Leave a comment

What will you say…

Last night I had the pleasure as I do every Monday night of having some interesting conversations with the young men of my Troop.  Much to their surprise or dismay, it ends up on the blog now and then.  Last nights conversation got me to thinking about these young men and the men that they become.
Over the past few weeks we have had the honor or conducting two Eagle Scout ceremonies or Courts of Honor.  Our Troop has made it a tradition not to present the Eagle Award during regular Troop Courts of Honor but rather give that young man his own day to be recognized for the work he has done.
During these ceremonies I typically share a thought or two about the young man and the progress he has made, usually share some outstanding quality of the Scout or a unique aspect of his growth in Scouting.  We never “Roast” them or make them look like goof balls.  The Eagle ceremony is special, so we try to keep it classy.
Last night, one of our younger Scouts came to me and shared his thought that I always seem to have something great to say about these guys that have made it to the rank of Eagle Scout.  I told him that over this many years with the guys that have made it to Eagle, we have had many shared experiences.  These Eagle Scouts have been in the Troop for a long time and every one of them remained super active.  So the active guys have more stories to share and more experience to look back on, all of which I have been there to see and do with them.
Trips to Jamboree, Philmont, and all of our monthly outings add up to a lot of time spent together, so yes, in all of that I can find something great to say about a young man who worked hard and earned his Eagle Award.
The young Scout looked up and me and asked… so I wonder what you will say at my Eagle ceremony?
That really got me thinking last night.  This group of young Scouts, what will that experience be?  What will that story sound like?  What will I share about them if and when they make it to Eagle Scout.
I looked back down at this young Scout and told him “That will be up to you.”
Stick with Scouting, be active, stay with the program and get the very most out of it and you will have a great story at the end and I will be there to share it.
He smiled and joined his friends.
That is something to think about Scout leaders.  They care enough to wonder what we will say about them.  Delivering the Promise of Scouting should be the most important part of your Scouting experience.  It will be the best part of their Eagle ceremony and a story for them to share the rest of their lives.
Think about the impact you have.  Believe it or not, they watch everything, hear everything, and want everything from you.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: blog, Character, comments, Ideals, Just fun, Leadership | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

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