Month: June 2011

This Weeks Poll

This weeks poll asks the question about Unit elections.  Do you hold them annually, Bi-annually?  Do you hold them when ever the need arises?  How do you do unit elections in your unit?
Well….  Lets hear it.
Leave your answer in the comments section so we all can get a feel for how unit elections are conducted around our Scouting World.
I’ll give you my thoughts later.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

SMMPodcast Show # 88 Stoves and other Stuff

SMMPodcast show # 88 is out and ready for your ear buds.  I need to apologize for the audio quality of the first part of this show.. The F150 studio was louder than usual. In this show we talk about Stoves and other Stuff including a great Ordeal Weekend with our Lodge.
Let me know what you think.  Leave Feedback, drop an email,
and Have a Great Scouting Day!|

You can listen to the show here SMMPodcast # 88
This Show is sponsored by Badge Magic

Electronics and Scouting

There are many out there that feel that there is no place for electronics in Scouting.. no phones, ipods, or gps units.  Well I tend to disagree with those folks, but with this caveat, training, skills, and appropriate time and place.
Training.  IF you are going to use a gps unit you need to know how to read a map and compass.  Goecaching has made gps very popular and has taken away some of the map and compass skills that we use in the field.  The game of geocaching on the other hand has gotten lots of folks out in the woods and hiking from point to point.  I love this idea, but… add the map and compass skill to your list when hunting for your next treasure.  Total reliance on the gps may leave you stranded when the batteries die.  the compass and map will never fail you.  So map and compass training is a must.
Training in basic camping (outdoor) skills are a must.  Knot tying, First aid, and setting camp, cooking, and the principles of leave no trace are all must have skills.  Your iPhone can help in those endeavors.  There are great apps out there that teach skills.  The Boy Scout handbook is a nice tool on the iPhone to take Scouting where the Scout is… on his phone.
In my troop we do not discourage the use of electronics.  Game units, gps, iPhones, etc are all welcome.  We do not have a written policy or a guidebook on how and when to use these items, it is understood however that there is an appropriate time and place.  Once a Scout understands the when and where and the fact that we welcome technology the instances of abuse are rare.  It is a matter of teaching, trusting, and letting them lead in the use of their electronics.
I think that there is a place for electronics in Scouting… and Scouting thinks so too.  If you trust your Scouts to do the right thing, train them in the proper use, and then establish the appropriate time and place that it all can be used, it will naturally find its place in your unit.
There recently was a good article in Backpacker magazine about skills and the iPhone.. check it out here.
Let me know what you think.  Leave a comment or drop me an email.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Somewhere between a Rock and Hard Place

That’s where you will find adventure and success.  Life is hard enough for an 11 year old with out standing on the edge of a cliff.  But that is where the Scouts of Troop 664 find themselves every year when we climb at Smith Rock State Park in Central Oregon.
Here is what happens.  A young man gets ready, harness and helmet on.. he is looking for adventure and sees the older guys doing it.. it looks fun, but that is a long way down.  He’s been through the training, knows all the knots, the commands, and how he is going to lean out, get into a good “L” shape position, and start his decent.  He knows that he has all the skills necessary to go over the edge.  But then his brain asks him the question; “ARE YOU NUTS?” 
This is when it happens.. It?  What “it”?  This is where the Scout learns about himself and how far he is willing to go, but then when he reaches that point.. he takes just one one step.  He tests his courage, his inner strength, and his will to trust.
On this face of rock he will be tested by himself and come out victorious.  Every small step is huge victories.  The tears that run down a dirty cheek soon give way to smiles and high fives!  He has conquered a small part of his mind and now is more confident.  He walks just a bit taller on the way back to the truck even though he is tired and hungry.  He has an adventurous story to share.  Him and his patrol mates did something that their class mates won’t do.  Monday at school he will show pictures and tell of his great adventure.
So here is what I know for sure.  The old Scoutmaster handbooks talk about what makes a boy… Paraphrasing… He likes to be with his friends, he likes to feel important, he wants to share work and play hard, he wants to make decisions and but likes to know he is supported by his friends and adults.  He wants action and fun!  He wants to run, play, fight, and generally be on the move.  HE craves adventures and changes in his surroundings.  He wants to experience new things, feel the wind in his hair, the sun in his eyes, and is looking for that great escape for the everyday things in his life.  He wants to learn and see new things and have new experiences.  He looks up to somebody and has a vision of what he wants to be.
I paraphrased that from the 1965 Scoutmaster Handbook.  Everything applies today.  100%!  Get them outside and provide adventures that will test them, push them, make them think and grow and you will have done what the boy wants.  That is Scouting my friends.
This weekend my Troop spent 12 hours climbing, rappelling, and practicing rescue techniques at Smith Rock.  We camped on a ranch in Madras and had a ball.  I got to see a lot of growth this weekend.  And when the parents came to pick up the guys on Sunday, I wish you could have seen the young men, smiles from ear to ear anxious to tell the story to mom and dad.
The moral of the story… boys are boys.  From 1910 to 2011 the only thing that really has changed in their Scout uniform, what is inside is just as healthy and wanting as ever before.  Seek those adventures and somewhere between a rock and hard place they will  find themselves.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Grandma always told me…

“You are either part of the problem or part of the solution…”  a great approach to being a part of an organization.  You truly are either part of the problem or part of the solution.  When we teach our Scouts how to lead, being part of the solution is the driving force that they need to quickly embrace and practice.  Never is it ok for a leader to be a part of the problem.  We and the youth leaders of our units are problem solvers.. never problem makers.
I never allow a youth leader to make excuses.. there are none, ever.  We are accountable for our actions, decisions, and the outcomes of our leadership.  It’s never the committees fault, the districts fault, or the council’s fault.  We are unit leaders, us and the youth, and we run our units.  If something is broke, we fix it.
Last year during our recharter, a couple of our Scouts were inadvertently dropped in Scout Net.  Now I could have raised hell and blamed everyone and their brother.. but what good does it do?  Rather, we took our copy of the application down to the Scout office and got it fixed.  Real simple.  What shocked me though was when the gal at the Council service desk informed me that usually this issue is met with irate leaders that want satisfaction.  Satisfaction at what expense?  Tearing into someones hide?  Very Scout like don’t you think?  Lets assume that all of our units do a good job at record keeping.  Well then there is no issue, right.. we just take down our copy and done.
We are either part of the problem or part of the solution.  It is easy to point fingers and assume that things will be messed up.  Patrol leaders try this all the time.  They try to pass the buck or play the blame game.  This is always a great teaching opportunity. 
In my Troop we use the Happy Hand approach to rules. 
1.  Hold up your Thumb.. Everything is OK.. working together we will get through it.
2. Your Pointer Finger is not to be used to point at anyone.. remember there are 3 fingers pointing back.
3.  Your Middle finger is never to be used by itself.
4.  The Ring finger represents committment.  We are committed to each other all the time.
5.  The pinky finger is fragile…  A reminder to be safe.
Everything there keeps us in the problem solving game and not the blame game.  Teach the Scouts to solve problems and seek areas to improve.  Never allow finger pointing and backing out of events because they think it will not be worth their time.  So many times Scouts with great attitudes can swing a sub standard event.  I have seen it many times.
If they want to complain, they need to offer a solution.
NOW.. that goes for you adults to… How you act is how your Scouts will act.  You are either part of the problem or part of the solution.  PICK ONE.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Giving it all away

Character is something that I talk about a lot with the Scouts of my Troop.  It is a subject worth discussion often with these young men that are influenced by popular culture, peers, and sports figures.  Now, if you have read this blog for any period of time, you know that I am a huge fan of Football, especially College Football… so it is no surprise that when I heard the news yesterday about USC loosing their 2004 National Title it was going to have to be worked into the Scoutmaster Minute.
The stripping of USC ’04 Title is a great example of what a lack of character will get you.
Again, when you have Character… there is no one on the planet that can take it from you… you can certainly give it away, and once you do, you will never get it back.  And a lack of Character will get you in trouble in the long run.
USC gave away their Character.  They knew what was going on and made a choice to do nothing about it.  They cheated.  Now I say they because we are talking about an institutional problem.  One player and a coach that seemed to look the other way and break the rules.  They are a part of the problem and the University chose to remain a power house in the NCAA rather than do the right thing.  The price.  7 years later they are stripped of the title.  They lost Scholarships for incoming students, and they are now left out of 3 years worth the chances to win another title.  All because of a lack of character, character by the way they will never get back.
You see, they may win another National title years from now.. and Football player will still want to go to that University, but in my eyes.. and the eyes of many, they lack Character and always will.
As Scouts we have a guide that will never let us give it all away.  A guide that will never allow us to cheat.  You can’t cheat as long as you are Trustworthy,Loyal and obedient.  You can’t hurt when you are Friendly, Courteous, Helpful, and Kind.  You will do the right thing as long as you remain Brave and Reverent. 
The Scout Law is a great foundation of Character.  It will keep you from Giving it all away!

Have a Great Scouting Day!