fitness

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

One Word

You know, some times things happen and then you look back at it and have an “Ah Ha” moment.
In my last post I put in a Rockwell print to illustrate “Scouting”… Today as I looked at it again, I thought.. Now that is the ultimate Boy Scout Recruiting poster.
Look at the Cub Scout in the print.. you know what he wants out of Scouting… Look close you will see it.
If you build it they will come pt.2

ADVENTURE!

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Backpacking, camp skills, Camping, Character, Competition, fitness, High Adventure, Ideals, Just fun, Leadership, teamwork, Webelos to Scout Transition | 5 Comments

Scouting is Simple

As I have been digging into my copy of Aids to Scoutmastership the last couple days, I have become more and more a fan of both Scoutmastership and of Baden-Powell.
There is a chapter in the book called “Scouting is Simple”… here it is:

To an outsider Scouting must at first sight appear to be a very complex matter, and many a man is probably put off from becoming a Scoutmaster because of the enormous number and variety of things that he thinks he would have to know in order to teach his boys. But it need not be so, if the man will only realise the following points:

  1. The aim of Scouting is quite a simple one.
  2. The Scoutmaster gives to the boy the ambition and desire to learn for himself by suggesting to him activities which attract him, and which he pursues till he, by experience, does them aright. (Such activities are suggested in Scouting for Boys).
  3. The Scoutmaster works through his Patrol Leaders.

And yes ladies and gentlemen, it is just that simple.  I think the message of the last couple days and weeks has been leading to this thought.. keep it simple.
To many well-meaning committee members, district folks, and those that feel the need at the council level to get into Troop business, they have clearly not read Aids to Scoutmastership.
The role of the district and council are not to get into troop affairs.  The Aim of Scouting is to develop Character, Citizenship, and Fitness.  That is all Troop and Patrol business.  The Council and District are there to support the units when needed.. not to replace the Troops annual planning (boy led) it is also there for administrative functions as a ‘go between’ to the National organization.
So far as giving the boys the ambition and desire to learn.  Once again.. Troop stuff.  Providing opportunities at the council and district level does not promote desire and ambition.  This has to occur in the context of the Patrol.  Troop guides, Patrol Leaders, and Senior Patrol leaders that have been trained to provide purpose, direction, and motivation, for the unit to be the best it can be.  Again… Troop stuff.
And finally.. and my favorite!!!!  Working the Patrol method.  In all its pain and agony, its fun and success, its trial and error.  The Patrol is where Scouting happens.  It is that simple.
So, as BP says.. Scouting is Simple.  Don’t complicate it.  If your unit is not keeping it simple, it may be time to evaluate what’s going on in it.
Keep the conversation going.. let us know what you think.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: blog, Character, Citizenship, comments, fitness, Just fun, Leadership, Oath and Law, Patrol Method | 3 Comments

Prepared. For Life

As everyone that reads this blog knows, the BSA’s new(er) slogan is as the title reads… “Prepared.  For Life”.   I have often stayed away from advertising gimmicks and jingles.. “An Army of One”, and “Be all that you can Be” come to mind.  But this one hit home as I thought about how Scouting does impact our lives.  Yesterday was my first day back from vacation and so I spent a little time catching up on emails, reading my favorite blogs, and cleaning camping gear.  My good buddy Adam posted a piece about his vacation last week.  It is a great article and illustrated just how Scouting is Preparing us for life.
I was and I suppose still am reluctant to tell this story in light of Adams blog post, but once again I find myself in need of sharing this wonderful thing called Scouting.
Last week we spent at Glacier National Park.  If you have never been.. GO!  It is truly an amazing place.  So as you can imagine when I go camping I go prepared.  We are ready to sustain for a week in comfort and have a good time out in the woods.  This time was no exception.  Since it was family time, I went a lot heavier than I am used to, the big cabin tent, the big stove, the coolers etc.  But I still had my day pack which had my 10 essentials in it and since we were in Glacier NP, a canister of Bear spray.
One afternoon as we sat in camp, a scream came from the road in front of our camp site.  The boys were throwing a football around and one fell.  HE ran straight into our site crying.  Why our site and not to his parents.. I don’t know.  Maybe instinct told him that I had just completed the Wilderness First Aid course, or that I was a Scoutmaster, or he had no idea where he was.. either way.. here he ran into our site bleeding from the hand.
I had him sit down and told him to look me in the eyes.  Josh, my youngest son, had already got to my day pack and retrieved the first aid kit.  I told this youngster to relax and that he was going to be fine.  His alligator tears started to dry and I just kept talking to him.  Found out that in three days he would be turning 9 years old and that he was from Canada.
All the while I gloved up and started treating his cut.  He had fallen on his hand and took a good layer or two of skin off his palm.  Cleaning the area and bandaging with non stick pads I was done with the bleeding part.  Then I started looking for possible fracture.  He asked why I was poking and pressing on his wrist and hand.. I told him I wanted to make sure he was ok.  He was.  Right about that time, his dad came into our camp.  He said he had heard the scream and started heading in this direction.  I told what I had done and that I think everything is going to be ok, keep it clean and if he needed I would change the dressing the next day.
He saw the Scouting stickers on the back of my truck and made a comment about them stating that his son had run to the right place.  “Who else would be ready to anything”, he said referring to the stickers.
So all of this got me to thinking about just how we Prepare our Scouts for life.
It’s not just first aid and camping skills, but as the mission statement states, Making ethical choice throughout their lives.
I often talk in this blog about character and making choices.  Being fit and healthy, being of service to others, and of course skills that will help them get through life.
Scouting is a great platform for this learning, discovery, and practice of the life skills that these young men will need as they go through it.  Being Prepared for as Baden Powell said.. Anything.
So it’s not just about camping and fun.  It truly is a game with a purpose and all of us should remember what that purpose it.  This new(er) slogan.. Prepared.  For Life.  Is the Boy Scouts of America mission statement in three words.  It is our call to action as Scouters.  It is what we are here for.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: blog, Character, Citizenship, comments, fitness, Good Turn Daily, Ideals, Journey to Excellence, Just fun, Leadership, Methods, Scout Law, Scouting, Scoutmaster minute, Service, Skills, stories, training | Leave a comment

Get Skinny?

After our last backpack trip we sat with the Scouts and had a good session of Start, Stop, and Continue.  I took the opportunity to do a little coaching on physical conditioning and that is where it got messy.
During our discussion on what we needed to do to get better at backpacking, I made mention that if you were overweight you needed to get skinny.  I was not targeting any one Scout, after all, we can all stand to lose a pound or two, I was simply stating that being overweight is not a good thing.  It leads to lots of problems down the road, the least of which being that ability to keep up on the hikes.
Now I am not Medical doctor, nor am I a nutritionist or health nut… I know that being fat is not healthy.  If you would like to argue that, so be it.  But I think that if you are alive in 2012 and do not understand the risk that you are putting yourself into by being overweight than you need to wake up.
One of the parents thought that me telling the Scouts to “Get skinny” was out of line.  They said that it was insensitive and hurtful.
During my discussion with the Scouts about getting in shape and losing weight, I put myself in with them.  I am in the process of losing weight for our trip to Philmont… but more importantly.. for my health.  I am almost 47 and do not want to let myself go.  The risk of heart disease, diabetes, and other issues are to great and I am not willing to go down that trail.
Childhood  obesity can have a harmful effect on the body in a variety of ways.  Obese children are more likely to have High blood pressure and high cholesterol, which are risk factors for cardiovascular disease. In one study, 70% of obese children had increased risk of impaired glucose tolerance, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.  Breathing problems, such as sleep apnea, and asthma.  Joint problems and musculoskeletal discomfort.  Fatty liver disease, gallstones, and gastroesophageal reflux (heartburn).  And obese children and adolescents have a greater risk of social and psychological problems, such as discrimination and poor self-esteem, which can continue into adulthood.  But what about the health  risks later.  Things like; Obese children are more likely to become obese adults.  Adult obesity is associated with a number of serious health conditions including heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers.  If children are overweight, obesity in adulthood is likely to be more severe.  So says the CDC.  According to the Center for Disease Control During the past 20 years, there has been a dramatic increase in obesity in the United States and rates remain high. More than one-third of U.S. adults (35.7%) and approximately 17% (or 12.5 million) of children and adolescents aged 2—19 years are obese.”
Hurtful?  Sometimes the truth hurts.  I never made it a point to hurt anyone.. but if you are fat.. you owe it to yourself to get skinny.  In the discussion we talked about why people are fat or overweight.  Mostly because of lack of excercise and bad eating habits was the conclusion of the group.  I can’t help but agree with them.
So this parent comes up to me afterward and says that they did not appreciate me calling their kid fat.  I never called anyone “fat” but I apologized for the term.. but asked the parent if they thought it was a good idea for their son to be overweight.  I also asked the parent what they thought I should say.  They hummed and hawwed for a minute and then said that my language only hurt.  I suggested that maybe it was what the Scouts needed to hear.  They are never told this at School and at home they are the darling of the house and we can’t tell it like it is.. right?
I asked the parent what they were doing to help their son get in shape.  How many hours do they sit and play XBox?  How many meals a week include fast food?  Now this line of questioning may seem intrusive.. and it may be.. but the net result is overweight kids.  And to be honest with you, I think it has a lot to do with parents that allow it to happen.
When I was a kid.. oh no.. not “when I was a kid” again…. When I was a kid I don’t remember to many overweight kids.. yeah we had a few chunky kids, but by the time we all hit Middle School, they had grown into their bodies.  The reason I believe is because we ran all day.  During the summer we were outside from after breakfast till the street lights came on (that was our curfew).  We played and we played hard.  We took sack lunches with us and stayed outside.  Our bike was our main mode of transportation.  We all had farmer tans and were not afraid of a good wrestling match or dirt clod fight.  But we were healthy.  Aside from seasonal allergies and a broken arm, life when I was a kid was physical and fun.  We played organized sports and pick up games.  Baseball all spring and summer and football in the fall.  The heavy kids played on the line, but they were fast and could hit hard.  They replaced “kid fat” with muscle when we got a bit older and were in shape.
I am not calling out the kids of today.  They are overweight because we let them become overweight.
We are afraid that they will get hurt playing sports, we are protective of letting them take their bikes across town, we don’t let them go all day without checking in every hour.  We give them money to hit McDonald’s rather than packing a sack lunch.  We have “Gaming nights” and XBox tournaments instead of getting them on the baseball field.
It’s our fault.. and you know what.. The truth hurts!
In the Scout Oath the Scout makes three promises.  The last promise is to himself.  “to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight”.  This promise is there to keep our Scouts well.  Being overweight is not being well.
Parents that do not appreciate our message are not getting it.  If the language was hurtful, then do something about it.  It is not the intent to shame, hurt, or belittle anyone.  But telling a group of Scouts that the right thing to do is to “Get skinny” is life advice that no one else is willing to say.
No one is willing to tell these young men that fat will hurt a lot worse than words in the long run.  The longer we adults caiter to and allow our youth to stay overweight, the more problems we will have to deal with down the road.
I brag about my kids all the time.  I am proud of them and the one thing that they can never say is that I was not honest with them.  They are not overweight or out of shape.  They are allowed to stay outside and play.  My youngest is outside right now throwing the football around with a group of his friends.  They eat well, don’t drink pop, get good rest, and stay active.  They are in sports, band, Scouts, and run with their friends.  They get good grades and have a healthy mental outlook on life.  Why?  Because we make it that way.
There are no excuses.  There is a lack of action or a lot of action.  You pick it!  Money is not an issue, attitude is the issue.  Ironically lower income kids are more likely to be obese.  Why? Because they don’t eat well.  This is a learning thing.  But there is no excuse not to learn.  Lower income families spend more on junk food than other folks?  Why?  It’s more expensive to take my family to McDonald’s than it is to make a good home cooked meal.  In my opinion it is because people are lazy.  To lazy to learn, to lazy to plan and prepare, to lazy to do the right thing.  The truth hurts.
I was in line at our local Wal Mart a few weeks ago behind a lady and her three kids.  She was using her Oregon trial card (food stamps).  And everything she had in the basket was junk with the exception of milk.  I think that with every Oregon trail card should come a mandatory class on shopping for your family.  Healthy choices vs. junk.  And we wonder why we have overweight kids.  They claim that low income children have less access to sports and physical activity.  The schools all have programs that allow for student athletes that are on a ‘Free lunch’ program to participate at reduced or no cost.  How many of them take advantage of it?  There are free classes at the school that are geared to fitness.  How many parents encourage their child to take it?  Our high school offers a Zero period to students to come to the school before school and work out in the gym.  Who goes?  Just the football team… and they are all in shape.
I guess the message here is this.  We are quick to point out that our darling little boys are getting their feeling hurt because I want them to be healthy.  We are quick to take the easy way out and not encourage our boys to run and play and eat right.  We are quick to allow them to get fat and then wonder why.  But are we quick to do something about their weight?  Are we quick to feed them right and let them get active?  Are we quick to recognize the truth about childhood obesity?
It does not take the President of the United States to come up with a nifty program or the NFL to advertise and encourage kids to play 60 minutes a day to change this trend.  On my honor.. I will not let sit by and let it happen to the Scouts that I care for.
If a parent is not happy with the truth.. Let me remind them that a Scout is… Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Kind.. and always trying to do a good turn.  If we can help these young men get fit.. we are doing a great service beyond that of our schools, government, and yeah… even some families out there.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Backpacking, blog, fitness, Leadership, Risk Management | 7 Comments

Methods- Leadership Development

Besides backpacking and teaching skills for the outdoors, my favorite subject in Scouting is leadership.  I know that leadership is but a small part of Scouting, but leadership when done correctly requires the leader to be of good character.  Leadership asks of the Scout to develop good citizenship, and of course being a good leader encourages a Scout to be physically fit.
Leadership is tested in Scouting.  It is a requirement for rank, a Scout must demonstrate his ability to lead others culminating with the Eagle project.  To be an effective leader, the Scout must first learn to be a follower.  Leadership starts early in a Scouts life with following.  The implication is that the Scouts needs to see other Scouts leading.  This is where leadership develop starts to take root.
Scouts that develop strong leadership habits and skills work wonders in a Scout led Troop.  They show what “right looks like” and are examples for others to follow.
Leadership does not require a patch.  Every Scout can start leading.  Being a great example is the best leadership tool.  Every Scout will have an opportunity to develop leadership through active participation in shared and total leadership situations.
Through the leadership development method a Scout see’s how leaders effect the over all good.  Understanding the concepts of leadership helps a boy accept the leadership roles of others and guides him toward the citizenship aim of Scouting.  This is why leadership development is important.  It takes time and energy to become a leader.  Leaders are not born, they are made and Scouting helps get them moving as an effective leader.  He will have skills and tools that will continue to be practiced and tested throughout his life.
Units should provide opportunities to develop Junior leaders.  Troop Junior Leader training, sending Scouts to the National Youth Leadership Training, the Eagle Scout service project, The Order of the Arrow, and various High Adventure base opportunities give the Scout a wide variety of leadership training.  Along with holding positions of leadership in the unit the Scout can find many ways to develop his skill sets and leadership tool box.  Aside from holding unit positions of leadership staffing at Summer camp is one of the greatest experiences that a Scout can have to demonstrate and practice leadership.  Unit leaders should encourage Scouts to take advantage of all of the leadership opportunities that Scouting has to offer.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Advancement, blog, Character, Citizenship, fitness, Leadership, Methods | 1 Comment

Methods- Personal Growth

Now don’t let the word personal get you.  Yes we want each and every Scout to grow, but we want them to find this growth within the context of Scouting’s values (found in the Oath and Law).  Personal growth is a tricky method in that it will sneak up on you as the Scout develops.  Each Scout will grow at his own pace and so we use tools and watch and guide his growth.  First and foremost, his family.  Stay in touch with his family, develop friendship and a relationship with the family.  They should be able to seek your input and you should be able to offer your suggestions also.  You see the Scout outside of the family context on camp outs and other events.  When you see a behavior change, talk with the young man or ask the family if they are seeing something different.  This is the tricky part.  If you are not comfortable getting into their lives, well then, you can’t assist with this.
I recently got a call from one of my Scouts Dad’s.  He was concerned about a change in behavior and wanted to know if I saw it.  We ended up talking for about an hour about different parts of this young man’s life.  It was a great opportunity for me to share some of the things that I see and he was even open to hearing what I thought on the matter.
The second tool we use is the Scoutmaster conference.  I have said this before, but it is always worth saying again… the Scoutmaster conference is not all about rank advancement.  You, Mister Scoutmaster are a mentor, a role model, a friend, use the Scoutmaster conference to get to know these young men and what makes them tick.  You can assist in the personal growth of each and every Scout by talking and listening.  When they know you care and want to listen, they will talk to you.  Sometimes, you are a better set of ears than their parents or teachers.  You are the guy that goes camping with them, plays games, and teaches them skills.  They trust you.  Don’t take advantage of this, but keep in mind that if you want these young men to grow into good men, you need to take an interest in their lives [outside of Scouting also].
And finally, the last tool set we will discuss are the various programs in Scouting.  The religious emblems program, doing a good turn, and being helpful at all times.  These programs/values will shape the young man and develop good habits in him that will last.  You will see growth in the character of the Scout as he serves others and learns about his spiritual world.  But there probably is no device so successful in developing a basis for personal growth as the daily Good Turn.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: blog, Character, Citizenship, fitness, Good Turn Daily, Ideals, Methods, Scoutmaster conference, Values | 1 Comment

Methods- Adults Association

This method is somewhat confusing, especially at the troop level for parents coming from the Cub Scout program.  I say this because it is different.
I’ll explain as we go.  First and foremost, no matter what level of Scouting you participate in Adult Association starts with being a good example.  An example of what right looks like, attitudes, habits, and the Scout Oath and Law.  This is a lofty ask, but it is without a doubt the most important part of being a Scout leader when talking about the methods.
How you carry yourself, talk and act, wear the uniform, demonstrate skills, and teach and coach these young men will leave a lasting impact.  Remember that you must practice what you preach.  I hate to say this, but if you unwilling to be a good example, Scouting does not need you.
Adults need to model the expected behavior and demonstrate good character.
We practice adult association when we conduct boards of review, Scoutmaster conferences, and work with the Scouts on skills and merit badges.  They see modeled behavior and we expect them to act like we do.  So we need to be our best.
Scouts look to adults for guidance, for coaching and a person to be a mentor.  We are that person in Scouting.
I have seen too many adults that carry this a bit far.  Boy Scouts are still Boy led.  We need to know when adult interaction or interference is needed.  Two deep leadership can be achieved from a safe distance while maintaining a healthy level of adult association.
Cub scout parents that come to a Troop often find it hard to get used to adults not being so hands on.  But as I often say, there are no adults in a Boy Scout troop who’s patch say’s leader.
We teach, coach, train, and mentor and maintain a healthy adult association through modeled behavior that reinforces good character, citizenship, and fitness.  Oh and we are supposed to have fun too!.. Remember the Scouting way.. that’s the game with a purpose!
Have a Great Scouting day!

Categories: Advancement, Character, Citizenship, fitness, Ideals, Journey to Excellence, Methods, Scoutmaster conference | Tags: | Leave a comment

Methods

Over the last couple of weeks Scouter friends and I have had numerous discussions about Scouting in our District.  After the last Scoutmaster training session it became pretty clear that many Scouters have heard about the methods of Scouting, but do not really put them into practice in their units.  Kind of like knowing that the BSA has a mission statement, but really it only applies at the National Level.. ahhh right?  Ahhhh.. No.
We got to talking last weekend about the methods of Scouting and how we should be using them in our units.  During the outdoor skills portion of the Scoutmaster training, it was unclear to many participants that the methods needed to be used to have a well-rounded program.. for that matter.. a Boy Scout Troop.
So I thought I would discuss the methods of Scouting over the next, lets see, 8 blog posts.
To quickly remind every one of what the methods are, they are:  Ideals, Patrols, Outdoor Program, Advancement, Association with Adults, Personal Growth, Leadership Development, and the Uniform.
Those eight methods are the steps that we take to reach our goals of Citizenship, Character, and Fitness.  The Boy Scout program (or the achievement of the goals) are dependant on all eight methods working at the unit level.
To start off the discussion we will dive into the IDEALS of Scouting. The ideals of Boy Scouting are spelled out in the Scout Oath, the Scout Law, the Scout motto, and the Scout slogan. The Boy Scout measures himself against these ideals and continually tries to improve. The goals are high, and, as he reaches for them, he has some control over what and who he becomes.  These ideals are the foundation for everything that follows in the Boy Scout program.  Without the ideals, it is just a club that goes camping.  The building blocks for the Scouts character is directly tied to the ideals found in the Oath and Law.  It is extremely important that every Scout learns the Oath and Law and practices these ideals daily.  As a Scout advances it is a good idea for the Scout to do a self check on where he is in his character development.  This is tough at times and some Scouts will understand or mature at a faster rate than his peers.  That is why the self check is important.  The Scout is not measuring himself against his peers, he is measuring himself against the Oath and Law which are lofty, but simple concepts that grow with the Scout as he negotiates his life.  The basic understanding that he must be a person that strives to achieve those ideas outlined in the Oath and Law is important and should not be taken lightly by the Scoutmaster.  It is ok to call out a Scout that is not demonstrating those values.
The other part of the ideals of the Boy Scouts of America are that they are not only an individual responsibility, but they are ideals, values, that are shared among the group.  We all know and believe that the values expressed in the Oath and Law are good and true.  We can all agree that every Scout, no matter what his background, education level, learning capability, or social status, can live up to the Oath and Law.  It is hard, but it is attainable.  Expecting that from every Scout and Scouter is reasonable.
These shared ideals are the foundation for the rest of the program.  If they are modified or removed, there is no reason to continue.  Character development hinges on the values found in the Oath and Law.
Dictionary.com defines Character as:
(noun)
1.  the aggregate of features and traits that form the individual nature of some person or thing.
2.  one such feature or trait; characteristic.
3.  moral or ethical quality: a man of fine, honorable character.
4.  qualities of honesty, courage, or the like; integrity: It takes character to face up to a bully.
5.  reputation: a stain on one’s character.
The Boy Scouts of America in setting one of its goals to develop men of Character considers this in its values.  Time tested, tried, and unwavering values that shape a mans character.
The qualities of being someone who can be trusted, a man who is loyal to his family, friends, School, work etc.  A young man who is helpful and works with a smile on his face, friendly, courteous and kind.  Someone that is obedient to our laws, parents, employers and faith.  A man with a cheerful spirit not someone who belly aches and brings down the morale of the team.  A man who is thrifty with his money, time, and resources.  This is the man who will develop a sound attitude of stewardship.  Brave is not just for standing up for himself, it is standing up for other people, ideals, values, and that which the Scout believes in.  Being Brave is important in the world we live in where our values are tested daily.  And then the part of a man’s character that keeps him clean and reverent.  These are matters of the mind, heart and body.  The Scout should stay clean of mind and body.  Spiritual health is important to for a well-rounded man of character.  These values, when put in to practice demonstrate the attitudes of character.  They are if you will.. the characteristics of character.  I think we all can agree here that without them Scouting is not Scouting.
The method of our Ideals is the foundation of Scouting and the launching point for all of the rest of the methods.  Everything ultimately comes back to the Oath and Law and as a Scoutmaster we need to continuously teach these values, not only with our words, but our actions.
St. Francis of Assisi said; “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.”  We should do the same with the Oath and Law.
Let me know what you think.  Leave a comment or thought.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: blog, Character, Citizenship, comments, fitness, Good Turn Daily, Ideals, Journey to Excellence, Leadership, Methods, Motto, Oath and Law, Scout Law, Scoutmaster minute, training, Values | 1 Comment

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