So who here has a perfect Troop? A group of Scouts that get along with no issues? A unit that has a culture of absolute peace and harmony?
Yeah? If you have that Troop, please let me know what side of Utopia you live on and I will come and check that out.. I certainly have some things to learn.
For those of you that live on our planet and work with Boy Scouts you know that at some point you will be dealing with problems. Personal issues and friction among the Scouts.
The BSA includes a block of instruction dealing with Conflict Resolution in the NYLT or JLT sessions. Yes, I know that there is no longer a program called JLT, but many units still run their own Junior Leader Training sessions as part of their annual plan.
The Boy Scouts train our Scouts to use the Key word EAR. Express, Address, and Resolve. Those are great to remember when Scouts get into sticky situations with one another. Again, I still have lots to learn, but feel some what qualified to speak on conflict resolution. I have been married for over 20 years, raised 3 kids, and have been a Scoutmaster now for 10 years.
I have come up with a few general rules of my own for resolving conflict.
1. Calm Down. When tempers are flaring and the parties are upset the best thing to do is calm the situation down. Separate the folks involved and get them, and everyone around to calm down. No conflict will be resolved when the blood is still up.
2. Listen. Both sides of the story need to be heard. Spend more time listening and less time judging. Give both parties time and attention. More times than not there is no one right or wrong side of the issue. Typically it is a personality issue or and issue of who’s idea gets picked. Listen. I have seen the issues work themselves out just because they talked and I listened.
3. Focus on Behavior. Behavior is the key to the direction that conflicts go. Never allow the behavior to turn bad because of the conflict. The Oath and Law are great guides in directing expected behavior. Reinforce that behavior is more important than feelings. How we act is more important than how we feel. In the end our behavior will impact how we feel, so if we control our behavior and keep it within the values of the Scout Law, we need not worry about feelings.
4. Shake and look ‘em in the eye. Each conflict needs to have an end. A hand shake and look in the eye is the final point. Once that happens there can be no more issues. Those are the rules. Don’t shake and apologize if you don’t mean it and there is still conflict. It aint over till it’s over. When it’s over.. Shake and look each other in the eye.
I have been using those simple ideas for some time now and find that it works great. You have to be committed to working it through though. Don’t allow the emotion of the conflict override the resolution. Never allow the group to dictate or pick sides. That turns nasty and in the end you will divide the unit with that type of behavior.
Remember that the resolution is for the good of both parties and the unit. It’s not fixed till everyone has a sense of satisfaction in the resolution.
I hope that helps.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
So who here has a perfect Troop? A group of Scouts that get along with no issues? A unit that has a culture of absolute peace and harmony?
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!
Again with the reset subject.
Yesterday, I did some major work on the YouTube channel. I am phasing out the old channel, which became a real pain switching back and forth between accounts… so it’s all in one nice bundle now.
Like I said before, most of the videos will post here on the blog also, but not all.
So here is the trailer for the new and improved channel… same old me.. but new focus for 2014!
Stay tuned friends… I have a great give away coming up! Just wrapped up the details yesterday… Look for details this weekend!
Have a Great Scouting Day!
Thermometer or Thermostat which are you?
I had a lengthy discussion the other day with a hand full of Scouts. We were talking about the way that if you want to, you can set the conditions in your life that will allow you to have the life that you want. Let me explain. For example, if you continue with your education, you will get better jobs. If you surround yourself with good people, you will stay out of trouble. If you manage your money well, you will have some when you need it.
So you are either a Thermometer or a Thermostat.
The thermometer is something that is effected by the temperature. It is effected by the conditions and can do nothing about it. It’s either hot or its cold.. or somewhere on the scale between, but the thermometer can not decide whether or not it’s going to be hot or cold, it just goes with whatever the conditions dictate.
There are a lot of people who are like that, they have no control over the conditions that life gives them. They play the part of the victim and never seem to get ahead. They are content with allowing the conditions dictate their behavior and the level of success that they have. They rarely demonstrate initiative and are happy to allow others to make decisions. They are rarely happy with the outcome, but that’s just the way it is.
On the other hand, there are those that are like Thermostats. The thermostat is a device that controls the environment. It can change the conditions. Instead of being hot or cold, it changes the temperature to the desired comfort level. It does not rely on the conditions, it makes new conditions. People that are like thermostats do the same thing. They create conditions for success. They are not happy just going with the flow. They lead themselves and others to a desired outcome. They are rarely victims as they have the ability to change the conditions or adapt and use the conditions in their favor.
I was telling the Scouts that when I was a kid, I was small. I was never a big jock. I played sports but never really had the skill or body type to be real good at it. But I tried. My coach gave me a chance because I set the conditions to get on the field and play. I worked hard. I was in the chess club and sang in the choir also. I was never bullied. I never let myself become bullied. Now, that is not to say that others did not try to bully me, I just would not allow it to happen to me. I stood up for myself and never gave the bully the satisfaction of making me a victim. When I went in the Army, again, I was small and light. Everyone around me told me I could not do this or that. I set the conditions to do what I wanted. I became an Airborne Ranger to prove everyone wrong. I got strong, smart, and tough and made the conditions around me work in my favor. I did not allow the temperature dictate my comfort, I changed the temperature.
Every day I see people who fall into these categories. I wonder what makes one pick one way or the other. What I really can not understand is why anyone chooses being a Thermometer. Just allowing everything around them to have control of their outcome.
As Scouts we need to be thermostats. We need to set conditions for success. In turn we can help those around us become successful. We can set conditions to make the Scout Oath and Law a part of our daily lives. We can choose to set the conditions to make our life worth living.
Think about it.. which are you?
Have a Great Scouting Day!
Much like camping in fair conditions there are principles that should be followed when winter camping site selection. First plan ahead. Know where you are going and try to get there with enough daylight to relax and set up camp. Remember that it will get dark much earlier, so set your pace from the start of planning to arrive early.
When using your existing gear site selection is key. Using your standard 3 season tent will require you to think about where you put it and how it is anchored.
Stay out of the wind. Trees, outcroppings, and a large pine all provide protection from wind. Watch for loaded branches of snow, and place the tent so that you are not directly under them. Take a look up and look for widow makers and other potential hazards.
While planning take a look at the terrain on the map of your proposed location. Avoid camping on any slope or at the bottom of any slope that would have the remote possibility to avalanche. It is always important to learn the telltale signs of avalanche conditions.
Consider your nearest water source. Are you going to melt snow? If so, plan to use a lot more fuel. Is there a nearby stream, pond or lake? Make sure you know how to use your filter and protect your filter from the conditions. Some filters do not work in the cold or will freeze once the water passes through it. You need water. That is important. But plan ahead for your water sources. Carrying in water is heavy unless you are pulling a pulk sled.
Cold air settles in low ground. Avoid the bottoms of hills, camping in a valley. Stay out of low meadows. Finding a nice platform above a valley will be warmer and give you fantastic views to wake up to.
Be prepared to work. You will more than likely have to prepare a tent platform, dig a cold sump, and gather fire wood. Don’t overheat while setting up your camp. Consider the amount of work that will go into setting camp and prioritize that work.
Leave no trace. Yep, just because you can’t see the ground does not mean that you are not leaving an impact. Use the leave no trace principles when selecting and staying in your winter camp.
Have fun out there. Winter camping is great.
I’d love to hear some of your winter camping tips. Drop in the comments section.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
We often talk about the general rule of thumb that the pack weight should not exceed 25% of the person’s body weight. This is a nice rule, but not stead fast in its application. A 90 lb Scout is limited to 22 and half pounds. A 75 pound Scout is hanging about 18 pounds on his back. Like I said.. real nice rule and a great goal to keep in mind when packing a pack. But winter camping is a totally different animal.
Pack weights go up in general because the amount of gear increases as well as the weight of the gear. A 10 degree sleeping bag is typically heavier than a 30 degree bag. More clothing is needed. Extra gear for cooking, keeping warm, starting fire, and of course shelter options increase.
So how does the Scout that has not grown into his body handle cold weather or winter camping? Here are a few ideas.
First we need to come to the realization that we are not going to buy multiple sleeping bags, tents, and backpacks. Gear is just to expensive for the new Scout to go out and buy lots of gear. So we need to make do with the gear that we have.
Adding guy lines to your tent, watching what you pack and maybe adding a sleeping bag liner will help with your existing gear.
Remember that we are not trying to go “ultralight” here, we are just trying to manage our weight for the younger Scout.
Loose and in layers. This does a few things for you. First it allows you to regulate your temperature over the course of the day and the activity. If you properly train your Scouts to do this, they will stay dryer and as a result they can carry less clothing. A good base layer which for the most part is always worn is the key. It needs to be able to wick the moisture away from the body. It needs to be able to stay relatively clean. Second, the layering system will allow your Scouts to stay clean and dry. When preparing their camp sites they can lose a layer and add their rain gear to stay dry. Once the work is complete, they can remove the rain gear, hang it to dry, and add additional layers based on the temperatures and conditions. When the layer system is planned properly, it can reduce the amount of clothing taken on each outing.
The motto “Be prepared” is a trump card though and needs to be considered. Checking the weather conditions the days leading up to the outing and looking ahead at the forecast can help you be better prepared.
Extra socks are always a great idea, but know what you need and only take that much, contrary to popular belief, you can dry socks out and wear them again later.
Proper footwear is extremely important. Spend a little more on your feet and the rest of you will stay warm.
We recommend that our Scouts have a pack that does not exceed 3900 cubic inches of load space. By conventional wisdom that is a bit small for winter camping, but we know for a fact that it works. Yeah, it takes some practice, but it works. It is the one time of the year that strapping items to the outside may have to happen, but it works.
Compression bags, stuff sacks for pack organization and know how to pack is a critical skill. More importantly, the skill of packing when you are cold is something that needs to be practiced.
When the conditions are right, and the need to carry more gear is greater than the pack will hold, a pulk sled is just what old man winter ordered. Building an inexpensive pulk sled is not only fun, but makes for a whole new camping experience for those that like to get out into the bush. This allows you to carry lots of water, gear, fire wood, and nice to have items that you would not normally haul in your pack. I have talked about pulk sleds before in the blog and have built a nice one that did not break the bank.
The bottom line is that your current pack will work, you need to know your gear, how to use it, what you need and what you don’t, and most importantly… you need to practice, practice, practice with your pack. Pack it over and over, do it with gloves on, do it in the backyard on a cold day. Try different storage methods (Stuff sacks, compression bags etc).
Winter camping is an all together different experience. One that test skill, attitude, and has a great pay off in the end. Quiet, crisp air, no crowds, and lots of fun.
Stay tuned for more winter camping tips.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
When preparing for winter camping or camping in colder temps than you are typically used to it is important to get your mind right.
It is a must to have the right gear, train for the conditions and practice before venturing out into the cold. But the most important thing to prepare is your attitude.
We teach that COLD means to stay clean, keep from overheating, wear your clothing loose and in layers, and stay dry. Those things should keep your warm and comfortable while camping in the winter. I have known people that just never seem to be warm. They can add layers and layers and still won’t be warm. When they are constantly cold, they dont want to be there.
I was stationed in Alaska while I served in the Army. Before I was assigned to Ft. Wainwright in Fairbanks, I was in Georgia, I think this is the Army’s idea of humor. When I arrived in Alaska I was sent to a course called Cold Weather Indoctrination Training (CWI). The first thing that they tought us was that we had to get our mind set to be cold. Once we accepted the idea that it was going to be cold, we could focus on our job. The first night of the training we took our sleeping bags and sleeping pads an went out into a near by stand of trees about 100 yards from the barracks. We were told that we would be sleeping out there for the night. “Trust the gear and accept the cold” the Sergeant said. I thought I was going to die that night. I got in my sleeping bag, wiggled around a bit, and then settled in for a nights sleep in the snow. The guy next to me tossed and turned all night, his teeth chattered, and at about midnight he got up and ran to the building. I remember watching him through the face hole of my sleeping bag. I was toasty warm in the bag and would not have gotten out of that warm bag to run if the forest was on fire. The next morning, the Sergeant came out and woke us up. The air was crisp and it was cold. He told us that we needed to get up and get moving. It was like jumping into a cold pond.. you just hold your breath and go for it. I sprang from my sleeping bag throwing clothing on as quick as I could. Once I got my boots on and started rolling up my sleeping bag I noticed that I was not cold, I was working up a little sweat even.
We marched to the dining hall for breakfast, then right back out into the cold for more training. The more we trained, the more I got used to the cold. The more I got used to the idea that it was just going to be cold, the more I accepted it and it was just another thing.
I can remember my second winter in Alaska, when it warmed up to the single digits above 0, we would run around with sweatshirts and t- shirts on. The cold was just a matter of fact. We had our minds right.
Now, I dont want to confuse anyone by changing up the meaning of COLD.. but I remember my Squad leader came up with a new version for us to keep our minds in the right attitude for the cold temps.
C- Can’t is not an option. When the tents need to be put up, camp chores need to be done, Can’t is not an option.. the work has to be done. Can’t is not a phrase that gets us out of any situation. YOU CAN be in the cold… You just have to accept it.
O- Operate with the mind set that this is a challenge I am willing to face. Challenge yourself mentally, physically, and prepare your self for the Challenge.
People do not summit Everest because they have North Face gear and lots of money. They accept the challenge and push themselve in the preparation.
L- Look around, you are not the only one out here in the cold. Your buddy counts on you and you count on them. We do this together. When one man is not mentally prepared the whole team suffers.
D- Dont forget your training and have confidence in your gear. Training for the enviornment settles the mind. The less you think about the cold, the more at ease your mind is. Just like athletes rely on muscle memory to esure that they are fundementally sound, thus they can focus on the other aspects of the game and their oppenent. Never forget your preparation and training and you will have the right mind set.
Some of the Scouts wonder why I seem to love camping in the winter. It is quiet, I love the crisp air, and you never have crowds. Above all I love the challenge. I love to test my skill and training. I love to safely push personal limits. I trust my gear and my training and know that I can have fun out in the winter just as much as I do in the summer. I try to teach our Scouts those same things that I learned 30 years ago. Just like then, I accepted the challenge and adapted to the winter conditions. As a result I gained an appreciation for camping in the cold. Now I love it.
Your mind is powerful and will allow you to do just about anything that you want. As long as you trust yourself, your training (the people that trained you), and your gear, you will have an awesome time camping in the cold.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
Boys join Scouts for the Outdoors.. they join for the adventure and fun times that they are promised. Parents sign them up for Character development, life skills, and the values of the program. The outdoor program is the heart of Scouting. It is the place where the Scout learns, practices skills, develops friendships and a love for the wilderness and has fun.
I am sure by now that you have tore through the Aides to Scoutmastership… this has been a fun couple of days pouring through the writing of our founder. The more I dig in to the book, the more I know that the organization that BP was forming was centered on the boy and that his first and foremost goal was developing them to be good men. In the early years of the 20th century, England was a different place and boys were not allowed to just be boys. There are so many problems with suppressing the will and spirit of the boy and BP saw the destruction of boyhood and the effects that it has on manliness. I fear that this is happening again and its high time to take get it back.
The outdoor program of the Boy Scouts is how we do just that.
“In spite of teachers and parents, boys remain loyal to their own world. They obey their own code, although it is quite a different code to the one that is taught to them at home and in the schoolroom. They gladly suffer martyrdom at the hands of uncomprehending adults, rather than be false to their own code. “The code of the teacher, for instance, is in favor of silence and safety and decorum. The code of the boys is diametrically opposite. It is in favor of noise and risk and excitement. “Fun, fighting, and feeding! These are the three indispensable elements of the boy’s world. These are basic. They are what boys are in earnest about; and they are not associated with teachers nor schoolbooks. “According to public opinion in Boydom, to sit for four hours a day at a desk indoors is a wretched waste of time and daylight. Did anyone ever know a boy-a normal healthy boy, who begged his father to buy him a desk? Or did anyone ever know a boy, who was running about outdoors, go and plead with his mother to be allowed to sit down in the drawing room?
“Certainly not. A boy is not a desk animal. He is not a sitting-down animal. Neither is he a pacifist nor a believer in safety first,’ nor a book-worm, nor a philosopher.
Remember that the boy, on joining, wants to begin scouting right away; so don’t dull his keenness by too much preliminary explanation at first. Meet his wants by games and Scouting practices, and instill elementary details bit by bit afterwards as you go. “He is a boy-God bless him-full to the brim of fun and fight and hunger and daring mischief and noise and observation and excitement. If he is not, he is abnormal.”
I have made it pretty clear in writing this blog what my feelings are regarding how I think Scouting should be. I am a believer that Scouting is done in the outdoors. I know that there is a place and need for the merit badge program, but feel that it is over emphasized especially the “Filler badges” like fingerprinting and skating and those types of badges. Again, I know that there is a place and need… but sometimes I think they, and other non outdoor focused activities distract from the Scouting program.
Having said all of that…
The outdoor program provides adventure and opportunities that allow the Scout to develop skills that make them self reliant. The Scouts classroom is in the outdoors. That is were Scouting should happen. Scouts plan their adventures and carry them out in the outdoors. In short.. the outdoors is the center of the Scouting program.
The outdoor program is the fix for the boys and to Scouting. It is where we teach our Scouts the skills and an appreciation for the outdoors and adventure. It is were we let them play the game with a purpose and watch as they grow in leadership and we achieve the aims of Scouting. It is in the outdoors that boys develop character and practice citizenship and fitness.
As the Boy Scouts of America states; “Learning by doing is a hallmark of outdoor education. Unit meetings offer information and knowledge used on outdoor adventures each month throughout the year. A leader may describe and demonstrate a Scouting skill at a meeting, but the way Scouts truly learn outdoor skills is to do them themselves on a troop outing.”
There are many ways that the outdoor program can be executed. The key is to just get outside and do it. Make a commitment with the Patrol Leaders Council to add high adventure activities to the Troop plan. Make sure that every month has an outdoor overnight experience. NEVER Cancel an outdoor activity. Shame on the adults if they are the cause for failure of the outdoor program. The outdoors is a must for Scouting to happen. It is a must for the Scout to grow and meet the goals that Scouting has promised him.
Get out and play!
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.
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!
Well, Camporee is over once again for another year.
Here are some thoughts on the weekend…
First and foremost I need to tell you that pride is just one word that comes to mind when it comes to how I feel about the boys of my Troop. Now, you may be saying to yourself… yeah Jer.. You say that all the time.. and yes, yes I do, but this time it is a “Coming of age” kind of pride.
As you also know, our troop camps using a “Backpacking style” of camping. We don’t have patrol boxes, we pack it in and pack it out, and we insist on boy leadership. We teach our Scouts to be self-reliant and to think and do things for themselves. Above all we have fun.
Our senior Patrol runs the Troop and is trained and guided to make sound decisions. They are not always right and they certainly are not always popular, but in the end the Troop seems to meet its goals.
Maybe it’s me, but for more than a few years it seems that our Troop has been sort of black sheep within the district. Until recently the only Troop that camped strictly using Backpacking methods. This year we noticed that a few more Troops are adopting our style of camping.
There are certainly advantages and disadvantages of being a backpacking Troop in a car camping district.
Super fast set up and take down and smaller footprint. I think this one and cooking are the two things that other Troops can’t wrap their heads around. We got into camp at about 7:30 PM. Within an hour we were all set up and working on the gateway.. we will talk about the gateway later. The camp site gets up quickly and allows for the patrols to get to the business of having fun.
This morning, the Scouts hit their typical Sunday routine. They woke up and started packing. Once packed, they cooked breakfast and finished camp chores. The troop was pretty much ready to go, but given a set schedule for camporee made the choice to lolly gag around camp. This is both a disadvantage and advantage. Lots of time, and nowhere to go when it comes to waiting on the rest of the schedule.
Cooking and clean up is easy and not without a good meal plan. A big misconception is that backpackers only eat freeze-dried cardboard. Not so. If you can cook it on a green stove, you can cook it backpacking and this was demonstrated all weekend as the boys cooked great meals
Lighter loads made for easy load out and pack up. I figure this is where many Troops have a problem with the way we camp. Immediately after closing ceremonies we were loaded in the cars and on our way home. As we drove off we could see the “heavy Troops” still taking down camp and loading up the trailers.
Now, I don’t really have a problem with the car camping style.. it’s just not for me and certainly not for our Troop. It is nice to wake up cook, clean up, pack and hike out. Makes for happy Scouts that, at the end of a good weekend can look forward to easy tear down of camp. A couple of our Scouts were talking with one of the troops next to us. They reported that the Scouts were not happy that they had at least an hour of clean up, tear down, and then put away once they got home. It is so much easier to load a bunch of backpacks into the truck and drive away.
To be honest, I find no merit in making the Scouts unhappy.
Our Troop never scores well on the camp site inspection, largely in part to the fact that the folks doing the grading don’t know what to look for. They are looking for patrol boxes, watch stations, and tents that are all pitched in a row with even spacing and Canopies to cook under. We don’t get scored high because our cook kits are put away after each meal and our food is hung in bear bags. They don’t see the little bottle of camp suds that we use to clean our pots and mess kits and they are not used to seeing single person tents or tarp set ups. So we have grown accustomed to just camping and having a fun weekend at camp o ree. The Scouts don’t seem to mind that we don’t “win” each year, but it is clear that they have a great time. That is not say that the Patrols don’t come away empty-handed. Each year they show well in the events and always take home ribbons. But as a total score, I am afraid that we won’t get the grand prize until the committee decides to grade backpacking troops fairly. This is going to be an issue in the near future as more troops are adopting our style of camping.
We had a large group of Webelos camp with us this year. A Troop guide volunteered to be their guide all weekend and he did a spectacular job. I think of the 8 Webelos, we should get at least 6 of them to cross over into the Troop. They are motivated and liked the way we camped and had fun. The Dad’s that camped with us from the Webelos seemed to have a good time and were impressed with the way our boys ran the troop. It was a good opportunity for them to see the Troops of the District all at once. It was really good for us when they noticed a couple of troops that had the moms and dads doing all the cooking for the boys. “That is not the way Scouting should be” said one of the Dad’s. I could not help be agree.
Where are the judges when the Scouts are not doing their own cooking.. but hey to each their own. That’s not how we do it. Green Bar Bill is flipping in his grave.
Our Scouts did a great job this weekend.. Perfect, No… but perfect in the way we do Scouting.
We had a real fun time this weekend and like I said at the beginning.. I am proud of the Scouts of my troop.
Our Assistant Senior Patrol Leader got an opportunity to lead the Troop this weekend and continued to develop into a good leader. He stepped up and did a nice job. It was nice to work with him and teach him some leadership techniques. Watching him apply them was rewarding for both him and I. Real proud of him… he will be a great Senior Patrol Leader.
Our Senior Patrol leader was torn this weekend between the Venturing Crew that he is a member of and the Troop. He did a fantastic job this weekend, but I could tell that he was torn when the Crew earned the Top spot for Crews this year.
Each Scout learned something this weekend and once again tested leadership and skills. It’s those things that make me a proud Scoutmaster.
Have a great Scouting Day!