Scoutmaster conference

PTC and not the Podcast…

Yesterday I had the opportunity to be a trainer at our Councils Program and Training Conference.. PTC.  I was asked to help teach a class on using Social Media and Websites with my Wood Badge buddy Adam.  Then Jackie this years Coordinator asked if I would want to teach something else.  I taught two sessions on the Scoutmaster Conference.  A subject that I am not only familiar with, but passionate about.  My good friend Larry helped me out with that, in all honesty, all I did was the talking.  He did a great job getting the material from the National syllabus and putting it all together in a Powerpoint presentation. 
Both of the classes went real well and were very well received.  The social media class went a lot better than I thought.  It seems that as we discussed the options out there and how we use social media the audience seemed to warm up to the idea that social media and electronic communication is here to stay.
When it comes to social media and electronic communication I always go back to what Bob Mazzuca, our Chief Scout Executive said, ” We have to take Scouting where the Scouts are.”  And they are on the internet, on their smart phones, and communicating rather effectively with other media outlets.
Our media class centered on communication to and within the unit.  It was nice that Adam is a Cub Scouter and so he brought the Pack perspective to the discussion.  I on the other hand represented Boy leadership and how the Scouts use social media in the daily function of the Troop.
We talked about the Do’s and Don’ts of using Web sites, Twitter, Google + and Facebook focusing a lot of attention on who should and should not use these outlets.  Most of this discussion came down to permissions and monitoring of the communications being sent at every level.
We did two sessions of this class and in both, the participants had great questions and moved the discussion along with enthusiasm and interest.  It was nice to see the diversity of the groups meaning, participants from every level of Scouting, ages, and genders.  I hope that we made everyone comfortable with social media and how it can be used in Scouting to not only communicate to each other, but to tell Scouting’s Story in a positive light.

The class on the Scoutmaster Conference was equally received.  A lot of interest among the Scoutmasters and soon to be Scoutmasters that attended.  I recorded one of the sessions, so I will see how that turned out and post it as a podcast.
So until I get that cleaned up and ready, I think I will leave that subject for another post.

All in all I had a great time at the PTC this year and will be an instructor again next year.  It was really great to see all my Wood Badge friends… almost like going to a family reunion.  We had dinner together last night and my head still hurts from laughing so much.
I like the idea of combining the Cub Scout Pow Wow and the Advancement extravaganza.  I don’t know what the turn out in numbers was yesterday, but at a glance it seemed as if there were at least 400 participants yesterday.  As this program grows I can see the numbers go up also.  It is a great venue for training, fun, seeing program ideas, and fellowship.
Good job Cascade Pacific council!  We’ll do it again next year!
You can read another perspective on this at Scouter Adams Blog.  He’s my Troop Guide buddy and we had a ball yesterday together teaching fellow Scouters!

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Advancement, blog, Journey to Excellence, Just fun, Scoutmaster conference, technology, training | 1 Comment

The age of an Eagle?

Funny how time fly’s when you’re having fun.  This week has been an amazing week of Scouting and thus, I have not been on the computer much at all.  The Outdoor channel is currently filming Scouts from my Troop on an amazing adventure for the series Scouting for Adventure
Last night I sat down with the Key 3 of our District, we had a little meeting on the changes we were going to make in the coming year.  The conversation turned to advancement.  The subject “young Eagle Scouts”.
Now before I go any further, let me tell you what the Boy Scouts say on the subject.
YOU MAY NOT ADD TO NOR TAKE AWAY FROM ANY REQUIREMENT. PERIOD.
So having said that if a Scout completes all of the requirements and has everything signed off properly.. well then.. he’s an Eagle Scout.
RIGHT?
Now some will argue.. and have, that a 13-year-old is too young to be an Eagle Scout.  After all, we are looking for a young man who has DEMONSTRATED Leadership, a young man who has been an ACTIVE member of his Troop, a Scout that is KNOWLEDGEABLE in skills etc.  These are all super valid points and I agree whole heartedly.  Now, here is the rub.  Has a 13-year-old done all of that.. I mean really done it all.  Sure he may have served as a Patrol leader in a New Scout Patrol.  Went to one summer camp and earned a bunch of merit badges, and can do the basics that got him to First class, but has he developed enough to truly test his leadership at the Troop level?  Has he been that active?
I don’t know.
The other argument against is the maturity level of the young man.  At 13 is he mature enough to understand his responsibility as an Eagle Scout?
I don’t know.
An argument for young Eagle Scouts is that they now can spend more time in the Troop as an Eagle Scout.  Ok.. I buy that.
But I don’t know.
You see, boy develop at different rates and stages.  They are all different.  I know some 13 year olds that act 18 and some 18 year olds that act 12… so that is not a good measure.  I know some young Scouts that develop the skills at a much faster rate than some of the older Scouts.. so that is not a good measure.
So here is the bottom line in my opinion.  Becoming an Eagle Scout is not an excercise in passing through gates.  Becoming and Eagle Scout is all about BECOMING the Eagle, developing leadership skills, demonstrating the skills of Scouting, and learning about the world around him.  The way I see it is that the young man must participate in five Scoutmaster conferences before his conference for Eagle.  IF the Scoutmaster and the Scout have not had these discussions during those conferences, IF the Scoutmaster has failed to mentor and coach the Scout along and develop him, IF the Scoutmaster has signed off the book and in good consciousness said that everything was alright.. then the Scout should be an Eagle Scout.
So having said that…. a 13-year-old Eagle Scout?  I have not had one in my Troop.. and it’s not because any adult has thrown up a road block.  If the book says to demonstrate.. the Scout demonstrates, if the book says to show, the Scout shows, if the book says to explain, the Scout explains.  If he does not do it correctly.. it does not get signed off.
If the book says to serve in a leadership role for 6 months.. then the Scout is expected to actually serve in that role.  And during the Scoutmaster conference explain what he did while in that leadership position.
You see the road to Eagle is not meant to be hard, but it is meant to allow the Scout to navigate the program and develop.  You become an Eagle Scout over the course of the journey.
There are obstacles to over come and challenges to face, that is the way the program is set up.  Can it be done by 13, I suppose.  But at the end of the day, does the Scout get a patch out of it.. or a life experience?
I don’t have the answer here, the book does.  I can only give you my take on the subject.
I am curious to know what you think.  Drop us some feedback, leave a comment, or shoot an email!
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Advancement, blog, Journey to Excellence, Leadership, Methods, Scout, Scouting, Scoutmaster conference, Service, Skills, Summer Camp, Values | 6 Comments

Tips for a good Scoutmaster Conference

There are two different Scoutmaster Conferences. The First is when a Scout needs to fulfill a requirement to advance, the other is when a Scout needs your undivided attention.

The advancement conferences are pretty straight forward, but allot can be learned in a few minutes sitting with a Scout. A review of his book to ensure all is in order, some questions that test the practical application of those skills or lessons learned, and then listen.
Sometimes silence is a flag waving begging the Scoutmaster to keep asking questions. In some of the conferences I have held, a long pause and stare to the ground meant, “Ask me about School” or “I need to talk about girls”. While I am not their parent, with two exceptions, the boys often times like that outside set of eyes and ears. It is the job of the Scoutmaster to be a good mentor, teacher, listener, friend. Baden Powell once said “To get a hold on boys you must be their friend.” You may just be that person they are comfortable to talk to that will get them over the hump in School, or with their other friends, or yeah… with a girl.

Most of those topics come up at the other Scoutmaster conferences and not advancement, but I always leave that door open in the event that Monday night is the night they need to talk.
Regarding conferences other than advancement.. you call it what you want… but I made a promise to my Troop that if they need a “Conference” that was a signal that they needed to talk and I would stop the world for them and give them my attention.
Make yourself accessible. There is always time. You may have to juggle some things around, but the Scout needs to know that you are there and will in fact give them time.
The Scouts of my Troop have my phone number, email, and know that if need by I can pick up Morse code when it comes to giving them an ear.

The Scoutmaster conference is more than a requirement for advancement. It is a communication tool that develops the youth as he interacts with adults. It is a friendly ear to listen, it is a place to come for advice and comfort. To the Scout it is a promise that we care about them.
Take advantage of the Scoutmaster conference to get to know your Scouts, you will not regret it. You can learn allot about them and your Troop during a 5 minute chat.

Happy Scouting!

Categories: Advancement, Scoutmaster conference | Leave a comment

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