Doing your Good Turn

daretodoAt the Wednesday show at the National Order of the Arrow Conference (NOAC) the National Chief rolled out a social media blitz.  Staying with the theme “It Starts with Us”, the National Chief challenged.. no Dared each person in the Breslin Arena to remember that to change the world we must first love one another.  With that love comes serving those that we love.  The social media part of this dare is simply that once an act of service no matter how big or small is completed we post it to social media, Twitter, Facebook, whatever using the hashtag #DAREtoDO.
Immediately this drew the raising of eyebrows from many.  A good turn should not be something that need be announced.  It is something that is between the server and those being served, right.  Baden Powell himself instructed us not to boast about our Good Deeds.  And I agree.. Except for the fact that I understand why the National Chief and the Order of the Arrow is promoting this.  A simple act of posting our good deed to social media may be that inspiration that will get others to do the same.  The act of service is what is important.  That act of doing to someone else that which we would like done to us, the fact that what we do may impact the life of someone else in a positive way will make our world a better place.
I could not help but think that if the 15,000 of us in that arena went from there and did one good deed the next day that would be 15,000 lives impacted.  If that person then did a good deed the next day, coupled with our 15,000 now that is 30,000 lacts of love..and so on every day.  I relate that to the town I live in. given these numbers, it would only take a week till everyone in town was serving one another.
The National Chief asked that we #DAREtoDO for 100 days.  This would make it a habit.  It takes about 21 days to form a habit.  In 100 days our 15,000 alone will have touched 1,500,000 lives with the same amount of acts of service.  Yes, I get that we should not boast and brag.. but how about spread the word to motivate?  To me this is a great idea.  The Scouts we have in our units today are connected via social media.  Using this hashtag is a way that they can connect and challenge one another.  We need to use all of the tools that we can to spread the word.
The theme “It starts with Us” is a challenge to each of us to remember our great past and look to the next 100 years.  As National Chief Alex Call said at the Wednesday night show “Each day, opportunities to demonstrate unselfish service present themselves,” Alex told the conference. “A classmate who sits alone on the school bus, hoping that someone will strike up a conversation. A co-worker who stays late every night, wishing they could make their daughter’s soccer game instead of an extra shift. A homeless teenager who stands at the street corner during your daily commute, looking for a warm meal – or even just a warm smile. With just a few words and a few minutes of our time, we can live out the admonition of the OA through everyday acts of service.” these simple acts can and will change the world.. but only if we embrace the idea and truly live the admonition.  The choice is ours.
Many will think that this is impossible, the world does not want change.. but it needs it.  Others will say that our acts will not be enough, that may be true, but it’s something and if we are not at the head of the change who will be?
Governments,Corporations, and even the Churches have not been able to make a difference.. so what about Scouts.  There are 162 Nations that are members of the World Organization of the Scouting Movement.  These members all believe in the Scout Oath and Law and understand the value of the Good Deed.  25 million adults and youth wear the Scouting uniform and make an oath to live these values.  So now think back to our 15,000 at the NOAC that stood when the National Chief called us to the task.  25 million people all serving to make a difference.  That my friends can change the world.  Hashtag or not.. it can make a difference.
SO… here is the Scoutmaster Minute challenge to all of you.  Embrace the National Chiefs call to service.  Whether you post if or not do a good turn everyday.  Those opportunities are out there and they need you to serve.
I have been posting my #DAREtoDO acts everyday since the Wednesday show at NOAC.  The opportunities big and small are all around us, I have had no trouble being of service everyday.  The smiles on the faces the looks of people that take notice, they are priceless.  I would like to think that these people go and pay it forward to someone else.  I hope that what I do makes a difference and causes them to change too.
I know that some will say that this is all hype.. and so what if it is.  Do you like the world as it is.  If you can make a difference in just one life everyday.. if you can do just one thing for your hometown each day, if we can spread this movement to all 25 million Scouts and Scouters we can change attitudes, lives, and live the Admonition of the Order of the Arrow seeing it to reality.  It really can work.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

From the OA website:
#DareToDo has a website,, as well as social accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. These accounts will highlight acts of service posted using the hashtag and the website includes an interactive map to see the spread of the movement across the world. Arrowmen and their friends are encouraged to follow these accounts for inspiration and to encourage others participating in #DareToDo.

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Moments in Time

startswtusThere are moments in your life where vision is realized, made clear, and action set in motion.  We have lived moments that have greater meaning, cause us to be moved, and in the words that resonate through out the Order of the Arrow, we “Seek a Higher Vision”.
I have had a few of those moments in my life.  While we can not separate our time spent in Scouting with our lives not wearing a tan shirt, I look at moments in my life that have truly moved me.  Graduating from Ranger School, the day my wife said “I DO”, the birth of my children are all moments in my life that changed me.
September the 11th is the day of our generation in which we made a choice to do something.  Whether that was serve our Country or recommiting to serve our community, it was a moment in time, much like the moments of my fathers generation remembering where they were when Kennedy was shot.  Or my Grandfathers call to serve after Peril Harbor.
We have those moments in Scouting.  If you have been to a Jamboree you have been in that moment where thousands of tan clad Scouts and Scouters sing, laugh, and celebrate.  You have shared in the fellowship and have seen that Scouting is bigger than your Troop, District, and Council.  These moments serve to shape you as a Scout.  A trip to Philmont can be life changing.  It is a spiritual place.  Your time spent hiking through the valleys and standing on the peaks truly move you.
Last week I had another great Scouting moment.  A moment in time that. while I know there will be more, has moved me more than I thought I would ever be moved.  Returning from the National Order of the Arrow Conference (NOAC) at Michigan State University has left me on a three foot hover.  It has taken me four days to be able to put my thoughts down in writing.  I tried to post daily while at the NOAC.  Getting back to my dorm room around midnight everyday I would sit at the computer and stare.  Everyday left me happy, tired, and looking forward to the next.
I had the privilege to be asked to be on the training staff months ago.  I have done a lot of training as both a trainer and trainee, the training sessions at NOAC were impressive.  When asked, of course I said yes, not really understanding the scale and scope of the training and the impact it would make.  Meeting Arrowmen, both youth and adult, from all over the country, many lodges big and small, each with a shared goal but many challenges and paths to get there was a great experience.  I taught a class which was part of a three hour block on making OA Unit Representatives successful.  I was amazed at the attention that the Arrowmen gave.  Adults that serve as advisors looking to help the youth and the youth looking to make their units, chapters and lodges better.  Their ideas and their passion was overwhelming.  Our session was held on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday Mornings.  Nine hours of training, over a couple hundred Arrowmen being trained.  That is a ripple that will impact their Troops and Chapters for years to come.
I loved that moment in time as our session broke for the day.  Everyone heading to lunch but I was pleasantly surprised when groups of people wanted to stay after to talk about ideas or share a personal experience.  It was also very cool to spend time with readers of this blog.  I had one gentlemen come up to me after the class and say.. “It has taken me all hour to place the name, face, and voice..but I got it.. you are the Scoutmaster Minute guy”.  We shared a laugh and of course patches.
Those moments in time are so precious.
bigshowCrisThe theme of the NOAC was “It starts with us”.  I did not know where they were going with that upon arrival at MSU.  But it did not take long to see that there was something special in the air.  A vibe if you will that something big was going to happen this week.  But here is what I got the most from the week.  Listen.
Listen to our youth.  They are smart, they are motivated, they are willing, they are excited.. BUT…They feel we [Adults] don’t listen.  They don’t have faith that we believe in them.  They are tired of being overwatched and under trusted.  They want to have adventures and desire to have their own moments in time.  They want to feel as though they matter.
They don’t want to be hovered over and over protected.  They want to make a difference, but they want to do it in their own way.  They are not us, but share the same values, vision, and have a respect for tradition.
As I watched these youth this week I could not help but think to myself.. so what’s new.  Seems to me that every generation goes through that thought process.  The 50’s, 60’s, 70’s.. no different in what they wanted.. but these kids are special.  They have something that we never had.  They are connected.  They are smarter in some ways.  They have never lived in a world where information was hard to find.. and they find it.
I heard many adults complain about the “Spark”.  A little device that served a few purposes.  First, to connect with one another.  A little touch of the four fingered hand and you instantly shared your contact information.  You found out where someone was from and you could connect on a personal level with a fellow arrowman.  Second, it was a game.  Who can get the most contacts and check in’s.  I loved this idea, it moved the participant to sample a little bit of everything and seek out fellowship.  It caused Arrowmen to meet Region and National officers.  It was great that the likes of Wayne Brock, Tico Perez and our National President Robert Gates were also playing the Spark game and more importantly they were walking around making themselves accessible to everyone, not just those that were at the Gala event. And third the Spark served as a portal to information.  All of the course material and contacts are available to the Arrowmen once they get home.  This resource is greater than all the handouts, books, and give a ways that one gets at a normal conference.  We were sent home with the tools to change the world.
But the complaint was once again the hum drum voice of old.. and it can be that statement which tells the story of why we can not connect with our youth and why they feel we do not think they matter.
The cell phone (smart phone) is as a part of their generation as the Scout Uniform and we saw it’s impact on the NOAC.. I for one am on board.  Social media is a driving part of their and our lives.  I talked with a older Scouter one day at lunch.  He was not happy about all the phones and the spark game/tool.  I asked him what the issue for him was.  He said that it kept the boys from actually talking to one another.  I asked him if he really knew what they could do with these phones and what the Scouts were doing with them.  Sending Tweets about their experience so the world could share.  Instantly exchanging information.  Taking pictures to capture their moment in time and much more.  An awesome way to staying connected.  Texting to meet up and using social media to share the difference they want to make in the world.
On Wednesday night the National Chief talked about the impact that we should be making on the world.  It starts with living the Admonition of the Order of the Arrow.  It starts with loving one another, first as Brothers in the Order and sharing that love with everyone.  He dared all of us to do our good turn daily and share it on social media.  Again, there was a voice of decent from the older folks.. We should not brag about our good deed.. and I agree.  But I remember Bob Mazzuca when he was the Chief Scout Executive reminding us that we need to take Scouting where the Scouts are.  They, whether we like it or not, use social media to stay connected.  If posting a good turn on twitter using #DAREtoDO will motivate others to do the same, imagine the impact that it will have.
Friday night at the closing show the youth of the Order of the Arrow spoke loud and clear that this was their moment in time and they want us to listen.   They are not asking for much.  Just know that they do care, they do have great ideas, and that they want the Order of the Arrow and Scouting to last forever.  They understand tradition and they want to preserve it, they just want to do it their way.
Now I have never been to a NOAC before, but I am sure that this message is not entirely new.  I am sure that as the Order of the Arrow entered new decades and looked forward the youth then (who are the adults now) shared the same view.  But for some reason it seemed as though this moment in time had momentum.  It felt like a wave that was building throughout the week.  This wave is big, powerful, and is looking to change the landscape of the OA and Scouting.. for the better.  From the songs they chose, the message they sent, and the training they attended, they want to make a difference and they know that it starts with them, it starts with us.
That message flowed in everything over the course of the week.  You could feel it.  At the shows, when 15,000 Arrowmen packed into the arena, you could see it.  A tidal wave crashing into the beach of Scouting.  The sand is the same, it is taking a new shape.
nutsOAFriday night as the sea of Arrowmen flowed from the Breslin Arena the feeling was strong.  As they gathered and shared ice cream while listening to the driving music from the stage outside I took up a vantage point to watch this moment.  My good friend Cris and I looked over the crowd as they continued the party.  I told Cris to take a look across the sports field next to the arena.  Thousands of Brothers gathered in circles, some larger than others but made up of Scouts from different Lodges.  Boys from California sitting with Scouts from Illinois.   Arrowmen from big Lodges hanging out with their Brothers from the smaller cities and towns.  This is what our Brotherhood is all about.  They shared that moment in time, they shared that last night at NOAC with the understanding that the next day we all had to go home and put these feelings into action.
I returned to the dorm that night to find that many of the adults of our contingent had already arrived.  The interesting thing was that they all hanging out in front of the dorm.  The youth started filtering in.  Groups of threes and fours.  They were all smiling and some even singing.  As they past us they would ask if we had a good time.  Of course we did I told them.  I meant it.  This was one of the best times of my life.. and yep.. I heard the youth loud and clear.  And so did all of the adults.  The choice now is theirs.  The youth have a vision, are the adults willing to be apart of it?  It’s a good thing and those that do not get on board will be left behind.  This tidal wave is strong and will take Scouting and the OA in particular into the next Century.  This excites me.
Alright, so we have had this moment in time.  What do we do now.  We know that change will start with us.  Change is happening.  From membership policy to program Scouting is different today, but that is not a bad thing.  Scouting has changed a lot in its first Century plus.  From uniforms to camping styles Scouting has changed to meet the needs of the Scouts it serves.  We Scouters need to be the at the head of these changes.  Our Values and Mission have not changed and are strong enough to stand the test of changing times.  The Oath and Law are promises and values that are as relevant today as 1915 and they are being embraced by our Scouts today, it just looks different.
On the heals of the National Order of the Arrow Conference we watched from a far as Scouts from all over the world gathered in Japan to reaffirm that Scouting is alive and well.  Again, this moment in time that needs to be paid attention to.  If you can’t hear it you are not listening.  Scouting is living!
So what will you do?  Where will you take your Scouting life?  It is part of everything we do, no separation, no division, Scouting is who we are.  NOAC was a great moment in time, time that I want to stand still, but it can’t.  This time must move so we can grow and make a difference.  Then, years from now we will look back with a smile and say that we were a part of it.  We remember that moment in time.
It starts with us.. you decide what “it” is.

Have a Great Scouting day!

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Critical eyes

hpteamLeaders must have a critical eye.  They must develop a habit of looking for opportunities to improve themselves and their team.  With a critical eye they will start seeing those opportunities.
Now, when I say opportunities, I am not suggesting that the leader look for all the things that are wrong.  On the contrary.  Those opportunities are those habits, skills, and activities that can use improvement and praise.
Without a critical eye the leader can not effectively move through the stages of team development.  The leader will overlook opportunities to move the team forward.
Using the EDGE method of leading and teaching, the leader with a critical eye will spot those skills and habits that are holding the team back not allowing them to be a high performance team.
It is easy for a leader to walk past a Scout struggling to get his tent packed.  It is not only a good example of being helpful, but also a confidence builder for the team when the leader steps up and pitches in demonstrating his skill and ability to lead.
Over the last weekend I had the opportunity to see this in action.  Our Senior Patrol leader assisted a new Scout in getting his tent stored properly.  This was a nice thing to do, but as a leader myself I could not resist the opportunity to teach the Senior Patrol leader some leadership.  After the Senior Patrol Leader finished showing the new Scout how to fold and roll his tent,  He handed him the stored tent and walked away.
Pulling the Senior Patrol Leader aside, I asked him which of the 4 methods of EDGE did he use to teach the new Scout how to fold his tent.  Demonstrate, He replied.  Absolutely I told him, but do you think he now knows how to put his tent away?  Not sure said the Senior Patrol leader.  Well, How will you know?  When he does it right the next time he suggested.  So when is that I asked.  Well, we have time now he said and returned to the new Scout.  He explained to him that he knew that he putting his tent away properly was a piece of cake and that now that he had been taught, he could do it right each time.  Then he asked to see the tent, took it out of the bag and unfolded it.  Then he told the new Scout to show him how to do it.  The new Scout did the skill correctly and received some great positive reinforcement from the Senior Patrol leader.
All of this is to say, that we tend to leave it at that.  No matter what the skill or task is, we tend to leave it at the basic level.  Unfortunately most of the time this leads to a lack of learning and skills are underdeveloped.  As leaders we know that it is a lot easier to look the other way, take the path of least resistance, and allow skills to remain mediocre.  It is an effective leader that wants his team, troop, crew what ever to be the best to be a high performance team.
One of the things that we work on with our junior leaders is having a critical eye.  At first, they focus on only those skills and tasks that are not being done well. Once they realize the importance of seeing the good and the bad, they become better leaders and as a result they start moving their unit to a high performance team.
Just something to think about.
Develop a critical eye in you and your junior leaders.. the results will amaze you!

Have a Great Scouting Day!

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Passing it on

001GilwellI have always been a fan of training.  I think that training makes us better.  The more you know, the better equipped you are to lead.  In Scouting the more you know about the program, the more you know about skills, and the more you know about working with young people, the better you will be to deliver the promise of Scouting.
So it is important to attend training.  One of the best ways to keep up and stay sharp in your skills is to teach them.  It is for that reason that we require our Scouts to teach using the EDGE method.  It is that teaching of skills that keeps them sharp and enhances their skill sets.
Once again, I am serving on this years Wood Badge staff.  My position this year is the Assistant Scribe for the course.  While that seems like a position that would require teaching, I have been tasked with presentations on Values, Mission, and Vision and the Stages of Team Development.  Having been on two other staffs as well as serving as a guest presenter on another course, I have been looked to for assistants in many areas while on course.  Helping the Troop Guides where I can and perhaps the most important job of being a good model.  Speaking the right language of Scouting, looking the part, and providing direction for the participants is the role of all staff members.
Being on the Wood Badge staff is something that I really enjoy.  The more I do it, the more I see the impact of Wood Badge on the Scouting world,  I see the value in learning and passing on knowledge to the people that will ultimately go out and serve youth.
Being on the Wood Badge staff I am happy to being passing it on.  Making Scouters and Scouting better.
In the first session of this years course the came together and really did an amazing job delivering the program.  Of course there are lots of fun, games, and traditions in Wood Badge and some times we get caught up in all of the “stuff” of the course.  Critters, decorations, and doing things a certain way that have nothing to do with training.  That is where we need to stay focused, and pardon the pun, stay the course.
There is nothing wrong with tradition, fun, and stuff… but we need to remember that we are there to pass on knowledge.  One of my mentors past on a great bit of wisdom during a staff meeting.  He said that we must change what people know so we can change what people do.  Many Scouters do not really know Scouting.  They are all great people and are willing to volunteer, help out in many ways, and do what it takes for their sons and their sons friends to have a great Scouting experience.  They pay to come to Wood Badge and gain knowledge.  It is up to us to pay that forward and give it to them.
They, like our Scouts, don’t know what they don’t know.  We have to teach them.  We have to pass on our institutional knowledge and practical experience so Scouting will being strong.
That is also a reason I do this blog.  Passing it on is not only a great way for me to keep up, but to pass on what I know.
I know that I have not been active on the blog lately.  Wood Badge and a super active program have kept me off the blog.  I apologize to those of you that come here looking for frequent updates.  I will renew my commitment to the blog.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

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Centuries of Service

This year for the third time in the history of the Order of the Arrow a patch may be worn on the Sash.  This patch represents the Centuries of Service Award available for all Arrowmen to earn this year.  The program started in July of 2014 and will conclude in December of 2015.
The requirements allow for the Arrowmen, both Youth and Adult to serve in three areas.  Personal Growth, Scout Service, and 100th Anniversary Events.
As stated, this is the third time in the history of the Order of the Arrow that a program such as this and allowing a patch to be permanently attached to the sash.
oa_50th_ann_awardThe first award or special patch was for the Orders 50th Anniversary.  In 1965.award encouraged Arrowmen to participate fully within their Lodges.  The culminating event that year was the National Order of the Arrow Conference at the Indiana University.  The theme for that year was “Mindful of our High Tradition”.

The Second time a patch was authorized for wear on the sash was in 1975 for the Orders 60th Anniversary.
The celebration of the 60th Anniversary was, in keeping with the tradition set ten years earlier in the 50th Anniversary celebration a National event.  Because of timing of this celebration, the Order coupled its event with the upcoming Bicentennial of the Nation the following year.  The requirements for the 60th Award included An 60annpatchArrowman’s Personal Development; Bicentennial Involvement; and Unit, Lodge, or Council Involvement. All requirements were outlined on an official scorecard, and were to be completed between September 1, 1975 and June 14, 1977.
Image-898 OA 75th Anniversary AwardThe Order of the Arrow tried something a bit different for the 75th Anniversary.  Instead of a patch to be worn on the sash, the OA made a pocket dangle.  The award was a Red and White ribbon with a Turtle superimposed over an arrow.  The Turtle being the original symbol of the Order of the Arrow and still the totem for the Unami Lodge #1.  The award was worn from the right pocket.  Again the requirements for the award focused on three central themes; the Individual Challenge, the Lodge Challenge, and the Rededication Ceremony.
So here we are celebrating our 100th Anniversary as Scouting’s Honor Society.  Three themes lead us to serving.  Our dedication to serve over a Century as an Order.  Again we encourage all Arrowmen to celebrate and earn this award.  These themes will drive the Arrowmen (Youth and Adult) to serve their Lodge, Council, and Units as well as grow as an Arrowmen.
100cosIf you have not already done so you can download the applications, one for Adults and one for Youth.
Once you have completed the requirements (a scout is Trustworthy) turn the application into your advisor and show that you have joined in the celebration and you are proud of the tradition of service of an Arrowmen.
Again The purpose of the Arrowman Service Award (ASA) is to encourage Arrowmen to recommit themselves to the ideals of the Order, increase their level of service to their local unit and council, and participate in the 100th anniversary celebration of the OA.  It’s already on my sash… celebrate this historic event and show that you are a Leader in Service!
Have a Great Scouting Day!

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Patch Trading

patch1One of the fun traditions of Scouting is patch trading. I have been acquiring patches now since about 1978. I would like to say that I have a ton of patches, but I really don’t. You see, I did like most Scouts and Scouters do and did, I got a patch for going to Camporee or Summer camp, a new Lodge Flap, or a special event and threw them in a box. No rhyme or reason, just a box of patches. Over the years some got tossed and others given away. I wish I knew then what I know now.
Then in 2010, I went to the National Jamboree. Before we left a good friend of mine, also a Scoutmaster, suggested that I get extra patches for trading. I was reluctant as I was not a patch collector or trader for that matter. Yeah, I liked to get patches and liked to go to the trade-o-ree at Conclave but a collector or trader I was not.
So, I bought extra patch sets and the night before we left for Jambo I threw in a handful of patches that I had from the box into my duffel bag.
My eyes where opened to the world of patch trading on the steps of the Smithsonian were Scouts had laid out blankets and were trading. Then we got to Ft. A P Hill and as far as you could see patches exchanged hands and hand shakes sealed the deal on a trade. I decided that I would try to trade for patches from the Councils in which I held membership as a youth. The National Capital Area Council, The Transatlantic Council, and the Calcasieu Area Council. In my travels around the National Jamboree I found myself seeking out Scouters from those three Councils and I did. I ended up trading set for set the 2010 Jamboree patches from the Councils of my youth. I had been bitten by the bug and now I could not walk around the Jamboree site without looking for patches.
I literally bumped into Bob Mazzuca the Chief Scout Executive one afternoon, he gave me his patch. Then Tico Perez, the National Commissioner surrendered one of his patches for my collection. I met a ton of great Scouters over patch conversations and handshakes. I started collecting and trading.
Once we got home from Jamboree the collecting did not end. Each event patch brought new meaning, I paid attention at OA events and sought out patches I did not have. I got into trading patches on Facebook. The patches in my box started to become a collection.
Patch trading is a great tradition. It creates an environment of fellowship. The patches tell a story. Each event patch sparks a memory. Each trade a new friend. This year is a special year for the Order of the Arrow and a great time to collect special patches. And so the patches and the story of this year is going to be not only unique, but special much like Jamboree years.
So here is what I thought we could do. As you know I like to think of this blog as the meeting after the meeting after the one in the parking lot. And now I am going to throw out my patch blanket. Over the next weeks and months, lets trade cloth and a virtual handshake. I will post some patches. If you would like to trade, just send me a note. First response will get the trade, but we can keep this going as long as you like.
I will post a picture of the patch and let you know if I am looking for something specific for it. Fair enough?
100lodgeflapTo get things started I would love to trade Centennial Flap for Centennial Flap. The patch I am trading is the Wauna La Mon’tay Lodge #442 Centennial Flap.  This Flap was just issued and was made in limited quantity.  It is brand new, never sewn.  I have three (3) of these to trade.  Again, Centennial Flap for Centennial Flap.  Let me know.  Send me a message in the comments section.  Or email your trade to
This could be a lot of fun.  Let’s have fun with this.
Patch trading and collection is such a fun tradition, lets keep it going!
Have a Great Scouting Day!




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Epic Fail Dude…

failWe just got home and got cleaned up from this years District Camporee.  It was a good event, not without it’s ups and downs and for one Troop, disappointment.
This morning we stood and watched as Troops received ribbons for placing in events and then the Camporee Top Troop.  This Troop gets a flag and bragging rights for a year.  Our Troop fell short once again.  But as with all things in Scouting there were learning opportunities to be found and shared through this event.
We held our monthly Patrol Leaders Council Meeting when we got back to the hall.  Of course it started with what we could have done better and where they think they fell short.
It was identified that they did not work as well as team within their Patrols.  They could have shown more Scout Spirit. They are enthusiastic, but are not always Rah Rah kinds of Patrols.  Just their nature, but it does not score well at Camporee.  Many Scoutmasters in our District think that if you are not yelling and jumping around you are not motivated and lacking in Scout Spirit.  I disagree, but then again, it is not helping our Troop when it comes to the final score.
Scout Skills are not an issue.  In every event that involved Scout skills, they did very well.  But the little things that were subjective to judging ended up hurting them in the end.
To some of the Scouts it was an epic fail.  The gateway was amazing, but not good enough.  The camp site was perfect, but did not show the judges what a car camping Troop looked like.  The menus were simple, the camp craft was basic.  Basic, but perfect.
An epic fail some of the Scouts said.  But not an indicator of failures.  I think the Senior Patrol put it best today during the PLC meeting when he said, “It’s ok for us to fail… it’s not ok for us to be failures.  We are only failure if we don’t learn and get better.”  I think this young man has been listening to his Scoutmaster.
It was not an epic fail… but yes, we failed to achieve our goals.  One Scout came to me it seemed in an effort to console me in our loss and said.. “We’ll get’em next year.”  Yep, I think we will but we have learning to do and some effort in learning to play the game a little better.
I wish it was just about Scout skills, but it is what it is.
I will not rant about all the moms making sure their little precious was drinking water and keeping up with his patrol. I will not rant about the dad’s that felt that it was unfair to not give points to a Patrol that could not make a fire or splint a sprained ankle.  It just is what it is.
But what it isn’t is an Epic Fail.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

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How Healthy is your Troop?

Summer Camp Wrap UpAs in the business world, Scouting is something that can and is ranked and rated.  The things that we do in Scouting, in keeping with all great organizations that have a purpose and direction, a vision, measure what they do to stay focused and on track.  We measure our Packs, Troops, and Crews with the standard of the Journey to Excellence.  In past we used the measurement of the Quality Unit to make sure that we at the unit level are delivering the promise of Scouting.
In other words, we have systems in place to measure the Health of our units.  We can look to those systems to analyze numerically how we are doing, but does it tell you the story of the health of our units?
Last week I had the pleasure to sit behind a Scout from my Troop as his advocate during his Eagle Scout Board of Review.  My Scouts always joke after these Eagle Boards that it is the quietest that I am during their Scouting career.  This is the eleventh Scout that I have sat with as he answers questions and demonstrates to the Board that his is in fact an Eagle Scout.
This last board however I really watched the process and listened.  What I came out of the board with was the fact that our unit is healthy.  As I listened to this Scout tell about his Scouting experience, the places he has been, the awards he earned, the leadership he developed I could not help but think back to when this young man came to our Troop.  Like most young Scouts he crossed over from a Cub Scout Pack and followed his friends.  They all came to our Troop with the understanding that they would be a part of a great adventure.  It was up to the older Scouts and our adult leaders to make the promise come true.
We have always took great pride in the way that we deliver Scouting’s programs in our Troop.  We use the eight methods to achieve the goals of Scouting and place at a premium the Scouts overall experience in Scouting over one method or another.  Advancement being one of the methods that we believe will happen when a Scout is engaged in his unit.  The age old adage of the more a Scout puts into Scouting, the more he gets out of it.
This has played out over and over again, and listening to Matt, I could see that it would play out again with him.
He participated fully, going to Summer camps every year, attending monthly camp outs, ultimately becoming a Staffer at one of our Council camps.  He we to Philmont with the Troop and enjoyed a fun time with a patrol of great Scouts.  He carried his leadership learned in Scouting to his participation on the Football field and on the Track as a two sport athlete in High School.  Being a Scout was not always easy, but he managed to do well and come out of both Scouting and his time in our Troop with an understanding of how to be a leader, skills for life, and a good citizen.  The aims of Scouting can be seen in him.
So we measure Scouting and the health of our units using metrics and systems that place our performance in categories and rankings.  We are either Bronze, Silver, or Gold but what does that mean to our Scouts.  Free patches or a price break for summer camp?
The real measure of the health of your unit is in your Scouts. Are they staying?  Are they attending activities?  Are they seeking leadership opportunities?  Are they advancing?  Do they wear the uniform and take pride in belonging to their Troop?  Do they take advantage of the programs of Scouting. Jamborees, High Adventure bases, and the Order of the Arrow?
When they sit with you during Scoutmaster conferences is it a chore or a conversation?  I find that the easiest conference that I do is the conference for a Scout earning his Eagle award.  If it has not been said or discussed prior to this conference we have missed something along the way.  By the time he is having his conference for Star, we have discussed his need to be of service and to develop leadership.  We look to the Scout to take a bigger role as a trainer for the younger Scouts.  We look for him to become a servant leader.
By the time he is having his conference for Eagle he has already demonstrated all of those things we are looking for and as he stumbled along the way we helped him up, encouraged him to keep going, and had many conversations about what he is doing good and bad.  He has had many opportunities to learn, grow, and develop.  He has earned his Eagle.  He has lived the Scout Oath and Law and made the most of his Scouting experience.
As I sit and listen I can’t help but think that these Boards of Review, whether it is for Star, Life or Eagle are the true measure of the health of the unit.  They satisfy the adult interaction method and allow the Troop and District a peek into the life of our Scouts and the health of the unit.
So how healthy is your Troop?  How do you measure the health?  Do you take advantage of listening to your Scouts?  They will tell you everything you need to know about what kind of program you are running and how well your Scouts are doing in it.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

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Badges… we don’t need no stinking Badges…

patch1While it is true that we don’t need no stinking badges… We do have a need for patches and lots of them.
If you follow me on Facebook, you may have noticed that I am in a patch phase.  Well truth be told, I have been a patch guy for a long time, but until recently, as in this year, I have made the transition from one who acquires patches to one that has a patch collection.
What the heck does that mean?  Well, in looking into collecting patches I have been researching some collections and getting focus on the type of patches I want in my collection.  While I have a bunch of patches.. and I mean a bunch… I have looked at what I really want to collect.
patch2I have an extensive collection of Scouting literature.  Scout handbooks being the the center piece of the collection.  I collect Handbooks, Fieldbooks, and Scoutmaster Handbooks.  The rest of the collection is miscellanious Scouting pamplets, booklets, and Boys Life magazines.  I have been collecting these for years now and enjoy the style and history found in the collection.  I have not really been a collector, I did have a small collection of Baseball cards at one time, but I can’t say that there was any passion in that collection.
patch3Scouting patches tell a story.  They mark a place in time and share Scouting’s history in the threads that make up the patch.
So when I look at patches I see that time in Scouting and the event that it represents.  I have patches from my time as a youth in Scouting.  Patches from Camp Freedom in Germany.  Camporee’s in Belgium, and summer camps in Louisiana.
As an adult I starting amassing patches as a Cub Scout leader and then the cool patches started being added to the pile when I got back into the awesome world of our Boy Scout Troop.  I had forgotten how great Order of the Arrow patches are and how much I enjoy them.
So this year I am becoming more focused with my collection.  Jamboree patches from 2010, Order of the Arrow Patches, Council Should Patches (CSP’s) and Badges of Rank at the focus of the collection.  Everything else will still be added to the pile and one day used as trading material or maybe even become some patches that I move into a collection.
The collection however is not just patches.  They are patches that tell a story.  They are patches that are sequenced or a series.  They are from my past in Scouting.  They reflect what I am in Scouting and what I do.  For example CPS’s that represent Wood Badge.  This being the Centennial Year of the Order of the Arrow, I am collecting OA patches that tell the 100th Anniversary story.  I want to collect Lodge flaps in particular.  Right now, it is a small collection, but I think that attending the National Order of the Arrow Conference (NOAC) this year is going to bring lots of opportunities to increase this collection.
One of the things that I am doing to make my patches into a nice collection is not only completing sets or series, but I have began framing for display the patches.  This has really become a fun part of the collecting. Looking at them and sharing them with the Scouts of the troop at special events.
Again, with NOAC coming up I am encouraging the Scouts of my Troop that are attending also to start their collection.  At NOAC as well as Jamboree, Camporees, and Tradeorees, patch trading is a part of the tradition and growing of the brotherhood of Scouting.  It is a way to connect with other Scouts and learn a little about them and where they are from.  Looking at patches from around other Councils or Lodges and what kind of Scouting they do.
Those of you that have been to a Jamboree know what part patch trading plays in the event.  I know that through trading I have met many great Scouters and learned more about our scouting world.
So no.. we don’t need no stinking badges.. but they sure are fun and a great part of Scouting and its history.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

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calmwoodbadgeIts never late to learn, you are never to old to figure things out… you don’t know it all.
You know what famous person this quote is from? neither.. I just wrote it, but I am sure that there are lots of great leaders out there that share my sentiment when I say there are times when you have to remember to practice what you preach.
I tell our Scouts that to be an effective leader you must first learn and develop the ability to be a good follower.
Yep, you need to follow before you can be a good leader.  It is a simple statement, but very true.  You are never in a position where you are not accountable.  As a Dad your kids count on you, you are accountable to them.  Your spouse counts on you and holds you in account.  Your boss, your community, they all count on you and therefore you are accountable to them.  You need to be able to follow their needs.  You must be able to be a part of the team that makes a contribution to moving them toward high performance.  You will not always be in a place where you are out front, making decisions, and getting things done.  Sometimes your place is subordinate and that of a member of the team.  Your role is an important one.  That of a follower, a good team player, available to give input and take direction.  As a follower you know the vision and direction of the leader, you know what it takes to move the team forward.
We used to hear the term “Lots of Chiefs, not enough Indians”.  While some may think that we could find a better way to put it, the message is clear.  We need members of the team as much as we need effective leaders.  At times there can be too many voices that confuse, contradict, and undermine the message.  We teach in Wood Badge and in our Troops what effective communication is and those skills to be better communicators.  Again, it is important not to lose focus on practicing what we preach.  There are senders and receivers.  But the most important part is the message.  When building a high performance team the message is greater than the other parts.  It is the leaders job to communicate effectively and it is the receiver or followers job to listen.
Today at our Wood Badge Staff Development I had to step back and remember that I am a follower on this course.  There have been clear directions and vision given.  I am a member of a team that is well on its way to being one working at a high performance level.  The unique part of a Wood Badge Staff is that we are all good Scouters, we are all motivated, we are all leaders.  It is in that environment that takes the most attention and awareness that we need to follow.
I had a personal bout of storming today.  I quickly realized that to get to performing, I need to be a better follower.
Hmmm… you can teach a on old beaver new tricks.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

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