Month: October 2009

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!

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!

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!

The Scoutmaster Minute Show #42

In this show Scoutmaster Jerry answers 20 questions.

20 questions were emailed from our listening audience and I answer them all. Jerry is joined by a very special guest host for this one.
A look behind the curtain and a glimpse of some of Jerry’s Scouting philosophy as he answers 20 questions.

A special thanks to The Boy Scout Store proud sponsor of the Show.

There is a challenge at the end of the show. Email with the answer and I will send you a prize!

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Standard Podcast [40:55m]
Download

Thanks

Thanks for all the questions.. we have 20 and will be recording the show this week.  Look for your question or just for the answers coming real soon.
I will have a very special Guest host on this show, you don’t want to miss it.

I appreciate all those that follow the blog and the podcast, knowing you are out there and that you care about Scouts and Scouting is a wonderful thing and it keeps us all motivated to keep on Scouting!

Have a Great Scouting Day!