Motto

Leadership – The power of the mind

thinkMental toughness is a great leadership trait.  It allows the leader to think clear and make good decisions.  I recently ran into an article in Backpacker magazine that reinforced some of the leadership training that I learned early on in the Army and it applies real well in Scouting and out-door adventures.
Mental toughness is a skill that needs to be developed and practiced as a result the leader will be able to be a more effective leader.
First the leader needs to Set better Goals.  Again, we turn to the SMART Goal method and make sure that our Goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely.  With those goals in mind as we prepare to lead a task or move a group from A to B we need to think about those contingency plans and risk management that go along with our goal. Clear goal setting is the map that leaders use to guide those they lead.
Second the leader must Monitor his self talk.   Are your thoughts Purposeful, Productive, and giving yourself a chance for success.  Remember that we talked about seeing success this week.  Self talk needs to remain positive.  It has been found that when the leader doubts himself or has a negative internal talk he will see those thoughts through.  On the other hand a confident leader with a positive internal monologue will set his mind in motion for positive outcomes.
Third the leader needs to Control the Controllables.   That is to say that you must wrap your arms around that which you can control and not worry about that which you can not.  You will never be able to control the weather for example.  You can plan for it, prepare for it, but you can not control it.  You can control the skills and shape the conditions for your desired outcome.  Stay focused on the things that you have control over.  The number one thing that you control is your attitude and your ability.  Having a positive attitude and the right skills are leadership traits that will give you more control over those that you lead.  Do not misunderstand the use of control here.  We are discussing the idea of control of situations, skills, and attitude.  Not dictatorship style controlling of people.
And finally, the fourth thing to build mental toughness is Combat Catastrophic Thinking.  This goes along with the self talk, but takes it a step further.  Keep your mind from falling into the pit of worse case scenario thinking.   Worrying about what can happen does not matter.  Keeping it from happening using sound judgement and thinking about the risk and managing that risk is far more important than worrying about the worst cases.
I have seen leaders that get caught up in this trap and once they start with the “We will never make it” scenarios they adopt the idea that it is true.  This attitude is contagious and will spread.  This is critical when backpacking.  The blame game starts to surface and one bad decision will lead to another.
Mental toughness is that attitude that “I am a leader and I will be successful”.   It comes with confidence, practice, and when the leader realizes that the power of the mind is often greater than the power of the body.
The Scout Oath says to be mentally awake.  Develop the mind to be mentally tough.  We saw this at Philmont over and over again either in our crew or in other crews at the many camps we passed through.  A Scout would give up on himself.  He could go no further.. according to his mind.  He could make it, but he was mentally weak.  A 14 mile day on the trail is just 14 miles.  You can do it when you set your mind to it.  You can be the leader that inspires others to make it when you set your mind and attitude in the right direction.  You can be the best cheerleader by putting one foot in front of the other and a smile on your face.  No need to yell or cheer.  Just encourage by your actions and mental toughness.
I once hiked with one of our newer Scouts.  We had gone four and half miles and had four more to go to get into camp.  He stopped on the trail and threw his pack to ground proclaiming that he would walk not one more step.  I told him that it was fine with me and took my pack off and joined him on the ground.  He was mentally finished.  Video games had got the best of him and he did not want to finish.
I talked with him about our options.  We could walk back to the cars almost five miles away, or we could push to camp four miles away, but either way we would have to hike out of there.  The benefits of getting to camp were greater than going back to the car.  Food, relaxing, and hanging out with his buddies versus going home without success, better known as being a failure.  He looked around and saw that he was the only one not willing to move forward and the decision became easier for him to make.  We got into camp and never had another issue with him.
To many people these days fear mental toughness.  They think it is a trait of a bully or tough guy.  It is a trait of leadership and one of being a man.  We want to develop both leadership and manliness in our Scouts.
Something to think about in working with your leaders.
Have a Great Scouting Day! 

Categories: blog, Character, fitness, High Adventure, Ideals, Leadership, Methods, Motto, Oath and Law, Philmont, Risk Management, Scout, Scouting, Scoutmaster conference, Scoutmaster minute, Scouts, Service, Skills, training, Values | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Leadership- Building Confident Leaders

leaderhipsketchThe other day I talked about the four “C”s that when added to the leaders tool box makes for ease in decision-making and better leaders.
I will add that when our young leaders start using the four “C”s they will also become Confident leaders.  Young leaders need practice to become confident.  Learning and finding success builds that confidence.
Making mistakes are a good thing.
I have heard confidence defined as the “Expectation of Success”.  I think this is a fair definition in that as a leader we are striving to achieve a goal.  Whether that is a person goal or a team goal, the mastering of a task or skill, or getting from point A to point B.  The leader expects to achieve success.
Making mistakes to achieve that success is ok when lessons are learned and there is time to evaluate and make corrections.  Mistakes that are uncorrected or allowed to be swept under the rug are just mistakes and a waste of time and energy.  Further more they do not built confidence in leaders as they do not see that success when they fail to learn from their mistakes.
So when our goal as Scoutmasters is to build confident leaders we need to watch for those mistakes and coach them through the recovery.
When a Quarterback throws an interception he is often greeted by the coach as he comes to side line.  The QB failed to achieve the goal of completing the pass.  He failed to achieve the goal of moving the ball down the field and scoring a touchdown.  The coach has a choice to make.  He can discuss the play with the Quarterback and refocus his vision of success or he chew him out.  I would submit that while the Quarterback let the team down by throwing the pick, he will recover faster and make fewer mistakes if coached on mechanics of the pass, what he saw down field, or maybe even communicating better with his receiver.  The point is there are many things that the coach may have seen that the QB did not as the Defensive End came busting around the Tackle.  It is the coaches responsibility to build that confidence back up in the player.  The coach has a bigger perspective of the game and can assist in getting the Quarterback back on track by teaching him and not chastising him.
Having said that, there is room in certain situations for a good hard lesson.  I have said it many times, I care less about how you feel and more about how you act.  I would never advocate belittling or bringing a Scout down.. remember that the goal here is to build confidence.  If a leaders decision was such that it caused harm or moves away from the values found in the Oath and Law, the discussion is a bit different.  Always in the spirit of teaching and learning, but not such that the leader feels like he got away with something.
Confident leaders make consistent good decisions.  Part of that decision-making is in how the leader, by being confident builds confidence in those he leads.  The most important thing that leaders can do is show confidence in other people.
This in turn leads to leaders that show initiative.  Initiative is power.  Power to act, Power to make decisions, and Power to take advantage of opportunity.  This is when real leaders begin to shine.  This is where you see the confidence built-in your young leaders.  This is where you start to build that leadership trait in future leaders.  When the younger Scouts see their leaders show initiative and confidence it sends the message that it is ok to step up and lead.
It all begins with that vision of success.  Clear goals, personal and as part of the team.  Building confident leaders is the responsibility first of the Scoutmaster.  When that happens you have a Troop that can lead.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: blog, camp skills, Character, Citizenship, Ideals, Leadership, Methods, Motto, Oath and Law, Patrol Method, respect, Scout Law, Scouting, Scoutmaster conference, Scoutmaster minute, teamwork, training, Values | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Teriyaki Chicken

Back in 2009, I posted this recipe and a video on my YouTube channel.  Well since I have been consolidating the channel and working hard on Blog content, I stumbled on this recipe and the video on an old hard drive.  I retooled the video and thought this was a great meal for anyone on the trail.
So you might say that I am re-purposing recycling the post, but trust me this is a recipe that you will enjoy. So try this one.  You will love it.

Teriyaki Chicken
1 cup dry instant rice
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp ginger powder
1 pkg honey
2 pkg soy sauce
1 1/2 cups water
1 can or pouch of chicken
Before camp, mix all dry ingredients at home.  Store in a zip lock bag.
At Camp, boil water, add rice mixture.  After the rice is cooked, stir in Chicken, honey, and sauce.  This makes 1 serving, so do the math and multiply for your size of group.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Backpacking, blog, camp skills, Camping, Cooking, High Adventure, Just fun, Leave no trace, Methods, Motto, reviews, Skills | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Using Evernote ™ for Scouting

Evernote_Icon_256One of my goals for this year and in particular in working on the blog is to use tools to be more successful.  There is nothing worse than a goal that is not attainable because of lack of want to or know how and sometimes tools can assist in making a goal more attainable.
A new years resolution to go to the gym only works while the motivation to work out is there.  Going to the gym and not working out because you don’ t know how only discourages you and you don’t go back.
I am one of “those people” that needs constant motivation to stay on track.  I do that by motivating myself and finding tools and resources that keep me focused and on task.
For example.  I am working on doing more to lift some of the burden of household chores from my wife.  She does and has done a fantastic job over the past 22 years and I know this is an area that I can do better at.  So I have picked up the responsibility to doing the grocery shopping.  I hate grocery shopping, but it is a task that I can do so I had to find motivation (other than just being more helpful).  So I dove into the task to find tools that would make grocery shopping more interesting for me and make me want to do it.  Enter an app for my phone.  I downloaded the Out of Milk app and started using it.  We make the grocery list on the computer and sync it with my phone.  Bingo.. we have a winner.  I am actually finding grocery shopping fun, walking up and down the isles scanning products and adding them to the shopping cart.
Apps and software have made much of what we do these days more tolerable.  They have also made managing tasks, lists, notes, and resources more accessible.  A few years back I started using an app called Evernote ™.  It was a cool way to take notes and have them available across different platforms.  My computer, phone, tablet etc.  Then I started using for Scouting.
Some of the cool things about Evernote ™ that I really like are the note taking and sharing of information I gather.  With Evernote ™ I can clip and save things right from the internet.  I can save PDF files for retrieval later and I can record voice notes.
Evernote ™ has all of this in one nice bundle.  I have many notebooks within Evernote ™.  This is nice to I stay organized and have everything right at the tip of my fingers.
evernotescreenshotOur Troop uses Troopmaster ™ to manage the Troop’s administrative functions.  But Troopmaster ™ does not have a corresponding app for my phone or a mobile way of accessing information from Troopmaster ™.  So I save the reports and most frequently used items from Troopmaster ™ as PDF files and drop them into Evernote ™.  I can’t tell you many times we have been at a Scout property and they need a roster with phone numbers, ages, etc.  I just open up Evernote ™ and there it is.  I can even print the roster from Evernote ™ if they have wireless printing available.  I had to do this last summer at summer camp.
Scoutmaster conferences are easily tracked and noted using Evernotes voice memo feature.  It is nice to talk with a Scout and then capture some of my thoughts right after we are finished without sitting a writing it all down.  Then once I get home I can transcribe the voice memo into a note for future reference.
Project planning is another great use for Evernote ™.  In 2012 I used Evernote ™ to plan and track our Philmont trek.  Everything from setting reminders to making checklists to ultimately making notes along the journey.  Adding pictures to remind me of tasks, people, places, and things we needed to do.
As most everything we get now electronically from the BSA comes in PDF format, dropping our reservations and other correspondence from Philmont was easy to save and retrieve.
I am still learning of new features and ways to use Evernote ™, but so far it is a great tool to make my Scouting life and my personal life more organized.  It is a way that I stay focused and on task and therefore more productive.
Some of the other ways in which I use Evernote ™:
workflowBuilding Packing list for Backpacking.  It is a nice way to make checklists and track weight and gear.
Lists for places I want to go.  Using the clip it feature on the web I can save maps, brochures, and information about places I want to go, in particular backpacking.
Saving ideas for future planning with the Patrol Leaders Council.
Recipes for Dutch oven or backpacking meals.
Using Evernote ™ Hello I save business card and meeting information.  That is really a neat feature and a fast and easy way to build and maintain contact lists.
That’s just a few.  I follow the Evernote Blog also.  It is amazing all of the different ideas shared there for use cases, tips, and what’s happening with Evernote ™.
Finding a good way to stay motivated and on task is important. It is critical if you are like me and have many irons in the fire and want to stay focused.  But like everything else if you don’t commit to using the tools then you as good as that new years resolution to go to the gym.
I hope that helps you find a tool that will help you manage your irons in whatever fire you place them.
Let me know what you use.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Advancement, Backpacking, blog, camp skills, comments, Cooking, High Adventure, Journey to Excellence, Just fun, Leadership, Methods, Motto, Philmont, reviews, Scouting, Scoutmaster conference, Scoutmaster minute, Skills, Summer Camp, technology | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Mike Rowe.. Distinguished Eagle Scout

While I am camping with my Troop this weekend I thought I would leave you with some great entertainment and a message that is priceless.
I stumbled on this video on YouTube the other night while my wife and I were talking about our experience at the National Meetings that we got to attend.  It was a special part of my Scouting life.
We watched Mike Rowe talk at the National Jamboree in 2010 and he is a great example of just Scouting does.
Enjoy the weekend and this video.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: blog, Character, comments, Ideals, Jamboree, Journey to Excellence, Just fun, Leadership, Methods, Motto, Order of the Arrow, Scout Law, Scouting, Scoutmaster minute, Scouts, Service, Skills, stories, Values | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Money and Scouting

Friends of ScoutingI am going to tread lightly on this subject as I have some unpopular opinions when it comes to money and Scouting, but bare with me as I make an attempt to articulate my thoughts on this.
When we talk about money and Scouting there are always a couple of concerns.  First, the cost of Scouting.  It can seem overwhelming when a new parent is hit up with the initial cost of Scouting.  The uniform, the handbook, and the gear all seem to drain a family in the pocket-book.  Then there are dues, summer camp, and in some units the nickel and dimeing that is part of the annual program.  Yeah, that can seem a bit too much, unless your unit is aware of this and makes an effort to either reduce the cost or have programs in place to assist a new young man stepping off on his journey in Scouting.
Let me say at the outset that there is absolutely NO REASON at all that every young man in America can not be a Scout.  Money IS NOT an issue and at least in our unit will not become one.  If a Scout has financial needs, we will accommodate, but no young man will be left out.
How do you do that?  Well, let me share with you how our unit does it.  Your mileage may vary on this and I am certainly not saying that we do it best or there are no other ways to do this.. I know what we do works and it removes the excuses about money in Scouting.
I challenge any parent, no matter what your economic status to argue that your son can not be a Scout because of money.
So having said that…
Number 1.
Get a good plan and with that plan, a budget.
Just like in your home, you budget to maintain your financial health.  Your unit is no different.  Our Troop committee has made it a practice to never say no to the PLC.  If they plan it, the committee will figure out a way to support it.  Now, before you think that we are stepping away from Youth led.. no, we are not.  The Troop committee is responsible for  the budget.  They figure out how much the program is going to cost for the year and pass that on to the Scouts.  They figure out seat belts, rentals, and fees and provide the Council level fund-raising opportunities for the Scouts to participate in.  Once that is provided, it is up to the Scout to participate.
Number 2.
Announce the dues for the year and promise not to ask for another penny (save FOS).
This is key.  Once the program cost is set we divide it among the members of the unit and that becomes the dues for the year.  We never ask for another dime.
That number is typically around $200.  The parents are given a complete budget break down of everything that the money is for.  The Scout then has an option to make 3 payments to pay his dues.  Note that I said the Scout has that option.  The Scout is responsible for paying his way.
Number 3.
Offer the Council level fundraising opportunities.  Pop corn, candy sales, etc.  Our Troop also offers a Christmas Wreath sale opportunity.  It is up to the Scout to participate and the unit does not do mass fundraising.  It is up to the Scout to pay his own way.
Number 4.
A Scout is thrifty.  He pays his own way.  If the Scout chooses not to participate in the fundraisers, it is up to him to earn the money to pay for his year in Scouting.
Here is where the eye brows are raised and I catch flack from those not in our unit.
There are plenty of money earning opportunities out there.  Mowing lawns, raking leaves, shoveling snow, walking dogs, baby sitting, house sitting, painting fences, odd jobs will certainly earn a Scouts way for the year, and then some.  I am not expecting our Scouts to get a job in a spoon factory, I am just suggesting that they need to get off their butts and work for their year in Scouting.  If that is payment for their chores at home or hitting their neighborhood and mowing lawns, the Scout needs to earn his keep.
I can not tell you how many parents I have talked to that disagree with that.  As with most things in life, that which you earn you value.  So we ask that our Scouts earn their way.
Number 5.
Accountability.
If a Scout fails to pay his dues, he is given notice that he can not participate.  If there are circumstances which preclude the Scout from money earning we will talk.  If a Scout participates in the Council fundraising opportunities, he is given the benefit of the doubt and given more time or opportunity.  If the Scout has not made an attempt at money earning he will not.  It is that simple.  There are just to many opportunities out there not to at least cover basics.
Summer camp can seem to burden a family.  We again ask the Scout to pay his way.  If that does not happen, we find ways of funding the Summer camp experience.

Big money in Scouting.
I have heard many Scouters talk about not giving to FOS for one reason or another.  And I am not going to go to deep into that.  Lets just say those people for the most part are misinformed as to what that money does to have a direct impact on Scouts and Scouting.  So give to FOS.
A couple of years ago I had the pleasure of representing our Council at the National Meetings of the Boy Scouts of America.  I got to go to some work shops and meet a lot of the “heavy hitters” in Scouting.  At the big Banquet dinner on Saturday night, my wife and I sat as they presented the Silver Buffalo awards.  Someone at our table made the comment that those people purchased the Silver Buffalo and therefore it meant nothing.  I disagree.
The fact that 10 people who that year each had made contributions in the millions to Scouting, most going directly to Scout camps, facilities, and scholarships impressed me.  Scouting could not function without those dollars.  The fact that they pay so the rest of us can essentially afford great programs impressed me.  And I applaud them.
I am a member of the James E. West fellowship, and proudly wear my $1000 knot.  Yeah, folks joke about that too, but at the end of the day, it is paying for Scouting.  The James E. West fellowship endowment money is legacy money and will have lasting impacts on our Council.  I can not give the millions, but what I can give ensures that Scouts can go to camp and have a camp to go to.  So that too I would ask that you consider.
I am not going to debate how one Council or another manages their money, that is not my concern.  My concern is delivering the promise of Scouting… and that takes money.
So Scouts can pay their way and we adults can support their effort and their program.
Money and Scouting can work.  Have reasonable expectations, goals, and hold the Scouts accountable for being Thrifty.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: blog, Character, Ideals, Journey to Excellence, Leadership, Methods, Motto, planning, Scout Law, Scoutmaster conference, Scoutmaster minute, Skills, Values | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Talkin’ ’bout my Reputation!

characterAt last nights Troop meeting I began my Scoutmaster minute by talking about reputation.  What is it?  How do we get it?  Do we like it?  And how do we view other people’s reputations?
I gave the Scouts an assignment, one that I am working on myself, you see it may take a bit of time to really think it through.  The assignment was simply to write down what they think or know their reputation is, do they like it, and how do they think they got it.
It all comes down to Character and how you are viewed by others.  Sometimes our reputation fits and sometimes it doesn’t, but more times than not, your reputation is based on how people think you are.  And there in lies the rub.  Why?
What does your character look like that warrants the view from outside eyes.  What do they see?  It’s not hard really, people see you pretty much for who you are, right?  I mean, if you are living the way you ought to then what’s the problem.
I said at the outset that “I Began” the Scoutmaster minute by talking about reputation.  Very rarely does a Scoutmaster minute become a discussion, but last night it did.  We started to talk about the “Why” part in this.  The Scouts shared about some of the things that they see, no one really offered up their own cases.  Then we got into the electronic part of our reputation.  Facebook, Twitter, and the like.
I shared with them a phone discussion that we had recently with a college coach that has been talking with our son about playing football.  He called our son a few weeks ago to check in and to ask a few questions.  His first question was “Hey, do you know so in so…?”  Josh answered that he did know the kid, he went to school with him.  The coach told Josh that he saw that Josh and this kid were “Friends” on Facebook.  Josh said yes, him and a lot of friends.  Then the coach suggested to Josh that he “Un friend” this kid because he “Tags” Josh in pictures and places that Josh may not want to be associated with, especially if he was looking for a college scholarship.
Josh did un friend the kid, after seeing some of the stuff that this kid was putting up for the world to see.
Some of the Scouts thought that this was unfair, that a coach could do this.  I on the other hand think that this coach was looking out for Josh’s reputation and future.  You see, how people see you and how you associate may tell a story about you that you may not like.  Your character is at that point subject to question and therefore your reputation is in jeopardy.
So, the assignment for this week for our Scouts is to take a look at their reputation.  What is it?  How did they get it? and do they like it?  Next week, I am going to ask them what they are doing about it.
I am certain that a quick look at living the Scout Oath and Law will be the fix for some and a reinforcement of the things that they are doing right for others.
The Scouts won’t have to share their assignment, it’s for them, to really look at who they are and how they are seen.
Take a minute and think about your reputation.. I may share my thoughts later, I really need to think about this also.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: blog, Character, comments, Leadership, Motto, Oath and Law, respect, Scout Law, Scouting, Scoutmaster minute, Scouts, Values | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Three Promises

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

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

Sharpen your Ax

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

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

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

Interview w/ Greg Cieply

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

I would like to thank Greg for the interview and the information on the book.  While it is not an “Official” Scouting book, I think it is a great resource for Senior Patrol Leaders and Scoutmaster that are looking for neat things to do with their Scouts.  I can not tell you how many times I hear Scoutmasters talk about their Scouts wasting time.  Well here is a possible solution that is fun and informative.

If you have a product, book, or neat idea that you would like to share and have promoted on the blog, drop me a note.  You can email me directly at tbirdironchef@gmail.com

Have a Great Scouting Day!
Book cover picture taken from Amazon.com

Categories: blog, camp skills, Camping, Cooking, fitness, gear, Just fun, Leadership, Methods, Motto, Oath and Law, reviews | Tags: , | Leave a comment

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