Youth Protection

Qualified, Trained Leaders

trainednewWe 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?
That’s it.
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.
COPE instructors
White water rafting guides
Leave No Trace master trainers
Kayak guides
Cold Weather camping experts
Backpacking experts
Pioneering instructors
Leadership trainers
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!

Categories: Backpacking, camp skills, Camping, Character, Citizenship, Climbing, High Adventure, Journey to Excellence, Just fun, Leadership, Methods, Motto, Oath and Law, planning, Scouting, training, Values, Wood Badge, Youth Protection | Tags: | 3 Comments

Training for the Parents

trainednewIt is often said that “Every Scout deserves a Trained Leader”… well.. sure.. Every Scout certainly deserves a trained leader, but do you really think that the Scout cares?
The saying should say, “Every Parent deserves a Trained Leader”.  Right?  After all, the training is more for the parents right?
The Scout does not care that you know the rules of the safety sandwich.  The Scout does not care that you have been to wilderness first aid.  The Scout does not care that you are climb instructor certified or that you have completed Youth Protection.
Ahhh… But the parents do.
They come to a unit and want to know that as they drop off Tommy Tenderfoot on Friday night that the guy driving the car is insured, trained, and will bring back their son in the same condition that he climbed into the Suburban heading to the camp out in.
Parents care a lot about the training that the Scout leader has.  I for one would not send my sons out with a Scout leader that was not trained.  I would not let my son go out into the woods with a guy that got his training by watching Survivor man on TV once.
Nope.  The parents deserve a trained leader.  I would go further to insist that every leader that goes near a Scout is trained, and if I were King for the day.. any leader that did not get trained or refused to spend the time, energy and money to get trained would not be allowed to be a Scout leader.
Boy Jerry.. that’s harsh…  Really?  Like I said, I would not let my kid go off for the weekend with a guy I don’t trust.
Training builds that trust.  At least it opens the door to trusting the leader.
I have talked a lot on this blog about leadership.  It goes not just for our youth leaders, but the adults too.
Think back to the 4 “C”s I discussed.
Don’t you want your adult leaders to be Competent and have Courage?  Compassionate and Candor?
Those are all things that come with training.
Our Troop goes climbing every year.  We have 8 climbing instructors in the unit.  Why?  Because it is the right thing to do.
We have multiple Wilderness First Aid certified leaders and First responders.  Why?  Because we go looking for  adventure and we are not near a parking lot.  It’s the right thing to do.
We go winter camping at least 3 times a year.  We have cold weather instructors and skilled leaders that know winter camping skills and stay up on gear and techniques.  Why?  Because we will never put a Scout in harm’s way.
The point here is that when a Scout crosses over into our Troop the parent knows that we care and are willing to do our very best for their son.  They can rest assured that we are trained and will take care of their boy.
Every one of the Assistant Scoutmasters, the Committee Chair, and me are all Wood Badgers.  Why is that important?  We all believe in life long learning and are committed to being better.  Wood Badge demonstrates to our Scouts and their parents that we are serious about training and taking care of their sons and more importantly, that we want to do Scouting right.
So every parent does deserve a trained leader.  Get trained or get out.  It’s that simple if I were King for the day.
On a side note.  I have been doing this Scouting thing for some time now and have served at the District level also.  Being the District Program Chairman and later the District Chairman, I had access to lots of reports that really don’t mean much.  The one thing that did mean something to me was the amount of units that struggle in multiple areas.  Membership, activities, etc.
The common thing that we saw in EVERY unit that struggles are UNTRAINED Adults.  You do the math.
Get trained for your Scouts.. and your Parents.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: camp skills, Camping, Climbing, comments, Cooking, fitness, gear, High Adventure, Ideals, Journey to Excellence, Leadership, Leave no trace, Methods, Motto, Oath and Law, Risk Management, Scout, Scoutmaster minute, Service, training, Values, Winter Camping, Wood Badge, Youth Protection | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

Scouting… Cool?

cropped-rockwellphilmont.jpgFirst off.. if you are a Scout or Scouter read this post with caution.  You may not agree with some of what I am going to say.  Know that I love the Boy Scouts of America.  I am always trying to tell our story in the best light of Scouting.  I think it is the greatest youth program around.  But in the discussion of membership it is fair that we take a look at ourselves and ask the question, Why is it Not cool to be a Scout?  Please, if you disagree, read to the end and then leave a comment.
One of the most common things that I hear as a Scoutmaster during conferences is that sometimes our youth don’t feel that it is cool to be a Scout.  Peer pressure at School and in their neighborhoods, comments made, and the fact that in most cases the uniform causes a boy to shy away from the program and certainly not invite his friends to join something that is not cool.
So why is that?
In my opinion one of the reasons is that we and the National Council do a terrible job at telling Scouting’s story.  In our focus to deliver the “Main thing” we have lost sight on what Scouting has traditionally been about.
When I was a Scout, and I cringe at starting a sentence that way, but none the less, when I was a Scout I joined the Boy Scouts because it looked cool.  I was drawn to the adventure.  I was longing for to be in a group that Norman Rockwell painted climbing to the Tooth of Time or heading out for a weekend of canoeing.  I watched as older boys embraced leadership and taught me skills in the outdoors.  Older guys that played on the high school football team that we all looked up to but were not afraid to lead a song or skit at camp.  Members of the Order of the Arrow that dressed like plains Indians and stood in canoes with torches blazing, landing on the shore and presenting dramatic ceremonies that left me wanting to be a part of their group.
While I am a believer that we need to take Scouting where the Scouts are… I am also a believer that we can take the Scout on an adventure that will challenge him and leave him wanting more.  Instead, the Scouting story is that of catering to the lowest common denominator.  We dumb things down because of parents that are over protective and do not understand Scouting.
We take away from the challenge and make it “Accessible”.  I want every boy to have the opportunity to be a Scout, but I want every boy to accept the challenges that lead to self-reliance, life long skills, good character, and being fit.  There is plenty in Scouting for all, but we have made it so restrictive that leaders no longer feel that they can seek and provide adventures in their units.
THE PRESS.
Bad press is the only press.  That’s the story we get.  It does not impact our youth that much, but it keeps Mom and Dad from bringing their son to us.  When all we see is bad press, we judge the program based on it.  Suddenly all Scout leaders are fat bone heads that push over billion year old rock formations.  We are all looking to abuse youth.  We are all.. well you get the point.
But what of good press.  National does nothing.  No ads on TV.  Yes, I know that costs money, but what does the BSA waste each year fighting in the courts?  How much does the BSA waste in preaching to the choir?  They target the membership campaigns to those who are already in Scouting and fail to tell our story to those that need to hear it.
We have been systematically removed from the Schools, the Churches are bailing, and parents see this as an organization that can’t keep it’s poop in a group.  It’s all bad press and yet we do nothing to turn the tide of the bad publicity.
We tend to circle our wagons and rally the troops from within the organization, but that’s it.
I watched a great video the other day on YouTube.  Rex Tillerson, the former BSA President talking at the National Meetings of the BSA about the new changes that are taking effect.  Of course I am talking about the new Non discrimination policy.  What Rex had to say was fantastic, but you know, I bet only Scouters saw it.  Why was it not on TV?  Why did the BSA not contact the major media outlets and networks and have that 10 minute video or parts of it in the main stream media?  10,358 views on Youtube.. and I bet they are all Scout people.  A google search produced hits on the video all associated with Scouting websites, blogs, and of course the National office.
NERDS.
Scouting is for nerds.  Just ask your Scouts.  That’s what they will tell you their classmates think.  I recently sat with one of my Scouts at his Eagle Board of Review.  One of the board members asked him if he thought Scouting was not cool.  He answered that he thought it was cool, but it was not cool to those guys at his high School.  The discussion kept going, “Why do you think that?” the Board member asked.  “Because of what they think we do in Scouts” the Eagle candidate answered.  “What do they think we do?”  “Well, for the most part they think we go camping, but it’s mostly about crafts and artsy stuff.”
Crafts and artsy stuff.  Yep, that is what we have become.
As a Cub Scout I remember doing craftsy stuff.  Soap box derby races, pinewood derby and rockets led the list of cool things that we did as a den.  The craftsy stuff when we got to Boy Scouts was Monkey bridges that actually crossed water.  Signal towers that you could actually climb.  Earning the Paul Bunyan Ax man award and actually chopping down trees.
But that’s all gone now.  In the name of Safety?  Really?  No, in the name of insurance fear.  I am not advocating getting Scouts hurt, but we didn’t then so what’s changed.  We moved away from adventure and got wrapped up in the lowest impact don’t let Tommy Tenderfoot get dirty family camp.
Look at our merit badge program.  Last summer at camp we had more Scouts earn the finger printing merit badge than the canoeing merit badge.  It is what we have become.
We as parents have forgotten that our boys need to be boys.  We as parents have forgotten that getting dirty is part of childhood.  Playing in the woods and coming home when the street lights come on is part of the adventure of being a boy.
We are so afraid that every boy is a victim.  Every boy is fragile and a broken bone is the end of the world.  I once broke two bones in my arm when I was 10.  What was I doing?  Trying to fly.  Not smart, but you know what, I am no worse for ware.
I watched a Patrol mate burn his eye brows off blowing on a camp fire.  A great laugh and no harm done.  I can remember coming home from camp outs and my mom not letting me in the house till I first took all my clothing off and hosed down in the backyard.  I learned, I grew, and I am a better person for it.
I never earned Basketry or the Art merit badge, and if it were around in 1980 I would not have earned the game design merit badge.  game-designI did earn Backpacking, hiking, first aid, wilderness survival and those badges.  Heck I joined Scouts for fun and adventure.. not more School work.
OUR STORY.
The Boy Scouts of America has a rich tradition and yes it has undergone many changes since 1910, but our story is the same.  Our Story is still about Character building and Citizenship.  Our Story is still about challenge and finding our limits and growing from experience.  Our Story is still about great outdoor programs.  Our Story is still about adventure and life long learning.  Our Story is cool.  But we don’t tell our story the way we want it heard.  We don’t take the opportunity not to be just another YMCA or after school program, but to be the Boy Scouts of America full of the cool stuff that boys want and need.
We tell the story of numbers and membership, but forget that not everyone wants to be or should be a Scout.  We tell the story of abuse and scandal without telling the story of the million great things going on every week at meetings and on monthly camp outs.
We get excited when we have a mediocre district event and wonder why our Scouts are not better recruiters.  We miss out on telling our story in the media when things are going good.  We miss the boat on getting ahead of bad press and showing the Boy Scouts for what we really are.  We are cool, we are making a difference, we are what we say we are.  But, for a group that prides itself of spinning a great campfire yarn, we don’t do a great job of telling our story.
Some thoughts.  We clean up and get ourselves right.  When we have guests come to our house, we straighten up, vacuum, and maybe even light a candle to make the place smell good.
Scouting needs to do that.  We need to get our leaders to wear their uniform right and agree to deliver the promise of Scouting using the methods.  Leaders need to be trained.
We need to get our Scouts in full uniforms out in the community doing something other than selling popcorn or marching in a parade.  We need to show Scouts doing service and other cool stuff that really makes a difference.
We need to budget for local advertising.  We need to get in the media in a positive light every opportunity we can.
We need to sell adventure… Not just another chess club.  (I have nothing against chess, but we are talking adventure here) Boys want and need adventure.
We need to get with current outdoor practices and try new methods of camping.  It is fun for the boys and increases the challenge for the whole unit.
We need to develop better relationships with the Forest service and Park Rangers.  They are a great resource for Scouting.
Do you want Scouting to be cool?  Then you need to act cool.  You need to be cool.  You need to look cool.  Hey, we are cool… right?
I am tired of the BSA getting beat up for nonsense.  I see so much potential in how we can move ahead to tell our story so we can change the perception of Scouting.  And then, our numbers will go up, boys will stay longer, and we will be cool, not just to us, but to everyone.
Your thoughts?
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Backpacking, blog, camp skills, Camping, canoe, Character, Citizenship, Climbing, fitness, gear, Good Turn Daily, High Adventure, Ideals, Journey to Excellence, Just fun, Leadership, Leave no trace, Methods, Oath and Law, Patrol Method, Philmont, Scouting, Scoutmaster conference, Scoutmaster minute, Service, Skills, stories, Summer Camp, Values, Youth Protection | Tags: , , , , | 8 Comments

From the Desk of the Scoutmaster

Dear Parents,

As you may be aware, the Boy Scouts of America voted the other day to change its policy to allow boys that are homosexual to join the organization.  This decision, even though it has been debated for the better part of a year continues to draw much discussion.  At the National Meetings of the BSA the resolution was passed with a 60% approval.  Earlier this year the BSA asked us to participate in a survey on this issue.  I made the choice to participate in the survey and allowed my voice to be heard.  It is my belief that the 60% approval is a fair representation of those that took the survey.
And so it is with thoughtful consideration that I feel the need to address this issue with all of you.
Within our Troop we have discussed this issue and have various opinions ranging from full support to no support of the decision.   I have not withheld my opinion in the matter and am available to discuss where I stand in the matter, but I think this letter should serve to express how this decision should have an effect on our Troop, which ultimately is how I feel about the issue.
I think it fair to share some of the common arguments against the decision and where I think the Boy Scouts of America stand.  I can not speak on behalf of the BSA, but I feel that I am in agreement with the policy change.  You will see how and why in this letter.
First, the argument over the ability for a Scout to live up to the promise that he makes to be “Morally Straight”.  I do not see an issue here as we as Scout leaders do not define a Scouts morals.  The Boy Scouts of America have always insisted that moral instruction is the responsibility of the of the family and the religious institution of the individual Scout.  At best it is my responsibility to model moral behavior.  Behavior that I was taught as a young boy by my family and my faith group.  I think it is safe to say that my family and my faith formation have led me to being a good man that makes sound moral decisions.  I am of the belief that parents all start off with the best intentions for their children.  Parents that introduce their boy to Scouting understand the timeless values and the ideals that Scouting offers.  Parents that want their son to enjoy Scouting know and understand the shared commitment of the Scout Oath and Law that Scouts and Scouters make.  Most parents may not understand the policies of the BSA or the methods of the program, but just like the average person, they know in one way or another, that Scouting is about doing good.
The decision to allow gay boys to join Scouting does not change our values in the least.  We find the values of the BSA in the Scout Oath and Law.  Just as I remind your son during the many Scoutmaster conferences we share, we make three promises in the Scout Oath.  Those promises are our duty.  They are to serve our God and Country, to Help other people at all times, and to remember the promise we make to ourselves in keeping ourselves physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.
Before we leave the Scout Oath, let me remind you that during our Scoutmaster Conference your Scout holds all of the answers that allow him to grow and advance, largely in part to how you have raised him and not because he says the Scout Oath.  The Boy Scouts do not define God and does not require a Scout to be religious.  When a Scout promises to do his duty to God and Country, we allow the Scout to decide who or what that God is.  The Scout handbook tells us that we are to respect others and their religious convictions.  When I ask your son what that means to him, I become a listener and not a judge.  I firmly believe that in that answer we learn about how the Scout is growing in his faith and watch as he fine tunes his moral compass.  When a Scout is struggling with this discussion I ask a few leading questions.  Those questions are simply this, do you believe that it is a good thing to “do to others as you would like done to you?”  They typically answer yes, which leads to question number two, “what does that mean to you?”  Then I share with your Scout that religions of every creed maintain that as a foundation of living a good life.  That simple phrase known as the “Golden Rule” is the magnetic pull that keeps our moral compass straight.  It has nothing to do with life style or sexual behavior.  It guides us in treating others with respect and dignity and is a foundation for the Scout law, the second area in which we find the values of Scouting.
It is with that in mind that we can expect our Scouts to live the Scout Law.  To be trustworthy to one another, Loyal to family, friends, God and Country.  It demands that we are helpful  as you are aware we ask our Scouts to develop a habit of being a selfless servant.  A Scout is a friend to all, so says the founder of Scouting Lord Baden-Powell.  We ask that our Scouts are courteous and kind to one another and practice that at home, school, and in their daily lives.  I can go on about how and what we expect from our boys in living the Scout law, but I will touch on just two more points that I think are relevant in this discussion.  Obedient and Reverent.
Once again, as their Scoutmaster and role model, I find that it is my position to be obedient to the BSA and it’s policies.  I do not have to agree with the gay lifestyle or the choice to be homosexual.  Once this policy change goes into effect in January of 2014, I will comply and welcome every boy who wants to be a Scout into our troop.
Reverent.  The Boy Scout Handbook tells us that a Scout is Reverent.  According to the handbook that is defined as such;  “A Scout is reverent.  A Scout is reverent toward God.  He is faithful in his religious duties.  He respects the beliefs of others.”  Please take note that the definition does not define the Boy Scouts of America’s belief, it directly instructs the Scout to do HIS duty and be faithful in HIS religious duties and HE respects the beliefs of others.  HE and HIS not OURS and THE BSA.  Now this may seem like an easy out, but to be honest with you I would not have it any other way.  Look at our Troop, we have members from many different faith groups.  We have a wide variety of Scouts with many different levels of faith formation.  We treat them all the same.  We expect them to live what you have taught them and couple that home and church formation with that of the Scout Oath and Law.
So how will this be different with a gay Scout?  It won’t be.  Again, I am going to assume that the parents of that young man want the best for him.  They want him to be in an organization that maintains a good set of values, that by and large will be consistent with those of their family, no matter what that family looks like.  Again, that is not for me as a Scoutmaster to judge.
Here is the bottom line as I see it.
Our troop is going to maintain the values of the Boy Scouts of America.  We are going to continue to focus on the mission of the BSA and never go away from the three aims of Character, Citizenship, and Fitness.  We will use the eight methods to achieve those aims.  We will still go camping every month.  We will not change our program in the slightest.  Just as we did not change when you brought your son to our troop, we will not change for any other boy who joins our unit.
I can assure you that our Troop understands and practices youth protection and this too will not change.  The Boy Scouts of America have sound practices when it comes to protecting our youth.  Nothing here will change.  We will maintain a safe, friendly environment for your son and all of the Scouts of our troop.  We will address all personal issues as they happen, just like we currently do for the Scouts that we currently serve.  We will observe their privacy, and respect each and everyone in our troop as we would have them respect us.
Many Scouters are already talking about leaving the Boy Scouts over this issue.  I know that we will lose some really good people, I hope none from our troop, but I do understand that some people must be true to how they feel and what they know as the direction of their moral compass.  I would hope that you all trust that we have the best interest of your Scout in mind in everything we do.
To those that feel the need to part ways with our organization, I wish you well and pray that you do not have ill feelings toward those of us that stay.  I welcome you back whenever that time is right for you and your family.  I believe in the Boy Scouts of America and regardless of this policy change and the heart ache that it seems to have caused,  is still the very best youth organization on earth.  I believe this with all of my heart, and I trust that you understand that I am sincere.
Please feel free to discuss this issue with me personally if you have the need.  I think it important that you understand that I am not and neither is the Boy Scouts of America, asking that you accept the homosexual life style.  It is expected that all people are treated with respect and dignity.  This is all I can ask of you, your Scout and our troop.
The Boy Scouts of America has made many ground breaking changes in its 103 years.  This will not be the last.  The testament of the stability of this great organization is in its timeless values that are there for everyone.
I thank you for the time and hope we have a lasting relationship in the future.
Yours in Scouting.
And as Always, Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: blog, Character, Citizenship, comments, fitness, Ideals, Leadership, Methods, Motto, Oath and Law, respect, Scout Law, Scouting, Scoutmaster conference, Service, Values, Youth Protection | Tags: , , , | 16 Comments

Treat them like you want them to be

Yep… that’s a lengthy title and I really do not want this to become a rant, BUT… it seems that I get in an inordinate amount of emails reminding me that we are working with boys and that these boys are not responsible enough to do this or that.  They are not responsible or skilled enough to participate in this or another thing.  Recently I was reminded that in my video that I talked about how I am carrying my fuel now that the G2SS suggests that fuel be carried in the original container or a container suitable for the use of carrying fuel.  And I agree that is what the G2SS says.  And here is the rub.
When you really look at most of the “Prohibitions” in Scouting they are place, not really for safety or to reinforce Scouting’s values.  They are in place for the lowest common denominator.  They are in place to protect, not the BSA, but ourselves.  And why do we need them?  Well, because people are not smart enough to know that coffee is hot and when it spills on you, you get burned.  Every McDonalds coffee cup tells you so… why?  Because people are not smart enough to figure it out.. the lowest common denominator.
The Boy Scouts of America has a certain level of protection that it must put in place so it does not get sued.. I get that.  But there are common practices in the Backpacking world and elsewhere that look at the BSA and shake their heads in disbelief at the “old School” ways it is stuck in.  That is but one example but to the point I am trying to make…
When are we going to treat our Scouts the way we want them to act in life.  After all, we are here to teach them to make ethical choices throughout their life times right?  We are here to impart some life skills and wisdom on them, right?  We are not here to shelter them from the world.. no… we are here to give them a set of values that will help them navigate the world we live in.
So why do we treat them with kiddy gloves?  Why not give them responsibility and let them learn.  Let them explore and develop good habits.. safe habits.
I can not tell you how many Scoutmasters I know that believe that liquid fuel is prohibited by the BSA.. or they just won’t let their Scouts use it because it is dangerous.  Hog wash!
It is that kind of thinking that prohibits other things in Scouting.  It is that old way of thinking that holds back Scouts from learning and exploring.  It is that kind of thinking that does not allow for change and new ideas, skills, and yep… gear.
I make it a point in our Troop to push the boundaries, to test the waters.  We stay legal rest assured, but I want our Scouts to explore and discover.  To learn and test new things.  First, it keeps them interested.  And second, they have fun.  They love to push themselves and have something cool that is common in the “real world” of backpacking.  They test themselves and how they are skilled.  They are better for it.
So when are you going to treat your Scouts like you want them to be?  Stop dumbing down the program and push the limits… get out on the edge and take a peak over.. the more we do it and the do it right and safe.. maybe Scouting will see what is beyond their limits and grow.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Backpacking, blog, camp skills, Camping, comments, gear, Journey to Excellence, Just fun, Methods, Motto, respect, Scouting, Skills, training, Values, Youth Protection | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

Shooting Sports

shootingI got home from work to find an email in my ‘In Box’ from a local Scoutmaster that I had a conversation with at Round table.  We were talking about our annual plans and I told him that our Troop would be Shot Gun Shooting in January at the local Gun Club and camping at a local Scout camp.
He asked in his email if I thought it a good idea to continue with our plan to go shooting in light of the recent events here in Oregon and in Connecticut.  He thinks that maybe we should not encourage our Scouts to shoot guns.
Well, I am going to be totally honest with you and tell you all.. and this Scoutmaster, that I disagree.  I think this is the time that we need to be teaching gun safety and responsibility.  The more I thought about how I should respond, the more I thought about just how important it is for proper instruction and example of how we should handle fire arms.
The Guide to Safe Scouting does a real good job of making it clear that the Boy Scouts of America does not condone the shooting of anything living.  Through its shooting sports activities and the G2SS the Boy Scouts teach responsible fire arm safety and responsibility.  The Guide clearly prohibits any activity that encourages engaging targets other than paper.  This is the reason we can not have Air soft or Paint ball outings.  Those two activities, while I see no direct harm in them when played in an organized field with rules and the proper equipment, are against the BSA rules so Scouts do not get used to engaging human targets.
Not that Paint ball wars are the gateway to a person going on a shooting spree… but I can see why we should maintain this as a good rule.  Especially in light of the conversations currently in the media regarding “First person Shooter video games” etc.
But so far as Scouts doing the Shooting sports and earning the shooting sports merit badges.  They need to have that program available to them.
They teach the Scout to have a healthy respect for fire arms.  They build confidence in the Scout as he develops skills, and the Scout can seek further achievement in the JR Olympic Shooting programs offered.
Shooting sports are fun and should be kept fun by keeping the competition healthy and the bullets on paper targets.
To the matter of “Too Soon”.
No.  It’s not to soon.  It’s the right time to teach.  It’s the right time to reinforce the ideas of responsibility and demonstrate that the gun can not do harm unless the person behind it wants to do harm.  It is time to reinforce the Scout Oath and Law and always doing what is right.  It is time to allow these Scouts to decide for themselves how they want to act and react around fire arms.
I am not going to get into a 2nd Amendment argument here, but we do have the right in America to keep and bear arms.  It is time to teach our Scouts what that means.
It is time to teach our Scouts that we do not allow crime and criminals to dictate how honest, law abiding citizens should live.  On the contrary, it is time to teach them that good citizens get to set the standard and rules to live by.
Just because people choose to drink and drive does not mean that we out law cars and alcohol.  We have rules, laws, and social norms in this country and while the recent events are tragic, they do not, and should not dictate how the rest of us live.  Oh and I refuse to live in fear too… so this is what we teach our Scouts in the Shooting sports activities.
In January when we go shooting as a Troop, these life lessons among the lessons of proper fire arm use is how we will do it.  We will not postpone it, we will not shy away from it, we will teach, coach, train and mentor our Scouts to always do the right thing.  We will play this game with a purpose and we will do it the right way.
I have been around fire arms my entire life.  I own 4 rifles and a pistol.  I do not see the need for a 30 round magazine or what the media calls Assault rifles.  I am friends with many hunters although I have never hunted a day in my life.   I don’t know anyone that hunts with an AK47.  But I understand that people like to fire high powered, rapid firing guns.  I understand the sport, the collecting, and the right to own these fire arms.   Is there a ‘need’?  Maybe not, but we are allowed to have them and I do not, even given the recent tragic events, want to see that right taken from me and my fellow Americans.
I am not a “slippery slope” guy.  I don’t think one right taken will lead to more… but the real question for me is why not just enforce the laws we have?  Why can’t our screening process be revamped to make sure that these fire arms end up in the right hands.  Why can’t there be an education piece added to the rules of ownership?
These are the questions no one seems to be asking.  They just want the guns to go away.  Well they aren’t and they never will.
So we teach our Scouts to be responsible with them and we teach them to respect the fire arm and their fellow man.  We teach them to do the right thing and at least we will have done our part to prevent these tragic events in the future.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: blog, Character, Citizenship, Ideals, Leadership, Oath and Law, respect, Skills, Values, Youth Protection | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Oregon and Youth Protection

The BSA’s response to the Oregon Supreme Courts recent decision on ineligible Volunteer files.
There should never be a cover up, and we want those that are sick enough to engage in this activity to be punished severely.  Further, we don’t want them in our organization.  If we can screen them out early.. then let’s get them out or not let them in.
God help the sick bastard that try’s to hurt a Scout in my Troop.
A Scout is brave.. he is even more brave when he knows he can trust his leaders to tell when things are wrong.  A Scout is also brave enough to stand firm on policy and say no to those that fail to live the values that we promote.
I’m glad that those of us in the BSA take this more serious than our Supreme Court.  Arrgh!

OK.. so directly from the BSA website here are the facts about the ineligible volunteer files.
Know the Facts: BSA Ineligible Volunteer Files
The Boy Scouts of America refuses to compromise on the safety of our youth. As part of our comprehensive screening and youth protection efforts, prompt reporting of inappropriate conduct with youth is required of all Scout leaders. The BSA records such allegations in the Ineligible Volunteer Files—whether or not the adults involved were Scout leaders or the youth involved were Scouts. By being proactive and acting upon many kinds of information—including tips and hearsay that cannot be proven in a court of law—the BSA has successfully kept dangerous or potentially dangerous individuals, as well as inappropriate role models, out of our organization.

Scouts are safer because of the Ineligible Volunteer Files. Recent efforts have sought to make the files public and suggest that the BSA is trying to hide something by maintaining their confidentiality. That is far from the truth. The following provides additional information about how they help protect our members, and why their confidentiality is important.

  • The Ineligible Volunteer Files are an important part of the BSA’s comprehensive focus on youth protection. Youth protection is of paramount importance to the BSA. Accordingly, the BSA developed a three-pronged youth protection program, including local and national screening of adult volunteers, education and training, and clear policies to protect youth members. The Ineligible Volunteer Files are used as part of the national registration process that follows a leader’s selection by the local chartered organization, prior to granting membership. 
  • The use of the files at the time of application is a long-standing and well-documented process. While the records maintained by the BSA are confidential, their existence is a well-known component of Scouting’s registration process. Their use has been referenced as far back as the 1930s in books, Scout publications, and news articles. 
  • The files provide an added layer of protection to criminal background checks. Today, any adult who wants to join Scouting must pass a criminal background check, but the BSA began collecting information on those ineligible to be volunteers well before computers and other electronic databases were available. The process that exists today is much the same as it was then and has proven to be effective in keeping potentially dangerous or inappropriate individuals out of Scouting.  It is actually very simple: The Ineligible Volunteer Files links a name with information that led the BSA to determine that the individual was not suitable to lead youth. As part of the membership application process, the names of adult applicants approved by local chartered organizations are cross-referenced with the names included in the Ineligible Volunteer Files. If the individual appears in the files, he or she is not permitted to join Scouting.
  • Files are updated any time a determination is made that an individual should not serve. Scouting policies require prompt reporting of any inappropriate conduct with youth, whether in a Scout unit or in the larger community. Whenever the BSA receives such a report from the local community, the national organization creates a record, whether or not the adults were Scout leaders and whether or not the youth involved were Scouts. In some instances, the allegations cannot be proven to the degree required by a criminal court, but the person is still banned from Scouting. Centralizing this information helps the BSA act more quickly (on suspicion alone in some instances) to identify and keep out persons who have been determined to be ineligible to serve as volunteer leaders. 
  • The sole purpose of the files is to prevent those deemed ineligible from registering as Scout leaders. The Ineligible Volunteer Files maintained by the BSA have always served solely as a barrier to entry preventing those who are ineligible to serve as Scout leaders from joining or rejoining Scouting.  Suggesting that they would provide any greater insight from a research perspective reflects a misunderstanding of the purpose and content of the files. The BSA believes—and independent, third-party experts have confirmed—there is nothing in the files that would further the research field or help develop a profile to prevent abuse.
  • The confidentiality of the Ineligible Volunteer Files encourages prompt reporting. BSA members are instructed to report any suspicion of abuse to local authorities and Scout executives, but BSA has always believed that victims and their families have the right to choose for themselves whether to share their stories publicly. People are more likely to come forward to report real or perceived misconduct if they can do so confidentially.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Character, Leadership, training, Youth Protection | Leave a comment

Knowing who you work with

It is not enough as a Scoutmaster these days to take boys camping, teach them a few skills, and hand out merit badges.  Kids today, like kids in the past, and certainly this will apply in the future as society changes, kids grow up differently, and attitudes and norms change, are different.
I think that it is important to know why are the way they are to best be of service to them.  Is this above and beyond?  I don’t think so, I think that we need to do our best to know who we work with.  How else can we be of service.
We are experts at backpacking, or knot tying, or model rockets, but what are we doing to become experts at understanding young men.
I found this set of 5 videos that will help.  I am going to post the first one here.. then just follow the links to the other 4.  Or you can find all 5 video’s at the BSA Internal Communication You Tube Channel.  It is worth your time to watch these two ladies tell the Scout executives about young people.  I learned a lot, I am sure this will help you to.
Enjoy.

Be sure to watch the other 4.. I promise there is interesting information that will make you (and me) better Scout Leaders.
BSA Internal Communication You Tube Channel
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: blog, Journey to Excellence, Leadership, Methods, Values, Youth Protection | 2 Comments

Youth Protection and recharter? SMMPodcast 82

This is Show #82 and I am joined by our District Commissioner and our Program Vice Chair in a discussion about Youth Protection and how it effected recharter.  Listen in and then weigh in by leaving a comment, feedback, or a voicemail to the SMMVoice mail 503 308 8297.
This show is sponsored by Class B.com

Standard Podcast [36:56m]:  Play in Popup | Download


Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: podcast, Youth Protection | 2 Comments

Been a few days

Once again, time has passed me by.. I suppose it is true what they say about time flying when you are having fun.
So here is a quick update, I am not to sure that anything inspirational or motivating will come of this, well maybe.
Let me begin with the weekend.
Wood Badge Staff Development #3 was this past weekend, and I think that while it may have not been the intention of the staff.. it seemed that we completely became a “High Performance Team” on Saturday.  Ironically, a guest presenter practiced the Stages of Team Development presentation immediately after the Troop Guides practiced our Course presentation.  It was all systems go after that, and without a doubt the team is heading to Gilwell ready and peaking.
After the training session we went to dinner at a local German restaurant called Der Rheinlander.  It was a fantastic time.  We relaxed over some nice food and awesome company, sang songs, and invited our spouses to join in the fun.
Sunday was dedicated to final Wood Badge prep for me as well as doing some things around the house.  It was nice to spend the day hanging out with the kids and wife.
Three new Scouts came to the troop Monday night.  One will not cross over to the Troop till October.  He has a few things left to wrap up for his AOL, but then he will join us.  The other two are ready to go and will be with us on the upcoming camp out this weekend.  It was nice to introduce them to their new patrol mates in the New Scout Patrol.  They met their Troop Guide last night and learned how to pitch a tent, get a menu planned, and how to adjust their backpacks.  So its right into it for them.  It’s nice to see the growth.  New guys coming, and older Scouts stepping up and leading…. isn’t that how it’s supposed to be?  Yeah.
Which leads me to I guess the motivational part of it.  I had to have a chat last night with the Patrol leaders.  It seemed that the edge is not there for the up coming camporee.  We talked about the three components of leadership.  That is to say that a Leader provides Purpose, Direction, and Motivation.  They needed to find that in themselves and in their patrols to be successful.  No one in the troop wants to come in second at Camporee.. they at least want to compete, but without the drive or purpose and direction, they will lack the motivation to accomplish the tasks that will lead them to the success they are looking for.
Well, they all agreed they need to get back on the horse and motivate their patrols.  PLC will meet next week and we will see what they come up with.
Like I said, time flys when you are having fun…
Hey tomorrows podcast features a great discussion about Youth Protection and how it effected Recharter this year.  Joining me are the District Commissioner and Program Vice Chair of the Thunderbird District.  I think you will enjoy it.

Let me know what you think.. leave a comment or feedback.. or drop an email.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: blog, Camping, Leadership, Webelos to Scout Transition, Wood Badge, Youth Protection | Leave a comment

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