Month: March 2011

>A moment of your time

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The other day I was out and about and I ended up in the check out line at a local store.  There was an elderly gentleman in line ahead of me waiting patiently as the check out clerk seemed to be struggling a bit.
It was one of the weird situations where no one really talks, let alone makes eye contact.  I was thumbing through some notes on my iPhone when I looked up and there he was.. making eye contact with me, the elderly man was staring at me with a puzzled look on his face.  I smiled and said “Hey, how ya doing?”  He nodded his head and replied “very well, thank you for asking.”  He asked what I had there in my hand and why young people can’t seem to live without “all these devices”?  I told him it was my phone and it really has made my life more organized.  He told me that when he was a young man, he carried a little note book and it did the same thing at a tenth of the cost.  I laughed, as did he and then he asked what was so important that it had my attention in the check out line.  I told him I was reviewing the roster of my Scout Troop for the up coming camp out.  He said “Really?  You can do that?  I told him “Sure, would you like to see?”  We moved up a few steps in line and I showed him the roster, then some pictures from the National Jamboree, and then a few other cool apps, like the one you can see the stars and planets with.  He was amazed and a great conversation started.  He told me that he had been in Scouts back in the 40’s and 50’s and was a Scoutmaster till he had to go off to war in Korea.  He said that he had been to the Jamboree at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania in 1950.  “It was the biggest thing I ever did in Scouting” he said.  I shared with him my Jamboree experience of last year and told him it too was the biggest thing I have ever done in Scouting.  Well, the conversation went on till it was finally his turn to check out.  The clerk had a button on that read “IN TRAINING”.  She was very apologetic and fumbled to get everything in the mans bag.  He walked away and it was my turn to check out.  I smiled at her and told her that it was fine on about the fifth time she glanced at me and said “sorry”.  I assured her that she was not the first person to have worn a “IN TRAINING” button and that it was going to be ok.  She said thanks and gave me my change.
I walked out of the store to find the elderly man sitting on a bench.  I asked if everything was ok?  He said it was, and that he was just waiting on the bus to take him back to the retirement home.  I asked if he needed company.  He did not want to bother.. I told him I had nothing but time.  We sat and talked for about 20 minutes, he told me his wife had passed a few years back and now he just kinda wanders through his last days.  He shared some fond memories of his Scouting days and time he spent with his sons camping, he said he missed those days and wished he could go back in time.  He was all alone, yeah, the retirement home was nice and had a great staff, but most of the old folks just played cards and took naps.. I laughed.  And the bus arrived.  He shook my hand, smiled and got on the bus.  As he drove away, he looked out the window and gave me a Scout salute.  He had a big grin on his face.
Heading to my truck I could not help but smile and think about what a great guy that was.  Some ones Dad, Uncle, Grandpa.. A veteran, a Scout, a great guy.
You know, Doing a good turn each day might just mean giving someone a moment of your time.  It made his day I am sure… because it sure did make mine.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

>Seeking your Passion

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We are all in Scouting for one reason or another. Some of us have been in Scouts since we were in Cub Scouts, our parents and grandparents were in Scouts and we have just grown up with the program. For others, it was an invite at a join night that fell out of the lunch box. Either way you are an active part of Scouting and that means you are making a difference in the lives of young men.

Scouting, through its many merit badges, skills, and the advancement program challenges a Scout to seek an interest or a passion. It does this in the adult volunteers also. Now, I am not suggesting that adults find an interest through a merit badge and certainly not in the advancement program, but there are opportunities for adults to seek interests and yes a passion.
Let me give you an example about a passion that I have, one that until I became a Scout leader I never really had. And that’s teaching. I love to teach Scouts to lead, to do skills, and to grow to be good men. I had been assigned to be an instructor while in the Army, but it was not really a passion. The students either got it, or they didn’t. Their success or failure was never something I concerned myself with. I did my job and presented the material, they either picked it up.. or they failed. It was pretty cut and dry. When I started teaching Scouts leadership and skills on the other hand, I realized that there was a lot more at stake with these boys. They are our future. Now, not to get overly dramatic about it, but they truly are the future and how I teach them will matter one day.
I was talking with a fellow Scoutmaster, a really great friend of mine. He shared with me a story about a Scout he had in his Troop years ago. This young man struggled with skills and never wanted to be a leader. It was a constant struggle to keep this Scout engaged and willing to participate without distraction. One day, the Scoutmaster was delivering his Scoutmaster Minute to the Troop and as he wrapped up he told the Scouts that he really loves it when he sees them in the paper or within the community doing great things. He shared that he keeps a scrapbook filled with all of the accomplishments of the Scouts. Winners of track meets, Football all stars, academic achievements, they are all in this scrapbook. He went on to tell the Scouts how proud he is of them and that he wants to continue to see this kind of stuff in the paper.
About a year went by and Scouts came and went, but the Troop was active and having a great year. One night the same Scoutmaster stood in front of the Troop to deliver his Scoutmaster minute. He held a newspaper clipping in his hand. He asked the Scouts if they remembered the talk he had last year about his scrapbook? They collectively replied that they remembered. Well, he began, I have another clipping for the scrapbook, but its not good news. He asked if they remembered that Scout that was always making trouble? Again, collectively they answered they remembered. The clipping was a tragic story about a couple crimes. The troubled Scout had robbed a few houses in the community and was convicted of burglary. He was sent to prison on a relatively short sentence, but while he was locked up he got mixed up with a group of prisoners and they beat him violently. He later passed away in the prison hospital of internal injuries. This clipping was going into the scrapbook, not as a story to celebrate the achievements of the Scouts, but as a reminder that we need to impact these young men in a positive manner. The lessons we teach them about life and living, about being a man of character, about skills and leadership will last within them. If we fail to do our part in the development of these young men there will be lasting circumstances. On the other hand if we are successful we will be able to celebrate with them.
That is a long way of telling you that we can seek a passion, mine is to teach and coach these great young men to be fine men. It drives me and makes me want to be better and gives me the drive to stay the course, even when it is frustrating and the boys don’t seem to get it. I know they will. I believe in them.
There are many opportunities to develop a passion in Scouting. Some find backpacking, some find the High Adventure bases, some find Wood Badge, some find a podcast, while others, well they just want to hang out with their son and watch him grow. Whatever it is, I would encourage you to find it and then do whatever it takes to grow it, share it, and make it a passion.
Scouting is one of my passions, as you should be well aware by now.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

>#100daysofscouting – Time to brag on the boys a bit

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Putting together the work sheet for the Top Troop Award for our District has been an eye opener this year.  The Troop is bigger and 2010 was an incredible year for all of us in Scouting.
Now, I put this together a couple weeks ago, but finally got to email it to the committee tonight.  It was tonight that I really took a look and broke down the numbers for 2010 as it applies to the Top Troop award.  We have been in the top 3 each year for the last 4 years, so I think we have a sporting chance again this year.. but even if we don’t win.. we already won!  2010 was a great year for our Troop.
Let me show you some of the numbers, and if it seems like I am bragging.. well I am proud of the Scouts of our Troop, our Troop committee, and everyone that has their hand in delivering the promise of Scouting in Troop 664!

We started the year with 28 Scouts and finished the year with 35.  We had a few drop and we gained a few.. but we grew.
We had a total of 33 advancements in rank.
We had an average participation (average number of Scouts) at District or Council events of 19.5.
We did 11 camp outs this year for a total of 27 nights, plus 12 Scouts participated 10 nights with the Jamboree.  Of the 12 Scouts that went to Jamboree 3 of them did both Summer camp and Jamboree.
The average participation (average number of Scouts) that attended our Troop camp outs was 21.8 or well over 70 % attendance.
Our Troop did  9 service projects this year (not including an Eagle Project) for a total of 811 service hours and 21.8 average participation.  I think that is pretty darn good.
We had 18 Scouts go to Troop Junior Leader Training and 1 went to NYLT.
We met our FOS goal for the 6th year in a row.  And met all of the requirements for Centennial Quality Unit.  We have never not been a Quality unit.
But the best part is we are youth led, and they made all of this happen during 11 PLC meetings and an annual planning session.
I am proud to be their Scoutmaster, and proud to be a part of Scouting!

Have a Great Scouting Day!

>AH HA Moment

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Last night my son and I attended the “Touchdown Club” meeting at the High School.  The Touchdown club is sort of like the boosters, but focuses 100% of its energy to the Football program. This is brand new at the School and is in its formation stages.  Last night was only the second meeting.
The objective of last nights meeting was to establish an organization table and select officers.  As the meeting progressed the discussion drifted to details of what we wanted to accomplish and how things were going to get done, but establishing our goal of organization was not happening.  In the last quarter of the meeting we finally did what we set out to do and adjourned.
As we were driving home, my youngest son, who is a life Scout said to me, “Dad, that sure looked a lot like the Forming, Norming, Storming, and Performing thing we talk about in TLT”.  He went on to say, “Looks like you guys are forming”.  AH HA!  He got it!  I told him that the reason we teach that stuff (the EDGE) is just for this reason… you will use it in your life no matter where you work, what club you are in, or even when you have a family.  The EDGE will get your organization to be a High Performance team.
I love it when they have the AH HA moments!
For #100daysofscouting – I mailed in my response and acceptance to the BSA National Meetings.. pretty much it yesterday.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

>"You Gotta Believe"

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Yesterday was a fantastic Scouting Day!  First and foremost it was Monday, so we had our weekly Troop meeting.  The Troop meeting started like most others but then took a turn for the better, a Scout camp running through the door about 5 minutes late.  He was wearing his baseball uniform making a dash for the restroom, scout uniform in tow.  His Dad was not to far behind and asked if I had a second.  That usually is not a good sign, but I figured that another leadership challenge was on the horizon.  He explained that they were having a hard time getting motivated to come to Scouts and that they turned the car around twice en route to the meeting.  I asked what the issue was, maybe a personality conflict, a lack of desire to participate, something was troubling the Scout.  No, he loves to go camping, he really likes the guys in his patrol, he likes Scouts.. just not the meetings when he has to come right after practice.  Now, this kid is a good athlete, he plays baseball and basketball and is good at both.
I told him that I would have a little chat with the young man and see what I could do.
So, after the meeting the young man and I sat down and talked.  I started by asking what his main concerns where regarding coming to meetings.  Simply put, he is just overwhelmed.. sports, school, scouts, sometimes it is just too much he said.  I assured him that he is not alone.  In our Troop better than half are athletes.  Football players, Wrestlers, Baseball, Basketball, and guys that run track.  Not to mention the scouts that are in Band, 4H, and Robotics clubs.  My point was that he is not alone, not the first one to dance this dance, and that if he really wanted to, he could do it all.. there was time enough to be an athlete and a Scout.  I assured him that we meet every Monday and go camping every month and that if he missed a few meetings it was no big deal.  And if he had to be late, well, we would work around that too.  He told me he really loves his patrol, at that I told him that they like having him around also, and although they will never admit it or say it out loud, they miss each other when one is gone.  I asked him if he wanted to be a professional Baseball player, he replied “Yeah”.  I asked him if he wanted to be an Eagle Scout?  He answered “Oh Yeah”.  Then, I said, you need to participate, its that simple.  I know you don’t like the meetings, but consider them like baseball practice.  You can’t play the game without practice first.  It makes the team stronger, they know each other better, and they develop skills that make them better in the game.  At our meetings we do all of that while we get ready for our next camp out or event.  He looked at me and said that he never thought of it that way.  I told him that he had to believe in him self and that he could be a great athlete as well as work toward his Eagle.  He believes.
During the Scoutmaster Minute last night I talked about working toward a goal and that believing in your ability, your skills, and your knowledge will get you far in life.  I don’t know why they have self doubt, but I suppose that’s why they have a Scoutmaster.  It’s my job to help them see that they “gotta believe” in themselves.  They are great young men and I want to see them become a success.  So I will help them.. Like I said in the last post.. in helping them achieve success, I am successful.
Man, I love this stuff!
Yesterday I also received an invitation to the BSA National meetings in San Diego!  I am really excited about this opportunity.  It really was a great Scouting Day yesterday!
Have a Great Scouting Day!

>Caution: This became an Opinion piece

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I am back from the Wauna La’Montay Lodge Rendezvous of the Order, an annual event our lodge hosts to celebrate its accomplishments, recognize the fantastic arrowmen of the lodge, and of course..have a lot of fun.
Friday was an interesting day as most of you that are no longer living in caves knows.. Japan was hit by a massive Tsunami and the ripple effects were felt all the way here in Oregon.  Camp Meriwether, where Rendezvous is held each year in on the Oregon Coast.. I mean.. right on the Beach.. so of course there was some concern about the Tsunami hitting it, but as luck would have it, and further proof that God loves Scouts, the wave went South, much to the dismay of the folks down in Brookings.  Our prayers go out to them, fortunately it was just stuff that was damaged and no one lost their life.
We arrived at Camp Meriwether Friday night to a light drizzle and the party had already started.  It is always a fun gathering and the patch traders and Native American enthusiasts where all there.  I picked up a few missing patches for sets I have and called it a night after a cracker barrel of Chicken, cole slaw, and a cup of coffee.
Saturday was a fun day, the morning started off with fun games and fellowship.  I had an opportunity to chat with our SE for about 20 minutes and then again during and after a Fire Side chat he hosted for the adult leaders that attended.
Being the Scout Executive of Council is a job I would not trade for mine.  In the short time Matt has been here he has grown all too familiar with the court system in the Portland Metro area.  Law suites have blasted us here in the Northwest.. and yes.. I do have an opinion about them.
While I never think it is right for anyone to abuse a child, I also do not think it the councils responsibility to police the actions of those that do.  Here is how I see it.  I am a registered member of the BSA through a Chartered Organization.  The CO approves my application and I serve at their pleasure.  If I mess up the accountability is on me and to some degree the CO.. but not the Council or the BSA.  INDIVIDUALS need to be held accountable for their actions.. not the Organization.. unless the organization gave authorization, or directed the individual to commit the crime or abuse.
Now I know that is not how the money grabbing lawyers see it.. but that is how I see it. 
In my opinion the last case was handled all wrong and the judge should not have awarded a penny to the so called “victim” from the council.  They should have gone after the $$$ of the CO and that is that.  The CO did nothing to keep this from happening again.  The crime was reported to the CO, the CO “kicked the guy out of the church” but allowed him to remain a Scout leader… even after the sick bastard admitted to sexually abusing multiple kids.  It was not reported to the council and now the council is on the hook.
They said it is all about the boys right?  The “Victim” said his suite was all about the boys… well how much money did you take away from “the boys” Mr. Victim?  And since I’m on this.. what is the statute of limitations.. how long can a guy take to starting feeling bad about the abuse, do not get me wrong.. it is terrible when a child gets abused.. I do not condone it at all and think that those that do abuse children should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.  They are sick people that need to be dealt with.. but how long can he wait? 
Anyway.. I digress..
The Fire Side chat was great, we talked about improving the image of the Council and building up the PR so we have better coverage and truly tell Scouting Story.  We talked about camps and of course the Scouter Mountain never ending story.  All in all it was nice to sit down with Matt and hear his side of the Council discussion.  Again. you could not pay me enough to wear his hat.
Saturday night was the annual Lodge Awards Banquet and Vigil call out followed by a Brotherhood ceremony.  A Scout from my Jamboree troop sealed his membership in the Order by completing his Brotherhood ceremony, so I took the time to watch and congratulate him.
It was yet another great Scouting weekend.  Last night during the Banquet the Professional advisor to the Lodge spoke.  He talked about a life lived to serve.  He quoted Zig Zigler by saying “You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want.”  And that kind of sums up the dreams of a member of the Order of the Arrow.
In talking with a number of Scouts this weekend, it was made clear that by and large adult do not trust them and their abilities.  Over and over again I was told that they wish adult leaders would let them lead.
You know Scouts put this whole weekend together, and where adults got their hands in it.. there were problems.  My message.. let the Scouts lead!  This is what Scouting is about and for.  Trust them and give them a chance.  They did a great job this weekend… and everytime we let them seek success.. they find it.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

>Boys to Men

>Last night at Round table we got into an interesting discussion about many of the Scouts in our Troops and the jest of the conversation was how neat it was to watch these boys become men.  You see our district is huge but many of our Troops are close enough together, and many of us Scoutmasters are great friends, so we see each other a lot and we see the Scouts of other Troops a lot also.  There are Scouts that I was Cubmaster for that are in other Troops and there are Scouts that go to School with my kids that are in other Troops.. bottom line.. we have a lot of visibility on the Scouts within our District, enough to know them a little and have the ability to comment on their growth.
We were talking about one Scout in particular that is currently in Basic training at Ft. Benning, GA.  I know him pretty well, he was active in the OA chapter and went to Jamboree as a Third Assistant Scoutmaster.  Lat night we put together little cards to send off to him.  As I filled out my card I could not help but reflect on how this little kid is now a grown man and that he is serving our country as a soldier.
Well this got me to thinking about the job that we do preparing these little kids to be men.   Life skills that they carry with them.  Character, respect, loyalty, Sticking with something to the end, being kind, how to treat women.. all of these things are in the Scoutmaster bag of lesson that we work with these young men.  We model these behaviors, we teach them by placing them in situations to make decisions, and we expect it of them as part of their promise to live the Oath and Law.
I look at the boys in my Troop and hope that one day they will all become good men, men of character and the kind of men we all can be proud of.  Men that will look back on their Scouting experience and know that we made a difference in their lives.
Its all good stuff.
Have a Great Scouting Day!