Oath and Law

Watch your mouth

During our last camp out I was forced into a situation that I am sure most if not all Scoutmasters hope that they never have to deal with.  I was sitting with the Assistant Scoutmaster when from over in the Scout area of camp I heard a word that got my attention.  I jumped from my chair and offered an ultimatum to the Scouts.  Use that language and find yourself on the “uninvited” list.
A Scout is clean in thought, word, and deed.  Living that part of the Scout Law that is Clean does not stop at brushing your teeth.
That sad part is that it’s not just the older Scouts that seem to have trouble with their language.  I have heard on occasion some of the younger Scouts using foul language.  Now, we do not encourage the use of foul language in our Troop and never model that language ourselves.  I will not say that I am a saint, but never use bad language in front of the boys… never.
I would love to say that this is isolated and I wish I had a solution.  I do a lot of volunteer work at the High School as well as the Elementary School that my wife works at.  I am shocked (not offended) when I hear how some of the kids talk.  3rd and 4th graders that swear like merchant marines.  High School kids that can not get through a sentence without throwing a four letter word out there.  And so it is no surprise that we are hearing this kind of language in Scouting.
The older Scouts are typically the worse and no matter how many talk withs we have they do not seem to care how we feel about the issue.  It is comply till the Scoutmaster leaves then back at it.
I have a few Scouts that fall into this category, and you can always tell a difference when they are not around.  But those are the guys that really need to be there and it would be great if they stepped up and led by example… well I suppose they are leading by example, its just not the example we want them to be teaching.
I am not naive’  enough to think that bad language is not just becoming a part of the world today, in fact it’s pretty much always been there.  We try to teach good manners, values, and social norms to our Scouts.  The rub comes from the social norms that they learn at School, Home, and with their peer groups outside of Scouting.
So how do we fix this?  I am not sure, but what I do know is that we don’t condone it and we nip it when it happens.  Is it going to stop.  No.  And truth be told I won’t fight it either.  I will just ask that they not talk that way and oh by the way.. you don’t get to camp with us till you decide that you want to watch your mouth.
I had a long talk this last Saturday with the Troop about language.  I was once told that the mark of ignorance is foul language.  You will never be considered “Cool” because you can drop and “F” bomb and you will not be looked upon favorably by those that matter in life when you talk and act like an idiot.  There is not excuse for it and we can’t have it in our program.
I suppose I am taking the easy way out by uninviting young men to camp with us because they fail to live up to a simple part of Scouting… but I am a Scoutmaster not a baby sitter.  I am a parent to my kids and a role model to others and when it comes to the Troop… the many over rule the few.
If you have suggestions or thoughts… please share them.  This issue seems to be getting worse and I know that me and other readers could use some additional knowledge in this area.
Thanks in advance for sharing…
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: blog, Character, comments, fitness, Ideals, Leadership, Oath and Law | 8 Comments

Two Stars

2starsLast night I had the pleasure of sitting down with a couple of Webleos Scouts that needed a Scoutmaster Conference to earn their Arrow of Light.  I love the opportunity to sit with these young guys, they always have an interesting take on what they want out of Scouting and they are always enthusiastic about coming up to the Troop.
The two fellows last night were no exception.  It was apparent that they had been studying for their arrow of light particularly the Oath and Law.  In our talk I asked the Webelos if they knew what the elements of the Scout Badge meant.  There is a pretty good explanation in the Webelos book and I could tell right away that they knew the parts.  They had their own way of sharing it with me, but their collective answers assured me that they had been learning.
I asked them what the two stars represented on the Scout Badge.  They struggled for a little as most Scouts do, but then one of the Scouts chimed in with “Heart and Mind”.  I hesitated for a minute and then before I could correct the young Scout he continued by saying something that I thought was amazing.
He said, “Heart and Mind… The one star represents our Heart where we find Truth and the other star represents our Mind where we keep Knowledge.  They work together to help us do the right thing.”  I picked my jaw off the ground and asked him where he got that from.   It makes total sense.  He said that it was the only way he could remember it.  Truth and Knowledge just did not stick in his mind, but heart and mind did.  I asked if I could borrow it and he told me that it would be ok.
The other Webelos Scout that was with him said that he could remember that better than Truth and Knowledge also.. I said.. he whatever works guys.  The point is that we use the images that help up remember those things that help us become better people.
After our little chat, the two Scouts went over and joined the rest of the troop working on lashing our Gateway for the upcoming camp o ree.  After the meeting they came to me and thanked me for my time and asked if they could sign up for our troop now.  I thanked them and told them that we would talk, but wanted them to focus on completing the Arrow of Light and we would see them at their cross over.
The more I thought about those two stars I could not help but think that it is more than the Scout Badge.. The two stars were those two young Webelos.  They taught me something last night and on the heals of Wood Badge assured me that this Scouting thing is truly a fantastic organization and I thank God that we have little guys like that they keep wanting to be in it.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Advancement, blog, Good Turn Daily, Ideals, Journey to Excellence, Leadership, Oath and Law, Scoutmaster conference | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Passion

course_logoI just walked in the door from another fantastic Wood badge course.  W1-492-13 is now in its application phase and as the participants walked out of camp yesterday I could not help but think about the impact that was about to hit the Scouting world.
53 Scouters took labored steps toward their cars yesterday heading back out into the Scouting world with a new set of tools, a renewed spirit in Scouting and new friendships made.
As the staff gathered to have a final staff meeting the comment was made that like a pebble thrown into a pond causing ripples, we have cast our pebbles into the pond of Scouting and the impact will be endless.  Those 53 Scouters will make such a difference within their units, districts, and even the Council.  Touching the lives or more Scouts and other Scouters than any single leader can.  When we talk about making a difference, I believe that Scouters that have the Wood Badge experience make a the biggest splash!
I love Wood Badge and each time I participate, I learn more.  Wood Badge compels me to take seriously the concept of life long learning.  This was my second time on staff, and I hope not the last.  The first time I staffed Wood Badge, I learned more than I think I learned as a participant.  In fact, diving into the syllabus I know that I learned the material which allowed me to make a difference as a Troop Guide.  This time I served the Wood Badge course as the Assistant Scoutmaster for Support and Physical Arrangements.  Part of the Administrative staff I got to see “the other side” of Wood Badge.  I got to see the nuts and bolts that it takes to hold a Wood Badge course together.  And I must say that while the troop guides make a hands on impact on the learner, the admin staff set the enviroment for good learning.  They coordinate speakers, materials, and facilities and most of all are the guardians of maintaining the standards of the Wood Badge course.  Ensuring that the syllabus is followed and the learners have the best opportunity to succeed.
Ok, that’s all logical and expected.  It was a great experience to be on the staff in this position.
Here is what I saw that has made a lasting impact on me.  Yeah.. on me.
Our Course Director/ Scoutmaster is John Caputo, he is a Scouters Scouter.  He is humble and knowledgeable.  He is compassionate and strict, he is a great teacher.
Spending the the last 6 months on his staff was special.  John’s greatest lesson was passion.  John is passionate about Scouting, but more specifically, his passion lies in training.  He has been a Trainer in Scouting for “a few years”.  His knowledge and commitment to dropping rocks in the pond is not just visible, it’s contagious.  I left the Wood Badge staff in 2011 with a renewed committment to my Scouts and the Scouting world as well as being a better father, husband, and friend.  I left this years staff with a renewed passion for training, for making my troops leaders better, and with the first draft of my next ticket.  A ticket the will focus on my wife.
This is the impact of Wood Badge and I love it.  It is such a special part of my life and I am happy.
Thanks John!
Have you found passion in your Scouting world?
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: blog, Camping, Ideals, Journey to Excellence, Leadership, Methods, Oath and Law, respect, Scouting, Service, Skills, teamwork, training, Wood Badge | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Last Word

morallystraightAnd on the heals of this great debate, and to be honest… like a reader suggested… I’m ready to stop talking about this and get back to backpacking and other more meaningful subjects…
But on the heals of the debate, yesterday Jason Collins, a professional basketball player in the NBA “Came out” in an interview with Sports Illustrated.  This morning on ESPN that is the head line news and Jason is being hailed as a hero.  Now, I am not going to rehash my position on homosexuals.. well maybe I should just clarify my belief.
First.  People are people and deserve respect no matter who they sleep with.  Second.  I am not homophobic and believe in live and let live… In short.. I don’t care.  Third.  I am not gay, it is not my thing, but the “Gay agenda” has little or no impact on me and my life, so… live and let live.  And finally, I think when it comes to religion and religious institutions, they should practice what they preach.  If it is a sin.. hate the sin.. not the sinner.
Ok.. having said all of that for the last time… I am going to move on.  The BSA is going to make a change in the policy.  I think they are to far into this to turn back and I think in light of Jason Collins interview, the public will not allow any other decision other than to change the policy to include openly gay Scouts.
So what do we do now?  Well, let me tell you what this Scoutmaster is going to do.  NOTHING.  I will comply with the policy and treat every Scout just like I treat them today.  I will keep teaching and coaching.  I will train leaders and I will go camping each month with them.  Nothing will change in Troop 664.  Now, some families may leave due to the fundamental idea that the organization has let them down and changed a policy that they feel contradicts their values.  I hear that, but at the end of the day… it is the collective values and training at the unit level that matter.  The Oath and Law stand firm.  I believe in the Oath and Law and know that they assist in making good citizens and men of character.  Gay, Straight, or whatever would be in between.
How I deal with the conversations that happen with those families that will certainly be unhappy with the BSA’s decision is going to be critical in maintaining a positive Scouting experience.
I had a talk the other day with a parent.  They shared with me that they did not want to see the policy change.  I shared with her that really nothing will change locally and asked if she and her family had up to this point a positive Scouting experience.  The answer was yes.  so I had to ask if she thought any of that experience would change.  She said not locally, but she was disappointed in how the Boy Scouts could let down the majority of its members.  I agreed.  Like it or not, the BSA is a pretty conservative organization that has took pride in staying the course.
Again, I don’t have a problem with opening up the doors, but that is where the change stops.  When a boy joins our Troop we ask him to promise to live the Scout Oath and Law.  We expect that they live a certain way in which the values found in the Oath and Law dictate their daily walk.  We don’t allow abuse, hazing, or disrespect.  And so when a gay boy comes in, he will be expected to do the same.  I will not make concessions in the Law and Oath.
I really hope that no one leaves Scouting because of this.  But I know it’s going to happen.  For that I am sad.  I am not leaving.  At the core Scouting will still be the best program for our youth and the program will still be selling point that keeps Scouts looking for adventure and developing into great men.
This is the last word on this subject for me.
Now, I need to weigh some gear and get packed for Wood Badge.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: blog, Ideals, Leadership, Oath and Law | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

Who’s to say?

DISCLAIMER:  THIS IS MY OPINION AND NOT THE OPINION OF THE BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA, TROOP 664, OR THE FINE LEADERS THAT I CALL MY FRIENDS.

Having said all of that I am going to briefly revisit this whole “Gay Scout” issue.
This last week it was announced that the BSA will be putting the issue on the table for a vote.  You can read all about it elsewhere, I am not going to go into the details here.
The bottom line is that the vote will come down to this;  The BSA will change it’s membership policy to include “openly gay” Scouts but it would continue to restrict the membership of “openly gay” adult leaders.
OK…. here is my opinion on the matter, and in light of recent announcements from a few of the Churches that seem to be at the fore front of the issue, I should say that my opinion has not changed.
First, I really don’t think that the issue will make a difference.  I do not care personally what a person does sexually.  Now many will argue that this is a sexual issue, I tend to disagree.  How many “openly gay” Scouts do you know?  I have a feeling on some Scouts and in most if not all cases when it comes to our teen-aged boys… they don’t really care either.  I guess the better question is how many gay boys are beating down the doors to get in to the Boy Scouts of America?  I have yet to meet one.  Most if not all gay boys will not be looking for the activity that the Scouts offer.  This is not a predatory issue.  They, gays, are not looking at the BSA as an opportunity to meet and date.  I mean.. that’s so ridiculous.
Anyway… Morality is the next issue.  So I suppose we need to address what that means.  Now, I know that I will piss some folks off with this, but I think it needs to be said.  Church does not make you moral.  I know openly gay members of the Catholic Church, the Baptist Church, and the LDS Church.  They may not make it to public, but you don’t have to be a sociologist to know that they are gay and they tend not to hide it among friends.  They hide it because they are made to feel like lepers in their respective communities that preach love, peace, and compassion.
If we look at moral thinking then where does love enter the conversation?
When we look into the definition of morality it leaves the reader wondering where does morality come from?  Defined morality looks like this:
1. a : a moral discourse, statement, or lesson.  b : a literary or other imaginative work teaching a moral lesson.
2.  a : a doctrine or system of moral conduct.  b. plural : particular moral principles or rules of conduct
3.  conformity to ideals of right human conduct
4.  moral conduct : virtue
So we over time have decided what the social norms are and how we practice moral thinking and teaching.  The first documented use of the term “Morality” was not till the 14th century.  What ever did we do before then?
Since morality is decided by man’s ideals and virtues, some say they received from God, again, in the Scouting context, which God is that?  It is common that all virtue and religious teaching universally comes down to “Do unto others…”
So why then do we treat people like outcasts, deviants, and unworthy of membership in our club?
There are those that think homosexuality is deviant behavior.. and it may be.. who am I to judge?  It’s not my cup of tea, but then again, I don’t like rap music either and certainly not the life style it promotes.  Not a big fan of smoking or excessive drinking either.  Not a fan of those that abuse their kids or beat their wives… yet that deviant behavior seems to be just fine.
I work with openly gay folks.  They are good people.  I have had discussions with them about Scouting and they all think it is a great organization… BUT…
Yeah, they always have the “but” comment.  They to do not understand that a group that claims to live by a certain code and a set of values would exclude people based on their sexual orientation.  Further, they consider the argument not one of sexual acts but of who they love.  And that gets me wondering where the morality comes in and who decides it.
A Scout is starts the Scout law.. it is followed by the set of values that we live by.  Which one of the 12 points would not allow a gay boy in?  Right away people go to “Clean” and “Reverent”.  Defined (again) the Scout law suggests that a Scout is Clean in thought, word, and deed.  But I still can’t find where sexual orientation would be an issue, especially when it comes to a boy.  Straight boys don’t even have sex when they are 13 for the most part… right?
Reverent?  The Boy Scouts of America does not define who God is nor does the organization suggest how a Scout must worship.  The Boy Scout handbook says “A Scout is reverent toward God. He is faithful in his religious duties. He respects the beliefs of others.”  The BSA does not extend its moral teaching beyond that of the Scout Oath and Law and refers the Scout to his faith group and family for furthering religious teaching and moral thinking.
So that is where it comes from and that is where it should stay.  Once we put our uniforms on and raise the Scout sign we should be inclusive and respectful.  We should be friendly and helpful.  We should be courteous and kind.  We should be loyal and cheerful.
All of this is found in Scouting and why not let openly gay Scouts in?
Now the LDS church has come out for this, the Catholic Church is sitting on the fence and other faith groups are afraid to take a stand that allows for love and friendship to trump bed room activity.  Even though we are talking about young men here and not pedophiles or social deviants.
So happens after the vote.  Gay boys will either be allowed in or not.  If they are in… who leaves?  If they are out.. who drops support?
It seems to me that what ever happens the Scouts will loose.  So are we willing to deal with the results and how?  My guess is that at the unit level nothing is going to change.  If the new policy is that gay Scouts will be allowed, I wonder how many families leave my troop?  I don’t care about funding or policy… but what about those folks that are unwilling to change?  I figure that if the families that are currently in my troop are happy now.. why would that change?  But I know it will and so I need to be willing to deal with it.
Will this be the end of Scouting as we know it?  I hope not.  Are there still Scouters out there that will be willing to stay the course, even though the course will have changed?
I don’t know the answers.. I am curious to see how this all plays out.
Let me know what you think.  Leave a comment.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Character, Citizenship, Ideals, Leadership, Methods, Motto, Oath and Law, respect, Scout Law, Values | 9 Comments

Draft Boards

2013-draft-logo-storyTomorrow starts the National Football League Draft.  With much anticipation I’ll be watching to see where the best college players will end up.  Now, I know you are like me and these last couple weeks have been a fever pitch of following the rise and fall of players as they… or I should say their agents jockey the players up and down on the draft boards.  Hours of film and looking at the combine score cards matched with interviews, team visits, and show casing on the sports talk circuit have placed players in position to be drafted to one of the 32 teams of the NFL.
So what’s this all have to do with Scouting?  I know that you would all love to talk football, but we really need to get to the point here.  For more football talk head over to the ESPN College Football blog.  What all this has to do with Scouting is Character.
As I have been following the mock drafts and the trying to keep up with the who’s who and where they are going on the draft board I have been taking a real hard look at the players this year.  What is interesting is that they move up and down the draft board for many reasons.  What I have learned is that coaches, GM’s and the NFL have really taken a turn toward character.
In the past it has seemed that the NFL has over looked character issues.  But like any business the lack of character ultimately will start to hurt the company.  Players like Pac Man Jones can no longer get away with the shenanigans that they used to.  Teams want men that they do not have to baby sit and worry about representing their organization.
Look at the circus around the Manti Te’o “fake girlfriend” issue.  A great football player is more than likely going to drop as low as the third round in the draft.  The fact that he lied is enough of an issue to the NFL GM’s that they consider it a blemish in his character.  The problem I have with this particular case is that Manti Te’o is an Eagle Scout.  In a moment when he could have shared his Scouting values with the world and maintained his place on the draft board, he chose to lie, he made a choice to turn against the Oath and Law.
So what’s the big deal?  Money.  A first round draft pick will make an average of $500 thousand more than a third round pick.  That’s a big hunk of change and that’s just a guess.
Looking at the big name players this year it is easy to see how much character is playing is the board movement.  Geno Smith from West Virginia has been bouncing around because of rumors about his work ethic, LSU’s Tryann Mathieu has been all over the place because of character issues.  Mathieu “the Honey Badger” is a fantastic football player and was expected to go early in the first round.  Now, it looks like he may go as late as the third round.  All because of issues off the field.  Playing the game is no longer enough to get a spot on an NFL roster.
As many of you know, my son is a great football player and there are multiple Division 1 schools looking at him as a prospect to play at the next level.  The one thing that they stress in our visits and communications is education, keeping the grades up and character.  The on the field play is already good enough to be considered.  They really don’t want to have a player that they need to worry about.  They would prefer to focus on the play.
I love to find parallels in life and no matter were I look I find opportunities to live the Oath and Law.  Character is moving multi million dollar football players up and down the draft boards.
I am going to be glued to the draft, at least for the first couple rounds.  After that.. I will follow the players that I have interest in.  You can see the difference between the players that may be shorter on talent and those that drop because of character.  Follow the law and you will get picked higher in life.
Great life lessons always to be learned in Football… and Scouting.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
picture in this post courtesy of http://www.buffalobills.com

Categories: blog, Character, comments, Ideals, Leadership, Oath and Law, Scout Law, Skills, teamwork, Values | Tags: | Leave a comment

Running to action

Wood Badge thoughtsBare with me while I try to collect my thoughts and try to share them in a coherent way…
We just wrapped up the first session of Wood Badge course W1-492-13 and as is the case in or of  the Wood Badge experience, there are plenty of opportunities to do some reflection and looking inward at the person that you are.
Learning leadership is just part of the Wood Badge experience and can’t really be placed into action until the leader has made internal commitments to be a better person.  Thank goodness we in Scouting have this wonderful set of values that we find in the Scout Law.  Assessment tools that are learned and practiced in our quest to find knowledge and self-realization of our strengths and weakness’.
What I am saying is that once again, I have had an opportunity to reflect and take that critical look inside.  Couple that with the rest of the fun of Wood Badge and we are on that emotional roller coaster that comes with the experience.
What I am always amazed about is the people.  The 53 Scouters that paid, took time off, drove out to the coast, and make the choice to attend Wood Badge are dedicated Scouters in their respective programs.  They are enthusiastic about learning how to be better Scouters, husbands and wives, Fathers, Mothers, and employees or employers.  The Wood Badge program makes all of those aspects of our lives better.
The amazing part is the dedication that they demonstrate.  They are great people.
Last night when I got home the news was filled with the Boston Marathon bombing.  Thank God that the damage was relatively small.  I am not going to rant and rave about the scum bags that would do something like this.  You all know how I feel.  Here is what I saw when watching the never-ending coverage.  The reactions of the people.  You see as the first bomb exploded we saw three groups of people.  The first group was those that were injured.  The second group was those that ran away from the danger.  And the third group were the people who ran to the explosion.  What makes people do this?
I saw this over and over again in my Southwest Asian vacation in Iraq.  When the shots starts soldiers face the fire and move toward the danger.  Yesterday, we saw runners, members of the National Guard, First responders, all heading to the danger.  They selflessly give, forgoing their own safety and comfort.  They put other people ahead of themselves.  They are living the values that we promise in the Oath and Law.
I am proud of these people and thank them.
Now this is going to sound like a stretch… but it is how I feel, so please bare with me here.
I have served on two Wood Badge course’s now as a staff member.  The number one thing that I have learned on those two staff’s is that there are terrific people who care so much about Scouting and Scouts that they give and give and yes.. run to the sound of the drum.  They are like the first responder that runs to danger.  They are dedicated and motivated to help.  They take the Oath and Law and apply it in their daily lives and it makes a difference.
Our Course Director is a Scouter that I have looked up to for many years.  He has a love for Scouting that shows in everything he does.  His passion is contagious.  On Thursday night at our staff dinner, he shared something with us just hours before the participants arrived.  He shared with us that it had been a long time since he served as a Scoutmaster in a unit.  For many years now he has been serving at the District and Council level primarily in a training capacity.  We all agree that where the runner meets the road is at the unit level where Scouters and Scouts interact and we teach, train, coach and mentor our youth to achieve the mission of the Boy Scouts of America.  John, our Course Director shared this with us.  While he has not served at the unit level in a long time do the math on the impact that we make as Staffers at Wood badge.  53 participants, mostly from Packs, Troops, and Crews will be learning from us. By myself I can only impact say 40 boys that are in my unit.  Over 10 years or so, I may have a direct impact on a couple hundred Scouts.  Imagine though the impact of a Wood Badge staffer.  53 participants will go back to their units and apply what we teach them.  Lets go low and say that each of those 53 have 25 Scouts in their unit.  That is about average.  Over the next 10 years this one Wood Badge class will impact thousands of Scouts.  That is far more reaching than I can do myself.  Over the next few years, these Scouters will run toward the target… they will run toward the Scouts that need help, coaching, and mentoring.  They will put hours upon hours into making Scouting and Scouts better.  They will dedicate time, money, energy, and love to our program.  This makes me proud to a part of it.
John inspired me to give my best when it was my turn to present course material, lead a song, and participate in a skit.  He made me want to give so that others would follow my lead.  John runs to the help needed as a trainer.  Most of all, he made Scouting better by leading us.
A lot is going on in our world.  We need Scouting and we need Scout leaders that run to the boys!
Thank you all that do what you do to make our world just that much better.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: blog, Character, Citizenship, Good Turn Daily, Ideals, Leadership, Oath and Law, respect, Scout Law, training, Values, Wood Badge | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments

Zapping the Fun out of it

wallWe all get to a point when we hit the wall, reach the point of diminishing return, stop having fun.  Teen age boys seem to hit that point way before adults and that my friends seems to be normal.  So know what we know, how do we deliver that promise without loosing our cool, making Scouting painful, and zapping the fun out of it.
I have been giving this subject a lot of thought lately and it pretty much came to a head for me the other night at our Troop meeting when I had a little chat with a Scout and his Dad.  This Scout is a good kid, he is growing up and seeing where he can push and pull on the limits with his parents, school, etc… that to seems to be pretty normal, I mean, all kids test the waters.  They see were they can get away with things and what they will be allowed to do and not do.  But that is not really here nor there in the conversation other than to say, this young man is testing where he can and Scouting is becoming a push and pull point between his Dad and himself.
I remember when this young man entered our Troop, he was gung ho about Scouting and dove right in.  He quickly worked his way through rank and never missed a good Scouting opportunity.  Went to the National Jamboree and Philmont and has by and large been a good Scout.  But now he has a driver’s licence, a girl friend, and Scouting is not cool among the crowd he is hanging with at School.  Again, normal… right?
Like I said, this all has come to a head this week, the discussion about how we maintain a good balance for our Scouts without compromising the program.  How do we keep older Scouts engaged and how do we keep it fun and adventurous for them while we compete with the rest of their worlds?  How is that we keep them from reaching that point of diminishing return and get them to continue to make a contribution to the Troop?  How do we assist them in staying active as a member and leader in the troop?
Well, I may not have the answers, but I am willing to try to at least offer solutions.
I am, as you know, a big believer in the Patrol method.  I think that the Patrols are a big piece of the puzzle here.  Allowing the Scouts to maintain the Patrols of guys that they want to be with, share common interests and likes and dislikes.  Maybe if they stay together, they will rally around each other.  To much moving around and the Scouts start to lose interest in going through the stages of team development and maintaining that high performance attitude.
So let them pick and keep their Patrols and Patrol mates.  When they invite a friend, let that friend be in their Patrol.
Leadership is always an issue also.  We expect our older Scouts to be leaders.  And I agree, but to what end?  When they start to hit the wall, they are not affect leaders, they tend to go through the motions and develop bad attitudes.  If they don’t want to lead, don’t make them.  They will get their leadership time and I would much rather have a leader that wants to lead than one that is being forced.  Leadership comes in many forms and maybe just their example can be enough till they are ready to step back into the spot light of Troop leadership.
Attendance.  This one gets debated over and over again, and everyone has an opinion.  By the way, I am interested in yours.. leave a comment.  Here are just a few thoughts of mine regarding this issue.  I am not a big proponent of forcing Scouts to be there.  I want them to be there.  I also understand that life for these kids (and adults) is busy.  Sports, homework, vacations, friends, other clubs all pull at the Scouts and their families.  Don’t let Scouting be the thing that becomes the bad guy.  Make Scouting something they want to be at.  I have said it before, Scouting may not be for every boy and as their world pulls at them it provides an opportunity for choices to be made.  The more they understand the value of Scouting and the fun, the higher on the priority list it goes.  Attendance at meetings, outings, and other unit functions needs to be the choice of the Scout and the family.
But Jerry, how do you determine what “active” means?  Well, I always go back to what the Boy Scouts of America has determined as the standard.  Here is how the BSA defines “Active”:
A Scout will be considered “active” in his unit if he is;
Registered in his unit (registration fees are current)
Not dismissed from his unit for disciplinary reasons
Engaged by his unit leadership on a regular basis (informed of unit activities through Scoutmaster conference or personal contact, etc.)
In communication with the unit leader on a quarterly basis.
(Units may not create their own definition of active; this is a national standard.)
So that’s it.  That is active. I may or may not agree with it, and I am sure that there are some of you that feel that this standard is a bit chinsy.. but it is what it is.  That is how the Boy Scouts of America define it and that is what we must comply with when determining the activity of our Scouts.  That is the standard.
And so that is what I use as my guide.  Now, during the Scoutmaster conference I make it a point to ask what the Scout is getting out of the program… typically, you get out of Scouting what you put into it.  So once a Scout gets to that point where Girls, Gas, and Goofing off start taking a priority and troop meetings start to take a back seat, what is he getting out of it.  Does he still camp with the Troop?  Does he show up for service projects or courts of honor?  That would make him active, right?  I think it may.  The Scout will let you know how he is doing in the program, but we all know that forcing the issue on a teen-aged young man will result in push back.  And then you are back at square one.  The fun will officially be zapped out of it.
So what now?
First, know your Scouts.  What they like, dislike, and what makes them want to be there.
Second, use the Patrol method.  Enough said about that.
Finally, be flexible.  It’s only Scouting.  There is much to be gained in our organization, but if you are not happy here, or not here at all, you won’t get anything out of it.
Don’t be a Troop dictator.  Be as Baden-Powell said in Aides to Scoutmastership.. “To get a hold on boys, you must be their friend”.
Build trust in them and let them set their course for adventures in Scouting.
Hope that made any sense…  Don’t zap the fun out of Scouting.
Thanks for hanging in there and reading the blog.
Have a Great Scouting day!

 

Categories: Advancement, blog, Camping, Character, comments, Ideals, Jamboree, Journey to Excellence, Methods, Oath and Law, Patrol Method, Philmont, Scoutmaster conference, Service, Skills, teamwork, Values | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

Are you tougher?

Well, by now most, if not all of you have seen or are keenly aware of the Hit TV series “Are you tougher than a Boy Scout“.  As they get through the first season, the subject of future seasons have begun.
It has been refreshing to watch Scouting on the boob tube presented in a positive light, showing high adventure and skills that most of us in Scouting like.  I am also happy to see the caliber of youth that have been selected to be on the first season.  They have really represented Scouting well.
But what of future seasons?  At what point are they going to show your average Scout.. the merit badge hunter, the mud finder, and the velcro scout.. you know, the young man that can’t be to far from the safe reach of mom and dad.  What will future events be on the show?  A trip to the zoo?  Maybe an aggressive game of chess?  How about a fun game of patrol box cleaning?  Sounds fun don’t it?  Sounds like the stuff boys join Scouting for.  Yep, and the nation will get to see all that adventure.. not quite High Adventure, but adventure none the less.    I get the feeling that once the public gets their collective eyes on that they will beat down our doors to get in.
OK.. OK.. sarcasm over.
I have been going back and forth with some Scouters via email and some discussions that go back to comments I made regarding Scouting not being for everyone.  It seems that most do not agree, and that’s ok.  It’s certainly alright to disagree and I encourage it.  What I don’t agree with though is that our program should be “dumbed down” for lack of a better term.  Go back to the beginning and you find adventure in Scouting at every turn.  That is what it’s all about.
Now, I suppose you could argue that adventure is adventure, and that is found in the individual.  Yeah.. you could argue that.  Ability levels can be accommodated, but at the end of the day, if we are not encouraging our Patrol Leaders Council to seek adventure, we are not helping in delivering that promise.
It serves us well to remember the Promise of Scouting that we are supposed to be delivering.
Allow me to refresh your memory:
Scouting promises you the great outdoors.  As a Scout, you can learn how to camp and hike without leaving a trace and how to take care of the land. You’ll study wildlife up close and learn about nature all around you. There are plenty of skills you can master, and you can teach others what you have learned. Everyone helping everyone else-that’s part of scouting, too.
Scouting promises you friendship.  Members of the Troop you join might be boys you already know, and you will meeting many other scouts along the way. Some could be lifelong friends.
Scouting promises you opportunities to work toward the Eagle Scout rank.  You will set positive goals for yourself and follow clear routes to achieve them.
Scouting promises you tools to help you make the most of your family, your community, and your nation.  The good deeds you perform everyday will improve the lives of those around you. You will be prepared to help others in time of need.
Scouting promises you experience and duties that will help you mature into a strong, wise adult.  The Scout Oath and Scout Law can guide you while you are a Scout and throughout your life.  (The Boy Scout Handbook 11th edition)
It is absolutely no surprise to me that the great outdoors is listed first!  That is where adventure is found.  Friendship and the bonds that last forever are forged in shared experiences and trials.  I love the last part there… “a strong, wise adult.”  The Oath and Law are great rules to live by and will last forever in the man.
So there it is.. the Promise of Scouting.. So are you Tougher than a Boy Scout?  Can you assist in living up to the expectations that boys join Scouting for?  Are you up to that challenge.  Imagine if you flipped the channel to watch a high adventure show and there are a handful of Scouts diligently working the fingerprinting merit badge.  Click!  I just turned the channel looking for the home shopping network.. maybe I could buy some adventure there.
I’m looking forward to the next season of the show.. man am I happy to see Scouting on TV and looking cool!
Let me hear it!  I know you have an opinion.
Thanks for reading the blog.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Backpacking, blog, camp skills, Camping, Character, Citizenship, comments, fitness, High Adventure, Ideals, Journey to Excellence, Just fun, Oath and Law, Patrol Method, Philmont, Skills, teamwork, Values | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Brave

I have listened to the answers of many Scouts as they explain to me during Scoutmaster Conferences the parts and meanings of the points of the Scout Law.
I always asks the Scout to tell me which part of the Scout law is most important and what they struggle with daily.  I get pretty much the standard answer that all of the parts of the law are important and no one part is greater than any other.  But this Saturday I sat as both the Scoutmaster and the Scouts advocate during and Eagle Scout Board of review.  When the board asked the young man to discuss which part of the law he thought was most important, without hesitation, the Scout answered Brave!
He explained that as a teen ager it to courage and bravery to live the Scout law every day.  Among his peers, he felt that many points of the law are not “Cool” or popular in today’s culture.  Without the ability to stand up for what you believe and know is right, the rest of the law is immaterial.  Without being brave, you won’t live the rest.
I thought it was an interesting answer and tend to agree.  I wish it did not have to be that way, but the truth is, the world that our Scouts find themselves in does not value the way of life that the Scout law represents.  It’s really to bad.
Last night during my Scoutmaster minute, I shared that if we live the Scout oath and law daily we will be men of character and I made our Scouts a promise.  If any of the values found in the Oath and law ever cause them to do the wrong thing, or if any of the points of the Scout law are wrong, I will stop talking.  They know that I love to talk, so they know that I am serious.
Challenge:  If you can explain to me that there is something wrong with the Oath and Law I will send you a grand prize.  You better come strong though.  Be prepared to discuss.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: blog, Character, Citizenship, comments, Ideals, Leadership, Oath and Law | 2 Comments

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