Month: January 2010

BE PREPARED.. Not just words

This weekend before we hiked out of camp, our chaplains aid delivered a real nice Scouts Own service.  His message to the Troop was to develop good habits.  He challenged the Troop to stay away from bad habits, especially when camping.  Our chaplains aid really nailed it and in not so many words called out some of the guys for the habits they were forming.
His message got me to thinking about habits and how they are formed in our Scouts.. what it boiled down to for me in the context of camping, citizenship, fitness, and service… was being prepared.
But the onus is not all on the Scout.  What about the teacher.. the Scout leader.
This got me to thinking about the habits we are forming (teaching) in our Scouts and how we as Scout leaders bare a big part of the burden when it comes to the success of our Scouts.
Friday night we stayed at the Boy Scout winter lodge.  It is a great time, the Scouts have their own private tubbing hill that is lit at night, a neat common area, and a bunk house.  The lodge holds 6 Troops comfortably, but smaller Troops often double up with troops that have bunk space.
Our troop uses the lodge as a jumping off point.  We take advantage of the great facilities, allow the Scouts to have a good time inner-tubbing, then they can dry their clothing in the dryers and get ready to camp the rest of the weekend out in the snow in a near by wilderness area.
During our recent stay, a Troop that is chartered by a certain church group shared space with us.  They were a small unit and we had enough spare bunks to share.
Now it is no secret to those of you that follow this blog that my Troop is a backpacking troop, we are pretty well self sufficient and do not require a whole lot of space, gear, trailers, and the like.  So when it comes to staying in the lodge, our plans change very little, the patrols still cook in 2 or three Scout teams, they use their backpacking stoves, bring their own food and ways to collect and carry water, and can clean up after themselves.
The other Scoutmaster introduced himself and we chatted about sharing the Troop bay.  I informed him that we would not be needing the refrigerator, the stove and oven, and that we would be leaving in the morning.  He thanked me as his Assistant Scoutmaster rolled in a very large cooler and bags of groceries.
Throughout that evening, Scouts from this other Troop kept coming to me and other adult leaders of my Troop for “things”.. “Hey Mister, where are the forks?… Hey Mister, where are the pans,?  My Scoutmaster needs them to cook dinner for us.”
As we sat around the table, the leaders of the other Troop joined in our conversation about some high adventure opportunities.  They asked why would be taking these “boys” out into the snow to camp?  I listed many reasons, the least of which was that we are a Boy Scout Troop and we are always looking for new and exciting adventures.  He mentioned that his boys could never do such a thing.. they just are not ready for it.  I asked him, “well, what are you doing to prepare them?”  “It’s just out of the question” he replied, they don’t need that kind of thing.”
Well, that pretty much summed up his philosophy on Scouting.  “They don’t need that kind of thing”?
That’s like saying they don’t need the Scout Oath and Law, they don’t need an outdoor program, they don’t need uniforms, they don’t need advancement.
Now I am not saying that every Troop need be a backpacking Troop, but what are we teaching our young men when we don’t even give them a shot.
When we cook and clean for them, when we adults run their PLC and stifle the planning process.  When we take away the boy led elements of Scouting and finally when we take away “BE PREPARED”.
Prepared for what you may be asking.  Well like BP said, “FOR ANYTHING”.
Scouting prepares these young men for life.
Last night, my Troop conducted their after camp out review or “Start, Stop, and Continue”.  After they went through this at the Patrol level, I spoke to them about some of the things that I saw over the weekend.  Let me first say that I am proud of each and every one of the Scouts in the Troop, they did a great job this weekend and all of them came out of the weekend learning something.
The one thing that I did challenge them all to do was to push themselves more.  They all have the abilities and know how, but sometimes they are afraid of stepping out of their comfort zones and accept new challenges or adventures.  How does this help in “Being Prepared”?  Well, I think that causes them to become critical thinkers.  When you step out of that which is comfortable, you need to be ready for what is on the other side.  Becoming a critical thinker and really looking at what you are about to do prepares them for the adventure which starts to translate in their everyday life.
Now what has this have to do with the Troop that shared space with us?
It seems to me that they are taking away opportunities for the boys in the Troop.. and that rubs me a little.
Being Prepared is not just words, it becomes a habit, it becomes part of the routines of our Scouts, it translates into their lives and that prepares them to be good men.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Trekking Poles

When I hike or hit the trail on a nice backpacking trip I always use trekking poles.  They are great little tools that help climb hills, steady myself through rocky terrain, ease the load when descending and generally, they keep me balanced.
Some people use one trekking pole or staff, personally, I think that two poles are better as they provide better balance in the long run.
We can look at the Scout Oath and Law like the trekking poles of our life.
The Oath and Law provide balance, stability, and ease the load of our lives.  The Law is there to ease the load when we are descending in our decision making, it is there when we face the tough climbs of our life and it is there to steady us when we cross rocky terrain.
The same is true with the Scout Oath… my other pole.  It provides balance and steadies me in my life.  As I climb it is there to remind me to be physically Strong.  When I am descending it reminds me to be Morally straight.  And when I am traversing some rough terrain it is there to remind me to be Mentally Awake.
As I hike through life with my trekking poles,  the Oath and Law tell me to always do My Best.
The Scout Oath and Law are great tools to help me make it through the hike of life.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Goals, Vision, and Finding Direction

Every once in a while you need to check your compass and determine whether or not you are heading in the right direction, you need to detour a bit, or just confirm that all is well and you keep on hiking.
Periodically a unit should sit down with their plan and review it, check the compass if you will.
The Patrol leaders Council should determine whether or not goals are being met, benchmarks made, and if the unit seems to be heading in the direction they outlined in their annual planning session.
The Troop Committee should do the same.  Taking a look at their goals and measure them up.  Is the committee functioning as a team to provide support for the unit?  Where are the holes, and how do we do better?  Asking those questions will get the committee focused and back on track if they have strayed a bit.
The Scoutmaster and his Assistants also need to evaluate their performance.  Are they teaching and coaching and allowing the unit to function as a boy led troop.  What additional training do they need to provide to the youth leadership?  Do we have enough adult leadership?  Are we too hands on or are we heading down the right path?  Again, questions that keep the leaders focused on providing the very best Scouting experience for the Scouts of the unit.
Recently, our unit has conducted such an evaluation.  We established our plan back in October, but thought that with the new year and finishing up the last quarter of the year, it was a great time to use Start, Stop, and Continue and look at our unit with a critical eye.
The PLC began the process and found that they wanted to actually do more.  They want to focus on retention of the “older” Scouts and focus on meaningful boy led meetings.
The Committee has decided that more parental involvement on the committee was needed and that they should spread the work out a lot more.  The committee is also concerned about retention and marketing the unit better.  All great points.  Not that the Troop is not healthy, but looking down the road, we do not want to get caught like other units that start to feel that everything is great and then find themselves dwindling and not gaining Scouts annually.
The Scoutmasters have decided that the PLC and working with Patrol leaders is the answer to everything.   Developing strong Patrol leaders and training leadership within the youth leadership ranks will place the unit in a position to grow and have more fun.
So the focus did not change to much, we still maintain our program, add additional training for leaders and upcoming leaders, and allow the Scouts to run their troop.
Coaching and mentoring along the way.
It is good to go through this process, you confirm those thoughts that maybe something needs to be tweaked, and we confirmed that we are in fact heading down the right trail.
I sat down with our Committee Chair the other night and we determined that the Adult leadership is on the same sheet of music and with some adjustments, the unit is making wonderful sounds.
Take some time and evaluate your unit.  If things are running great.. keep on moving.. if they are not, well make the adjustments and get back on the right trail.  Scouting has so much to offer, make the very best of it.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Me goofing off with my gear

OK, when you love camping and you have a little time on your hands.. well this is what happens.
Here are a couple videos I slapped together to talk about winter gear and cooking… It just does not get any better than that my friends.  ( I had to do the video in two parts because Youtube  only lets you do 10 minute videos)
Enjoy.. and Have a Great Scouting Day!

Adventure Base 100

Adventure Base 100 is touring America, unfortunately it will not be coming to my Council, but it will be coming to the Chief Seattle Council up North.  Fortunately for me I will get to explore Adventure Base 100 at the National Jamboree!
This video really shows the Value of Scouting.  It’s time America sees it and understands just what Scouting does for America.. and the World!
Enjoy this video from the Boy Scouts of America on You Tube.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Podcast #47 Get Excited about the Centennial

In this show Scoutmaster Jerry gets pumped about our heritage and legacy and prepares to celebrate the Centennial!
Share your Scouting story or way that you are celebrating the Centennial email Scoutmaster Jerry at or find him on Skype and talk about it.. hey it may end up in a show (more than likely).  Skype is jerry.schleining.
Also some good winter camping tips on gear that is a must for your next winter camp out.
Thanks again for listening!
Listen to the show here 

Have a Great Scouting Day!