Summer Camp

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

JTE.. More

The balanced Score care approach is nothing new, it has been floating around organizations for some time now and provides a balanced view for organizational performance.  Who looks at this?  Well really you do.  As much as some would like t0 think that Councils and District level leadership are actively engaged in what goes on at the unit level (and I am talking Pro staff here, not volunteer) the fact of the matter is that where the rubber hits the road, the unit leadership are really the only leaders dedicated 100% to their units.  That is not to say that District, Council, and even National leadership could care less.  It is just that they have different fish to fry.  They are concerned at the “Big” organizational level in areas of membership, fundraising, and policy.  And that is fair.  Hey, I don’t want to think about that stuff, I want to go camping.  So the Journey to Excellence program is a tool that ensures our units are meeting the mark as we can measure our programs.  I think this is important to make sure that we all are delivering the promise of Scouting in a uniform manner.
Last month I attended the National meetings of the BSA in San Diego.  The Assistant Chief Scout Executive for Council Operations Gary Butler gave a great talk at the Scoutmaster dinner.  In his talk he gave the analogy of Starbucks coffee.  He said that when you order a coffee at Starbucks in Seattle it tastes like the same cup in New York City, or Atlanta, or Boston.. the message is that the coffee is the same where ever you go and that is part of business model of Starbucks.  The Promise of Scouting is just like that cup of coffee.  It needs to be the same consistent program, delivered in many ways, but the same program throughout the Boy Scouts of America.  We have great outline, but Scouters choose not to use it.  The Journey to Excellence program attempts to bring some of that back in line.
Now, I know that many of you, myself included, do not like to view the BSA as a business.  Certainly not at the unit level.  But just like every organization if certain measures are not in place, lets say for growth, for financial stability, for improvements in the program, the organization will fail.
Remember a couple posts ago, I shared that I knew a unit that was a Quality unit every year, but then it just folded?  It is because they did not have a plan to grow and stay fit.  They took it year to year and hoped that the Cub Scout pack would just continue to “Feed them”.  They did not have a stable financial plan, they did not have a plan to assist the youth leadership… and yet they were “always a quality unit”.
None of us want to see our units fail.  JTE is a week to week, month to month, year to year tool that sets on a Journey to Excellence.
OK.. 500 words in and not a word about camping.. so lets talk just a little about Short term and Long term camping as it applies to the JTE.
You all understand that Short term equates to weekend camp outs and long term camping refers to those week long (or longer) camping opportunities such as Summer camp, Jamboree’s, High Adventure base participation.  Now I think the BSA set the bar low on this one, and so many if not all of us will automatically qualify at the Gold level when it comes to short term camping.  Bronze = 4 camp outs throughout the year.  Yeah, that is not a typo.. I wrote 4.  Silver requires a unit to camp 8 times and to achieve the Gold standard you need to camp at least 10 times.  Like I said.. I think we all have this one in the bag.   And for the Gold level you get 200 points for just doing what we all do, and that’s camp.
Now I think it is interesting how the JTE handles long term camping.  You will qualify for the bronze level if your unit attends a long term camp.. lets call it summer camp.  You will achieve Silver level status if 60% of your Scouts attend Summer camp (or another long term opportunity).  And it only takes 70% of your unit attending camp to achieve Gold level status.  I recently had a small discussion on Camp staff with some Scouters that I consider “In the know”.  We debated on whether a Scout that serves on camp staff is counted in that percentage.  And the answer according the definitions of JTE is this; ” Boy Scouts attending any in council or out of council long term summer camp (of at least three days and nights), high adventure experience, jamboree, or serve on camp staff within the past year”.  The part that really weirds me out on this is the three days and nights.  But not to worry, most if not all summer camps run a week.  No problems there.
The bottom line is that camping is where Scouting happens.  It is where the Patrol method is executed, it is where teaching happens, it is where the boys can be boys and learn, practice, and teach skills.  Camping, I am sure you will agree is what most think about when we talk Scouting.
Next time we will dive into the Patrol Method.
Thanks for the emails, you can email me anytime.  Leave a comment and let me know what you think.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: blog, Camping, High Adventure, Jamboree, Journey to Excellence, Leadership, Methods, Patrol Method, Summer Camp | 8 Comments

This Weeks Poll.. What do YOU do at Summer Camp?

Summer camp is a fantastic experience for the Scouts of your Troop.  But that does not mean it can’t be fun the adults that go too.  Each year we take our Scouts to camp.  We limit the amount of Adults, after all, this is a program for the Scouts, but the three or four adults that do go get to have a wonderful time in camp also.
But what do you do when you are at camp.  This weeks poll gives you a few choices that came off the top of my head after many years hanging out at camp.
Here is typically what I do.
First.. always take a good book. 
Second… Stay out of the Scouts way.  Be there to sign books and blue cards.  Cheer them on when they play games, and have a smile on my face every day.  But camp is for them.. leave them alone to hang out.  We always make it a point to take the tents the furthest away from the patrols and in lots of cases use the back doors if they face into the camp.  We want them to work the patrol method at camp and part of that is the interaction that takes place when they are playing and yeah I’ll say it.. screwing around.
And finally, I like to participate in adult programs that are offered.  One of our camps takes all the Scoutmasters on a Horse back ride.  A few of the camps offer adult swims and lunches.
By and large my week at camp is to provide support when needed and a great week to relax and take a break.  Most days you will find me at the water front with a good book just taking in the sun.
So what do you do at camp?  Let me know, leave a comment.  Better yet.. use the SMMVoice mail line and tell me, it may end up in the next podcast!  503-308-8297.  Lets hear about your week in camp!
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: blog, Camping, Just fun, podcast, Summer Camp | 7 Comments

Taking over the Internet!

Recently I got into a discussion with another blogger about numbers, subscriptions, readership etc.  He is all wrapped up in the “numbers thing” and extremely passionate about boosting his ratings, getting more readers, and taking over the internet, ok so I made the last one up, but needless to say he does in fact have a lot of passion for his blog and the numbers it generates.
I on the other hand don’t really monitor the numbers, I just want folks to read the blog and get something out of it.  Entertainment, skills, motivation, whatever it is that I can do to help deliver the promise of Scouting using this wonderful tool called a blog.

Anyway, our little chat prompted me to look at some numbers, in particular the number of subscribers.  Now I am not sure what the accurate numbers are.  Since I moved the blog over to WordPress in March, the amount of readers per post has gone way up and 18 people subscribed to the blog.  The reason I say that I am not sure what the accurate numbers are is because according to Feedburner that has kept stats for me since basically I started is telling me that I have 94 subscribers.  That is to say that 94 (plus 18) folks are getting notified when there is a new post to the blog.
Now I subscribe to a hand full of blogs, mostly Scouting blogs and I enjoy getting an email on the iPhone telling me that a new post is on such and such blog.. I then can quickly preview the post and visit the blog later for the full version (pictures and whatnot).  I really like this feature.
My friend told me he has over 800 subscribers to his blog, hardly what I would call “taking over the Internet”.. but none the less, a great number of people that read his babbling.  So I had to ask myself why great Scouting blogs don’t get that many subscribers.  I know we are getting looked at… after all, we have ways of seeing how many visits, reads, downloads etc.  And oh by the way, since I looked at the numbers.. yeah, we are doing pretty darn good.  I mean just since I moved over to WordPress there have been 5,065 views… not to shabby considering.  And I am not sure who to believe, but since I got a Feedburner account in 2008 we have had 58,947.  I’ll go with that. 
Now, that really does not mean anything to me, because numbers are just numbers.  It is the comments, feedback, and the emails that I receive that really matter, that really means people are reading and either liking or disliking what I write here on the blog.
HAVING SAID ALL OF THAT….
Subscribing to the blog is super easy, and if you are like me you like to get a quick notification of whats new and improved.  So i encourage you to subscribe to the blog.  Simply click the “Sign me up” button over there on the right and you are in.
OK.. here is the real reason… I WANT TO TAKE OVER THE INTERNET!!!! and 94 subscribers are not going to make that happen!!! LOL!  So help us push Scouting to the front page of WordPress!!!  Subscribe to ALL of the Scouting blogs.  There are great blogs out there that I really enjoy.  Many are listed in my Blog roll over there on the right column.  So start with mine.. subscribe.. then move over to the rest and do the same.
Oh, and I don’t want to beg.. but c’mon folks.. leave a comment or two.  I have not developed the skill of reading minds over the Internet.. I got a good handle on Tenderfoot Scouts, but knowing what you all like, dislike, and are thinking is way beyond my skill level.  Leave feedback, comments,voicemail, or drop me an email… all of those options are available right here on the blog.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

PS. #100daysofscouting
Today- Reviewing Tickets for the Buffalo Patrol, attending the Parent/ Staff meeting for the Summer Camp staffers, hanging out with my family.  TADA!

Categories: blog, comments, Just fun, Summer Camp | Tags: | 5 Comments

Meet him where he is…

What do you do when you have Scouts that do want to advance in rank?  What about not wanting to go to Summer camp?  What do you do when they just show up and hang out?
These are age old questions that I hear over and over again at Round table and in discussions with other Scoutmasters.  And the answers are about as clear as the questions.
First you need to ask yourself what is it about the Scout that makes him feel this way about advancement and camp.  I am certain that you are perfectly fine with the idea that he likes hanging out with his friends.
Is the Scout being disruptive?  If not, then what is it that bothers you as a Scoutmaster about his lack of “want to”?
Boys join Scouting for many reasons.  Maybe it’s because they enjoyed Cub Scouts and they are moving up with their buddies.  Maybe it is because their Dads were Scouts, way back when.  Maybe it’s because they are looking for something to do, an adventure, a place to belong and feel a part of a team.  There are as many reasons as there are Scouts and the answers will tell a lot about his motivation once he becomes a part of the Troop.  A lot of the time it has more to do with friends than it has to do with badges, rank, and camping.  Those three things drive the program for us in many ways.  They are a measurement of activity, achievement, and a healthy program in most cases.  But what about that Scout that could really care less?  A Scoutmaster once told me that they were going to drop a kid if he did not advance or go to camp that summer.  I asked him why he would do that?  His explanation got my head spinning.  He said that it was because that kid and kids like him bring down the numbers for the unit.  They hurt the Troop in the long run when it comes to Top Troop or Troop of the Year.
(INSERT RECORD SCRATCH SOUND HERE)
What about the boy?  I asked.  Is he having fun?  Is he learning something?  Is he hanging out with his friends?  Is he showing signs of good character, fitness, and citizenship?  Well?
Citizenship, Character, Fitness.  You can have all of that without a single badge, right?  YES, BUT.
I have a Scout in my Troop that has been in the unit for almost three years.  He attends meetings regularly, goes on a camp out here and there, and likes hanging out with his friends.  He still wears the last rank he earned on his shirt.. Scout.  Ask him if he enjoys Scouting and he will tell you yeah, but he likes it because of the friendships.  He helps with service projects and generally is a good boy, as good as most.  He gets good grades, has a friendly demeanor, and enjoys the company of his patrol.  So should I throw him out because he has not advanced?  Heck no!  He is getting out of Scouting what he wants. 
Now it is a fact that Scouts that attend Summer camp typically stay in Scouting longer and work their way through the ranks.  And it is a fact that those that make it to First Class in the first year have a better chance at earning their Eagle award.  BUT IF we look at the boy and not the score card I think that we can effectively save them all and in the end achieve our goals of creating men that can make ethical decisions throughout their life times.  Men of character that are good citizens.  Men that know how and keep themselves Physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.

So what do you do that Scout?  Teach him, coach him, and mentor him to meet the aims of Scouting.  Take him for who and what he is and do your best to encourage him.
That simple.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Advancement, camp skills, Camping, Character, Citizenship, Leadership, Scouting, Summer Camp, Values | 1 Comment

Merit Badges and the Summer Camp program

Some view Summer camp as an event to earn merit badges. While the merit badge program is a part of the Summer camp program, it is not the objective of summer camp.

Summer camp is an opportunity for the Scouts to spend a week with their friends, participate in some adventurous activity, relax, learn and grow….away from home, cell phones, and X box’s.
Summer camp is a time for boys to be goofy, to strengthen friendships, to develop a sense of independence.

The Summer camp program does offer merit badges for the Scouts to work on and earn, and while much is made of the opportunities to earn those merit badges, there should be no pressure on the Scout to “take as many as he can” for the sake of earning badges.

I would rather see a Scout sign up and earn one merit badge and have the time of his life at camp than see him work himself into a merit badge frenzy and leave Summer camp with nothing but merit badges. No great memories of the water front, or hanging out by the camp fire, no stories to tell about a hike they took while others toiled away in leather craft or the fish they caught…but it got away.

Summer camp is all about the experience…not the badges. My fondest memories of Scouting are of Summer camp. I remember days at the waterfront canoeing or purposely trying to roll the row boats. A hike that a buddy of mine and I took that found us on top of a peak over looking Camp Freedom and beautiful view it rewarded us with.
Hanging out at the campfire till we could not see straight anymore… and having the Scoutmaster finally tell us to hit the rack. The friends that were forged over Summer camp are what every Scout remembers for a life time.

I am glad that my Scoutmaster let us go to camp and have fun. And now I do that with my Troop. I only “Make them” take one merit badge.. and usually it is an Eagle required one that they may not have… or it is simply one that they may be interested in. The rest of the time I want them to have fun.

If you are not having fun..you are doing it wrong.

Happy Scouting!

Categories: Summer Camp | Leave a comment

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