Month: April 2008

Competition…its what we do

Boys have a competitive spirit. We are born with it. We compete in just about anything.
Look at your Scout Troop and see how they compete. You will find that they are in a constant state of competition.

Thinking back at Summer camp. After grace, its a mad dash to see who can be first in line for Dinner. They sign up for more merit badges than their buddy, try to swim farther or faster, shoot more bulls eyes and see who can stay up latest.

The competitive spirit is a part of being a boy. We compete at camporee, we compete in School, we compete at home, just watch a set of siblings go at it.
Without competition we get lazy and lack creativity.
Allowing the Scouts to compete is a good thing. It creates an environment of healthy competition and good sportsmanship. It teaches the Scouts valuable lessons about life as a grown up, where we continue to compete, for jobs, status, and fun.

I have heard some Scout leaders say that competition is bad, they we need to make sure every Scout is a winner. Well I disagree. I think that we create winners through competition. Those that compete and loose win in the end through the valuable lessons learned. They strive to do their best.. and that makes them a winner. Trophy or not.

Let them compete..push themselves.. and become winners through hard work and fun.

Happy Scouting!

It’s the same all over…

Since I started the “podcast thing” I have received emails from around the country commenting on some of the topics, sharing ideas, and generally talking about their units.
What I have found is that it is the same all over.

The Scouts in our Troops still love the out doors..they love to camp, they love the taste of adventure, and love the association of hanging out with their buddies.

I think that this is the essence of Scouting..or at least from the Scouts point of view. I don’t think they really care to much, or at least give it a lot of thought, about the game with a purpose. They are receptive to the purpose… but they really want to play the game.

I said in a previous post, that we need to get out of the way and let them do it. This weekend and the climb instructor course, I learned more about the Scouts we teach, coach, train, and mentor.
There were a group of Scouts that were helping us out, they became our test subjects on the climbing wall and they fed us well.
These were average Scouts, they were helpful and curious, they were playful and serious, they were respectful and in some ways weird like 13 year olds are. In short, they were the Scouts you find in every Troop in America.
The point is that they taught us, by teaching them, that these Scouts of ours want to be challenged. They want to push them selves beyond the X Box… they want to be apart of an adventure, not stuck in a meeting hall.
I had an interesting talk with one of the boys. He is a life Scout… 15 years old. He has one requirement left to earn his Eagle award and is in no rush to get there. As he told me.. I have till I’m 18.. as long as I get to keep coming on cool stuff like this.. I’ll get it [Eagle Scout].
His attitude was great. He gets it, and will be an Eagle Scout one day.. but its not about that. Its about Adventure and learning, Skills and fun, Service to others and hanging out with his best friends. Friends he knows he can Trust, that are loyal, that are Friendly and kind, Courteous and Cheerful, helpful and brave, obedient, Clean in their thoughts, Thrifty and Reverent.

These Scouts, we love them because of who they are. They are kids looking for adventure and fun.. and structure along the way. They want to led, they want to challenge, and they want to push themselves… Give them a program that does all of that and you will never have a retention problem, a membership drought, or a Troop lacking in fun.

Happy Scouting!


Gotta share it!!!
I’m pumped.. Completed the Climb Instructor Course this weekend.. and ready to hit the rocks with the boys!

I learned so much this weekend, I must say that outside of Wood Badge.. this was the best course I have taken in the BSA.

Topping out and the BSA standards ensure that the Scouts have a Safe and incredible experience! Climb on Safely is a great program for every Troop.

If you are not taking advantage of the high adventure the BSA offers.. you are missing out.


Podcast Show #7 – New Parent Orientation

Our Troop has started a new program to introduce both the Troop and Boy Scouting to the parents of new Boy Scouts.
Show #7 is a discussion of New Parent/Scout leader orientation.
When Scouts transition from a Cub Scout Pack to a Boy Scout Troop, there are often unanswered questions and a sense of culture shock to the parent unfamiliar with the Boy Scouting Program. We explore these differences and try to set the new parent at ease by giving answers and instruction up front.

Listen or Download here
Standard Podcast [61:30m] mp3 format

Happy Scouting!

PTC media Forum

For those of you that check out onlines message boards or forums, it may be of some interest that you can now communicate with me via the PTC media Forum.
As I am being rolled into the PTC media group with my podcasts… you can send messages, leave comments or suggestions on the board.

Another great way of getting the story of Scouting out there and a fantastic way for you to reach me.

Happy Scouting!

The Senior Patrol Leader

The Scout led Troop starts with the Senior Patrol leader (SPL). He is the guy that runs the Troop. He is guided by the Scoutmaster and seeks input at the Patrol Leaders Council. He is an elected officer of the Troop and is charged with providing the Troop with Purpose and Direction.

The Boy Scouts of America identifies the Duties and Responsibilities of the SPL as:

1. Runs all the troop meetings, events, activities and the annual program planning conference.
2. Runs the patrol leader’s council meeting.
3. Appoints other troop junior leader with the advice and counsel of the Scoutmaster.
4. Assign duties and responsibilities to junior leaders.
5. Assists the Scoutmaster with junior leader training.
6. Sets a good example.
7. Enthusiastically wears the Scout uniform correctly.
8. Lives by the Scout Oath and Law.
9. Shows Scout spirit.

I want to focus on duties number 1, and 2.
First the SPL runs the Troop meetings, events and activities. Adult leaders like to get their hands in this pie, but restraint is the watch word. The SPL needs to be the guy up front. It is thru this action that the SPL establishes his standing as the leader of the Troop. Now I know that I have been guilty of jumping in and “helping” the SPL, but more times than not, he will get through the meeting.
The Scoutmaster needs to train the SPL. Give him the tools to succeed. Show him how to establish a meeting plan using the Troop meeting plan worksheet. Give the SPL the Troop Program resources book. This is a great tool for the SPL to get him heading in the right direction and will keep the PLC meeting focused and efficient.
The Scoutmaster needs to show confidence in the SPL. Give the SPL clear instruction and guidance and then allow him the flexibility to accomplish the task as he sees fit. Let him learn from his mistakes. Review the process at the completion of a task or at the end of a camp out and have the SPL brief back his feelings on how he did, the unit did, and what he can do better next time.
The Patrol Leaders Council can make or break an SPL’s tenure. If he runs effective PLC meetings, his time in office will be smooth and fun. The SPL needs to encourage the Patrol leaders to take ownership of the Troop. They establish the plan and then are charged with executing their plan. Success is up to them. They get their guidance from the SPL. Like I said, the SPL sets the purpose and direction of the Troop. He owns the plan and needs to do his best to get the PLC on board. Once the PLC owns the plan and has bought into the purpose and direction of the Troop, they will have a fun and successful year.
It all starts with the Senior Patrol Leader. A well trained and motivated SPL can be the difference between a Super Troop and an average Troop. A Scoutmaster that understands his role in working with the SPL sets the troop up for success.

Happy Scouting!

8 Elements to Consider when planning…

As we continue to develop our skills at leave no trace, we need to come back to planning.
Planning sets you up not only for an outstanding trip in the wilderness, but a trip that will exercise the principles of leave no trace.

In order to develop good habits of leave no trace you need to consider LNT throughout your planning process.

Here are 8 elements to consider when planning the trip.
(Note: the highlighted material is from “Teaching Leave no Trace” BSA publication 21-117)

1. Identify and record the goals and expectations of your trip.
This is important as you should have a set of goals for each trip. Even if the goal is just to go out and have fun. Setting goals will keep you focused while on the trek.

2. Identify the skills and abilities of the participants.
Knowing the skill level of those on the trip determines where you go, what you take, and how much training needs to happen before you go. It is important when planning to know the abilities of the group when it comes to leave no trace, and lays a solid foundation of the LNT principles.

3. Select destinations that match the goals, skills, and abilities of participants.
As stated above, the skills level and goals of the group will set the course of the trip.

4. Seek information about the area your group plans to visit from land managers, maps, and literature.
An important part of the planning process is knowing where you are going, how to get there, and what the restrictions are in the area. Getting maps and talking to land owners is important. As Scouts we want to ensure that we treat property with respect and use only land that we are authorized to be in. Know the rule of gates… if you see one that is open, leave it open, if it is closed, close it behind you…or do not enter.

5. Check the normal weather patterns and temperature ranges fro the area during the time of year your trek is planned. Get a projected weather forecast the night before departure. Adjust your plans if necessary, considering the knowledge, experience, and preparedness of the group.
Planning right up to the last minute is important as conditions may change or access may be limited due to sudden changes in weather. Do not let a little rain stop a trip, as much as weather changes can come, they can also go. What starts out as a rainy trip can turn into a sunny, beautiful trip. But also be careful for extreme weather. Head the warnings of weather forecasts. The Guide to Safe Scouting outlines precautions to consider about weather.
Also check out Scouting Safely and learn more about training for hazardous conditions and more.

6. Choose equipment and clothing for comfort, safety, and follow leave no trace principles. Include these outdoor essentials:
Extra Clothing
Extra trail food
Rain gear
Pocket knife
Matches and fire starters
Water bottles
Map and compass
First aid kit
Sun and insect protection
Small trowel for digging small cat hole
Small strainer for removing food particles from dish water
Gators for muddy or rocky trails

7. Axes and saws are not needed for collecting wood for a leave no trace fire.
Leave no trace fires burn only downed, dead materials laying on the ground. If you can’t break it with your hand, you should not burn it.

8. Plan trip activities to match the goals of the group.
Back to number 1. Know the abilities and goals of the group. Plan your activities to meet the needs and goals of the group. If you are taking a group of newer, younger Scouts, set the goals to match their skill level.

And finally evaluate the trip. Learn from what you did well, what you need to improve on, and what you need to stop doing. A good idea is to keep a log. Write it all down, you won’t regret it for future trips.

Happy Scouting!