Scoutmaster conference

Times Up

calendar_iconOn one hand it breaks my heart when a Scout creeps up to his 18th birthday and has not completed the requirements for Eagle Scout.  It reminds me of my biggest regret in not finishing my Eagle and I can see the disappointment in their eyes that they to will not be counted as Eagle Scouts.  I tell them that all is not lost, think of the life skills you learned, the friends made, and the experiences that you had.  The time spent in Scouting is worth while, even if it does not include the Eagle award.  I have repeated this again and again that the goal is not to make Eagles, it’s to make men that make ethical choices throughout their life times.  Men of character.  Now I know that’s not what the Scout wants to hear when he realizes that he is not going to finish the trail that he started, but that is the reality and after some thoughtful consideration a look in the mirror and a glance over his Scouting record and experience, the Scout will soon come to understand that he got his monies worth and more in Scouting.
On the other hand, I am often disappointed in the Scout that he did not take advantage of the advancement program and complete the requirements in a timely manner.  This leads me to wanting to say “I told you so” to the Scout, even though I won’t.  Encouraging, reminding, a nudge here and a tug there to get the Scout to do the work is about all we can do.  I refuse to just give it to them and I won’t take them by the hand and lead them around like a Den Mother.  They all know what needs to be done and by the time they are in that 16-year-old range, well, they know how to get it done and they certainly know when their birthday is, so I tend to not feel to bad for them.  After all, we are teaching life skills right?
When time is up.. time is up and you have to accept the consequence for your action or lack there of.  Do I want them all to be Eagle Scouts?  Sure, is it something that they all can do?  Sure.  I am going to turn my troop into a Merit badge mill and Eagle factory to make sure that we have more Eagles than any other Troop.  Nope.  The Scouts all know when they turn 18 and they all own a Scout handbook that shows them step by step what needs to be done if they want to be an Eagle Scout.  Beyond that, I will help, I will guide, I will bend over backwards to work with them.  But I won’t do it for them or allow other to.
I see to much of this in Scouting and it simply takes away from the meaning of the Eagle award.  It takes away from accomplishment  and sense of pride that the Scout has when he knows that he worked hard to get what only 4% of the Scouts in America get.
I suppose I can go on and on about this.. but when time is up.. time is up.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Advancement, Character, comments, Ideals, Journey to Excellence, Leadership, Methods, planning, Scoutmaster conference, Scoutmaster minute | Tags: , , | 4 Comments

One of those great Scouting Days

Yesterday I participated in a great Scouting Day.  Our Annual Program and Training Conference was held yesterday at the Scouthridge high School.  I am not sure how many Scouters participated, but there where many.  I got the feeling that there were more than last year.  There were classes ranging in topic from Songs and Skits to High Adventure.  There was a nice midway that hosted a booths from the Scout Shop to Pampered Chef.  For you Dutch Oven cooks out there, Pampered Chef has some real nice stuff.  Anyway, there was a lot to see and do and I was happy to see that Boy Scout leader participation was up.
You see we used to have a couple of opportunities for Scouters in the Council to gather and get some training and program ideas.  We used to have an Advancement extravaganza, this was primarily for the Boy Scout Program.  And we used to have a fun event called Pow Wow.  It was geared for Cub Scouters, but a real fun day of training and gathering of ideas.  Last year the two programs were combined into the Program and Training Conference.  I believe it was an idea borrowed from the Chief Seattle Council.  So last year was the first time that I was asked to teach and so I did.  I was invited back this year.  Scouter Adam and I held a couple of sessions on using Social media for your unit and I taught Scouters about the Scoutmaster Conference, one of my most favorite subjects in Scouting.
I did two sessions of the SM Conference and they seemed to be received well.  What I find interesting is the different views on BSA policy and the way in which Scouters interpret the BSA training.  You see this in the way people ask questions and share their opinion on one issue or another.  Now I am not saying this is always a bad thing, especially when they are looking for the right answer or the right way to do something, but it still drives home the point that Training and doing training right is important.
Mike Walton from the USSSP was a guest presenter this year.  He flew out from Minnesota to share some thoughts of up coming changes in the BSA and did a joint session with our Councils CFO.  It was an interesting session to say the least.  I say that in a real good way because Jason and Mike both told it straight yesterday, and for those of you that have read this blog for anytime, you know that’s what I like and that’s how I do it.   They shared thoughts of current issues, you know the homosexual thing, and they talked a lot about money in Scouting.  I loved the comments about how people tend to blame “Council” for many of the problems, issues with their units, and financial woes.  Jason asked “who is the council?”  You see the majority of Scouting volunteers equate the “Council” with the support desk, the DE’s, and the people who never seem to stop asking for money.  But, the answer is that WE Volunteers are “THE COUNCIL”.  Too many units, Scouters, and other volunteers fail to take matters into their own hands when problem solving for their units, yes there are times when we need the support of the DE or the support desk, but to blame Council for every problem we have in our Scouting world is laughable.  It was refreshing to hear it out loud yesterday by both the volunteer and the professional.
I spent a fair amount of time hanging out with the Wood Badge crowd yesterday.  Recruiting for the upcoming course and spreading the word about great Scouting training.  Again it was nice to see how many Scouters showed interest in Wood Badge and it looks like we are going to have another full class, just based on interest.  Registration opened yesterday too, so we will see how quick the class fill up.
Yesterday was a fun day of hanging out with Scouting friends, sharing ideas, and helping Scouters deliver the promise.
Like yesterday was for me, and bid you Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Advancement, blog, comments, Journey to Excellence, Just fun, Leadership, Scoutmaster conference, Service, training, Wood Badge | Tags: | 3 Comments

Learning by listening

One of my favorite things to do as a Scoutmaster is sit with a Scout and have a Scoutmaster Conference.  It is not only a requirement for the Scout to advance, but a great opportunity to learn.
I learn so much each time I sit down with a Scout and listen to them during the conference.  Tonight I sat with two Scouts and learned more about them, the troop, and their development as Scouts.  I learn when I listen to the Scout.
So here is how I do it.  Keep in mind, I am like most Scouts (and leaders for that matter) in that I am a scatter brain.  Back when I was a kid, it was called hyperactive.. now-a-days.. it’s grounds for medication.. but either way.. I really have to work at staying focused.  So when I sit with a Scout, I need to give them 100% of my attention.  So, I take their book, make sure that everything is signed and dated, sign my two boxes and then put the book away.
Then we start the conference.
The Scout then has all of my attention.  I know what’s in the book, and it really doesn’t matter anyway.  The Scoutmaster conference is not a retest, so we talk about what challenged him, what he learned, and what he is doing to get to the next level.  Then we talk about leadership.  I ask them, yes even at the Tenderfoot level, what they are doing to demonstrate leadership.  This typically sparks lots of talk about where the Scout thinks he is in the spectrum of being a leader.
Using the EDGE method to teach is a Tenderfoot requirement, so I figure that he had to learn something about leadership there.
We discuss spiral learning and reinforce the skills that were learned along the way.  This discussion usually leads to what the Scout is looking forward to.
We talk about School.  Not because the Scout wants to, but because I want to know.  We talk about girlfriends, and sports, and even how the Scout law works on a little sister.  The conference is a talk that we have to learn.  The Scout learns and I learn.  I get to know them and they get to know a little more about me and how I see the world.  They get to see how I demonstrate the Scout law in my life, and I get to learn how they are struggling to make the Law a habit in their lives.
The Scoutmaster conference is one of my favorite things as a Scoutmaster and I am lucky that I get to do them every week.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Advancement, blog, Character, Journey to Excellence, Leadership, Methods, Scoutmaster conference, Scoutmaster minute | 2 Comments

Bowline

The rabbit comes out of the hole.. goes around the tree.. and back into the hole.. now pull…
It’s a bowline.
Its that simple. That simple to teach, that simple to do. And it’s a knot that every Scout must know.
BUT… how many Scouts will try 50 other ways to tie it?  How many times will it take for them to get it right doing it “Their way”?  It’s called the work around.
Many times we teach our Scouts, our kids, our co workers, something that is simple and effective.  We teach them a method or a skill that is time tested and works just fine the way it was intended to be worked.  And yet many will do their very best to find a “Quicker way” or a “Cooler way” to do it.
I watched this at our last camporee when Scouts from all over our district struggled to come up with new and unique ways of completing a skill.  Now I am all for thinking outside of the box and I certainly am the kind of guy that believes that there are better mouse traps out there.. but when it comes to things that are already as simple as it gets, time tested or a method that is the way it supposed to be.  Then I suggest the energy is spent doing the skill, task or method correctly the first time.  I was amazed at the energy that Scouts put into to negative results.
Another way to look at this is of course the Scout Law.  The other night I sat with a few Scouts for their Scoutmaster conferences.  I always ask them what they think of the Scout law and what particular parts of it mean to them.  The energy that a Scout will put out to miss the mark is something that I really do not understand.  I guess its the fact that simple can be hard to these kids that gets me.
According to Webster the word Trustworthy means ‘worthy of confidence and Dependable’.  I think this is a great application of the meaning when it comes to the Scout Law.  Can we be confident in that Scout to do the right thing, to be a good man?  Can we depend on him to make sound decisions and have good judgement?  Simply put, the word literally means ‘worthy of trust’ and yet our Scouts will look for meanings that have little to do with it.  I had one Scout talk about being Trustworthy like this.  “Well it’s like not robbing a bank.. you know that I won’t rob a bank because my parents give me money. ”  Ok.. not the greatest example, but when I hear answers like that, it means to me that they either don’t get it, or they are having a hard time articulating the answer.  Either way, it’s always a good time for me to talk about keeping things simple and doing things right the first time.
So take a look at your Scouts.  How much energy is wasted in looking for ‘the better or cooler way’ and never tying the bowline?
I’m just saying.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: blog, Character, Ideals, Leadership, Oath and Law, Scoutmaster conference, Scoutmaster minute | 2 Comments

Methods- Personal Growth

Now don’t let the word personal get you.  Yes we want each and every Scout to grow, but we want them to find this growth within the context of Scouting’s values (found in the Oath and Law).  Personal growth is a tricky method in that it will sneak up on you as the Scout develops.  Each Scout will grow at his own pace and so we use tools and watch and guide his growth.  First and foremost, his family.  Stay in touch with his family, develop friendship and a relationship with the family.  They should be able to seek your input and you should be able to offer your suggestions also.  You see the Scout outside of the family context on camp outs and other events.  When you see a behavior change, talk with the young man or ask the family if they are seeing something different.  This is the tricky part.  If you are not comfortable getting into their lives, well then, you can’t assist with this.
I recently got a call from one of my Scouts Dad’s.  He was concerned about a change in behavior and wanted to know if I saw it.  We ended up talking for about an hour about different parts of this young man’s life.  It was a great opportunity for me to share some of the things that I see and he was even open to hearing what I thought on the matter.
The second tool we use is the Scoutmaster conference.  I have said this before, but it is always worth saying again… the Scoutmaster conference is not all about rank advancement.  You, Mister Scoutmaster are a mentor, a role model, a friend, use the Scoutmaster conference to get to know these young men and what makes them tick.  You can assist in the personal growth of each and every Scout by talking and listening.  When they know you care and want to listen, they will talk to you.  Sometimes, you are a better set of ears than their parents or teachers.  You are the guy that goes camping with them, plays games, and teaches them skills.  They trust you.  Don’t take advantage of this, but keep in mind that if you want these young men to grow into good men, you need to take an interest in their lives [outside of Scouting also].
And finally, the last tool set we will discuss are the various programs in Scouting.  The religious emblems program, doing a good turn, and being helpful at all times.  These programs/values will shape the young man and develop good habits in him that will last.  You will see growth in the character of the Scout as he serves others and learns about his spiritual world.  But there probably is no device so successful in developing a basis for personal growth as the daily Good Turn.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: blog, Character, Citizenship, fitness, Good Turn Daily, Ideals, Methods, Scoutmaster conference, Values | 1 Comment

Methods- Adults Association

This method is somewhat confusing, especially at the troop level for parents coming from the Cub Scout program.  I say this because it is different.
I’ll explain as we go.  First and foremost, no matter what level of Scouting you participate in Adult Association starts with being a good example.  An example of what right looks like, attitudes, habits, and the Scout Oath and Law.  This is a lofty ask, but it is without a doubt the most important part of being a Scout leader when talking about the methods.
How you carry yourself, talk and act, wear the uniform, demonstrate skills, and teach and coach these young men will leave a lasting impact.  Remember that you must practice what you preach.  I hate to say this, but if you unwilling to be a good example, Scouting does not need you.
Adults need to model the expected behavior and demonstrate good character.
We practice adult association when we conduct boards of review, Scoutmaster conferences, and work with the Scouts on skills and merit badges.  They see modeled behavior and we expect them to act like we do.  So we need to be our best.
Scouts look to adults for guidance, for coaching and a person to be a mentor.  We are that person in Scouting.
I have seen too many adults that carry this a bit far.  Boy Scouts are still Boy led.  We need to know when adult interaction or interference is needed.  Two deep leadership can be achieved from a safe distance while maintaining a healthy level of adult association.
Cub scout parents that come to a Troop often find it hard to get used to adults not being so hands on.  But as I often say, there are no adults in a Boy Scout troop who’s patch say’s leader.
We teach, coach, train, and mentor and maintain a healthy adult association through modeled behavior that reinforces good character, citizenship, and fitness.  Oh and we are supposed to have fun too!.. Remember the Scouting way.. that’s the game with a purpose!
Have a Great Scouting day!

Categories: Advancement, Character, Citizenship, fitness, Ideals, Journey to Excellence, Methods, Scoutmaster conference | Tags: | Leave a comment

SMMPodcast # 104

Welcome back to the SMMPodcast, we dusted off the mic and got back to talking Scouting!  We are trying out a new segment.. “The Mobile Thought”..  In this show, we talk about Reverence, Troop Elections, and Youth Leadership.
Hope you enjoy the show.  Let me know what you think.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
Direct LINK
Listen here

Categories: Advancement, blog, Character, Citizenship, Ideals, Leadership, Methods, podcast, respect, Scout Law, Scoutmaster conference, Service, Values | Leave a comment

Inquiring minds want to know…

As always, the conversations that we have with our Scouts are so telling and rekindle hope that these young men are going to bring so much to our future.  Last night I told the Troop of our pending move.  I did not want to get into the weeds with the boys, but made an open invitation to both the Scouts and their Parents that if they wanted to talk about our situation I would love to sit with them and discuss the matter.
A few parents came up after the meeting and asked about the move and why, and then gave us a vote of confidence and assured us that we were doing the right thing.  Then the best part of the night happened.  Two new Scouts asked if they could have a Scoutmaster Conference.. one of those “Stop the World” conferences that we promise we can have any place, any time.
These two Scouts crossed over into the Troop in November.  They wanted to know if I could share with them the reason why we were asked to leave.  They wanted to know if the Troop was going to be ok and if I was going to stay.
The discussion led me to talking to them about principles and values.  You see, I told them, this issue has become one of integrity.   We believe as Boy Scouts (and Scouters) that to be good men, we must have integrity.  We find that in the 12 points of the Scout Law and the Promise that we make when we say the Scout Oath.
A man of integrity must be Trustworthy.  This is the bedrock of forming values.  Without Trust and Honesty you can go no further in a relationship.  These two Scouts wanted an honest answer and I could only give them the answer (s) that I was given.  I asked them what they thought about the explanation.  Neither one thought it was sufficient and did not understand why were asked to leave.  I then explained that arguing or debating a principle issue can only really be done effectively when both parties have principles strong enough to fight for or debate about.
Here is where the discussion really got good.  We talked about where these principles come from.  Church, Family, Beliefs, The Scout Oath and Law.   They explained to me what they thought of principles and shared with me their values and how they got them.  They come from good homes, parents that care about them and desire the very best for them.  They have learned in their short 11 years to be kind, respectful, and inquisitive.  They are curious about how things work in their world.
We sat for about 25 minutes and talked about the current issue as well as their goals and dreams in Scouting.  I really appreciate the Scouts and their candor.  I was happy that they took the time to learn more and that they are not afraid to ask when they feel the need to know.
These guys are going to go far in Scouting and life.  Having discussions like last night are really why I love being a Scoutmaster.
When was the last time you really sat and talked with a Scout?
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: blog, Character, comments, Ideals, Oath and Law, Scoutmaster conference, Values | Leave a comment

LNT v. The Outdoor Code

Last night I sat with a couple Scouts, they just crossed over on Friday and were having their Scoutmaster Conference for their Scout Badge.  I love this first conference, it is a great way to learn about the new Scout and a little about where he comes from.  What amazes me is how open they are in that first conference.  They always have questions and for the most part, they are anxious to get to Eagle.
Last night as one of these young men recited the Outdoor Code, he stopped and asked if he could ask a question.  I said sure… so he asked, “Why do we need the Outdoor Code when you make us know the Leave No Trace stuff?”  I thought for a minute and told him that I would have to get back to him with a good answer.
I wanted to give him the pat answer of how the Outdoor Code is in the book and is a requirement, but then I thought that Leave No Trace is also in the book and a Second Class Requirement.  So that one doesn’t work.  So I was thinking, why do we need both.
Lets review.
The Outdoor Code:
As an American, I will do my best to -
Be clean in my outdoor manners.
Be careful with fire.
Be considerate in the outdoors.
Be conservation minded.
Leave No Trace Principles
Plan Ahead and Prepare
Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
Dispose of Waste Properly
Leave What You Find
Minimize Campfire Impacts
Respect Wildlife
Be Considerate of Other Visitors

The LNT program is obviously more in depth and covers every type of camping… The Outdoor Code is more of a pledge or promise.
The LNT program are not just rules, but part of the whole outdoor program.  It is a skill set and an attitude.
The Outdoor Code is the promise that we make to live as a steward of the land.
I still do not have a great answer.  I suppose that in the final analysis if I had a vote, I would just go with the Leave No Trace program.  The Outdoor code, while traditional and easy to remember does very little with our Scouts to develop the attitude of stewardship and responsibility that is required for us in the wilderness and front country alike.
So I think when it comes down to giving this Scout and answer next Monday, its going to be a program vs. a code and how we use it to make a difference and protect our land.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Backpacking, blog, camp skills, Camping, Ideals, Leave no trace, respect, Scoutmaster conference, Skills, Values | 2 Comments

SMMPodcast # 96 The Scoutmaster Conference Live!

Welcome Back!  In this show you will listen in on a class I taught at our Councils Program and Training Conference.  This class is on the Scoutmaster Conference.  I used the National Supplemental training on the subject and if you would like to follow along with the slides from the class you can download them HERE.
The Program and Training Conference in our Council is a great event to improve your leadership skills, find new ways to provide a Quality program and learn more about our Scouting world.
I was asked to teach this year, as were most of the folks on Wood Badge Staff.  It was a great experience and I hope to be asked again next year.  It was a great opportunity to meet more Scouters from within our Council and expand our network.
Thanks for all the feedback and comments lately!  I really appreciate it.  As we get closer to show #100 I can feel the excitement growing in me to get more out and keep up the work of both the blog and the podcast!

Thanks for listening.  Leave us some feedback and enjoy the show.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

SMMPodcast # 96 Download


Scoutmaster Conference PowerPoint Download

Categories: Advancement, blog, Character, Citizenship, comments, Ideals, podcast, Scoutmaster conference, training, Wood Badge | 1 Comment

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