teamwork

Band-aids

The other night we had a spirited conversation with our Troop committee about, among other things, youth leadership and keeping older Scouts engaged.
One of the main ingredients of the Patrol method and effective youth leadership at the Troop level is that the youth run it.  Well, no duh.. right.  And sometimes that is not always a pretty process which in many cases parents are not happy seeing.  And in many cases it has an adverse effect on the Scouts in the troop also.  And there is the issue.
We can stand back and watch the Scouts struggle and bleed… or we can rush in and apply band-aids for every skinned knee.
Now if we are doing this right.  We teach and coach, we train and mentor, and we allow knees to get skinned on occasion and see if the Scouts apply their own band aids.  When the bleeding gets out of control.. there we are to assist in whatever the wound of the day is.
I presented that analogy to a parent the other night, I am pretty sure they got it, but I stressed that as a Scoutmaster we always try to find a good balance between the bleeding and the band-aids.
Scouts need to be in charge and allowed to make mistakes.. even fail.  They need to struggle through some really bad meetings and then challenged to see where the issues are and make attempts and fixing them.  We are always there with our first aid kits (figuratively speaking) to apply a band-aid when needed.  Sometimes that band-aid comes in the form of a complete shut down, sometimes it’s a gentle talk with and offering of advice.  But no matter what it is always the Scouts that come up with the solution, the right idea, and the plan to get out of the mess they are in.
Parents and Scouts alike do not like a disorganized  and non productive meeting.  I don’t mind them.. especially because they lead to teaching and learning opportunities…
But what of the Scouts (and parents) that decided that they are not patient enough to allow the process to work?
Well, they need to develop some patients, the Scouts need to be trained properly, and the program needs to be allowed to work.  When those happen, learning happens and the Scouts start to see more success over failure.
If a Scout says they are going to leave… well, try to explain to them that this is all a part of the process.  Ask them what they are doing to help.  If they insist on leaving.. invited them back.
I don’t know that you can convince them all, those that get it get it.  Those that don’t and refuse to be patient really don’t understand Scouting and what we are trying to accomplish here.
We are not a church club or a Cub Scout pack.  We are trying to play a game with a purpose that forces young men to make decisions and develop leadership skills.  We are asking that these same boys make ethical choices that will serve as the foundation of their decision-making for the rest of their lives.  We are trying to show them through the process that life is hard and those that work hard, handle adversity well, and can work with others on a team will be successful in life.  They will measure their success not in wealth, but in how they live a life of character.
So we can stand back and let them bleed a little, or we can rush in with the band-aids.
To be honest, I really don’t mind the sight of a little blood.  It means that they are learning.
Before I get emails and comments about letting Scouts get hurt.. that is NOT what I am suggesting.  It is just an analogy.  If it doesn’t work for you so be it.
Train ‘em..Trust ‘em.. and let ‘em lead!

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Character, comments, Ideals, Journey to Excellence, Leadership, Methods, Patrol Method, Scoutmaster minute, Skills, teamwork, training, Values | 3 Comments

Why Wood Badge?

For those of you that have been to Wood Badge you understand the great training, the lasting friendships, and the spirit of Scouting that comes in every Wood Badge course.  You get idea that every Scout deserves a trained leader and that in Wood Badge you are participating in the Advanced Leadership Course of the Boy Scouts of America.  You understand the committment that it takes in time and money to seek out the best training and then follow-up that training by spending up to a year and half working a ticket designed to make Scouting better for the youth we serve.  You get all of that.
So why should a Scouter go to Wood Badge.  Yes, it’s all of the stuff previously stated but it’s a lot more than that.
Why Wood Badge?  Well for starters it is the best Scout leader training the BSA has.  No matter at which level you serve in Scouting, Wood Badge has something for you.  Whether you are the Chief Scout Executive or a Den Leader, Wood Badge will teach you how to provide a great program for our Scouts starting with why we do this thing called Scouting.  The Wood Badge experience gives you insight to the World of Scouting, not just your little piece.  It reinforces methods and Aims and gets all Scouters on the same sheet of music, and yep, you will be singing a lot!
Wood Badge allows you the much-needed opportunity to step back into the hiking boots of a Scout and be that Scout as he experiences Cub Scouting, Boy Scouting, and is introduced to Venture Scouts.  You get to learn like a Scout learns and in doing so you become a better communicator and teacher.  You learn to train and lead using the EDGE method.  I think you will find that this method satisfies every learning style and will assist you in sharpening your leadership skills.
Wood Badge sends you back to you unit with a song in your heart, a smile on your face, and a mission to make Scouting better.
The training at Wood Badge will make you a better Scouter, a better Spouse, a better employee when you use the tools taught in the course.  It gives you perspective on everything in your life and a method to work you future plans in and out of Scouting.  The Wood Badge training is world-class and is used in corporate America and in organizations big and small.
So why Wood Badge?  Well, for one thing, it is our direct link to Baden Powell’s training of Scouters.  The methods may have been refined, the uniforms certainly are different, and Scouting has changed with the times, but the Wood Badge is the Wood Badge and our history and tradition in Scouting is brought full circle in the Wood Badge experience.
When Baden Powell held the first Scoutmaster Training at Gilwell, he organized the participants into Patrols.  This is the foundation of a Boy Scout Troop and BP understood that we learn by doing and do it with our Patrol.  During the Wood Badge course the instruction all leads to doing.  Within the Patrol, the participants work together to become a high performance team.  Once this is realized, the experience can be taken back and applied in the Scouters unit. 
Wood Badge has four specific objectives and as a result of attending Wood Badge, participants will be able to:
First, View Scouting globally, as a family of interrelated, values-based programs that provide age-appropriate activities for youth.
Second. Recognize the contemporary leadership concepts utilized in corporate America and leading government organizations that are relevant to our values-based movement.
Third,  Apply the skills they learn from their participation as a member of a successful working team.
And finally, Revitalize their commitment by sharing in an overall inspirational experience that helps provide Scouting with the leadership it needs to accomplish its mission on an ongoing basis.
So Why Wood Badge?  Back when I became a new Scouter helping out with my oldest son’s Pack I was invited to go to Wood Badge.  I did not give it too much thought, after all, I was just a Cub Scout Den Leader, why do I need more training?  Then I became a Cubmaster, and again, an invitation to Wood Badge was extended.  A group of Scouters that were (and still are) super active in the District kept encouraging me to go to Wood Badge.  They kept telling me that this “Mountain Top” Scouting experience was something that I really needed to attend.  And again, I blew it off thinking that everything was going great in the Pack and I really didn’t need more leadership training.  In 2004 I became a Scoutmaster, and again the same group of Scouters encouraged me to get to Wood Badge.  I went to a Wood Badge dinner in January of 2005.  It was a gathering to recognize Wood Badge participants that had completed their tickets and introduce Wood Badge to prospective participants.  My wife and I went and enjoyed the evening.  The room was filled with the most enthusiastic Scouters I have ever seen.  They were from every corner of the council and represented every level of Scouting.  Toward the end of the program a Scouter stood in front of the crowd and asked if “There were any Beavers in the house?”  At first I thought he was referring to the Oregon State Beavers.. but what happened next sealed the deal for me.  About a dozen Scouters stood up and broke out in song, when they were finished, the whole room (well those Scouters with beads on) stood and sang.  They all sat down and about another dozen different Scouters stood and sang a verse about Bobwhites.. and so it went till the whole room was singing.  The staffers closed out the song and everyone began hugging and shaking hands and there was nothing but smiles and laughter in the room.  I sat there with my wife with a big grin on my face.  My wife looked at me and said.. “Well… go sign up.”  And that night I registered for the next course. 
I participated in WE1-492-1-05 and was placed in the Beaver Patrol.  I did have a “Mountain Top” experience and took all I learned back to my Troop.  In 2009 I was asked to be on Staff.  I had to turn it down because I was over extended as not only the Scoutmaster of my Troop, but the Scoutmaster of a Troop heading to the National Jamboree.  In late 2010, I was asked again to be on staff for the 2011 course and I immediately said yes.  I served as a Troop guide for W1-492-11 and as I have shared with my fellow Troop guides and the mighty Buffalo Patrol, “I had a great experience when I went to Wood Badge, I fell in love with Wood Badge on staff.”  Early this year I was asked again to staff a Wood Badge course.  And again, I said yes. 
The people who attend Wood Badge and those that staff Wood Badge are the greatest Scouters out there.  Their dedication to Scouting and the youth we serve is second to none.  Their committment to training and making the Scouting organization better is beyond compare.
So Why Wood Badge?  Why Not?
If you have been invited to attend Wood Badge, please consider it.  You will not regret it.  If you are concerned about time and money.  Contact your local Wood Badge staff, ask at your next roundtable, there are ways to get you into the next course.  The benefits of Wood Badge outweigh the excuses not to go.  You are a dedicated Scouter, I know this, because you waste you time reading my blog.  SO if you have not been to Wood Badge..  GO!  And you will have a great experience.  I promise.
If you are a Wood Badger… What’s your Critter?  Leave a comment and share your Wood Badge story.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Ideals, Leadership, Leave no trace, Methods, Oath and Law, Patrol Method, planning, Scout Law, Service, Skills, teamwork, training, Wood Badge | 4 Comments

What kind of Scoutmaster are you?

In the last post, we got a pretty good feel for the general attitude toward the “Merit Badge Mill” for a lack of a better term.  It seems that there is not a lot of support for this style of merit badge earning.
Now, I did receive some emails that found that style the best practice in, as one guy put it “the world we live in”.  But those comments were far less than those opposed.  In all fairness… I did ‘accept’ any comment that was made on the blog.  I did not respond to all of the emails, especially the one that called me “Old fashioned and not in touch with today’s Scouts”.
Which led me to thinking this week… What kind of Scoutmaster are you?
It was brought to my attention that the 1998 Scout Handbook does not make mention of Baden-Powell.  I have not checked this out for myself, but if that is the case, it begs the question.. Why?
But back to the subject at hand.. What kind of Scoutmaster are you?
Baden-Powell said in “Aids to Scoutmastership” that we need not be “Know it all’s”
To be a Scoutmaster you need:

  • He must have the boy spirit in him; and must be able to place himself on a right plane with his boys as a first step.
  • He must realise the needs, outlooks and desires of the different ages of boy life.
  • He must deal with the individual boy rather than with the mass.
  • He then needs to promote a corporate spirit among his individuals to gain the best results

Now BP goes on to explain all these points in the book and I won’t just copy and paste the whole thing here.. Google search Aids to Scoutmastership and get your own copy and read it.  But I will say that if you do as BP says.. you may just be a good Scoutmaster.
Scoutmasters should be a friend to the Scouts.  He should remember that these are boys and not adults.  We ask a lot from these young men which is all a part of the program, but at the end of the day they are boys.  They have issues at home, school, sports teams, and the everyday life of a teen ager.  So for the Scoutmaster that places himself on the “right plane” with the Scouts does a better job understanding them and working with them as they grow and develop.
The Scoutmaster needs to understand where the Scouts are in life.  Once again, they are not men, they are boys and they all grow and develop at different rates.  Some 14 year olds are more mature that others.  Some 12 year olds mature faster than some 15 year olds.  So it is important that the Scoutmaster works with the Scouts individually and not paint broad strokes with his Scoutmaster brush.  At the same time, the Scoutmaster needs to build the team up as well as the individual.  The team (Troop and Patrol) is an important part of the Scouting program and a huge part in developing young men.
On the other hand.  And I know too many Scoutmasters like this, they are ‘roped’ into doing the job, they have no real desire to do the job but they do it because their son is in the troop, and they have no desire to learn the program or assist in running it right.
Now is that a subjective statement.  Not so much.  In the introduction to being a Scoutmaster in the Scoutmaster training program, the trainers introduce the new Scoutmasters to the 8 methods of Scouting.  And with few exceptions the methods have remained the same for 102 years.  Those same methods that BP himself outlined.
In both Aids to Scoutmastership and Scouting for Boys, you can find all of the methods that we currently use to achieve the Aims of Scouting.
The Patrol being the foundation for the Scout to start learning.   The ideals found in the Scout Oath and Law as well as the motto and slogan take that foundation and apply it to their daily lives and the attitudes that shape the Patrol as a group.  Scouting is done and should always be done in the outdoors with a Patrol.  The Outdoor program is fundamental in the Scouting program.  It is as BP said “our classroom”.  Advancement opportunities set challenges and goals for the Scout to meet.  The Advancement program tests the Scouts ability to manage his goal setting and give him a measurement of his own success.  Not the success of the unit, but himself.  The association with adults is a method that is often confused.  Confused, because it is a method for the Scout.. not the adult.  In associating with adults the Scout learns to manuever through the world.  It places the Scout in a position to learn to be comfortable in job settings as well as social settings.  The adults role in this method is to be a good example.  Personal Growth is perhaps one of the most important methods that is often overlooked by Scoutmasters that do not take a personal care for each of the Scouts in their Troop.  The Scoutmaster that does the job for a set amount of time or because no one else would take the job often look at Scouting as a camping club.  Merit badges just happen at Summer camp and it really doesn’t matter if there is personal growth in the individual Scouts.  I mean, after all you only have to care for them on Monday nights and one weekend a month… right?  The uniform is where I see most of the lack of care for methods.  Cost is always an excuse, but rarely a solution is given.  The uniform has been a part of Scouting since the very beginning and should remain a method as long as Scouting exists.  It is not a financial burden if the Scout believes and lives the part of the law that suggests that he is “Thrifty”.  Adults create the burden by not enforcing the standard.  To many parents fail to see the value in Scouting’s values and would rather take the easy way out and just say that it can’t be done.  Hog Wash!  And finally, when it comes to methods Leadership development.  Now, I do know that I put this one last and that is not how they are listed… but here is where I see a big gap in the ways in which Scoutmastership is practiced.
Leaders are made, not born and sometimes that trial and error called learning is not pretty.  The Patrol and Troop are the practice grounds for leadership development.  And to be honest.. it’s real ugly sometimes.. that is when the good Scoutmaster needs to allow it to be ugly.  Parents don’t like to see that.. but it is the best way for a Scout to learn.  Mistakes are opportunities to learn as long as the Scoutmaster is there to teach, coach, train, and mentor the Scout.  By applying “Guided Discovery” the Scout will develop into a leader.  He may not be the next Patton or [insert your favorite leader here], but the lessons he learns while discovering his leadership potential will serve him later in life.
In short.. What kind of Scoutmaster are you?  Are you one that embraces the lessons taught us by Baden-Powell or do we throw it all out the window for “modern thinking” and convenience.  “Old fashioned and not in touch with today’s Scout”.  I don’t know about you, but can you disagree with the Values of Scouting?  How about the methods?  These are time-tested and work well when applied by caring Scoutmasters.
If that makes me old-fashioned… so be it.. but if you do as BP suggests.. you can never be out of touch with today’s Scout.  They are the same as they always have been… they are boys looking for adventure.
I am curious to hear what you have to say about this.  What kind of Scoutmaster are you?
“What the Scoutmaster does, his boys will do. The Scoutmaster is reflected in his scouts. From the self-sacrifice and patriotism of their Scoutmaster, Scouts inherit the practice of voluntary self-sacrifice and patriotic service.” – BP in Aids to Scoutmastership

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Advancement, blog, Character, comments, Ideals, Journey to Excellence, Leadership, Methods, Motto, Oath and Law, Patrol Method, Scoutmaster minute, teamwork, training, Values | 5 Comments

NOS

NOS means “Not otherwise specified” in Military lingo.  It essentially means that we can’t find a category for it.. and so it is with this post.
It has been a while since I posted last, so here is some catching up and thoughts.
I’ll start with the drama.  Last week I volunteered as a ‘Guest Instructor’ for the JROTC class at our High School.  I learned a lot while teaching the 6 classes a day about accountability, military customs and courtesies, and shared life lessons that will (if listened to) help these young men and women.  What I learned about JROTC was that it has very little to do with the military.  Rather, the National syllabus for instruction focuses on Character, Citizenship, Leadership, and fitness… now where I have I seen that before?
Now I understand that there is an Army component to the class.  They structure the class around an Army Battalion, wear uniforms once a week, and use Army language, but beyond that the curriculum is very generic in its content regarding character, citizenship and leadership.  This was a surprise to me not really knowing what to think about JROTC and knowing how the ROTC at the University level works.
I was also surprised to see that very little attention is payed to recruiting or pushing a career in the military to these Cadets.  It was rarely talked about.  Now, of course there were graduating Seniors that are currently making plans for a career in the military, but the JROTC program is not a pool for recruiting. 
I enjoyed teaching the class for the week and had the pleasure of meeting some outstanding students.  I also met my share of students that frankly I fear will not make it in life.  They are lazy, unmotivated, can’t seem to develop study habits, and generally could care less about their school, community, home, or one another.  This shocked me.  All of my kids currently attend this high school and for the last 4 years we have had a very positive experience.  Our daughter has been active with the Marching Band, Symphonic and Concert bands, and has made great friends at the High School.  Both of our sons have been athletes and members of various school clubs and also have made lasting friendships.  All three of the kids have maintained good if not excellent grades over their high school careers and so our view of the school has been shaped by the athletes, friends, and social activities that my wife and I have been fortunate to participate in and get to know.  Our house is always full of kids, mostly football players, and I have gotten to know them and their families and I can honestly say that they are good kids.  So to be at the School and see the apathy that I saw this week, well, it shocked me.
NOW, having said all of that, the School District is in a world of mess right now, the teachers are minutes away from going on strike, the School District Board is not budging and neither is the teachers union.  It has become very ugly in our little neck of the woods.  The climate at the School is very apathetic and so I can see where some of the students have got it.
I hope this resolves quickly.. from the Scoutmaster perspective.  Most of my older Scouts attend this School and it is effecting them.  This close to the end of School, with the impending strike, the students have been forced to scramble to get things done in order to maintain decent GPA’s to round out the year.  The uncertainty has left them questioning the dedication of both the teachers and the school district to their education.
Enough of that… I just hope it gets over quickly.
How this affects Scouting however is clear.  When things are weird in Scouts lives.. it gets weird in their Scouting life.  I had about half the Troop missing from this weekends Camporee.  All high school age students, and students that needed to get much need assignments completed to increase their final GPA.  They called me up and we talked about what was more important.  The least I could do for them is support them. 
Now Camporee… 28 went to Camporee this weekend, a good portion were the younger (First year) Scouts.  They did fantastic!  They proved that they are mastering Scout craft and basic skills.  They were motivated and showed the district that our Troop was there to compete.  We didn’t win the District Camporee Top Troop award, but each patrol came home with ribbons for winning Scout craft events.  They did not win the best camp site, it seems we were missing Patrol boxes and a trailer.  To that, the SPL suggested that we would never win.. and it’s ok.. we are backpackers and if they don’t like our style.. so be it.  I was proud of him and his attitude.
This morning as we packed up and loaded the truck with our packs I overheard a Scoutmaster from a neighboring Troop yell at his Troop this; “Look at them.. while you are struggling with your boxes.. they are playing frisbee!”
We could not help but high five each other.. the Scout leadership had done an exceptional job this morning and ultimately got the Troop and hour and half ahead of schedule.  They ate breakfast, cleaned up and packed in an hour and half.  Made it to the camp wide flag ceremony and awards and departed about an hour before the rest of the district had their camps taken down.  Our boys pride themselves in this style of camping.  One day the district will come around and have a backpacking score sheet for the camp inspection.
On the way home one of the Scouts said to me that when he first started in the Troop, he thought I talked just to hear my voice… but as he grew in the Troop he realized that I was really saying something.  After 4 years of being passed over for election in the Order of the Arrow, he was finally called out Saturday night.  Finally, he is learning to lead, take responsibility, and his peers felt him to be worthy of membership in Scouting’s honor society.  He thanked me for teaching him.  My response was simple.  You are welcome, now… continue to earn the right to be there.
I think this principle can be applied everywhere in our lives.
Well.. it’s going to be an interesting week here.  I hope yours is great!
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Backpacking, blog, camp skills, Camping, Character, Citizenship, Competition, gear, Journey to Excellence, Leadership, Order of the Arrow, Patrol Method, respect, Skills, teamwork | Leave a comment

Methods- Patrols

The Patrol is, like the ideals, the foundation of the Troop.  The Patrol is where the Scout learns citizenship, it is where they practice democracy, leadership,  and teamwork.  It is where they find companionship, life long friendships, and a place where they belong.  The Patrol is unit of Scouting.  Whether for work or play, the Patrol is where Scouting happens!
In the Patrol you have democracy on the small-scale.  The boys choose the leader they would like to follow, they plan their own activities and take part in activities planned at the Troop level.  When they plan, they execute those activities together.
In a good Patrol, Scout spirit is steadily at work, prompting the participation of each Scout.  The 1947 Handbook for Scoutmasters says, “The life in the Patrol creates in its Scouts a strong feeling of comradeship, of obedience to a common cause, and the willingness to help and share so necessary in life.”
The Patrol eats together, camps together, cheers together, and pulls together when the going gets tough.  They share the joy of accomplishment, and put their heads together when they fail.  They learn together and assist one another in their Scoutcraft and other skills.
The Patrol elects its own leadership.  This is an important part of Patrol life.  The decisions the Patrol makes in choosing its leadership is up to them and should not be influenced.  The Patrol Leader grows as a leader and the rest of the Patrol develops strong skills at being good followers.  Soon ever Scout gets his turn, and he will reap the benefits of good followers when he steps up to lead.
The Patrol leader is part of the Patrol Leaders Council (PLC).  They run the Troop.  Using the Patrol Method, the Patrol Leaders Council will make decisions that have the best interest in the Troop in mind.  They will push the Patrols in directions of adventure, service, and committment to the Troop.  The PLC along with help from the Scoutmaster is heart of the Patrol Method.  When Baden Powell spoke of the Patrol Leaders Council he said, “… is not so much to save trouble for the Scoutmaster as to give responsibility to the boy- since this is the very best way of all means of developing character.”
I am a firm believer that the Patrol is the heart beat of the Troop.  Patrols that demonstrate spirit and enthusiasm tend to be great Patrols and have a lot of fun getting the most out of Scouting.
A note on the Patrol method.  There are NO ADULTS in Patrols.  Adults do not participate with Patrols and aside from the Scoutmaster have no say in the Patrol Leaders Council.  The Patrol method is not always pretty.  It takes on many shapes and sizes and the level of struggle will vary from Patrol to Patrol.  It is important for the Senior Patrol Leader to tackle as many of those struggles as possible.  He, after all is the leader that Patrol Leaders look to for the answer.
I have a pet peeve about adults calling themselves a Patrol in the Troop setting (outside of Wood Badge of course).  The Patrol method is to be led, practiced, and perfected by young men.
Give them a chance to run their Troop.  This is an important method, with out the Patrol method you do not have Scouting.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Character, Citizenship, comments, Journey to Excellence, Leadership, Methods, Patrol Method, Scouts, Service, Skills, teamwork, Values | Leave a comment

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

Trust and Confidence

Man oh man, its been a while since I was on the blog posting.  Sorry about that, no excuses, just lots going on especially with all the new scouts that we have in the troop.
This post I want to share a little about the last camp out.  It was planned by the PLC as a new Scout “Trail to First Class” camp as well as some shot-gun shooting.  Then a few weeks before the camp the C.O.P.E course came available as well as 3 more C.O.P.E certified leaders in the troop.  So there was time left, so we threw that in also.
Saturday morning started as planned.  There was a select group of older Scouts designated to teach the TFC events.  They went well.  Flag etiquette, fire building, and Totin’ Chip classes kept the new Scouts moving and learning skills.  They also learned how to break down meals, plan menus, and pack their packs.  They were walked through a model camp site and told what we expected in them and how they camped.
Then it was time for the groups to rotate and the new guys set off to the Shot gun range and the older guys moved to the C.O.P.E course.  It was a fantastic opportunity for the older guys to have some fun without the pressure of having the young guys to watch.
The new Scouts had a great time at the range and got back earlier than expected.  So the SPL talked with the C.O.P.E. director (one of the ASMs of the Troop) to see if there was something that the First year guys could do.  We were the only Troop on the course, so he said they could all do the zip line which is the final event.  The whole troop lined up got on harnesses and did the Zip line.  It was a blast.
Here is the important part.  We had a couple of the new guys that had never camped without Mom and Dad, fired a shot gun, or climbed 32 feet in the air and flew down a zip line.  It was a weekend in which just about every Scout in the Troop stepped out of their comfort zone in one way or another and tested themselves.  Whether it was teaching classes. shooting, or going through the C.O.P.E. course.
Saturday night the Scouts put on a great camp fire program.  One of the brand new Scouts, the one that climbed up to the platform and could not bring himself to go… he stood up there for 20 minutes mustering the confidence to step off.  He finally went and afterward told me that “knowing what I know.. I would have went right away”.. he needed to develop trust.  And he did.. trust and confidence.  So anyway, Saturday night.. he stepped up in front of the whole Troop led a song at the camp fire.  High Fives all around for the boys of the Troop.
It was one of those camp outs when everything comes together and the boys show me that all they need is support and a pat on the back and they will do great things.
Scouting teach self-reliance and to live the Scout Oath and Law.  They get it in the class room that Baden Powell set up.
Well, better get busy on the next podcast.. I will get more posts out.. things are now leveling off with the new guys..
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: blog, camp skills, Camping, Leadership, Methods, Oath and Law, planning, podcast, Skills, teamwork | 1 Comment

1 extra Degree

I always talk with the Scouts about Good not being good enough. There are many examples of how good will only get you good.. and on the other hand.. there are great examples of how doing your absolute best will get you Best results.
Being an Eagle Scout for example, will give you an edge over a non Eagle Scout when everything else is equal in trying to get a Scholarship or a job. Going that extra mile up a hill will get you a better view. Achievement is not easy and shouldn’t be.. if earning those things that in the end mean more was easy they would be meaningless.
Think about the difference between getting a participation ribbon at Camporee and earning the Top Troop award at Camporee. There is a big difference and only those that apply themselves, work hard, and have the right skills win.
I found this great little video on the net the other day.. think it sums it up well.
Enjoy and Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Character, Competition, Journey to Excellence, Leadership, Patrol Method, Scoutmaster minute, teamwork | 1 Comment

Modeling the Expected Behavior

This weekend, our Troop conducted Junior Leader Training.  Because we have so many young Scouts, we decided to do things a little different this year.  This year, wanted to ensure that the leaders clearly understood what was to be expected as a leader.  Instead of the typical classroom environment, we took the training out doors where we do the leading.  An over night camping experience in which the Scouts attending the training committed to doing everything right.  The committment of the Scouts that arrived on Friday evening at Camp Discovery was apparent from the word go.
We built a camp fire and pulled our chairs up close.  The theme for the weekend was Modeling the Expected Behavior.  What that means to the Scouts of our Troop is that as leaders they need to set the very best example that they can.  As examples they model the behaviors that we expect to see from the rest of the Troop.
So this weekend, the leaders learned about the Teaching EDGE, Leading EDGE, Ethical decision-making, Communicating effectively, and Learning to teach.  The leaders shared expectations and demonstrated to one another what “Right looks like”.  This morning after teaching one another how to properly pack gear, leave no trace, and cook a meal, they spent some time on the C.O.P.E course working on team development.
At the end of the training it was time for reflection and reinforcing the theme of the weekend.  Modeling the Expected Behavior.
This theme will be the driving force for the rest of the year.  It is the hope of those that attended the training that they will affect a positive change in the Troop.  They all understand that as they go, so will the rest of the Troop.

In my opinion this was the best Junior Leader Training session I have seen our Troop do.  There was a clear understanding at the end of the training and I too feel that the Troop will better for it.  With so many young Scouts in the Troop and more coming at the end of the month, Scouts that are willing to take responsibility and be the very best example by modeling the expected behavior, will be have a lasting impact on our unit.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: camp skills, Camping, Character, Ideals, Journey to Excellence, Leadership, Leave no trace, Oath and Law, Patrol Method, Scouts, Skills, teamwork, Values | 2 Comments

Where worlds meet

For those of you that have followed the blog for any given time, you know that I am a fan of sports.  I believe that sports do great things in the lives of youth and I also believe that there is room for sports, scouts, academics, and a normal life for our youth.  I actually think that when youth participate in sports and scouts they become better young men and women.
This last weekend was spent watching my oldest son wrestle at a tournament with the High School wrestling team.  John did real well this weekend, and as I sat and watched, and for those of you that have been to wrestling tourney’s.. you know that it is an all day affair.  You have lots of time to sit and watch, think, write, or do as I do.. people watch.
I typically get into lengthy discussions with other parents.  This year has been interesting as John is a Senior and many of the parents we hang out with we have known since the boys were all in kindergarten.  So the discussions quickly turn to how amazed we are about our boys, future plans, college, and “do you remember when” subjects.  This last weekend we got into a discussion about one of the boys that I have known since he was 7.  He was in Cub Scouts with John, but when the time came to cross over, he made the choice not to continue with Scouting.  He turned out to be a great young man and is a good friend of my daughters. 
One of the other dads sitting with us said that his son had to drop out of Scouts because of athletics.  He could not do both as Scouting and sports don’t mix.
I had to ask why he thought that way.  The answer I got did not make sense to me.  He said that Scouting was more for kids that were intellectual and could not make it in sports.  He added that scouting takes too much time away from sports practice and social time. <insert record scratch>
I made mention that both of my boys were in scouts and they both are athletes, and they both are A’s and B’s students, and both have a good social life.  He said it was the exception not the rule.  Then I told him of the Scouts in my troop.  In my Troop there are football players, baseball players, wrestlers, water polo, swim team, lacrosse, soccer, and golf team members.  Of those guys, they are active in the Troop and are all either Eagle Scouts or well on their way to becoming and Eagle Scout.  All of them are good students and very active with their Schools.  Members of Student government or clubs, and are all really good young men.
Again, he said we are the exception not the rule.  So I had to ask.. why do you suppose that is?
I believe that young men that play organized sports learn valuable life lessons.  They learn team work and working with others.  They learn that the team comes first and individual egos should be left at home.  They learn that hard work produces great things and that when you lose you learn.  They learn that effort pays off and that collective effort will eventually win.
I believe that sports push young men to stay fit and sports develop in them a sense of committment and accountability.  The individual is driven to be there for his team mates, he understands that without every one pitching in and moving toward the same goal the team will not be a success.
I think far to many times parents and Scout leaders can not get past the old “Jock” stereotype. 
Speaking strictly for my family Sports and Scouting go hand and hand.  Sports and Scouting complement one another and help round out our kids.  Add to Sports and Scouting good family values, strong faith, and a host of friends that have the same interests, and we have been blessed with three awesome kids.
The boys John and Josh have been active in both Scouting and Sports since they could be.  Josh started playing Football in 3rd Grade.  John and Josh both run Track and played Soccer.  John took to Wrestling, Josh stuck with Football and Track.  Katelyn played Soccer and volleyball for the Nike Club league team.  She is talented in Band and is a great student academically.  She tried Girl Scouts, but could not fit in with their click.  So she stuck to a supportive role in her brothers Scouting lives.
The point here is that all three are great kids and sports and scouts have played a great role in that.  It has meant long weekends, lots of travel time, and spending money on the kids activities rather than ourselves, but the result is that we have a great family life and kids that are healthy, smart, and ready for life.
Sports gave them confidence, good attitudes, and drive to accomplish anything.  Scouting does much of this and more, but when the two worlds meet a great young person comes out the other end.
So this Dad that does not see the value in both.. or that its one or the other.. well, I think that comes from parents that see the hassle, Scout leaders that see the competition, and youth that go along with what they say.
Parents need to be supportive of a young man that wants to do sports and scouting.  They need to make a committment to their son that doing both is possible.  Scout leaders need to understand the value in having an athlete in their troop.  They too need to be committed to the Scout and his needs and interests.  Scouting and Sports can work together.
I am proud of the Scouts of my Troop that take the time to be athletes.  I admire their dedication and committment, and I tell them that during Scoutmaster conferences or when they have an achievement on or off the playing field. 
Here is what I know for sure.
It’s not 100% so I am not saying this for effect…
Young men that are Scouts and Athletes are better students, better leaders, are better fit, and have a higher confidence level.  They stick it out to the end and do not let their Troop or their team mates down.
I’ll take that any day!
Have a Great Scouting Day!

*By the way.. the picture on this post.. Gerald R. Ford,  39th President, Eagle Scout, Football player at the University of Michigan 1933

Categories: Advancement, blog, Character, Citizenship, comments, Ideals, Leadership, Scout, teamwork, Values | 6 Comments

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