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…As our campfire fades away

fireAt the end of every Troop meeting our Troop circles up, joins hands, and sings Scout Vespers followed by reciting the Scout Law.  This has concluded our meetings for years and has become a great tradition in our Troop.
A couple of weeks ago a young Scout asked why we sing that particular song, since we are not really at a campfire.  He thought it was odd that we say “as our campfire fades away” when we are in a meeting hall.
I explained to him, and then the Troop that we always have the spirit of the campfire in us.  It is Scout Spirit.  There is magic in every campfire and we carry that with us every day.
The campfire within us burns bright showing the world that we are Scouts.
And that is why we say the Scout Law after we sing the song.  As the campfire fades we need to add more fuel to it to keep it burning.  As we send the Scouts away from the meeting each week we rekindle in them their fire.  We remind them that they have a fire burning in them and that they need to live that Scout Spirit using the Oath and Law as their Guide.
So we sing and remind one another of the fire inside each and every one of us.
This is a great tradition in our Troop.  I hope your Troop has similar traditions that make Scouting not only fun but meaningful.
What are some of your Troop traditions?
Let us know.

Softly falls the light of day,
As our campfire fades away.
Silently each Scout should ask
Have I done my daily task?
Have I kept my honor bright?
Can I guiltless sleep tonight?
Have I done and have I dared
Everything to be prepared?

Listen Lord, oh listen Lord,
As I whisper soft and low.
Bless my mom and Bless my dad,
These are things that they should know.
I will keep my honor Bright,
The oath and law will be my guide.
And mom and dad this you should know,
Deep in my heart I love you so.
Have a Great Scouting Day! 

Categories: blog, Character, comments, Ideals, Just fun, Motto, Oath and Law, Scout Law, Scouting, Scouts, Values | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Backpack cooking- Patrol Method

Since word is out that our Troop is doing a 10 day backpacking trip this summer as our summer camp, there has been some concern as to how we are going to incorporate all of the “Scouting Methods” that normally come with the summer camp experience.
Well, I would first of all suggest that our Scouts will have more of the Scouting methods during our 10 day adventure than most Troops will have during your typical Summer camp experience, namely in the area of cooking.
Most summer camps offer a dining hall with cafeteria or family style dining.  This is great and takes a lot of pressure off of the Scouts during the day.
Our Scouts this summer will be using the Philmont cooking methods for our meals.  This will ensure that the patrols or crews will eat together, share responsibility, and eat the appropriate amount of calories that will be required on the trail.
I visited the Philmont web site and recalled a video we shared with our Crews before we went to Philmont.  This video basically sums up how we will be doing our cooking this summer while we trek through the Olympic National Forest.

Our Scouts will be eating on the go for breakfast and lunch, much like the Philmont experience.  We downloaded the Philmont menus plans for breakfast, lunch and dinner, to get a good feel for our planning.  It looks like we will pretty much stick to their plan.  Why reinvent the wheel?
Patrol or Crew cooking in this fashion will be a great experience for our Troop.  We are going to start using this method with our next camp out and continue to practice this through summer camp.  This means each camp out till July will incorporate our meal plan and methods for preparing, cooking, and cleaning while on the trail.  This should be real fun at Camporee this year.
I’d love to know how you all cook on the trail or in camp.  Leave a comment.
Thanks!
Have a Great Scouting Day! 

Categories: Backpacking, blog, camp skills, Camping, comments, Cooking, gear, High Adventure, Just fun, Leave no trace, Methods, Philmont, Scouting, Scoutmaster minute, Scouts, Skills, training | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

What’s in a name?

Names are a peculiar thing.  We are born and for the most part are given one upon arrival.  Some names are given with much thought and consideration, while others…well, not so much.
Names are creative at times and at other times follow a family lineage and history.
Beyond your name you may have nicknames or pet names or in the crowd I hang around a trail name.
So what’s in a name?
Where does yours come from?  How’d you get it?
My name is Gerald, I go by Jerry as does my Father.  You see I am a “Junior”.  The second in line with that name.  It’s not that confusing to me, after all, I have had it all my life.
When I was a kid, relatives called me “Little Jerry”.  But then I got to the point where I was not so little any more and it just became Jerry.
My middle name is John.  My Granddad on my Dad’s side is John also and my Granddad on Mom’s side is John too.  There are a lot of John’s in our family.  My oldest son’s name is John, keeping it in the family.  In fact when we decided on our kids names, my wife and I wanted to maintain the tradition of family names.  Our daughter is Katelyn, a family name and her middle name is Ann.  Ann is perhaps the strongest tread of family names for both of our families.  It can be found on both sides and strung all the way up the family tree.  Our youngest son’s name is Joshua Adam.  Again, found throughout the family tree.  My Brother’s middle name is Adam and so it goes staying in the family line.
Most families pay attention to names when comes to maintaining family history, so there is that in a name.
Nicknames and pet names are something that can be fun or a curse.  As luck would have it, I have never really had either and so have never felt blessed or cursed by a nickname.  We called our daughter “stinky” for the longest time.  Thank goodness she grew out of that.  My sister we call “Muggy”.  It all started because of a cousin when she was very young.  It has stuck and to this day, she is Muggy or Mugs.  So, there’s that in a name.
Trail names are fun and give a little snap shot as to who a person is on the trail.  I know a guy named Fast Hiker, Yard sale, and Headlamp.  Pretty obvious names there.  Then I know some hikers that go by Yoda, Rip, and Blistoid.  They all come with a story, much like a family name.  Most of the time however a trail name needs to be given or earned and not made up by the owner.  However, I suppose you can make up your own also.  Either way, it’s who you are and how people see you.  That’s what is in that name.
In the Vigil Honor of the Order of the Arrow you are given a name that represents your personality.  This is a tradition that connects the Vigil Honor with the legend of the Lenni Lenape or Delaware Indians.  That too is a name that can not be made up, rather it must be given as part of the honor.  When my oldest son was nominated we submitted a couple of names.  His given name became Gintschlinitti Nummahauwan, interpreted it means Currently Aware.  This has a long story behind it and it is fair to say, it fits John to the letter.  It is what is in that name.
So what is this all about?  Well, it’s about who you are and how you are known.  You are a name, you are a personality and what is in your name is who and what and why you are.  It is where you come from and the people who brought you here.  It is your culture, your food, your heritage.  It is a story and laugh.  It is journey and your destination.  Your name is you.  So, that’s what’s in a name.
Your name is your power and names have power.  We do not give that much thought typically, but when you really sit down and think about it.  It’s you.
I am writing this as part of a writing challenge.  One of my personal goals with this blog is to sharpen my writing skills and WordPress.com  is helping with that.  Bloggers that use WordPress.com are encouraged to take part in their writing challenges through their Daily Press blog.  I did their new years challenge 30 days to a better blog earlier this year and this challenge really got me thinking about What’s in a name.
What’s in your name?
Share by leaving a comment.  Do you have a trail name or a nickname?  What is it?  Let us know.
Oh and if you are curious as to my trail name… I don’t have one… yet.  And I am very curious to see what my Vigil name will be.  I’ll know that on May 10th and I’ll let you know.  I am sure there will be a back story with it also.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: blog | Tags: | 3 Comments

Competitive Choice

DSCN4484I think sometimes that you need to go through some time of reflection, ranting, and deep soul-searching before one can come to clear resolution or insightful solution to a problem.  With any luck this process happens quickly so you can move on.
As most of you know or are aware, last month was a tough one for me mentally as I was attacked by this overwhelming need to solve the problem of lazy Scouts.  And as it turned out lazy adults too.. after all, that is where lazy is learned I have found.
Through much thought and soul-searching and study I have found some solution, but am not yet there.  What I am over is the ranting stage and now deep into the fixing stage.
We started some of these fixes during our last Troop camp out by going back to the basics and reintroducing the concept of modeled behavior, learning to lead ones self, and focusing on the little things.  Those three areas will make a change in the way things have been going and with proper follow-up and mentoring we will stay on track.
What I also found is that even the laziest kid can not pass up an opportunity to compete.
Competition can be a great motivator.  No one likes to lose and no one wants to be left out.  So enter a competitive component in pretty much all of our upcoming activities.
Yes we will have winners and losers, but with good reflection and training, every one will come out a winner for it.
During the last camp out we had the older Scouts pack up and set up camp in a new location.  It went well, but noticed short cuts and a lack of attention to detail.  So we did it again after retraining and reflection.  The second time we did it we added the competitive advantage.  It was a race.  They had to pack (properly) and get to a new location and set up (properly).  The winner would be the Scout that got everything set up with no mistakes.  What we found was that 11 of the 12 set up everything with no errors, but all of them competed.  We also found that because it was a race, the time was faster even though they were looking at all the details.
The point is that they know what they are doing.  They make a choice to be lazy.  Competition took away that choice.
Thoughtful consideration and looking beyond being upset about laziness brought this out.  I think that we need to step back at times and really look at ways to demonstrate leadership.  As I teach the boys, leaders provide Purpose, Direction, and Motivation.  And that is just what we did with this.  They know the purpose and direction, and we used some competition to motivate.
Man I love this leadership stuff.. it always works!
We will keep you posted as this group of young leaders really start shining!
Have a Great Scouting Day! 

Categories: blog | Tags: , , | 4 Comments

Ask the Expert: Is the American flag ‘backward’ on Scout uniforms?

Scoutmaster Jerry:

A good look at our Flag and some thoughts on why the Boy Scouts of America and the United States Military (Army in particular) wear the flag of our Nation.

Originally posted on Bryan on Scouting:

Ask the Expert: What happened to Bugling merit badge? If you look at the right sleeve of a Boy Scout and of a U.S. soldier, you’ll see American flags on both.

But there’s one big difference. While the Boy Scout’s flag has the blue field of stars at the top left, the soldier’s flag is a reverse-field flag; the field of stars is at the top right.

So which is correct?

View original 1,224 more words

Categories: blog | 1 Comment

Obstacles to Objectives

DSCN4484In an effort to “fix lazy” it dawned on me that one of the problems is that our young men, and I am not just talking about Scouts here, tend to get caught up in the obstacles rather than focusing on the objectives.  This bogs them down and they feel defeated.  They fail themselves in the mind before they can feel the success of completing a task.
In the last post I listed a few “rathers”.. they would rather freeze then change clothing, they would rather be cold and miserable than apply the training they have learned.  This is lazy and it is an attitude that someone will come to my aid.
This is also an inability to get past the obstacle and get to the objective.
The objective is the skill or the task or goal.  Lets take for example setting up a tent.  The tent does not change.  It is the same tent that they have set up many times, but insert an obstacle like snow and cold and now it is a whole new tent.  NO, it’s still the same tent.  The challenge is to get it set up.. the goal is to get the tent set up to get out of the elements, but in their mind they can’t do it because it is cold.  I was talking with one Scout about what they would have done had we hiked in at night.  Something we do 11 times a year.. but none the less.  He asked what we would have done, so I told him that we would have set up camp… just like we always do.  I asked him if he knew how to set up his tent, he said yes.  Then I told him that it’s no different setting it up in the dark than it is setting it up in the day light.  The tent is the tent.  Same poles, same grommets, same rain fly, same guy tie outs, same everything.  If you can set it up in your living room, you can set it up in the woods, the snow, the rain, and the dark.  He immediately found the obstacle rather than the objective.
I am finding this more and more with the Scouts that we have these days.  The look for the obstacles rather than focusing on the objectives.  This is the wrong way to think.
If we focus on the objective, we will negotiate the obstacles to get there.  The obstacles become the fun challenge that it takes to get the reward or success.
We have been talking about our up coming backpacking trip this summer.  The younger guys are doing a 50 miler, while the more experienced guys are going to do about 80.  When the PLC announced this immediately they thought about 50 miles of backpacking and not the adventure.  They failed to hear the part about 10 days of hiking, breaking up the mileage into reasonable chunks,  that anyone with a pair of legs could do.  They did not think about 10 days of being out with their buddies in the Olympics.. nope.. just the obstacles that would make it hard.
This we need to work on.. but it is the first part of fixing lazy.
What are your thoughts on this?  I’d love to know.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Backpacking, blog, camp skills, Camping, Character, comments, High Adventure, Ideals, Just fun, Leadership, Methods, Oath and Law, Scouting, Scoutmaster conference, Scouts, Skills, Values | Tags: , , | 6 Comments

Founders Day 2014

founderToday is Founders Day.  A day in Scouting when we celebrate our Founder Lord Robert S.S. Baden-Powell of Gilwell.
This would be his 157th birthday.  It is fitting that today was spent training Adult leaders this morning and celebrating a Cub Scout Packs Blue and Gold this evening, along with the crossing over of 6 Scouts into my Troop.
A day packed with Scouting, all in a positive way.
Baden-Powell was more than just the founder of Scouting, he was truly a visionary.  Not in a mystical sense, but in the vision that he had for youth.  He understood youth and knew the direction that they needed to go.  Not the direction they may have wanted to go, but needed to go.  I think of that often as a Scoutmaster.  These young men come to us with expectations and we mentor them on a journey.  Through guided discovery we take them on an adventure that leads them where we know they need to go disguised in a game that the youth are willing to play.

“The most worth-while thing is to try to put happiness into the lives of others.”

I think that when BP came back from the war, he had like most veterans a different appreciation for life and the direction that life should be taken.  In reading his writings we know that Baden-Powell had seen and done enough in the service of England and dedicated himself thereafter to promoting peace and happiness.  I have heard that being happy is a moral obligation as it affects those around you.  Spreading happiness is certainly worth-while.

“The good turn will educate the boy out of the groove of selfishness.”

I talk a lot about service.  Service to others is not just a Scout thing, but a human thing.  When we wrap our hearts and arms around that, we become selfless servants.
Scouting started because of a man who felt the need to serve and to teach others to serve.
Today we honor that man.  Lord Baden-Powell, founder of Scouting!

Have a Great Scouting Day!

PS.  Sorry there will be no Quick tip this week.  The plate got way to full, I will resume the next week with the Saturday Quick tip.

Categories: blog, Character, Citizenship, Good Turn Daily, Ideals, Just fun, Leadership, Motto, Scouting, Scouts, Service, Values | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

What’s in your Backpack?

It's Friday night...Do you know where your gear is?I was bouncing around on some of the blogs and found a cool post on a blog that I follow.  The subject was something that I think we all do or have, but give little or no thought to… What do you keep in your pack, or items that never leave your pack.  I read her list and then some of the comments and it got me to thinking and actually running out to my pack to see what I never take out.
I assumed at the outset that this list was to be that stuff that NEVER comes out of my pack.. so for me that would be those items that I take no matter what kind of camping I am doing, no matter where I am going, or no matter how long or far I am venturing in the woods.
The other component to this discussion is who I am camping with.  Scouts or just friends and family.
So I want to know what those items are in your pack.  Here is my list of items that just never come out of the pack.
1.  First Aid kit.  I check it annually when we show the new Scouts some of the things that they should consider when making their own kits.  But it never comes out of my pack and is always loaded in the right hip belt.
2.  Poop kit.  This kit consists of bags, toilet paper, Wet One singles.  Pretty sure that’s self explanatory.
3.  Ditty bag of fire starting materials.  A couple cotton balls covered in Vaseline, a few Wet Fire cubes, a Light My Fire fire steel, and a few sticks of Fat wood and a lighter.
4.  Zip lock bag with one extra wool socks.
5.  Ditty bag with about 50 feet of line and a compass, Micro pure tablets.
6.  UCO Candle Lantern
7.  Headlamp and 2 extra batteries.
8.  Clothing bag with synthetic long sleeve top, Poly long bottoms, beenie hat, light gloves.
9.  Hammock (Warbonnet Blackbird) and Tarp (Warbonnet Super Fly)
10.  Water Filter

I remove my tarp and hang it dry for a day or so then it goes right back in.
I always keep my Top quilt and Under quilt hanging till I need them.
Clothing is decided in planning for the trip.
Food bag is clipped to backpack till I load it.  Water Bladders are in food bag till they are filled.
Cook kit is loaded on outside of pack and I decide how much fuel etc when I meal plan.
I wear my knife (Light My Fire Mora).

So that’s the basics.. What never leaves your Pack?
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Backpacking, blog, camp skills, Camping, canoe, comments, Cooking, gear, Hammock, High Adventure, Just fun, Leadership, Motto, podcast, Scouts, Skills, Winter Camping | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

Unit Culture

IMG_2059Monday night our Troop held its annual Order of the Arrow election and its six month youth leadership election.  Our Troop elections are like most Troops in that we hold the elections for youth leadership.  We may differ in this aspect, we only elect the “assistants”.  When we hold our elections every six months we elect the Assistant Senior Patrol Leader and the Assistant Patrol Leaders.  The idea here is that now the Assistant has six months to learn how to do the job, then he is more successful when it comes his turn to serve as the ‘Leader’.  At the six month mark, the Assistant automatically becomes the leader and we elect new Assistants.
It’s pretty simple and works very well.
The OA elections are held just like everyone elects members into the Order of the Arrow.  We do not announce the candidates until they are called out at Camporee.
After the meeting on Monday night a group of Scouts and I were talking about leadership issues and the OA.  I shared a story about how my ordeal went when I was a youth compared to how they do them now.  There are some differences for sure, but the spirit of the ordeal is pretty much the same.  A couple of the Scouts mentioned that they wish that the ordeal was still like it was when I was a Scout.  Now to be sure, I know that there is some form of “it’s cool if the Scoutmaster says it’s cool” going on here.  Rest assured I am not saying this to stroke my ego, and there will be a point here I promise.
We talked about how sometimes it seems that some Scouts take things like the ordeal serious, while others do it to get a sash and pocket flap.  I asked why they think that is.  The overwhelming response was that it is cool to be in the OA, but members should be “worthy” to be in it.  If they do not want to participate, they should not be in it.
I agree, but understand that to some the OA may be just another thing in Scouting and it certainly looks great on the Scouting resume.
One of the Scouts chimed in that he viewed it kind of like the different Troops we see at Camporee.  Some take the wearing of the Scout uniform serious, while other look like slobs (his words not mine, although I agree).  Some like to build the gateways, while others would rather hang out in camp around the campfire.  I am not sure that there is a right or wrong answer here other than when we discuss methods, like wearing the uniform, but what I suggested to these Scouts was that it comes down to their unit’s culture.
And how is that formed?  Well, I think that somewhere along the way we form our culture by the activities we do, the way we develop traditions, and our attitudes toward how delivering the promise of Scouting should look.  The Troop’s program has a lot to do with that also in that it becomes the style of the Troop.
So in the case of my Troop we have Traditions that passed on as the Scouts move through the unit.  New Traditions meet the older ones and it helps shape our culture.  Our Troop’s annual program goes along way in the shaping of that culture.  Being a backpacking Troop, we do things a bit different and the Scouts of the Troop view themselves as adventurous and skilled.  This adventurous spirit and skills are the personality of the Troop.  They like the idea that they are different from most Troops, especially at Camporee and summer camp.  They like to show up with nothing but their packs.  This attitude is a big part of our culture.  It is not right or wrong, it’s who we are.
Where does that come from?  Well, certainly I had a part to play.  Introducing the Troop to backpacking, but then the Scouts took it because they liked it.  As a Backpacking Troop it lends itself to adventures like Climbing, Kayaking and Canoeing, Glacier hiking, snow shoeing and lots of other  adventurous activity.  It is not for everyone and we have seen Scouts come and go because of who we are.  And that is ok.
We decided awhile ago that we would deliver the promise of Scouting and this would be our delivery method.  The Parents of our Scouts see that what we do works and those Scouts that stick around and take an active part in the program get a lot out of it.
We find a good balance of Youth leadership and Adult interaction through Coaching and Mentoring.  When our youth cross over into the Troop they immediately learn who is in charge, the SPL and their Patrol leader.  They never stop hearing it.  The endless stream of Scouts seeking attention is more often time met with “Ask the SPL”.  The culture of the youth led troop balanced with the ability to know when the Scout needs more than just the Senior Patrol leader.
The Scoutmaster conference is a big part of our culture.  More times than not, it is not an open book and signing session.  It is far more frequent for that Scoutmaster conference to deal with “Boy issues”.  Stuff that they just need to talk about.  To the outside eyes and ears that may sound a bit creepy, but in our unit Trust is high and sometimes there are just things you need to talk about with someone who you trust.  I have built that trust with our Scouts and their parents.
That trust is a huge part of our culture and comes from an unwavering commitment to the Scout Oath and Law.  Those are the rules of the Troop and those are the only rules.
I told you that there was a point here.  Yes, our Troop is not for everyone and often times our Scouts look to be arrogant or have a swagger about them.  That is true, however it is not arrogance, it is confidence.  We pride ourselves on skills development and staying true to the goals of Scouting.  We wrap all of that in our adventure and fun program.  I believe like Baden-Powell asked us as Scoutmasters to the heart of the boy and to be their friend.  That is why our Scouts would have that feeling that when I suggest it is cool.. it is.  I am not always right and do not seek the worship of these young men.  I will tell you quite honestly that I love it when they want to be adventurous.  I love to see them push their boundaries and step out of their comfort zone.  I love to see leadership in action, no matter how ugly it looks at times.  This has become our culture, this is our Troop.  I am sure that your Troop has its own culture and its own traditions and its own swagger.
Watch a Troop as it sings its Troop song or yell.  That will give you a peek into that Troops Culture.
This all started with a couple of Scouts talking about how they wish things were different.  My answer to them was simply this, If you want it to be different, change it.   Know my guys.. they will.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Advancement, Backpacking, blog, camp skills, Camping, canoe, Character, Citizenship, Climbing, comments, fitness, High Adventure, Ideals, Journey to Excellence, Just fun, Leadership, Oath and Law, Order of the Arrow, Patrol Method, Scouting, Scoutmaster conference, Scoutmaster minute, Skills, teamwork, Values | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Come along side

presidentsYesterday we “Celebrated” Presidents Day… Not sure what that means, but lets go with it.  To me Presidents day is the day that we recognize two great leaders.  George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.  I think in their own right, those two Presidents did more to earn a day than any other in our history.  Just for starting a Nation and keeping one alone did they demonstrate great leadership.
There are essentially three kinds of leaders, those that Pull those they lead, those that Push those being led, and those leaders that come along side and walk with the follower.
It is a matter of effective leadership.  When a leader pulls the follower he will eventually get resistance.  Being pulled along is like trying to get a donkey to move when it does not want to go.  The struggle of getting those followers to move in the direction you desire will be difficult when people are pulled along.
Being pushed has the same result.  No one likes to be pushed.  We get the feeling of being forced to do something.  This will get push back to the leader and as a result he can not be effective.
We need to remember the aim of leadership… to lead.. to influence others to accomplish something.  Whatever that is.  Be it building a Nation or planning an outing, we lead to accomplish something and do it in a manner that is effective.
When we are the leader that comes along side and walks with the follower, the follower is now in a position that he does not feel threatened.   He feels that the leader is with him in the endeavor and not bossing him around.  The leader has a better perspective of what we called in the Army “Ground True”.  Meaning, what really is happening in a specific area.  The leader is with those he leads and not sitting high on a throne dictating what needs to be accomplished.  He walks shoulder to shoulder providing purpose, direction, and motivation to those being led.
That leadership style is effective.  Look at the great leaders in history and you will find that they came along side and were effective leaders.
So, as we “celebrated” Presidents day and as we think about those two great leaders in our history.  Think about leadership and how we are better more effective leaders.  Look at your Patrol Leaders Council and see what kind of leaders you have in your troop and see if they are coming along side and leading.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Advancement, blog, Character, Citizenship, Ideals, Journey to Excellence, Leadership, Patrol Method, Scoutmaster minute, Scouts, Service, teamwork, Values | Tags: | Leave a comment

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