Leadership

Why? Because I Believe.

DSCN1483This summer our Troop went on a great adventure.  We backpacked in the Olympic National Park.  We.. the whole Troop.  We broke up the Troop into three crews, that way we could maintain Wilderness area policies of no more than 12 heartbeats and good leave no trace principles.  As we began the process of planning for the adventure we were met with resistance.  The first was the issue of our new Scout Patrol.  11 year Scouts, what will they be doing?  Backpacking was the answer.  11-year-old boys can not do a 50 mile backpack trip I was told.  I believe that they can was my reply.
I searched the age appropriate guide lines, the guide to safe Scouting, and other BSA policies and could not find any thing that would suggest that a new Scout patrol could not complete a 50 mile backpack trip.
So we started training.  Three backpacking trips that would increase in length prior to the big trip.  We began tearing apart backpacks and looking at detailed packing lists.  We looked at getting pack weights down to accommodate the little bodies.  Menu planning and setting the course for a “doable” adventure that would accomplish the 50 mile goal and ensure success for every one in the troop.
DSCN1402The plan was to allow the three crews to determine their miles.  The older Scouts wanted to move fast and far, the middle group wanted to stay around the 50 mile mark and the new Scout Patrol decided that 50 miles would be enough.  I believe in them.
We decided on 7 days on the trail.  This would allow us to spread the miles out over more days keeping our daily mileage around the 6 to 8 mile mark.  That would put us in camp daily earlier allowing us to provide some program.  The New Scout Patrol would focus on the trail to First Class while they were in camp, the middle group would focus their time on leadership development, and the older group was in it for adventure.
The plan was set, we used the Philmont meal plan, and got busy mapping our course.  The three training outings went well and prepared us for some of the challenges we would find on the trail.  Map reading, adapting to changing plans, and working as a crew.
As we prepared we made major changes to the way we would prepare meals and how we would rotate leadership within the crews.  We also found which Scouts worked well together and based on their performance on the practice trips we set the crews.  I believed that they could all do it.
Watching the Scouts do the practice trips gave me more and more confidence.   I knew that they could all do it.
Fast forward now with me to the end of the trip.  7 days backpacking in the Olympic National Park.  The First year Scouts did 51 miles and not one Scout failed to complete the adventure.  On the 7th day the Troop met at a large camp ground to spend our last night in the Olympic together.  There were nothing but smiles all around.  I took time that night to talk with the new Scout patrol.  They all shared the same attitude, “Lets do it again”!  The middle crew ended the trip at 52.4 miles and saw some of the most beautiful country in the Northwest.  It was an epic adventure.  The older Scouts ended up backpacking 70 miles and found a great place to base camp where they dropped packs and went on a 20 mile day hike.  They placed themselves close to the group site on the 6th day and got a jump early on day 7.  They hiked so fast that they had time to jump in the cars and head into the nearest town and take showers.  That last night we had an awesome campfire, singing songs and sharing stories of our adventures.
DSCN1375I knew we could do it.
Since we got back I have shared our story with some Scouters.  They think that we stepped way out-of-bounds taking first year scouts on this adventure.  I disagree.
Before the trip I called out those adults that seem to think that it was ok for us when we were kids to have adventures.  Drink from hoses, stay out till the street lights came on etc.  I still believe that the reason our kids today “can’t” do it is simply because we don’t let them.  Well We let them and they proved me absolutely right!  They can do it.  More so though.. they WANT to do it.  We need to believe in them.
For the past three weeks I have completed 9 Scoutmaster conferences, mostly with the new Scout patrol.  They all remain excited about their accomplishment and can not wait for the opportunity to do it again.
I believe in them.  It is that belief that allows me to let them seek and find adventure.  It is that belief that gives our Patrol leaders council the ability to plan the next great adventure.  It is a visible attitude that sets these young men apart.  Sitting on their butt is not an option for them.  They want to get out there and explore their world.
I read about troops sharing their summer camp score about this time each year.  20 Scouts, 99 merit badges etc.
Well, here is our Score for this year. 23 Scouts.  23 merit badges. 31 50 miler awards.  An adventure that they will talk about for the rest of their lives.
I believe that we offered them this thing we call SCOUTING!

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Note:  I hiked with the middle group.  These guys impressed me to no end.  The leadership that they developed over the course of the trip was great.  I believe that they will be outstanding leaders for the future of our troop.

Categories: Backpacking, camp skills, Camping, fitness, High Adventure, Just fun, Leadership, Leave no trace, planning, Scouting | Tags: , | 6 Comments

Your Legacy – Mentoring

eaglementorWhen teaching leadership to both our youth and adults, we spend a fair amount of time discussing what it is that leaders do.  Being a Teacher, Coach, Trainer, and Mentor is found within the job description of any leader.  We find ourselves as leaders focusing on being a good teacher of skills, coaching as those skills are applied, and training our leaders to be effective.  But what of being a mentor?
Not every leader is a mentor.  We tend to throw that around a bit too much in Scouting.  We have “Eagle Mentors”  We have “Unit mentors”, we even consider “Troop Guides” in the context of Wood Badge as a mentor.  But are they really mentors in the sense of having a lasting impact on the life of someone else.
Webster defines the word Mentor as; a trusted guide or counselor.  Other words are Tutor or Coach.
I think that a lot of leaders consider themselves as mentors, but as I look back on those that I consider my mentors I can’t help but go back to the definition.  Trusted guide.  And again,I ask myself what impact if any did this person have on my life.
Looking back, I honestly consider only a few people as a mentor.
In my life I break it down to a few areas.  Work, Spiritual life, Scouting, and becoming a man.
Work.
At UPS I do not consider any one person a mentor.  The work environment tends not to value leadership, rather there is a need to manage everything at UPS as material.  In the Army however, I have had a few mentors.  Men that really made a big impact on my leadership style and ability to lead.
In the Army there is a program that places fellow soldiers, leaders, in a position to develop their subordinates.  The Non Commissioned Officer Development Program (NCODP) is designed to make junior leaders better.  I had a First Sergeant named Ted Godwin that showed me how to use the tool box of leadership to care for soldiers.  He instilled in me the concept of Mission First, Men always.  This may seem like a little thing, but at the end of the day, that is what makes for effective leaders.  In the Army, with the division of leadership roles between the Officer Corps and the Non Commissioned Officer Corps it is the NCO that ensures the men are ready for the mission.  If the men are not ready, there is little chance for the mission to be accomplished.
The basic understanding of being a caring leader, one that truly understands those that he leads became one of the hallmarks of my leadership and a lesson that I passed on to those that I lead when I was placed in a position to mentor younger soldiers.
It was his trusted leadership style that inspired me to be a leader.  When he spoke, we listened.  When he instructed, we learned.
Another mentor of mine in the Army was Command Sergeant Major Cliff Neil.  He was a technical leader and understood why people act the way they do.  He was not a tactical superstar, but when it came to behavior, he was provided hours of lessons on how to be an effective counselor and dig deeper into the reasons why a soldier acted the way he did.  He showed me that everything is not always black or white… grey sneaks in to leadership and it is the effective leader that understands that will change behavior.  Changing behavior is the goal of discipline in the sense of punishment.  It is not a sign of weak leadership to know why.    CSM Neil was tough, but fair and made me an outstanding First Sergeant.  His impact on me was manifest when I became a Sergeant Major and was placed in a position to teaching my First Sergeants.  I adopted the grey area when the First Sergeants saw only black and white.  Typically we could change behavior without destroying a soldier’s career and livelihood.
Again, a leader that I trusted was leading me in the direction of becoming an effective leader.
In my Spiritual Life, I developed a friendship and allowed Fr. Rick Sarianni to be a trusted adviser.  I valued our talks and his understanding of me and my walk in faith.  I have known many Pastors, but Fr. Rick was a special friend that lead me to a clearer understanding of just what I believe and why I believe it.
In Scouting I have many friends that have helped me along the way and some that really made an impact on the Scoutmaster that I have become.  I won’t go into the specifics as there are many, but it I feel it important that I name at least two of the men that have made a big impact on me as a Scouter.  Tim Steenbergen gave me sage advise when I was a new Scoutmaster.  Program, Program, Program was his mantra and I have taken that to the bank.  John Caputo is the other.  John is the ultimate Scouter.  I had the absolute privilege to serve on his Wood Badge staff.  I met John the first time as a learner at Wood Badge in 2005.  He left an impression on me and we became friends.  I always looked to him as a role model in Scouting.  His wisdom and knowledge of the program and how to deliver the promise.  Over the past 10 years, John has always been there with advise and instruction.  Watching him as I have staffed on two Wood Badge Courses has been a pleasure and I have learned and taken many lessons from him along the way.
Again, two trusted counselors that left a large impact on me as a Scout leader.  Along the way as a Wood badge staffer I have been blessed to learn from dedicated leaders and folks that have an equal love for Scouting.
Being a Man.
There are four people who made me the man who I am today.  The first is my Dad.  He showed me the value of family and how to treat people.  I can go on and on about the lessons learned from him.
The other three are my two sons and my daughter.  Little did they know, but they guided me to being the Dad and man that I am.  They forced me to lead them and be consistent in how I raised them.  Without their pushing my life could have been different.  The obligation of being a Father was something that I could not take lightly.  The proof is in the pudding as they say.  I am a good man for them and they turned out to be fantastic young adults.
When a young man becomes an Eagle Scout we challenge him to prove that he earned it every day.  My wife has done that for me daily as we challenge on another to be good parents and people who can show our kids the way to being good adults.
So being a mentor is not something that just comes with leadership, it is something that has to be taken on as an obligation with the understanding that you will be impacting the life of someone else.  As I said, not all leaders are mentors.  I can think of many leaders that have come and gone throughout my life that I will never consider a mentor.  They were neither a trusted counselor nor would I consider them wise in the lessons learned.  By definition these leaders just lead.  In so far as their impact on me, I can not measure it.
Being a mentor is leaving your legacy.  That in and of itself seems to be lofty, but in the end, it is what mentor-ship is all about.  Passing on what I have to the next the generation.  Giving the gift of knowledge, of life skills and lessons, of whatever wisdom I have acquired to the next generation.
The other night after our latest Eagle Court of Honor I removed the Mentor Pin from my shirt that had just been placed there by our newest Eagle Scout.  This pin means the world to me, as do the other mentor pins I have received over the years.  I took a mental inventory of those pins and the Scouts that felt as though I had made an impact on their lives.  A pin from one of the Scouts of my Jamboree Troop back in 2010.  He gave me the pin stating that had it not been for me being his Scoutmaster at Jamboree he would have quit Scouting all together and would have never finished his Eagle Award.  Another Scout from my Troop presented me a mentor pin along with a picture of the two of us on a camp out.  He shared that the life lessons he learned from me are shaping him into the man who he wants to be.  Yet another pin reminded me of the young man that I have known all of his Scouting life.  He had always been a work in progress, but in the end blossomed into a fine young man.  He credited my straight talk and insistence on taking care of the little things to insure success.  He is well on his way to being a good man and I look forward to seeing him continue to grow.
It is that obligation to making an impact that I take serious.  Not every Scout, or person for that matter seeks guidance.   Sometimes it comes without a plea, it is a young man who hovers in the background taking it all in, that one day shakes your hand and thanks you for what you have done.
Understand this, Your actions, Your wisdom, Your behavior, and Your willingness to make a real difference in the life of someone else is what matters when in comes to being a mentor.
Trust, Competence, Being a Friend, these are qualities of being a mentor.  It is not the patch that you wear or the position that you hold.  It is your willingness to serve.
Leaving your legacy must be important to you, not for ego or pride, but for the future of those you mentor.
What is your impact, what is your legacy?  Are you a mentor?

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: blog, Character, Citizenship, Ideals, Leadership, Service, Skills, Values | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Alter your Thinking

IMG_2625I suppose this year has just been one of those times of reflection.  With our youngest son graduating from high school and getting ready to move away to college, our oldest son across the country in the Army and our daughter hitting the books in college, this year has really provided opportunities to reflect.
A look back at the last 20 years of fatherhood, 22 years of marriage, the ending of an Army career and getting closer to my 50th birthday has been wonderful, scary, and eye-opening.
I think that as I grow older and maybe a little wiser I tend to look at things a bit different and find myself looking for answers or solutions to some of the problems I see around me.  I have no hope for our political issues and see no fix in the near future and so I am focusing my energy on that which I can have an impact on.  The things, people, and places that I can touch and make a difference at and to.
One of the biggest problems that has been weighing on my mind lately is our young men.  Not my sons, but a collective of our young men that we are in contact with.  I try to understand them and learn as to what makes them tick.  What motivates them?  What gets them out of bed in the morning?  What is it that they will contribute to our community?
In looking at them it dawned on me that we have some serious issues with them just becoming men.
We as a nation are not letting them grow up to be men.  In Scouting we constantly talk about Character, but what about manliness?  What makes them men?
In thinking on this I am trying to define what that means or looks like.
Rugged?  Well, it does not have to mean that.  Self reliant?  That is a big issue.  Courteous and Kind.  Hard working.  Providers, hunter gatherers.
My Dad showed me what it is to be a man.  He showed me how to love his family, protect them and care for them.  He taught me to be a provider and never to let them down.  He showed me the value of working hard and being rewarded for hard work.  He demonstrated to me determination and applying yourself to get what you want.  He taught me how to compete and be a good sport.  He showed me how to be a faithful husband and loving dad.
There are many traits of being a man who I think get lost when a young man does not have that man to show them.  And then it was clear.  We are missing men… Dad’s.
I grew up in a generation that won’t be labeled great or unique.  My generation learned from parents that by and large stayed together.  The guys I grew up with were pretty much the same.  I grew up an Army Brat.  Moved every three years and learned to make new friends annually.  The guys I grew up with had Dad’s that went away to Vietnam.  We were all about 1-year-old when our Dad’s went away and left us with Mom.  Mom was still there when Dad got back.  We were Army families.  Everyone I knew had a Mom and a Dad.  I did not know divorced people.  It was not till I became a Cubmaster that I was introduced to my first single parent.  That was 15 years ago.  This revelation was mind numbing for me.  It was something that I did not understand.  Parents are just supposed to stay together.  My parents are still together after 48 years, why can’t other people make that kind of commitment?
Marriage is disposable these days and it is criminal to me.  I do not believe in “irreconcilable differences”.  If you have problems, work them out.  “For better or for worse” that was the promise I made 22 years ago and I intend to keep it.  Our marriage has not been all peaches and cream, but neither is life.  It takes work to make it work.  It takes an altering of thinking to change the result.  Our society needs to alter its thinking on the casual nature of marriage.
Being husband and wife is not a flavor of the month and when you introduce children to the equation it ramps the intensity of the commitment to another level.
This attitude of disposable relationships I feel is the single biggest issue in boys not becoming good men.  As much as I value Mom’s, they can not be Dad’s.
Dad’s make men when they are engaged in their lives and serve their son’s as a teacher and mentor.  Not a buddy, but a parent that teaches manliness.
A Dad that teaches his son to respect women.  Teaches the value of family and the importance of keeping the family together.  Passing on tradition and culture.  Teaching that values drive Character and that you do what you value.
This is manliness and it is being missed on a generation that is growing up in a world that does not value hard work and reward.  Where mediocre is ok and that government is more important than family.  That there is always a safety net and that skills and education are not as important as learning systems.  A world that punishes risk taking and praises just going along.  A world that rewards the individual as long as everyone else is rewarded to.
We need to alter that thinking.
We need to reward achievement and hard work.  We need to praise Dad’s that stick it out and raise good young men.  We need to frown on the disintegration of marriage and the promises that come with committing oneself to another.  We need to alter our thinking from an attitude of what’s in it for me to what is in it for us.  We need to stop being selfish and think about someone else for a change.  Think about those young men that will be rudderless men in the very near future if we do not alter our thinking.
In talking with my 20 year son on Sunday over the phone I could not help but listen to him as we talked about his life in the Army.  The lessons he learned at home that are making him a success in life now.
Then sitting on the bed with my youngest son making plans to pack up his stuff to get ready to move to college.  The knowledge that he will do well because of the solid foundation of values and skills he has to go and be a man.
Looking back over this last couple months taking a deep look at the past and then a glance to the future I am left with the satisfaction that my wife and I have done well.  At the same time I fear for the future of the young men of our community and beyond.  Unless we alter our thinking, we will set them up to fail.
We need to make them men.
What are you doing to make a difference?
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Character, Leadership | Tags: , | 3 Comments

Let me tell you about my week…

joshgradIt started like most weeks, a Troop meeting on Monday night then the rest of the week was all about my youngest son’s High School Graduation from Reynolds High School in Troutdale, Oregon.  You may have heard about our little town.
Troutdale sits at the confluence of the Sandy and Columbia rivers.  The town was founded back in 1792 by Lt. Broughton and his men.  There is a bluff named after him that over looks the town.  The City of Troutdale was not incorporated till 1907 though and was a stop on the way to Portland along the rail that made its way through the famous Columbia River Gorge.
We have two Elementary Schools, one Middle School, and one High School in the City of Troutdale.  The High School serves a big chunk of East Multnomah County (all the way into Portland) and is the second largest High School in the State of Oregon.
You may have heard of the High Schools fantastic Music program, vocational education, and center for advanced learning.  Or maybe you know of Reynolds High School because of its great Arts and Communication Center.  It is a state of the art complex.  It may be the outstanding athletics of Reynolds High.  If you are a part of our community you would know of lots of great things that happen at our High School.  Instead you know of a shooting.  5 rounds fired, two students dead, one was the student that did the shooting, one teacher grazed, an entire community in shock.
That’s what you know about our High School.
That was Tuesday.
Wednesday, hair cuts and party preparations for Josh’s graduation.
Thursday, Lunch with the family at a nice Italian place in downtown Troutdale then off to graduation.  Very great to watch these young men and women cross over into adulthood with their High School diplomas.  I have known so many of these kids since they were toddlers.  It is great to see how grown up they are.
Speeches about adversity and learning from life’s hardships, your standard commencement speeches and then off to chaperon the Senior All night Party.  A super fun night playing games out at Bull Winkles Fun Center.  Had a Ball.
Friday was all about preparations for the big party Saturday.  Friday we had a birthday party for my niece.
Saturday the big party.  Cooked 85 servings of chicken, all prepared in the dutch ovens and all of the fixings.  Great turn out and a fun party.
Sunday (the day of rest) I was awakened by a phone call from my son serving in the Army.  Just a father’s day greeting and we talked for an hour.  Next hour on the phone with my dad, then off to clean up the last stuff from the party.
A great Fathers day dessert with Dad and family and now time to relax.
Sorry if I didn’t blog this week… You can see why.
What I know for sure.
The media will turn corn flakes into a circus.  I will not take anything away from the tragic loss of the families involved in the shooting in school gym.  I pray for them and recognize their pain.  But enough already with the media looking for a story that is not there.  They made the graduation a complete circus and it made a lot of the families there that wanted to celebrate their son or daughters achievement second to an event that no one can do anything about now a circus and they were not pleased.  It’s done, over, and hopefully will not happen again.
I will not debate any of the issues that hover around this.  I have my opinions and will not turn my blog into that circus.
Thursday was my sons day.  It was the culmination of a lot of hard work and the results of four great years and a positive High School experience.  One shooting will not ruin that for him.  Again, not to take anything away from the families, but someone is shot in Portland every day.. never makes the news.
It made out week, a week that was all about the Seniors an emotional roller coaster, but in the end, the Seniors showed that this would not define their high school story.  They partied and had an awesome celebration of their lives and their futures.  I applaud them for that.
Here was else I know for sure.
Life is short.  Hug you kids every day and then hug them some more.  Love them and teach them to love.  Be an example of Character to your kids.  Know who your kids are and share in their lives.  You need not be their buddy, you need to be their parent.
Volunteer at the School.  Know the School and what your kids do there.  Be apart of their education.  Teachers can not do it alone.
Help your kids be successful.  Know that when they fail they need a hand to get back up.
Have dinner together, even if it’s not at the table.
Talk to your kids, know them, and love them.
What a hell of a week.  Glad tomorrow is Monday and we can do it all over again.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Character, Ideals, Leadership | Tags: | Leave a comment

Where do they go from here?

gradsIt’s that time of the year.. Graduation season.  And in a lot of cases, it’s Eagle Scout season too as the young man becomes motivated by his up coming 18th Birthday.  So Congratulations to all the Grads and New Eagle Scouts this year.
Thursday night I attended the graduation ceremony of my nephew.  He is also our Troops newest Eagle Scout.  As we sat in the coliseum waiting for the graduation to start, I took a look at the program.  In it was a list of the graduates of the Gresham High School Class of 2014.  Quickly my eyes moved to find Lucas’s name, but as I scanned the page my eyes caught other names.  Jacob P, James P, Jeffery D, Jake R… These were all Scouts that have been in our Troop.  Over time some of them lost interest, had other obligations, and even earned their Eagle award and still participate.  There were other names of young men that I know from other Troops in our area.  I have watched them grow through the Order of the Arrow and other Scouting activities.  As I looked over the names I found them in the crowd.  They are all grown up.
After the graduation was over I went looking for these guys to wish them well and congratulate them.  For some it was the first time I had seen them in a while, for others we talk regularly.  The common thought that ran through my mind was how grown up they all looked on Thursday night.  Reflecting back on when they crossed over into the Troop, their first camp outs and some of the funny things they had done to bring a spark in our Troop.  Then the question repeated over and over again through out the crowd was, “What are they going to do now?”, “Where do you go from here?”
Some are going off to college in the fall, some are going to trade schools.  Some are heading into the Service, and some still are kind of undecided.  On the list of names was a list of the Scholarships and the graduates that are receiving them.  I was pleased to see that our guys are doing well.  Everyone of the Scouts from our Troop are going on to do something that they have passion for and will better themselves.  Jacob was the big surprise of the evening.  I have not seen him in some time.  He is a young man who has always had a rough go, a tough family situation, and the chips never seemed to fall in his favor.  He is going to college in the fall and received a Scholarship that will help him see his dreams come true.  I spoke with him briefly after graduation.  He said he was sorry that he did not stay in Scouting.  I explained to him that I understood.  He then told me that the reason he is the person he is today is because of the time he spent in our Troop.  Not the rank or merit badges, but the life lessons and skills that he learned.  The way to be a man and live a life of Character.  He asked if he was allowed to hug me, I said yes.  We parted ways with a smile and a promise that I will be there when he graduates from college.
Where do they go from here?
My youngest son is graduating also this year.  Thursday night of this coming week.  Josh spent many years in our Troop also and had to make a choice to play Football or stay in Scouts.  He picked Football, but not until he and I talked and looked at his dreams.  Josh has had the dream of playing in the NFL since he was in 3rd grade.  He set his goals high and worked hard.  He would throw that football for hours working on accuracy.  Then as he grew he got faster, stronger, and more knowledgeable about the game.  He understood the steps to getting to the NFL.  High School football, College football, get his degree, and never stop getting better.
He played every down in 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades and then won the starting job in Middle School.  As a Freshman he started at Quarterback on the Freshman team and was the 3rd string QB on the Varsity team.  His Sophomore year he became the starting Quarterback of the Varsity team and played in the position until the last snap of his Senior year.  College Scouts looked at him, recruited him, and he knew that his dream was going to come true.  It’s just a matter of where.  Southern Oregon University finally offered him a Red Shirt QB position on the team.  But with it comes no guarantee that he will play.  If you do not play, you do not get better and you do not get seen.  The College of the Redwoods had been watching Josh and gave him an offer to actually play.  He took it.  Josh will be playing Football in College starting this year.
Determination, Patience, and a strong work ethic drove him to seeing his dreams come true.  Step by step he is making his dreams a reality.
This has been a long and hard road for him and our family.  Thousands of miles on the road to camps and college visits.  Thousands of dollars in fees, hotels, and gas for the truck.  It is has taken time and energy, pain and lots of tears.  But in the end, it is all coming alive the way he wants it.
I was told once by a mentor of mine, that the job of a Dad (among other jobs) is to make our kids dreams come true.  My oldest Son is serving in the Army.  Little did we know that he always had a vision of serving and doing great things in the Military.  My example and teaching him over the year that he grew up the son of a Sergeant Major lead him to success in finding his path.  I still want him to go to college, and would love for him to be home, but I know that he is finding his way.. his way.
Our Daughter is going to college to ultimately serve in the area of Childhood development.  I am so proud of this kind-hearted, sweet young women.  She is blossoming into beautiful young lady with a heart of gold.
When I look at the young men that come through our Troop, I wonder, where do they go from here.  Have we done everything we can to prepare them.  Do they know that life does not hand out participation ribbons and at times it is very difficult to navigate the challenges.
My Scouts and My kids have shown me those answers.  Character, Determination, and finding your dream is the key.
It does not matter where they go or how they get there.  It is what they do with it once they arrive that I come to find out is most important.
They don’t all go to college, but have great lives.  They don’t all make a million dollars, but are rich in their hearts and minds.
I am proud of all of them.
Congratulations to Lucas my nephew and Josh, my youngest Son!  And Congratulations to all of the young men that passed through our Troop and are proving today that Scouting mattered in their lives.
Congratulations to the Class of 2014!
“So long as your desire to explore is greater than your desire to not screw up, you’re on the right track. A life oriented toward discovery is infinitely more rewarding than a life oriented toward not blowing it…Don’t be afraid of fear. Because it sharpens you, it challenges you, it makes you stronger; and when you run away from fear, you also run away from the opportunity to be your best possible self.” - Ed Helms, Commencement Address at Knox College 2013.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Character, Leadership, Scouts, Service, Skills, Values | Tags: | Leave a comment

Communicate for results

bullhornCommunicating effectively became crystal clear for me while I was a Student in the US Army Ranger School.  One minute you are chest deep in water slogging your way through a swamp and the next minute you are being told you are now the leader and you have 5 minutes to find out what the heck is going on.  A quick transfer of information from one leader to the next and you are off to complete the mission.  You learn right then how effectively the briefing was communicated to you and you learn even faster that the guy ahead of you did not pay attention.  You success or failure is now in the hands of a tired, hungry, wet, and miserable Ranger that you are trying to glean as much information out in 5 minutes.
What becomes indelibly marked in your brain is that the more ineffective, ambiguous, or unclear the communication, the more the follower must and will assume.
Assumption is never a good thing when a task is supposed to completed to a certain standard or completed the way in which the leader has seen in his vision.
That vision must be clearly shared and expressed in such a way that everyone has a clear understanding of what you want.  If it is not, they will assume and you will not get the results you are looking for.
As part of the leadership principles we teach our Scouts, Communicating effectively will reduce the amount of drama, conflict, and failed results that the Junior leader will have to endure.
The leader can make his life easier by starting with clear communication.  This is a skill that must be practiced over and over again.  It is imperative that the leader be given the chance to practice and fail if necessary to  develop good communication habits.
If you want results, you start with effective communication.  As an adult leader allowing ineffective communication from your youth leaders in unacceptable.  Teach, coach, train, and mentor them to better communication skills.  Allow them to make mistakes, but not make the mistakes the norm.
Every Scout has the ability to communicate effectively.  Styles may differ, but if they want to be successful, they need to develop good communication skills and use them.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

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Meet the new President

Allow me to share this video of our New National Scout President.  Dr. Robert Gates.
You know his resume… so I will not share that.  I listened to this 27 minute speech given at the National Meetings with some interest.  I want to know what he is planning on doing to impact Scouting during his two-year term.
I had the pleasure of meeting with Rex Tillerson, the previous National President.  I thought he helped move Scouting forward.  I have great hope in what this new administration will do, especially after listening to this speech.
I really liked his closing.  I think he is spot on.
Enjoy.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

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What Pleases Jerry

IMG_6206It is interesting to hear what our Scouts think and say.  At most of their ages, they have not yet learned to filter their conversations based on who they are around or what the circumstances may be.  On the way to our last camp out a younger Scout asked an older Scout what they had to do at the camp out.  The response from the older Scout was this, “What ever pleases Jerry.”
Now I know this young man and I know that he was being sarcastic to a point, and on the other hand, I know that his comment was directed at the fact that I hold the older Scouts to a higher standard and ask them to demonstrate leadership.  This Scout would much rather sit around and do nothing in most cases… and by and large, that is exactly what he and his buddy did during the last camp out.
What this and other Scouts fail to realize is that his response to the younger Scout is actually 100% accurate.  “Whatever pleases Jerry” is actually the right answer.
So what pleases Jerry?
1.  When the Scouts have fun.
2.  When the Scouts learn.
3.  When the Scouts demonstrate leadership.
4.  When the Scouts seek and find adventure.
5.  When the Scouts develop the bonds of a high performance team.
6.  When the Scouts have a sense of accomplishment.
7.  When the Scouts get the opportunity to see and do something new.
8.  When the Scouts practice leadership and find success in their skills.
9.  When the Scouts learn that winning is better than losing in life.
and finally…
10. When a Scout looks back on Scouting, smiles, and knows it was worth his time.
That is what pleases Jerry.
So Mr. Older Scout… you nailed it!  And guess what.  The Scout you told that to lived up to that expectation.
Thank You!
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Character, comments, High Adventure, Ideals, Just fun, Leadership, Methods, Oath and Law, respect, Scouts, Skills, Values | Leave a comment

Setting your bar higher

I always tell the Scouts of my Troop that mediocre is never good enough.  Expect more of yourself and always do your best.  Don’t just do good… Good may not be good enough and if you start early in life expecting more you will achieve more later in life.
We see every day in the world around us people who expect little of themselves and don’t even try.  They live mediocre lives and get very little out of life.  These people complain a lot and expect every one else to be as unhappy as they are.
Last night I attended my son’s Track and Field awards celebration.  His last year in High School track.  Josh is a sprinter and part of the relay teams.  The track coach shared some thoughts at the start of the program that I thought hit the nail on the head when it comes to our discussion of doing your very best in life and never settling for mediocre.
He shared the story of a French pole vaulter named Renaud Lavillerie.  In February of 2014 Lavillerie set the World Record by vaulting an incredible 6.16 meters, that’s 20.21 feet.  HOLY SMOKE!!  Do you know what 20.21 feet looks like?  Take a tape measure and measure that out in your house.  Or lay that on your house.  As I listened to this great accomplishment I could not help but thinking about what it took to get there.
He had to start with the bar set at a certain height and once he cleared it, it was on to the next height.  But what made him want to keep pushing it higher and higher.  He is not mediocre.  He was not going to settle for less.

Not settling for less is what is important.  I often see Scouts and people in general that tend to settle for less.  They “Max the minimum” as one leader told me once when looking at a group of people that we giving less than 100%.  Allowing yourself to never to set the bar higher than you think you can jump will keep you from achieving your potential.  You have no idea what that is until you push your limits.
I watch our Scouts when they first attempt climbing.  They lack trust and confidence in themselves.  That is because they have never pushed themselves beyond their comfort zone.  They are comfortable keeping the bar set low enough to see one success after each other meaningless success.  Success is only good once for each task.  Once complete you should strive for the next level of success and so on.
Setting your bar higher will lead you to achieving greater things.  In our Troop we have the 5 leadership Principles that will make you a better leader.  They force you to set your bar higher.  Learning to lead yourself can be painful and uncomfortable.  It makes the leader see where the bar is and asks the question are you willing to move it up.  Focusing on the small things again force the leader to not accept mediocre behavior.  Like the pole vaulter the little things allowed him to run, plant the pole, and whip his body over incredible heights.  He could not have done the big thing without focus on the smaller things.  Modeling Expected behavior is hard.  It requires that you are your best all the time.  That is what we want.. the best.  So you must as a leader model what Best looks like.  Best then pushes us to raise the bar.  Communicating effectively too asks us to raise the bar in how we share our ideas and thoughts with other people.  It requires us to use multiple modes of communication and then evaluate that communication to ensure it is effective.  And finally being a Servant Leader.  In the world we live in today, where self if more important than others it is refreshing to see people raise their bar and become a leader in serving other people… at all times.  This is a bar that is higher than any one can leap, but a bar that can be achieved within the heart.  It is bar that needs to be set high and reached, and then set higher.  It is not till the leader becomes a servant that he will ever be an effective leader.  That bar needs to be realized in each of us.
Setting your bar higher will give you a better, richer, more full life.  Set your bar higher!
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Character, Leadership, Methods, Service | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Delivering the scolding… or promise?

BP“The Scoutmaster teaches boys to play the game by doing so himself.”
“The Scoutmaster guides the boy in the spirit of another brother.”
“The spirit is there in every boy; it has to be discovered and brought to light.”
“There is no teaching to compare with example.”
“To get a hold on boys you must be their friend.”
I know that it is bad form to start with a list of quotes, but all of these quotes are from the founder of Scouting, Baden-Powell.  They come to mind when I look back on this weekend and some of the things that I saw at our District Camporee.
The question is Why?  Why do some Scoutmasters feel the need to make Scouting a chore?  Why do they insist on not making it fun for the Scouts?  Why is there is a reason to yell or belittle a Scout?  Why?
I wish I could say that this is an isolated case and I am talking about one Scout Leader.  But I am not.
Here is the problem as I see it.  These leaders have no idea what Scouting is supposed to look like.  One particular Scoutmaster explained to me that what the Scouts lack is discipline and it was his job to make sure they are disciplined.  You see, I feel that is the parents job.
The same Scoutmaster yelled at his troop over a bent tent-peg.
Another leader explained to me that Scouting is supposed to make our boys gentlemen and respectful.  I asked if her example was helping as she screamed at a Scout for playing with his patrol mates.
Yet another Scout leader had a group of Scouts at attention as they were dressed up and down about not doing well in their uniform inspection.  The leader’s shirt was un-tucked and looked like he slept in it and instead of a Scout hat or Troop hat, he was wearing a hunting hat as he ripped a Scout a new one over not wearing his Troop hat.
Why?
And we wonder why Scouts leave.  I even talked with a Scout who would love to leave his Troop, but can’t because his Dad is one of the leaders.  Really?
This weekends Camporee was fun.  It was one of the better camporees we have had in a while, so why do the adult have to screw it up for the boys.
Again, they clearly do not understand what Scouting is all about.
We are not the Army.  We are not a boarding school for wayward boys.  This is Scouting and above all, the boys need to have fun.  It is that game with a purpose that will teach them the skills to deal with life’s challenges and develop those life long values that will guide them to be disciplined and self-reliant.
How can a boy discover that light when the adults around him are constantly looking to snuff it?  How can a boy learn to play the game, when the rules change or are unclear?  How friendly is the constant brow beating?
I think that some leaders need to take a look in the mirror and find out if they are delivering the promise of Scouting or just a good scolding.
The best part of the discussion I had with our Anti Powell was when he pointed to my Troop, at the time they were all playing Frisbee in a field between the camp sites.  Loud laughter and complete grab ass was in full effect.  He pointed out that camporee was not about playing.. it was about competition.  I explained that there is certainly a time and a place for everything.  He said, “Look at your camp site… no matching tents, no patrol boxes, no discipline.”  I explained that we are a backpacking troop and do not have patrol boxes or matching tents, and so far as discipline, we have plenty of that.  It comes with living the Scout oath and law.  Then in a moment of arrogance, I pointed out that what he was looking at was the Troop of the Year and we are doing it right.  With that, I bid him a good day and joined the boys in the game of Ultimate Frisbee.
Camporee was a fun time and a great experience for our Troop.  They all had fun and competed well.  It is unfortunate that there are leaders out there that just don’t get it.  If only they took the time and put in the effort to delivering the promise of Scouting, using the same energy they put into yelling, berating, and making life hard for their Scouts, they would have great Troops.  The boys are there and willing, they need good adults to have the heart of a Boy and do Scouting the way the founder wanted it to be.
If only.
I had a great weekend with the Scouts of our Troop.  It’s why we keep playing this game.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: camp skills, Camping, Character, Ideals, Leadership, Methods, Oath and Law, respect, Scoutmaster minute, Scouts, Skills, training, Values | Tags: | 1 Comment

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