Month: September 2008

The Chartered Organization

The other day while I was training new Scoutmasters and Assistant Scoutmasters, we were discussion the Troop Organization.
I asked if people in the room knew who the Chartered Organization was for their units, some did, most did not.
The Chartered Organization is an important part of the Troop, Pack, or Crew.
A Chartered Organization plays a key role in the Council. The Boy Scouts of America, through the local Council grants a Charter to an organization. This could be a Church, a School, a Civic group, or many other groups that want to support Scouting and deliver a Scouting Program to the youth of a community.

Once this Charter is granted the Chartered Organization is responsible to:

Conduct Scouting in accordance with its own policies and guidelines as well as those of the BSA.
Include Scouting as part of its overall program for youth and families.
Appoint a chartered organization representative who is a member of the organization and will represent it to the Scouting district and council, serving as a voting member of each.
Select a unit committee of parents and members of the organization who will screen and select unit leaders who meet the organization’s leadership standards as well as the BSA’s standards.
Provide adequate and secure facilities for Scouting units to meet on a regular schedule with time and place reserved.
Encourage the units to participate in outdoor experiences.

I was surprised to know that many Scouters are unaware of the Chartered Organization, their Chartered Organization Representative, and how this part of Scouting affects their unit.

The key with the COR and Chartered Organization is Communication. The CO and the COR need to communicate with the Units Committee to ensure that the units needs are being met.
The Unit Committee needs to communicate with the COR to ensure that the unit is meeting the CO’s expectations and needs. Working closely together they will provide an environment that builds the very best Scouting experience for the Scouts.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Don’t Max the Minimum

To often we do things just to do things, what I mean by that is that we go through the motions to punch a ticket, fulfil the minimum requirements or just get by on a task.
I see this all the time on camp outs, especially camp outs like Camporee. The Scouts are “Required” to have their 10 Essentials on them throughout the course of the day. The 10 essentials are supposed to be inspected or at least an inspectable item as they go from event to event and in some cases they may have to use one.
But have you seen some of these “10 essential” kits. The boys have learned to “MAX the MINIMUM”. One of the 10 essentials is extra clothes. In most cases that is a pair of socks or a t- shirt. Hardly what is meant by extra clothes. Or take a look at their Extra food. A candy bar?
You see the 10 Essentials is an insurance policy in your backpack.
The 10 essentials system is designed to ensure that no matter what you are prepared. A quick look at the 10 items and why they are essentials needs to be taught to the Scouts. It is not a matter of maxing the minimum, it could be a matter of survival in the case of an emergency.

First. A Map.
No matter where you go, there is a map for the location. Always have a map of the area that you are going to be. This is more important than you realise, especially when you get disoriented…A glance at the map can get you back on track, find your trail, and get you out of the mess you find yourself. Even without a compass, a map can be the difference between being lost and stay lost.

Second. A Compass.
A compass is a life saver. Carry a compass, at all times, in the back country–and know how to use it ! Some features to look for:
a. 0 to 360 degrees, preferably, in 2 degree increments;
liquid filled, which protects the magnetic needle and its jeweled bearing and minimizes fluctuation;
b. a base plate–3″ to 4″, in length– which can be used as a straight-edge for taking map bearings and determining distances on maps;
c. an adjustable declination to account for the difference between Magnetic North and True North. The compass responds to Magnetic North, whereas, maps are based upon True North. Therefore, the compass needs to be adjusted to compensate. An adjustable declination feature lets you turn a small screw to “permanently” adjust declination to match the geographic area you will be in, so that you don’t need to calculate your bearing each time.

Third. A Flashlight or preferably a Headlamp.
It is important to carry a headlamp, even for a day trip. You never know when you may get stuck and end up remaining over night. Or hiking out in hours of darkness. Headlamps allow you hands free light, which is best when hiking, tying knots, and cooking.

Fourth. Extra Food.
Whenever you go out, even for a day trip, bring extra food in case you are delayed by emergencies, foul weather, or just get lost. It is suggested by most experts to carry a one-day supply. At the very least, bring one good meal more than what you need. The food should require little or no cooking. If your extra food will require cooking, make sure you also carry extra fuel for your stove.

Fifth. Extra Clothing
Aside from the basic layers that you will normally wear, take along something extra. Something that may add a layer, keep you dry, or warm. Clothing that will get you through a night in wilderness. A jacket that is water proof as well as wind proof, a sweater, or fleece long johns. A t-shirt or extra socks, while they are needed would not be considered “Extra clothes”.

Sixth. Sunglasses.
While Sunglasses do not seem so essential, it is amazing how snow, sun, wind, and UV rays damage your eyes. Sunglasses become critical when in the back country as the last thing you want is to get out there and not enjoy the beauty that you came out there to see.
Eye damage can be lasting. Eye protection is a must.

Seventh. First Aid kit.
The item that you never want to use. Make sure to carry plenty of bandages in various sizes. Tweezers and a needle should be in your kit. Mole skin and neosporin should also be in your first aid kit. Build your own or buy one, but have a first aid kit.
Also a small book on wilderness first aid is a good idea to have in your kit. It will help in a pinch, and it is also good reading while you wait for help.

Eighth. Pocket Knife or Multi tool.
You can use your pocket knife for lots of things. Cutting food, cutting kindling and tinder for a fire, cutting rope, or getting out of a tight spot. Essential to you in more ways than you think, your pocket knife is essential for fire, shelter, food, and first aid.

Ninth. Waterproof Matches.
Carry matches which have been waterproofed or wind and waterproofed, or else carry extra strike-anywhere matches–along with something to strike them on– in a waterproof container. Keep these matches separate from your regular matches that way you only use them in case of emergency.

Tenth. Water/Water Bottle.
You must have water to live. So caring extra water is a good idea. Water bottles full or a bladder like a Camel Back or Platypus store in the pack and carry fair amounts.
The ability to purify water is a must. A good pump or tablets are easy to carry and use.

Now that we have looked at the 10 Essentials lets take a quick look at a few additional items that are a must. They are the plus 5.

Fire Starter. Store bought or homemade. Cotton balls soaked in wax or lint from the dryer. Having something that will get your fire started faster will be a nice help in the wilderness.
A Whistle. Weather making noise in bear country, or blowing it to get found. A whistle is a light weight tool that has multiple uses.
Insect repellent. Good to have to keep the bugs off. Keeps you from swatting and scratching, and prevents you from perhaps getting sick.
Sun Block. Just like sunglasses, you do not want to get a sun burn. Sun burns can ruin a good trip, and the longer you are exposed the deeper the burn can get. Get at least SPF 15.
And finally the most important essential of them all.

Having the right gear is good. Knowing how to use that gear is better. More often than not it is not the persons gear that saves them in a pinch. It is the knowledge of how to use the gear. It is their experience, good judgement, and know how that ultimately saves them.
Inexperience and lack of knowledge in the wilderness is a recipe for disaster.

And that is why we focus so much attention on skills. Many nights of camping should develop confidence and skills. If you take the time and energy to camp well and practice good skills, ensure you have the right gear and take care of it, and learn the basics of Map and Compass, fire building, first aid, you will be able to make sound choices and get yourself out of trouble in the wilderness.

Read more about the Scouting’s 10 essentials here.

Have a Great Scouting Day.

Eagle Board

Last night I had the privilege of sitting on an Eagle Scout Board of review. All Scoutmasters in our District are encouraged to participate when they are available and last night, not only was I asked, but because I knew the Scout I thought it would a good experience.

The Scoutmaster of this Scout, serving as his advocate, gave us a run down of the young man. He started with “He is a shy kid, but liked by everyone in the Troop”. It was all up hill from there.

The young man entered the room, in full uniform, sash full of merit badges and a huge smile on his face. We had him recite the Oath and Law and he took a seat. I kept waiting for the shy kid to come in.
The questions started and the board of review quickly became a conversation. The young man was articulate, smart, witty, and least of all shy.
He was very in tuned to what was his goals were and where he wanted to be in life. He had opinions about the world we live in and even dove in to social issues. He talked about the merit badges he had earned and the impact that some of them have had on his life. He spoke about the Citizenship series merit badges in particular stating that while they did not make him an expert, they opened his eyes to his Community, Nation, and World and got him thinking beyond his own front yard.

But my favorite part of the night was when we talked about him. He is an accomplished musician, not only in the orchestra at School, but in a pseudo rock band. He is a member of the National Honor Society, and wished they had a 5 in the GPA scale, he has held a 4.0 the last two years. He is a leader at School, a Freshman mentor, which he takes a lot of pride in helping the lost new kids at the High School. (He is a Senior) He is active in his Church, not only attending, but leading in the youth group and playing in the praise band. He plays sports and he works for his dad, splitting wood. He has a great group of friends and hangs out till the wee hours on Saturday nights “Partying with his friends”.
But the statement of the night was when we talked about peer pressure. We talked about all of the things he does and how busy his life was. To which he answered, “I love my life”.
That was it for me. This kid is the package deal.

As the board deliberated on his Eagle Scout candidacy one of the board members stated that what he saw confirmed everything that he thought and Eagle Scout should be.
He went on to talk about three things that aid in the success of this young man and young men like him.
First- A good family that supports him and that are active in Scouting also.
Second- A good unit, that nourishes, mentors and develops leaders, one that ensures the Scouts earn their way.
And Third- A good group of supportive friends that share the same values.
If one of those components were to be removed, the chance of success goes down.
This young man, who is 17 years old, could easily bow to the pressures of the world he lives in, instead he surrounds himself with people of the same value set, the same drive, and the same commitment to success. He leads by example, knowing what is right and striving to do the right thing. When asked about religion and the Reverence part of the Scout law, he answered; “All Scouts should have some sort of faith, they should believe in some higher being or power, but most of all we all should just treat each other well.”

I think he gets it.
It was truly an honor to sit on his board last night, he reinforced many things that I knew to be true, and got me thinking about how I teach, coach, train, and mentor as a Scoutmaster.
Now I firmly believe that Hope is never a plan… but this young man gives me lots of hope and promise for the future of our Community. I look forward to seeing him continue to grow and become a good man. It was a refreshing evening for me to see our future is in good hands.

Have a Great Scouting Day!


Jamboree on the Internet.
Most of you have heard about Jambo on the Air, an opportunity for Scouts and Scouters to join in a Worldwide Scouting activity!

Jamboree on the Internet will take place October 18th and 19th, 2008.
Check out this website for more details about how you can get involved in JOTI!

Check it out.. what a great way to share in this wonderful thing called Scouting!

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Muffins anyone?

In our never ending quest for better Backpacking meals, stuff that will attack the taste buds while filling the belly or satisfying the need for a good snack, I stumbled on this the other day at one of my favorite sites NOLS.. the National Outdoor Leadership School.
Baking Muffins – Ultralight Steam-Baked Style from NOLS on Vimeo.

Try it.. I did it with my Jetboil and they turned out great! Can’t wait to try it on the trail.

Have a Great Scouting Day!


I talk a lot about the Aims of Scouting. Here are the Aims and how they are broken down straight from the proverbial “Horses mouth”.
As referenced in the BSA Fast Start Training:

Character Development
Encompasses a boy’s personal qualities, values, and outlook.
A Scout learns confidence, honesty, and self-respect.
A Scout respects other people, regardless of differences.
A Scout practices his religious beliefs.

Citizenship Training
A Scout works among others in a troop with rules based on the common good.
A Scout learns about and takes pride in his own national heritage.
A Scout understands social, economic, and governmental systems.
A Scout learns service, tolerance, and community involvement.

Mental and Physical Fitness
A Scout improves his physical condition through exercise and outdoor activities.
A Scout encourages good health habits.
A Scout discourages drug, alcohol, and tobacco use.
A Scout learns sound judgment, resourcefulness, and decision-making skills.

Simple enough for me. If we are not working to this end… we are doing it wrong.
Remember what BP said.. “Scouting is a game with a purpose”. This is our purpose, we just need to play game.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Perhaps my favorite topic

Recently in the PTCmedia forums a Scouter posted a new topic. It caught my eye, as leadership always does.

His post asked several questions:

“Who makes up your unit’s leadership? Is it current parents? the Old Goat or rocking chair Patrol of people that are retired or semiretired?
What unique positions do you have? Do you have any positions outside what the BSA Recommends?
When Do you recruit your leadership? Is it an annual drive. Do you have 2 year terms, unlimited service?
Where do you get your leaders? Where do you meet?
Why do you think your successful recruiting leaders or why you need more assistance getting leaders.
How do you recruit leaders? How were you recruited?

There, that should be enough ideas to get a leader’s campfire discussion going.”

And here is or was my response…

The leaders in my unit are the Scouts. No we don’t have any unique positions. Just your basics…
Senior Patrol leader, he runs the Troop, along with his Assistant Senior Patrol Leader.
Then we have a group of Patrol Leaders. They do most of the work.
We have a Quartermaster, a Scribe, a Historian and of course a Chaplains Aide.
They have 6 month terms and are elected by their peers.

We get our leaders from Gresham High School, Reynolds High School, Dexter McCarty Middle School, and Walt Morey Middle School. We all met through the Troop.
I knew a lot of them when they were Cub Scouts.

I think we are successful because we let the boys lead. They own the Troop. They come up with the plan and they know that they have supportive Adults that are there to guide them.

Then we have a group of Teachers, Coaches, trainers, and Mentors. We typically call them Assistant Scoutmasters. We get them from Wal Mart…. no they are really just Dads that are dedicated.
We make them go to training or they can not play our game.
If they do not go to training they have an opportunity to serve on the Committee, but that means they do not work with the Scouts.Our committee is very supportive also. We have a big committee… a group of parents that want to help, but from the comfort of home. They are not required to get wet, dirty, or learn knots.
Recruiting them has not been a problem, we just ask and show them where they are NEEDED.
They do not have a term limit, we hold on to them as long as they want to stay.
I personally do not recruit leaders, that is the committee’s job, but I do make recommendations when it comes to ASMs.
We only have 4 and will only have 4 until we get bigger. We have determined that more is not always better in a boy led troop. Sure we need seat belts, but that is what the committee is for.ASMs focus their energy on coaching and teaching first. They do not make decisions, I believe that is what we call Guided Discovery.

I was recruited by our Chartering Partner, that has determined that they only will have men as the Scoutmaster and ASMs. They believe that our boys need strong male role models.. and well I am a man, so I qualified.I have a strong leadership background and an understanding of the Boy Scout program.They asked and I said yes. It was really that simple.

Oh.. and while we all…Scouts and Adults have fun.. we won’t ever be an “Old Goat” Patrol or a “Rocking Chair” Patrol.. Patrols are where the Boys practice the Patrol method. It is where they learn citizenship and practice leadership. We don’t do that. We set an example of good judgement, good character, and fitness. We are not a clique, we are Adult leaders in the Troop.

Sorry if they upsets anyone.. but when I was a Scout, I was in the Eagle Patrol, the flaming Arrow Patrol, and the Pedro Patrol.. and adults were not in my patrol then either… and they did not run around with patrol patches on demonstrating their age or position. Just a peeve of mine.

Leadership is the topic… Ours is Boy led.

So on this post.. do not leave a comment with me… just post your leadership thoughts in the forum. I am curious to read what you all think, or how you answer the questions.
Great topic.

Have a Great Scouting Day!