Today is Independence Day.
As you may have noticed I have not been blogging since about mid month in June. For reasons that I think, looking back are real silly. I found myself in a bad place when it came to my internet presence. Lately I have been really upset with the way my Country is going. The issues to many to note, and I really would rather move on, but needless to say it has put in my in a dark place as far as blogging goes. I did not want to spread that “negative” vibe here on the blog. I was even commented to on Facebook from a follower of the blog that he would rather read the blog and it’s “wisdom” than the stuff I have been sharing on Facebook. And Larry, I concur. And so it is Independence Day. A day that we celebrate the Birth of a Nation.. our Country. The day that brave men stood up and pledged their Sacred Honor to remain Free.
Today, I am getting back in the saddle and being Independent. Free. I am making the choice not to allow politics to derail this great blog that I love so much.
I enjoy writing and sharing my thoughts with you. I took a look back though at the month of June. I could see the posts that really showed the trend of me heading into the political rabbit hole.
I am a conservative. I love Liberty and Freedom and have and will stand up to defend it. But this blog is about Scouting, Adventure, Leadership, and fun. There is no room for politics here.
Not politics… Independence and celebration of America! I love this Country!
Today, as they have done for years, the Congress of the United States will read aloud the document that created our Independence. the Declaration of Independence. I think it is important to remember the pins and needles that those men must have been sitting on when they signed their names to a paper that at the time meant treason. Their lives and fortunes lay in the balance.
I am proud of that American spirit and willingness to stand up for something that we believe in.
That spirit continues today in the heart of America. We may disagree, but that is our right and the right of free men to express their thoughts, their desires, and safeguard their home.
Happy Birthday America!
God Bless you.
“We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.” -from the last paragraph of the Declaration of Independence. July 4th, 1776
Have a Great Scouting Day!
Allow me to share this video of our New National Scout President. Dr. Robert Gates.
You know his resume… so I will not share that. I listened to this 27 minute speech given at the National Meetings with some interest. I want to know what he is planning on doing to impact Scouting during his two-year term.
I had the pleasure of meeting with Rex Tillerson, the previous National President. I thought he helped move Scouting forward. I have great hope in what this new administration will do, especially after listening to this speech.
I really liked his closing. I think he is spot on.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
I mean now of course.. I am not one to wish for that simpler time, we can’t have that back. What we can do is keep Scouting the way it is supposed to be. Fun, Adventurous, and an organization that builds up men.
I stumbled on this neat video, thought I’d share it. Imagine if we could just get back to the basics and deliver the promise of Scouting the way it should be.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
The other day I got into a debate or more a less a discussion about Scouting and it’s Values with a co-worker of mine. He contended that Scouting was too conservative in its values and that is what makes it unappealing in the Portland area. He debated that conservative values don’t work well in America today as we are moving toward a Country that is more about the people. Now, I don’t know what the heck that means and I won’t go into the whole debate, but what it did cause me to do was argue the point of values to my co-worker. The basis of that argument was the difference between Conservative values and I suppose we would have to argue Liberal values as they would be the opposites of one another.
This is not a political discussion. We are only talking about values here, but since he brought up the word “Conservative” I had to have an opposing side to compare with.
To make the debate not one of emotion or politics, I stuck with the basics. Where do we get our values and what are our values in Scouting. How we apply our values is up to the individual, but it is fair to say that in an organization like the Boy Scouts of America, our shared values become a part of our lives and we should not separate the Scouting life from every day life.
Scouting gets it values from the Scout Oath and Law, the motto and Slogan, and Outdoor code.
Lets start with the Scout Oath. The Oath is the foundation promise of the organization. It is the jumping off point that the individual takes an oath to “On his honor” he will live the following values. He makes three promises in the Scout Oath. He makes a promise to do his Duty to his God and his Country. He makes a promise to help other people at all times. And he makes a promise to himself, to keep himself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight. This promise lays the ground work for the way he is going to live his life. So lets see, those three promises are conservative? Then what do Liberals think and believe?
Let’s move on to the meat and potatoes of our values, the Scout Law.
A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly,courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent. 12 words that define how we should live our lives. Conservative? If so are liberals not trustworthy, loyal, helpful etc? Is it wrong that we want our Scouts to grow up living those values, after all, does not all of those 12 values lead America to a better place? Is it wrong that we want our Scouts to develop good habits of service to others and being courteous? Have you been to a mall in anywhere America lately. We need more Scouts is all I am saying. If rude, unkind, sad, and filth is this new America we are looking for then we are getting there quick.
What about thrifty? Don’t we want our Scouts to develop good habits when it comes to money and how they handle it. Don’t we want them to know that they have a responsibility to pay their own way and not be a drain on society. Now that I will concede is a conservative point of view. Scouts should never be looking for a hand out or to become a part of the welfare state. Scouts should work hard and provide for themselves and their families and should not settle for other people paying their way.
So the Scout Law is our shared values that lead us to being better people and better members of society.
And what about the Outdoor code. Those four requirements to be Clean in my outdoor manners, careful with fire, considerate in the outdoors and conservation minded. Yep, they hurt us as Americans. Those crazy conservative values that direct us to being better in when it comes to our time spent in outdoors and our stewardship to the land.
Now those of us that have been in and around Scouting long enough know that we derive our mission statement from our values and core beliefs.
To refresh our memories and to help my coworker see just how conservative our values are here is the mission statement of the Boy Scouts of America: The mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Scout Law. Hmmm… moral and ethical choices over their lifetimes. What the heck are we thinking? That is way to conservative.
How about the Vision statement of the Boy Scouts of America: The Boy Scouts of America will prepare every eligible youth in America to become a responsible, participating citizen and leader who is guided by the Scout Oath and Scout Law. Every eligible youth to become a responsible citizen? That is just conservative crazy talk and can lead to no good. I think the part that scares the liberal-minded in the vision statement is the word LEADER.
So what is the point here?
This started as a debate about conservative values and the closer we look into them they are just good values. What scares me is this. If this is what we consider conservative, what the heck is the opposite? What are liberals thinking?
I would think these are American Values and we should want every American to live them.
As this debate got me thinking, I did a quick Google search and came on this. Thought it was worth your time to review. Values of Americans. Take a look at that and see that Scouting and it’s values do make a difference.
The point is simply this. It is not political unless you make it that way. If Scouting;s values are conservative than conservative is the right way to live. Until I see liberal values that match those strong values that make good citizens that can make good choices and hold themselves to a standard of service to others and self-determination. Being people who are not going to be a burden on society, rather people who are willing to work hard and make a contribution. In short… Men of Character.
Now I am not saying that folks on the left lack Character. What I am saying is that Character matters more when we look at the values of the Boy Scouts of America coupled with the mission and vision of the organization. What I am saying is that if any of those values are wrong then we have some serious problems and I have major problems with the opposite of Conservative.
It is an interesting debate and the further we get into it the deeper understanding of how people like my coworker think the more I realize that we need more Scouts and people who are Scout like in America.
And now you know one of the reasons that I end each post with…
Have a Great Scouting Day!
Categories: Character, Citizenship, Good Turn Daily, Ideals, Leadership, Scout Law, Scouting, Scouts, Service
Tags: leadership, Scouting, Values
I have been giving this some thought lately, especially since becoming our Boy Scout Round table Commissioner. But Scouting is in the trenches. To use an overused cliché.
What I mean by that is this. Far to many units and unit leaders rely on the District and Council to make their program happen. I do not have a beef with our District or our Council, but it is fair to say that if I received nothing from them our Troop would still be fine.
Now, I understand that we need the Council and District, more so the Council to support Scouting in the area. We need the Council to maintain our wonderful camps and provide administrative services to us, but beyond that I don’t need the District or Council to provide my annual plan.
In a recent discussion I had with a couple Scouters that are knee-deep in the membership world of our Council and District we talked about why membership is dropping and why we (the Council and District) can not seem to build more Packs. Yes, I was talking Cub Scout stuff.
I dawned on me that the Council will never be able to build new Packs till they put their money where their mouth is and get into the trenches with.. yes… with local units. Scouting is in the trenches, in the community, not on a white board in an office.
We do not necessarily need more Packs, we need more strong Packs that can recruit. That will bring more Packs and more Scouts.
Now, on the other hand, there are unit leaders that are willing to just wait around for the District and Council to make that happen. They are satisfied waiting for Camporee or Webelos Woods to be their program. They are content with the idea that the Council will provide Merit Badge weekends or Fairs so their Scouts can put more on their sash. They are happy with the idea that Summer camp is a cookie cutter event and they never need to think out side of the box, but then wonder why their Scouts are bored and are leaving in droves.
Scouting is in the trenches, in the units. This is not an indictment on the Council or District. I am just saying that Units and Unit leaders need to know that Scouting is right where they are… not downtown at the Council office. Scouting is supposed to happen in the community, not from the Scout Executives office. Scouting is in the woods, youth led, and sustains itself through programs that are planned and executed at the Unit level.
Resources, administrative support, and fund-raising happens from above. We just do Scouting!
That is how Scouting will grow and prosper. Waiting on the Council or District is a bad practice and a sure-fire way to kill a unit.
In a world where membership numbers matter, this is where the rubber meets the road and Scouting Happens… In the trenches. On Monday nights at Troop meetings, in the living rooms of Den Leaders, at Pizza Parlors with Crew Presidents. Scouting happens in the trenches.
Don’t wait on the Council. Get out there and do Scouting where it matters.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
Categories: Ideals, Journey to Excellence, Leadership, Methods, Patrol Method, planning, Scouting, Scoutmaster minute, Values
Tags: membership, program, Scouting
Here is a question for you… How do you fix lazy?
I do not intend this to be a rant, rather a real look into why are people.. in particular.. some of our Scouts so lazy. Yes.. I said Lazy, and if the shoe fits they need to wear it.
Well, Scoutmaster Jerry… you can’t call a boy out like that.. you may hurt their feelings… Really? If you don’t want your feelings hurt, stop being lazy. It’s really that simple.
Here is the situation.
We do a very good job of teaching skills. As is the case in Scout Troops all over our Country, Scout leaders have vested interest in making sure that our Scouts are trained in skills, both life skills and those skills that can be applied in the great out doors. In the case of my Troop, we have assembled a group of adult leaders that are the best. That is a pretty lofty claim, but true. We have multiple BSA certified Climbing instructors. Multiple Wilderness First Aid trained and First Responders. Medical professionals, skilled outdoors men. Trained and certified trainers for extreme cold weather activities, etc. Avid backpackers with years of experience and mastered skill levels. Leave No trace experts etc. We have made it a point to be over trained so the Scouts of our Troop will have the benefit of training that is current, relevant, expert, and will ensure that the Scout will gain the most of his Scouting experience.
Now, before I go on.. YES, we are YOUTH LED… BUT…
As you all know there are times that Adults with know how need to step in and not lead, but train. The Scout leadership is still leading and teaching basic skills, but when it comes to high risk activities it is important that Adult instruction from those that are qualified, skilled, and trained need to do the teaching.
So, we have assembled this great group of skilled folks that know what they need to know and are willing to teach and provide mentoring as the Scouts develop their skills.
I suppose it is worth mentioning that a Scout joins our Troop knowing what he is getting into. It is also fair to point our that we do not push participation. A Scout will get out of Scouting exactly what he puts into it. If a young man makes the choice to not participate, well then he will get that experience out of Scouting. On the other hand, if he makes the choice to fully immerse himself in the experience, he will have an outstanding experience while a Scout and more likely than not carry that with him the rest of his life.
We are what we are we are not going to change that based on Lazy. We have made it a point to never cancel based on outside of Scouting choices. We encourage our Scouts to be active outside of Scouts also and we know that there are certain outings that lend themselves to less participation, but we will not cancel those based on the interest level of some of the Scouts taking away that opportunity for others. We would rather go with 5 that are totally into it than 40 that are not.
On one hand we preach that this is the Scouts Troop, and yes that is the case. They are the Scouts that made the choice years ago that they wanted to be a high adventure unit. And that is what we became. That is why boys join our Troop. Then some realize that we expect more from them individually than perhaps their School teacher do or their parents. We expect them to become self-reliant. We expect them to pay attention and learn. We expect them to develop skills and become proficient in those skills and at some point teach those skills. We expect them to push themselves beyond their comfort zone. We do not think that this is too much to ask, and when parents bring their son to us, it seems that it is not too much for them either. Parents by and large seem to like the idea that we expect much from their sons.
We see it over and over again though that some, not all, of our Scouts are just plain lazy. It would seem that they would rather freeze to death and starve before they took a tiny bit of initiative to do the right thing. They are trained, but have difficulty applying that training because they are too busy trying to take a short cut or allow someone else to do it for them.
They would rather be told 100 times to do something than just do it. They would rather be cold and miserable than to apply the training that they have learned from some of the best folks around. Simple things like keeping your gloves out of the snow or staying dry. This is just plain lazy.
They would rather have Mom and Dad replace gear than take care of it. They would rather crawl into their sleeping bag than learn new skills and develop their own level of expertise in those skills. They would rather… well, I think you are getting the point.
I do not understand this way of thinking. I do not understand Lazy. Now before I get one comment that tells me that kids today are different from they were 20 years ago… JUST STOP. They are no different. The difference is not in the kid, it is in how they are raised in the world around them. They have been wrapped in layer of bubble wrap and not allowed to explore. They have been force-fed pills to calm them down, they have been sheltered because of the boggy man and Al Qaeda. They are sat in front of a TV as a baby sitter and the world around them tells them that they don’t have to work for a living. Don’t worry.. the Government will take care of you and the more ailments you can rack up the more Uncle Sam will take care of you. You don’t have to get a good paying job, you can apply for hand outs.. so don’t work and you will be fine. I don’t understand this thinking. And it is happening. Citizenship used to mean making a contribution, now it means waiting for one.
Are their legitimate ailments out there?.. sure there are.. but c’mon.. When you are a 13-year-old boy, you need to get out and at it.
Lazy is a habit. It is formed early and reinforced often. Here is the thing. I don’t know how to fix it. Well I do, but in the process I will lose Scouts and upset parents. This is the issue I am dealing with. How do I fix lazy and maintain Scouts and get them on board? How do I do this and keep Mom and Dad happy?
I will be working on answers to this question.. I am curious as to what you have to say.
Please leave your answer to How to fix lazy in the comments section. I want to know what you do.. or do you just allow it. Either way.. share.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
Categories: camp skills, Camping, Character, Citizenship, comments, Cooking, gear, High Adventure, Ideals, Just fun, Leadership, Methods, Motto, Oath and Law, Risk Management, Scouting, Skills, teamwork, training, Values, Winter Camping
Tags: attitudes, Scouting, skills, Training, Winter Camping
Today is Founders Day. A day in Scouting when we celebrate our Founder Lord Robert S.S. Baden-Powell of Gilwell.
This would be his 157th birthday. It is fitting that today was spent training Adult leaders this morning and celebrating a Cub Scout Packs Blue and Gold this evening, along with the crossing over of 6 Scouts into my Troop.
A day packed with Scouting, all in a positive way.
Baden-Powell was more than just the founder of Scouting, he was truly a visionary. Not in a mystical sense, but in the vision that he had for youth. He understood youth and knew the direction that they needed to go. Not the direction they may have wanted to go, but needed to go. I think of that often as a Scoutmaster. These young men come to us with expectations and we mentor them on a journey. Through guided discovery we take them on an adventure that leads them where we know they need to go disguised in a game that the youth are willing to play.
“The most worth-while thing is to try to put happiness into the lives of others.”
I think that when BP came back from the war, he had like most veterans a different appreciation for life and the direction that life should be taken. In reading his writings we know that Baden-Powell had seen and done enough in the service of England and dedicated himself thereafter to promoting peace and happiness. I have heard that being happy is a moral obligation as it affects those around you. Spreading happiness is certainly worth-while.
“The good turn will educate the boy out of the groove of selfishness.”
I talk a lot about service. Service to others is not just a Scout thing, but a human thing. When we wrap our hearts and arms around that, we become selfless servants.
Scouting started because of a man who felt the need to serve and to teach others to serve.
Today we honor that man. Lord Baden-Powell, founder of Scouting!
Have a Great Scouting Day!
PS. Sorry there will be no Quick tip this week. The plate got way to full, I will resume the next week with the Saturday Quick tip.
Categories: blog, Character, Citizenship, Good Turn Daily, Ideals, Just fun, Leadership, Motto, Scouting, Scouts, Service, Values
Tags: Baden Powell, Founders Day, Scouting
Initiative is really what makes leadership work. Those leaders that understand their Patrols [the make up of the guys, how they are motivated, and their skill levels], know what right looks like, and have an idea of the plan, should be able to get anything done.
But the one thing that can not be purchased or taught is initiative.
Initiative comes from an understanding that “I am a leader, and I know what needs to be done”.
No matter what the situation, in the absence of other leaders and specific instruction, this get done by leaders that demonstrate initiative.
A leader should never have to wait till he is told to do something when it is clear that it needs to be done. We all know that the first thing we do when we get to camp is set up the tents. Patrols leaders should not wait for the SPL to tell them to do the task, they should take initiative and get it done. The same can be said for any and all the tasks that make up our Scouting experience.
In order for a leader to develop initiative, he must know the plan and have the skills. Knowing the plan is key. This means that a Patrol leader should be at the PLC meeting. This way he ensures that he knows what is coming up. He can then prepare himself and his Patrol.
A leader should never wait to begin working on the plan.
Say the Troop is going on a 25 mile Backpack trip. Right away the Patrol leaders knows 3 things. 1. We need to eat.. so lets plan a menu. 2. We will be carrying our gear.. so lets find out what we need and divide the gear up. 3. Finally, who’s going? and do we need to shake down before we go?
This is initiative, doing what needs to be done without instruction or direction.
The initiative that a leader demonstrates can be the difference between a task done well and a task incomplete.
We all know what right looks like and have the skills needed to be good patrols. Initiative is the difference.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
Categories: blog, Character, Citizenship, comments, fitness, Ideals, Leadership, Methods, Motto
Tags: Initiative, leadership, Scouting
For those of you looking to play around with other stoves for backpacking you know that I have played around with a couple different Wood gas or Wood burning stoves. I currently use the Solo Stove for wood burning, but I found this older video of my first shot at wood burning stoves. The J Falk Bushwhacker Stove is a nice stove that you should give a try. Whether you make one or buy one, they are fun little stoves to play around with. They are efficient and economical. The stoves are safe and easy to make or buy. We have used them to fulfill the “Cook over open fire” requirement also… so give it a shot. Here are the instructions for making your own Bushwhacker stove. CLICK HERE
Have a Great Scouting Day!
Categories: Backpacking, blog, camp skills, Camping, Cooking, gear, High Adventure, Just fun, Scouting, Scouts, Skills
Tags: backpacking, cooking, J Falk Bushwhacker stove, Scouting, stoves, wood stove
One of the main functions of the Scoutmaster is to train the Junior Leaders, in particular, the Senior Patrol Leader. I take this responsibility serious and am in a constant mode of looking for opportunities to train the Scouts to be better leaders.
Most of the training is informal and as we find ourselves in opportune times where a lesson has presented itself. What I have found is that, first, our Scouts really don’t know what they don’t know, and second, they don’t look for opportunities to learn and train others.
Now that is a pretty lofty statement, let me explain what I mean.. here is the training opportunity.
Teen age boys typically look for the easy way out. They find the path of least resistance, which in turn puts them in challenging leadership roles. They typically want to just get along and resist confrontation when it comes to being a leader.
Whether it is because the Scout lacks confidence or leadership skills they find themselves in situations that often times leave them feeling unsuccessful. This is where a good tool box full of good leadership tools comes in.
I had a discussion the other night with a Patrol leader. He feels like no one really wants to listen to him. So, asking a few leading questions we took a look at his leadership style and gave him tools to make it better.
First, the leader needs to understand who he is leading and why he is leading. Is it a specific task that needs to be accomplished or just general leadership within the confines of a Patrol? The leader needs to look for opportunities to be “the man”. Here is what I mean by that… Leaders are not Bosses.. but leaders are the “go to” guys that people want to follow. The leader become “the Man” when he can display in his leadership the 4 “C”s.
Courage, Candor, Competence, and Compassion.
Courage. It takes Courage to be a leader, especially a leader of Scouts. You will not always make popular decisions and you may be put in situations that pit you one against another. The Leader with Courage will always do what is right and the right thing for the good of his Patrol, or Troop.
Candor. Tell it like it is. Tell the Truth and never shy away from the truth. If a member of the Patrol is acting in the wrong way or not doing a skill correctly, don’t be afraid to hurt their feelings, tell the truth. We as leaders need to worry less about feeling and focus more on actions. Actions or the way we act and do things are far more important than feelings. A leader that demonstrates candor is respected and shows his good character.
Competence. No one wants to follow a leader that does not know what the heck they are doing. Following a lost leader gets the whole group lost. To build competence the leader must keep learning and testing themselves. Sharpening skills and looking inward at their decision-making. Constantly working to fill the tool box.
And Compassion. We lead people and manage equipment. Being that leader that cares about those that they lead grows confidence in the follower. When we genuinely care about making those around us better, they see it and start to build a better relationship within the team. When we care about teaching them and showing them the right way to do anything, we make them better. When we care enough to model expected behavior, those that we lead will follow and show that behavior back to us.
Taking the four “C”s and putting them to use will make the leader better and keep him focused.
The four “C”s also give the leader a simple set of standards so he can focus on what is important in his Patrol. My Patrol leader did not think that his patrol listened to him. So I asked the simple questions; What are you saying and How are you saying it? Do you come at your Patrol competent and compassionate? We discussed a missed opportunity that he had over the weekend camp out. A simple task of cooking a meal could have been a million dollar lesson to his patrol in skill and fun. That patrol was cooking venison steaks. The missed opportunity was how they cooked them. A little bit of prior planning on the Patrol leaders part could have made him “The Man”.
Cooking steaks over an open fire would have made a bigger bang within the patrol, rather, they cooked on a frying pan and used up lots of cooking utensils and time. The Patrol leader missed the opportunity to get his younger Scouts involved in the process and about 10 minutes into the ordeal of cooking, he lost them.
It was a great opportunity that was lost because he took the path of least resistance.
“The Good Idea Fairy”
I have listened in on many Patrol meetings. Most Patrol meetings end in frustration when members of the Patrol do not feel that they are being listened to. Sometimes the Patrol Leader needs to let the Good Idea Fairy be heard. Jotting down an idea or two and seeing how they can be worked into the plan for the next event. Maybe cooking over the open fire came up, but was dismissed by the leader. When the leader lets those ideas happen they get buy in from those that they lead.
Always look for that Teaching Opportunity. They are always there and we as Scoutmasters need to be on top of it. Allow the situation to run its course and then sit down with the Patrol Leader or other leaders and ask those leading questions that get them thinking beyond the path of least resistance.
Scouts are looking for that challenge and they want to be challenges. They just don’t know what they don’t know and you know… sometimes they are afraid that we are going to say no to them or shut down their great ideas. Go with it. We need to use those four “C”s also.
If it is not unsafe, unethical, or not outside of the Scouting program.. say Yes and let them find that learning opportunity. You will be the man when you keep learning and growing in your leadership also.
Almost everything we do in Scouting will come with a teaching opportunity. Find it and share it.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
Categories: blog, camp skills, Camping, Character, Cooking, gear, High Adventure, Ideals, Leadership, Methods, Oath and Law, Patrol Method, respect, Scout, Scouting, Scoutmaster conference, Scoutmaster minute, Scouts, Service, Skills, teamwork, training, Values
Tags: Candor, Compassion, Competence, Courage, leadership, leading, opportunities, Patrol leader, Scouting, Senior Patrol Leader