Month: September 2007

LEADERSHIP 101 – Initiative

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 absents 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.

Happy Scouting!

Top 10… Items in my Backpack

Those of you that know me know that I am a gear junky. Camping gear just gets my heart beating. So this weeks Top 10 list is the Top 10 items in my Backpack!

I am posting this to give ideas to those looking to get ready for the next adventure.
Its also getting into the cold weather seasons, so my pack has been winterized and ready to brave the Oregon rain, wind, and cold temps.

The Top 10 items in my Backpack!

10. Wool socks with sock liners (2 pair)
9. Fleece hat. An absolute must. I do not think there is a more comfortable piece of gear.
8. Marmot sleeping bag. 0 degree and ultra light.
7. Jet boil
6. Jet boil pot with modified MSR kitchen set ( I took the stuff out of the MSR pot and put it in the Jet boil pot.
5. MSR Sweet water filter pump
4. My 10 essentials (you know the list)
3. Headlamp
2. MSR Hubba tent
1. Polar tech fleece jacket (Doubles as a pillow whin thrown into stuff sack).

Of course there are other items in the pack, clothing etc, but these are my Top 10..can’t live without items.

Whats in your Pack.. check it out.. and get ready for the next adventure!

Happy Scouting!

LEADERSHIP 101- Styles

Every leader has his own style of leadership, but generally they can be defined or fall into one of four categories. This is not to say that a leader can not move from style to style, and in general as a leader is developing and in the forming stages of developing the team (Patrol) the leader will use many different styles.

Tonight I watched as my youngest son was at Football practice. On the team there are those that are emotional leaders, they pump up the guys and get them to rally. Then there is the Quarterback, a leader in the huddle and a director at the line of scrimmage. He is a vocal leader and pretty much echos the instructions coming from the coaches on the sideline.
Then there are the quiet leaders of the team. Those guys that are in on every plan, hitting hard and hustling even when they are tired and beaten up. These guys lead by example. You rarely hear a word out of them, but the whole team knows they can count on them.

This is all leadership. The common leadership style are:
Directing
Coaching
Supporting
Delegating (including joining)

Directing is when the leader tells the led what needs to be done and how to do it. Commonly found in the Forming stage. He does not ask for opinion or input, he just wants to get the task complete. Much like the Quarterback, he directs the Patrol to completion.

Coaching can be found when the group is on its way to Norming. Some direction is still needed and skill levels are not quiet there. The coach explains the process, then lets the team execute.

Supporting leaders have a group that has developed, but not mastered, skills. He steps back and lets the team succeed jumping in when needed. He has confidence in his leadership and in his patrol. He is like the emotional leader on the football team, he pumps up the team when they need it and pats them on the back when everything is going well.

Delegating leadership is found when the patrol is executing skills as a high performance team. The leader can turn over the task to anyone on the team and know that things will be done correctly. One thing that needs to be mentioned in delegating however is that a leader can delegate, but not remove himself from responsibility. The accountability of the Patrol still is on the leader. The Performing stage is when Delegating leadership is usually found and things are going great.

Like I said, team development fluctuates. As new members join the team may revert back to forming for a short time, the leader must make the adjustment in his style to meet the needs of the team.
It has been said before also that the leader must tailor his leadership style to meet the needs of the led. Not everyone is motivated the same, nor do they respond to leaders the same.

Knowing yourself and the leadership styles will help you move you team in the right direction. A team that is operating in the High performance (Performing) mode is fun and limitless.

Happy Scouting!

Tiger Cubs… The life blood

Last night I had the pleasure of attending the Pack recruit night for Pack 717.
They asked me to give a presentation on what Scouting is all about. Well, those of you that know me, I am hardly a man short on words…
BUT, last night I was almost speechless. The Pack put together a video of their activities this summer, in the video they explained Scouting more important was the message in the faces of the Scouts in the video. Their looks said “THIS IS FUN!”
Now Pack 717 does a great job of recruiting. They recruit before School lets out for the summer and then again when school starts. Their net gain so far for the year is 15 new boys and they have 8 more coming in next week from a private school.
As I made my presentation I asked for the parents to stand based on their sons age. I was pleased to see Tiger Cub parents.
Tiger Cubs are the life blood of the Pack and eventually the Troop. In 5 quick years those boys will be on the trail to 1st Class.
It was nice to see a pack with almost 3 Tiger cub dens. And at the same time 3 Webelos Dens. That tells me right away the Pack is healthy. It tells me that the boys are staying for the adventure. I remember the day we recruited the now Webleos 2 den, and now they are getting ready to come over to my Troop.
To watch them as Tigers and see their growth is an amazing thing as a leader. To welcome them to the Troop will be a blessing.
Tiger cubs are the life blood. I encourage every Scoutmaster to get out there and help a Pack recruit Tigers. It will pay you in the end as you receive them into your Troop.

Happy Scouting!

Winterizing your Backpack

It is getting closer to winter, and that means Winter camping.
Winterizing your backpack does not mean putting up in the rafters. It means it is time to look at the gear you have in it and replace it with your cold weather gear.

Time to change out that summer sleeping bag and pull out the 20 degree bag (or lower).
Check your rain gear and make sure it is not rotten or smelly.
Throw in your fleece hat, you are going to need it on those chilly mornings and cool evenings.
Extra fuel for your stove is a must in the winter. Remember that cold causes your stove to burn more fuel.
Gloves and glove liners are another item you want to throw in your clothing ditty.
Sweat wicking long underwear is a must. Don’t get caught out there getting sweaty and cold.
Keep your pack cover handy too, this serves multiple purposes the least of which keeps your gear dry.
Plenty of socks and sock liners will keep you warm and comfy this winter. Remember NO COTTON.. Cotton kills in the winter.
Check the batteries in your headlamp. It’s dark in the morning and it gets darker earlier.
Look at your 10 essentials. Matches need to be replace or replenished. Throw in a few granola bars or power bars.

Winter camping offers adventures unlike those of summer camping. Winter camping tests your skills and confidence, but the rewards are many.
Be prepared for winter camping and you will have a great experience.

I hate to be controversial …BUT….

You know I never thought putting an opinion would ruffle so many feathers. But I suppose that’s what you do when you feel that you have rights that don’t and that you can bully to get your way.
I posted a new link today on the blog it is the BSA Legal site.

As I looked around the site I was comforted by this statement on the homepage.

“Scouting has been under relentless legal assault and publicity barrage since the Supreme Court of the United States affirmed the Scouts’ First Amendment right to freedom of association in 2000. Scouting will defend itself and the constitutional rights we all share as Americans.
Most importantly, Boy Scouts of America will not allow the attacks to sway it from its mission: to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law.” BSA Legal.org

I highlighted the areas that made me smile.

I guess I just do not understand how people think. Why must they attack something that has done so much good for our Country and the World? We see it every day in America, too many people are quick to sue and knock someone else down. For what? Money? Fame? or is it just that they are so unhappy with their lives that they need to make it miserable for the rest of us?
My gut tells me it’s the latter.

I am glad we have BSA Legal and those that fight for us. A question I had to answer over and over during my 21 years in the Army was why do you serve? The answer is simple. Someone has to do it. There are those out there with nothing but hate and discontent in their hearts and those folks need to be dealt with. Weather it is Osama or the ACLU someone needs to stand up for what is good and right.

About a 100 years ago someone by the name of William Boyce saw value in the Scouting. And throughout that 100 years, people all over America have continued to see the value of Scouting. It is right that Scouting is defended.

Happy Scouting!

Top 10…. ways to have an awful backpacking trip

Well, it looks like the “Top 10 list” is something folks like to see.
The emails keep pouring in…
So, this list will be on the Top 10 ways to have an awful backpack trip.
Now that the Troop has done a couple good ones, lets see if can make them better, but here you go…
The Top 10…

10. Get lost… That is why we have a map and compass in our 10 essentials.
9. Bring the wrong sleeping gear… a bad nights sleep makes for a long day of hiking.
8. Wear bad foot wear. Sturdy boots and good socks will keep the feet nice a cozy!
7. Get wet and cold… Hey rain gear is a lot “Cooler” than being wet and miserable.
6. Run out of food… enough said!
5. Carry to much. Planning, Planning, Planning!
4. Have a backpack break… Check your gear and make repairs when needed, the trail is no place to break down.
3. Run out of water. Know your route, pump even if you don’t need it.
2. Over estimate your limits. Know yourself and your crew… Push yourself, but know when you need to stop.
and the number one way to have an awful backpacking trip….

1. Forget to see the forest among the trees. The reason you backpack is to get away from it all. Set out on the trails less traveled and you will be rewarded with vistas beyond beautiful!
If you fail to have a good time and enjoy the trip, it will be awful in the end!

Happy Scouting!

BONUS TOP 10!!!
THE 10 ESSENTIALS!
1. Map
2. Compass
3. Flashlight/headlamp (be sure to have an extra set of batteries that fit your flashlight/headlamp)
4. Extra food (enough for one extra day)
5. Extra clothing
6. Rain gear ( jacket and pants-always carry rain gear even if the sun is out)
7. First aid supplies (be sure to include an extra day of any medication you are taking or might need in an emergency)
8. Pocket knife
9. Matches (stored in a water tight container)
10. Fire starter (wax, dryer lint etc)