The other day I talked about the four “C”s that when added to the leaders tool box makes for ease in decision-making and better leaders.
I will add that when our young leaders start using the four “C”s they will also become Confident leaders. Young leaders need practice to become confident. Learning and finding success builds that confidence.
Making mistakes are a good thing.
I have heard confidence defined as the “Expectation of Success”. I think this is a fair definition in that as a leader we are striving to achieve a goal. Whether that is a person goal or a team goal, the mastering of a task or skill, or getting from point A to point B. The leader expects to achieve success.
Making mistakes to achieve that success is ok when lessons are learned and there is time to evaluate and make corrections. Mistakes that are uncorrected or allowed to be swept under the rug are just mistakes and a waste of time and energy. Further more they do not built confidence in leaders as they do not see that success when they fail to learn from their mistakes.
So when our goal as Scoutmasters is to build confident leaders we need to watch for those mistakes and coach them through the recovery.
When a Quarterback throws an interception he is often greeted by the coach as he comes to side line. The QB failed to achieve the goal of completing the pass. He failed to achieve the goal of moving the ball down the field and scoring a touchdown. The coach has a choice to make. He can discuss the play with the Quarterback and refocus his vision of success or he chew him out. I would submit that while the Quarterback let the team down by throwing the pick, he will recover faster and make fewer mistakes if coached on mechanics of the pass, what he saw down field, or maybe even communicating better with his receiver. The point is there are many things that the coach may have seen that the QB did not as the Defensive End came busting around the Tackle. It is the coaches responsibility to build that confidence back up in the player. The coach has a bigger perspective of the game and can assist in getting the Quarterback back on track by teaching him and not chastising him.
Having said that, there is room in certain situations for a good hard lesson. I have said it many times, I care less about how you feel and more about how you act. I would never advocate belittling or bringing a Scout down.. remember that the goal here is to build confidence. If a leaders decision was such that it caused harm or moves away from the values found in the Oath and Law, the discussion is a bit different. Always in the spirit of teaching and learning, but not such that the leader feels like he got away with something.
Confident leaders make consistent good decisions. Part of that decision-making is in how the leader, by being confident builds confidence in those he leads. The most important thing that leaders can do is show confidence in other people.
This in turn leads to leaders that show initiative. Initiative is power. Power to act, Power to make decisions, and Power to take advantage of opportunity. This is when real leaders begin to shine. This is where you see the confidence built-in your young leaders. This is where you start to build that leadership trait in future leaders. When the younger Scouts see their leaders show initiative and confidence it sends the message that it is ok to step up and lead.
It all begins with that vision of success. Clear goals, personal and as part of the team. Building confident leaders is the responsibility first of the Scoutmaster. When that happens you have a Troop that can lead.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
The other day I talked about the four “C”s that when added to the leaders tool box makes for ease in decision-making and better leaders.
For those of you looking to play around with other stoves for backpacking you know that I have played around with a couple different Wood gas or Wood burning stoves. I currently use the Solo Stove for wood burning, but I found this older video of my first shot at wood burning stoves. The J Falk Bushwhacker Stove is a nice stove that you should give a try. Whether you make one or buy one, they are fun little stoves to play around with. They are efficient and economical. The stoves are safe and easy to make or buy. We have used them to fulfill the “Cook over open fire” requirement also… so give it a shot. Here are the instructions for making your own Bushwhacker stove. CLICK HERE
Have a Great Scouting Day!
One of the main functions of the Scoutmaster is to train the Junior Leaders, in particular, the Senior Patrol Leader. I take this responsibility serious and am in a constant mode of looking for opportunities to train the Scouts to be better leaders.
Most of the training is informal and as we find ourselves in opportune times where a lesson has presented itself. What I have found is that, first, our Scouts really don’t know what they don’t know, and second, they don’t look for opportunities to learn and train others.
Now that is a pretty lofty statement, let me explain what I mean.. here is the training opportunity.
Teen age boys typically look for the easy way out. They find the path of least resistance, which in turn puts them in challenging leadership roles. They typically want to just get along and resist confrontation when it comes to being a leader.
Whether it is because the Scout lacks confidence or leadership skills they find themselves in situations that often times leave them feeling unsuccessful. This is where a good tool box full of good leadership tools comes in.
I had a discussion the other night with a Patrol leader. He feels like no one really wants to listen to him. So, asking a few leading questions we took a look at his leadership style and gave him tools to make it better.
First, the leader needs to understand who he is leading and why he is leading. Is it a specific task that needs to be accomplished or just general leadership within the confines of a Patrol? The leader needs to look for opportunities to be “the man”. Here is what I mean by that… Leaders are not Bosses.. but leaders are the “go to” guys that people want to follow. The leader become “the Man” when he can display in his leadership the 4 “C”s.
Courage, Candor, Competence, and Compassion.
Courage. It takes Courage to be a leader, especially a leader of Scouts. You will not always make popular decisions and you may be put in situations that pit you one against another. The Leader with Courage will always do what is right and the right thing for the good of his Patrol, or Troop.
Candor. Tell it like it is. Tell the Truth and never shy away from the truth. If a member of the Patrol is acting in the wrong way or not doing a skill correctly, don’t be afraid to hurt their feelings, tell the truth. We as leaders need to worry less about feeling and focus more on actions. Actions or the way we act and do things are far more important than feelings. A leader that demonstrates candor is respected and shows his good character.
Competence. No one wants to follow a leader that does not know what the heck they are doing. Following a lost leader gets the whole group lost. To build competence the leader must keep learning and testing themselves. Sharpening skills and looking inward at their decision-making. Constantly working to fill the tool box.
And Compassion. We lead people and manage equipment. Being that leader that cares about those that they lead grows confidence in the follower. When we genuinely care about making those around us better, they see it and start to build a better relationship within the team. When we care about teaching them and showing them the right way to do anything, we make them better. When we care enough to model expected behavior, those that we lead will follow and show that behavior back to us.
Taking the four “C”s and putting them to use will make the leader better and keep him focused.
The four “C”s also give the leader a simple set of standards so he can focus on what is important in his Patrol. My Patrol leader did not think that his patrol listened to him. So I asked the simple questions; What are you saying and How are you saying it? Do you come at your Patrol competent and compassionate? We discussed a missed opportunity that he had over the weekend camp out. A simple task of cooking a meal could have been a million dollar lesson to his patrol in skill and fun. That patrol was cooking venison steaks. The missed opportunity was how they cooked them. A little bit of prior planning on the Patrol leaders part could have made him “The Man”.
Cooking steaks over an open fire would have made a bigger bang within the patrol, rather, they cooked on a frying pan and used up lots of cooking utensils and time. The Patrol leader missed the opportunity to get his younger Scouts involved in the process and about 10 minutes into the ordeal of cooking, he lost them.
It was a great opportunity that was lost because he took the path of least resistance.
“The Good Idea Fairy”
I have listened in on many Patrol meetings. Most Patrol meetings end in frustration when members of the Patrol do not feel that they are being listened to. Sometimes the Patrol Leader needs to let the Good Idea Fairy be heard. Jotting down an idea or two and seeing how they can be worked into the plan for the next event. Maybe cooking over the open fire came up, but was dismissed by the leader. When the leader lets those ideas happen they get buy in from those that they lead.
Always look for that Teaching Opportunity. They are always there and we as Scoutmasters need to be on top of it. Allow the situation to run its course and then sit down with the Patrol Leader or other leaders and ask those leading questions that get them thinking beyond the path of least resistance.
Scouts are looking for that challenge and they want to be challenges. They just don’t know what they don’t know and you know… sometimes they are afraid that we are going to say no to them or shut down their great ideas. Go with it. We need to use those four “C”s also.
If it is not unsafe, unethical, or not outside of the Scouting program.. say Yes and let them find that learning opportunity. You will be the man when you keep learning and growing in your leadership also.
Almost everything we do in Scouting will come with a teaching opportunity. Find it and share it.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
One of my goals for this year and in particular in working on the blog is to use tools to be more successful. There is nothing worse than a goal that is not attainable because of lack of want to or know how and sometimes tools can assist in making a goal more attainable.
A new years resolution to go to the gym only works while the motivation to work out is there. Going to the gym and not working out because you don’ t know how only discourages you and you don’t go back.
I am one of “those people” that needs constant motivation to stay on track. I do that by motivating myself and finding tools and resources that keep me focused and on task.
For example. I am working on doing more to lift some of the burden of household chores from my wife. She does and has done a fantastic job over the past 22 years and I know this is an area that I can do better at. So I have picked up the responsibility to doing the grocery shopping. I hate grocery shopping, but it is a task that I can do so I had to find motivation (other than just being more helpful). So I dove into the task to find tools that would make grocery shopping more interesting for me and make me want to do it. Enter an app for my phone. I downloaded the Out of Milk app and started using it. We make the grocery list on the computer and sync it with my phone. Bingo.. we have a winner. I am actually finding grocery shopping fun, walking up and down the isles scanning products and adding them to the shopping cart.
Apps and software have made much of what we do these days more tolerable. They have also made managing tasks, lists, notes, and resources more accessible. A few years back I started using an app called Evernote ™. It was a cool way to take notes and have them available across different platforms. My computer, phone, tablet etc. Then I started using for Scouting.
Some of the cool things about Evernote ™ that I really like are the note taking and sharing of information I gather. With Evernote ™ I can clip and save things right from the internet. I can save PDF files for retrieval later and I can record voice notes.
Evernote ™ has all of this in one nice bundle. I have many notebooks within Evernote ™. This is nice to I stay organized and have everything right at the tip of my fingers.
Our Troop uses Troopmaster ™ to manage the Troop’s administrative functions. But Troopmaster ™ does not have a corresponding app for my phone or a mobile way of accessing information from Troopmaster ™. So I save the reports and most frequently used items from Troopmaster ™ as PDF files and drop them into Evernote ™. I can’t tell you many times we have been at a Scout property and they need a roster with phone numbers, ages, etc. I just open up Evernote ™ and there it is. I can even print the roster from Evernote ™ if they have wireless printing available. I had to do this last summer at summer camp.
Scoutmaster conferences are easily tracked and noted using Evernotes voice memo feature. It is nice to talk with a Scout and then capture some of my thoughts right after we are finished without sitting a writing it all down. Then once I get home I can transcribe the voice memo into a note for future reference.
Project planning is another great use for Evernote ™. In 2012 I used Evernote ™ to plan and track our Philmont trek. Everything from setting reminders to making checklists to ultimately making notes along the journey. Adding pictures to remind me of tasks, people, places, and things we needed to do.
As most everything we get now electronically from the BSA comes in PDF format, dropping our reservations and other correspondence from Philmont was easy to save and retrieve.
I am still learning of new features and ways to use Evernote ™, but so far it is a great tool to make my Scouting life and my personal life more organized. It is a way that I stay focused and on task and therefore more productive.
Some of the other ways in which I use Evernote ™:
Building Packing list for Backpacking. It is a nice way to make checklists and track weight and gear.
Lists for places I want to go. Using the clip it feature on the web I can save maps, brochures, and information about places I want to go, in particular backpacking.
Saving ideas for future planning with the Patrol Leaders Council.
Recipes for Dutch oven or backpacking meals.
Using Evernote ™ Hello I save business card and meeting information. That is really a neat feature and a fast and easy way to build and maintain contact lists.
That’s just a few. I follow the Evernote Blog also. It is amazing all of the different ideas shared there for use cases, tips, and what’s happening with Evernote ™.
Finding a good way to stay motivated and on task is important. It is critical if you are like me and have many irons in the fire and want to stay focused. But like everything else if you don’t commit to using the tools then you as good as that new years resolution to go to the gym.
I hope that helps you find a tool that will help you manage your irons in whatever fire you place them.
Let me know what you use.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
While I am camping with my Troop this weekend I thought I would leave you with some great entertainment and a message that is priceless.
I stumbled on this video on YouTube the other night while my wife and I were talking about our experience at the National Meetings that we got to attend. It was a special part of my Scouting life.
We watched Mike Rowe talk at the National Jamboree in 2010 and he is a great example of just Scouting does.
Enjoy the weekend and this video.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
At last nights Troop meeting I began my Scoutmaster minute by talking about reputation. What is it? How do we get it? Do we like it? And how do we view other people’s reputations?
I gave the Scouts an assignment, one that I am working on myself, you see it may take a bit of time to really think it through. The assignment was simply to write down what they think or know their reputation is, do they like it, and how do they think they got it.
It all comes down to Character and how you are viewed by others. Sometimes our reputation fits and sometimes it doesn’t, but more times than not, your reputation is based on how people think you are. And there in lies the rub. Why?
What does your character look like that warrants the view from outside eyes. What do they see? It’s not hard really, people see you pretty much for who you are, right? I mean, if you are living the way you ought to then what’s the problem.
I said at the outset that “I Began” the Scoutmaster minute by talking about reputation. Very rarely does a Scoutmaster minute become a discussion, but last night it did. We started to talk about the “Why” part in this. The Scouts shared about some of the things that they see, no one really offered up their own cases. Then we got into the electronic part of our reputation. Facebook, Twitter, and the like.
I shared with them a phone discussion that we had recently with a college coach that has been talking with our son about playing football. He called our son a few weeks ago to check in and to ask a few questions. His first question was “Hey, do you know so in so…?” Josh answered that he did know the kid, he went to school with him. The coach told Josh that he saw that Josh and this kid were “Friends” on Facebook. Josh said yes, him and a lot of friends. Then the coach suggested to Josh that he “Un friend” this kid because he “Tags” Josh in pictures and places that Josh may not want to be associated with, especially if he was looking for a college scholarship.
Josh did un friend the kid, after seeing some of the stuff that this kid was putting up for the world to see.
Some of the Scouts thought that this was unfair, that a coach could do this. I on the other hand think that this coach was looking out for Josh’s reputation and future. You see, how people see you and how you associate may tell a story about you that you may not like. Your character is at that point subject to question and therefore your reputation is in jeopardy.
So, the assignment for this week for our Scouts is to take a look at their reputation. What is it? How did they get it? and do they like it? Next week, I am going to ask them what they are doing about it.
I am certain that a quick look at living the Scout Oath and Law will be the fix for some and a reinforcement of the things that they are doing right for others.
The Scouts won’t have to share their assignment, it’s for them, to really look at who they are and how they are seen.
Take a minute and think about your reputation.. I may share my thoughts later, I really need to think about this also.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
Last night at our Troop meeting I had the pleasure of meeting with a group of super enthusiastic Webelos. They came to the meeting to wrap up their Arrow of Light requirement of participating in a Scoutmaster Conference.
During the course of our discussion, we did it as a group, I talked about the Scout Oath and Law and gave them some pointers for not only knowing how to say the Scout Oath, but how to remember the promises you make in saying the Oath and living it daily.
I explained to them the three promises.
Duty to God and Country. It is important to always remember our Duty to our God and this great Country of ours. Our God that has blessed us and continues to pour out his love for us. No matter how you view that God or by which name you call him, he has given us so much and we need to remember our Duty to love him and serve him with all of our Heart, our Soul, and our Mind. And this Country, no matter what your political slant is is a Country that is free. A Country that still values Liberty over all. It is our Country that we call home and we need to serve it where and how we can.
Duty to Other people. We pledge to help other people at all times. We need to be of help in our community, our home, and everywhere that we have an opportunity to make a difference. It is when we have a Duty to others that we learn to live with an attitude of selfless service.
And finally, our Duty to our Selves. To keep ourselves Physically Strong, Mentally awake, and Morally Straight. When we remember our promise to ourselves we can be a better person for others. Staying strong, fit, we can be an example of wellness and enjoy a life without the burden of illness. Being mentally awake we continue to learn, to sharpen our skills, and to be aware of the needs around us. And to be morally straight keeps our internal compass of right heading the way that makes us the people of Character that we are. It guides us to do the right thing at all times.
Those three promises can be found in the Scout sign, a daily reminder to live the promises that we make each time we say the Scout Oath.
We say the Oath aloud each Monday night at our Troop meeting, this is an accountability measure. We all hear one another say the Oath and we hold each other to the promises that we make.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
Abraham Lincoln is a man often quoted, but not always in the context of Scouting. I stumbled on a great quote that speaks directly to Scouts and Scouters.
“If you give me 6 hours to cut down a tree, I will take 4 hours sharpening my ax.”
Whats he saying here.. basically.. Be Prepared. He is telling us that preparation is the key to success. When we prepare for a task we can accomplish it with success. Putting the time in to plan, train, and practice will make you better at the skill.
We are getting into the winter camping months. The more we prepare, the more fun we will have. The more we train, the safer we will be. And the more we practice our skills the better experience we will have in our adventures.
We should always be looking at ways to keep our ax sharp. We should always be thinking about that next tree and sharpen the ax to make the work easier and more effective.
I am always looking at ways to make my camping experiences better. Toying with my gear, testing new stuff, learning and refining techniques to make my adventures fun and safe.
Are you sharpening your ax?
I was looking through an old external hard drive today and found this video. Shot about 3 years ago when I was a “Tent Camper”. Thought I would share it here. It is a good example of Sunday routine. Remember that we model expected behavior. No yard sale here.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
It is early Saturday morning and instead of firing up the alcohol stove, rigging up some hammock stuff, or prepping for a gear review, I am adding to a response post that I have been working on for two days. So pardon the interruption, but I need to do this and then move on.
It is very well known if you have spent more than a day or two on this blog, in my troop, and within my group of friends, my opinion on the non discrimination policy. A policy that now allows the Boy Scouts of America to do the right thing and make our program available to ALL young men. I have taken a lot of heat for my stance.. a stance by the way which remains simply… I DON’T CARE. Nothing in the BSA is going to change other than we are opening our doors to those young men that are not currently made welcome.
I received a lengthy email on Wednesday that essentially called me immoral and instructed me on the ways in which I would find myself in hell. I am not going to share all the details of the email, I am sure that this “Follower of Christ” would be ashamed at himself if he saw his email on the internet, although he is more than likely no longer following the blog. Dang, lost one.
What I find remarkable in all of this is the fact that this has drawn so much anxiety. Again if you are interested in my position or where I stand, read the blog. I am not going to rehash all of this over and over and this will… I promise be the last I blog about it. There are more important issues to address than this.
What I want to address here.. after many hits of the edit button.. is this issue of morality. Folks, you have no idea how much this post has changed since Wednesday. But the more I thought about it, prayed about it, and re read it over and over, the more I thought this is a perfect example of being Scout like.. even Christ like or follower of Christ.. which by the way is where we get the word “Christian”.
Central to the faith is this idea of morality. The common definition of which is this: The quality of being in accord with standards of right or good conduct. (Websters) Religious Morality expands the definition by adding that system in which we learn how to live within those rules that govern moral thinking or morality. So does Scouting to a certain degree in that we make a promise to live by a certain set of rules or code. The Scout Oath and Law.
The Oath and Law were not derived from the Church rather, they came from a need to teach young men how to live a certain way stemming from a sense of honor and chivalry. Most people familiar with the Scouting movement understand that while Baden Powell felt a strong belief that religion plays a major role in the upbringing of a young man, Scouting was not a substitute for the Church, nor was it an extension of it. And while Churches have played a major role, especially here in the United States (not as much in other countries), Scouting is not Church.
So whats that got to do with morality? It is the Boy Scouts of Americas position that morality, reinforced by the code that we live in Scouting is taught at home and in the Church. When we pledge to be morality straight, we are pledging that we will live “in accord with standards of right or good conduct”. Now where does that come from? Is it through the Church that we only know what is right or wrong? Long before I could understand what the Church was teaching me I understood the difference between right and wrong. It was through more growth and understanding that I learned why certain things were right or wrong.
Living the Scout law directs the person to do what is right. But the twelve points of the Scout law are common sense. One really does not need further explanation as to why it is important to be Trustworthy or Kind. They are just right and deep inside each of us we know that. To be clean with our thoughts, words, and deeds are just right. I don’t need the Church to tell me that. It’s just right.
Reverent. What does the Scout law say about that? A Scout is reverent toward God. He is faithful in his religious duties. He respects the beliefs of others. That is all that the BSA says about it.
When it comes to the part of the Scout Oath when we make our promise to be morality straight it says; Being morally straight means to live your life with honesty, to be clean in your speech and actions, and to be a person of strong character. And since this has become a religion argument and not one that really speaks to real morality, what of Duty to God as outlined in the Scout Oath. ” Your family and religious leaders teach you to know and serve God. By following these teachings, you do your duty to God.” from the Scout handbooks going back as far as I could find in my collection (1930′s).
I don’t know when the perception that Scouting was all about religion came in. I don’t remember it playing a major role other than Grace before meals and Scouts Own services when I was a Scout. I guess it has always played a part but it has never been the Main thing.
So what about this current non issue and why I’m heading straight to hell.
As a Scoutmaster I do not get to decide which Church is the right one. I don’t get to not sign off a handbook because the Scout believes in one thing or another. I don’t get to go to his living room and instruct his family on morality. I am example of living right. I am a Scoutmaster all the time, 24/7 and when I meet a Scout in our town they see an example of the Oath and Law.
I don’t need a Church to tell me to be friendly, courteous, or obedient. I am a believer in Christ and know what I was taught in the Church. To love my neighbor. To do unto others as I would have done to me. So why then would I discriminate based on orientation of anything. That is up to them and their God. I am not the judge and neither is my emailer friend.
I am not worried about law suits because boys are boys and in the context of Scouting they are by and large good. They don’t care about this issue, just ask them. It is the parents that are afraid that homosexuality will rub off on their son. I don’t think it works that way. But if it does than you better pull your son out of School, Sports, community events, and yep.. Church. It’s not a vapor virus that will infect your son.
There is no place for the sexuality discussion in Scouting, gay or straight. That has not changed and it won’t change.
Morality is where your heart is. You learn it from your family and develop it through your church, school, friendships. In Scouting we have our code of conduct. That is and will not change.
I have said enough on this and as promised once I hit ‘publish’ I am done with it. On January the 6th we held our first meeting of the year. The first meeting that would allow for openly gay boys to join Scouting. We did not get one new application that night. hmmm.
If you must leave Scouting over this. Sorry to see you go. I would challenge you to think about how you treat people and what your Church is teaching in so far as who your neighbor is. I really hope that I am not going to hell like this guy says I am. I have already been to Iraq.. so I know what it’s like. That and everyone here knows I enjoy Cold weather camping.
“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.” Matthew 7: 1-2
“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” Colossians 3: 12-14.
And Finally, from John 15:12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”
And now I am finished with this subject.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
First off.. if you are a Scout or Scouter read this post with caution. You may not agree with some of what I am going to say. Know that I love the Boy Scouts of America. I am always trying to tell our story in the best light of Scouting. I think it is the greatest youth program around. But in the discussion of membership it is fair that we take a look at ourselves and ask the question, Why is it Not cool to be a Scout? Please, if you disagree, read to the end and then leave a comment.
One of the most common things that I hear as a Scoutmaster during conferences is that sometimes our youth don’t feel that it is cool to be a Scout. Peer pressure at School and in their neighborhoods, comments made, and the fact that in most cases the uniform causes a boy to shy away from the program and certainly not invite his friends to join something that is not cool.
So why is that?
In my opinion one of the reasons is that we and the National Council do a terrible job at telling Scouting’s story. In our focus to deliver the “Main thing” we have lost sight on what Scouting has traditionally been about.
When I was a Scout, and I cringe at starting a sentence that way, but none the less, when I was a Scout I joined the Boy Scouts because it looked cool. I was drawn to the adventure. I was longing for to be in a group that Norman Rockwell painted climbing to the Tooth of Time or heading out for a weekend of canoeing. I watched as older boys embraced leadership and taught me skills in the outdoors. Older guys that played on the high school football team that we all looked up to but were not afraid to lead a song or skit at camp. Members of the Order of the Arrow that dressed like plains Indians and stood in canoes with torches blazing, landing on the shore and presenting dramatic ceremonies that left me wanting to be a part of their group.
While I am a believer that we need to take Scouting where the Scouts are… I am also a believer that we can take the Scout on an adventure that will challenge him and leave him wanting more. Instead, the Scouting story is that of catering to the lowest common denominator. We dumb things down because of parents that are over protective and do not understand Scouting.
We take away from the challenge and make it “Accessible”. I want every boy to have the opportunity to be a Scout, but I want every boy to accept the challenges that lead to self-reliance, life long skills, good character, and being fit. There is plenty in Scouting for all, but we have made it so restrictive that leaders no longer feel that they can seek and provide adventures in their units.
Bad press is the only press. That’s the story we get. It does not impact our youth that much, but it keeps Mom and Dad from bringing their son to us. When all we see is bad press, we judge the program based on it. Suddenly all Scout leaders are fat bone heads that push over billion year old rock formations. We are all looking to abuse youth. We are all.. well you get the point.
But what of good press. National does nothing. No ads on TV. Yes, I know that costs money, but what does the BSA waste each year fighting in the courts? How much does the BSA waste in preaching to the choir? They target the membership campaigns to those who are already in Scouting and fail to tell our story to those that need to hear it.
We have been systematically removed from the Schools, the Churches are bailing, and parents see this as an organization that can’t keep it’s poop in a group. It’s all bad press and yet we do nothing to turn the tide of the bad publicity.
We tend to circle our wagons and rally the troops from within the organization, but that’s it.
I watched a great video the other day on YouTube. Rex Tillerson, the former BSA President talking at the National Meetings of the BSA about the new changes that are taking effect. Of course I am talking about the new Non discrimination policy. What Rex had to say was fantastic, but you know, I bet only Scouters saw it. Why was it not on TV? Why did the BSA not contact the major media outlets and networks and have that 10 minute video or parts of it in the main stream media? 10,358 views on Youtube.. and I bet they are all Scout people. A google search produced hits on the video all associated with Scouting websites, blogs, and of course the National office.
Scouting is for nerds. Just ask your Scouts. That’s what they will tell you their classmates think. I recently sat with one of my Scouts at his Eagle Board of Review. One of the board members asked him if he thought Scouting was not cool. He answered that he thought it was cool, but it was not cool to those guys at his high School. The discussion kept going, “Why do you think that?” the Board member asked. “Because of what they think we do in Scouts” the Eagle candidate answered. “What do they think we do?” “Well, for the most part they think we go camping, but it’s mostly about crafts and artsy stuff.”
Crafts and artsy stuff. Yep, that is what we have become.
As a Cub Scout I remember doing craftsy stuff. Soap box derby races, pinewood derby and rockets led the list of cool things that we did as a den. The craftsy stuff when we got to Boy Scouts was Monkey bridges that actually crossed water. Signal towers that you could actually climb. Earning the Paul Bunyan Ax man award and actually chopping down trees.
But that’s all gone now. In the name of Safety? Really? No, in the name of insurance fear. I am not advocating getting Scouts hurt, but we didn’t then so what’s changed. We moved away from adventure and got wrapped up in the lowest impact don’t let Tommy Tenderfoot get dirty family camp.
Look at our merit badge program. Last summer at camp we had more Scouts earn the finger printing merit badge than the canoeing merit badge. It is what we have become.
We as parents have forgotten that our boys need to be boys. We as parents have forgotten that getting dirty is part of childhood. Playing in the woods and coming home when the street lights come on is part of the adventure of being a boy.
We are so afraid that every boy is a victim. Every boy is fragile and a broken bone is the end of the world. I once broke two bones in my arm when I was 10. What was I doing? Trying to fly. Not smart, but you know what, I am no worse for ware.
I watched a Patrol mate burn his eye brows off blowing on a camp fire. A great laugh and no harm done. I can remember coming home from camp outs and my mom not letting me in the house till I first took all my clothing off and hosed down in the backyard. I learned, I grew, and I am a better person for it.
I never earned Basketry or the Art merit badge, and if it were around in 1980 I would not have earned the game design merit badge. I did earn Backpacking, hiking, first aid, wilderness survival and those badges. Heck I joined Scouts for fun and adventure.. not more School work.
The Boy Scouts of America has a rich tradition and yes it has undergone many changes since 1910, but our story is the same. Our Story is still about Character building and Citizenship. Our Story is still about challenge and finding our limits and growing from experience. Our Story is still about great outdoor programs. Our Story is still about adventure and life long learning. Our Story is cool. But we don’t tell our story the way we want it heard. We don’t take the opportunity not to be just another YMCA or after school program, but to be the Boy Scouts of America full of the cool stuff that boys want and need.
We tell the story of numbers and membership, but forget that not everyone wants to be or should be a Scout. We tell the story of abuse and scandal without telling the story of the million great things going on every week at meetings and on monthly camp outs.
We get excited when we have a mediocre district event and wonder why our Scouts are not better recruiters. We miss out on telling our story in the media when things are going good. We miss the boat on getting ahead of bad press and showing the Boy Scouts for what we really are. We are cool, we are making a difference, we are what we say we are. But, for a group that prides itself of spinning a great campfire yarn, we don’t do a great job of telling our story.
Some thoughts. We clean up and get ourselves right. When we have guests come to our house, we straighten up, vacuum, and maybe even light a candle to make the place smell good.
Scouting needs to do that. We need to get our leaders to wear their uniform right and agree to deliver the promise of Scouting using the methods. Leaders need to be trained.
We need to get our Scouts in full uniforms out in the community doing something other than selling popcorn or marching in a parade. We need to show Scouts doing service and other cool stuff that really makes a difference.
We need to budget for local advertising. We need to get in the media in a positive light every opportunity we can.
We need to sell adventure… Not just another chess club. (I have nothing against chess, but we are talking adventure here) Boys want and need adventure.
We need to get with current outdoor practices and try new methods of camping. It is fun for the boys and increases the challenge for the whole unit.
We need to develop better relationships with the Forest service and Park Rangers. They are a great resource for Scouting.
Do you want Scouting to be cool? Then you need to act cool. You need to be cool. You need to look cool. Hey, we are cool… right?
I am tired of the BSA getting beat up for nonsense. I see so much potential in how we can move ahead to tell our story so we can change the perception of Scouting. And then, our numbers will go up, boys will stay longer, and we will be cool, not just to us, but to everyone.
Have a Great Scouting Day!