Month: September 2008

Telling the Scouting Story

A few years back when I was the Sergeant Major of an Infantry Battalion preparing for a long camp out in Iraq, they (the man) sent a group of us Sergeants Major to a class where we were briefed that among other things this war would be a way for us to tell the Army Story. I thought to myself that the Army at the time was 228 years old, every one knew the Army story. You know… crossing the Delaware, Gettysburg, D-Day all that. But what the Public Affairs guy was getting at was the Army as it is known to the public.

Now I am sure that John Q Public knows that the Army goes out and fights the wars the Congress gets them into, and it does humanitarian aid, fights floods, Guards the Tomb of the Unknown, and that stuff. They know that young men and women get college money and opportunities for fun, travel and adventure… but do they know the soldiers, the values, and the leadership? That is the Army story.. the people that make up the Army.
I got it. And we did in fact have the opportunity over the course of our stay in south central Baghdad to tell our story. In our Soldiers and the remarkable things they did for the village of Hilla and the out lying farms. In the Values that our Soldiers lived, in general, in our people… the people that we send to do our Nations bidding.

We are on the eve of a marvelous event in our history. The 100th Anniversary of Scouting in America. As we have crossed the threshold of Centenary of the Scouting and are in the home stretch to what is being billed as the biggest and best ever Jamboree and Centennial Celebration.
It is a great time to tell Scouting’s story. Over 38,000 Scouts and leaders from 158 countries attended the 21st world Jamboree in England. Now that is not a remarkable number, but think about it. Compare that number to arguably the largest Olympic event in Beijing, soccer only drew 43,883. And the Scouts and Scouters that attended the World Jamboree in England arrived and stayed.. camped for the entire trip.
Oh and 50,000 folks attended the World Jamboree on day visits. That is a lot of people that are active in Scouting and chose to participate in this celebration.
It is anticipated that well over 43,000 Scouts will be in attendance at our National Jamboree in 2010. 43,000 Scouts! In one place… for one event… for Scouts!

This is part of our story. The sheer numbers let you know that Scouting is alive and well.
But we need to tell the story. We do not want those that really do not understand the Scouting movement telling the story. They might come to it with a bias, or a preconceived notion of Scouting. They will not understand the values that we live, the game of Scouting that we play, the methods used and the goals we are trying to achieve.
They may think Scouting is exclusive.. and to a certain extent we are.. we want people that want to have faith, values, and sense of adventure.
We want Adults that are safe and provide the very best for our Scouts.
We only accept the very best from them, because a boys future depends on it. So if we exclude, it is probably for the right reasons, but we give everyone an opportunity, they just need to follow our rules… it’s really just that simple.
But our story needs to be told. Told in the positive things that Scouting does in the communities that we live in. In the individual Scouts that demonstrate their willingness to put others before themselves. In the selfless acts of Scouts that become heroes, even if it is as small as helping a cat out of a tree or carrying a few bags of groceries for a lady with small kids.
These things happen every day. Our Scouts seize opportunities daily to live the Scout Oath and Law. This is our story.

Bloggers, podcasters, and webmaster should tell the Scouting Story in a positive light. Demonstrating their zeal for the program and what it offers our Scouts, our Community, our Country, and World.
We should go out of our way to show the great things that are happening in our units and seek positive reporting.

It is our story to tell.. lets tell it how we want it to be read.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Picked this up along the way, thought it may be worth passing on.

The Boy Scout’s Mother Asked
by F. Darnall Daley, Jr.

“Where has my little baby gone?”
The Cub Scout’s Mother asked,
“He went by here awhile ago.
Did you not see him pass?”

He’d gone to be a Tiger Cub
And then a Wolf was he.
He learned to carve the pinewood car,
And sing the songs with glee.

And after that he was a Bear,
And then a Webelos Scout.
He learned the Boy Scout Oath and Law,
And fun in full amount.

Crossed over to be a Boy Scout,
And shown what kindness meant.
His best is what he’d have to be,
Everywhere he went.

“Where has my baby boy gone?”
The Boy Scout’s Mother asked,
“He went by here awhile ago.
Did you not see him pass?”

To hike the trails and pitch a tent,
To swim the lakes and streams,
To kindle a fire under the stars,
These were his every day dreams.

Down the long trail to Eagle,
He smilingly went his way.
The many adventures that he had,
Shaped the man we see today.

Learned to be a citizen,
A helping hand to lend.
He learned what cheerful service means,
And how to be a friend.

“Where has my baby boy gone?”
The Boy Scout’s Mother asked,
“He went to be a Boy Scout,
And he grew to be a man.”

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Ahh yes… the basics

It seems a theme this year so far is that we all need to get back to the basics a bit…
Ok I’ll speak for myself and my Troop, but the basics are what got us here, and the basics will move us forward.
Another aspect of the basics that we discussed last night was accountability.
Now before anyone gets their campaign hat in a knot because this is only Scouting, it serves us well to remind one another that we are here for fulfill or achieve the goals of Scouting…
Say it with me… Character Development, Citizenship training, and Physical fitness!
Ok now… if you think I am going to beat on that horse again, well.. wrong. I am coming at this from a different angle.

Last night during my Scoutmaster minute with the Troop I talked about Inspecting what we expect. If you have never heard that term before it is simply to say that if we expect a task to be completed, we need to inspect the process, the plan, and follow up. If we expect the Scouts to be in Uniform, then we should inspect our selves and make sure we are setting a good example. If I expect the Troop Committee to have a seat belt plan each month, I need to attend the committee meeting and inspect that it has been done, along with a Trip permit etc.
It is a simple leadership tool that ensures success. You see if you fail to inspect, you will fail to see the shortfalls in the execution of the plan. And therefore.. you will fail in the end.
Or at least fail to get the results you were shooting for.

Why have goals if you do not want to attain them?
Well if you want to attain the goals… inspect the process of getting there. All leaders should do this.

We also have expectations of one another. I expect a lot out of the Troop Committee, the Chartered Organization expects a lot out of me. And so do the Parents of our Troop. They expect me to run a Troop program full of adventure, skills and development. They want to see their son come out of Scouting better than when he entered the program. With Character, and good sense of Citizenship, and maybe more physically fit than when he started. An appreciation for the out doors and having had learned lesson that will last him a life time. Oh and they want him to have fun!
They expect that from me and inspect the progress frequently. They are given immediate feedback from their son every Monday night and upon return from a camping adventure. Oh and I hear it when Tommy Tenderfoot had a bad time.

The point here is that inspecting progress is in the course of any leaders regular task list.
The leader needs to understand expectations and how to attain them. Given a clear set of guidance; Purpose, Direction, and Motivation, the leader can execute the plan and produce the results desired. And yes 12 year olds can do this too!

I expect a lot out of our Junior leaders, I expect them to learn, from each other and from their mistakes. I expect them to learn from me and the assistant Scoutmasters. I expect them to do their very best. I expect them to earn and achieve. I expect them to shy away from the “Gimme”. Because in life… nothing is free. I expect them to take care of their Patrols and keep their patrols need above their own. I expect them to develop skills and teach those skills.
I expect them to wear the uniform properly and completely. I expect them to live the Scout Oath and law, not only on Mondays and camp outs… but every day. I expect them to do well in School, play sports, love their parents, and at least get along with their sisters.
I expect a lot out of our future… and I inspect all of the above.

Inspect what you expect and see the results.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Baden Powell on the Basics

I often refer to the basics, keeping Scouting simple and remembering the reasons we are here and why we do this thing called Scouting.
I attended a dinner in honor of a Scouter the other night, at the end of his comments he read from Baden Powell’s last message to the Scouts of the world.
I have read this before, but until the other night I did not see the simplicity in which the founder of Scouting saw things.
It is worth a look, to see that if we just keep it simple, we will always do it right.

Baden Powell’s last message (1945)
Dear Scouts,
– if you have ever seen the play Peter Pan you will remember how the pirate chief was always making his dying speech because he was afraid that possibly when the time came for him to die he might not have time to get it off his chest. It is much the same with me, and so, although I am not at this moment dying, I shall be doing so one of these days and I want to send you a parting word of goodbye.
Remember, it is the last you will ever hear from me, so think it over.

I have had a most happy life and I want each one of you to have as happy a life too.
I believe that God put us in this jolly world to be happy and enjoy life. Happiness doesn’t come from being rich, nor merely from being successful in your career, nor by self-indulgence. One step towards happiness is to make yourself healthy and strong while you are a boy, so that you can be useful and so can enjoy life when you are a man.

Nature study will show you how full of beautiful and wonderful things God has made the world for you to enjoy. Be contented with what you have got and make the best of it. Look on the bright side of things instead of the gloomy one.

But the real way to get happiness is by giving out happiness to other people. Try and leave this world a little better than you found it and when your turn come to die, you can die happy in feeling that at any rate you have not wasted your time but have done your best. “Be Prepared” in this way, to live happy and to die happy – stick to your Scout promise always – even after you have ceased to be a boy – and God help you do it.

Your friend,

I love the final paragrah. “Be Prepared” and live the “Scout promise always.” It really is that simple. I have said it all along that if we stick to the Oath and Law.. we can’t go wrong. In the footsteps of the founder, who understood the simplicity of a life spent well… spent happy.

Be happy Scouts and Scouters.. thats what it’s all about!

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Troop Shopping

It’s that time of the year. The kids are back in School.. No more back to school shopping, School opens houses are wrapped up and we know who the teachers are. The weather is changing, gone are the hot days of summer and clouds are creeping back in. Chilly mornings and its getting dark after dinner. When Webelos Den leaders are on the phone setting up Troop visits, parents are looking at Troops, and Webelos Scouts are ready to cross over… well not completely ready, but they are anxious and wanting more. More in Scouting.
Over the past week I have been on the receiving end of many phone calls from parents of Webelos and a hand full of Webelos den leaders seeking time to come and pay a visit to a Troop meeting and hit an outing. This is great, it means that the boys are wrapping up their Arrow of Light requirements and that they are looking at transition.
What I learned in the first couple calls was that the Den leaders and most of the parents were pretty much punching the ticket for the AOL requirement in their approach.
You see, for me finding a troop is a lot more than just finding a unit close to home, or one that goes camping, or does a ton of service projects.
When I was a Webelos Den leader, after my tour in the Cubmaster position, we were looking for a Troop for our oldest son. I had made lots of friends in our Scouting community and had looked at a few Troops throughout the year. But when it came time for “official” Troop visits, I started looking with a more critical eye.
I came up with a list of things that I wanted to see in Scout Troop. My son came up with a few things that he wanted to see… and together we set out to find the perfect Troop.. for us.
Some of the questions and things that I needed to see as a Parent and potential Scout leader were:
1. Is the unit Boy led? This is important. Boy leadership is critical in the functioning of a Boy Scout Troop. Units that do not have Boy leadership are missing out on Leadership development, Citizenship opportunities, and building confidence and Character in the Scouts. Units that do not allow for the Boys to lead are nothing more than Webelos III dens.
2. Are the Adult leaders trained? This too is extremely important for a few reasons. First, if the Adult leaders are not trained then they can not know the program as it is intended to be presented. They surely will leave something out, or dismiss it as silly and “that’s not the way we did it when I was a Scout”.. as they light a campfire with a flare. The BSA program is outlined in training, and while not all training sessions are dynamic and wonderful, the material that is presented is consistent with the way the BSA wants it done. Second, for me it shows a lack of commitment on the part of the Adult leader. If he can not take one or two days out of his schedule to get trained then I do not think he is dedicated enough to take my son out into the woods. Every Scout leader should view their position as a privilege. Parents leave their sons in the trust of that leader, the least they can do is go to training and allow the parents a bit of understanding that they want the best for their sons.
3. Who runs the meetings? The Boys or the adults? Now I know that there are cases where the Scoutmaster needs to get up there and talk or teach, but by and large, who is running the meeting?
4. Are the older Scouts teaching and working with the younger Scouts? This speaks to skills development and leadership. Is the Troop teaching skills, and are the Scouts retaining them.
Repetition of skills makes the Scouts stronger in them. When older Scouts teach the younger Scouts it helps both of them learn and retain those skills. Look at the Troops “Trail to First Class” program. How is conducted? Do they have goals? Are the older boys involved in that process?
5. Methods. There 8 methods in Scouting. As a parent or Webelos den leader, you should find out what they are. This link will help you out. LINK. Look for all 8 in a Troop. If they are not doing them… ask why not. They are all equal in importance. You need all 8 to achieve the AIMs of Scouting.. Character development, Citizenship training, and Physical fitness.
Look for it. Do not let a dynamic scout leader brush over the Aims and methods. They are the essence of Scouting and if they are missing, your son may as well be at the YMCA.
6. Adult and Youth interaction. How do they get along. If you hear lots of yelling and screaming… turn and run.
7. Youth interaction. Are they using the Patrol method? Do the Scouts seem to get along. You see this mainly on an outing, but you can get a glimpse of it at a Troop meeting also.
Do they divide up chores, maintain a duty roster, follow the Patrol leader?
Do you see cliques in the Troop? Friends are ok… but cliques are not so good, they tend to be exclusive and that is not part of the program.
Do you see the opportunity for hazing or other “Troop Traditions” that send up red flags? Again.. turn and run. There is nothing wrong with traditions, but when they involve a Scout being hazed or made a fool of, something is not right.
and finally..
8. Are the Scouts having fun? A simple look at the faces of the Scouts. Are they happy to be there, are they hanging out with friends and having a good time, or are they just there because mom and dad made them. Fun can be seen in every aspect of the Troop program when it is there. From the way the Scoutmaster interacts with the boys to the way the plan and prepare for the next event.

One last thing that you should look at during your visit. The annual plan. Ask to see what the Scouts came up with for the year. Yes I said SCOUTS CAME UP WITH. The plan should be planned and executed by the Scouts. Lots of guidance and coaching from the Scoutmaster and his assistants, but the plan should be owned and operated by the Scouts of the Troop. So ask to see the plan.

When my oldest son and I paid our visits to various Troops, we found lots of the elements we were looking for, but never saw the total package. Along with other adults and a hand full of kids, we started our own Troop with the commitment that we would do it right. It is working so far.
The Troop visit is an extremely important part of your Scouts experience. Be sure to ask the right questions, find the flavor you are looking for. Find what best suits your needs and the needs of your Scout. Have a critical eye and get what you want out of Scouting. There are lots of choices out there, pick the flavor you want. You may have to drive a little farther, or rearrange your schedule a bit. But remember it is for your son, and he deserves the vary best.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Value for your dollar…

During my discussion with Steve, Dave, and Shawn, we talked about Pack and Troop finances. At one point Dave said that we would think that what his Pack charges for dues would be excessive. I commented that as long as the people that have to pay for it do not think so, then it does not matter what anyone else thinks.
And that is not to be a smug comment, but a matter of fact that in our programs we see the value that comes from our dollar.
Our troop also charges a lot. We operate on a pretty big budget, and we would not have it any other way. You see, in order to have a great program you need to do great things. You can, and should be thrifty about it, but not at the expense of your program.
For example, every year we rent canoes. We find the best place that gives us the best deal and rent from them, currently we get the best deal from the Cascade Pacific Council. They have the cheapest rental out there, especially because we are a Presidential FOS unit.
Which brings me back to value.
Each year when we present our annual FOS Campaign, we hand out the cards and tell the audience to just look around. The room is filled with tan shirts and the bodies in those tan shirts are directly effected by the contributions made to the Friends of Scouting Campaign. We may never see a dollar, but we stay at Council camp site free because of our Presidential status, reduced rates at Summer camp, reduced canoe rates and other rentals. The benefits are many for the small amount that we ask in the campaign.
But it takes money to run a Scout unit… no if ands or buts.. it takes dollars to make the unit go.
Some may argue that Scouting should be less expensive, and while there are area in which I think the cost is inflated, I think that rather than complain about the cost, get creative.
Our Scouts pay their own way through the Scouting year. They fund raise, collect pop cans, and yeah… ask grandma and grandpa… but by and large the onus is on the Scout. There is no reason a Scout can not participate, as long as he is willing and able sell popcorn, Christmas wreaths, or get wet at a car wash, the Scout can pay his way. Cubbie too.
To many times I hear the parents of Scouts complain about the cost… they complain, because they do not see the value.
If they saw the value that they receive for their dollar, they would never complain.
We all know that you get what you pay for.
If you buy cheap camping gear, you will certainly buy it over and over again. When you invest in good gear and take care of it, it will last you a life time.
And so it is with Scouting. When we invest in the program with our time, our energy, and our dollars, we keep it strong and alive.
The BSA knows this and manages it’s dollars well. Keeping in mind that a Scout is thrifty, so is the BSA. Rarely do we hear of scandals about money in the Scouting movement. Rarely do we hear of mis use or treatment of funds or resources.
And so we invest. We invest, just like we invest in our homes, our cars, and our future. We invest in our Scouts and the Scouting program that we want to see thrive and continue to provide for the next generations.
We invest in Scouting because we know and can see the value of Scouting.
Last night, without giving it to much thought I invested more into Scouting. And I tell you this not for recognition or self promotion, but as an example of how we all should value our program.
On top of our families FOS contribution we made a contribution to the James E. West Fellowship, money which goes to the Cascade Pacific Council’s Endowment fund. The money was not the issue, nor is the award, but the value that money will have in Scouting in my community. Money that I will see in programs, scholarship, and support for Scouting.
I am glad that the BSA is in the business of fundraising. When we break it down, this program can be a lot more expensive if it were not for the endowments, fundraising through FOS, grants and other methods of collective the dollars that are so needed to have a quality program.

It was Ralph Waldo Emerson’s observation that “an institution is the lengthened shadow of one man.” We lengthen our shadow on Scouting when we make the contributions and support our units.
We see the value for our dollar when we see the smiling faces of the Scouts, the merit badge sashes, and the proud parents as they wear their parent pins. We see the value when we enter awesome Scout reservations and camps. We see the value in happy camp staffs and great resources. We see value each Monday night as close our meeting and Scouts raise their right hands and pledge to live the Scout Law. We see the value in those young men… our future. We are casting a shadow on them. And the it will be far reaching.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

It seems things happen in bunches…

Funny it seems that things happen in groups. They say that bad things happen in groups of three… well I think good things happen in greater numbers.
After talking with Nick last weekend, it seems that my Scouting World has just been getting bigger and better.
I have met some new Scouters and have had an more and more opportunities open up.
Tuesday night I made an attempt at opening up the lines and did call in show using Skype. A couple Scouting friends from Wisconsin, Minnesota, and California, joined me for a lengthy conversation on their Scouting worlds. It is nice to compare programs, operations, and just what makes our Scout units tick.
The show went longer than normal…but how can you turn it off once you get into a great talk…
Good things do come in bunches.. and Scouting gives us many opportunities to participate in those good things, even just talking with good Scouting friends.

Check out the show and all the other shows at the Scoutmaster Minute Podcast.

Have a Great Scouting Day!