Ideals

Three Promises

Last night at our Troop meeting I had the pleasure of meeting with a group of super enthusiastic Webelos.  They came to the meeting to wrap up their Arrow of Light requirement of participating in a Scoutmaster Conference.
During the course of our discussion, we did it as a group, I talked about the Scout Oath and Law and gave them some pointers for not only knowing how to say the Scout Oath, but how to remember the promises you make in saying the Oath and living it daily.
I explained to them the three promises.
Duty to God and Country.  It is important to always remember our Duty to our God and this great Country of ours.  Our God that has blessed us and continues to pour out his love for us.  No matter how you view that God or by which name you call him, he has given us so much and we need to remember our Duty to love him and serve him with all of our Heart, our Soul, and our Mind.  And this Country, no matter what your political slant is is a Country that is free.  A Country that still values Liberty over all.  It is our Country that we call home and we need to serve it where and how we can.
Duty to Other people.  We pledge to help other people at all times.  We need to be of help in our community, our home, and everywhere that we have an opportunity to make a difference.  It is when we have a Duty to others that we learn to live with an attitude of selfless service.
And finally, our Duty to our Selves.  To keep ourselves Physically Strong, Mentally awake, and Morally Straight.  When we remember our promise to ourselves we can be a better person for others.  Staying strong, fit, we can be an example of wellness and enjoy a life without the burden of illness.  Being mentally awake we continue to learn, to sharpen our skills, and to be aware of the needs around us.  And to be morally straight keeps our internal compass of right heading the way that makes us the people of Character that we are.  It guides us to do the right thing at all times.
scoutsignThose three promises can be found in the Scout sign, a daily reminder to live the promises that we make each time we say the Scout Oath.
We say the Oath aloud each Monday night at our Troop meeting, this is an accountability measure.  We all hear one another say the Oath and we hold each other to the promises that we make.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: blog, Character, Citizenship, fitness, Good Turn Daily, Ideals, Leadership, Methods, Motto, Oath and Law, Scout, Scout Law, Scouting, Scoutmaster conference, training, Values | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

Sharpen your Ax

Abraham Lincoln is a man often quoted, but not always in the context of Scouting.  I stumbled on a great quote that speaks directly to Scouts and Scouters.
“If you give me 6 hours to cut down a tree, I will take 4 hours sharpening my ax.”
Whats he saying here.. basically.. Be Prepared.  He is telling us that preparation is the key to success.  When we prepare for a task we can accomplish it with success.  Putting the time in to plan, train, and practice will make you better at the skill.
We are getting into the winter camping months.  The more we prepare, the more fun we will have.  The more we train, the safer we will be.  And the more we practice our skills the better experience we will have in our adventures.
We should always be looking at ways to keep our ax sharp.  We should always be thinking about that next tree and sharpen the ax to make the work easier and more effective.
I am always looking at ways to make my camping experiences better.  Toying with my gear, testing new stuff, learning and refining techniques to make my adventures fun and safe.
Are you sharpening your ax?

I was looking through an old external hard drive today and found this video.  Shot about 3 years ago when I was a “Tent Camper”.  Thought I would share it here.  It is a good example of Sunday routine.  Remember that we model expected behavior.  No yard sale here.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Backpacking, blog, camp skills, Camping, High Adventure, Ideals, Just fun, Leadership, Leave no trace, Methods, Motto, planning, Scout, Scouting, Skills, Winter Camping | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Gratitude

gratitude

No matter how many times I say it, it seems to always be there.. a theme… Like the opportunity to do a good turn daily is just a matter of opening your eyes, a another theme for this week has rendered itself in front of me.

Gratitude.
It seems that everywhere I turn this week, at work, on the radio, daily devotion, whatever.. the idea of being grateful keeps coming up.  And so it got me thinking about just how grateful am I?
My thoughts immediately turn  toward those things closest to me.  My family.  I am so grateful that I have a wife of 22 years.  She is my partner and my best friend.  We have been through it all together.  She is the mother of my three amazing kids.  Yes, I love to brag about my kids.  Our son that is serving in the Army, I am grateful for him.  He has become a great man.  Our daughter who is a college student.  She brings us so much joy.  I am grateful for the way she is becoming a neat women that has compassion and a heart to be helpful.  And then our youngest son who is going to graduate from high school this year.  An amazing athlete and student.  He has a heart as big as the moon and watching him grow and become the person that he is has been fun.  None of this without it’s challenges, but for all of it I am grateful.
My parents are still around and close by.  I love the fact that my kids all have the opportunity to grow up with their grandparents, something I did not get to do.  I am ever so grateful for the lessons that my parents gave me that shaped me into the person that I am.
My home, as in my Country.  The greatest Country on Earth.. says me.  I am grateful that I am an American.  A land where I don’t have to like or agree, because we have liberty.  A Country where I have opportunity to go as far as I want to.  I land that rewards hard work and drive.  A Country that has lots of problems and a government that drives me up the wall, but it’s still home and I am grateful that I live here.
I am grateful for my health.  I can still run and play and get out in the woods.  I have never had a major health issue and have the ability to provide for me family because I am healthy.
I can talk, I can see, I can lift, I can move.  I am grateful.
Scouting.  A program that is all about the things that I believe in and love.  Character, Citizenship, and Fitness.  The great outdoors and making young people in to good older people.  A program that I know works.  I am grateful that I belong to a great troop.  A committee that wants to keep me around.  Assistant Scoutmasters that are fun to work with, great men that practice what they preach and are fantastic role models.  And of course those young men that keep showing up every Monday night.  Man am I glad that they stick with it.
I suppose the point of all of this is that sometimes we forget to show gratitude.  We tend to take advantage of the simple things and often times let our thankfulness pass us by in our busy lives.
Its time that we take a moment and be grateful for all that we have.  We have so much.  If you are reading this, you are on your computer, tablet, smart phone, or other device.  That means that you are doing ok.. be thankful.
Finally, I am thankful for all of you.  I need to express that gratitude more often.  Thank you for reading, subscribing or following, and thank you for showing interest in this blog.  Thanks!
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: blog, Character, Citizenship, fitness, Good Turn Daily, Ideals, Just fun | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Conflict Resolution

myway_yourwaySo who here has a perfect Troop?  A group of Scouts that get along with no issues?  A unit that has a culture of absolute peace and harmony?
Yeah?  If you have that Troop, please let me know what side of Utopia you live on and I will come and check that out.. I certainly have some things to learn.
For those of you that live on our planet and work with Boy Scouts you know that at some point you will be dealing with problems.  Personal issues and friction among the Scouts.
The BSA includes a block of instruction dealing with Conflict Resolution in the NYLT or JLT sessions.  Yes, I know that there is no longer a program called JLT, but many units still run their own Junior Leader Training sessions as part of their annual plan.
The Boy Scouts train our Scouts to use the Key word EAR.   Express, Address, and Resolve.  Those are great to remember when Scouts get into sticky situations with one another.  Again, I still have lots to learn, but feel some what qualified to speak on conflict resolution.  I have been married for over 20 years, raised 3 kids, and have been a Scoutmaster now for 10 years.
I have come up with a few general rules of my own for resolving conflict.
1.  Calm Down.  When tempers are flaring and the parties are upset the best thing to do is calm the situation down.  Separate the folks involved and get them, and everyone around to calm down.  No conflict will be resolved when the blood is still up.
2.  Listen.  Both sides of the story need to be heard.  Spend more time listening and less time judging.  Give both parties time and attention.  More times than not there is no one right or wrong side of the issue.  Typically it is a personality issue or and issue of who’s idea gets picked.  Listen.  I have seen the issues work themselves out just because they talked and I listened.
3.  Focus on Behavior.   Behavior is the key to the direction that conflicts go.  Never allow the behavior to turn bad because of the conflict.  The Oath and Law are great guides in directing expected behavior.  Reinforce that behavior is more important than feelings.  How we act is more important than how we feel.  In the end our behavior will impact how we feel, so if we control our behavior and keep it within the values of the Scout Law, we need not worry about feelings.
4.  Shake and look ‘em in the eye.  Each conflict needs to have an end.  A hand shake and look in the eye is the final point.  Once that happens there can be no more issues.  Those are the rules.  Don’t shake and apologize if you don’t mean it and there is still conflict.  It aint over till it’s over.   When it’s over.. Shake and look each other in the eye.
I have been using those simple ideas for some time now and find that it works great.  You have to be committed to working it through though.  Don’t allow the emotion of the conflict override the resolution.  Never allow the group to dictate or pick sides.  That turns nasty and in the end you will divide the unit with that type of behavior.
Remember that the resolution is for the good of both parties and the unit.  It’s not fixed till everyone has a sense of satisfaction in the resolution.
I hope that helps.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: blog, Character, Citizenship, comments, Ideals, Journey to Excellence, Leadership, Oath and Law, Patrol Method, respect, Scout Law, Scoutmaster minute, Scouts, Skills, teamwork, training, Values | Tags: , | 3 Comments

The Boy

all togetherThis is sort of a follow up to yesterdays post.
As some of you know I collect Scouting Literature and memorabilia.  I often like to look back at the old Scoutmaster handbooks and see how things are different.  The one thing that I have seen that is constant is “the boy”.
I am going to quote extensively from the 1953 Handbook for Scoutmasters in the this post.  I know that it is not cool to use so much material like that.  But I really need the BSA’s help (from 1953) here to make my point.
On what a boy wants:
He wants to stand on his own two feet, to make decisions, to show his independence and initiative.   He dreams of being a leader.
I see that in today’s boys.  The problem is that they don’t know what they don’t know and so we need to teach them.
He wants action and fun.  He wants to be in the thick of things, to run and fight, to be on the move.
But today we don’t want him running, he might get hurt.  But today’s boy still wants to run, just watch him.  Most of what we call ADD today is pent-up energy.  We need to let the boy let it out.
He craves adventure, a change of surroundings.  He want to experience new things in new ways, to feel the wind in his hair, the sun in his eyes.  He wants to escape, to get away from his everyday life.
Boy, that sounds good does it not?  Sounds like all the reasons we joined Scouts when I was a kid.  Sounds like the reason a lot of still do Scouting.  Why not let the boys do that to.
In 1953 the Handbook for Scoutmasters shared “We must take him as we find him, and help him grow into the man he hopes to be.”  Sounds familiar.  Bob Mazzucca told us this just a few years ago.  The handbook reminds us also that we in Scouting do not have the sole responsibility for helping the boy become a man.  “Most of  it, as a matter of fact rests within his home, his Church, his School.”   The 1953 handbook goes on to say; Then in our own work with the boy, let us strive to do well the things that we know that Scouting can do- and can do better than any other agency… He comes to us because he wants to become a Scout- he wants to Scout!
The book goes on to talk about the fact that boys do not come to Scouts to get more School (paraphrasing), but for the Outdoor thrills of hikes and camp.  I will wrap up my last quote from the handbook with this.
That’s what he comes for.  And that’s what we must give him:  THE SCOUTING ADVENTURE HE EXPECTS!  
By giving him pure unadulterated Scouting, we come closest to reaching our goal.
Now I don’t know about you, but in my opinion boys have not changed.  It is the parents that have changed and as a result, they are taking the boyhood out of the boy.
A quick look back at not so long ago gives a peek into a world that allowed boys to be boys.  I contend that nothing today precludes us from still letting that happen.
I am curious to see where you stand on this.  Leave us a comment, lets talk about this.  I want our boys back!
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: blog, Character, Citizenship, comments, fitness, Ideals, Leadership, Methods, Oath and Law | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Scouting… Cool?

cropped-rockwellphilmont.jpgFirst off.. if you are a Scout or Scouter read this post with caution.  You may not agree with some of what I am going to say.  Know that I love the Boy Scouts of America.  I am always trying to tell our story in the best light of Scouting.  I think it is the greatest youth program around.  But in the discussion of membership it is fair that we take a look at ourselves and ask the question, Why is it Not cool to be a Scout?  Please, if you disagree, read to the end and then leave a comment.
One of the most common things that I hear as a Scoutmaster during conferences is that sometimes our youth don’t feel that it is cool to be a Scout.  Peer pressure at School and in their neighborhoods, comments made, and the fact that in most cases the uniform causes a boy to shy away from the program and certainly not invite his friends to join something that is not cool.
So why is that?
In my opinion one of the reasons is that we and the National Council do a terrible job at telling Scouting’s story.  In our focus to deliver the “Main thing” we have lost sight on what Scouting has traditionally been about.
When I was a Scout, and I cringe at starting a sentence that way, but none the less, when I was a Scout I joined the Boy Scouts because it looked cool.  I was drawn to the adventure.  I was longing for to be in a group that Norman Rockwell painted climbing to the Tooth of Time or heading out for a weekend of canoeing.  I watched as older boys embraced leadership and taught me skills in the outdoors.  Older guys that played on the high school football team that we all looked up to but were not afraid to lead a song or skit at camp.  Members of the Order of the Arrow that dressed like plains Indians and stood in canoes with torches blazing, landing on the shore and presenting dramatic ceremonies that left me wanting to be a part of their group.
While I am a believer that we need to take Scouting where the Scouts are… I am also a believer that we can take the Scout on an adventure that will challenge him and leave him wanting more.  Instead, the Scouting story is that of catering to the lowest common denominator.  We dumb things down because of parents that are over protective and do not understand Scouting.
We take away from the challenge and make it “Accessible”.  I want every boy to have the opportunity to be a Scout, but I want every boy to accept the challenges that lead to self-reliance, life long skills, good character, and being fit.  There is plenty in Scouting for all, but we have made it so restrictive that leaders no longer feel that they can seek and provide adventures in their units.
THE PRESS.
Bad press is the only press.  That’s the story we get.  It does not impact our youth that much, but it keeps Mom and Dad from bringing their son to us.  When all we see is bad press, we judge the program based on it.  Suddenly all Scout leaders are fat bone heads that push over billion year old rock formations.  We are all looking to abuse youth.  We are all.. well you get the point.
But what of good press.  National does nothing.  No ads on TV.  Yes, I know that costs money, but what does the BSA waste each year fighting in the courts?  How much does the BSA waste in preaching to the choir?  They target the membership campaigns to those who are already in Scouting and fail to tell our story to those that need to hear it.
We have been systematically removed from the Schools, the Churches are bailing, and parents see this as an organization that can’t keep it’s poop in a group.  It’s all bad press and yet we do nothing to turn the tide of the bad publicity.
We tend to circle our wagons and rally the troops from within the organization, but that’s it.
I watched a great video the other day on YouTube.  Rex Tillerson, the former BSA President talking at the National Meetings of the BSA about the new changes that are taking effect.  Of course I am talking about the new Non discrimination policy.  What Rex had to say was fantastic, but you know, I bet only Scouters saw it.  Why was it not on TV?  Why did the BSA not contact the major media outlets and networks and have that 10 minute video or parts of it in the main stream media?  10,358 views on Youtube.. and I bet they are all Scout people.  A google search produced hits on the video all associated with Scouting websites, blogs, and of course the National office.
NERDS.
Scouting is for nerds.  Just ask your Scouts.  That’s what they will tell you their classmates think.  I recently sat with one of my Scouts at his Eagle Board of Review.  One of the board members asked him if he thought Scouting was not cool.  He answered that he thought it was cool, but it was not cool to those guys at his high School.  The discussion kept going, “Why do you think that?” the Board member asked.  “Because of what they think we do in Scouts” the Eagle candidate answered.  “What do they think we do?”  “Well, for the most part they think we go camping, but it’s mostly about crafts and artsy stuff.”
Crafts and artsy stuff.  Yep, that is what we have become.
As a Cub Scout I remember doing craftsy stuff.  Soap box derby races, pinewood derby and rockets led the list of cool things that we did as a den.  The craftsy stuff when we got to Boy Scouts was Monkey bridges that actually crossed water.  Signal towers that you could actually climb.  Earning the Paul Bunyan Ax man award and actually chopping down trees.
But that’s all gone now.  In the name of Safety?  Really?  No, in the name of insurance fear.  I am not advocating getting Scouts hurt, but we didn’t then so what’s changed.  We moved away from adventure and got wrapped up in the lowest impact don’t let Tommy Tenderfoot get dirty family camp.
Look at our merit badge program.  Last summer at camp we had more Scouts earn the finger printing merit badge than the canoeing merit badge.  It is what we have become.
We as parents have forgotten that our boys need to be boys.  We as parents have forgotten that getting dirty is part of childhood.  Playing in the woods and coming home when the street lights come on is part of the adventure of being a boy.
We are so afraid that every boy is a victim.  Every boy is fragile and a broken bone is the end of the world.  I once broke two bones in my arm when I was 10.  What was I doing?  Trying to fly.  Not smart, but you know what, I am no worse for ware.
I watched a Patrol mate burn his eye brows off blowing on a camp fire.  A great laugh and no harm done.  I can remember coming home from camp outs and my mom not letting me in the house till I first took all my clothing off and hosed down in the backyard.  I learned, I grew, and I am a better person for it.
I never earned Basketry or the Art merit badge, and if it were around in 1980 I would not have earned the game design merit badge.  game-designI did earn Backpacking, hiking, first aid, wilderness survival and those badges.  Heck I joined Scouts for fun and adventure.. not more School work.
OUR STORY.
The Boy Scouts of America has a rich tradition and yes it has undergone many changes since 1910, but our story is the same.  Our Story is still about Character building and Citizenship.  Our Story is still about challenge and finding our limits and growing from experience.  Our Story is still about great outdoor programs.  Our Story is still about adventure and life long learning.  Our Story is cool.  But we don’t tell our story the way we want it heard.  We don’t take the opportunity not to be just another YMCA or after school program, but to be the Boy Scouts of America full of the cool stuff that boys want and need.
We tell the story of numbers and membership, but forget that not everyone wants to be or should be a Scout.  We tell the story of abuse and scandal without telling the story of the million great things going on every week at meetings and on monthly camp outs.
We get excited when we have a mediocre district event and wonder why our Scouts are not better recruiters.  We miss out on telling our story in the media when things are going good.  We miss the boat on getting ahead of bad press and showing the Boy Scouts for what we really are.  We are cool, we are making a difference, we are what we say we are.  But, for a group that prides itself of spinning a great campfire yarn, we don’t do a great job of telling our story.
Some thoughts.  We clean up and get ourselves right.  When we have guests come to our house, we straighten up, vacuum, and maybe even light a candle to make the place smell good.
Scouting needs to do that.  We need to get our leaders to wear their uniform right and agree to deliver the promise of Scouting using the methods.  Leaders need to be trained.
We need to get our Scouts in full uniforms out in the community doing something other than selling popcorn or marching in a parade.  We need to show Scouts doing service and other cool stuff that really makes a difference.
We need to budget for local advertising.  We need to get in the media in a positive light every opportunity we can.
We need to sell adventure… Not just another chess club.  (I have nothing against chess, but we are talking adventure here) Boys want and need adventure.
We need to get with current outdoor practices and try new methods of camping.  It is fun for the boys and increases the challenge for the whole unit.
We need to develop better relationships with the Forest service and Park Rangers.  They are a great resource for Scouting.
Do you want Scouting to be cool?  Then you need to act cool.  You need to be cool.  You need to look cool.  Hey, we are cool… right?
I am tired of the BSA getting beat up for nonsense.  I see so much potential in how we can move ahead to tell our story so we can change the perception of Scouting.  And then, our numbers will go up, boys will stay longer, and we will be cool, not just to us, but to everyone.
Your thoughts?
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Backpacking, blog, camp skills, Camping, canoe, Character, Citizenship, Climbing, fitness, gear, Good Turn Daily, High Adventure, Ideals, Journey to Excellence, Just fun, Leadership, Leave no trace, Methods, Oath and Law, Patrol Method, Philmont, Scouting, Scoutmaster conference, Scoutmaster minute, Service, Skills, stories, Summer Camp, Values, Youth Protection | Tags: , , , , | 8 Comments

‘Tis the season

tis_the_season_I am sure that I have said this before in the blog, and I know this to have some truth as I have often experienced that there are themes that seem to crop up from time to time in our lives.  This month theme, and I would suggest that it started around the Thanksgiving holiday is being selfless.
It seems that the theme of being selfless or unselfish has been overwhelming since Thanksgiving.  It has cropped up in Scoutmaster minutes I have shared with the Scouts of our troop.  It has reared its head in news stories, we have seen its appeal in “adopt a family” programs at work.  We demonstrated it in our annual Scouting for Food drive, and in my own life I have really been hit with the theme of forgetting about my self so much and focusing on those around me.  I consider myself a giver.
In Scouting, I have dedicated a lot of time, talent, and treasure to the organization, knowing that my dollars and time have a direct impact on Scouts.  I am not sharing this for a pat on the back, rather to plant in your mind the spirit of giving.  A few years back I was asked to give and become a member of the James E. West fellowship.  After some discussion with my wife, we decided that this gift to Scouting would be a lasting legacy gift, money that will stay in Scouting and have direct impacts on Scouts forever.  We annually give through the Friends of Scouting program.  It’s not much in the grand scheme of things.  28% or so of the operating budget comes from FOS, but the impact is direct.
Giving of time and talent are perhaps the most important thing that we do as Scouters and to put a price tag on it would take an advanced math degree and sliding rule.. maybe even the use of an abacus and someone that knows how to calculate it.  That is where the rubber meets the road, where it really counts.
But that spirit of giving does not end when we take off our tan shirts.  Living the Oath and Law in our daily lives suggests that we are givers.  “To help other people at all times”.  This is all about giving.  Being courteous and kind are gifts to others.  I once heard Dennis Prager speak about Happiness as a Moral obligation.  I am going to quote part of his talk on this subject, as there is no way that I could say it better.  Prager said, “When people think of happiness or pursuing happiness, the first thing they think of is, “Well, it’s a pretty selfish desire, I want to be happy for me.   I mean, after all who wants to be unhappy?”  Actually, there is an answer to that, but that’ll be for another time.   But I am here to tell you that in fact happiness is far, far, far more than a selfish desire, it’s actually a moral obligation.  That’s right.   I’m sure most people have never thought of it like this, and I didn’t for most of my life.  I thought that happiness, the pursuit of happiness, was primarily selfish, but it isn’t.  Whether or not you’re happy, and certainly whether or not you act happy is a very, very altruistic endeavor.  In other words, it’s how you touch other lives.  Ask anybody who was raised by an unhappy parent whether or not happiness is a moral issue, and I assure you the answer will be “yes”.   It’s no fun being raised by an unhappy parent,  it is not particularly good to be married to an unhappy person, it is not at all nice for a parent to have an unhappy child, it’s lousy to have a chronically unhappy co-worker.  Yes, our happiness affects others tremendously. That’s why I believe and that’s why I advocate that happiness is a moral obligation.  We are morally obligated to at least act as happy as possible. Even if you don’t feel it. You can ‘t be guided by feelings.  How we act affects others.”
So look back now at the Scout Oath and Law and see how this directs us in our daily lives to be helpful to others.   How do we make happiness a Moral obligation in our lives.  Being Selfless is the answer.
Being Cheerful, Thrifty and Brave certainly impact other people.  Being Trustworthy and loyal directly touch peoples lives.
Ok, so lets get back to this recurring theme.  Why is this so important to me tonight as I sit at the key board and rattle on about it?  Simply put.  We need to think about being better givers.  Take care of our families first, friends, and other people.  Make other people happy through our happiness and our selflessness.
Again, I am not bucking for Sainthood here, but basic compassion for our neighbor dictates that we give.  About a week ago it got real cold here in the Portland metro area.  When the snow hits the ground we go about our daily lives just a little different.  Being a good Scout, I go prepared.  I throw some extra socks and a headlamp in my lunch box along with a few extra snacks to get me through the long UPS days.  It was hovering around 14 degrees as I pulled up to an intersection that a panhandler “works” every day.  I was surprised to see him out there on as cold a day as it was.  But there he was none the less.  Like most people, I am skeptical in giving money to panhandlers, so many of them here in the Portland area at least turn that money into booze or drugs.  And maybe that is the way that they deal with there condition, but I can not justify contributing to that.  The light was red so I pulled to a stop.  He made eye contact with me and I gave him a courteous smile and nod.  I could see he was freezing.  So I turned off the truck and got the socks out of my lunch box.  They were good REI smart wool socks and I knew that this poor guy needed them a heck of a lot more than I this particular morning.  I handed him the socks and encouraged him to try to stay warm.  He smiled and thanked me.  Now I am not going to judge this guy.  And I have heard from local business owners that he is running a major scam out there.  But the fact remained that he was cold and I had extra socks.  No harm, no foul.
With a cheerful spirit it was good to give.
Tonight I rolled the UPS truck up to a house that looked pretty dark for this time in the evening.  No lights were on except to glow of a few candles I could see from the front porch.  The package I had for them was clearly a Christmas gift from someone, perhaps a family member, in South Carolina.  As I got closer to the door, I noted that there were door hangers attached to the door and knob.  The electric company, the gas company and the water had all been turned off.  I could not help but feel for that family sitting by the glow of the candles.
It is easy to judge and say, its their problem for getting into that situation, yes it is.  But what of compassion for those people.  We all have had hard times in our lives.
I knocked on the door and a lady answered.  She looked at me and smiled, I returned her smile and wished her a good evening and a Merry Christmas.  I could see on her face that Christmas was going to be thin this year.  She thanked me and before she closed the door wished me a Merry Christmas.  My heart sank as I walked back to the truck.  It was my last stop of the day.  As I drove home I thanked God for all the blessings that I have.  I thought about my wife and kids at home that have never gone to bed hungry or in a house without heat.  And a voice inside reminded me of my moral obligation to be happy.  You see, I feel that because we have always had a spirit of giving, we have been given so much.  We work hard and try to share in our time, treasure, and talents and as a result we are blessed.  We try daily to live the Scout Oath and Law, and because of that we make those around us better too.
Last night I was honored by being recognized for being elected to the Vigil Honor of the Order of the Arrow.  For those of you that are unfamiliar with the Order of the Arrow,  I will sum up its purpose by saying that the Order was founded to enhance the spirit of Scouting within its members.  The foundation is Service to others.  Service rendered with a cheerful spirit.  The National Order of the Arrow web site states that, “The Vigil Honor is a high mark of distinction and recognition reserved for those Arrowmen who, by reason of exceptional service, personal effort, and unselfish interest, have made distinguished contributions beyond the immediate responsibilities of their position of office”  further “Alertness to the needs of others is the mark of the Vigil Honor.  It calls for an individual with an unusual awareness of the possibilities within each situation.”  In short, those that make an effort to serve in their daily lives and live the Scout Oath and Law.  This applies to so many people I know, but it is nice that our Lodge has deemed me worthy of such an honor.  But there again, in a short period of time, this theme of selflessness was looking me in the eye.
And now we enter the Christmas season.  Perhaps the season that’s hallmark is giving.  The whole reason for this season is the celebration of the worlds greatest gift.  A gift, that if you believe is renewed over and over.  It is a gift in which our God modeled an expected behavior.  Tonight as I pulled into our neighborhood, I passed the lights decorating houses, Christmas trees glowing from front windows, and the hope that every house has a Merry Christmas filled my heart.  I opened the door and there sat my wife writing Christmas greetings in our cards, that may or may not make it by Christmas.  Our tree, decorated with lights and ornaments collected over the past 22 years, each with meaning and sentiment to our family.  I could not help but pause for a minute and just enjoy what we have.
Being selfless has made us better people, sharing that selflessness is what all of this is about.  Giving each and every day, even if that gift is a smile, a hello, or a pair of socks.  It could be as simple as holding a door open or helping carry a load of groceries.  It can be as big as a James E. West Fellowship or just paying for the coffee of the guy behind you at Starbucks.  The impact you leave with your simple act of kindness, selflessly going through your lives make a difference.
‘Tis the season to be reminded of that.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: blog, Character, Good Turn Daily, Ideals, Oath and Law, Order of the Arrow, Scout Law, Scouting, Scoutmaster minute, Service, Values | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Re Launch

launchOCTSkyWell, as promised.. there are going to be changes coming to the blog and the You Tube channel.  Yes, I am going to fully launch the You Tube channel as an extension of the blog.  Sort of like the podcast was.  I am liking the format of video and it is going to allow me to express the spirit of the blog via video.
I am still working out the details, but the videos from the channel will be in the blog as well as subscriptions on You Tube.  Yes, I am going to ask for everyone to subscribe.
Reason for the subscription.  I have been doing some homework on this and looking at what one would consider a good You Tube channel.  Read.. lots of subscriptions and good content.  What happens is that they start bubbling up to the top of the You Tube world.  I am not being narcissistic here.. My goal is to get Scouting and related topics on top.  Just like when we had the podcast, the more downloads and subscriptions one had the closer to the top of the list the podcast got.  In order for us to keep Scouting on top.. we need to promote it.  I have said it many times, I think it is up to us to deliver the promise of Scouting and do it using multiple media.
The Channel.
The format for the channel will not just be me reading the blog.  It will be an outdoor related channel.  Gear, Tips, Trip reports etc.  And thrown in there will be Scoutmaster musings and minutes.  Character, Leadership, and tips on Scoutmastership.
The Blog will be enhanced with this addition and I am excited.
So why has there been a delay and gap in blog entries?
My computer crashed and crashed hard.. blue screen of death kind of crash.  It was toast.  A friend of mine rebuilt it adding a super huge hard drive and some computer things that make it go faster.  I am not a computer guy.. a good user, but do not ask my how it works or whats inside.  Anyway, now that I have everything reloaded and set up.. it’s time to get going again.. and here we go!  No more delays and hopefully no more crashes.
First ask.
If there is anyone that can recommend some cool video editing software.. please let me know.  I am currently using Windows Movie Maker, but know that there is some neat stuff out there.  Rule #1.  It needs to be easy to use.
Drop me an email, or leave a message in the comments section.
Stay tuned.. the Re launch and all the details are coming soon.
Ready for RE LAUNCH.. in 10, 9, 8, 7….

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: blog, camp skills, Camping, Character, comments, gear, High Adventure, Ideals, Just fun, Leadership, Methods, podcast, Scouting, stories, technology, training, Values, Winter Camping, Wood Badge | Tags: | 1 Comment

Back to the Future… the Patrol Method

patrolmethodOk.. So to get back to the Future.. we need to focus on those basics that I referred to in the last post.  I am going to, in the next few post expand on what I think we need to focus on.  This is the world according to Jerry… and Baden Powell..
We start where it all starts and ends.. the Patrol.
The Patrol method is not just something we do to group boys together.  It is the method that ties the Troop together, it is the basis for teaching and coaching the three elements of Citizenship, Character, and Fitness that are the primary goals of the Scouting program in achieving our Mission.
Again, I turn to Aides to Scoutmastership and see what Baden Powell has to say about the Patrol method.

The Patrol System is the one essential feature in which Scout training differs from that of all other organizations, and where the System is properly applied, it is absolutely bound to bring success. It cannot help itself!

That is correct, if we do not use the patrol method we can not and will not be successful in our mission.  While other clubs sort their youth in age groups, gender groups, or interest groups, Scouting creates groups that will self govern, learn decision making, establish friendships, and challenge one another and the Patrols around them.

An invaluable step in character training is to put responsibility on to the individual. This is immediately gained in appointing a Patrol Leader to responsible command of his Patrol. It is up to him to take hold of and to develop the qualities of each boy in his Patrol. It sounds a big order, but in practice it works.

There always seems to be resistance in this area.  Some adults either have no faith in the boy, or find it easier just to do it themselves.  Which one develops the boy?  Give a Scout responsibility and training and he will rise to it.  I think you will be surprised when you see even a first year Scout lead to his level.  You will see his character develop as he is placed in situations that will test his strength of character.  He will have to choose right over popular, he will have to choose discipline over chaos.  He will have to take charge and responsibility and understand that his needs are secondary to those of the Scouts he leads.  He is first up and last down.  He ensures that meals are prepared and done correctly.  He develops communication techniques that allow him to effectively represent his patrol at the Patrol leaders council and get the information back to his patrol so they can be full participants in the program.  He is the cheerleader of the patrol, he is the compass that keeps the patrol heading in the right direction.  The Patrol leader is the motivator and goal setter.  At the end of his term, he will have taken a step towards being a better leader in his School, home, and among friends, not to mention in his troop.

The best progress is made in those Troops where power and responsibility are really put into the hands of the Patrol Leaders. This is the Secret of success in Scout Training.

Amen BP..   Take away the Patrol Method and you essentially do not have a Boy Scout Troop.

The Patrol Method is supported by the Patrol Leaders Council.  The PLC is the heartbeat of the Boy Scout troop.  Without an effective BOY LED Patrol Leaders Council, you do not have a Boy Scout Troop.  You have an adult led club.
The Patrol Leaders Council makes the decisions for the troop.  They plan the troops activities and meetings and by and large the training that will occur for first year Scouts and skills that are required for specific activities.  The Patrol Leaders Council is led by the Senior Patrol leader.  He is trained and seeks advice from the Scoutmaster.
The Scoutmaster’s primary job is to train that Senior Patrol leader.  Then he can watch as the SPL in turns trains and guides using the EDGE method those Patrol leaders.  A great opportunity for leadership development and training is the use of Troop guides.  These Scouts are part of the Patrol leaders council and assist the Patrols were needed, especially those younger Scout patrols.
The Patrol Leaders Council, I can not stress enough must be allowed to function, even when it’s ugly… the Scouts that make up the council need to be allowed to make mistakes, they need to be allowed to make a decision and then fully realize the consequence of the decision.  Adult leadership should stand back and coach when needed not allowing safety to be compromised or the general welfare of the Troop.  Using the assessment tools that are part of Junior leader training, or the new National Youth Leadership Training program. The Patrol leaders council can evaluate themselves and learn from success and failure.
This is the learning ground for Patrol leaders and will assist them is developing sound leadership, as rough as it looks sometimes.

The bottom line.  Back to basics.. back to the future starts with the Patrol Method.  Period.
As the founder taught us; “”The patrol system is not one method in which Scouting for boys can be carried on. It is the only method.”

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: fitness, Ideals, Leadership, Methods, Patrol Method | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

Loyalty to the Movement

scoutmastershipI have been in discussions lately.. yeah still talking about “The issue”.. the good news is simply this.  All of the discussions that I have been engaged in as of late are about where we go from here.  Moving on.
The “Gay” thing really has become a secondary issue.  What has become the primary topic is what we want Scouting to look like in the near and far future.  Most Scout leaders that I have talked with, emailed back and forth to, and bounced ideas via Twitter want to get back to basics.  I totally agree.
What this new spark has done for me is to look at what Scouting is really all about and why we do it.  It has brought back memories of when I was a boy and the great times that I had as a Scout.  It has asked me to look at how I work as a Scoutmaster and the example that I set for the boys of my Troop.
I am satisfied about how I am a Scoutmaster, but as with most things in life, I can do better.  To do better I need to get back to basics.  I need to teach, coach, train, and be a mentor to our Scouts in the tradition of what the Scouting Movement promotes and why it has had a lasting impact on not just the United States, but the world.
I think we fall short in the US in that we are not good historians.  We don’t look to the past to see what got us here.  We fail to look to the founders of the movement both here at home and of course Baden Powell as he founded Scouting with an idea and a promise.
Once again, I have been diving into Aides to Scoutmastership.  If you have not downloaded a copy or got a hard copy.. stop reading now.. open up another window and download your copy.. read it.
… OK.. you are back…  Great stuff in there, right?
Last night after the troop meeting a group of parents and I talked in the parking lot.. yeah.. you know, the meeting after the meeting.  They wanted to assure me that they are in it for the long haul.  That they believe in Scouting and they believe in how we offer the program in our troop.  We talked about religion and it’s role in Scouting and what responsibility, if any, we have as troop leaders when it comes to religion.  We don’t really have a role, other than being a good example.  What I wanted to share with the parents was my loyalty to the program, to the troop, and to Scouting.
When I got home, I pulled out my copy of Aides to Scoutmastership and started to dig in.  I wanted to see what BP had to say about our roles.  And I got hung up on this section:

Loyalty to the Movement
Let the Scoutmaster remember that in addition to his duty to his boys he has a duty also to the Movement as a whole. Our aim in making boys into good citizens is partly for the benefit of the country, that it may have a virile trusty race of citizens whose amity and sense of “playing the game” will keep it united internally and at peace with its neighbors abroad.  Charged with the duty of teaching self-abnegation and discipline by their own practice of it, Scoutmasters must necessarily be above petty personal feeling, and must be large-minded enough to subject their own personal views to the higher policy of the whole. Theirs is to teach their boys to “play the game,” each in his place like bricks in a wall, by doing the same themselves. Each has his allotted sphere of work, and the better he
devotes himself to that, the better his Scouts will respond to his training. Then it is only by looking to the higher aims of the Movement, or to the effects of measures ten years hence that one can see details of to-day in their proper proportion. Where a man cannot conscientiously take the line required, his one manly course is to put it straight to his Commissioner or to Headquarters, and if we cannot meet his views, then to leave the work. He goes into it in the first place with his eyes open, and it is scarcely fair if afterwards, because he finds the details do not suit him, he complains that it is the fault of the Executive.
Fortunately, in our Movement, by decentralization and giving a free hand to the local authorities, we avoid much of the red tape which has been the cause of irritation and complaint in so many other organizations.
We are also fortunate in having a body of Scoutmasters who are large-minded in their outlook and in their loyalty to the Movement as a whole.

It took a bit to digest that, remembering the time and place in which BP wrote the Aides to Scoutmastership.  Like I said in a post last week… the more things change, the more they stay the same.  You see, the world was a crazy place then.. and you know, with the exception of cool phones and the internet.. it’s still a crazy place.
When we demonstrate loyalty to the boys in our Troops, no matter what we personally think, we teach them valuable lessons in citizenship.  It is no secret that our country is divided politically.  The Boy Scouts of America prohibits us from participating in political or social activism in our role as Scoutmaster. We can not march in parades, use our position in Scouting to support a candidate or cause.  We can however remain loyal to the process and teach that to our Scouts.  Above all if we believe in Scouting we remain loyal to it.
It is because of generations of Scout leaders that came before us that got us through the rough spot in Scouting during the 70’s.  It got us through World Wars and many issues “of the day”.  Scouting did not change.
Anyway, I don’t want to get into a rant here.  I just think that we need to get back to basics.  Aides to Scoutmastership is one way that we can learn about what got us here.
Now that you have a copy, lets get into it and get back to the basics of the Scouting movement.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: blog, Character, Citizenship, Ideals, Journey to Excellence, Leadership, Scouting, training, Values | Tags: , , | 8 Comments

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