Monthly Archives: February 2009

Plus 6

Last night we welcomed 6 new Scouts into our Troop. The Scouts from our Troop that make up our Order of the Arrow “Tribe” put on a heck of a ceremony. They always do, but last night was special.
Last nights team was literally put together Tuesday night due to scheduling conflicts and the like. Two new Arrowmen from the troop put together regalia and studied lines and pulled off perhaps the most amazing Cross over ceremony I have seen. From start to finish, top to bottom, these 5 young men held the crowd in the palm of their hands and made a memorable experience not only for those 6 Scouts entering our Troop, but the families that looked on from their seats.

Nerves were jumping as the OA members dressed in a class room down the hall. A smattering of feathers, leather, wool and beads filled the room as well as pacing young men going over their lines “just one more time”.
When the beat of the drum called them to the stage, a transformation occurred as “Silver Arrow” called the crowds attention and bid them greetings on behalf of all of the Scouts from the Tribe of 664.
And so it went… line after line, gesture upon gesture, the Webelos Scouts sat in amazement as they were inducted into the brotherhood of the Arrow of Light and became members of a new tribe, a new band of brothers in Boy Scouting.

It was a night I will not soon forget. I am so proud of these boys. They exemplified everything that is good in Scouting. They were Loyal and Brave, Courteous and Kind, Helpful and friendly and they just did a fantastic job.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

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Crossing the Green Line

You know that I love sporting analogies…
In baseball the Coach or Manager always has to remember the “White Line”.
The “White Line” is the base line that the manager is not supposed to cross the white line during the course of the game. The players on the field play the game and the manger coaches, makes adjustments, and gives advise from the dugout. He sends in signals and on occasion leaves the dugout to make a pitching change or settle down the pitcher.

When I was a Scout, our SPL was a total jock. He was a star football player, wrestler, and baseball stud. I remember he used to call the area where the Scoutmaster and the Assistants camped the other side of the “Green Line”.
He and the Scoutmaster would often remind one another that there was a line there .. a line that the Scoutmaster was aware of and that he only crossed when needed. When he needed to settle down the SPL or make a change that effected the troop.

I had not thought about that until our last troop election. I looked on as our new SPL took control of the Troop. As the Troop grows and the Scouts develop in skills and leadership, we Scoutmasters need to know where the green line is. And we need to be aware that crossing it can move the youth leaders a step back in their development. Stepping over the green line when it is not needed or warranted chisels away at the Boy led foundation.

Knowing that there is that Green line is an important part of the Scoutmaster/ SPL relationship.
It is a great part that allows the Scout to lead and grow.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

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In the great Northwest where I live, I met a mountain man and he knew how to get many things done with very little resources. He had almost nothing to work with, but accomplished great things. Whether the task was to build a fire underwater or stop a waterfall from falling, it seemed he could take care of it. I was so amazed to see the things he could do, I finally asked him how he did it. He told me that a long time ago, he had found a magical solution to nearly all challenges that came along.
He said it was all contained in a single, ancient word that had mystic powers. When you understand the meaning of the word, it unleashes immense strength and abilities; it makes your mind more clear; it makes your imagination run wild with ideas. Well, of course, I could hardly contain myself and I just had to know what this powerful magic was. I pleaded with him to tell me and he finally agreed. He said the word is, ‘YAGODDAWANNA’.
In order to accomplish anything, whether it is small or big, easy or difficult, trivial or of utmost importance, in order to be successful, you’ve got to want to do it. To earn good grades, you gotta wanna earn them. To become an Eagle Scout, ya godda wanna be one.
The main reason people don’t succeed at something is because they don’t really want it bad enough. By really wanting something, you come up with ideas, make plans, and then do it. Remember, to do something YaGoddaWanna do it.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

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The Hiking Stick

The hiking Stick or Stave or staff traditionally has been a part of Scouting. Baden Powell talked of the hiking stick and its many uses when he started the Scouting Movement.
The Hiking stick is made of strong wood, not just any old stick, it is solid and steadfast.
It provides stability on the trail. When climbing it gives you a lift, when descending it takes the load off and when the trail is smooth and easy, it is a companion.
The hiking stick is usually adorned with a compass to help guide the hiker along the way, it keeps the hiker heading in the right direction and always knows which way is true.
A lot of times a whistle hangs from the hiking stick. A tool to alert others of danger or get attention in times of distress.
The hiking stick is a place where we can show other hiker where we have been, a reminder of the good times on the trail, and memories of some of the hardships that got us where we are today.

The hiking stick is a great metaphor in our lives.
We all need a good hiking stick, weather that is a solid piece of hickory or titanium trekking poles, we all need something to hold onto, something that guides us and helps us along the trail of life.
That stability and support that makes our climbs fun and our descents easy and the smooth times a pleasure to walk through.
Find yourself a good hiking stick.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

*just a note: The picture for this post shows me with a big stick, it’s not the hiking stick I use, it was just laying around that day, but made a great “Lean On” stick.
What you do see in the picture however are other people. And those people are my real life “hiking stick”. Next to me is one of my Assistant Scoutmasters John. He’s my go to guy and a dear friend. Then there is the short fellow, that’s my youngest son. It is he and his brother that got me back into and keep me in Scouting. Then the man in Red with the red hat, he is my Dad. Perhaps the single most important person in my life that has shaped me, and always a good “lean on”. And finally in the picture is my Mom. I can never say enough about her.
The folks in this picture are truly my hiking stick that helps me get through life.
Not pictured are my Wife, my Son, and many other friends that help prop me up and keep the trail smooth.

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Weekend Recap

Well it was another great weekend of Scouting. Busy, but lots of fun and I got to do what I love to do the most in Scouting… Recognize those Scouts that work hard and participate in this wonderful program.

First, our Order of the Arrow Chapter held it’s annual Pow Wow weekend.
Regalia building, ceremonies workshops, great food, and lots of fun and games.
We held our monthly Chapter Officer and Advisors meetings also, it is incredible how driven these Scouts are. They really want to make their troops and the Chapter better. And they are.

Second, I had to dart away from the Pow Wow for a couple of hours to work on our District annual planning session. A good turn out of the District committee made short work of the planning. Again, the District will be busy for the rest of 2009 and through to August of 2010.
Training, Camping events, service projects, and of course a celebration of the Boy Scouts of America’s 100th Anniversary. It is such a pleasure to be in a room of Scouters that have the same passion and drive to make Scouting better.
The buzz word in industry these days is “World Class”. I would say that our District Committee is just that.

Finally we wrapped up the weekend with Scout Sunday. Keith and Shawn both have great posts on Scout Sunday so I won’t belabor that. But Sunday afternoon, the troop held it’s annual Red and Green Dinner and Court of Honor.
What a perfect ending to the weekend. We had a great pot luck meal and a lot of fun. This year the committee decided to do a “Game Show” theme. Throughout the course of the Dinner, Patrols competed in a “Family feud” style trivia game. Finally the Scoutmaster and his Assistants competed against the committee.. Yeah.. we won!.. and not one camping question among them.
Two Scouts received their Tenderfoot badge, one Scout was awarded his Second Class, and Two Scouts stepped closer to their Eagle award by being presented their Life rank.
We wrapped up the evening with my Scoutmaster minute which I will post later this week. The end of the Scoutmaster minute was to award this years “Scout of the Year”. I was proud to present Noah with this years certificate and hiking stick. He was shocked and thankful.
I am proud of him… and of all the Scouts of the troop.

It was a perfect way to end the weekend and a terrific weekend of Scouting. And a great way of getting ready for the week ahead. Planning for a camp out and receiving 6 new Scouts on Thursday. Crossover season will “officially” begin for us. And the Troop has done a great job of selling itself. We expect 15 new Scouts by the end of March. Whew.. we must be doing something right.

Thanks for letting me share.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

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Example of Leadership

As I am a student of leadership, always wanting to know more and constantly on the look out for examples of good leadership, we have recently been handed a great example.

Last month Captain Chesley Sullenberger landed a fully loaded airplane on the Hudson river.
Now some may say, well he was the pilot on a plane that crashed… no this guy was a leader. Yesterday the audio of the event was released to the public. I listened to it over and over…. and over. To hear the Captain, you know this Pilot is a hero.
Now , I hate to throw the term Hero around. It seems anyone that wears a uniform or has endured a trip through the TSA line at the airport is a Hero now a days.
But Captain Sullenberger showed leadership. He was cool under pressure. He was clear in his thought and understood the situation and the consequences of his actions. He did not think of himself, he thought of the 155 passengers sitting behind him, he thought of the million dollar aircraft that he was lining up to land.
If we are looking for modern day hero’s… Captain Sullenberger fits the bill. If we are looking for a leader, look to his example. If you are looking for an example of the values and virtue of a leader. Cpt. Sullenberger.
There are 4 leadership traits common to all good leaders. Courage, Candor, Competence, and Character. I am sure that you can find those four in our Captain.
In fact in an interview yesterday he told the story of his library book which was in his baggage. In all of this, landing a plane in a river, saving the lives of all the passengers and crew, and ensuring the safe rescue, Captain Sullenberger took the time to call the library and offer to replace the book.

We can learn a lot from leaders like this. A role model of good leadership, grace under pressure, yeah.. a hero.
Listen to the audio here.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

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Giving back

I often talk, or write, about developing the value of selfless service or giving back in our Scouts.
In our Troop we have a couple Scouts that are in the process of earning their Eagle Award.
If you look at the requirements for earning the Eagle Award you will find that it requires the Scout to lead. And lead in a way in which he serves.

Requirement number 5:
While a Life Scout, plan, develop, and give leadership to others in a service project helpful to any religious institution, school, or community. (The project should benefit an organization other than Boy Scouting.) The project idea must be approved by the organization benefiting from the effort, your Scoutmaster and troop committee and the council or district before you start. You must use the Eagle Scout Leadership Service Project Workbook, BSA publication No. 18-927, in meeting this requirement.

I love the idea that we impress the idea of servant leadership on our Scouts. This value will go far in their lives as they learn to be of service to others. I also think that if we do a good job now we will see our Scouts that have earned the Eagle Award come back and serve Scouting in the future.

One of my biggest pet peeves is the term “Eagleing Out”. There is no such thing as a Scout earning his Eagle and out he goes. The purpose of earning the Eagle Award is learn, grow, develop and give back. If a Scout does not understand what the Eagle award represents than he just earned another patch.

Giving back is the essence of Scouting. The be helpful, to be kind, to be become a leader in our community it is all about giving back.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

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An Election of their Peers

Throughout the year we hold elections in the Troop. (Adults never get a vote) We elect Patrol leaders, Senior Patrol Leaders, and within the Patrols they hold all kinds of “elections” to get things done.
There is one election we do each year that the boys seem to take just a bit more serious, and that is when they elect Scouts into Scouting’s Honor Society, the Order of the Arrow.

When we first started electing Scouts into the OA, the Scouts really did not understand what the Order was all about. They elected any and all that were eligible.
As the Scouts of the troop became active in the Order of the Arrow and developed a clearer understanding of what the purpose of the OA, they became more selective. Selective in a positive way.

You see, the Order of the Arrow is a Service organization, dedicated to service to others and to promotion of camping in Scouting.
They are leaders, they are examples, honored campers, and understand that it is through selfless service that we help our brother.
As is states in the Order of the Arrow handbook;

To recognize those campers — Scouts and Scouters — who best exemplify the Scout Oath and Law in their daily lives, and by such recognition cause other campers to conduct themselves in such manner as to warrant recognition.
To develop and maintain camping traditions and spirit.
To promote Scout camping, which reaches its greatest effectiveness as a part of the unit’s camping program, both year-round and in the summer camp, as directed by the camping committee of the council.
To crystallize the Scout habit of helpfulness into a life purpose of leadership in cheerful service to others.

The Scouts of the troop started to learn about this through the Scouts that were in the Order.
The expectation that the Scouts placed on one another to keep it an honor, to keep membership in the Order in line with the purpose was raised.
The first obligation of all Arrowmen is to their Unit… their troop.
In our Troop, like in most Troops around the country, the Order of the Arrow elections are conducted by their Order of the Arrow Representative. Our OA rep sets the ballot of eligible candidates, with the guidance of the Scoutmaster. Then he explains the process, the election is held and the would be candidates wait to know the out come till Camporee when they are called out.

We held our annual election on Monday night. The out come, I must admit I am happy with as the Scouts truly recognized and upheld the honor of the Order.

The Order of the Arrow is a special part of Scouting, and when the Scouts understand and participate in it fully, their Scouting experience is enriched and the unit benefits by having Scouts that are motivated and dedicated to service.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

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You can’t turn it off

Being a Scoutmaster is a great privilege, and one that I do not take lightly.
At a recent Scoutmaster/Assistant Scoutmaster training event I was talking with a group of soon to be Scoutmasters and ASMs. We were talking about our roles as they apply to activities out side of Scouting.
I strongly believe that you are a Scoutmaster 24/7. We that have accepted this role need to understand that we can not turn it on and off.
When we are at the Store we are still a Scoutmaster, I am always running in to Scouts of my Troop and their parents at local stores. I need to be aware of what I doing.
At the Friday night football games, I can’t be that obnoxious Dad, yelling and screaming at the Ref. I need to set an example of good citizenship all the time. This takes work, but more importantly it takes a willingness to do my best to live the Scout Oath and Law daily. And I need to be honest, it’s tough.
I knew a Scoutmaster that was arrested for DUI. As much as the Scoutmaster tried to keep it quiet, word got around and soon the Scoutmaster was finished. He had lost credibility within his Troop and among friends. He preached to the boys that Drinking in excess is wrong and worse yet, driving while under the influence is not only a crime, but it is plain dumb.
So now the Scoutmaster has violated not only the law, but committed the worst crime, he set a terrible example.

We all try, and try hard to live the Oath and Law and set an example of good Citizenship. I share with the Scouts of the Troop opportunities to demonstrate citizenship. We talk about voting, especially when the occasion of a vote comes up. We discuss special government days, like Flag day, Memorial Day, and Veterans Day. We show the Scouts an example of good Character. They see me in Church, at civic events, and going about my daily life. Often invited to School concerts and events, I try to be there for the Scouts, and when they need my help, a letter of recommendation, or just someone to talk to, they get it, because they know that my character will not let them down.
The Scouts see a demonstration of fitness, both physical and mental (emotional). I am able to run with them and hike with them. I act on and make rational decisions. They know I enjoy a beer every now and then, and many of them have seen me enjoy a nice cold beer (not on Scout time). But they know that I never drink it in excess and that I am responsible with it.
The Scouts of my troop see me having fun with life. And that is a great example to set.

We can not turn off the fact that we are Scoutmasters, Scout leaders, and Assistants. It is a part of our lives and a very good part of our lives. It is the part that makes us better, but more important it makes everyone around us better. It impacts the lives of young men and for that we are blessed.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

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Merit Badge program question

First I want to thank all the readers of the blog and listeners of the podcast for having the confidence in me or at valuing my opinion.
The reason I write this is because over the last year or so emails flood my inbox asking questions, giving me feed back, and asking for my opinion.
I would like to share an email from a reader regarding the merit badge program.


We are having a debate in our troop about how to do merit badges. We used to do merit badge classes during troop meetings, and lots of the guys got lots of the badges. Some on our committee want to do this again.

When I became scoutmaster a year and a half ago, I de-emphasised merit badges in troop meetings. I saw that different scouts needed different badges, and did not want to fragment our meeting time. Half of the scouts might need communications, for example, and half already had it. We have one meeting room, and so doing something with the half who did not need the badge was difficult. I told the boys to follow the handbook and do the badges outside of the troop meeting. I even showed a video from youtube about doing this.

We got the practice from a former scoutmaster who was a scout in one of our councils huge troops (100+) where it kind of made sense to do merit badge classes in troop meetings. Our troop of 16 boys is kind of small to make it practical. I have told the SPL that if he and the other patrol leaders want to do this, then they had to put it together. They did once, offering Railroading merit badge over two meeting nights, with the scouts being required to do the field work on their own.

Now, some committee members want the troop to do an eagle required merit badge per month as part of troop meetings to give more scouts the opportunity to reach Eagle rank. I am not keen on the idea. I think our time would be better spent promoting the patrol method, which is something that has not caught on, and is one of my goals for the troop this year.

Would you give this subject some thought and perhaps do a podcast show on it. I would very much like to know how you do things, and what your view of the merit badge program is. I can always find opponents and proponents of the practice.

As you always admonish, have a great scouting day.

And so here is my response:

Thanks for the email, I am grateful that you value my opinion.
Having said that, I will share my thoughts, and certainly will make notes to do a podcast on Merit Badges in the meeting place.
The Short answer is NO.. we do not do Merit badges in the meeting place.
The outline of the Merit Badge program is not intended for every Scout to get every Merit Badge. It’s intent is to open opportunities to the Scouts, show career choices, hobbies, and outdoor skills and adventures.
The program also REQUIRES the Scout to be the spark to get the flame hot.
It states on page 187 of the Boy Scout handbook (current edition) “When you [the scout] have decided on a merit badge you would like to earn, following these steps:
Obtain from your Scoutmaster a signed merit badge application [blue card] and the name of a qualified counselor for that merit badge.
Along with another Scout, a relative, or a friend, set up and attend your first appointment with the merit badge counselor. The counselor will explain the requirements for the badge and help you plan way to fulfill them so that you can get the most out of the experience.
Complete the requirements, meeting with your counselor whenever necessary until you have finished working the badge.”
On page 14… which I highly recommend your committee review it states; “ The merit badge program provides you [the scout] the opportunity to meet and work with adult leaders in your community. It also introduces you to potential new hobbies and vocations.”

When we turn our Troop meetings into Merit Badge Mills, we take away from the program. I understand the want of parents to give their Scout the very best opportunity to become an Eagle Scout. But as the program outlines, advancement is an individual effort. The rate of advancement is dictated by the Scout and it depends on the Scouts interest, effort, and ability. The opportunity for earning Merit Badges exists in the normal course of the program year. You need not take away the opportunity of the Scouts development of the other methods for the sake of a badge.
I have seen troops in our District that exercise the “Mill plan” A merit badge a month or a week in some cases. Here is what I have found.First. The Scouts do not learn anything. They show up and get the badge. Counselors (like at Summer Camp) give the badge to who ever shows up for the class. That is also why I shy away from the “Merit Badge Weekends or Merit badge Universities.

Second. The Scouts do not develop the skill that is taught during the working of the badge or have a tendency to short cut the working of the badge in the group setting, feeding off others work or achievement.
Third. We take away the adult interaction and the asking that the Scout take on responsibility for his advancement.While I thank the committee for their dedication to the Scouts and providing “opportunities” in the long run it breaks down the programs intent of Citizenship training, Character development, and Fitness.

I hope that helps, and yes.. I will be doing a show on this issue.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

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