Summer Camp

C.O.P.E and Scouting

Spending time with your Scouts on C.O.P.E courses is a wonderful experience.  Scouts are challenged to step away from what they know is comfortable.  The team building exercises and challenging tasks push Scouts to push themselves, not only for the sake of pushing themselves, but for the sake of the team.  Challenging Outdoor Personal Experience courses test the Scouts to do their best.
The other thing that C.O.P.E teaches is the idea that Scouting is among other things a “Personal Experience”.  Now it is wrapped up within Patrols, Troops, and buddy teams, but at the end of the day, it is up to the Scout to demonstrate self-reliance and have an attitude that he is willing to accomplish any task that he gets the personal experience.  Our Method of Advancement is one way that is completely a personal experience in Scouting.
The Scout is responsible for his advancement.  If he wants to be an Eagle Scout, there is nothing in his way except for himself.  The requirements are clearly outlined in his handbook, he has the support of his Adult leadership, and he is driven to complete the task.  Advancement is up to him.  Not his buddies, his Scoutmaster, or parents.
The merit badge program is much like the advancement method in that it to is a personal experience for the Scout.  There are required merit badges, but by and large with the large amount of badges spanning every vocation, hobby, sports, and skills, the Scout can pick and choose what he likes, wants, and needs to move forward with his Scouting experience.
Last night I talked with many of the new parents about Summer camp.  They had questions about merit badges and what we expect the Scouts to do… more so… what merit badges I expect the Scouts to earn while at camp.  My answer was received better by some parents than others.  My answer was that it was up to the Scout on what he earns and how many merit badges he try to earn.  My expectation is that they have fun at Summer camp.  If that means 6 merit badges or no merit badges I am ok with that.  “But we are paying a lot of money for summer camp” a parent said… yes I understand that.  What do you think you are paying for?  In my opinion we pay for the personal and shared experiences that are found only at Summer camp.  Summer camp is a week-long C.O.P.E course.   There are challenges, skills, and tests all week.  How the Scouts handle those both as individuals and as a team determines the success of the week at camp.  Merit badges and how many the Troop can earn is not the measure of success.  In the end, not one merit badge will lead to a memory that they share.  I can tell you stories all day long about the summer camps that I attended from 1978 to 1984.  But I can only tell you 1 story about a merit badge, and it really had little to do with the badge, it had more to do with me falling asleep and getting lost while trying to earn it.  My expectation is that the Scouts have fun and build a catalog of memories.  I want them to have a great Personal Experience in Scouting.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Advancement, blog, camp skills, High Adventure, Ideals, Just fun, Methods, Skills, stories, Summer Camp, teamwork, Values | Leave a comment

The SMMPhoto contest!

The winner of the first SMMPhoto contest is Dominic Galloro!

There were many great pictures submitted.. but this one seemed to capture the spirit of summer camp and the adventure of Scouting for me.  Three guys with a common goal.. just blowing their lungs out.. and the fire is still not that big!
You don’t have to be the next Ansle Adams to win at shooting Scouting pictures.
I want to thank everyone for sending in your pictures.  This was a tough decision given the big number of pics I had to look through.  I was glad to see that everyone had a great Summer Camp season and more importantly the Scouts had fun!
And I suppose that is what this winning picture shows me.. these three guys are having fun.  Oh and I know that the big stick over the fire pit.. yeah.. there will be some poking going on with that later.. right guys…
OK.. Dominic send me your contact information and I will get the book in the mail to you!
Congratulations!
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: blog, Camping, Competition, Just fun, Summer Camp | 1 Comment

Talking with my SPL

Troop 664 after the Polar Bear Swim

Last week at Summer camp, my SPL and I had the chance to sit in a row-boat together for 1 hour and 12 minutes.  During that time we talked about the week, leadership, attitudes, and his future.  It was one of the best hours I have ever spent in my life.  During that hour I met a new young man.. up until then, he was just another Scout that stepped up to meet the leadership challenge.  He has always been active and one of those guys that you can always count on.. some would call his type the core of the Troop.
I appreciated the fact that he was very open with the discussion and his sense of humor really came out.
I recorded our conversation and invite you to listen in.  SMMPodcast #93 is all us and a few guys swimming their mile swim.
I hope you enjoy the time spent with James, my SPL, as much as I did.
LISTEN HERE

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Just fun, Leadership, Patrol Method, podcast, Summer Camp | 3 Comments

You have got to be kidding me???

Ok.. so fair warning.. I am going to rant in this post.  I know that I try to keep this blog positive.. but this is something that I must get off my chest.  Why you may be asking?  Well its because what I am about rant about is a fundamental part of Scoutmastership.   And when I hear what I heard while at Summer camp, well it flat out worries me that there are Scoutmasters out there that are failing their Scouts.
Let me explain…
BEGIN RANT
While at Summer Camp last week all of the Scoutmasters met daily at the program cabin.  Each day the staff would give the Scoutmasters a run down of the days events and take any questions or concerns that we may have.  On Tuesday night the Scouts would have to cook dinner in camp, so on Monday night, the commissioners gave the SPLs a meal order form.  This form had all the basics on it, the SPL was to scratch off the items that they would not need, sign the form, have the Scoutmaster initial it, and then turn it in on Tuesday morning.  Pretty simple.
So on Tuesday at the Scoutmaster meeting, the staff reminded us that the SPLs would be turning these forms in.  As soon as the staff made the comment three Scoutmasters (well we will call them Scoutmasters.. after all they have the patch on their uniforms) began to laugh.  The program director asked what was funny.  The Scoutmaster in question stated “Not sure you can trust an SPL to get it done..hahaha”  One of the other Scoutmasters suggested that he never saw the form and that the staff should had given the form to the Scoutmaster.. after all, he would be the one doing the cooking.
My jaw hit the deck and smoke began to appear from my ears.  I told myself to just shut up and let it go.  And then the following statement came ooozing out of this Scoutmasters mouth.  “You can’t trust a boy to this stuff”.  WHAT?
I looked at this dude and asked him if he ever heard of Youth Leadership?  He looked at me and said.. uh yeah.
I asked him if he was embarrased?  He said what for?  I asked him if he ever trained the SPL.. I mean after all.. it is the Scoutmasters job to train the Senior Patrol Leader.. right?  He replied its hopeless.. he’s just a kid.  I asked again if he was embarrassed.  Again he said what for?  I shared with him that I would be embarrassed if I would have said something like that, especially on a deck full of Scoutmasters.  He told me that I would not understand.  I asked him to help me understand why he would not train a Scout to lead, I asked him to explain to me why he had no faith in the Scout.   I asked him to share with me what he thought his responsibility was as a Scoutmaster when it came to training, coaching, and teaching the SPL.  He looked at me with a puzzled look.. that was all could take.  The staff at that point stepped in and said they would take care of it.
So there it is… This saddened me.  I was dumbfounded at the lack of training this Adult offered his Scouts.  I am saddened that the Scouts of his unit will not get opportunities or the trust of an adult allowing them to be successful.  It is tragic that the Scouts of his unit are getting the benefit of the full Scouting program.  I can only imagine how the rest of the program in that Troop is lacking.  At the end of the day, it’s the Scouts that will suffer.. but then again.. what they don’t know.. well, yes it will hurt them in the long run.
They do not have a leader willing to Train them, Trust them, and let them lead.
An hour in the middle of the lake in a row-boat made me feel much better.
END OF RANT.

I apologize for the negative post.  I try not to do this, but this one has been on my mind since Monday of last week and I could not let it go another day.
Please everyone.. Be a good Scoutmaster!  Train them, Trust them, and Let the Boys lead!

Have a Great Scouting day!

Categories: blog, Journey to Excellence, Leadership, Patrol Method, Summer Camp | 5 Comments

Shared Experience

Break is over, Summer camp was an awesome experience and I need to share more with you once I collect me thoughts.
I will share this with you today however.  Shared Experience!
One of Scoutings treasures is the shared experience of your Scouts and you.  Summer camp is one of the best times to have the shared experience and make memories that will last forever.
On the last night in camp, we sat around the camp fire.  Our SPL was talking with some of the guys about how great camp was and then I spoke up about the memories that were forged this week.
We went around the fire circle and talked about merit badges, mile swims, catching fish, hanging out with friends, and being part of a great troop.
This year is Camp Pioneer’s 75th Anniversary.  The guys of the Troop pledged to come back in 25 years for the 100th.  We all decided that we would come back to Camp Pioneer to celebrate together.  I’m in!
I had a great time with the Scouts this week at camp.  They are all a part of a wonderful shared experience I will never forget!

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Just fun, Summer Camp | Leave a comment

I got that Scouting Spirit up in my…

I spent the better part of the weekend at Camp Pioneer.  This weekend, among other things, the camp celebrated its 75th Anniversary.  I received an invitation along with other Scoutmasters and folks throughout the Council, so I RSVP’d and attended.  It was extra special as my oldest son is on Staff at Camp Pioneer this year, so it was an opportunity to see him.  My Troop is heading up to Pioneer in a week, so it was also a real good chance to pick up some Blue cards, look at the program areas and just hang out in my favorite camp our Council has.
Friday night was the celebration for the Anniversary.  They had a special dinner and then a program in the Dinning Hall.  A slide show of the history of the camp and some “Then and Now” pictures.  The 1974 Aquatics staff was there.. all of them.  It was neat to hear their stories and meet them.  They have all gone on to do good things with their lives and to hear them speak about the camp with such fondness really hit me.
Their collective love for this camp brought them back, not only as youth, (many had staffed at the camp for up to 7 years), but now to be a part of the 75th Anniversary.  What really touched me was the strong tradition that they embodied.  This was particularly special to see and as I watched today’s staff interact with them I saw light bulbs flash on.  I saw the passing of the torch. 
I brought our son home for the night and as we drove the 128 miles we talked about this tradition at Camp Pioneer.  He said that up until he talked and heard the 1974 staff share their stories he did not understand where some of the stuff they did came from.  Songs that are sung, ways that programs are introduced, skits, and camp traditions.  It made the camp come alive for all us that love Camp Pioneer.
I have always loved Camp Pioneer and this weekend really increased that love.  Yesterday before I left camp I sat and looked over the spectacular view.  The lake and the over looking Mt. Jefferson called me.  As I sat in the Chapel bowl I could hear the staff wrapping up the end of the week’s session with the Camp Song.
Camp Pioneer we’re loyal to your code, Together we will hike the eagle road, We love your lofty pines and lake so blue, Camp Pioneer our memories always turn to you, In love and friendship we will work and play, A helping hand to each upon his way, And may our faces shine, And spirits intertwine, Camp Pioneer, that’s why we’re here, Camp Pioneer.
Hip Hip Hooray, Hip Hip Hooray, Hooray, Hip Hip!!
It brought a smile to my face remembering the 1974 staff singing the song on Friday night along side the current staff.
Then as we walked out to the parking lot after dropping John off to head home the sound of Pioneer Vespers rang in my head.  I could not help but feel that Scouting traditions are alive and well and summer camp is that place that really brings it out in all of us.
When this land was untamed and free, A few brave men built a great country, Fighting for freedom, Despite their fears, We know these men as Pioneers,
High in the mountains where the green meets blue, Camp Pioneer’s calling you.
Here in the Cascades, the spirit lives on, A brotherhood of love, our voices in song, Learning to be leaders, For Future years, We shall be known as the new Pioneers,
High in the mountains where the green meets blue, Camp Pioneer’s calling you. Camp Pioneer is calling you.”

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: blog, Camping, Character, High Adventure, Ideals, Just fun, Scouts, stories, Summer Camp | Leave a comment

SMMPodcast Show 92

This show is about Summer Camp and Annual planning.
We talk about providing incentives for older Scouts and getting younger guys to attend. 
After summer camp we discuss some of the elements of the Annual Planning session and some keys to making our Scouts successful in planning and executing a great year of Scouting.
A few reminders on the show about the SMMPhoto contest!
Enjoy the show.
Listen in on iTunes, Stitcher, or on the web!
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: planning, podcast, Summer Camp | Leave a comment

Special Awards and Recognition

Every Troop has its traditions, customs, and special awards and recognition.  I thought I would share with you a special award that our Troop does every year.  This is my favorite award of the year and I take a great deal of pleasure in presenting this at our Court of Honor after Summer camp.
We call it the “Bobby Walker Award”.  It is named after a Scout that used to be in our Troop.  Now without going into to much detail on Bobby, lets just say that Bobby had a hard knock life.  Close your eyes for a minute and imagine a truly hard knock life… ok then now you get it.  Bobby was brought to us by a sponsor from an organization in Portland.  They were looking for some “other experiences” for Bobby to see and do.  Well, much to everyone’s surprise Bobby took to Scouting like he was Baden-Powell son.  He loved everything about it.  He had a uniform, he had friends, he loved to camp and hang out with his new buddies, but most of all.. He LOVED Summer camp!  When we arrived at Summer camp, Bobby fully immersed his whole being into the camp.  He would work merit badges, spend lots of time at the water front (he learned to swim at summer camp), he loved the camp fires, the songs and skits, well… just everything that summer camp is supposed to be.  The week at summer camp for Babby Walker was like a week in heaven.
After one particular summer camp I was so moved by watching Bobby over the week that we (the ASMs and I) decided to give him a special award.  So I purchased one of those Boy Scout memorabilia boxes from the Scout shop and we presented it to him at the Court of Honor.  We called it the Spirit of Summer camp award that year.
The next year Bobby had to leave our Troop.  There was no good byes or reasons why, his sponsor just showed up without him one meeting night and with a tear in his eye told me that Bobby was “moving on”.  I never asked any more about it, but it saddened me.
So the next year at camp the Troop and I decided that the award would be called the Bobby Walker award.  Awarded to the Scout that demonstrated the best of what Summer camp is all about.  To the Scout that immersed himself into the camp.  Each year we give a Scout memorabilia box to the most deserving Scout as voted by the Assistant Scoutmasters and I.
This has become a great tradition in our Troop and each year the Scouts look forward to seeing who gets the Bobby Walker award.  It is also a great opportunity to share the story with the Scouts to remind them that they are the lucky ones.  I’ll do a post on that another time.
So what are some of the traditions and special recognitions of your Troop.  Leave them in the comments section.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Camping, Ideals, Just fun, Patrol Method, stories, Summer Camp | Leave a comment

SMMBlog Photo Contest

OK its contest time!!!
Email me your best Summer camp picture.. Scouts honor, it should be from this years summer camp.. and you should have actually gone to summer camp.
This contest is an easy one.. just email me your picture.
Email the picture to tbirdironchef@gmail.com
The winner will receive a copy of the book “Working the Patrol Method”!

The contest will end at the end of August… so you have a few days to get your best summer camp picture in!

I hope you all had a fantastic Summer camp with your Troops!  Show the rest of us how it went!

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: blog, Camping, Competition, Just fun, Patrol Method, Summer Camp | Leave a comment

This weeks Poll- The Annual Plan

In this weeks poll I want to know about your Troops annual planning session.
Your choices are:  Totally on the Scouts, meaning the Scouts put together the annual plan and submit it to the Troop committee to receive the support to run the program.  The PLC does the planning.
It’s all about the Adults, meaning the Scouts just take what the adults decide.  The PLC does not do the planning.
Lets go 50/50, meaning Adult input to the PLC and they split the planning responsibility.
As a primer, here is how our Troop handles the annual planning session.  We start our planning at Summer camp.  This is a great opportunity for the patrols to take a look at the previous year and get the most input from the patrol members.  Sometime about mid-week at camp the PLC will meet and discuss the input from the patrols.
After summer camp the PLC will again sit down with all the calendars and look at months, dates, and locations from the next years plan.  I sit in with them on this planning session to answer questions and offer advise when asked.
Once the PLC is satisfied they have a 12 month plan, they bounce it off me and then the SPL and I take the plan to the Troop committee.
The Troop committees job is to say “Great plan, lets support it” and that is what they do.
Our Senior Patrol Leader and the Patrol Leaders Council does the planning for the year.  That is the way it is supposed to happen, this is their program.  Having them plan their year gives them ownership, tests leadership, and then as the year unfolds and they understand the program, their monthly PLC meetings are better organized and the plan is executed by the Scouts.
It’s not always pretty and often the planning is painful to some… but letting the Scouts run their Troop is the way Baden-Powell intended it.

“The more responsibility the Scoutmaster gives his
patrol leaders, the more they will respond.”- Baden Powell

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Journey to Excellence, Leadership, Methods, Patrol Method, planning, Scouts, Skills, Summer Camp, training | 3 Comments

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