Month: October 2008

The Mill

By now those of you that follow Scouting on the Internet have read the story of one Coleman Carter. Coleman is an 18 year old Scout that has earned 121 merit badges. That is far and away more than the average of 30 that your typical Scout earns.
Coleman earned his Eagle Award at 13, that in and of itself is remarkable. For a Scout to earn his Eagle Rank he needs to have earned 21 merit badges, 11 of which must be from the Eagle required list.
Congratulations to Coleman for his achievement. That is one hard working Scout. He deserves all the pats on the back that are coming to him. You can read more about Coleman by clicking here.

OK.. now that we have given this Scout a pat on the back and recognized his accomplishments, let me share my thoughts on the issue of merit badges and the merit badge program.

First of all the merit badge program of the Boy Scouts of America is a great tool for developing and peaking interests in our Scouts. By design it is not a program to make the Scout an expert in any subject area, rather, the program reaches out to a Scout and begs that he learn more, try something new, seek out adventures, and explore the world around him.
The Eagle required list focuses certain topics that assist the Scout in becoming a well rounded young man.
So whats that got to do with our Scout that earned all 121? Well nothing really… except when you do the math. It is not impossible to earn all of the badges as we have learned. But what I would caution is that the program is not about merit badges. It is about Character, Citizenship, and Fitness. That is not to say that Merit badges are not important.. they are, but they are just a part of the bigger picture. If a Scout sets a goal to earn them all… help him earn them all. But not for the sake of having them, but for the sake of learning something about a skill, a profession, a hobby. The Scout needs to walk away from the experience better for it. The Scout needs to develop an appreciation for what he has experienced.
Merit Badges are a great part of the Scouting program… a part.
We never limit a Scout when it comes to achievement. I will tell you that when our Troop goes to Summer camp, I encourage the Scouts to have fun, that may mean they do not sign up for a bunch of merit badges, some do, but I want them to have fun. Mess around at the water front, hang out at the rifle range, shoot some arrows, and hang out with his buddies.
Summer camps are great opportunities for Scouts to earn merit badges, they are also great opportunities to grow and build memories of being a boy. They are only boys once, and we should not burden their experiences by forcing merit badges, rank or anything else on them at camp. It is their time to be a kid, have fun, and make memories.
There is always time for the Scout that sets his goals high and wants to achieve. Time is never an issue for the Scout that wants to become and Eagle. That is all part of the process.

I am proud of Coleman, and all of our Scouts that work hard to achieve their goals.
Seeing such positive story about Scouting is with out a doubt a wonderful thing for Scouting.

Have fun.. achieve… set goals.. and enjoy the experience.
Job well Done Coleman!

Have a Great Scouting Day!

1 Step forward and 2 Steps Back

Last night my son and I settled in and watched a football game that I would probably not otherwise watch. But it was Tuesday and it was the only Football game on.. so being the football fans that we are, we watched the Temple Owls play the Ohio Bobcats in a pretty ugly game.
Temple was behind for three quarters, they played hard, but seemed to not be able to move the ball. Ohio on the other hand scored 10 points real quick, but that was about it for their offense. They moved up and down the field ok, but could not punch it in.
Both teams played their collective hearts out… to use the cliche, they left it all on the field.
What killed them was penalties and bad decisions. They would move the ball 15 yards, then get a 10 yard penalty. They would throw a long pass, then get a 15 yard personal foul.
Every time they moved forward, they were sent back.
1 step forward…2 steps back.
If you have ever tried to move across a room taking 1 step forward and 2 steps back, you will soon come to realize that you are not getting anywhere… fast.

As we watch our Patrols develop, we often see them going through this 1 step forward mode. They call it Storming in the stages of team development. It usually results in the team getting frustrated and conflicts begin. It is ok to be in the storming mode for awhile, but it is the test of the team, or Patrol, to get out of it… to move forward.
It takes the team leader, or Patrol leader to recognize that they are getting nowhere and rally his Patrol, motivate them, to move in the direction they need to go. Leaders understand the purpose and direction of the unit and strive to get there, even if it means conflict along the way.
Storming is a normal part of the team development process. The Patrols need to be coached through it and allowed to make the mistakes it takes to learn so they can move forward.

Last night the Temple Owls took 4 quarters to figure it out. Down 10-0 they came back and won the game 14-10. The last quarter they played like a team. They held their blocks longer, ran the right routes, and the Quarterback stayed in the pocket and took the hits when it benefited the play.

Patrols are no different than a football team, they all go through development on their way to being a high performance team. In the end it is a great thing to see and everyone enjoys the taste of success.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Your Gear

I must have been about 10 years old the time my Dad and I went camping alone for the first time. I don’t remember much about the trip other than the fact that my Dad seemed to have everything down to science.
He had all the answers and seemed to be the worlds best outdoors man.
While we were pitching the tent my Dad told me, “Take care of your gear and it will always take care of you.”
Something so simple… but true.
About 10 years later, I found myself in the basement of Charlie Company 4/9th Infantry in Fairbanks, Alaska. We had just come back from an extremely long field training exercise and were cleaning up our squads gear.
We had all the tent pegs on a board and were painting them red, we had emptied the lanterns and stuck string in the fuel hole to wick excess fuel out, we turned our Ahkio sled upside down to drip dry and let the canvas hang, and we put everything back in its place for the next time we would need it.
My Squad leader came into the room and talked to us about taking care of our equipment. He said to us that if “We took care of our gear… it would take care of us.” I thought wow… that’s what my dad told me. (Wonder where he got it?)
And it was true. The more we used the gear, the more we repaired and maintained it, it never failed us. On extreme cold weather exercises, our gear always did its job, the tent keep us dry and when we fired up the Yukon stove.. it kept us toasty warm.

Tonight as we stored the Troop gear from this weekends camp out, I noticed that some of our gear was starting to show signs of neglect. Now I know that it was not intentional, but at the same time it served as a great illustration of why we need to take care of our gear. Some of the gear we found tonight would need some serious attention and if we needed it tomorrow, it would not be available.. it would not take care of us.
Tonight, the young men of Troop 664 heard what my Dad and my Squad leader told me 22 and 12 years ago. And it’s still a fact… IF YOU TAKE CARE OF YOUR GEAR… IT WILL TAKE CARE OF YOU.

So here are some tips.
When you come home from a camp out.
1. Hang your tent up.. get it dry. Even if it was only a little damp.. hang it up. A little moisture can destroy your tent.

2. Hang your sleeping bag. Let it air out and let the fibers decompress. Then store it in a big bag..loosely.
3. Wash your mess kit. Even if it got cleaned at the camp out… throw it in the dish washer for a good cleaning.
4. Wash and air out your water bottle. A great way to get sick is not to clean out your water bottle.
5. Empty your pack. Get all the dirty clothing out and into the laundry.
6. Inventory your gear and make sure you have everything. Check the batteries in your flashlight or head lamp.
7. Check your First Aid kit. Do you need to replace anything, band aids, tape, mole skin?
8. Check your stove. Is it in good shape? Do you have enough fuel for the next trip?
9. Make sure your rain gear is dry and in good shape.
10. Pack it all back up in a few days. Note anything that may be missing or needs to be replaced.

Take care of your gear. Know what you have, how you use it, and keep it in good shape. If you take care of your gear…it will take care of you. I promise.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Sunday Night.. and all is well

The tent is hung and the gear is stored. Another camp out in the books and sealed in the memories of our Scouts… and leaders.

This weekend was our annual Webelos Woods Camp out. Every year we put together a nice event, when I say we, I mean the Troops of the District under the direction of a Webelos Woods committee, during the event the Webelos are encouraged to bring mom or dad and camp with a Boy Scout Troop. Sometimes Webelos dens camp alone, but more often than not the Webelos hook up with a local troop or a troop that they are looking into.
This year we had three Webelos dens camp with our troop. It amounted to a big crowd of plaid wearing, high energy, super scouts.
Needless to say we had a blast. I am extremely proud of the Troop. They started the weekend Friday night by helping the Webelos and their parents get their tents set up. They cooked all the meals for their patrols and invited the Webelos and their parents to eat with them too. They all ate well.. I ate with the patrols too this weekend.
Saturday was a busy day, the boys from the troop provided guides to make sure the Webelos got around to all the stations and earned their beads. They did archery, bb guns, fire building, some pioneering games and of course a visit to their hosts for some awesome cooking.
Noah and Cameron, and Lucas were stand outs this weekend.. they were extremely helpful and helped make the weekend a success for the Webelos.
One of the best parts of the weekend was this morning when James, our Chaplains aide did a fantastic Scouts Own service… totally off the cuff. The whole camp was in attendance. He talked about the choices we make in our lives and that by making the choice to stay in Scouting… we make our lives and the lives of people around us better.
I thought his message was spot on.
We sang a song, he invited me to do a Scoutmasters minute, and we closed with prayer. It was a real nice service.
It was nice to hear the comments about how prepared he was and that he represented our troop well.
The Webelos Woods Committee had asked if we would provide a Chaplains Aide to do the service, we agreed.. they were happy to see the results.
So it was a great weekend that showed us the future of our programs. The Webelos are there and are interested in coming up to the Troop.. I can’t wait to get them on the trail to new adventures.

Have a great Scouting Day!

Some Leadership lessons from NOLS

The National Outdoor leadership School is a premier organization that teaches leadership using the outdoors as a class room.
It challenges the student to push themselves as they lead others. Critical thinking, skills, and team building are just a part of the course that drives the NOLS and its students to adventure, learning, and what they call the Expedition Behavior.
All of this translates well with the Boy Scouts of America.
Opportunities to take NOLS classes are many and I encourage you to take advantage of local courses. If nothing else, check out a Master Educator course for Leave no Trace.

So leadership the NOLS way…
Here are some of the responsibilities of a Leader, see how many directly translate to the BSA?

1. Help a group set goals and move them toward them safely.

2. Support and help create many strong leaders.
3. Encourage responsibility in each member.
4. Use individual and collective strengths.
5. Engender trust by serving as a role model.
6. Act as a mentor and coach others.
7. Be Accountable.
8. Create a safe environment for learning.

Sounds pretty much like the job description of the Patrol leaders and Senior Patrol Leader. Right?

We can learn a lot when we look outside of the box. Continuing to learn is part of dynamic leadership and when we look around we see opportunities everywhere.

The National Outdoor Leadership School is a fantastic organization, check them out and see what they offer.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

And further more…

After re reading my last post, in response to a Jambo Interview question, I thought it interesting that as an Adult leader in Scouting…

We should know all that stuff and act like it too.. all the time. Not just when it comes to interviews.. and maybe, just maybe that is the key to a successful interview and program in general. So here are some thoughts on the post that stuck out to me.. and heck I wrote it.

Uniform. One thing that has been stressed a lot in the preparation for the Jambo is the uniform.
Now, I always wear the uniform complete and properly, but it strikes me as odd that many Scout leaders both do not understand the method and do not wear the uniform complete and properly.
So..yeah.. if you do not, check it out and follow the method.

Know the Scout Oath and Law.. and live it. The Scout oath charges us to “DO OUR BEST”. We are not perfect, that’s a fact, but we should at least try… Right?

And I’ll wrap this post up with the scenarios listed. [See the other post]
We should constantly be thinking about the risk and how we manage that risk as we go about the business of our Troop’s program.
Making notes, and keeping a journal aids me in remembering lessons learned.
Go over your notes and come up with the best courses of action for your unit. Share that with the Scouts, it will become invaluable in their leadership development.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Jamboree question

I opened the door.. so here it is:
JC, a reader of the Blog posted a comment it reads;
Any advise for those of us facing the Jambo interview process? “

Well JC, yeah I have some advise… now take it as advise, I can only tell you from my experience.
Our Council did interviews a while back and we are completely staffed already and in the process of training sessions and meetings.

First of all… Be in FULL Uniform. Head to toe. Make sure all of your patches are properly placed and you are not wearing anything “Unauthorized”.
If you are in the “Old Goat or rocking chair Patrol” of your home troop… while that is cute, take it off. The National Jamboree folks are not amused. (at least the folks at our Council weren’t.)
Run a hot iron over the shirt and get a hair cut.

Second. Be early. There was some activity before the actual interview. They took our pictures and had a small meet and greet.

Third. Know what the mission of the National Jamboree is.
“The mission of the jamboree is to provide a diverse group of Scouts and Scouters a meaningful and memorable experience that will instill the lasting values and traditions of Scouting in America, and our highest priority will be to conduct the jamboree in a safe and secure environment. ” – 2005 National Jamboree mission statement.
That will get you in the ball park.

Also know what the mission of the Boy Scouts of America is:
“The mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law.”

The committee asked us to talk about our role in Scouting. Remember that is all for the boys.
They also asked us scenario questions such as;
What would you do if you are in DC and the bus is getting ready to leave and you are missing a Scout?
That type of stuff. Go over in your head the different situations that you think you may find yourself in.
I used the following list of situations:
1. Hotels
2. Airplanes
3. Museums
4. Camp
5. Tours (The Washington Mall)
6. Amusement park
7. Buses

Now take that and make a list of anything that can happen (go wrong) in those situations.
That prepared me for some of the scenarios.

Finally- If you really want to go to Jamboree as a Adult leader.. Then act like it. Demonstrate the confidence that you are ready to get on the plane tomorrow.
Show them you are Cheerful and ready, smile a lot and talk with confidence.

You will do great!
Hope that helps. Look me up at Jambo!

Have a Great Scouting Day!