Citizenship

Just do something…

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It has been an interesting week or so and the blog once again, while always on my mind took a back seat to the daily working of being a Scoutmaster.  As we prepared for the camp out and then went out on another winter adventure the Scouts of Troop 664 kept me busy
and looking for new ways to reach our Scouts and peak their interest.
On our way home from our camp out yesterday, I had an interesting conversation with the Senior Patrol Leader of our Troop.  We were talking about the morning and some of the challenges that we encountered.  Taking advantage of a good teaching and learning opportunity we shifted the conversation to what we could have done different.  James talked about how he could have been a better example in that he should have got packed up before the young guys allowing him to be more available to assist were needed and he could have worked better as a team with the Assistant Senior Patrol Leader and the Patrol Leaders.  I told him that he was right, a leader needs to always set the expectation by being a good example and that pretty much goes for everything.  We talked about some of the decision-making of the group this weekend and why some Scouts seem to get it and others don’t.  It comes down to decision-making and common sense.  We agreed that common sense is not as common as we would like and then talked more about decision-making.

When it comes to making decisions, especially in a cold weather camping environment, there is a simple rule in that for every action there is a positive or negative reaction.  The worst thing that a leader can do is nothing.
A Scouts skills is the knowledge base that his decisions are formulated and made from.  The Scout can choose to do the right thing, or he can choose to do nothing.  What we have seen from our Scouts is that when the make the choice to do nothing, they are cold, wet, and tired.  In short, they do not have a good time.  We have watched as Scouts that do not have fun on camp outs tend not to camp as much and lose interest in Scouting.  There are a few arguments for and against.  I have been told on one hand that it is my job to make sure that the Scouts have fun.  I have also been told to stay the course.  Now, before anyone jumps down my throat about this, let me tell you that we are not weeding kids out by camping in the snow and maintaining our Troop camping as backpackers.  Every Scout that joins our Troop knows how we camp and see the calendar so they know when, where, and how we are camping, climbing, and find adventure.  They make a choice at that time to join us or find another troop.  As long as our Patrol leaders council wants to head down that trail, we will.  We do a great job in training up our Scouts to be successful.  But we require that they make a choice.  They need to make a choice to learn or not to learn.  That is up to them.  Like I have explained over and over again, it is the jobs of the Scoutmaster and the Assistant Scoutmasters to assist Scouts in making it to First Class.  I am not to interested in Eagle Scouts, that will come with hard work, determination, and developing as a young man.  the skills learned and habits formed on the trail to First Class is the foundation of the making a man.  Camping Skills, Citizenship, Fitness, and Character are all elements of the trail to First Class.  But the first step on that trail is a choice.
So as I talked with the Senior Patrol Leader on the way home from the camp out we discussed possible reasons why the Scouts we have now are less mentally tough and unwilling to push themselves.  Why can they not take what they have learned and apply it?  Why have they not made the choice?  Is it a lack of training?  Is it a lack of want to?  Is it something that we have done or failed to do?  We could not put our finger on it.  Whats different in the Scouts we have this year opposed to the Scouts we crossed over 4 years ago or even 2 years ago?  We don’t really know.  They all come from good homes, great parents, and none of them have learning disabilities… so they all have the ability to learn and make sound choices.  So what is it?  We will find out I guess.
In the mean time, what does this mean for the Troop?  Tonight the PLC met and started getting ready for the next camp out.  Next month we will head into the woods to develop our Wilderness Survival Skills.  The plan won’t change and I am sure that some of the Scouts that have not been having a great time, well, they won’t go camping.  I asked the PLC what they thought about that.. they said that it was fine, at least they won’t have to have bad attitudes on the camp out.  I think the boys get tired of dealing with it too.  It’s that “one bad apple” thing and the majority of the Scouts really would rather camp with the guys that want to be there and have a good time.So what?  I think it is great the SPL is aware enough to have this talk.  I am encouraged by a PLC that is willing to stay the course and take a part in having a Troop that they want to belong to, that they want to lead, and that they want to share with their friends.
We will have to see where this takes us.  For now, we just get ready for the next outing and keep working with the young men that want to be there.  These last few months have been challenging for the Scouts of our Troop, some are stronger for it, some developed better leadership skills because of it, and some have made a choice not to camp in the winter.  I am ok with all of it.
What do you think?  I think that things will be just fine.  I think that the Troop will be fine and that we will continue to have great adventures in the future.  I think that while some of the Scouts choose to turn away from challenges, most boys want to be challenged and want to see just how far they push themselves.  I think this is the way boys are no matter how hard we try to be over protective and keep them in a bubble.  Some how.. some way.. boys need to be boys and Scouts gives them that outlet when we provide the program and allow them to make a choice.  That’s what I think.  I am curious to see what your thoughts are.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Advancement, Backpacking, blog, camp skills, Camping, Character, Citizenship, Climbing, comments, fitness, gear, Ideals, Just fun, Leadership, Methods, Motto, Scouting, Scouts, Skills, training, Winter Camping | Tags: , , , , | 6 Comments

Scouting for all?

Merit Badges or Fun?Allow me to play devils advocate here for a minute.  There has been quite a bit of discussion lately via email and in Scouting circles in which I find myself regarding Scouts in our programs.  One argument is that Scouting is for every young man, the converse is that Scouting is not for everyone.
Boys enter our program with certain expectations and needs.  Those Scouts have parents that also have certain expectations and wants.  What I have seen and heard lately is that some parents and Scouts are not getting what they thought they would out of Scouting.  I have been in discussions in which parents believe that their son is not having fun in the program.  The question that I ask is simply, is Scouting really for everyone?
I submit for the sake of discussion that maybe Scouting is not for every boy.  It may be that what Scouting offers is not what they want or need.  It may be that the boy is not ready for the adventures that Scouting offer and well-intentioned parents do not really understand what Scouting is all about.  It is also true that many Scout leaders do not know what Scouting is all about and therefore have promoted a program that misses the mark when it comes to achieving Scouting’s aims.  This has led to young boys joining troops that quickly disappoint or fail to deliver on the expectations they and their parents had on the join night.
Scouting at its core is about adventure and when a boy joins a unit that is full of adventure he may not be ready or willing to participate.  Now, some would argue that participation is really not something that is of real importance in Scouting, but it is through participating fully in the program that the Scout gets the most out of Scouting.  I had a mother say to me the other night that her son does not attend winter camp outs because he did not have a good experience during last years winter camping season.  Why?  Well, maybe he does not like camping in the winter.. I am ok with that.  But does that paint the whole program as a negative thing?  No, but maybe the Scout is not ready or willing.  Once a boy starts down the road of picking and choosing those activities that he does not wish to participate in he will find it easier to reduce the level of activity he does.  This is not true in all cases, remember that I am not suggesting anything here other that this is a question that we should ask.  Maybe Scouting is not for everyone.  Here is what I am saying…
Scouting is not for everyone.  Scouting should not change to meet the Scouts needs.  Scouting needs to stay the course on being an organization that has values, ideals, and adventure.  Scouting should not “dumb down” to allow for boys to have a club to join.  There are plenty of clubs out there that he can find a place in.  Now, before you all jump on me let me say this here and make it very clear that I am not talking at all about Scouts or I should say boys with disabilities.  This discussion has nothing… I repeat nothing to do with disabilities.  That is another discussion and I think that needs to be addressed another time.  I will say that there are ample opportunities for boys with disabilities to participate in Scouting and I encourage every young man who shows interest to try Scouting no matter the “ability”.  I will also say that no.. I do not consider ADD, ADHD, Autism, and a lack of focus a disability.  Not when it comes to Scouting and the Scouting program.  We prove over and over again that Scouts that have been diagnosed with ADD, ADHD and Autism can participate in Scouting and high adventure activities.  My Troop is proof of this.  Moving on…
Scouting should not promote that everyone will be an Eagle Scout just because he joins and has a pulse.  Scouting should continue to push the Scout to discover his world and find his limits.. then push them outside of his comfort zone.  If Scouting decides to become the YMCA or Boys Club it will no longer deliver the promise.  It will just become another after school club and that is not Scouting.  That is not what Baden Powell, William Hillcourt, James E West, and the rest of the men that founded and established the direction for Scouting had in mind.  We can met Scouts where they are, but we can never get away from the intent of the Scouting movement.  We can not stray from the methods that lead us to achieving the aims and we can never allow Scouting to just be another club.
Not everyone wants what Scouting offers.  Numbers, while they drive much of what the professional Scouters track are not the program.  A great program that stays the course will bring in the numbers of boys that seek adventure, values, and ideals that are the hallmark of the Scouting program.  Numbers for the sake of numbers will be just that and we see this play out each year with amount of boys that leave our units.  They don’t want to play the game with a purpose and we should not make them.  A football player is not allowed to join a team and then make up the rules of the game or change the team uniform.  He joins and plays the game that has been established.  Not everyone can or wants to play football, not everyone can or wants to be a Scout.  I recently sat with a group of Scouts and asks a few simple questions.  The first I asked was if they thought Scouting was nerdy.  They all said that they did not think so, but their friends at School did.  I asked what they thought the ‘nerdy’ part of Scouting was.. aside from wearing the uniform.  I figured I would take away the obvious answer.  They all said that their friends really didn’t know what we do.  I asked them if they ever tell them what we do.  They all pretty much said, no.  They did not want to bring it up so they could talk about something else.  Then I asked why not?  Why not tell their friends that we rock climb at Smith Rock, that we snowshoe and build snow caves.  That we have hiked the Oregon Coast trail, shoot shotguns and paddle the Deschutes river.  That we backpack miles of the PCT and go caving in some cool volcanic caves.  That we spent a week hiking in the Canyon country of New Mexico and that we have gone across the country to tour our Nations Capital and camp with 70,000 other Scouts.  I asked why all of that sounds ‘nerdy’.  They couldn’t tell me.  But these are the guys that want to do all of that.  These are Scouts and they want to be Scouts.  Their friends could not nor would they be willing to do all of that, even given the chance.  One of the Scouts spoke up and said that his friends thought Scouting was all about doing good deeds and being in Flag ceremonies.  His friend said he didn’t want to be in a club that did crafts and sang songs.  So I asked this young man what he told his friend.  He had a great answer, he told me that he said to his friend that “yeah, we sing songs, but it’s out in the middle of the woods at our campfire at the end of a day that was full of fun”.  But then again, that’s a kid that wants what Scouting has to offer.
Ok so what’s the point here.  The point is simply this.  We beat ourselves up to make sure that every boy joins Scouting.  Why?  If they join great, but if they quit, did we fail?  Did Scouting fail?  No.. they just did not fit in our program.  I have seen many Scouts come and go from our Troop and I can honestly say that the ones that left did not want to be there.  It was nothing we did to chase them away, they just did not want to be in Scouts.
I have said it many times, I would rather have a Troop of 10 motivated boys that want to be there than have a Troop with 50 that don’t.
Am I not supporting Scouting by saying this?   Nope I am delivering the promise of Scouting to those that want it.
Once again, I am a fan of the writing of William “Green Bar Bill” Hillcourt.  I have a copy of something he wrote way back when regarding the 10 Essentials of Scoutmastership.  It goes like this.

A belief in boys that will make you want to invest yourself and your time on their behalf.
A zeal focused upon one point-the boy’s happiness through his formative years- “A happy boy is a good boy, a good boy is a good citizen.
An immense faith in Scouting as the program that will best serve to mould our youth into fine men.
A realization that to the boys Scouting is a game – to you, a game with a purpose:  Character, building citizenship training and physical fitness.
A knowledge that to your boys you are Scouting.  “What you are speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say”.
A steadfastness of purpose to carry out a planned program with energy and perseverance, patience and good humor.
A willingness to submerge yourself and make boy leaders lead and grow through and effective application of the Patrol Method.
A desire to advance in Scoutmastership by making use of training offered and material available on the subject.
A readiness to work hand in hand with home, church, sponsored institution, school, Local Council, National Council for the good of the individual boy and the community as a whole.
A love of the outdoors in all its phases and a vision of the hand that created it.

With an effective program that offers the “want to” so a boy joins, stays, and grows in Scouting we can see that Scouting is a great program.  But that is not for everyone.  If you as a Scouter can honestly read the 10 essentials of Scoutmastership and apply it to your unit you will create that environment.  If you do not feel that you can do that, well then you prove the argument, that nope, Scouting is not for everyone, to include adults.
Before I get lots of hate mail… I am playing devils advocate here, but the point for me is taken well.  I do not think that everyone needs to be in Scouting.  I think those boys that want to be in should and once in we will do everything in our power to deliver to them the very best program.
Now, I do want to hear what you think.  Please leave your comments, I would not ask if I didn’t want to know.
Thank you all for all you do in Scouting!
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: blog, camp skills, Camping, Character, Citizenship, fitness, High Adventure, Ideals, Journey to Excellence, Leadership, Methods, Motto, Oath and Law, Patriotism, Patrol Method, Philmont, Scouting, Scoutmaster conference, Scoutmaster minute, Scouts, Service, Skills, teamwork, training, Values, Winter Camping | Tags: , , | 13 Comments

The Promise Continued

SMCONFIt is the Scoutmasters obligation to work to achieve the Aims of Scouting… that’s pretty much it.  To do that it should be every Scoutmasters goal to get every Scout to the rank of First Class not Eagle Scout.
If you take a look at the requirements to achieve the First Class rank you will note that its pretty much all about Character, Citizenship, and Fitness.
Through the working of these requirements the Scout will learn about the three aims of Scouting and coupled with the skills learned, the teamwork developed, and the fun of the program, the Scout will assist the Scoutmaster in attaining his goal.
Once the foundation has been laid in the working to First Class, the Scout then should be prepared to work toward Eagle Scout where he can explore his world while working merit badges.  He can learn and demonstrate leadership, and he can develop a sense of service to his community.  Putting it all together we will have produced a good young man.
So back to the First Class rank.  When we do not put in the proper perspective and make it all about skills and a means to the end (Eagle Scout), we lose focus on what we are trying to accomplish in Scouting.  We are not here to make Eagle Scouts, we are here to make good men.  Good Citizens of Character that are fit, mentally, physically, and emotionally.
So, the next time you sit down with a Scout to chat during his Scoutmaster conference for Second Class.. take a look and see if that young man is getting it.  If not, reinforce those ideas and share with him your goal.
This is a part of the promise that we make to our Scouts.  The adventure comes when the rest is worked.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Advancement, blog, Character, Citizenship, fitness, Good Turn Daily, Ideals, Leadership, Methods, Motto, Oath and Law, Patriotism, respect, Scoutmaster conference, Service, Skills, teamwork, Values | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Are we still Delivering?

all togetherThere has been much said, yeah.. even here on this blog, about how Scouting has changed to meet the needs of the lowest common denominator.  A greater emphasis on merit badge work shops and staying within an arms reach of a cell phone.  Sometimes I wonder if we in Scouting are still delivering the promise.. you know the promise of Scouting.
I find it interesting that when we look back in the not to distant past that Scouting was much different.  Even as far back as when I was a Scout there were not the concerns of life as we know it in today’s Scouting world.
Now I am a believer that we do need to bring Scouting to where the boys are.. but sometimes we should take the boys back to where we came from.
Baden Powell once said “By the term Scouting…is meant the work and attributes of backwoodsmen, explorers, hunters, seamen, airmen, pioneers, and frontiersmen.”
The 1947 Handbook for Scoutmasters goes on to add, “The word ‘Scout’ opens up to the boy the picture of open spaces, woods, rivers, and lakes, mountains which are to be his playground and where he will have his fun.”  It goes on to say, “It is this promise of adventure, of camping and life in the outdoors that lures the boy into Scouting.  We MUST keep faith with him by giving him that adventure – not just to satisfy him, but because it is the best way we have of holding him.”
There is more written in the Handbook for Scoutmasters that reinforces this idea of adventure and the promise of Scouting, I wonder when we stopped talking about that.  There is no mention of it in the current Scoutmaster Handbook.
We have allowed lawyers to dictate that adventure.  We have allowed video games and laziness to dictate our levels of activity and we worry about Scouts leaving the program because we need the numbers.
I believe that every boy should be in Scouting… but not for merit badges or bobbles and beads.  I think they should be seeking adventure!  Like we did when I was a boy.  Adventure!  Parents need to allow this to happen.. that’s where it starts.
You know, there were just as many creeps in the world in the 70’s and 80’s as there are today.  The world really is not more creepy.. the difference… we have 24 hour news now and this wonderful thing called the internet.
We rode our bikes to and from Scout troop meetings.  Heck, we rode our bikes everywhere.  We were told not to talk to strangers and never to take candy from them.. and you know, we came out alright.  Every day in the summer we left in the morning and came home in time for dinner.  Looking for adventure.
In Scouts we found adventure.  We camped with our Patrols, we did not need… nor did we want, all the adults hanging around.  The fewer of them the better.   Our parents were concerned about us, but knew that we would be ok.  We trusted our Scoutmaster and the skills we were taught and we looked for adventure at every turn.
Not every Patrol got a ribbon at Camporee.. but then again, they were not all about competing either.. they were about skills and discovering new things.
Our PLC had a blank check to plan the next big adventure.  I remember when I was a Tenderfoot Scout we had the biggest adventure ever.  Our Troop was dropped off in Belgium to take a ferry across the English channel.  Once we arrived in England we took a bus to the Baden Powell house and stayed there for a few days.  We explored the local area and got to camp at Gilwell Park.  2 weeks from when we left home, we boarded the ferry and back we went.  We only had 2 adults with us the whole trip and it was an adventure of a life time.
The old Handbook for Scoutmasters suggests that we can retain Scouts because “it [adventure] is the best way we have of holding him.”  The best way!  I firmly believe that if we just allowed it, we can get back there.  I don’t think that boys have changed much… it is the parents that did the changing.   You know.. I can’t remember one kid when I was growing up that had peanut allergies.. now you can’t even say the word peanut without some Mom yelling that her son is allergic.  I think it’s time we give our boys their adventure back.  I think it’s time that we go back to actually delivering the promise and not just Eagle Awards.  I think it is time that all of us Scouters ask the simple question.. are we still delivering the promise?
Just my buck and half.. curious to hear you thoughts.  Weigh in.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: blog, Character, Citizenship, comments, High Adventure, Ideals, Journey to Excellence, Just fun, Methods, Motto, Oath and Law, Patrol Method, planning, Risk Management, Scouting, Scouts, Skills, stories, Values | Tags: , , , , | 10 Comments

Sunday Coffee 2-10

A bit late in the day to get the post out.  We just got home from our Annual Red and Green Dinner/ Court of Honor with the Troop.  It is always wonderful to recognize the hard work and accomplishments of our Scouts.  We had a great surprise in the middle of the Court of Honor, my Son, John called from Ft. Benning.  He is doing well and had the opportunity to make a call.  It seems like we have not heard from him in a while, so it was really great to hear his voice.
This morning, my wife and I did some running around in preparation for the Court of Honor and so while we were out, I recorded today’s Sunday Mornin’ coffee.
Caution.. I may get a bit political… not to much, but enough to give a warning.  At the end of the day it comes down to character and how we grow that character.
Enjoy the video.  Next week… Gear talk and lots of it.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: #52to16, Backpacking, blog, camp skills, Camping, Character, Citizenship, gear, Ideals, Journey to Excellence, Just fun | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Modeling Expected Behavior

expectmoreI often preach about how I expect more out of our young men, that nothing in life will be easy, and that there are no participation ribbons just for showing up in life.  When it comes to leadership, the Scouts in our Troop hear it over and over again that we all need to “Model Expected Behavior” and they all  should at least have an understanding of what that means. For the Scouts of our Troop that means that good is not good enough.  It means that we do things right, we learn from mistakes, and we hold one another to a higher standard.
So what does that mean?  Is is arrogant of us to act that way?  Well, to the outsider looking in, yep.. but for us we look at it this way.  The world around us is happy with mediocre leadership, results, and standards of living.  I’m not ok with that when it comes to our Scouts.
We are not a merit badge mill nor are we an Eagle factory.  We do not measure success in the amount of Scouts that earned awards or rank each year.  We measure success in the way our Scouts act.  We see direct results in watching older Scouts teach younger Scouts and hold each other accountable.  We measure our success in growth and sustained attendance.  Is our Troop for everyone.. nah.. but no troop is.  Even though we all work toward the Aims of Scouting, our programs are different in their delivery.  I could not be in a Troop that had more adult involvement than Scouts.  I could not be a unit that did merit badge classes each week.  I could not be in a Troop that produces Eagle Scouts that can not do the basics.  I could not be apart of a Troop that did not seek adventure and test the limits.
This weekend, our Troop camped at a local Scout camp.  There were not a lot of miles walked and the weather was great.  It got real cold, and that tested some of the boys in the troop.  Some Scouts pushed their boundaries by shooting Shot guns for the first time, while other Scouts increased their knowledge and leadership skills at Junior Leader Training.  A few Scouts were taken out of their comfort zones as they taught the Junior Leader Training.  No matter what level of the Scout there was challenge enough for everyone.
Our Junior Leader Training follows the National program, but we tend to focus heavily on communication skills, team development, Conflict resolution, and expectations of leaders.
We start the session with a talk about Modeling Expected Behavior and then everything that follows in the course of training maintains that theme.  We expect our Scouts to be and act the best.  Good is never good enough.  The team deserves that attitude from everyone.  If they all act their best.. they become the best.  A high performance team.
Now you may ask.. aren’t you expecting too much from these young men.  Nope.  If I don’t who will?  We see too much “getting by” in our world and I will not be party to it.  Do we exclude young men when we expect more from them?  NO.. we expect more and they give more… like it or not.. That I don’t care about.  Life is going to expect a lot from them.  Why treat them with kiddy gloves now.
Does this mean we are hard ass’s?  Not at all.  We stay within the Scout Oath and Law.  Teaching in a friendly, fun, challenging atmosphere.  But when things are not right, a leader (adult or youth) simply corrects the issue and we move on.  Un tied shoes, un tucked shirts, gear looking like a yard sale, bad attitudes, improper set up or use of gear, not living the vlaues of the Scout Oath and Law.  These are things that other Scout leaders just allow.  Kids will be kids… yeah.. but bad habits last forever.  Good attitudes, skills, and behavior does to and gets them a lot farther in life.
So modeling expected behavior is a cultural thing.  We don’t march, we don’t yell.. yelling is for ineffective bad leaders.. we just teach, coach, train, and mentor.. oh and we model expected behavior.  Adults don’t get a free pass on bad behavior either.  We are expected to model what we expect.
The proof is in the pudding.  Our Troop grows annually.  We lose Scouts too, and that’s ok, maybe we are not the fit for them.  Maybe XBox and lower expectations is what they are looking for in life.  And that’s ok.. just not in our Troop.
This morning a Scout was standing under a shelter pouting.  His hands were cold, after all, it was 24 degrees outside.  His Patrol leader had just instructed him to get his gloves on.  The Scout could not find them.  So the Patrol leader and the Scout went to his pack and dumped it out.  There were the gloves.  I then saw the Scout standing there not assisting with his Patrol in breaking camp and wrapping up the clean up.  I called him over to where I was standing watching.  I asked him if he was ok.  Yeah.. he said, but I’m cold.  I suggested that if he would get moving he would warm up.  If he would help his Patrol mates out.. he would start to feel a bit warmer.  I asked him why he was pouting earlier and he told me that his hands were cold.  I asked him what he did about it… fully knowing what had happened.  He said that he found his gloves and put them on.  Then I had him recite the Scout Law to me.  And asked to him to reflect on the meaning of being Trustworthy.  We talked a bit about making choices and how he was either going to develop good habits and skills, or he would develop bad ones.  The choice was his, not mine, the Patrol leaders, or his parents.  He would have to make a choice which path he wanted to take.  He turned and walked back to his patrol and pitched in.  You see, if we let it go, it won’t change.  If we expect little, that is what we get.  So we chose to expect more.  And not surprisingly we get more.
When our Youth leaders set good examples and model the behavior that we want out of our Troop.. that is what we get.
There is nothing wrong with winning and losing.  We can learn from both.  There is everything wrong with not learning and not trying to learn, to push, and to find success.
I had a talk with a Scoutmaster about this a while ago.  He said that “I bet they all march around and it’s all yes sir this and no sir that..”  On the contrary.. In fact the Scouts in my Troop call me Jerry and we call them by their names.  There is no marching, yelling, or military like behavior.. just a lot of fun and development.  It is an environment that is comfortable, friendly, and leaves them wanting to come back.
At the end of each camp out we close with lessons learned, Start, Stop, and Continue.  Today the Senior Patrol leader led the discussion with whole troop.  As the next two camp outs will be up on the mountain, this camp out was a great opportunity to learn and get ready for the up coming outings.  He had each Scout share one thing that needs to improve in the next 3 weeks.  I listened as the Scouts really gave some thought to their answers.  It was in some of the more experienced Scouts answers that I realized that they got it.. they are modeling expected behavior.  They were critical of themselves and how they prepared for this camp out.  The next one will be that much more successful.
Expect more.. get more.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Advancement, Backpacking, blog, Camping, Citizenship, comments, Competition, gear, Good Turn Daily, Ideals, Journey to Excellence, Just fun, Leadership, Methods, Motto, Oath and Law, Patrol Method, respect, Scouting, Scoutmaster conference, Scoutmaster minute, Service, Skills, teamwork, training, Winter Camping | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Character again…

HOFWe talk a lot about Character and making men of Character in Scouting.  We spend a great deal of time reinforcing the ideals found in the Scout Oath and Law and expect our Scouts to live those values which will lead him to a life in which he will be counted as one that has Character.
I have talked about Character a lot here in this blog and believe that if we do nothing else with these young men, we owe them the very best training in being a man of Character.
I have said it before and I will echo it till the end of time… I really don’t care if a Scout earns his Eagle as long as he develops Character.  His Character will get him much farther in life than a red, white, and blue ribbon with an Eagle suspended from it.  Having said that though, you all know that I want them all to earn their Eagle, but the Eagle award does not make the man, Character does.
I was listening to some sports talk radio today and they were discussing the “steroid Ballot” for the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame.  Now, I am not going to bother getting into the details of the discussion and I also will not share my opinion on the ballot.. well actually I am in a round about way.
The reason that this caught my attention was that to the folks hosting the discussion made it an issue of Character.  And yes sir.. that’s what it is all about.  There was an argument that the guys that are on the ballot that used “Performance enhancing Drugs” were Hall of Famer’s before they used the steroids.. well if they were Hall of Famer’s then.. why did they need to cheat?
Mark McGuire who is the only player that actually admitted to the use of steroids said that it was important for him to “come clean” because at some point he had to look his children in the eye and explain all of this.. and that is what got my attention.
In previous posts I have explained the rule of “Saying it aloud“.  It works every time.  I really liked the idea of McGuire holding himself accountable to his kids.  That is a great rule for character.  We are all accountable to some one and we should act accordingly.
Along with the values of the Oath and Law, knowing that at some point we will have to answer for our actions should force us to act with character.  I was listening to Dennis Prager the other day, he said something that reinforced this idea.  He said he did not care how you feel.. he cares more about how you act.  This too plays a big part in curbing selfish behavior and a lack of character.  We live in an era where people feel entitled and that as long as they feel it is ok, then it is.  On the contrary, we are still accountable for our actions and at the end of the day you will have an effect on someone else.  Knowing that at some point I will have to answer for my actions and that the last people on earth that I ever want to disappoint are my children, I act in accordance with my values.  Does it always make those around me feel great.. No, but at the end of the day they can see that I acted with character.
I have made it a point to always demonstrate good character to my kids.  It has not always been the cool thing and at times it has left them feeling like I am mean-spirited or a jerk, but then they realize that I care and want only the best for them and all of us.
We often use the standard of the Oath and Law in our discussion of wrong and right.  We know that at some point we will all have to answer for a decision we make.  If more people used that standard, the world would simply be a better place.  There would not be spouses cheating on each other, there would be less crime, there would be far less Congressmen… oh I just could not resist, but seriously our leaders would be driven to make better decisions… after all they are accountable to US.. right.
So Barry Bonds, Mark McGuire, and Sammy Sosa all juiced and had amazing stats in baseball… they are all on the ballot for entry in the Hall of Fame.  We don’t get a vote, but can they say they got in as a player that did not cheat?  Just because they all did it, does that make it right?  Not if you are judging based on character.  If they get in they are in and will have to continue answering the questions about steroid use.  If they don’t get in, they will still have to answer for why they did not get in.. the steroid use.  If they were actually Hall of Famer’s before they used.. they should have use McGuire’s standard of how he would answer to those that are most important.. his kids.  Personally I don’t care one way or the other if they are Hall of Famer’s.  To me, they cheated and therefore lose the privilege of being in the Hall of Fame, but then my only vote is how I look at them in regard to their character.  I judge.
As for me, I will use the values I have and the remember that one day I may have to look in my children’s eyes and answer for my actions.  That should be enough to make anyone remember that Character matters more than Eagle Medals or statues in the Hall of Fame.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: blog, Character, Citizenship, comments, Good Turn Daily, Ideals, Methods, Oath and Law, respect, Values | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Shooting Sports

shootingI got home from work to find an email in my ‘In Box’ from a local Scoutmaster that I had a conversation with at Round table.  We were talking about our annual plans and I told him that our Troop would be Shot Gun Shooting in January at the local Gun Club and camping at a local Scout camp.
He asked in his email if I thought it a good idea to continue with our plan to go shooting in light of the recent events here in Oregon and in Connecticut.  He thinks that maybe we should not encourage our Scouts to shoot guns.
Well, I am going to be totally honest with you and tell you all.. and this Scoutmaster, that I disagree.  I think this is the time that we need to be teaching gun safety and responsibility.  The more I thought about how I should respond, the more I thought about just how important it is for proper instruction and example of how we should handle fire arms.
The Guide to Safe Scouting does a real good job of making it clear that the Boy Scouts of America does not condone the shooting of anything living.  Through its shooting sports activities and the G2SS the Boy Scouts teach responsible fire arm safety and responsibility.  The Guide clearly prohibits any activity that encourages engaging targets other than paper.  This is the reason we can not have Air soft or Paint ball outings.  Those two activities, while I see no direct harm in them when played in an organized field with rules and the proper equipment, are against the BSA rules so Scouts do not get used to engaging human targets.
Not that Paint ball wars are the gateway to a person going on a shooting spree… but I can see why we should maintain this as a good rule.  Especially in light of the conversations currently in the media regarding “First person Shooter video games” etc.
But so far as Scouts doing the Shooting sports and earning the shooting sports merit badges.  They need to have that program available to them.
They teach the Scout to have a healthy respect for fire arms.  They build confidence in the Scout as he develops skills, and the Scout can seek further achievement in the JR Olympic Shooting programs offered.
Shooting sports are fun and should be kept fun by keeping the competition healthy and the bullets on paper targets.
To the matter of “Too Soon”.
No.  It’s not to soon.  It’s the right time to teach.  It’s the right time to reinforce the ideas of responsibility and demonstrate that the gun can not do harm unless the person behind it wants to do harm.  It is time to reinforce the Scout Oath and Law and always doing what is right.  It is time to allow these Scouts to decide for themselves how they want to act and react around fire arms.
I am not going to get into a 2nd Amendment argument here, but we do have the right in America to keep and bear arms.  It is time to teach our Scouts what that means.
It is time to teach our Scouts that we do not allow crime and criminals to dictate how honest, law abiding citizens should live.  On the contrary, it is time to teach them that good citizens get to set the standard and rules to live by.
Just because people choose to drink and drive does not mean that we out law cars and alcohol.  We have rules, laws, and social norms in this country and while the recent events are tragic, they do not, and should not dictate how the rest of us live.  Oh and I refuse to live in fear too… so this is what we teach our Scouts in the Shooting sports activities.
In January when we go shooting as a Troop, these life lessons among the lessons of proper fire arm use is how we will do it.  We will not postpone it, we will not shy away from it, we will teach, coach, train and mentor our Scouts to always do the right thing.  We will play this game with a purpose and we will do it the right way.
I have been around fire arms my entire life.  I own 4 rifles and a pistol.  I do not see the need for a 30 round magazine or what the media calls Assault rifles.  I am friends with many hunters although I have never hunted a day in my life.   I don’t know anyone that hunts with an AK47.  But I understand that people like to fire high powered, rapid firing guns.  I understand the sport, the collecting, and the right to own these fire arms.   Is there a ‘need’?  Maybe not, but we are allowed to have them and I do not, even given the recent tragic events, want to see that right taken from me and my fellow Americans.
I am not a “slippery slope” guy.  I don’t think one right taken will lead to more… but the real question for me is why not just enforce the laws we have?  Why can’t our screening process be revamped to make sure that these fire arms end up in the right hands.  Why can’t there be an education piece added to the rules of ownership?
These are the questions no one seems to be asking.  They just want the guns to go away.  Well they aren’t and they never will.
So we teach our Scouts to be responsible with them and we teach them to respect the fire arm and their fellow man.  We teach them to do the right thing and at least we will have done our part to prevent these tragic events in the future.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: blog, Character, Citizenship, Ideals, Leadership, Oath and Law, respect, Skills, Values, Youth Protection | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Selfish.

Monday night at our Troop meeting I gave the Scoutmaster minute as always.  This weeks topic focused on not being selfish.
It is so easy to be a selfish person in our world today.  We tend to focus on what’s in it for me and what ever is good for me is the direction we head.  The selfish attitude that prevails in the world today is the cause of much heart ache, crime, and unrest.
Monday I talked about the Scout Oath and the fact that it is a promise made not to be selfish.  When you pledge your honor you are saying that I will not be a selfish person.
I will do my duty to my God and My Country.  Not that I expect anything in return.  It is simply my duty and I will do it.  I promise to help other people at all times.  Help.  This one is all about other people.. nothing to do with me.  And when I help I don’t need any praise, payment, or award.  I just want to be helpful.  And then there are the three promises that wrap up the Oath.  To keep myself Physically strong, so I can be of help to other people and set an example of good living and health.  To keep myself Mentally awake, so I can serve others and be aware of what is around me.  So I can learn and grow so that I can assist those that need help learning.  So I can be a leader in my world.  And to keep myself Morally straight.  Values that I learn and share are the cornerstone of my life and the more I demonstrate that I want to live right and do the right thing makes me a good member of my community.  And as a good member of the community I help others and make my community a better place to live.
The Scout Oath is about other people and how I am going to be a person that is productive, helpful, compassionate, caring, and a member of my community that makes the world a better place.
Yesterday we had a tragic event happen in our community. 
WARNING.   I AM GOING TO OFFEND HERE AND I DON’T CARE!
Yesterday a person.. who cares what his name is, he died a disgusting individual, entered a mall and began shooting.  He killed two people and like the coward that he is shot himself.  That is the best part of the story.. that he shot himself.  He saved the tax payers of this state lots of money and time that we would have to hear how he was “a troubled young man”, that “he played video games and they made him do it”, that “if he did not have access to guns, he would not have done this”, that “it’s not fair to hold him accountable for his actions, the crazy world made him do it.”
Yeah… that sounds harsh, but already we are hearing on the news that “No one saw this coming” and that “he was a good boy”.  Bull.
You don’t wake up one morning and put on camouflage clothing, body armor, and go into a mall loaded to take over Baghdad and start shooting on a whim.  I don’t care what this bums name is, I don’t want to know and I don’t think that the media should ever say it.  He should be a nameless individual that did a horrific thing.  He should not be made a victim and he should not be memorialized like Lee Harvey Oswald.  He did nothing heroic and he did nothing that should warrant a place in history.  A two-bit criminal that took two lives.
I got in a discussion today with a person that was so concerned about him and what troubled him enough to do this.  I simplified the discussion by saying that he did not have a firm foundation of values.  Had he, he could not have done such a terrible thing.  Being mentally awake and morally straight, he would have got as far as the body armor and said… nah.. this aint right.  He would have looked in the mirror and decided to do something good yesterday instead of killing two people.  “What about drugs and that kind of thing?”  Physically strong, mentally awake, morally straight.  Living those promises won’t allow for you to go down that road.
I am ridiculous I suppose I live in a dream world thinking that it is that simple.  Well guess what folks.  It really is that simple.
I have said it before and I will say it again.  There is no substitute for values and there is no reason not have them.  Just because you are poor, a minority, or not in the best of circumstances does not give you a free pass on being a person without values.
Enter the parents.  I can go on and on about this… but that is always the first question I ask.  Where are they, who are they, and why did they not teach this kid the difference between right and wrong.
I have always told my kids to “Say it out loud”.  If it does not sound right, then it isn’t.
Try it.  Say this:  “I am going to drive my car into that 7-11.”  Does it sound right?  NO.  Then don’t do it.
“I am going to walk into the mall dressed in camo and start shooting”.  Just does not sound right does it.  So who taught this monster the difference between what is right and what is wrong.
When our Scouts come to me for Scoutmaster conferences we talk about the Scout Oath and Law.  I demand that they live them every day and I do not settle for easy answers.  I force the conversation and make them respond.  Is this above and beyond the requirement?  NO.  I sign the book before we start talking.  Scouting is not about Eagle Scouts, Merit Badges, and camp outs.  It is about teaching young people to make ethical and moral decisions throughout their life times.  It is about a Promise that they make to not be selfish.
We have enough stupid people in the world.  We have enough selfish people in the world.  We have enough sick people in the world.  Our answer is something we Scout leaders can effect change in.  The Oath and Law.
Imagine that.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Character, Citizenship, Ideals, Oath and Law, Values | 6 Comments

8,000 lbs of Peace

Today was our annual Scouting for Food Campaign.  The Scouts of the Cascade Pacific Council canvassed neighborhoods and collected the much need food that will stock the shelves for distribution in our area.  There is a great need and the Scouts today did their part to meet that need.
Today, the Scouts of the Cascade Pacific Council sent a Message of Peace.
Here is a short video of Troop 664 in the Thunderbird District, my Troop, and how they made an impact on our community today.
Special Thanks to Bryce, Ben, and Parker for helping in the presentation of this video.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Character, Citizenship, Good Turn Daily, Ideals, Journey to Excellence, Leadership, Oath and Law, Scouting, Service, Values | Tags: , | 1 Comment

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