I recently was asked to review a new “Scouting Book” by new author Greg Cieply. I quickly read the book and posted a review on Amazon. After reading the book, I thought it would be a great idea along with Greg to interview him here on the blog.
Now doing a blog interview is new to me, so we thought it best to do it kind of like they do in the magazines. So here it goes.
Greg Cieply is a Scouter and Scoutmaster of his Troop 175 in Niles Illinois. He has just completed his first book called “Super Secret UnderCover Campfire Badges – Cool ideas to make any meeting or camp out more livelier, enriching and more FUN” – available in paperback or Kindle at Amazon.com
The book is a collection of 18 fun, easy and educational activities that any group of boys on a camp out can use to make their time together more enriching. Greg has been a Scouter for 10 years, recently attended the National Jamboree on the Pioneering Staff and has attended Philmont Scout Ranch in NM twice.
What inspired you to write your book?
I had been hearing lots of scouts talking about doing other “silly” merit badges – joking about the “Bee Keeping” merit badge at summer camp and a “duct tape” merit badge; novel things that Scouting would never allow. We had a counselor at summer camp one year who all the boys would ask about doing the “bee keeping” merit badge. She thought of it as a joke at first, but it got to be kind of a way to get under her skin. I suspect the other counselors would get other scouts to ask her. As time had gone by I also noticed that lots of the boys spent most of their days learning hard science and much more formal things in scouting – First Aid, Cooking, Pioneering. These are all good ideas and very useful for a later life vocation. However I also noticed that many times a boy would be working on a merit badge that was quite useful and worthy of his time, but one that he just couldn’t finish or lost interest in. I also noticed – especially at summer camp – that when boys had lots of down time in camp that they squandered with activities which really provided no benefit to them. I’m all for fun and relaxation but why not make it “relaxation with a purpose” – just like Scouting’s mantra of “games with a purpose? So that’s kind of how this came about.
How did you come up with the subjects?
So after someone jokingly mentioned that there should be a duct tape merit badge, I starting thinking that there has to be other merit badges that the boys would be interested in doing, ones that wouldn’t take up too much of their time. Mini merit badges I guess you could call them. More importantly I was thinking about subjects that we would sometimes talk about sort of hush hush when the boys weren’t listening or ones they would talk about while I would be driving them back in the car. You know how that is, they’re talking about video games and pokemon and girls. Things like that which we’d never really talk about in a scouting context. So I starting thinking about all the possibilities that we could come up with that would keep them occupied. Since I really didn’t want to listen to them talk about all these things when I was driving, my mind started wandering and I came up with these ideas.
How much of the book can realistically be done within the Scouting program?
Well I think in that context a lot of the concepts are already covered. You will probably encounter a good number of these topics; though not too many. More often they are less specific and usually the requirements for learning or even just participating are much longer. Also in the regular scouting program we have merit badge counselors, but in the book, all the leaders, parents and even other scouts can be “counselors”. You simply need to make sure they have some knowledge about the topic. For instance if you have a scout who has done some magic tricks and or some kind of performance, then you can have him be a counselor. Typically I would suggest an age limit of say 14 and above to counsel, but it’s really up to you.
What is your favorite of all your “campfire badges?”
I really like the idea of the Science Fair Campfire badge. I’d heard about other troops doing something like this at camp and I thought it was really neat and a great way to build rapport among the Scouts, have some friendly competition and learn how to overcome obstacles. But the magic and stand up comedy ones are close to my heart as well. I love doing stand up and always loved to see my son (Adam, who’s on the cover) do magic. Those two will be a lot of fun for anyone that does this book.
What is your hope for this book? What are you looking to accomplish with it?
Well as I said earlier, I really felt that there were certain topics that boys need to know about but that often slip through the cracks. For instance, the men’s fashion campfire badge section requires a boy to tie a Windsor knot, or even a bow tie knot. (This isn’t as hard as they make it out to be in the movies). However this probably isn’t addressed in any regular Scouting merit badge. It’s more like a life lesson that a Dad or an Uncle would provide for a boy on his first date or at prom. In a lot of cases we’re seeing more and more single Mom’s bringing their boys into scouting and that’s great. I’m sure there’s plenty of Moms who know how to tie a tie – my experience is that they don’t – but why not teach boys skills like this? And do so in the context of Scouting. I see that as a win win. And if a Mom wants to teach it, more power to her. YouTube or Pinterest is a great resource for that kind of thing. But the connection with an adult in the process is even better. If it’s a parent or an older scout that can pass along some good learning, then all the better.
You’ve been a scouter for 10 years, what has kept you going all this time?
Well like most leaders, it starts with a desire to help your own child accomplish important developmental goals in life. We all want the best for our kids and the more and more you get involved in the Scouting program, you see how it changes lives in such a positive way. When you see how much of a change it can make in your own child, you really start to see how it easily it can help others with very little work on your behalf. As time goes on you start to realize that someone had stuck it out and provided your son with the benefits of their knowledge and efforts and you should do the same. Pass it forward. I love seeing the look on the faces of Scouts when they are having fun, or learning something new. That inexplicable look of satisfaction and accomplishment they get when the achieve something memorable. Every time one of my Scouts earns a merit badge or advances a rank, I see how happy that makes them and it makes me incredibly happy as well. That will keep me going forever – (at least for an hour a week – per boy)!!!
Do you have any current book projects?
As time has gone by I keep thinking of new “campfire” badges that the boys can do, so there will probably be a part 2 and maybe even more. I’m also working on a book about Scouting and Health that I hope to have done by the summer. I expect it to be a great resource that’s also fun and interactive with the entire troop. I’m as excited about that one as I was about this one!
I would like to thank Greg for the interview and the information on the book. While it is not an “Official” Scouting book, I think it is a great resource for Senior Patrol Leaders and Scoutmaster that are looking for neat things to do with their Scouts. I can not tell you how many times I hear Scoutmasters talk about their Scouts wasting time. Well here is a possible solution that is fun and informative.
If you have a product, book, or neat idea that you would like to share and have promoted on the blog, drop me a note. You can email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
Have a Great Scouting Day!
Book cover picture taken from Amazon.com