Lets talk about membership.
We all know that we need members to keep Scouting alive. There are many different angles and directions to answer the membership question. I am not going to solve this issue in this post, rather, I am opening up the dialogue to see what you all think.
Scouting in the United States if a bit different from the rest of the World Organization of the Scouting Movement (WOSM).
First, we are not Coed, until you get to the Venturing Program.
Second, our programs are not connected. Yes, Cub Scouts go to Boy Scout etc… but in most cases outside of the US, a Scout group is made up of youth from 7 to 21. The units are formed from a group. This allows for continuity in the program and allows for leadership and example to be promoted from within the group. Personally, I like this idea. I think it solves a few of the issues we have in Scouting in the US. Namely keeping youth in Scouting.
I have become pen pals of sorts with some Scouters from outside of the United States. While they do have their own issues it seems that young people stay in Scouting longer and have a great Scouting experience along the way.
Starting off as a young 7-year-old and staying in Scouting till they are in their young adulthood. I think this creates a better Scouting life for them.
Anyway, as stated, I am not going to answer the question, just start the discussion.
I think that the BSA will need to explore the COED option sooner than later. With declining membership and the Girl Scout program not what most girls want… I think that opening the doors to a COOED program may go along way to saving Scouting in America.
So how does that work? Will we lose our values and program? I don’t think so. I think we can move forward with the program we have. We need not tailor the program to girls, they will fit right in. Look at the Venturing program as it is? It would be much better if it were filled with young people and adventure.
OK, membership at the core.
I think that our professionals at the National and Council level have the very best of intentions when they talk membership. It is a simple equation. Get more youth in and membership will fix itself.
A few things that I know for sure.
You will never be able to out recruit your losses. You will never be able to keep Scouts in a program that is floundering.
When I was a young Scoutmaster I was told the three keys to a successful troop were Program, Program, and Program. If you build it they will come. Boys do not join Scouts for Monday night meetings. They join for cool programs and camp outs. Parents bring their sons to our program. Not to our meetings. They need to be able to see value in the program.
Program will drive membership. So I think sometimes we put the cart before the horse. The horse is our program, the cart is membership and money. Now, you can’t have one without the other, but if your priority is not program, you won’t get members. That, I know for sure.
So where is our effort more effective? Building programs or recruiting? I think we build programs and let them come.
There are more factors to this discussion to be sure. It is not always that simple I understand. At the unit level programs need to be the priority. Build it and they will come. Recruiting efforts need to be a part of the annual plan. Focusing on Cub Scouts is not the only answer. We need to sell Scouting to all eligible youth.
This is where I see other WOSM get it. They appeal to youth of all ages and keep them in longer. There is a coolness factor about hanging out with their peers and they longer they stay, so do their friends. I think this is an important part of our membership issue.
So.. lets take a few posts and explore this issue?
What do you think? Let’s discuss this.
Here is a little video I stumbled on that really got me thinking. It is from the Scouts in Germany. I would love to see our youth in American Scouting like this one day. I got to see Scouting like this when I was a kid in the Transatlantic Council as we did many International Scouting activities.
Also take a moment to check out the Kandersteg International Scout Center videos. See what they look like and lets see how we can implement some of this here.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
Lets talk about membership.
I thought I would let it simmer for a bit before I weighed in.. and now I just can’t keep my blog silent on this.
So, at a risk of pissing a bunch of folks off.. here it goes.
By now, if you are an active Scouter, you are aware of the young man named James Hightower III. He was presented his Eagle award on the Steve Harvey show.
This ambitious Scout earned his Eagle award at age 12. (he is now 13) He earned 61 merit badges, the last of which, the ever so tough Fingerprinting on the Steve Harvey show.
He is a member of the Order of the Arrow and appears to rank among the young genius’ of our time. Band, Leadership in his Church, etc etc.
OK.. you all know that I am one that believes in maintain standards. First, there is no age limit other than 18 for earning the rank of Eagle Scout, I get that.. but let’s do the math.
He crosses over at a minimum of 10 1/2 years old. Earned his Eagle rank at 12. From First Class to Star the Scout must be active with his Troop for at least 4 months. During that 4 months, he needs to serve as a leader for that time period. Then from Star to Life, the Scout needs to serve as an active member of his Troop for 6 months. During that time, he needs to serve in a leadership position and do service. We are up to at least 10 months… not to mention the 30 days it takes to earn Tenderfoot and at least a few months to get to First Class. Since joining, he would have participated in 10 separate troop/patrol activities (other than troop/patrol meetings), three of which included camping overnight. In most Troops that would represent at least 3 months. So the simple math is 14 months. He is now 11 1/2 or 12 depending on when his birthday is.
Then he must serve for another 6 months as a Life Scout to earn Eagle. We are now 20 months into this young mans Scouting life.
Some one please tell me. Has he really practiced real leadership? How much leading has he done? Was he the Librarian and Historian for his leadership? I know they count, but really.. we are talking about an Eagle Scout here.
Yes I know that this wunderkind is active in many areas of his life. Which begs the question. When did his have all this time to lead, earn merit badges, rank, perform service projects etc? Band, Church, Junior National Honor Society, active in the Order of the Arrow, Top Teens Program… 20 months as a Scout. Just think about the Scouts in your Troop.
OK.. 20 months… Most Troops camp 11 times a year and go to Summer camp in that 11 months. He needs 20 nights camping for the Eagle Required Camping Merit badge. That’s 6 camp outs plus a 6 night summer camp. So that’s the first year. 12 of the 20 months got the basic nights out-of-the-way. I assume as a leader he attends most if not all camp outs.. after all, that is where leadership and the Patrol method are really practiced.
10 1/2 to 12 years old is one and a half years. That’s 18 months. Now we don’t know when his birthday is, but the numbers do not add up. From a math point of view and a practical point of view. What has this young man got out of the Eagle experience.
The article says he plans on staying in Scouting. That’s awesome. Maybe now he will become the Eagle that he is.
I am sorry if I seem to be bashing this young man. I am not. I am really bashing his Adult leadership for not ensuring that the process is producing Character, Citizenship, and Fitness.. not just Eagle Scouts.
I applaud this young man for his achievement… I don’t know how he did it… 61 merit badges alone takes time.. when did he find all that time in 18 months. I am sure he has friends, school, and eats and sleeps on occasion.
When people see the Eagle badge, they think leadership, accomplishment, self-reliance, the ability to serve and accomplish tasks. When I see a 12-year-old.. I think HOW? I wish I could applaud and not question. But I have been a Scoutmaster for a long time and just can not see how this works.
For me, it takes away from every person that has earned the award and has come through Scouting with Knowledge, experience, and the ability to lead as a servant.
Again, I am sorry if I question this young mans achievement. I just can’t see how this math works, which makes me believe that those standards are being manipulated some how. And that my friends, I can not tolerate. I never hold back a Scout, but I do make sure that he does it right. I make sure that he is completing the requirements without short cuts. I do not add to or take away any requirements and produce no false road blocks. As a Scoutmaster, I just make sure that the experience is more important than the badge.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
a group of people sharing a common profession or interests.
“members of the hunting fraternity”
synonyms: profession, body of workers; a male students’ society in a university or college.
synonyms: society, club, association; a religious or Masonic society or guild.
the state or feeling of friendship and mutual support within a group.
“the ideals of liberty, equality, and fraternity”
synonyms: brotherhood, fellowship, kinship, friendship, (mutual) support, solidarity, community, union, togetherness; sisterhood
“a spirit of fraternity”
When we hear the word fraternity we often think of college, parties, and the movie Animal house. And there is certainly something to that. But today I want to talk about fraternity in a few other ways. I was never a member of a college fraternity, but I have been to a frat house or two. But we will leave those stories for another day. In the broader sense of the word fraternity as I show in the definition, a Fraternity is a group of people who share something in common. But to truly define that group there is a bond, something that brought them together for a common purpose or goal. Whether that was to get through college, fight in a war, or be of service to others that bond defines the group and they have an ever lasting kinship because of it.
If you are reading this blog, you more than likely have a bond with me and your fellow readers in Scouting. The Boy Scouts of America created an Alumni Association just for the purpose of rekindling that spirit of fraternity with those people who have for over 100 years been associated with Scouting in America. Through this effort many people have reconnected with Scouting and as a result the fraternity of Scouting grows stronger.
Within Scouting there are fraternal groups. Wood Badge and the Order of the Arrow just to name a few. There is a connection of greater purpose within these groups that take Scouting to a higher level. Within the common bond of Wood Badgers and Arrowmen is greater sense of duty to others, promoting the Scouting movement, and of course fellowship with the membership. It strengthens our ties to Scouting and increases our willingness to make Scouting a lasting part of our lives.
You may also be reading this blog and thinking of other fraternal groups that you belong to that are outside of Scouting. The Elks, Masons, Eagles, and Moose Lodges are all Fraternal groups that share a bond of service and fellowship. The Veterans of Foreign Wars and the America Legion are Fraternal organization made up of men and women that share the bond of serving in the Military, some during times of war and others that served waiting to be called. Their bond is thick with the experiences, hardships, and of course friendships made during their service.
Why is this all important?
First, we need fraternal groups because they promote that common bond. With that common bond we tend to want to be a part and share in it for no other reason the fellowship and knowledge that we are a part of something that is like us. In Scouting, in college, in the Service, we shared a bond that is unique to us and we are a part of it. Being a part of something that is greater than us gives us that sense of duty to it.
Second, these fraternal groups are the vanguard of the bond we share. The membership of that organization leads the way in promoting its ideals, activity, and development of its membership. Thus the group continues to grow and last. For example, Scouting. Those that came before me and you have set the course for Scouting for us. The Alumni association and men and women that believe in Scouting continue to make the organization what it is through their dedication continued service to it. Scouting’s membership is the life of the organization, but without the support of the folks behind the scenes, making contributions of time and talent and a lot of treasure, Scouting would soon begin to fade. The organization is bigger than merit badges and camping. It’s fraternal bond is in its ideals, values, and memories of the members.
I belong to a few fraternal organizations. Scouting of course and within Scouting I love my affiliations within the Wood Badge community and the Order of the Arrow. They make me a better Scouter and keep me directed in my desire to serve. In Wood Badge that service comes by teaching fellow adults and promoting the great program of Scouting. The Order of the Arrow fulfills that in me that wants to serve others, demonstrate to fellow Scouts and Scouters the idea of Leading to Serve.
I am also a Life member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. This is important to me as I have a bond with those members, especially those that served in my era. This group is all about fraternity in the sense that we belong more to one another than to be of service to others. It is a group of shared experience.
I am a Life member of the National Infantry Association. This group is also one of shared experience, it is the professional association for Infantrymen and Infantry supporters. The NIA, supports the Infantry’s role in the security of our nation; helps Infantrymen build closer affiliations with one another; and helps preserve the Infantry heritage. Our membership promotes the only organization dedicated to supporting the Chief of Infantry and the entire Infantry community. Our membership strength ensures that the Infantry voice will be heard by decision makers. We share the camaraderie of like-minded soldiers and citizens who believe in maintaining the Infantry spirit and recognize those Infantrymen that have made a contribution to our Infantry community.
Now to most of you this is meaningless and I get that, but it is something that is important to me. I share this with you because you belong to something like this. Whether it is with the Optimist Club or the Rotary club, your fraternal organization means something to you.
I am also a member of an unofficial fraternal group made up of soldiers from the last Battalion I served in. We gather periodically (not enough) to share stories, talk about our lives, and share our camaraderie.
We had a gathering yesterday, which prompted me to write this post. Why, because it all matters. In Scouting or a Military fraternity, it is all the same based on our bond of fellowship and shared experience.
Yesterday the Wildcats gathered to celebrate our bond 10 years after we returned from Iraq. The gathering was not limited to those of us that deployed, but in keeping with the fraternal group, any one that had ever served in the 1st Battalion 162nd Infantry. I was pleased to see old friends, soldiers I had served with and led. It was special to meet with an old Battalion Commander. I never served with him, he commanded the Battalion when I was small child, but our bond was being a Wildcat, no matter the era.
I had the honor of serving the Battalion as the Command Sergeant Major before and during our deployment to Iraq. I had been in the Battalion for years prior to that promotion serving in different companies and at many levels. So my bond to the 1/162 Infantry is strong. I love that Battalion.
Our Battalion has a long and rich history and tradition. Established in 1898 as the 2nd Oregon Volunteer Infantry and thrust in action in the Spanish-American war the Battalion was later reconfigured in 1917 as the Army transformed during the First World War. It was re-designated the 162nd Infantry Regiment with 3 Battalions. 1st and 2nd Battalion in Oregon and the 3rd Battalion in Montana. The 162nd Infantry along with the 161st, 163rd, and 186th Infantry made up the Infantry Regiments of the 41st Infantry Division. In the Second World War, the 41st with all of its Regiments served in the Pacific Theater. It fought from 1942 till the end of the war in 1945 in the Pacific.
The Battalion stayed ready for the Korean war but never was called to deploy as was the case in the Vietnam war. It was not until the call came for the Battalion to support Operation Iraqi Freedom that the Battalion once again saw action in 2003. It served from 2003 to 2004 in OIF.
In 2006 the Army once again reorganized and the Battalion Colors were folded and the Regiment disbanded the 1st Battalion.
But through these gatherings we maintain our bond and the spirit of the Wildcat Battalion. It’s rich history is something that we helped write and is something that we hold close in our hearts. Through our fraternal spirit we keep it alive.
Yesterday at the Wildcat reunion the National Infantry Association along with members of the Battalion recognized me and one of the finest soldiers I ever served with the Order of St. Maurice. It is an honor that I will cherish because the group that I was with and the soldier that I had the pleasure of standing with during the ceremony. Our local chapter of the National Infantry Association, specifically MSG Morgan Olsen presented the award. He is a dear friend and a soldier that I had the opportunity to help develop along his career path. More though, he is a dear friend and I am glad that he was the one to not only present the award, but put together the entire event.
He demonstrated everything that is great about this group of men that I have had the privilege to serve with and for.
Our bond, the bond of this fraternity is stronger than life. It is important to me.
You all have some group that you share this type of bond with, if nothing else, you share a bond within Scouting. It need not be in combat or strife, the bonds we share in service and fun are just as strong. What you do with that bond is what is important. How you share that bond and become a stronger part of that group is what is important. It is important to you.
Do not let time pass without reaching out and reconnecting, establishing a stronger bond of fellowship, service, and camaraderie. As I get to know the “old guys” in our VFW post, I have come to understand that for many of them this bond has been recently awakened, they have regret that they had not kept those ties closer in their younger days. I don’t want that regret, and I am sure that you don’t either.
Fraternity. It is an important part of our lives. Strengthen it.
I shared a lot about my military fraternal life today… so I will close this post with the words of a song that I hold very close in my heart. The words of the official song if the Order of the Arrow. It sums up many of my feeling about Fraternity and why I belong.
Firm bound in brotherhood, gather the clan
That cheerful service brings to fellow man.
Circle our council fire, weld tightly every link
That binds us in brotherhood, Wimachtendienk.
Yours in Scouting, WWW
Have a Great Scouting Day!
In the picture: Left is Sergeant Major (Ret) Kevin Stanger and I receiving the Order of St. Maurice.
Scouts that join our units begin their walk on the Eagle Trail through our program forest. This forest of Scouting has much to offer the passer-by. When you enter the forest the trail is clearly marked and a guide is provided. This guide keeps the new Scout on the right trail while he learns about the forest and the skills that he will need to navigate the trail through to his destination. The trail is long and provides many opportunities for the Scout. There is a fork in the trail called First Class. Once the Scout reaches this point in the forest, the trial gets a little less clear. There are still markers along the way, but the Scout is challenged to seek the path and maybe do some bushwhacking.
The trail through the forest at times will seem to be very narrow and at times the forest opens up into meadows and the trail needs to be tried and new routes found. A Scout needs to remember that the forest is full of trees. Those trees represent the opportunities of Scouting. Every four years a Scout will find a huge tree called Jamboree. He can choose to visit that tree and learn about its opportunity. He will also chance upon trees called NOAC (National Order of the Arrow Conference), he will have the opportunity to visit four trees called the National High Adventure Bases. A trip to the Philmont, the Summit, Sea Base or Northern Tier tree will prove to be a high light of his Scouting walk through the forest. There are merit badge trees and places along the trail to practice leadership and service. The trails always need maintenance. There are trees along the trail that the Scout will find other Scouts that need help finding the way. He will make the choice to lead them until they can do the same for other Scouts they meet.
There is a big lodge near the edge of the forest. This is where the Eagle Scouts hang out. They are still close to the forest so they can hear the call of Scouting and spend time back on the trail.
The forest of Scouting is full of great opportunity, fun, and adventure. But the opportunity, fun and adventure only comes to those Scouts that see the forest instead of the trees. The trees are the things that we bump into as we travel through the forest, but they are not the reason we go through Scouting. Finding the trees in the forest are the things that we do as we move forward in Scouting seeking the opportunities and fun that come with the program. The name of the trail is called Scout Oath trail. Along that trail we learn our laws and rules. We develop a habit of service, and we become a person that has Character. The trail is hard at times and forces us to stay physically and mentally strong. The trail is long and full of adventure, but we need to keep the forest the most important thing and let the trees appear. The Forest is the Scouting Aims and along the way you will bump into those trees that keep you moving in the right direction.
Loosing focus on the Forest and jumping right to the trees will eventually cause the Scout to turn around and leave the forest. He will hit all the trees that he wants but will miss the whole trail through the forest. The trees that are deeper into the forest are bigger and better, but the Scout that enters the trees and not the forest will miss out on them.
I have seen Scouts that have walked into the forest only to find a small stand of trees. They provided lots of merit badges and rank, but never any of the exciting opportunities that lay ahead on the trail. I also have seen Scouts that have immersed themselves into the whole trail. They have seen the big trees, participated in the great adventures and when he reached Eagle Lodge looked back at a great time in Scouting.
As you mentor young men in Scouting and as you introduce young men as they join your troop, show them the trail head into the forest and remind them to see forest rather than the trees. The trees will appear as you follow the trail.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
When teaching leadership to both our youth and adults, we spend a fair amount of time discussing what it is that leaders do. Being a Teacher, Coach, Trainer, and Mentor is found within the job description of any leader. We find ourselves as leaders focusing on being a good teacher of skills, coaching as those skills are applied, and training our leaders to be effective. But what of being a mentor?
Not every leader is a mentor. We tend to throw that around a bit too much in Scouting. We have “Eagle Mentors” We have “Unit mentors”, we even consider “Troop Guides” in the context of Wood Badge as a mentor. But are they really mentors in the sense of having a lasting impact on the life of someone else.
Webster defines the word Mentor as; a trusted guide or counselor. Other words are Tutor or Coach.
I think that a lot of leaders consider themselves as mentors, but as I look back on those that I consider my mentors I can’t help but go back to the definition. Trusted guide. And again,I ask myself what impact if any did this person have on my life.
Looking back, I honestly consider only a few people as a mentor.
In my life I break it down to a few areas. Work, Spiritual life, Scouting, and becoming a man.
At UPS I do not consider any one person a mentor. The work environment tends not to value leadership, rather there is a need to manage everything at UPS as material. In the Army however, I have had a few mentors. Men that really made a big impact on my leadership style and ability to lead.
In the Army there is a program that places fellow soldiers, leaders, in a position to develop their subordinates. The Non Commissioned Officer Development Program (NCODP) is designed to make junior leaders better. I had a First Sergeant named Ted Godwin that showed me how to use the tool box of leadership to care for soldiers. He instilled in me the concept of Mission First, Men always. This may seem like a little thing, but at the end of the day, that is what makes for effective leaders. In the Army, with the division of leadership roles between the Officer Corps and the Non Commissioned Officer Corps it is the NCO that ensures the men are ready for the mission. If the men are not ready, there is little chance for the mission to be accomplished.
The basic understanding of being a caring leader, one that truly understands those that he leads became one of the hallmarks of my leadership and a lesson that I passed on to those that I lead when I was placed in a position to mentor younger soldiers.
It was his trusted leadership style that inspired me to be a leader. When he spoke, we listened. When he instructed, we learned.
Another mentor of mine in the Army was Command Sergeant Major Cliff Neil. He was a technical leader and understood why people act the way they do. He was not a tactical superstar, but when it came to behavior, he was provided hours of lessons on how to be an effective counselor and dig deeper into the reasons why a soldier acted the way he did. He showed me that everything is not always black or white… grey sneaks in to leadership and it is the effective leader that understands that will change behavior. Changing behavior is the goal of discipline in the sense of punishment. It is not a sign of weak leadership to know why. CSM Neil was tough, but fair and made me an outstanding First Sergeant. His impact on me was manifest when I became a Sergeant Major and was placed in a position to teaching my First Sergeants. I adopted the grey area when the First Sergeants saw only black and white. Typically we could change behavior without destroying a soldier’s career and livelihood.
Again, a leader that I trusted was leading me in the direction of becoming an effective leader.
In my Spiritual Life, I developed a friendship and allowed Fr. Rick Sarianni to be a trusted adviser. I valued our talks and his understanding of me and my walk in faith. I have known many Pastors, but Fr. Rick was a special friend that lead me to a clearer understanding of just what I believe and why I believe it.
In Scouting I have many friends that have helped me along the way and some that really made an impact on the Scoutmaster that I have become. I won’t go into the specifics as there are many, but it I feel it important that I name at least two of the men that have made a big impact on me as a Scouter. Tim Steenbergen gave me sage advise when I was a new Scoutmaster. Program, Program, Program was his mantra and I have taken that to the bank. John Caputo is the other. John is the ultimate Scouter. I had the absolute privilege to serve on his Wood Badge staff. I met John the first time as a learner at Wood Badge in 2005. He left an impression on me and we became friends. I always looked to him as a role model in Scouting. His wisdom and knowledge of the program and how to deliver the promise. Over the past 10 years, John has always been there with advise and instruction. Watching him as I have staffed on two Wood Badge Courses has been a pleasure and I have learned and taken many lessons from him along the way.
Again, two trusted counselors that left a large impact on me as a Scout leader. Along the way as a Wood badge staffer I have been blessed to learn from dedicated leaders and folks that have an equal love for Scouting.
Being a Man.
There are four people who made me the man who I am today. The first is my Dad. He showed me the value of family and how to treat people. I can go on and on about the lessons learned from him.
The other three are my two sons and my daughter. Little did they know, but they guided me to being the Dad and man that I am. They forced me to lead them and be consistent in how I raised them. Without their pushing my life could have been different. The obligation of being a Father was something that I could not take lightly. The proof is in the pudding as they say. I am a good man for them and they turned out to be fantastic young adults.
When a young man becomes an Eagle Scout we challenge him to prove that he earned it every day. My wife has done that for me daily as we challenge on another to be good parents and people who can show our kids the way to being good adults.
So being a mentor is not something that just comes with leadership, it is something that has to be taken on as an obligation with the understanding that you will be impacting the life of someone else. As I said, not all leaders are mentors. I can think of many leaders that have come and gone throughout my life that I will never consider a mentor. They were neither a trusted counselor nor would I consider them wise in the lessons learned. By definition these leaders just lead. In so far as their impact on me, I can not measure it.
Being a mentor is leaving your legacy. That in and of itself seems to be lofty, but in the end, it is what mentor-ship is all about. Passing on what I have to the next the generation. Giving the gift of knowledge, of life skills and lessons, of whatever wisdom I have acquired to the next generation.
The other night after our latest Eagle Court of Honor I removed the Mentor Pin from my shirt that had just been placed there by our newest Eagle Scout. This pin means the world to me, as do the other mentor pins I have received over the years. I took a mental inventory of those pins and the Scouts that felt as though I had made an impact on their lives. A pin from one of the Scouts of my Jamboree Troop back in 2010. He gave me the pin stating that had it not been for me being his Scoutmaster at Jamboree he would have quit Scouting all together and would have never finished his Eagle Award. Another Scout from my Troop presented me a mentor pin along with a picture of the two of us on a camp out. He shared that the life lessons he learned from me are shaping him into the man who he wants to be. Yet another pin reminded me of the young man that I have known all of his Scouting life. He had always been a work in progress, but in the end blossomed into a fine young man. He credited my straight talk and insistence on taking care of the little things to insure success. He is well on his way to being a good man and I look forward to seeing him continue to grow.
It is that obligation to making an impact that I take serious. Not every Scout, or person for that matter seeks guidance. Sometimes it comes without a plea, it is a young man who hovers in the background taking it all in, that one day shakes your hand and thanks you for what you have done.
Understand this, Your actions, Your wisdom, Your behavior, and Your willingness to make a real difference in the life of someone else is what matters when in comes to being a mentor.
Trust, Competence, Being a Friend, these are qualities of being a mentor. It is not the patch that you wear or the position that you hold. It is your willingness to serve.
Leaving your legacy must be important to you, not for ego or pride, but for the future of those you mentor.
What is your impact, what is your legacy? Are you a mentor?
Have a Great Scouting Day!
It’s that time of the year.. Graduation season. And in a lot of cases, it’s Eagle Scout season too as the young man becomes motivated by his up coming 18th Birthday. So Congratulations to all the Grads and New Eagle Scouts this year.
Thursday night I attended the graduation ceremony of my nephew. He is also our Troops newest Eagle Scout. As we sat in the coliseum waiting for the graduation to start, I took a look at the program. In it was a list of the graduates of the Gresham High School Class of 2014. Quickly my eyes moved to find Lucas’s name, but as I scanned the page my eyes caught other names. Jacob P, James P, Jeffery D, Jake R… These were all Scouts that have been in our Troop. Over time some of them lost interest, had other obligations, and even earned their Eagle award and still participate. There were other names of young men that I know from other Troops in our area. I have watched them grow through the Order of the Arrow and other Scouting activities. As I looked over the names I found them in the crowd. They are all grown up.
After the graduation was over I went looking for these guys to wish them well and congratulate them. For some it was the first time I had seen them in a while, for others we talk regularly. The common thought that ran through my mind was how grown up they all looked on Thursday night. Reflecting back on when they crossed over into the Troop, their first camp outs and some of the funny things they had done to bring a spark in our Troop. Then the question repeated over and over again through out the crowd was, “What are they going to do now?”, “Where do you go from here?”
Some are going off to college in the fall, some are going to trade schools. Some are heading into the Service, and some still are kind of undecided. On the list of names was a list of the Scholarships and the graduates that are receiving them. I was pleased to see that our guys are doing well. Everyone of the Scouts from our Troop are going on to do something that they have passion for and will better themselves. Jacob was the big surprise of the evening. I have not seen him in some time. He is a young man who has always had a rough go, a tough family situation, and the chips never seemed to fall in his favor. He is going to college in the fall and received a Scholarship that will help him see his dreams come true. I spoke with him briefly after graduation. He said he was sorry that he did not stay in Scouting. I explained to him that I understood. He then told me that the reason he is the person he is today is because of the time he spent in our Troop. Not the rank or merit badges, but the life lessons and skills that he learned. The way to be a man and live a life of Character. He asked if he was allowed to hug me, I said yes. We parted ways with a smile and a promise that I will be there when he graduates from college.
Where do they go from here?
My youngest son is graduating also this year. Thursday night of this coming week. Josh spent many years in our Troop also and had to make a choice to play Football or stay in Scouts. He picked Football, but not until he and I talked and looked at his dreams. Josh has had the dream of playing in the NFL since he was in 3rd grade. He set his goals high and worked hard. He would throw that football for hours working on accuracy. Then as he grew he got faster, stronger, and more knowledgeable about the game. He understood the steps to getting to the NFL. High School football, College football, get his degree, and never stop getting better.
He played every down in 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades and then won the starting job in Middle School. As a Freshman he started at Quarterback on the Freshman team and was the 3rd string QB on the Varsity team. His Sophomore year he became the starting Quarterback of the Varsity team and played in the position until the last snap of his Senior year. College Scouts looked at him, recruited him, and he knew that his dream was going to come true. It’s just a matter of where. Southern Oregon University finally offered him a Red Shirt QB position on the team. But with it comes no guarantee that he will play. If you do not play, you do not get better and you do not get seen. The College of the Redwoods had been watching Josh and gave him an offer to actually play. He took it. Josh will be playing Football in College starting this year.
Determination, Patience, and a strong work ethic drove him to seeing his dreams come true. Step by step he is making his dreams a reality.
This has been a long and hard road for him and our family. Thousands of miles on the road to camps and college visits. Thousands of dollars in fees, hotels, and gas for the truck. It is has taken time and energy, pain and lots of tears. But in the end, it is all coming alive the way he wants it.
I was told once by a mentor of mine, that the job of a Dad (among other jobs) is to make our kids dreams come true. My oldest Son is serving in the Army. Little did we know that he always had a vision of serving and doing great things in the Military. My example and teaching him over the year that he grew up the son of a Sergeant Major lead him to success in finding his path. I still want him to go to college, and would love for him to be home, but I know that he is finding his way.. his way.
Our Daughter is going to college to ultimately serve in the area of Childhood development. I am so proud of this kind-hearted, sweet young women. She is blossoming into beautiful young lady with a heart of gold.
When I look at the young men that come through our Troop, I wonder, where do they go from here. Have we done everything we can to prepare them. Do they know that life does not hand out participation ribbons and at times it is very difficult to navigate the challenges.
My Scouts and My kids have shown me those answers. Character, Determination, and finding your dream is the key.
It does not matter where they go or how they get there. It is what they do with it once they arrive that I come to find out is most important.
They don’t all go to college, but have great lives. They don’t all make a million dollars, but are rich in their hearts and minds.
I am proud of all of them.
Congratulations to Lucas my nephew and Josh, my youngest Son! And Congratulations to all of the young men that passed through our Troop and are proving today that Scouting mattered in their lives.
Congratulations to the Class of 2014!
“So long as your desire to explore is greater than your desire to not screw up, you’re on the right track. A life oriented toward discovery is infinitely more rewarding than a life oriented toward not blowing it…Don’t be afraid of fear. Because it sharpens you, it challenges you, it makes you stronger; and when you run away from fear, you also run away from the opportunity to be your best possible self.” - Ed Helms, Commencement Address at Knox College 2013.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
It is interesting to hear what our Scouts think and say. At most of their ages, they have not yet learned to filter their conversations based on who they are around or what the circumstances may be. On the way to our last camp out a younger Scout asked an older Scout what they had to do at the camp out. The response from the older Scout was this, “What ever pleases Jerry.”
Now I know this young man and I know that he was being sarcastic to a point, and on the other hand, I know that his comment was directed at the fact that I hold the older Scouts to a higher standard and ask them to demonstrate leadership. This Scout would much rather sit around and do nothing in most cases… and by and large, that is exactly what he and his buddy did during the last camp out.
What this and other Scouts fail to realize is that his response to the younger Scout is actually 100% accurate. “Whatever pleases Jerry” is actually the right answer.
So what pleases Jerry?
1. When the Scouts have fun.
2. When the Scouts learn.
3. When the Scouts demonstrate leadership.
4. When the Scouts seek and find adventure.
5. When the Scouts develop the bonds of a high performance team.
6. When the Scouts have a sense of accomplishment.
7. When the Scouts get the opportunity to see and do something new.
8. When the Scouts practice leadership and find success in their skills.
9. When the Scouts learn that winning is better than losing in life.
10. When a Scout looks back on Scouting, smiles, and knows it was worth his time.
That is what pleases Jerry.
So Mr. Older Scout… you nailed it! And guess what. The Scout you told that to lived up to that expectation.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
“The Scoutmaster teaches boys to play the game by doing so himself.”
“The Scoutmaster guides the boy in the spirit of another brother.”
“The spirit is there in every boy; it has to be discovered and brought to light.”
“There is no teaching to compare with example.”
“To get a hold on boys you must be their friend.”
I know that it is bad form to start with a list of quotes, but all of these quotes are from the founder of Scouting, Baden-Powell. They come to mind when I look back on this weekend and some of the things that I saw at our District Camporee.
The question is Why? Why do some Scoutmasters feel the need to make Scouting a chore? Why do they insist on not making it fun for the Scouts? Why is there is a reason to yell or belittle a Scout? Why?
I wish I could say that this is an isolated case and I am talking about one Scout Leader. But I am not.
Here is the problem as I see it. These leaders have no idea what Scouting is supposed to look like. One particular Scoutmaster explained to me that what the Scouts lack is discipline and it was his job to make sure they are disciplined. You see, I feel that is the parents job.
The same Scoutmaster yelled at his troop over a bent tent-peg.
Another leader explained to me that Scouting is supposed to make our boys gentlemen and respectful. I asked if her example was helping as she screamed at a Scout for playing with his patrol mates.
Yet another Scout leader had a group of Scouts at attention as they were dressed up and down about not doing well in their uniform inspection. The leader’s shirt was un-tucked and looked like he slept in it and instead of a Scout hat or Troop hat, he was wearing a hunting hat as he ripped a Scout a new one over not wearing his Troop hat.
And we wonder why Scouts leave. I even talked with a Scout who would love to leave his Troop, but can’t because his Dad is one of the leaders. Really?
This weekends Camporee was fun. It was one of the better camporees we have had in a while, so why do the adult have to screw it up for the boys.
Again, they clearly do not understand what Scouting is all about.
We are not the Army. We are not a boarding school for wayward boys. This is Scouting and above all, the boys need to have fun. It is that game with a purpose that will teach them the skills to deal with life’s challenges and develop those life long values that will guide them to be disciplined and self-reliant.
How can a boy discover that light when the adults around him are constantly looking to snuff it? How can a boy learn to play the game, when the rules change or are unclear? How friendly is the constant brow beating?
I think that some leaders need to take a look in the mirror and find out if they are delivering the promise of Scouting or just a good scolding.
The best part of the discussion I had with our Anti Powell was when he pointed to my Troop, at the time they were all playing Frisbee in a field between the camp sites. Loud laughter and complete grab ass was in full effect. He pointed out that camporee was not about playing.. it was about competition. I explained that there is certainly a time and a place for everything. He said, “Look at your camp site… no matching tents, no patrol boxes, no discipline.” I explained that we are a backpacking troop and do not have patrol boxes or matching tents, and so far as discipline, we have plenty of that. It comes with living the Scout oath and law. Then in a moment of arrogance, I pointed out that what he was looking at was the Troop of the Year and we are doing it right. With that, I bid him a good day and joined the boys in the game of Ultimate Frisbee.
Camporee was a fun time and a great experience for our Troop. They all had fun and competed well. It is unfortunate that there are leaders out there that just don’t get it. If only they took the time and put in the effort to delivering the promise of Scouting, using the same energy they put into yelling, berating, and making life hard for their Scouts, they would have great Troops. The boys are there and willing, they need good adults to have the heart of a Boy and do Scouting the way the founder wanted it to be.
I had a great weekend with the Scouts of our Troop. It’s why we keep playing this game.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
Maybe it’s that I am getting a little older. Could be that my mind tends to view things a little different with the kids growing and moving on with their lives. It may be that I have a clearer understanding of what is really important in my life. All of these things race through the mind and heart as I had hours and hours to reflect on life, keep my fire bright, and look to the future.
Scouting, the Order of the Arrow, Wood Badge… they all have a place in our hearts and minds. We pick and choose how we feel about them and they take on meaning in our lives, some greater than others and some more meaningful to each of us than others.
At the Rendezvous of the Order this year I got into a rather spirited debate about the Order of the Arrow and how some members do not get the most of the message of the ceremony, the meaning of membership, and of course the lack of some to uphold their obligation. It seemed that most youth can take it or leave it, it is just another part of Scouting, a part of the Scouting experience that they know is a bit more special, but at the end of the day, just another part of Scouting. I have watched as some Scouts do not fully grasp the meaning and the high ideals of the Order and on occasion I too have been that voice crying out for them to understand that it is more than just a club within Scouting. As an adult I tend to be more aware of the meaning with the hope that it all sinks in to these young men. I suppose I am one of those adults that want more from our boys.
Back at the Rendezvous I was one of the voices that expressed my concern about how Scouts are elected into the Order of the Arrow. Some units send everyone that meets the eligibility requirements, while other units select those that are good candidates to live the obligation. Looking ahead to a Scouts potential to be that example of Honored Camper-ship, a leader in Service, and one that will strive to uphold the obligation of the Order. Somewhere along the way Scouts get in to the OA and in some cases do not see the symbolism and meaning of membership.
Yesterday morning I was reassured about the Order of the Arrow when I completed my Vigil. I was welcomed to the fullness of the Order of the Arrow and in a discussion with a good friend of mine afterward, assured that this is where the separation of those that “get it” and those that don’t happen. Being called to the Vigil Honor is that affirmation that we do pledge to live the obligation and take it to heart and mind.
I do not say this with any intent to be arrogant or self-righteous. Simply that for those of us that do take this serious, it is nice to be among others that in their hearts and minds believe in the good that this Honor, this Order brings to our fellow-man. It is more than a club, more than ceremonies, more than camping… it is a life spent seeking the opportunity to be a leader in service to others. To be that example of service and a dedication to help other people at all times.
We serve to teach, we lead to serve, we serve to make our world a better place.
Ten hours alone in my mind and my heart was an overwhelming experience for me. I can share thoughts, but I will reserve the discussion about the Vigil so as not to ruin it for you.
Maybe it is that I am getting older, maybe a tad bit wiser. Maybe I think about the future, my kids, wife, and family. Maybe it is the lessons I try to impart on the young men of my Troop and the life that I try hard to lead. This organization offers so much in the way of finding yourself and giving you the tools and motivation, maybe the purpose to serve.
The more I sat and thought about why I was sitting in the woods, in the rain, tending to my fire, the clearer it all became. My steadfast purpose to be a better husband and father. To be a man who serves unselfishly. To be a leader that not just teaches, but models the way in which we want our young men to grow.
A rekindling of a fire that burns ever brighter today, the spirit of which will never grow dim. Even when the flame is not at its peak, the hot bed of coals glow from below keeping the fire burning.
I am Honored, and you know I do not throw that word around, to have been called to the Vigil. I have kept the Vigil and will keep it burning deep in my heart and mind to be shared.
I was given the name Schachachkatschimuin Wewingtonheet. Translated from the language of the Lenne Lanapi to Inspiring Story Teller. I think it fits.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
We often talk about having all of our adult leaders trained. When we speak of training we are talking about the basics. Has the adult completed Youth Protection? Attended their Basic Course for the specific position? And according to the Boy Scouts of America, that’s pretty much a trained leader.
You are qualified to be an adult that delivers the promise of Scouting. Really.
Ok, now… everyone just take off your Scouting hat and put on your parent hat. Now you know nothing about Scouting except that your son wants to be a Scout. You know that Scouting is a great organization that reinforced those character traits that you are teaching at home and he and his friends enjoy going camping once a month. But who is this “Trained” leader? What qualifies him to take your son out into the woods?
A couple videos? An online training session and a “suitable for framing” print out certificate?
Oh, but maybe the leader has been to Wood Badge. So he knows the Boy Scout Program and is able to teach and reach his goals. He communicates well, but what of the skills he needs to take my kid into the woods.
My point here is this. In a world in which we bubble wrap our kids. We don’t let them stay out after dark, they can’t climb trees, drink from a garden hose, or in some cases even push a lawn mower.. we drop off our sons to people we don’t really know, they hop into their trucks and vans and drive away for a weekend in the woods.
Say that out loud and it is a bit creepy.
We trust that they know what they are doing with our kids. We hope to see smiles on their faces and that they are in one piece when they arrive back at the meeting hall.
Trust. That is what we have in our leaders. But it’s 2014 so what has he done to be trusted. What skills does he have to gain my trust. Who is this guy taking my kid into the woods?
I am a big fan of Boy Scout Training and take it a step further. I am on our district training team and teach the Scoutmaster basic course. I am a Wood Badge staffer and love to teach leadership.
So knowing what I know, I know that the Boy Scout minimum training is not enough to build that trust. But the leader that goes the extra mile and gets more training, now that’s the guy I want.
Not to toot my horn, or the horns our leaders in my Troop, but we respect that trust and that is why we all go the extra mile.
In our Troop, all the Assistant Scoutmasters are Wood Badge trained.
We have Certified Climbing instructors.
We have Certified Wilderness First Aid First Responders.
We have Wilderness First aid trained leaders.
White water rafting guides
Leave No Trace master trainers
Cold Weather camping experts
Everyone is CPR/AED trained
Everyone has done the supplemental training for Trek Safe, Safe Swim defense, Safety Afloat, and Climb Safely.
I know that I am missing something, the point is that we go out of our way to be over trained.
This is where the trust of the parents is gained and maintained.
It is an important part of protecting our youth and delivering the very best program to them.
So who is your Scout leader? Do you trust him or her with your son in the woods?
Have a Great Scouting Day!