Monthly Archives: October 2009

Fantastic Video

I take credit only for seeing this one.  The Circle 10 Council put this video out and if the National Council does not use it, they are missing out.
I do not come from a “inner city” unit, but the impact on teen agers in pretty much the same.
BRAVO for this Scout and the Circle 10 council for this video.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

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Cold Weather Camping Time

It’s getting to be that time of year.. time for some Cold Weather Camping.  This is one of my favorite times of year to camp.  Kind of a weird thing to say, as I love to camp all year long, but camping in the Fall and Winter are great and I look forward to it each year.
Camping in the cold presents many different challenges and require a bit more skill.  Maybe it is that challenge that I love or maybe it is the solitude.  The quiet of winter camping.  The brisk mornings and the feel of my down bag when I am toasty warm at night.  Regardless, it is a great time to get out and camp.  There are fewer crowds and less restrictions.  But there is more to know and do.  So lets talk about just a few things to keep in mind.
First.  BE PREPARED.  Start your preparation well in advance.  Test new gear or gear you have not used in a while out before you get out there.  Set up your tent, test your new bag or stove in your backyard.  Get to know how to use all of your gear way before you venture into the wilderness on a cold weather camp out.  You need to know how it all puts together and works before you end up in what could become a survival situation.
Next.  Slow down.  The cold takes it toll on your body.  You will walk slower in snow and the cold will slow down you normal in camp routines.  Understand this and know how far you need to hike to get to camp.  Maybe shorten your milage knowing it will take longer to get there.
It takes longer for your food to cook too.. so be prepared to use more fuel and start cooking earlier.
Finally.  Don’t take short cuts with your gear.  What works in the summer may not be suitable for winter camping.  Don’t go cheap.. you will pay for it in the end.  Get quality gear for winter camping, in some cases you life may depend on it.
I saw a great quote today that really sums up the preparedness you must have for winter camping.
“Winter Camping isn’t just a summer outing with more fleece.  Cold temperatures require a different level of planning and thinking- but if you can learn to camp comfortably in that environment, you can tolerate anything.” – Marco Johnson, Senior Instructor at the National Outdoor leadership School.
Get out and camp in the cold.  You will love it once you learn to do it right.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

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We never quit learning

To the dismay of my kids and most… it is true that we never stops learning.  No, not always in a class room, but as we move through life there are ample opportunities to learn and to continue to grow.  This last weekend I was asked to be a speaker at the closing camp fire at our Districts Webelos Woods event.  I was asked to speak about the “Treasures of Scouting” which was the theme for the event.
So I asked myself, what are the treasures of Scouting?  The answer came clear, well as clear as it could as I thought about my days as a Scout when I was young.  The many opportunities I had living overseas and being a Scout in the Transatlantic Council, the people I met and the places I got to see.  Then as a Scout in Loiusiana, summer camp at Camp Edgewood and developing leadership as a Senior Patrol leader.
Then, a 7 year old boy bringing home a flyer to join Scouts and the opportunities that opened up for me and I began my journey as a Scouter.
The point here is that I had many opportunities and one of the common denominators I realized is that through this Scouting experience I have never stopped learning.  I learned as a Scout.  Skills, leadership, and teamwork.  I am learning as a Scouter.  I have learned about kids with disabilities, how to be a more effective teacher, and how to lead in different ways.  I continue to polish my skills and practice them while I teach and coach young men.
One of the biggest things that I continue to discover is that these young men that join Scouts and learn and grow are fantastic kids.  The impress me, they never cease to amaze, and they step up when you least expect them to.  They are good kids that try hard and while they tend to look lazy or shy, when the time comes they always rise to the occasion.
So I never stop learning, and neither do they.. or you.
So what is the Treasures of Scouting?  Opportunities, Fun, Adventure, Learning?  Yep.  The treasure is what you find in Scouting and how Scouting shapes you.  It will be different for all of you.. Scouting itself is the treasure.
Keep learning.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

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A recent Comment

I recently received a comment from a fellow named Scott.  He was commenting on the “Self express yourself out” post.
He writes; “You should also be clear about not judging without being judged. We have Scouts from in our city Troop waiting for you to point out how they don’t fit in. Goth and other tattoo’ed skaters have gradually dropped their old identities but the others assume. They need Scouting more than our own kids and we need to make space for their maturing. Not judging them, like Christ, has made it possible to connect and realize their identities are not about surface stuff but relationships.”
And Scott.. I would not argue with your point.  My point was not that it is ok to judge, but that it is happening all around and with that knowledge, one should be prepared for the way it is.
I am not an employer nor am I in a position to exclude anyone from anything.  Simply put.  I was in a situation were I chanced upon a young man that was looking for work.  I gave him the best advice I could for trying to get a job with the company I work for.  They have rules and regulations that I am to live by daily.  Me telling him to loose the piercing’ was not in judgement, but in an effort to help him achieve his goal of employment.  I am in total agreement that there are many youth out there in need of Scouting, that is why most of us volunteer countless hours to help them get the most out of their Scouting experience.  I further agree with your take on relationships.  You are spot on there.
If there are Scouts looking for me to answer how they fit in.. well that one is simple.  Just fit in.  Live the Scout oath and law daily.  In the end they will fit in nicely.  I will never tell them that they don’t fit in.  Deep down boys are boys, I don’t care if they ride a skate board or a pogo stick.  I don’t care if they dress in black, blue or have little alligators on their shirts… they are all boys and need mentoring, coaching, and to be taught life skills.
And Scott, finally I agree that one who judges is also subject to judgement.  I try not to judge, as indicated in my post.. I was the one that said hi to the young man.  I did not look down on him and blow him off as I past.  Anyway, I hope that clarifies some of the concerns you may have had.

Scott.. and Everyone…
Have a Great Scouting Day!

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Scouting in real life

WHAT?  Real life?  Isn’t Scouting part of your life all the time?  Well you did make a promise to live the Scout Oath and Law, and to do your DUTY, and at the very least to do your best… Right?
Now I am going to tell you a story the content of which I am extremely biased.
The story is about what it takes to make a high performance team.  Simply put it takes a common vision and goals and the willingness of ALL the team members to achieve them.  Once the team discovers that working together they can achieve those goals, the sky becomes the limit.
My youngest son is a pretty good football player.  He has been playing football since the 3rd grade and works real hard to get better.  Last year his Middle School team went undefeated, the team seemed to be unstoppable.  Most of those same guys are on this years team, although there have been many new guys introduced into the team.  They all have individual talents on the field and with the confidence of winning it all last season.. they took the field for their first game.  Individually they made some spectacular plays, but at the end of the day they lost the game.  They were beat because they were not playing as a team.  That week in practice the Quarterback (my son) huddled the team up and told them they needed to get it together and start playing like a team, he reminded them of their talents and of the score of the last game.  He shared with them something he had picked up in Boy Scouts at Junior Leader Training about the high performance team.  He simply reminded them that if the line does not block and open up holes, the running back can’t gain yards.  If blocks are not held, passes can’t get off.  If the the throw is not accurate, the receivers can’t make a play, if the defense does not hit hard and tackle, the team gets in a hole.  He told them that it was up to them to decide whether or not they wanted to buy into the goal of the team, to win.  Each and every one of them had to make a decision every time they put their helmets on to play for the team, or play for themselves.
Since that first game the defense has not allowed a point.  The offense has outscored their opponents 86-0.  The team looks like a fine tuned machine, an unstoppable group that works together, has a tight bond, and is having fun playing a game.
Scouting teaches up through the patrol method that working together we can and will accomplish anything.  Setting goals and having a vision that everyone can buy into will move the patrol in a direction that will lead them to success.  It takes a spark, a motivated leader to remind the team that they are good and that they can be the best.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

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Scoutmaster Minute Archive

The Scoutmaster Minute Early shows are back up and on line.  You can get them from iTunes.
Shows 1-29 are available for download again after some server changes and adminstrative maintainence the shows are back.
I would like to thank all of you that have asked for them.  If you still have troubles downloading.  I will gladly get you copies.
Thanks again for your support and listener/readership.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

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Self express yourself out

I had an interesting encounter today at work.  I came out of one of my customers establishments to meet a young person that seemed rather upset.  He was dressed rather oddly I suppose, he was dressed mostly in black with lots of patches and symbols on his jacket.  His head was shaved except for a long strand of hair that was braided in the back.. it went down to his waist.   He had piercing’ in his lips and eye brows and tattoo’s from head to toe.  I did not get a good read on what was tattooed on his forehead, but my guess is that it did not say “have a Great Scouting Day!”.

I said hello to him as I walked past, he yelled at me “Hey, are you guys hiring?”  I said “sure, they are always hiring for part time work.”  He informed me that he wanted nothing to do with part time work and he was pissed that no one would hire him.  He told me he wanted to be a driver too and inquired what he needed to do to be one.  I told him the first thing he needed to do was loose the piercing.  He told me that it was not going to happen.. so I told him that neither was a job.
He told me that he should not be judged because of his “Self Expression”.  I told him he was right.. but that is not the world we live in.
And I suppose this is the point in which I disclose my personal opinion.  I totally agree that you can express yourself right out of the running.  You need to be aware of the social norms and those things that employers will and will not tolerate.
I work for a pretty conservative company.  There are grooming standards and the company expects its employees to represent the company well.  Kind of like we ask our Scouts to represent Scouting well.
When we wear our uniforms we wear them correctly.  In my Troop we wear our uniforms when traveling to and from camp outs.  When we stop at a rest stop the Scouts are better behaved when they get out of the cars.  We require them to have their shirts tucked in and hat brims facing forward.
The young man that I met today had self expressed himself right out of a potential job.  As it turned out he was in the business trying to apply for a job.  The owner of business told him to get cleaned up and try again.  He would be required to assist clients.  He needed someone that is articulate and well groomed.  Event though he is a pretty open minded guy, he could not afford to hire this young man.  Clearly a business decision.  He understands that looks do matter and if you do not look the part, you will cost the business in clients and financial gain.
I feel bad for this young guy.  Some where along the way someone told him that anything goes.. and it doesn’t.
We don’t want to judge, but we judge everyday.  And it is not always a bad thing.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

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The Internet

Last night at our Troop meeting we took a few minutes to talk about this crazy thing called the internet.
The Internet is a wonderful thing, I wish we had it when I was a kid.  Homework help, research resources, and social networking are just a few things that I would have enjoyed, and enjoy now.  But just as much positive the internet offers there is a negative side too.  And this is where we need our Scouts to be careful.
I talked a lot about Social networks last night.  Facebook, Myspace, and yes even the Boy Scouts of America’s own online community.  We talked about how much fun it is to be in touch with friends, let folks know whats going on and promote yourself or an organization using these networks and that they can really be a positive thing.  But again, we need to proceed with caution.
Most of my Scouts know that I am on facebook, heck many of them are “Friends”.  And here is what the message was to the Scouts.
We have a responsibilty to ourselves, to our families, and the BSA to represent all of them well on the internet.
Posting questionable material on the net and then saying “I am a Boy Scout” is not representing Scouting or yourself well.
I have to be careful because I am a Scoutmaster.  Many of the Scouts in my troop read the blog and visit my facebook.  I can’t tell them to be young men of character and then do the opposite on the internet.
There is plenty of “bad” stuff on the net, those of us in Scouting need not add to it.
We should always represent Scouting well in a positive light.
The internet is a wonderful thing.  I love it.  But we need to be safe on it.  We need to be aware that there  are things on the net not worth our time.
I like the idea that the BSA is focusing some energy in getting Scouts more aware through advancement requirements that require the Scout to learn more about the internet and internet safety.
Work with your Scouts on this, and be a positive role model, even on the internet.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

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Mistakes, Chances, and Chipping away at Character

So how many chances do we get?  How many mistakes are we allowed to make?  At what time does our Character start to erode beyond the point of repair?
These are questions that are always out there.. but no one seems to want to answer.  In our society today it seems that we are willing to give chance after chance with no expectation of demonstrating good character.
We allow athletes, movie stars, musicians, and other folks in the lime light opportunity after opportunity to “make things right” and the message that we send is “Anything goes, don’t worry about consequences”.  You can get away with anything as long as you say you are sorry.
I spent some time in Southwest Asia, justice is swift and unforgiving there.  Consequences are dire and without remorse.  I am not suggesting we should be that harsh, but at what point do we start to worry about the erosion of the character of the people of our country.
We see politicians that lie, cheat, and steal from our country.. only to be reelected.  We see rock stars that are clearly into a life style that I would not want my kids to live.  Money is the answer.. “Well, they make millions, they are exempt…. or cool”   What’s the message?
Now before anyone says that I am ranting on the rich and famous.. NO I AM NOT… I am ranting on the general public that allows the erosion of character to happen.  It is our fault for letting this happen and we need to wake up.
Mike Vic kills dogs for eight years..  In Philadelphia, number 7 Jersey’s are the number one selling jersey.  WHY?  The University of Oregon is pushing to reinstate a player that demonstrated a terrible lack of judgement, not only at a game, but being suspended from practice and many off the field infractions.  WHY?  Brittany Spears is in and out of rehab, seemingly not bucking for mom of the year, but her concerts are full and record sales up.  WHY?  And let’s not get into politics.  I googled “Political Scandal… Page after page of politicians that should all be in jail.
The point here is how many chances do we give?  What is kind of mistakes are we allowed to make, especially if we have no intent on learning from them and doing better?  And how far are we going to let our Character slip?
You need to answer these questions.. Each of you.
Live the Scout Oath and Law.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

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Getting them to stay

In my last Podcast I answered 20 questions, it was a lot of fun to get the questions from folks that normally listen to the show and a great opportunity to get in touch with them via the Q&A.  One of the questions in particular I thought needed more time and thought.  The question in a nut shell asked what advice I would give to a Scout that was thinking about quitting Scouting.. or how would I get him to stay essentially?
In the podcast I answered by telling the listener to focus on the benefits of Scouting.  What does the young man get out of this program.
It is not about merit badges and rank patches.  I think if you ask your average Scout, you will find that he is there because of his friends, the adventures, and the good times he has.
I recently had a similar discussion with a friend of mine that is a Scoutmaster of a neighboring troop, we were talking about retention and recruiting and getting in and out of ruts in the program.  What we concluded is that the annual program of any given Troop needed to be dynamic and fun.  I asked how much emphasis he placed on advancement in his Troop, a Troop that continues to grow and thrive.  He said that advancement only played 1/8th of the program.  It is only one of the methods.  I agree.  We talked about Troops that we know that seem to “Crank out” Eagle scouts.  And while this benefits the Scout on paper in the long run, it probably is not doing him any favors in real life application.  We agreed that our programs needed to be fun, Scout led, and full of adventure.  Focused on skills and grounded in the training of character, citizenship, and fitness.
So what benefit does the Scout get out of Scouting?  In the short term he develops leadership and learns some great skills that will carry him through life.  He has fun and participates in things that the average kid in school will never do.  He gets to see new places and test his confidence while hanging out with his friends.  He gets to teach and learn.  He gets to grow into a man that is respected and honored when he finally does earn the Eagle award.
Now this may not seem like the speech you want to give to a Scout that is thinking about getting out of Scouting, but in the right setting, the Scout can see that he is getting more than he gives in Scouting.  He needs to think about the long term effects of being a Scout.  How it does look on a resume, how it can open doors for him in the future and where that will take him.
Sitting down and laying all that out should be convincing, but look at the reasons he wants to quit.  Is it the uniform?  Is it the lack of fun?  Is he tired of “Babysitting” the young boys in the unit? Ask and he will tell you why.  Then you can handle the situation.  Now I know the listener that asked the question knows why… but without me having knowledge of the “why”.. I can only give a general answer.
We all know that Scouting is benefits our young men in many ways.  Focus on the benefits and what’s in it for him.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

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