Those of you that have followed the blog for a while know that I am a fan and collector of Scouting literature. I don’t just collect the books, magazines, and other literature, I love to get into them and see how Scouting was, how Green Bar Bill wrote and what the program looked like over the decades.
A common phrase I hear often from “older” Scouters is how things were “Back when I was a Scout”. It seems that things were so much better back when we were Scouts. But then I got to digging in to the literature and what I have found is that the more things change.. the more they really do stay the same.
Yes, before I get hate mail… Scouting has changed a lot over time, but really, it has stayed the same.
In the 1959 edition of the Boy Scout Handbook the Boy Scouts of America talks about YOU, the American Boy.
Before I get into this, I was listening to a podcast the other day. The host of the podcast was talking about kids today and some of the things that they have lost over time. Some of the heritage of America has not been adequately passed down to our kids. I remember when I was a kid that we played like we were on the wild frontier of America. I was Daniel Boone and some of my friends would play the roles of Davy Crockett and Kit Carson, and Wild Bill Hickok. We would fight the battle of the Alamo, build rafts and float down the “Missouri”. We built forts and tried to live the legends of American History. I once met Daniel Boone at Frontier land in Disneyland. It was a great day, you would have thought Daniel Boone came back just for me to meet him.
I think everyone I knew could sing every word of Davy Crockett. You remember.. he was the “King of the wild Frontier”.
I think watching the tv shows, seeing our hero’s at Disneyland, and learning about them in Scouting, School, and out in the woods shaped how we played the game with a purpose then.
Who are the hero’s today? Who are those Davy Crockett’s that the kids today run through the woods acting like?
The 1959 handbook talks about the American boy…
“Have you ever dreamed of hiking the wilderness trails that were worn down under moccasins hundreds of years ago? Do you hear in your imagination the almost soundless dip-dip of Indian canoe paddles or the ring of the axe of an early pioneer hewing a home out of the American wilderness? Have you followed with your mind’s eye the covered wagons on the trek across our continent? Have you thought of the men and women who built our country by their determination and devotion? You are the descendant of those people. You are the guardian of what they built. You are the American on whom the future of our wonderful country depends.”
Great writing. It inspired Scouts for years to learn about our heritage and not feel ashamed of being an American boy. It valued the spirit of the pioneer, the frontiersman, the explorer an encouraged the Scout to seek that adventure and become a part of the American Narrative.
We have lost that kind of writing in our current handbooks. Now the handbook gets the Scout to the next rank. But the more they change, the more they are the same. Where we have lost it is in us. We have stopped teaching them. We have stopped allowing them to be American boys.
“Today you are an American boy. Before long you will be an American man.” The ’59 handbook continues. “It is important to America that you become a citizen of fine character, physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.” We all agree that there is no change there. The handbook, as in today’s handbook sets the course for the Scout to begin a life of values and adventure. “Yes, it’s fun to be a Boy Scout! It’s fun to go hiking and camping with your best friends… to swim, to dive, to paddle a canoe, to wield and axe… to follow in the footsteps of the pioneers who led the way through the wilderness…to stare into the glowing embers of a campfire and dream of the wonders of the life that is in store for you.” Do we make that promise to our boys today? Why not? Nothing has changed there. The world is not that much different.
I always tell our new Scouts as we sit around the campfire to watch the older boys as they join us in the circle. There is a magic in the campfire. It is a magic that no matter who you are or what your job is in the troop, it plays true every time. That magic is in the embers. It forces one to stare and quietly be a part of it. And sure enough, someone will join us in the circle and their eyes will immediately move to glow of the fire. Where once a loud noise came is now silent and engaged in the magic of Scouting. It is for us to not allow things to change. Scouting is rich in tradition, values, adventure, and spirit. The more things change, the more that will always stay the same. If we want it to.
I think that we need to go back and take a look at old handbooks. Look at the writing of William Hillcourt and how he could draw the imagination of the boys of America. Look how he engaged them to being a part of the rich heritage and adventurous spirit of Americans before them.
We have lost that spirit and way that pull the boys of America into this great adventure. It will be gone if we don’t share it. If we don’t allow them to be American boys.
Building rafts like Huck Finn and standing atop the Alamo defending an ideal. Hanging out in a tree house and hiking off into the wilderness in search of new land. We hold them back in the name of protection, we kill their spirit of adventure and call it safety. I cringe at the thought of not passing on our American spirit to this generation of boys.
They want it.. they just don’t know what it is.
The more things change.. the more the American boy is the same.. Let him be one!
“When you are a Scout, forest and field, rivers and lakes, are your playground. You are completely at home in God’s great outdoors. You learn to notice every sound, to observe every track. Birds and animals become your friends. You master the skills of walking noiselessly through the woods, of stalking close to a grazing deer without being noticed, of bringing a bird to you by intimating it’s call. You learn to find your way cross country by map and compass, to make a meal when you are hungry, to take a safe swim when you are hot, to make yourself comfortable for the night in a tent or under the stars. You become a true outdoorsman.” Boy just like when I was a kid acting like Daniel Boone.. the king of the wild frontier. This was Scouting when I was a boy… and it is Scouting now. We just need to remember that things really have not changed that much.. it is us that changed. The wilderness still calls, adventure still yells for our boys to come. Are you going to let them?
Have a Great Scouting Day!
Those of you that have followed the blog for a while know that I am a fan and collector of Scouting literature. I don’t just collect the books, magazines, and other literature, I love to get into them and see how Scouting was, how Green Bar Bill wrote and what the program looked like over the decades.
I once heard a quote somewhere in which supposedly Baden-Powell said, and I am paraphrasing “the mark of a real Scout troop is one that sings.” I can’t remember where or when I heard that but when I think about my Scouting experience as a youth some of my fondest memories are of us singing. We sand while we hiked, we sang while we sat around the camp fire, and we sang at meetings. Singing was a big part of Scouting and it just did not seem right if we did not sing.
This is a tradition that I have passed on in my Troop. Our troop loves to sing. We sing around the camp fire, we sing while we hike, and we sing to close every meeting.
Some of the Scouts love to sing more than others, but once the singing starts, it is contagious. There are certain songs that are staples in the Troop. Songs that get everyone involved. The Quartermaster Store is a favorite of the boys, they can go for a half hour trying to find new rhymes and ways to poke fun at one another. Old Lady Leary is another favorite of our Troop and they see which patrol can out shout the other. Staying on the Sunny side of life is yet another song that gets the guys singing.
I think that singing is a huge part of Scouting and needs to be a part of every unit. Once they start this fine tradition they will look for ways to work it in to their program.
There is something about the Scout spirit that comes with song. It leaves lasting memories that will last forever. Songs that will come back again and again that make those camp outs memorable and fun.
I was searching the internet for a song that was my all time favorite when I was a young Scout. It was called “It’s a lie”. I found it yesterday and immediately smiled as I thought about the summer camp when I first heard it. It was 1978 at Camp Freedom in the Transatlantic Council. The opening camp fire was spectacular. The camp staff led an action packed night, songs and skits and lots of stories about the camp and Scouting. The camp fire ended with the Order of the Arrow doing a tap out ceremony. But that song stuck in my head and for the next week I sang it all day long. I think my Scoutmaster finally had to get another song stuck in my head before he went crazy.
Anyway.. it was singing and a song that brought back a flood of great memories.
Here are the words to my memorable song… you find yours.
I was born a hundred thousand years ago. (YEARS AGO)
And there’s nothing in this world I do not know. (DO NOT KNOW)
I saw Peter, Paul, and Moses playing ring-around the roses,
And I’ll lick the guy who says it isn’t so. (IT ISN’T SO)
It’s a lie; It’s a lie ; Ship ahoy, ship ahey, ship a hi-hi-hi!
Oh, I’ve sailed the seven seas and I’ve sniffed the salty breeze,
But I never, ever, ever saw a mermaid. (A MERMAID)
I was there when Satan looked the garden o’er. (GARDEN O’ER)
I saw Adam and Eve a’driven from the door. (FROM THE DOOR)
I was round the corner peekin’ at the apple they was eatin’
I can prove I was the guy that ate the core. (ATE THE CORE)
I was there when Caesar crossed the Rubicon. (RUBICON)
I’m the guy who built the raft he crossed it on. (CROSSED IT ON)
I saw Nero burning Rome, and Hannibal at home.
I even saw the fall of Babylon. (BABBLE ON)
I saw Washington afloat a cake of ice. (CAKE OF ICE)
I saw Sherman, Lee, and Grant a shakin’ dice. (SHAKIN’ DICE)
I saw Roosevelt’s great laugh that split his face in half,
While Pershing set a trap for German mice. (GERMAN MICE)
You may thing that all this bunk, it isn’t true. (IT ISN’T TRUE)
But what difference does it really make to you? (MAKE TO YOU)
I’ve been feeding you this line just to pass away the time,
And now I’m going to quit because I’m through. (YOU’RE THROUGH)
Sing with your Scouts!!! It makes a difference.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
We 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!
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!
Allow me to play devils advocate here for a minute. There has been quite a bit of discussion lately via email and in Scouting circles in which I find myself regarding Scouts in our programs. One argument is that Scouting is for every young man, the converse is that Scouting is not for everyone.
Boys enter our program with certain expectations and needs. Those Scouts have parents that also have certain expectations and wants. What I have seen and heard lately is that some parents and Scouts are not getting what they thought they would out of Scouting. I have been in discussions in which parents believe that their son is not having fun in the program. The question that I ask is simply, is Scouting really for everyone?
I submit for the sake of discussion that maybe Scouting is not for every boy. It may be that what Scouting offers is not what they want or need. It may be that the boy is not ready for the adventures that Scouting offer and well-intentioned parents do not really understand what Scouting is all about. It is also true that many Scout leaders do not know what Scouting is all about and therefore have promoted a program that misses the mark when it comes to achieving Scouting’s aims. This has led to young boys joining troops that quickly disappoint or fail to deliver on the expectations they and their parents had on the join night.
Scouting at its core is about adventure and when a boy joins a unit that is full of adventure he may not be ready or willing to participate. Now, some would argue that participation is really not something that is of real importance in Scouting, but it is through participating fully in the program that the Scout gets the most out of Scouting. I had a mother say to me the other night that her son does not attend winter camp outs because he did not have a good experience during last years winter camping season. Why? Well, maybe he does not like camping in the winter.. I am ok with that. But does that paint the whole program as a negative thing? No, but maybe the Scout is not ready or willing. Once a boy starts down the road of picking and choosing those activities that he does not wish to participate in he will find it easier to reduce the level of activity he does. This is not true in all cases, remember that I am not suggesting anything here other that this is a question that we should ask. Maybe Scouting is not for everyone. Here is what I am saying…
Scouting is not for everyone. Scouting should not change to meet the Scouts needs. Scouting needs to stay the course on being an organization that has values, ideals, and adventure. Scouting should not “dumb down” to allow for boys to have a club to join. There are plenty of clubs out there that he can find a place in. Now, before you all jump on me let me say this here and make it very clear that I am not talking at all about Scouts or I should say boys with disabilities. This discussion has nothing… I repeat nothing to do with disabilities. That is another discussion and I think that needs to be addressed another time. I will say that there are ample opportunities for boys with disabilities to participate in Scouting and I encourage every young man who shows interest to try Scouting no matter the “ability”. I will also say that no.. I do not consider ADD, ADHD, Autism, and a lack of focus a disability. Not when it comes to Scouting and the Scouting program. We prove over and over again that Scouts that have been diagnosed with ADD, ADHD and Autism can participate in Scouting and high adventure activities. My Troop is proof of this. Moving on…
Scouting should not promote that everyone will be an Eagle Scout just because he joins and has a pulse. Scouting should continue to push the Scout to discover his world and find his limits.. then push them outside of his comfort zone. If Scouting decides to become the YMCA or Boys Club it will no longer deliver the promise. It will just become another after school club and that is not Scouting. That is not what Baden Powell, William Hillcourt, James E West, and the rest of the men that founded and established the direction for Scouting had in mind. We can met Scouts where they are, but we can never get away from the intent of the Scouting movement. We can not stray from the methods that lead us to achieving the aims and we can never allow Scouting to just be another club.
Not everyone wants what Scouting offers. Numbers, while they drive much of what the professional Scouters track are not the program. A great program that stays the course will bring in the numbers of boys that seek adventure, values, and ideals that are the hallmark of the Scouting program. Numbers for the sake of numbers will be just that and we see this play out each year with amount of boys that leave our units. They don’t want to play the game with a purpose and we should not make them. A football player is not allowed to join a team and then make up the rules of the game or change the team uniform. He joins and plays the game that has been established. Not everyone can or wants to play football, not everyone can or wants to be a Scout. I recently sat with a group of Scouts and asks a few simple questions. The first I asked was if they thought Scouting was nerdy. They all said that they did not think so, but their friends at School did. I asked what they thought the ‘nerdy’ part of Scouting was.. aside from wearing the uniform. I figured I would take away the obvious answer. They all said that their friends really didn’t know what we do. I asked them if they ever tell them what we do. They all pretty much said, no. They did not want to bring it up so they could talk about something else. Then I asked why not? Why not tell their friends that we rock climb at Smith Rock, that we snowshoe and build snow caves. That we have hiked the Oregon Coast trail, shoot shotguns and paddle the Deschutes river. That we backpack miles of the PCT and go caving in some cool volcanic caves. That we spent a week hiking in the Canyon country of New Mexico and that we have gone across the country to tour our Nations Capital and camp with 70,000 other Scouts. I asked why all of that sounds ‘nerdy’. They couldn’t tell me. But these are the guys that want to do all of that. These are Scouts and they want to be Scouts. Their friends could not nor would they be willing to do all of that, even given the chance. One of the Scouts spoke up and said that his friends thought Scouting was all about doing good deeds and being in Flag ceremonies. His friend said he didn’t want to be in a club that did crafts and sang songs. So I asked this young man what he told his friend. He had a great answer, he told me that he said to his friend that “yeah, we sing songs, but it’s out in the middle of the woods at our campfire at the end of a day that was full of fun”. But then again, that’s a kid that wants what Scouting has to offer.
Ok so what’s the point here. The point is simply this. We beat ourselves up to make sure that every boy joins Scouting. Why? If they join great, but if they quit, did we fail? Did Scouting fail? No.. they just did not fit in our program. I have seen many Scouts come and go from our Troop and I can honestly say that the ones that left did not want to be there. It was nothing we did to chase them away, they just did not want to be in Scouts.
I have said it many times, I would rather have a Troop of 10 motivated boys that want to be there than have a Troop with 50 that don’t.
Am I not supporting Scouting by saying this? Nope I am delivering the promise of Scouting to those that want it.
Once again, I am a fan of the writing of William “Green Bar Bill” Hillcourt. I have a copy of something he wrote way back when regarding the 10 Essentials of Scoutmastership. It goes like this.
A belief in boys that will make you want to invest yourself and your time on their behalf.
A zeal focused upon one point-the boy’s happiness through his formative years- “A happy boy is a good boy, a good boy is a good citizen.
An immense faith in Scouting as the program that will best serve to mould our youth into fine men.
A realization that to the boys Scouting is a game – to you, a game with a purpose: Character, building citizenship training and physical fitness.
A knowledge that to your boys you are Scouting. “What you are speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say”.
A steadfastness of purpose to carry out a planned program with energy and perseverance, patience and good humor.
A willingness to submerge yourself and make boy leaders lead and grow through and effective application of the Patrol Method.
A desire to advance in Scoutmastership by making use of training offered and material available on the subject.
A readiness to work hand in hand with home, church, sponsored institution, school, Local Council, National Council for the good of the individual boy and the community as a whole.
A love of the outdoors in all its phases and a vision of the hand that created it.
With an effective program that offers the “want to” so a boy joins, stays, and grows in Scouting we can see that Scouting is a great program. But that is not for everyone. If you as a Scouter can honestly read the 10 essentials of Scoutmastership and apply it to your unit you will create that environment. If you do not feel that you can do that, well then you prove the argument, that nope, Scouting is not for everyone, to include adults.
Before I get lots of hate mail… I am playing devils advocate here, but the point for me is taken well. I do not think that everyone needs to be in Scouting. I think those boys that want to be in should and once in we will do everything in our power to deliver to them the very best program.
Now, I do want to hear what you think. Please leave your comments, I would not ask if I didn’t want to know.
Thank you all for all you do in Scouting!
Have a Great Scouting Day!
This weeks Sunday Coffee with Scoutmaster Jerry is full of coffee and adventure..
This weekend our Troop camped out up at White River on Mt. Hood. It was a great time and lots of skills practiced and learned.
Sunday Morning around 4:00 AM our Troop encountered an unexpected attack. We typically camp on the other side of a creek that flows adjacent to the White River snow park. This is a good location as this camp out is always the first Winter camp out in snow for the new Scouts. The location provides a good bail out plan and the comfort that the cars are not to far if we need them. Anyway… this year the snow bridge was gone so we picked a camp site a bit closer to the parking lot. We have camped there before, but this year was different. At 4:00 AM the Oregon Department of Transportation snow crew cleaned up the snow park. They plowed the parking lot and then sent in the snow blower Now I don’t know about you but I had never felt the wrath of 100 lbs of snow shot from a cannon before.. until this morning!
Hope you enjoy the video.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
There has been much said, yeah.. even here on this blog, about how Scouting has changed to meet the needs of the lowest common denominator. A greater emphasis on merit badge work shops and staying within an arms reach of a cell phone. Sometimes I wonder if we in Scouting are still delivering the promise.. you know the promise of Scouting.
I find it interesting that when we look back in the not to distant past that Scouting was much different. Even as far back as when I was a Scout there were not the concerns of life as we know it in today’s Scouting world.
Now I am a believer that we do need to bring Scouting to where the boys are.. but sometimes we should take the boys back to where we came from.
Baden Powell once said “By the term Scouting…is meant the work and attributes of backwoodsmen, explorers, hunters, seamen, airmen, pioneers, and frontiersmen.”
The 1947 Handbook for Scoutmasters goes on to add, “The word ‘Scout’ opens up to the boy the picture of open spaces, woods, rivers, and lakes, mountains which are to be his playground and where he will have his fun.” It goes on to say, “It is this promise of adventure, of camping and life in the outdoors that lures the boy into Scouting. We MUST keep faith with him by giving him that adventure – not just to satisfy him, but because it is the best way we have of holding him.”
There is more written in the Handbook for Scoutmasters that reinforces this idea of adventure and the promise of Scouting, I wonder when we stopped talking about that. There is no mention of it in the current Scoutmaster Handbook.
We have allowed lawyers to dictate that adventure. We have allowed video games and laziness to dictate our levels of activity and we worry about Scouts leaving the program because we need the numbers.
I believe that every boy should be in Scouting… but not for merit badges or bobbles and beads. I think they should be seeking adventure! Like we did when I was a boy. Adventure! Parents need to allow this to happen.. that’s where it starts.
You know, there were just as many creeps in the world in the 70′s and 80′s as there are today. The world really is not more creepy.. the difference… we have 24 hour news now and this wonderful thing called the internet.
We rode our bikes to and from Scout troop meetings. Heck, we rode our bikes everywhere. We were told not to talk to strangers and never to take candy from them.. and you know, we came out alright. Every day in the summer we left in the morning and came home in time for dinner. Looking for adventure.
In Scouts we found adventure. We camped with our Patrols, we did not need… nor did we want, all the adults hanging around. The fewer of them the better. Our parents were concerned about us, but knew that we would be ok. We trusted our Scoutmaster and the skills we were taught and we looked for adventure at every turn.
Not every Patrol got a ribbon at Camporee.. but then again, they were not all about competing either.. they were about skills and discovering new things.
Our PLC had a blank check to plan the next big adventure. I remember when I was a Tenderfoot Scout we had the biggest adventure ever. Our Troop was dropped off in Belgium to take a ferry across the English channel. Once we arrived in England we took a bus to the Baden Powell house and stayed there for a few days. We explored the local area and got to camp at Gilwell Park. 2 weeks from when we left home, we boarded the ferry and back we went. We only had 2 adults with us the whole trip and it was an adventure of a life time.
The old Handbook for Scoutmasters suggests that we can retain Scouts because “it [adventure] is the best way we have of holding him.” The best way! I firmly believe that if we just allowed it, we can get back there. I don’t think that boys have changed much… it is the parents that did the changing. You know.. I can’t remember one kid when I was growing up that had peanut allergies.. now you can’t even say the word peanut without some Mom yelling that her son is allergic. I think it’s time we give our boys their adventure back. I think it’s time that we go back to actually delivering the promise and not just Eagle Awards. I think it is time that all of us Scouters ask the simple question.. are we still delivering the promise?
Just my buck and half.. curious to hear you thoughts. Weigh in.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
I often preach about how I expect more out of our young men, that nothing in life will be easy, and that there are no participation ribbons just for showing up in life. When it comes to leadership, the Scouts in our Troop hear it over and over again that we all need to “Model Expected Behavior” and they all should at least have an understanding of what that means. For the Scouts of our Troop that means that good is not good enough. It means that we do things right, we learn from mistakes, and we hold one another to a higher standard.
So what does that mean? Is is arrogant of us to act that way? Well, to the outsider looking in, yep.. but for us we look at it this way. The world around us is happy with mediocre leadership, results, and standards of living. I’m not ok with that when it comes to our Scouts.
We are not a merit badge mill nor are we an Eagle factory. We do not measure success in the amount of Scouts that earned awards or rank each year. We measure success in the way our Scouts act. We see direct results in watching older Scouts teach younger Scouts and hold each other accountable. We measure our success in growth and sustained attendance. Is our Troop for everyone.. nah.. but no troop is. Even though we all work toward the Aims of Scouting, our programs are different in their delivery. I could not be in a Troop that had more adult involvement than Scouts. I could not be a unit that did merit badge classes each week. I could not be in a Troop that produces Eagle Scouts that can not do the basics. I could not be apart of a Troop that did not seek adventure and test the limits.
This weekend, our Troop camped at a local Scout camp. There were not a lot of miles walked and the weather was great. It got real cold, and that tested some of the boys in the troop. Some Scouts pushed their boundaries by shooting Shot guns for the first time, while other Scouts increased their knowledge and leadership skills at Junior Leader Training. A few Scouts were taken out of their comfort zones as they taught the Junior Leader Training. No matter what level of the Scout there was challenge enough for everyone.
Our Junior Leader Training follows the National program, but we tend to focus heavily on communication skills, team development, Conflict resolution, and expectations of leaders.
We start the session with a talk about Modeling Expected Behavior and then everything that follows in the course of training maintains that theme. We expect our Scouts to be and act the best. Good is never good enough. The team deserves that attitude from everyone. If they all act their best.. they become the best. A high performance team.
Now you may ask.. aren’t you expecting too much from these young men. Nope. If I don’t who will? We see too much “getting by” in our world and I will not be party to it. Do we exclude young men when we expect more from them? NO.. we expect more and they give more… like it or not.. That I don’t care about. Life is going to expect a lot from them. Why treat them with kiddy gloves now.
Does this mean we are hard ass’s? Not at all. We stay within the Scout Oath and Law. Teaching in a friendly, fun, challenging atmosphere. But when things are not right, a leader (adult or youth) simply corrects the issue and we move on. Un tied shoes, un tucked shirts, gear looking like a yard sale, bad attitudes, improper set up or use of gear, not living the vlaues of the Scout Oath and Law. These are things that other Scout leaders just allow. Kids will be kids… yeah.. but bad habits last forever. Good attitudes, skills, and behavior does to and gets them a lot farther in life.
So modeling expected behavior is a cultural thing. We don’t march, we don’t yell.. yelling is for ineffective bad leaders.. we just teach, coach, train, and mentor.. oh and we model expected behavior. Adults don’t get a free pass on bad behavior either. We are expected to model what we expect.
The proof is in the pudding. Our Troop grows annually. We lose Scouts too, and that’s ok, maybe we are not the fit for them. Maybe XBox and lower expectations is what they are looking for in life. And that’s ok.. just not in our Troop.
This morning a Scout was standing under a shelter pouting. His hands were cold, after all, it was 24 degrees outside. His Patrol leader had just instructed him to get his gloves on. The Scout could not find them. So the Patrol leader and the Scout went to his pack and dumped it out. There were the gloves. I then saw the Scout standing there not assisting with his Patrol in breaking camp and wrapping up the clean up. I called him over to where I was standing watching. I asked him if he was ok. Yeah.. he said, but I’m cold. I suggested that if he would get moving he would warm up. If he would help his Patrol mates out.. he would start to feel a bit warmer. I asked him why he was pouting earlier and he told me that his hands were cold. I asked him what he did about it… fully knowing what had happened. He said that he found his gloves and put them on. Then I had him recite the Scout Law to me. And asked to him to reflect on the meaning of being Trustworthy. We talked a bit about making choices and how he was either going to develop good habits and skills, or he would develop bad ones. The choice was his, not mine, the Patrol leaders, or his parents. He would have to make a choice which path he wanted to take. He turned and walked back to his patrol and pitched in. You see, if we let it go, it won’t change. If we expect little, that is what we get. So we chose to expect more. And not surprisingly we get more.
When our Youth leaders set good examples and model the behavior that we want out of our Troop.. that is what we get.
There is nothing wrong with winning and losing. We can learn from both. There is everything wrong with not learning and not trying to learn, to push, and to find success.
I had a talk with a Scoutmaster about this a while ago. He said that “I bet they all march around and it’s all yes sir this and no sir that..” On the contrary.. In fact the Scouts in my Troop call me Jerry and we call them by their names. There is no marching, yelling, or military like behavior.. just a lot of fun and development. It is an environment that is comfortable, friendly, and leaves them wanting to come back.
At the end of each camp out we close with lessons learned, Start, Stop, and Continue. Today the Senior Patrol leader led the discussion with whole troop. As the next two camp outs will be up on the mountain, this camp out was a great opportunity to learn and get ready for the up coming outings. He had each Scout share one thing that needs to improve in the next 3 weeks. I listened as the Scouts really gave some thought to their answers. It was in some of the more experienced Scouts answers that I realized that they got it.. they are modeling expected behavior. They were critical of themselves and how they prepared for this camp out. The next one will be that much more successful.
Expect more.. get more.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
*** EDIT NOTE: This post was scheduled for today (12-14-12). I contemplated ”pulling it” in light of the tragic events that have shaken us in Connecticut. Our hearts go out to those families. The reason I did not ”pull” this post is simply this.. We must go on. I am sorry about the devastating events of today, but as our thoughts and prayers flow to those victims, we can not live in fear and can not let the actions of a few dictate how we live our lives.
I am sorry if this is ‘too soon’.. but this coming Monday our Troop will still meet and we will be getting ready for not only Winter Camping, but Troop Junior Leader Training and we will go on.
God Bless. ***
Winter camping is like no other camping. It requires skills, smarts, and the right attitude. It also requires strong leadership. Leaders that accept responsibility and leaders that understand that the group comes before the individual. In my Troop Training for winter camping is a significant part of the process. We make certain rules on participation in winter camping events such as; You must participate in the 4 meetings that lead up to the camp out. This way you get all the necessary training. This is important as your buddy is counting on you to be there, understand what he is looking for, and is a part of the team when it comes to the in camp routines that are unique to winter camping.
A lack of discipline will also get a Scout “Uninvited” to a winter outing. There is no room for a lack of discipline when it comes to camping in cold weather and high risk activities.
Part of the training that our Scouts receive are from the older Scouts. They are given the training and the tools to ensure that proper training is being conducted. I have given them the following to add to their Leadership Tool box. The following is directed at the Leader and speaks directly to them so they can properly set the example, train their Patrol’s and have a great winter camping experience.
You are welcome to all of this information, feel free to copy and paste. If you have questions, please feel free to ask. You can always send an email or drop a note in the comments section.
Here are some items for a leader to have in his tool box for camping in the winter.
1. The right attitude. You must demonstrate a positive attitude in the winter. The people following you depend on it. As you go with you attitude, those that follow you will go.
2. Be an example of right. The leader must possess the skills and attitudes that make winter camping successful. The leader must demonstrate those skills and teach others to use them. The leader can not take short cuts and look the other way. The leader must set an example by doing the right thing.
3. Skills. There is a list of skills that make up a good winter camper. Here are some that the leader must use and teach.
Gear- use the right gear and use it properly. More importantly taking the right gear with you and packing it right. Every item in the pack or SECURED to the outside and covered with a pack cover.
Staying dry. – Wet kills in the winter.
In camp routines. Camp set up.
Getting in and out the tent without dragging snow in.
Storing gear. Everything stays packed unless needed.
Gathering and “Making” water.
Gathering fire wood and making the fire.
Setting up camp. Looking for best placement of tents/shelters. No widow makers. Building up snow walls. Cooking areas. Designated BIO area.
Anchoring of tents/shelters.
Morning routines. Get up and cook right away. Get things cleaned and stored. Pack un used gear. Hang anything that is damp to dry.
Cooking. Have a plan.
Store food in bags in order they will be eaten.
Repackage meals to reduce trash.
Hot meals always
3 good hot meals and lots of snacks.
Clean up as you go and never leave dirty dishes lying around.
Pack it all out. Do not dump uneaten food in the snow.
Just because you can bury it does not mean it is right.
Monitor water use and stay ahead.
Watch fuel consumption. No flame without a pot on it. NO empty pots.
Don’t be lazy. Cook and eat well.
Sleeping. Dry equals warm. Stay out of wind and wet and you will stay dry and warm. Open your sleeping bag as soon as your tent is set up. Get the loft going. Make sure to have insulation under you. Closed cell pads work great in the winter. An extra blanket works too when used with a pad. If nothing else your jacket should go between you and the pad or under your feet.
Your boots go in the tent and under your sleeping bag (foot end). Do not wear anything wet to bed. Change your socks and clothing before you go to bed if you are wet. ALWAYS change your socks before you get in your sleeping bag.
Avoid condensation in your sleeping bag. Wear a hat and keep your face out of the bag. Short guys. Fold unused portion of sleeping bag under you.
Take a trip to the pee tree before you go to bed. Relieve yourself and then get comfortable. You do not want to hold it till morning. You won’t sleep and you won’t stay warm.
4. Be a Good example. Yes, we say it twice. This will get you farther as a leader than anything else in the cold weather. If you do things right and maintain a positive attitude, those that follow you will to.
IMPORTANT. Leaders are responsible. You are the last ones in the sleeping bag after everyone is checked. You are the last ones to eat or eat before the rest. This way you can check, assist, monitor the rest as they prepare and eat.
Leaders. You are the key to success. You have been given the responsibility to teach and coach. Use it.
Build your tool box. Fill it with those things that make you a great leader and you will be. Collective knowledge and a willingness to learn, practice, and share is the success of all leaders.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
It is amazing how themes run together and I think I have said it before on the blog about how a subject seems to maintain a solid thread in life for a time. This week it seems that the subject of what we expect of our youth in so far as work ethic, values, and skills has taken up much of the conversation I have had electronically and with some friends.
Yesterday I received an email from a reader that challenged the idea that Scouts are not allowed to use liquid fuel, like white gas etc. He made mention of my recent videos and said that I was irresponsible for encouraging our Scouts to use equipment that is “proven to be dangerous”.
So let me get that out-of-the-way first. “Proven to be dangerous”… By who?
Reader, do you honestly think that REI and other fine outfitters would have the MSR Whisperlite, the Dragon Fly, the Soto Muka, and the Trangia stoves on their shelves if they were “Proven to be dangerous”? Do you think for a minute that the Tooth of Time traders at Philmont SCOUT Ranch would sell the Whisperlite and Simmer light stoves as well as make available at the commissary Coleman White Gas. And finally Reader… Do you own a Guide to Safe Scouting and have looked up the policy found in the Chemical Fuels and Equipment Document published by the Boy Scouts of America?
It seems that our Reader, based on his email, does not feel that Scouts are “Responsible” enough to handle liquid fuels. He also feels that I act irresponsibly by taking the Scouts camping in the winter. “I find it hard to believe you would risk injury of your Scouts in camping in temperatures below freezing.” he wrote.
Now, I really don’t want to offend any good Den Leaders out there, but this guy obviously has not moved on the Boy Scouts yet even though he signed his email “Scoutmaster”.
I am not going to address all of the “issues” he has with me and as he called it “My brand of Scouting”, but I do want to discuss this as a matter of course in the conversation of week regarding our youth.
I know exactly where this “Reader” is coming from. He is of the class that believes that our young men (boys) are not capable of doing anything other than sitting in front of a TV watching Barney.
He is so afraid to let boys be boys that he is killing our young mens ability to function as men. I am sure that knives are not allowed in his Troop and that the Mom’s do all the cooking. He is of the mind-set that does not allow Scouts to build a signal tower and climb it. Him and his fellow non believers in youngsters are the ones that keep a good and sturdy rope bring 18 inches off the ground and find the need to “spot” someone who is literally inches from doom.
He is the reason that Scouts are not supposed to camp with their patrols.. ohhhh… hear that sound.. that’s Green Bar Bill rolling in his grave. This reader is why we have Eagle Scouts that can’t tie Clove hitches and max the minimum when it comes to everything in Scouting.
They don’t believe that a Scout is able to do anything that he and his buddies set their minds to. He has no sense of adventure and won’t let a young man push himself. He is the reason that we expect less from our youth and as a result get less.
As you may be able to tell… this really chaps my butt.
Our young men can do anything. They can use an ax, they can climb mountains, they can swim in open water, they can hike miles and miles and still have energy to sing and joke. They can ride horses and slide down a zip line. They can build fires and sleep under the stars. They can ride their bike for a 100 miles and camp along the way. They can scuba dive in the Florida Keys and canoe the Boundry waters.
But this guy won’t let them. Why? Because he does not believe in the power of a boy!
He Expects less and he gets less because he does not believe in them.
Expect more… get more!
Train ‘em, Trust ‘em, and Let ‘em lead!
Have a Great Scouting Day!