Monthly Archives: September 2008

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!

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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!

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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!

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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!

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Raising the Bar

Our Troop has completed its semi annual elections. New leaders are assuming their positions, some after six months of training, watching, and picking up the do’s and don’ts of the boy led troop, while for others this is their first opportunity to lead.
Last night after the Troop meeting I asked to talk to all the newly elected leaders.
My talk was simple and to the point.
It was about raising the individual bar.
All of these Scouts have potential to be good leaders, notice I did not say great. They all have potential to be good, effective leaders. For some of them it will come harder than others, but as long as they want to lead, they will.
We have certain expectations of our leaders, regardless of their age, rank, or popularity in the troop. The first expectation is that all of our leaders set a good example.
This at times can be the most difficult. When a Scout becomes a leader he does not automatically enter the “No Fun Zone”. But he does have to watch how he acts. If we expect the Troop to be well behaved and demonstrate good skills, then the leaders need to be an example of good behavior and a master of skills. They need to know when the time and place for screwing around is and when not to do it.
They need to understand that they are looked to for leadership and guidance. From both the youth and from the adults. They need to understand what the goals of the Troop are for the year and we are asking them to buy into the plan by creating a course of action to achieve the goals both at the Patrol and Troop level.
The new leaders have got to raise the bar. The bar that is the Troop and the bar that is the individual hurdle.
Setting a good example, wearing the uniform properly, acting like a leader and moving away from being a follower.
They will all be attending Junior leader training where they will learn the mechanics of leadership. But it all starts with the boy in the tan shirt.
He will learn what to BE, KNOW, and DO. But he needs to start by BEING A GOOD EXAMPLE, KNOW HOW TO BE A GOOD EXAMPLE, AND DO HIS BEST TO BE A EXAMPLE OF SCOUT SKILLS AND GOOD ATTITUDE for his Patrol and Troop.

I am looking forward to working with this group of boys. They all have so much potential, it will be exciting to see them in six months and next year. It will be exciting to see how far they go in the next year… the sky is the limit, lets see if they get there.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

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Look who is on Facebook now…

Yes this is totally Scouting related. The Boy Scouts of America… as in the National office is on Facebook.

Check it out here.
Become a fan and help the BSA usher in the next 100 years!

Have a Great Scouting Day!

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Scouting is in fact a World Wide Brotherhood

For most of us, Scouting is a local activity. We do not think to much about how far reaching Scouting is.
Did you know that the World Scouting Organization is in 160 Countries? That’s right. Scouts in 160 Countries on this planet share the values and attitudes of Scouting. They keep alive Lord Baden Powell’s vision of Scouting. There are over 5 million Scouts in America. That is pretty big, but you know that is not the biggest. Indonesia has 8 million Scouts! Wow can you imagine their Jamboree’s?
If you would like to check out more about the World Scouting Organization check out their website.
Locally, and I suppose I should say for me, Scouting has always been international. When I was a Scout, my first Troop was in Holland. Troop 100 in the Transatlantic Council, BSA.
Because of the place were we lived, an international military community, our Troop met in a building were all the Scout units met. Canadian Scouts, German Scouts, British Scouts and Scouts from Holland. We all met in the same place and most of us at the same time. We camped together, we did projects together, we hiked together, and we shared Scouting in common as we became friends.
I can remember when I became a Scout there, our Troop Quartermaster gave us a little round purple patch. It was the WOSM patch and we were told that we had to put it on our uniforms. I never had it on my uniform back in the states when I was a Cub Scout, but they said it was to show our membership in the Brotherhood of Scouting. It was cool, because on Wednesday nights when the Scouts met…. We all, British, Canadian, German, Dutch, and us Americans all had that same patch proudly sewn on our uniforms right above our hearts.
I cherish those memories and they were brought out yesterday as I spoke with Nick Wood from England. We talked about Scouting in our two countries and as I listened to his accent, I remembered the British Scouts in Holland, how they acted and dressed, how they had “Tea” instead of lunch when we were camping. The songs they sang and the games they played. It was great to spend about 3 hours chatting with Nick.. and we will do it again.
What was really cool was that we talked on Skype, so we connected the Scouting world over the internet… for free! I think that is how old BP would have wanted it.
Nick posted on his blog about our conversation. Check it out.

In the world in which we live, it is important to remember that Scouting is International. Scouts in 160 Nations that believe in the Scout Oath and Law.
I thought I would share part of the Vision of the World Scouting Movement, I think you will find that we all have a part in this vision, and that it is the vision of the founder.

“The Vision for Scouting is:
As a global Movement, making a real contribution to creating a better world.
We see Scouting entering its second century as an influential, value-based educational Movement focused on achieving its mission, involving young people working together to develop their full potential, supported by adults who are willing and able to carry out their educational role. ” WOSM website

Have a Great Scouting Day!

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The Scoutmaster Minute Show #21

Check out the new show. I had the pleasure of hanging out with Nick Wood from Nicks Ramblings. (see the link to his blog).
we had a great discussion on the World Scouting Movement, well, ok.. we focused on the things that we have in common and different between the US and UK Scouting programs.

It was a fun show, and I am happy that I had the opportunity to chat with Nick.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

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Friday night lessons

More talk about teamwork… or Trustworthy, Loyal and Helpful.

This weekend, much to my wife’s surprise, I woke up in the same bed as her.. a weekend free of Scouting activity. The first of its kind in about a month.
But like most of us, when we are not Scouting, there is Football, Soccer, Band and other activities that occupy our time.
For us September and October brings the falling of leaves, chilly mornings and Football.
Last night we went to our high school football game, our daughter is in the band and did her part to provide some motivation to her team.. as much as a clarinet can. Our youngest son is the starting quarterback for his Middle School team, so a night watching the High School team is a great opportunity to learn and pick up a few tips.
Last night the Reynolds Raiders did not do to well, they were blown out, but what we did get to see was a team. They played together in a loosing effort, they showed good team work. They showed that they all had the same goal, and while they could not achieve it, they did not stop trying till the last whistle blew. They were loyal to each other, everyone doing their job on the field, and the guys on the bench doing their part staying ready to go in if needed.
Josh, my youngest watched as they could not seem to punch the ball over the goal line, but he watched the details, the line pulling together, the QB keeping his head and leading the team, the receivers running the right patterns and the running backs giving everything they had for inches.
He saw determination and teamwork.
Even in a loss, the team became more important than the win. We could see it because they never gave up. Even when it was easy to call it quits and not give it all, the team remembered that it was bigger than the individual. Trustworthy, Loyal, and Helpful. The Team!

Have a Great Scouting Day!

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Your Road map to Character

It can never be said enough… the Scout law is your road map to Character. In leadership development we teach the Scouts to BE, KNOW, and DO. Simple ways for them to remember what it is that is expected of leaders.
The Scout law teaches us HOW to BE, WHAT to BE, and HOW to ACT.

Trustworthy, Loyal, and Helpful.
These three words can be summed up by the word TEAMWORK. In Scouting we teach and live the Patrol Method. This requires us to work as a team, setting us up for the rest of our lives. Being a member of a team suggests that we will not let the team down, that we will shoulder our share of the burden, and that we will always look to the well being of the team before our own. This concept drives us to living a life of Selfless Service.

Friendly, Courteous, Kind and Obedient.
These four parts of the Scout law when put together guide us in what we should BE. Good manners and discipline will leave lasting impressions on those that we make contact with. A kind heart and a willing mind will take us to places in life that are purposeful and leave our mark.
To be Courteous, Kind and Obedient takes discipline. It will force us to move away from peer pressure and always do what is right. They will shape who we are instead of just being another face in the crowd.

Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean and Reverent.
This is how we should act in our daily walk. Cheerful in everything we do, even when it is a task that we do not like. Thrifty, not only with our money, but as a steward of our resources. It will take a brave heart to make decisions in life. Decisions that will be hard and sometimes not popular. Remember that majorities are not always right.. Being brave and always doing what is right is more important than being popular or part of the majority.
Clean and Reverent in our thoughts, our actions, and our bodies. God made us in his image so the good book says… treat your body like it. Take care of your self. eat right, exercise and learn. Develop a relationship in your faith group. Gain a better understanding of who God is and why we are who and what we are in his eyes.
Doing all of this will shape you and guide you in your actions.

Using the Scout Law is a road map to Character. Living the twelve points will ensure that your life will be well rounded and headed in the right direction. Using the map to find your way will never leave you stranded or lost.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

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