Month: March 2011

>Community

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The Internet has done amazing things for the Scouting community.. well no duh.. you are on it reading this or got it through the RSS feed..   But seriously.. the Internet has done amazing things to bring the World Brotherhood of Scouting into our homes.
Yesterday I was listening to a podcast about blogging (I really need to get a life), but in this podcast the speaker was talking about building his audience.  What it amounted to he said was not so much building an audience, but building a community.  Now we all are part of the Scouting community just by virtue of our membership, but in real communities there is contact.. there is interaction.. there is familiarities with the other members of the community, and that I think is one of the amazing things that the Internet has helped with within the Scouting community.
Last night I was invited to be a part of the Reynold High School Touchdown club, kind of like boosters, but solely for the purpose of supporting Reynolds Football.  The coach invited six people that all have sons in his program to start this organization.  As we talked last night about goals and our vision it became clear that what we really wanted to do was start a community within our community.  A community with a common vision and purpose.  Well here we are the Scouting community, we all have a unit we belong to, or a District function, or we work with our local councils (I am going to assume it stops there, if you are from National.. please email me.. I would love to know you).  Many of us wear many hats and serve Scouts and Scouting in many ways.. and then there is this… the Internet Scouting Community.. you may call it our Scouting Blogosphere.
The gang that started up the #100daysofscouting made huge steps in bringing our community together and it has had some pretty good results if you ask me.  But whats the next step?
YOU TELL ME.  And that’s whats next.  Tell me where we go from here.
Leave a comment and share you idea or ideas.. or drop a voicemail in the SMMVoicemail box (to your left).
There is so much potential in this community.. we need to tap in to it.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

>Den Chiefs

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The week on the SMMPodcast we talk about Den Chiefs and what an amazing asset they can be for your Troop.  I am not going to blog a bunch about it.. listen to the show!
I will tease it just a bit to say that when your Troop uses Den Chiefs you have better developed leaders, they are great recruiters, and motivated Scouts.  Den Chiefs become the face of the organization and can do fantastic things to improve Pack Troop relationships.
Check out the show and then let me know what you think.  There are lots of options for feedback.
#100daysofscouting kept be busy as usual.  Getting the Goodwill/Goodturn report together to turn in on Thursday.  Working on the podcast.  Completeing the OA election report.  And reviewing our Troops advancement status.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

>Responsibility

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This week at the Troop meeting we worked on Rifle Marksmanship.  We will be shooting at our next camp out, so in order to spend more time sending bullets down range and not sitting in a class, we brought the rifle in to the meeting and worked on all of the basics in our meeting place.  Safety, parts of the rifle, how to clean and care for it, how to hold it, aim it, and squeeze the trigger.  We had a contest with the guys on keeping a dime on the end of the barrel when the trigger is squeezed, this helps them stay steady and controls breathing.  The most important part of marksmanship though is being responsible.  This lesson in life is really illustrated well in handling a rifle.  There is no room for error and no room for lack of responsibility.  Every one on the range has to be responsible for safety, every one on the range has to be accountable for their actions.  Accountability is a major part of responsibility, you see when you are responsible for something or some one you are also accountable for it and then its on you to do the right thing.
Whether is it on the rifle range, behind the wheel of a car, or getting up to go to work every day, you need to be responsible.
Scouting teaches responsibility in many ways and is a recurring theme throughout the program.  Scout need to take it, learn it, and be accountable for it.
#100daysofscouting update.
The Scouts held OA election Monday night, this will be on of the biggest groups we will have called out to go through the ordeal.
Worked with the Scouts on marksmanship, and checked in on the ceremonies team for this weekends crossover.
Put together parent information sheet for Philmont crew.
Another busy Scouting week!
Have a Great Scouting Day!

>Sunday Blah Blah

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Today the Scouting Blogosphere has been pretty quiet,  Been working on the next podcast.  We are going to be talking about Den Chiefs, training Den Chiefs, and how Den Chiefs benefit your unit.  Well we are talking about Den Chiefs anyway…
If you do have a good Den Chief program in your unit I would encourage you to check out the online Den Chief training at Scouting.org (http://www.scouting.org/Training/Youth/DenChefTraining.aspx)
We have used them in my Troop and it is important to make sure an get the right Scout in the position of Den Chief.  Well, I won’t post to much about it.. you’ll have to listen to the show when it comes out Wednesday.
Having a weekend that was not really dedicated to Scouts was kind of nice this weekend, don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that in a bad way.  It was nice to spend the weekend with my boys.
I went to breakfast with my youngest this morning, it was great to just sit and talk.  He and his brother are getting close to earning their Eagle Award.  They are good young men.
Monday we will have a Troop meeting, the focus will be on the upcoming camp out and preparation for the Cross over we are doing on Saturday.  The guys in the Troop put together a team, mostly OA members and they always do a nice job.  We ordered more troop hats to give to the new Scouts.  The price went up this year, not sure what to think about that, it is still reasonable, I guess that is a sign of the times.
I have been having an ongoing discussion with a few parents of the Troop on attendance at Courts of Honor.  The Courts of Honor are great events and yet there has been a trend in the last two years of declining attendance at the COHs.  I am not sure why, even Scouts that are due to receive awards, merit badges and rank are failing to show up.  Well, I am sure we will crack that nut. I’m not overly concerned about it, I just want the Scouts to participate and enjoy their time in Scouting.
OK, that’s enough rambling for now.  #100daysofscouting continues to drive the focus!
Have a Great Scouting Day!

>#100daysofscouting and numbers

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Right after I posted the last entry to the blog I looked over to the recent post section over on the left column.  I rarely pay attention to it unless I am looking for something.  But what I noticed and it is no surprise, but since we started participating in the #100daysofscouting activity, the number of posts have increased, just like when I started the blog back in 2007.  Now I say this because I really enjoy the blog and blogging about Scouting and I think it is a good demonstration about focus.  Sometimes I feel we need to just stay focused and #100daysofscouting has refocused or focused many of us in that direction. 
I am enjoying reading everyone daily entries as they share with us what is going on in their Scouting world.  It truly has made our Scouting community closer.
Just so you don’t have to glance over there, let me just throw out these numbers (humor me).
In 2007 when I started blogging I blogged 107 posts all year, in 2008 that number jumped up to 236 posts, in 2009 it dropped down to 183 and in 2010, in the year that the blog should have been the most active with Jamboree and the Centennial celebration booming I only posted an anemic 89 times.  This year started off trending in that direction and then I was introduced to a spirited blast of blogs that recharged my batteries and got my focus back on the blog.  In the 28 days of February I posted 21 times and in the month of March is starting off right. 

Now I am not sure how it all really works, but this blog averages about 450 subscribers, to me that seems really low considering all the great Scouters out there, many of which blog too, but I suppose it is what it is and as long as there is one other person reading this, well then I guess all is well in Scouting Blog land.
Anyway, just wanted to Share this focus with you today.  It really is not about the numbers, but we all get excited when we share a moment in time with others, like being in the arena at Jambo with 70,000 other tan wearing Scouts and Scouters.. that was incredible, and so is the #100daysofscouting!
Have a Great Scouting Day!

>The JASM

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The position of the Junior Assistant Scoutmaster is one that I find debated frequently.  The debate ranges from what rank he needs to be to the age he needs to be and then as to what his job is within the Troop.  Is he treated like a youth or is he treated like an adult?  Where does he camp?  Who does he eat with?  What does he do?
We let me start with what the Boy Scouts of America says about the Junior Assistant Scoutmaster (JASM):
The Junior Assistant Scoutmaster is a Scout at least 16 years of age who has shown outstanding leadership skills. He is appointed by the Senior Patrol Leader with the advice and consent of the Scoutmaster. A Junior Assistant Scoutmaster follows the guidance of the Scoutmaster in providing support and supervision to the other boy leaders in the troop. Upon his 18th birthday, a Junior Assistant Scoutmaster is eligible to become an assistant Scoutmaster.
Ok, so we have the answer to the age question, he must be at least 16.  He is appointed by the SPL, yes the Senior Patrol Leader.  The Scoutmaster advises and approves the leadership of the young man, but it is the SPL that appoints him.  It is important to note that the JASM need not be an Eagle Scout.  The position qualifies as a Leadership role for the ranks of Star, Life, and Eagle.  In a Troop with a functioning Patrol Leaders Council, the SPL will be able to identify the needs of the Troop and where best a Junior Assistant Scoutmaster can serve the troop.  This is where the advice and counsel of the Scoutmaster play an important role in selecting a JASM.  The JASM, once selected will work directly for the Scoutmaster just as any other Assistant Scoutmaster would do.  The fine line here is that he is still a youth and all the youth protection guidelines apply.  He can’t sleep with adults and he would not be considered to transport Scouts.
The role of the JASM is to help the Troop.  Be a good example by wearing the uniform correctly and be a visible example of the Scout Oath and Law, he is a teacher, coach, and mentor to the Patrol leaders and to all the Scouts of the Troop.  He is typically an older Scout that has demonstrated outstanding leadership and therefore has the respect of the Scouts of the unit.  In our Troop the JASM is an asset, he is a good “go between” from the Scouts to the PLC and to the Adult leadership.  We treat him like an Assistant Scoutmaster and give him a lot of responsibility and latitude.  His primary function is to assist in the training of Patrol leaders, but his specific job is to train the Assistant Senior Patrol Leader preparing him to become the SPL.  He signs books, tests Scouts in skills, coaches Patrol leaders, and is available to meet the needs of the Scoutmaster and SPL is support of the Troop.
I have noticed that many Troops in our District do not have JASM’s.  When I have talked to other Scoutmasters about why, the typical response is they don’t need them or don’t know what to do with them.  In response to that I always suggest that if nothing else it is a great way to keep an older boy completely engaged in your Troop.  It is a fantastic way to recognize a young man that has been an outstanding leader and is getting close to his 18th birthday.  It is hard sometimes for a Scout that has been in front of the Troop serving to now step back into a patrol and just follow.  In most cases they have served in Troop level positions for some time and have been a decision maker for the Troop for a long while.  To ask him just to follow is not rewarding and leaves the Scout in a awkward position.  So the reward comes from being appointed by the SPL to continue his service to the Troop at a level that is fitting of his skills, maturity, and demonstrated leadership.  We all have that Scout in our Troop, that Scout that you will want as an Assistant Scoutmaster one day.
I encourage the Junior Assistant Scoutmaster Position, it is rewarding for the Unit, the Scout, and a great asset for Scoutmasters.
#100daysofscouting for today-  I blogged, then hung out with two Scouts in my Troop.. my sons.  Need to do some work on the podcast, but that will have to wait till tomorrow.
Hey, If you have questions or comments, you can leave them here, call into the SMM Voice mail at 503-308-8297, or drop me an email, I love to hear from you!
Have a Great Scouting Day!

>Tools

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As Scout leaders we teach our scouts to learn and develop skills that will last their life times.  Even in the mission statement of the Boy Scouts of America it states that The Mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law.  The Scout Oath and Law are tools that support the mission of the BSA.
We teach our Scouts skills that become tools that they will have for their lives.
When a Scout joins a troop he is given an empty tool box.  Look at the Scout Badge. As he learns more, develops leadership, and sharpens his skills he starts to fill up the tool box.  He adds an Eagle on the Tenderfoot badge.  This tells us that he is on his way to learning to camp, do first aid, and see where he is physically.  All the while the Oath and Law are the standards he is starting to live.
The next items he puts in his tool box is how to navigate using a map and compass, while he is learning those skills that keep him on the right trail, he also is learning about his moral compass and staying on the right path in life.  This tool is one of the most important tools he can place in his tool box.  Citizenship plays a big part in this next step and as the boy grows so does his responsibilty and understanding about who he is and what his part in his community is.  Service becomes an additional part of the young mans life.  His tool box is getting full, but there is always room for more.  The patch he wears now has a Scroll that reminds him to BE PREPARED, prepared for what?  Anything!.. but namely LIFE. 
By the time your Scout earns his First Class badge, he is a skilled camper, he understands First Aid, he is starting to lead, he is getting physically fit, and he is taking an active role in his Troop and his community.  His tool box is packed and he knows how to use the tools in it.  Now it is time to explore his world.  Star and Life give him the opportunities to learn and grow.  Learn about occupations, hobbies, skills, and the world he lives in.  He grows in leadership, service, and citizenship. 
The day he goes to his Eagle Board he need only show up with his tool box that he has put together along the way.  All the answers are there, his compass is set, his skills sharpened, and the Oath and Law are his guides to a life that will be measured by his character.
His tool box will never leave him and will always contain the tools he needs for life.  They will always be the right tool at the right time.
Fill up your Tool Box!
Have a Great Scouting Day!