Month: November 2007

A day for giving Thanks

Thanksgiving is tomorrow, so I want to wish all of you a Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving is a day to remember that we have so much to be thankful for. I can imagine the first thanksgiving celebration in the colonies. How much those people must have enjoyed the day knowing they had a bountiful harvest, that they were relatively safe, that they could practice their religious beliefs in a new land without persecution.

Lately I have become very interested in my heritage. I have spent time learning more about my family and where they came from and who they were. Fortunately my Dad has done a lot of research on this and is passing it on. This week we discovered something we had not known about our family. We are American Germans from Russia (that we knew). What we did not know was that in the late ’30’s and early ’40’s the Russians rounded up the Germans living in Russia and sent them to Siberia and other “Internment Camps”. We uncovered via the Internet a full listing of the people from the Village of Norka, where my family came from, that were sent to the camps. In that list we found 6 members of our family, direct descendents. We saw that they were all brutally killed in the camps in 1942. For refusing not to denounce their faith and because they were German.

So I think back to the Pilgrims in the new world, how they, like my family, fled a land in which they had rooted their families, raised kids, to come to a new land. A land they knew nothing about, were they had no homes, no jobs, no family. And they made it. They came to America seeking freedom. And they found it. Our family has been in the United States since the late 20’s. Germans from Russia. On Thanksgiving, I am sure they prayed for those left in Russia and gave thanks for the new found freedom in their new land.

This Thanksgiving, I am thankful that I have the opportunity to be here and to be part of my family.

Happy Thanksgiving…. and Happy Scouting!

The Competitive edge

There are those out there that would suggest that competition is bad… Everyone is a winner.. you must make everyone feel like they won the game.

Those that spout that psycho babble have never been 12 year old boys and live in a bubble.
Boys need to compete.. its what they do.
Competition breeds success and in life, success means everything.
Now lets define that.
Success may mean many things to many different people.
Success may mean a big house and a nice car, it may mean healthy children, it may mean having the ability to backpack across Europe or annual trips to High adventure bases.
Success may mean that you have a modest house, a happy family, strong faith, and valuable relationships.
So success comes in may shapes and sizes. It is up to the individual to define his success, but one thread that remains common to all is Competition. And competition makes us stronger, it makes up better sports, it challenges us to do better, it asks of us to “DO OUR BEST”.
And it also makes for fun times.

This past weekend we went up to Camp Cooper and tried competition of a different sort.
We held our First Annual Champions of the Kamping Kulinary Kraft. We held a cook off.
Patrol v. Patrol in head to head cooking.

The 4 Patrols and the TLC all participated and let me tell you what I learned.
I learned that boys love to compete. In the four years that we have been a Troop I have never seen the boys get so serious about cooking.
They were judged in 4 areas.
1. Preparation. Menus, Keeping the cooking area clean, having menus and duty roster posted etc.
2. Presentation. How the meal looked.

3. Taste and Creativity.
4. Patrol dining. The Patrol had guests and they ate together.

They had to cook Breakfast on Coleman Camp stoves, Lunch using Backpacking stoves and techniques, and Dinner in Dutch ovens. All three meals were judged.

From french toast with gourmet bacon covered in whipped cream and strawberries to perhaps the best pork roast I have ever eaten, the Scouts did a fantastic job and had a blast doing it. They really poured their hearts, skills and minds into the competition and did their very best to win.

In the spirit of competition the patrols were helpful and worked together. When it came to recipes, they were safeguarded and kitchens were “Off Limits” to everyone except the judges.
(Boys rules). They broke out with garnishes on the plates and fancy home made noodles, they really did a nice job.

And at the end of the day.. there is only one winner of the competition, but they all win because they all tried, they all learned, they all developed, and they all know what they need to do better next time.

I do not understand why some folks are dead set against competition, why they think little Johnny’s feeling might get hurt and he will be scared for life. To folks that think that way I am afraid they are setting their kid up to fail.
You do not have to be cut throat to compete. Competition at the heart of it is healthy and drives us to be better. Why is that wrong? In the game of life that is how it is. Why not prepare these young men now for what lay ahead? Are we not here to Develop Character, Citizenship, and physical fitness? Are we not here to teach these Scouts to make ethical decisions? Are we not here to turn these young men into good men?

The Boy Scouts of America encourages Competition. “Patrols will sometimes join with other patrols to learn skills and complete advancement requirements. At other times they will compete against those same patrols in Scout skills and athletic competitions.” (the Patrol method from the BSA Website) We have inter patrol competitions at meetings and we compete against other Troops and Patrols at Camporee. Competition is healthy, it has been a part of Scouting for almost 100 years and will continue to be a strong part of the Scouting program.

So HOG WASH to those that dislike the competitive edge. I know after this weekend, I love it.. and that amazing pork roast too.

Happy Scouting!

Choices, Chances, and Scout Skills…

We just returned from a fantastic weekend at Camp Cooper up in the Coast Range.
Friday night Camp Cooper greeted us with a light rain, but not enough to dampen the spirits of the Troop 664. Saturday morning the rain turned to down pours, and still the Scouts of 664 drove on. Sunday morning we awoke to a fine dusting of fresh snow, a thing of beauty.
It was a fantastic weekend for those that made good choices. those that took chances had a little different experience, while those that stuck to fundamental Scout skills had a pleasant weekend.

There is a huge difference between making sound choices and taking chances.
This weekend was a great example of that principle.
Scouts knew that it was raining, when it rains you get wet…. UNLESS… you make a choice not to. You can choose to put your rain gear on… you can choose to put your boots inside your tent… you can choose to keep your gear under a cover… you can choose to zip your tent door and set it up with the door away from the wind.


You can take a chance that the rain drops will miss you. You can take a chance that your boots will stay dry as you hear the pitter patter of the rain on your tent. You can take a chance that your gear will stay dry sitting outside, and you can take the chance that the wind will not blow any water into your tent getting your sleeping bag wet.

Scout skills. As a scout develops and advances to First class he should be developing sound skills. First Aid, Cooking, Knot tying, and Camp craft. He should begin to become a good (seasoned) camper. The implication here is that he has developed skills that he can put to use in the outdoors, another way of saying he has learned enough to make sound choices.
Seasoned camper know that the experience of camping is better when done right. Just because you are in the heart of the wilderness, you do not have to suffer and be miserable.
Skills like developing a priority of work in camp. Getting the tents set up first, then the cooking area, and constantly improving your campsite. Developing in camp routines, like keeping all your gear in the backpack until you need an item. Packing your backpack so as to have easy access to the stuff you need. Putting your sleeping back in its stuff sack when not in use, creating a campsite that meets the needs of the task and the comfort of the patrol.

By the time a Scout is First class he should know these things and demonstrate them on a consistant basis. This is Scouting. All of this teaches the Scout to make sound decisions and choices that not only effect him, but others. It teaches and reinforces responsibility. It develops an attitude of caring for himself and his gear and working and living in a small group.

It is a good idea to develop these skills early before bad habits settle in. Breaking a bad habit may never happen in the life span of a Scouts stay in Scouting.
Of note: It is important that the Adults in the group develop and demonstrate the same skill sets. It is not ok for the Adult leaders to teach one thing and do another.

Making the Choice to be a Good camper is a heck of a lot better than leaving your camping experience to chance. The right Scout Skills, practiced with consistency will help you in that endeavor.

Happy Scouting!

It’s almost too easy…

Scoutmasters take note… celebrities are helping us out for a change… yep I said celebrities!

Unless you live in a cave and have no access to the outside world you heard today that Barry Bonds was indited by the Federal Grand jury. Obstruction of Justice and perjury.
To break it down for you he lied and he cheated.

So now.. we don’t want to become a sports blog, so I will put this in Scouting terms.
He lied and he cheated.

A Scout is Trustworthy! Barry is not. Its that simple.
And this is the stuff that all good Scoutmaster minutes are made of. Real life played out in front of us giving us life lessons on how we can use the Scout Oath and Law in our daily lives.

I have said it so many times… If you live the Oath and Law you will never go wrong.
If Barry understood the values of the Law, he would not have lied and he certainly would not have cheated. I am not saying Barry Bonds ever did steroids.. that really does not matter at this point. In fact I would much rather he did and came clean about it. But Bonds lied and in the process kept the truth about other scandals from the authorities.

And the real lesson here has nothing to do with steroids or Barry Bonds. It has everything to do with being Trustworthy and knowing what right looks like. Had Bonds just worked hard, he still may have hit all those home runs. Had he given honest effort and used his talent he would not be in the news in a negative light. If he had lived as an example of Trust, he would not have been indicted today.

The other night I told the Troop that if you ever find yourself looking over your shoulder, you are about to do something wrong, something that one day you will regret. You may “Get away with it now, but it will always be there and one day catch up to you.

I wonder if Barry Bonds thinks about what may have been had he not got mixed up in Balco?
I wonder if Barry Bonds knows the kind of man that he could have been, respected for his talent and skill.
I wonder if Barry Bonds understands the impact that he has left, not only on Baseball, but on everyone that now looks at him for what he appears to be. A liar and cheat.

I hope you all think about living the Scout and Law before you do the wrong thing and understand the impact it will have on you and those around you. Remember, you make a promise to do so… on your Honor.

I’ll leave you with this. Put Barry Bonds aside. It boils down to Trustworthy and doing the right thing. Never put yourself in a bad position and you will never have to get out of one.

Do not tolerate Liars, cheaters, or thieves.. they are never right!

Thanks Barry.. you make Scoutmaster minutes to easy!

Happy Scouting!


…Find out what it means to me…R-E-S-P-E-C-T…

Respect seems to be one of those values that is fading, going the way of the buffalo. Seems that way, but I hope not.
We had a lengthy chat the other night about respect and how it effects the life of a Patrol.
Patrols will never be good patrols until the members respect one another. There will never be an end to violence unless people respect one another. There will never be an end to crime until those that commit crime learn to respect others.
And so it goes.

The Patrol and Troop needs to be aware that it all comes down to respect. Respect for each others ideas. Respect for each others property, respect for each others feelings. Respect for each other as a person.
You can not move in the direction of a “High performance team” until all the members respect the vision of the leader and understand that the team wants to move forward. Respecting the idea that there is give and take. You can not always get your way.
Respect goes deeper than that though. It is the basic idea that you want to be treated by others the way you treat them. Lets assume that you treat others well, you expect to be treated well.

It is the golden rule and no matter where you are from, what faith community you belong to, what culture you were born to. Treating others the way you want to be treated is a basic tenant. Respect is the foundation of that thought.

I am sure that you will find that when respect is given it is received. Let’s take for example the place were the Troop meets.
We make sure that every time we use it, we take out the trash, straighten the chairs and clean up any mess we made. This leaves the meeting hall in good shape for the next people. The owners of the hall see that we continually do our part to keep it clean. They see that we respect this gift that has been given and they continue to give. On the other hand if we trash it and treat the hall with disrespect, they would surely kick us out.
It is something as simple as that.

Respect one another and you will find that much of what you perceive as problems will go away. You will find that others will respect you in return.

Nothing good can happen until mutual respect is given.

Happy Scouting!