During Scoutmaster conferences I often ask the Scout what the Scout Oath and Law mean to them. In their own words what do the values and the promises found in the Oath and Law mean.
It seems that, by and large, there is a lack of knowledge in so far as defining what “Duty” means with our younger Scouts. With our older Scouts too for that matter.
When I was a young Scout, right after we walked up hill both ways in the snow, it seems to me that we were taught in School, home, and Church what Duty meant and what our role was in keeping our promises and understanding what our duty was when it comes to our daily lives. In Scouts we knew what our duty was when it came to being Reverent and Helpful. We had an understanding about our Duty to our Country.
The other night I took the opportunity while talking with a young man during a Scoutmaster Conference to discuss what duty meant and what he needed to know about it. The discussion started because the Scout didn’t understand why he said those words when he recited the Scout Oath.
I started with a basic definition so he could get at least an understanding of duty. I first asked if he felt like he had a responsibility to be helpful. He said yes. I asked if he felt an obligation to be a good citizen. He said yes, but really didn’t know what that really meant at his age. I then asked him if he felt that he should be committed to doing his best, staying healthy, and doing well in school so he could have a better life. All of those he felt that he was committed to.
I told him that duty is just that, a responsibility, a commitment, and an obligation to something. In our case as Scouts those are found in our Scout Oath to God and our Country, to other people, and to ourselves.
Duty to me has always been a solid concept of how we live our lives. As a soldier, I was bound to serving our Country and as a leader my duty was to the soldiers I led.
As a Father, my responsibility has always been to making me children good people. I was told once that it is not my job as a Dad to raise good children, rather it was my duty to raise good adults.
As a Husband my obligation is to my wife. To be her partner through thick and thin and to show her unconditional love.
As a Scout leader I am committed to men of Character. Making Eagle Scouts is not my priority, teaching young men to grow up and be men that have Character, are good citizens, and have an understanding and habit of being fit. That is what is important to me. Why? Because it is my Duty.
I shared these things to my young Scout. It helped him gain a better understanding of why, in the Scout Oath, we use the term “Duty”.
Knowing that it make the Scout Law more important, it focuses the Scouts outlook toward God and Country and helping others. It creates a want to be his best and take care of himself and those around him.
Some may say that I am reading into this, I say no… I am teaching it for what it is. A promise.
If we don’t keep our promises we compromise our character, when we do that, we have nothing. We need to understand that we have a Duty to be good Scouts, Scouts that live the Oath and Law in our daily lives.
It is the foundation of Scouting. Baden Powell understood that when he started this. These concepts have been passed from generation to generation. William “Green Bar Bill” Hillcourt understood this and made it the hallmark of his writings on Scouting. Scoutmasters for years have held true to these concepts in the teaching their Scouts and for whatever reason there has been a disconnect in our young men today. It is my duty to change that. I will do that one Scout at a time.
Do you feel that same obligation?
Have a Great Scouting Day!
During Scoutmaster conferences I often ask the Scout what the Scout Oath and Law mean to them. In their own words what do the values and the promises found in the Oath and Law mean.
Just as a recap… Cold weather camping is a High Risk activity that is challenging, fun, and rewarding for those that venture into the cold weather environment. This type of camping takes discipline, skills, and a great attitude.
Once leaders understand their role in accountability to those they lead, monitor behavior, and maintain the same “can do” attitude, they will provide fun programs in the cold weather camping environment.
In this post we are going to continue some of the discussion on training for camping in the cold, focusing on some of the skills that need to be developed to ensure a safe, fun outing.
Obviously what you wear and how you wear it is a skill in and of itself. Knowing when to layer up or down takes skills and awareness of the conditions.
How all of this clothing gets packed require a skill set also. Those skills need to be practiced and repeated. One of the ways in which we develop that skill is simply to have the Scouts pack and repack. They unpack, set up, and then repack in fair conditions. The second evolution is practiced with gloves on. The same skills worked over and over.
It is once the Scout can do these skills that we practice outside, in the cold. You will see the mastery of this skill proven at that point.
Understanding that the simple skill of packing a backpack in the cold can have a huge impact on the fun of the outing. A Scout that struggles with this skill will place himself in painful situation and prolong his time spent being cold. Remember that it is easier to stay warm than to rewarm. Packing is a skill that will help the Scout find success in the cold. Nylon gets cold and as the Scout packs he is in contact with cold material that may also be icy or wet. It is important to do this correctly the first time so he can quickly return to activity that keeps him warm.
The Scout needs to understand that there is an order to his packing so he can access those items that he will need throughout the day to stay warm, cook meals, and move in and out of layers. He also needs to understand how his gear works so he can have quick set up and take down periods.
His tent should be set up and modified to meet the Scouts needs in the cold. Guy lines added and tied to the tie out points. Knots pre tied and line measured to specific lengths so there is not a lot of adjustments to be made.
A plan for anchoring his tent needs to be made and practiced. I do not worry about snow stakes. A stick will do or a regular tent stake placed in the snow sideways will hold the tent in place. Additional guy lines may be needed in the event of heavy winds or snow. Have those lines in place before you go. A simple bowline tied at the end of the line will make for quick set up and take down.
Digging a cold sump outside of the tent will pull cold air away from you as you sleep. Cold air settles in low ground, creating that low space will keep you warmer at night. You will also have a place to sit and put your boots on and fire up the stove to boil water for a nice cup of hot chocolate.
Cooking in the cold is another challenge that requires a few more skills than boiling water.
First the Scout needs to understand that eating is critical for staying warm in the cold weather environment. Eating keeps you hydrated, it keeps you warm and comfortable, and it provides the nutrients to keep you going. When you cook or boil water, it is a good way to treat that water and get fluids into your system. Dehydration is the number one cold weather injury. Scouts do not feel thirsty because it is cold. It is when you feel thirsty that you are in the early stages of dehydration. Cooking a meal and having a cold or warm drink with help prevent dehydration.
The gear used for cooking needs attention and skill to accomplish the cooking of your meal. Liquid fuels such as white gas are very reliable in the cold. Canister fuels work well also, but you need to keep the canister warm. Throw it in your sleeping bag at night. Keep it in a wool sock. Use a small square of Closed Cell Foam pad to set the canister on as you cook. This insulates and keeps the fuel warmer.
Why do I consider cooking a skill for the cold weather, well there is great emphasis in cooking in the cold. You can not get away with quick trail meals. You need to eat warmer meals to stay warm. The average person burns about 2700 calories a day in the summer. In the winter you need to be prepared to burn about 4000 a day. Considering this, it takes skill in planning and preparing those meals, not to mention getting them into camp. Again, packing becomes a tremendous skill that pays off.
We teach the acronym C.O.L.D. Clean, Overheating, Layers, and Dry. This simple acronym is all about skills.
Staying clean, both your body and your clothing. Dirty, oily clothing allows for water to seep as well as wind. This will not protect you against the elements any longer. You must stay as clean as you can. A quick wipe down before you go to bed and when you get up in the morning will keep you warmer. Keeping from Overheating will reduce sweat and therefore will keep you warmer. Reducing the amount of moisture on the body will keep you from freezing. We do this by wearing loose layers. An effective layering system of clothing that will assist you in regulating your temperature keeping your comfortable and warm. And finally staying dry. Staying out of the snow when it is critical to stay dry. This means changing after playing in the snow or digging a snow cave. Water is your enemy in the cold (unless you are drinking it). Remember C.O.L.D. to stay Warm!
Before setting up your tent, pack the snow. You are your buddy, walk with your snow shoes stamping down a platform for your tent. It need not be too much bigger than the footprint of the tent. Pack it so you no longer punch through when you walk. This will provide a comfortable platform to sleep on and make it easier to set up your tent.
This also keeps you from possible tearing a hole in the floor of your tent should you step through a patch of unpacked snow.
It is counter intuitive to think about opening your tent, but make sure your tent is vented well. This will reduce condensation keeping your tent and the rest of your gear dryer, thus keeping you warmer.
In part three, we will discuss sleeping in the cold.
What do you think? Are you ready to get out there and camp in the cold…
Let me know what you think. What winter camping skill do you think is the most important?
Have a Great Scouting Day!
Camping in the cold is adventurous and fun. It poses challenges and requires more training to ensure a safe, fun time spent in the winter camping.
I love cold weather camping, it is perhaps some of my favorite camping. Since becoming a Scoutmaster, I have taken pride in sharing that love of winter camping with the Scouts of my Troop. On average, we camp about 3 times a year in a cold weather environment. We have been very successful during these camp outs because of the training that we do before the outing.
So what do we do to make our winter outings successful? Training, accountability, and skills development.
Cold weather camping all starts with good training. We have a rule, not a policy, that if a Scout does not attend all of the training he does not go on cold weather camp outs.
We do this simply for safety. The safety of the scout and his buddies. Any high risk activity requires training above and beyond your typical camping skills.
Cold weather injury prevention takes a good portion of the training. We teach the Scouts first how to prevent cold weather injuries.
Developing the skills of the Scout to prepare for camping in the cold, identify those symptoms of cold weather injuries and then treatment. It should be noted that as stated we average about three cold weather camp outs a year as a Troop, and when I refer to cold weather camp outs, I am talking about sub freezing temperatures. For the past ten years we have been using this training plan and have never had a cold weather injury. I suppose I should pay respect to my Scouting friends in Alaska and Minnesota.. we do not get the temps you all get and I would think you all have similar training programs. Cold weather injuries are cold weather injuries no matter where you are.
Subjects under the topic of cold weather injuries include; Hypothermia, Frost Bite, Chill Blains, Frost nip, snow blindness, and immersion foot.
We move on from injuries to layering and proper wear of clothing. We discuss how and when to layer up or down and the right clothing for the outing. When it comes to clothing, we teach that it is easier to stay warm than to re-warm. The idea that re-warming takes time and energy that you may want to save.
Clothing plays a major role in Cold weather camping. Not just a lot of clothing, but the right clothing. Moving from cotton shirts that keep moisture on the body thus cooling you, to synthetic shirts that wick the sweat away from you. Jackets that insulate as well as protect from the elements. A layering system that allows you to move as well as stand around. Gloves that work for completing camp tasks as well as keeping your fingers, hands, and wrist warm.
Hats that warm and protect from wind while keeping your head dry.
There is a lot more that goes into developing your clothing list. Keeping in mind that you still have to carry it in your pack, bulk plays a part in your packing list. Extra socks are always a must, consideration needs to be made as to when you are going to change them, where you carry them, and how many do you need. A thick pair of wool socks to sleep in may be packed in with your sleep system while your smart wool socks worn for hiking and moving around camp may be packed on top for easy access.
If you are like me, once your feet get cold, I am cold. So maintaining warmth by frequent changing of socks is a must for me.
Part of the training program is a discussion of using existing gear. Using a three season tent to stand up to heavy snow and winds. Adding a layer in a sleeping bag to give an additional ten degrees of warmth. And how to make your stove the most efficient it can be in the cold.
A big area of our preparation for cold weather camping is the matter of accountability. This is a touchy subject for some, but it is a matter of safety and therefore non negotiable. A Scout must attend the four meetings leading to the first winter camp out. This way he gets the training required and has an opportunity to work with the rest of the troop on the skills needed for winter outings.
Being accountable to one another is an important part of this process. The Scouts are accountable to one another. When they understand that they can not have a “me” attitude, they start to pay close attention to what their buddy is doing and how they are a member of that team. We teach that cold weather injury prevention is a leaders responsibility. Leadership and Discipline are the two key components in cold weather camping. Leaders that care for their patrols will keep an eye on them. They will watch for the signs of cold weather issues. They will keep their patrol motivated an on task. They start building that high performance team with the understanding that they are all in this together. It takes the whole patrol watching out for each other, pitching in with camp chores, set up, take down, meal prep, etc. that makes the experience one they won’t forget.
When we talk about accountability we need to ensure that the Scout understands that he is an important part in the safety of his buddy and himself. Most Scouts will go through their Scouting life following the leader. Cold weather camping forces the issue of leadership on each Scout.
Accountability starts with the Scout being required to attend the meetings and training. If the Scout fails to attend the required meetings and training the result is the Scout not being able to attend the outing. When it comes to this we stand firm. Training and developing the required skills are important, when a Scout does not get the training, he is setting himself up for a possible injury or at least increasing the risk of himself and his buddies.
The Scout is accountable for his attitude. A lack of enthusiasm for the outing or having a negative attitude is not a good fit in the group dynamic in the cold weather environment. Being able to keep that positive outlook is important. You will need it when the conditions seem to be fighting you and you feel as though the task is out of hand. Understanding that you can and will get through the conditions is mostly in your attitude.
We will leave this discussion right here for now… we will pick up with the skills discussion in our next post.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
COLD WEATHER TIP
Warm up socks and boot insoles by keeping them in the sleeping bag next to you.
Here is the Scoutmaster Minute that I gave to our Troop the other night… Hope you find it useful.
As you travel on the trail to First Class Scout you find that there are many skills that you develop. You learn them and eventually master them well enough to use them in your daily lives, while on camp outs and even teach them to other people.
Learning to use the Map and Compass is one such skill that takes practice and hands on use. Once you master the use of the Map and Compass you will always know the direction you heading and will be able to find your way.
The Map shows you the terrain. It lets you know where you are and where you are going. It’s colors represent what is on the ground around you and the obstacles that you will face. As you read the map, you see the hills and valleys that you will be trekking on. It shows you where you can find water and other resources. The map can tell you where the trail is easy or hard or give you options for a detour. Using you map, you always know where you are and a clear path to where you want to go.
The Compass is the other tool that when used with your map gives you clear direction. Knowing how to use the compass properly will allow you to set your course in the right direction. It orients your map and gives you an accurate picture of what is ahead. Without the compass, the map is just a picture of the section of earth you are traveling on. Add the compass and you have accurate and steady direction. The compass is always true. It can set you on the path that will get you to your destination.
These two tools are important in your life. Yes, we have GPS now and that is very helpful, but the GPS will never replace a good map and compass.
We have another map and compass that get us headed in the right direction and keep us on track to our destination. The Scout Oath and Law.
The Oath is our map. It gives us a clear picture of the person that we should be. It has features much like the map. Duty, Honor, and being Selfless are some of the marks we see in Oath. If we use it, we will know the landscape of our lives and will be able to stay the course.
The Scout Law is our compass. It is the steady set of values, unchanging, that when used with the Scout Oath will be our guide on the trail of life.
The Law points you in the direction of our values that make you the person that you are. Like the compass it has a steadfast needle that ensures your heading is true.
Using the Oath and Law together, like the map and compass these tools will set your course to being a man of Character, a good Citizen, and promote in yourself and other fitness in your mind, body, and heart.
As we have traveled that trail to First Class, weather is is recent or in the past, or if you are just starting that journey, remember that the skills you develop today are there for you to use for the rest of your life. Focus on these skills they will make a difference not only on a camp out but every day that you wake up and look in the mirror starting your Great Scouting Day!
Set your azimuth to achieve your goals and keep checking your map to stay on course.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
From 1972 to 1989 the Boy Scouts of America had a program called the Troop Leadership Corps. This program was designed for Scouts 14-16 to serve their Troop in leadership roles. They were not a member of a Patrol within the Troop, but held direct leadership within the Troop. They served as guides for new Scout Patrols, they served in traditional leadership roles and they were charged with being skills instructors and role models to the Troop.
In 1989, this program was replaced with the Venture Patrol within traditional Troops. At this point the older Scouts now became a patrol and Troop positions of leadership were created to fill the void. The Instructor and Troop Guide Positions were created and added to the leadership roll of offices.
Since 1989 many Troops however have held on the Troop Leadership Corps (TLC) as a foundation of leadership in the Troop. It is also a great way to maintain older Scouts keeping them active in the Troop and engaged with the younger Scouts.
Our Troop is now among them. We are rebuilding the Troop Leadership Corp, with our own spin on it. during the heyday of the TLC the Scouts that made up the Corps left their patrols and entered the group of leaders to form a patrol. In our situation the Scouts will remain a part of their Patrol. The TLC will be made up of those Scouts that demonstrate leadership and leadership potential. They will be Scouts that buy into our leadership philosophy and are willing to step up and lead.
This is an incentive program. The Scouts that choose to belong to the Troop Leadership Corps will have high adventure opportunities and time set aside for them to be teenagers. We have a group of Scouts that are taking the lead on this. They are motivated and willing to lead. They all believe in our core values and leadership philosophy and want to see the Troop become more successful.
We are doing this to keep the older Scouts engaged and maintain them longer as members of the Troop.
Here are the 5 leadership principles (philosophy) that we maintain in the Troop. It is these 5 principles that the Troop Leadership Corp will center their leadership on. It is these 5 principles that they will use to teach and coach the troop to success.
1. Never Stop Learning, Be a life Long learner.
2. Focus on the Little things. Focusing on the little things make the big things happen.
3. Model Expected Behavior.
4. Communicate Effectively.
5. Be a Servant Leader.
When we do these 5 things the Troop works like a well oiled machine. Leadership is not a chore, and everyone finds success.
So we are bringing back the Troop Leadership Corps. We will report back on how it is going.
Does your Troop use the Troop Leadership Corp model? How is that going for you?
Have a Great Scouting Day!
Lets talk about membership.
We all know that we need members to keep Scouting alive. There are many different angles and directions to answer the membership question. I am not going to solve this issue in this post, rather, I am opening up the dialogue to see what you all think.
Scouting in the United States if a bit different from the rest of the World Organization of the Scouting Movement (WOSM).
First, we are not Coed, until you get to the Venturing Program.
Second, our programs are not connected. Yes, Cub Scouts go to Boy Scout etc… but in most cases outside of the US, a Scout group is made up of youth from 7 to 21. The units are formed from a group. This allows for continuity in the program and allows for leadership and example to be promoted from within the group. Personally, I like this idea. I think it solves a few of the issues we have in Scouting in the US. Namely keeping youth in Scouting.
I have become pen pals of sorts with some Scouters from outside of the United States. While they do have their own issues it seems that young people stay in Scouting longer and have a great Scouting experience along the way.
Starting off as a young 7-year-old and staying in Scouting till they are in their young adulthood. I think this creates a better Scouting life for them.
Anyway, as stated, I am not going to answer the question, just start the discussion.
I think that the BSA will need to explore the COED option sooner than later. With declining membership and the Girl Scout program not what most girls want… I think that opening the doors to a COOED program may go along way to saving Scouting in America.
So how does that work? Will we lose our values and program? I don’t think so. I think we can move forward with the program we have. We need not tailor the program to girls, they will fit right in. Look at the Venturing program as it is? It would be much better if it were filled with young people and adventure.
OK, membership at the core.
I think that our professionals at the National and Council level have the very best of intentions when they talk membership. It is a simple equation. Get more youth in and membership will fix itself.
A few things that I know for sure.
You will never be able to out recruit your losses. You will never be able to keep Scouts in a program that is floundering.
When I was a young Scoutmaster I was told the three keys to a successful troop were Program, Program, and Program. If you build it they will come. Boys do not join Scouts for Monday night meetings. They join for cool programs and camp outs. Parents bring their sons to our program. Not to our meetings. They need to be able to see value in the program.
Program will drive membership. So I think sometimes we put the cart before the horse. The horse is our program, the cart is membership and money. Now, you can’t have one without the other, but if your priority is not program, you won’t get members. That, I know for sure.
So where is our effort more effective? Building programs or recruiting? I think we build programs and let them come.
There are more factors to this discussion to be sure. It is not always that simple I understand. At the unit level programs need to be the priority. Build it and they will come. Recruiting efforts need to be a part of the annual plan. Focusing on Cub Scouts is not the only answer. We need to sell Scouting to all eligible youth.
This is where I see other WOSM get it. They appeal to youth of all ages and keep them in longer. There is a coolness factor about hanging out with their peers and they longer they stay, so do their friends. I think this is an important part of our membership issue.
So.. lets take a few posts and explore this issue?
What do you think? Let’s discuss this.
Here is a little video I stumbled on that really got me thinking. It is from the Scouts in Germany. I would love to see our youth in American Scouting like this one day. I got to see Scouting like this when I was a kid in the Transatlantic Council as we did many International Scouting activities.
Also take a moment to check out the Kandersteg International Scout Center videos. See what they look like and lets see how we can implement some of this here.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
I thought I would let it simmer for a bit before I weighed in.. and now I just can’t keep my blog silent on this.
So, at a risk of pissing a bunch of folks off.. here it goes.
By now, if you are an active Scouter, you are aware of the young man named James Hightower III. He was presented his Eagle award on the Steve Harvey show.
This ambitious Scout earned his Eagle award at age 12. (he is now 13) He earned 61 merit badges, the last of which, the ever so tough Fingerprinting on the Steve Harvey show.
He is a member of the Order of the Arrow and appears to rank among the young genius’ of our time. Band, Leadership in his Church, etc etc.
OK.. you all know that I am one that believes in maintain standards. First, there is no age limit other than 18 for earning the rank of Eagle Scout, I get that.. but let’s do the math.
He crosses over at a minimum of 10 1/2 years old. Earned his Eagle rank at 12. From First Class to Star the Scout must be active with his Troop for at least 4 months. During that 4 months, he needs to serve as a leader for that time period. Then from Star to Life, the Scout needs to serve as an active member of his Troop for 6 months. During that time, he needs to serve in a leadership position and do service. We are up to at least 10 months… not to mention the 30 days it takes to earn Tenderfoot and at least a few months to get to First Class. Since joining, he would have participated in 10 separate troop/patrol activities (other than troop/patrol meetings), three of which included camping overnight. In most Troops that would represent at least 3 months. So the simple math is 14 months. He is now 11 1/2 or 12 depending on when his birthday is.
Then he must serve for another 6 months as a Life Scout to earn Eagle. We are now 20 months into this young mans Scouting life.
Some one please tell me. Has he really practiced real leadership? How much leading has he done? Was he the Librarian and Historian for his leadership? I know they count, but really.. we are talking about an Eagle Scout here.
Yes I know that this wunderkind is active in many areas of his life. Which begs the question. When did his have all this time to lead, earn merit badges, rank, perform service projects etc? Band, Church, Junior National Honor Society, active in the Order of the Arrow, Top Teens Program… 20 months as a Scout. Just think about the Scouts in your Troop.
OK.. 20 months… Most Troops camp 11 times a year and go to Summer camp in that 11 months. He needs 20 nights camping for the Eagle Required Camping Merit badge. That’s 6 camp outs plus a 6 night summer camp. So that’s the first year. 12 of the 20 months got the basic nights out-of-the-way. I assume as a leader he attends most if not all camp outs.. after all, that is where leadership and the Patrol method are really practiced.
10 1/2 to 12 years old is one and a half years. That’s 18 months. Now we don’t know when his birthday is, but the numbers do not add up. From a math point of view and a practical point of view. What has this young man got out of the Eagle experience.
The article says he plans on staying in Scouting. That’s awesome. Maybe now he will become the Eagle that he is.
I am sorry if I seem to be bashing this young man. I am not. I am really bashing his Adult leadership for not ensuring that the process is producing Character, Citizenship, and Fitness.. not just Eagle Scouts.
I applaud this young man for his achievement… I don’t know how he did it… 61 merit badges alone takes time.. when did he find all that time in 18 months. I am sure he has friends, school, and eats and sleeps on occasion.
When people see the Eagle badge, they think leadership, accomplishment, self-reliance, the ability to serve and accomplish tasks. When I see a 12-year-old.. I think HOW? I wish I could applaud and not question. But I have been a Scoutmaster for a long time and just can not see how this works.
For me, it takes away from every person that has earned the award and has come through Scouting with Knowledge, experience, and the ability to lead as a servant.
Again, I am sorry if I question this young mans achievement. I just can’t see how this math works, which makes me believe that those standards are being manipulated some how. And that my friends, I can not tolerate. I never hold back a Scout, but I do make sure that he does it right. I make sure that he is completing the requirements without short cuts. I do not add to or take away any requirements and produce no false road blocks. As a Scoutmaster, I just make sure that the experience is more important than the badge.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
This Scouting year sure seems to be getting off to a fantastic start. The Annual Plan is exciting and looks to be super fun and this year between the committee and the Patrol Leaders Council, there is a great plan in place to enhance the program en total..
We put in place a good plan to promote Order of the Arrow Activities in an effort to grow the participation of our Arrowmen Yes there is a bit of incentive as we can earn an award for that too. The Order of the Arrow Unit of Excellence Award. We have been moving to getting our Arrowmen more active through participation in the chapter and lodge events. We are well on our way, but with this concerted effort and plan, I am curious to see how it turns out.
One of the other plans that we have put in place is to promote Physical Fitness throughout the Troop. This includes the adults. We make a promise every Monday night to “Keep ourselves Physically Strong”. We plan to keep that promise. Establishing a good habit of physical fitness now will help our Scouts and Adults be more fit in the future.
Last night at our Troop meeting, the Scouts of the Troop made a commitment to be Scout Strong. Each Scout was given an activities log. As a troop we are going to track our progress for the first 6 weeks and then set new goals for the next 6. We are using the PALA (Presidents Active Lifestyle Award challenge) as our base for picking activities and will be incorporating activities into weekly meetings.
It is going to be a super fun year and adding these kind of kinds of programs to our annual plan is just what we need to round out the Scouts experience.
To Keep our promise to keep ourselves Physically Strong. Sounds like a great plan to me.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
When it comes to advancement in the Boy Scouts, it’s not really rocket science. First, the Scout needs to want to advance. Second the Scout needs to do the work. And finally, the Scout needs to be tested.
This process can be easy for some Scouts while harder for others, but what I have learned in 10 years as a Scoutmaster is that it is all up to the Scout. I have seen Troops in our area that place more value on advancement than in other methods and I have seen some that do not at all. I think that we view it as one of the eight methods and my philosophy has always been that advancement will come when the Scout is actively participating and engaged in the Troop.
A Scout came to me asking for a Scoutmaster conference. OUTSTANDING!! Grab a couple of chairs and let’s have a talk I said. So how have you been, we haven’t seen you in a while. Well, I have been busy with other stuff says the Scout, and Scouts just kinda took the backseat, here’s my book, I need you to sign off a bunch of stuff.
Now, I am no drill sergeant when it comes to signing books, but there are some things that just need to be done. Discuss, Demonstrate, and Show. If that is what the requirement says, then that is what the Scout needs to do.
So, Tommy Tenderfoot, lets talk about these things that you have circled for me to sign off, I say to the young man. You mean you are not going to sign my book the Scouts replies looking agitated. No, that’s not what I am saying, I just want to make sure that you know what you need to know, this process is designed to progressively teach you the skills that you will need to be a good Scout and one day help teach other Scouts. I went on, You see, here is says to Demonstrate how a compass works and how to orient a map. Explain what map symbols mean. Did you bring a map and compass with you? I’m sorry, but for tonight’s meeting I didn’t bring that stuff. Frustrated, the Scout says No… but don’t you remember that hike that we did last year when we had the map out? I know how to use it, can’t you just sign it? No, I am afraid we need to sit down with the map and compass and work this out. It’s not me being hard, it’s the standard.
Long ago I learned that most things in life can be broken down to three things. Tasks, Conditions, and Standards.
There is a task to do like demonstrate how to orient a map and compass. The conditions are that you have a map and a compass and you use them to determine your orientation. And that standard is that once the task is complete, the map is oriented correctly. And so it goes with pretty much everything, at least in Scouting in the area of advancement. The Scout is given the task, the conditions are set, and there is one standard. The standard is always to do the task correctly. I always tell my Scouts that there is only one way to do things right and that is the right way. This can be applied to everything in Scouting and in life.
When the Scout handbook asks the Scout to Demonstrate, he needs to demonstrate. If it tells him to Show, then he shows, and if the handbooks instructs the Scout to discuss, well, that is exactly what it means. These are the Tasks, the Conditions, and the Standards. It is not rocket science, it’s just keeping the standards set. It is the right way.
So why do I feel the need to share this? Simple. I believe that we owe to our Scouts to make sure the standards are kept. We owe it to the Eagle Scouts and Scoutmasters that came before us. We always hear about “the good old days” You know, how tough it was when we did it… well, it wasn’t that tough… there are standards that were upheld. And we need to keep those standards. It’s simple, it’s not rocket science.
So when the book tells you to do something… just do it, it’s the right way. It’s the standard.
When a Scout needs a conference, give it to him. Don’t be hard, just follow the task, conditions, and standard. The Scout will benefit and so will the troop. It is fair and consistent and the way Scouting has always done it, why? Because it is the right way.
Demonstrate the standard. Show the standard. And Discuss the standard. It’s the right way.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
a group of people sharing a common profession or interests.
“members of the hunting fraternity”
synonyms: profession, body of workers; a male students’ society in a university or college.
synonyms: society, club, association; a religious or Masonic society or guild.
the state or feeling of friendship and mutual support within a group.
“the ideals of liberty, equality, and fraternity”
synonyms: brotherhood, fellowship, kinship, friendship, (mutual) support, solidarity, community, union, togetherness; sisterhood
“a spirit of fraternity”
When we hear the word fraternity we often think of college, parties, and the movie Animal house. And there is certainly something to that. But today I want to talk about fraternity in a few other ways. I was never a member of a college fraternity, but I have been to a frat house or two. But we will leave those stories for another day. In the broader sense of the word fraternity as I show in the definition, a Fraternity is a group of people who share something in common. But to truly define that group there is a bond, something that brought them together for a common purpose or goal. Whether that was to get through college, fight in a war, or be of service to others that bond defines the group and they have an ever lasting kinship because of it.
If you are reading this blog, you more than likely have a bond with me and your fellow readers in Scouting. The Boy Scouts of America created an Alumni Association just for the purpose of rekindling that spirit of fraternity with those people who have for over 100 years been associated with Scouting in America. Through this effort many people have reconnected with Scouting and as a result the fraternity of Scouting grows stronger.
Within Scouting there are fraternal groups. Wood Badge and the Order of the Arrow just to name a few. There is a connection of greater purpose within these groups that take Scouting to a higher level. Within the common bond of Wood Badgers and Arrowmen is greater sense of duty to others, promoting the Scouting movement, and of course fellowship with the membership. It strengthens our ties to Scouting and increases our willingness to make Scouting a lasting part of our lives.
You may also be reading this blog and thinking of other fraternal groups that you belong to that are outside of Scouting. The Elks, Masons, Eagles, and Moose Lodges are all Fraternal groups that share a bond of service and fellowship. The Veterans of Foreign Wars and the America Legion are Fraternal organization made up of men and women that share the bond of serving in the Military, some during times of war and others that served waiting to be called. Their bond is thick with the experiences, hardships, and of course friendships made during their service.
Why is this all important?
First, we need fraternal groups because they promote that common bond. With that common bond we tend to want to be a part and share in it for no other reason the fellowship and knowledge that we are a part of something that is like us. In Scouting, in college, in the Service, we shared a bond that is unique to us and we are a part of it. Being a part of something that is greater than us gives us that sense of duty to it.
Second, these fraternal groups are the vanguard of the bond we share. The membership of that organization leads the way in promoting its ideals, activity, and development of its membership. Thus the group continues to grow and last. For example, Scouting. Those that came before me and you have set the course for Scouting for us. The Alumni association and men and women that believe in Scouting continue to make the organization what it is through their dedication continued service to it. Scouting’s membership is the life of the organization, but without the support of the folks behind the scenes, making contributions of time and talent and a lot of treasure, Scouting would soon begin to fade. The organization is bigger than merit badges and camping. It’s fraternal bond is in its ideals, values, and memories of the members.
I belong to a few fraternal organizations. Scouting of course and within Scouting I love my affiliations within the Wood Badge community and the Order of the Arrow. They make me a better Scouter and keep me directed in my desire to serve. In Wood Badge that service comes by teaching fellow adults and promoting the great program of Scouting. The Order of the Arrow fulfills that in me that wants to serve others, demonstrate to fellow Scouts and Scouters the idea of Leading to Serve.
I am also a Life member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. This is important to me as I have a bond with those members, especially those that served in my era. This group is all about fraternity in the sense that we belong more to one another than to be of service to others. It is a group of shared experience.
I am a Life member of the National Infantry Association. This group is also one of shared experience, it is the professional association for Infantrymen and Infantry supporters. The NIA, supports the Infantry’s role in the security of our nation; helps Infantrymen build closer affiliations with one another; and helps preserve the Infantry heritage. Our membership promotes the only organization dedicated to supporting the Chief of Infantry and the entire Infantry community. Our membership strength ensures that the Infantry voice will be heard by decision makers. We share the camaraderie of like-minded soldiers and citizens who believe in maintaining the Infantry spirit and recognize those Infantrymen that have made a contribution to our Infantry community.
Now to most of you this is meaningless and I get that, but it is something that is important to me. I share this with you because you belong to something like this. Whether it is with the Optimist Club or the Rotary club, your fraternal organization means something to you.
I am also a member of an unofficial fraternal group made up of soldiers from the last Battalion I served in. We gather periodically (not enough) to share stories, talk about our lives, and share our camaraderie.
We had a gathering yesterday, which prompted me to write this post. Why, because it all matters. In Scouting or a Military fraternity, it is all the same based on our bond of fellowship and shared experience.
Yesterday the Wildcats gathered to celebrate our bond 10 years after we returned from Iraq. The gathering was not limited to those of us that deployed, but in keeping with the fraternal group, any one that had ever served in the 1st Battalion 162nd Infantry. I was pleased to see old friends, soldiers I had served with and led. It was special to meet with an old Battalion Commander. I never served with him, he commanded the Battalion when I was small child, but our bond was being a Wildcat, no matter the era.
I had the honor of serving the Battalion as the Command Sergeant Major before and during our deployment to Iraq. I had been in the Battalion for years prior to that promotion serving in different companies and at many levels. So my bond to the 1/162 Infantry is strong. I love that Battalion.
Our Battalion has a long and rich history and tradition. Established in 1898 as the 2nd Oregon Volunteer Infantry and thrust in action in the Spanish-American war the Battalion was later reconfigured in 1917 as the Army transformed during the First World War. It was re-designated the 162nd Infantry Regiment with 3 Battalions. 1st and 2nd Battalion in Oregon and the 3rd Battalion in Montana. The 162nd Infantry along with the 161st, 163rd, and 186th Infantry made up the Infantry Regiments of the 41st Infantry Division. In the Second World War, the 41st with all of its Regiments served in the Pacific Theater. It fought from 1942 till the end of the war in 1945 in the Pacific.
The Battalion stayed ready for the Korean war but never was called to deploy as was the case in the Vietnam war. It was not until the call came for the Battalion to support Operation Iraqi Freedom that the Battalion once again saw action in 2003. It served from 2003 to 2004 in OIF.
In 2006 the Army once again reorganized and the Battalion Colors were folded and the Regiment disbanded the 1st Battalion.
But through these gatherings we maintain our bond and the spirit of the Wildcat Battalion. It’s rich history is something that we helped write and is something that we hold close in our hearts. Through our fraternal spirit we keep it alive.
Yesterday at the Wildcat reunion the National Infantry Association along with members of the Battalion recognized me and one of the finest soldiers I ever served with the Order of St. Maurice. It is an honor that I will cherish because the group that I was with and the soldier that I had the pleasure of standing with during the ceremony. Our local chapter of the National Infantry Association, specifically MSG Morgan Olsen presented the award. He is a dear friend and a soldier that I had the opportunity to help develop along his career path. More though, he is a dear friend and I am glad that he was the one to not only present the award, but put together the entire event.
He demonstrated everything that is great about this group of men that I have had the privilege to serve with and for.
Our bond, the bond of this fraternity is stronger than life. It is important to me.
You all have some group that you share this type of bond with, if nothing else, you share a bond within Scouting. It need not be in combat or strife, the bonds we share in service and fun are just as strong. What you do with that bond is what is important. How you share that bond and become a stronger part of that group is what is important. It is important to you.
Do not let time pass without reaching out and reconnecting, establishing a stronger bond of fellowship, service, and camaraderie. As I get to know the “old guys” in our VFW post, I have come to understand that for many of them this bond has been recently awakened, they have regret that they had not kept those ties closer in their younger days. I don’t want that regret, and I am sure that you don’t either.
Fraternity. It is an important part of our lives. Strengthen it.
I shared a lot about my military fraternal life today… so I will close this post with the words of a song that I hold very close in my heart. The words of the official song if the Order of the Arrow. It sums up many of my feeling about Fraternity and why I belong.
Firm bound in brotherhood, gather the clan
That cheerful service brings to fellow man.
Circle our council fire, weld tightly every link
That binds us in brotherhood, Wimachtendienk.
Yours in Scouting, WWW
Have a Great Scouting Day!
In the picture: Left is Sergeant Major (Ret) Kevin Stanger and I receiving the Order of St. Maurice.