Month: April 2012

My Son, the Eagle Scout

Tonight my son was presented his Eagle Scout Award. I can not express in words how very proud I am of him.  Over the past 11 years him and I have been on a great adventure.  At times the trail was rocky and hard to navigate.  At other times the trail was smooth and wonderful to pass.
Over the past couple days we have been gathering the memories of his Scouting career.  He had a great experience in Scouting and I am glad that I was able to come along.
This video is the presentation that we showed at the Court of Honor tonight.  After the video he was given the Eagle Challange and Charge and repeated the Eagle Oath.  This was presented by my father, John’s Opa and our Troops Eagle Mentor.  He was presented his Eagle Certificate by my father in law, an Eagle Scout.  The voices you hear in the video are my wife (John’s mom), his twin sister, and me.  John’s brother, currently a Life Scout was the master of ceremonies.  There was a great crowd of Scouts, Scouters, family, and friends in attendance.  I am a little biased, but it was one of the finest Eagle ceremonies I have seen.  John delivered a wonderful speech about his Scouting experience and thanked many people for helping him along the way.
Enjoy the video.  I am so proud of this young man, he’s the kind of young man you would love to have as your son… but he’s mine and I am proud.

Backpack Cooking

As most of you know I am Troop Guide for Wood Badge Course W1-492-11.  One of my Might Buffalo patrol members needed some help with his ticket.  One of his items is to introduce his Troop to the many different ways of preparing meals while camping.  So he called me up and asked if I could do a presentation on Backpack cooking.  Well, one thing led to another and we just could not get dates that worked for me, him, and his Troop.. So I thought.. the next best thing to being there is video.  So my son and I shot this video on Backpack cooking.  It was an excuse to get out a bunch of gear and a way that John could break in his new GoPro camera.
Hope you enjoy.. I did.. got to eat some good chow at the end!
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Cause I’m Shameless

Hey all… this may put you over the edge with my blog.. but I refuse to keep asking till I get what Scouting needs.. Money!
A few weeks back I asked for donations for our Council’s fundraiser “OVER THE EDGE”.  There are two things at play here.  First and foremost the Boy Scouts get much needed money in the bank.  That money will assist Scouts that can’t seem to put the funds together in getting camp.  It will improve our Scout camps and help Scouters like me get the needed support from the Council service center.  Second, and maybe more important, if I raise the money I get to rappel off the 2nd tallest building in the state!  I will get to Go Over the Edge for Scouting!
Now, here is the shameless part.. I ain’t to proud to beg!  I have only raised $635 so far.. I need $1,800 more!  I need your help.
I want to thank all of you that have already donated and supported the fundraiser.  I really appreciate it.  But folks $635 does not get me over that edge.
If you would like.. go ahead and click this link right now and help me out… go on.. I’ll wait right here… OVER THE EDGE.
Ok.. for those of you that just clicked that link and donated.. Thank you very much.  For the rest of you, I hope you can find it in your heart to help.
I am running out of time.. the event is June 29th and all donations need to be in to the Council by early June.
I’m not asking.. I’m begging!  Help a Scoutmaster go over the edge!
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Captain Obvious

Earlier today I received an email from a “fan of the blog and podcast”.. his email is certainly appreciated and I am glad that he took the time to express his thoughts, but…
I will not post the email here, but let me share with you the part that got me to write this post.
“OK Captain Obvious, we all know the ‘Methods of Scouting’ and use them, please tell us something we don’t know.. after all, if it isn’t broke we are not going to fix it”.
Really now.. it isn’t broke.  Well good timing my friend.  Last night at the Top Team meeting our Scout Executive presented the 2011 Progress review to the District Chairman.  I was floored by the results of the audit at both the National level and our Council.  Let me tell you that we have work to do.. at both the National Level… and the Council level.  Now our SE said we are going to “Celebrate our short comings.. and work to fixing the issues”.. I would suggest, strictly from “Captain Obvious’s” point of view that we need to work and work hard to get some of these things fixed.  So, tell us something we don’t know he said.  Let me tell you that the discussion on Methods is exactly what we don’t know.
Let me share some National numbers with you..
MEMBERSHIP-  In my last post on the Outdoor program, I suggested that PROGRAM, PROGRAM, PROGRAM, and working the Outdoor program method was a key point in getting Scouts to join and stay in Scouting.  It is what gets Webelos to cross over and invite their friends to join.   When I was at the National Meetings last year in San Diego, Rex Tillerson the BSA President talked to us about “the Main thing”.  that Main thing is delivering Scouting to young men.  They can’t do Scouting if they are not in Scouting.
In our Council we are seeing a terrible trend in Cub Scout market share (market share is how the BSA measures growth).   Our Council is pretty much average with the Nation, but here are the numbers from 2007 thru 2011.  In 2007 we had 15,022 Cub Scouts in the program, 14,465 in 2008, 13, 902 and 13, 303 in the next two years and in 2011 we ended the year with only 12,600 Cub Scouts.  That is a significant loss.  The reason that I find this alarming is that without Cub Scouts you drastically reduce the ranks of Boy Scouts.
Boy Scout membership in 2007 in our Council was 11,960 and in 2011 it dropped to 11, 731.  Now this may not seem significant but long term, the Cub Scout numbers will catch up.  Boys are in the Boy Scout program longer than their Cub Scout years, so we have not felt the impact of the dropping number yet.
I would suggest that this is broke and the question first is why?  Could it be programs?  Could it be the lack of leaders not trained.. we will get into that in a second.  Could it be that methods are not being followed?  I wish I had the answer.. but Captain Obvious here knows broke when he sees it.
Now the good news is that our Retention numbers are looking pretty good.. but only pretty good.  The National Average in retention is 70.6%.  We have way too many Scouts going out the back door.  Our Council’s retention rate is 76%.. still not a great number.. so why are they leaving?  Is it that they don’t agree with our values?  are they bored? are they not getting the bang for their buck?
The average size of a Boy Scout Troop in America is 21 Scouts and we recruit about 9 a year on average… so where are they?
Ok.. lets move on to Advancement.. yeah.. remember that’s one of the methods also..  How are we doing?
Only 39.8% of the Boy Scouts in the Nation advanced a rank last year.  Need we say more?  Captain Obvious says we need to work a little harder on this.
Now get ready to treat for shock.. TRAINING!
Only.. and I hope you are sitting down for this.. ONLY 34.4% of Direct Contact leaders, that’s Tiger Leaders, Den Leaders, Webelos Leaders, Cub Masters, Scoutmasters, and Venturing Advisors are Trained in their positions!  As my daughter would say OMG!  And we are taking these boys in the woods and asking parents to feel good about it.  I would not allow my sons to be in a unit with untrained leaders.  34.4 % is the National Average of trained leaders and I would suggest this needs immediate fixing.  There is no excuse what so ever for an adult to be un trained.  NONE.  In an age where the BSA has made Training easier than ever to access, District and Council training committees are holding multiple training events annually… why are we not trained?  How do we have “Adult Association” and mentoring for “Leadership development”.  How does an adult who is not trained teach, coach, train and mentor a Scout?  Captain Obvious is shocked.
So once again, I would like to thank the reader for the email and suggest that we revisit the “Main thing” and the Methods of Scouting.  maybe, just maybe we can fix some of these issues… nay.. we have to fix these issues and the methods will help you and your unit fix what you think is not broke.  Here is what I think.  Those that don’t know.. don’t know.  Those that are untrained, will not know.  There are no excuses for this.  We all love Scouting and for the most part will do what ever it takes to deliver the promise of Scouting.  Scouting is alive and well, but has some work to do to deliver that promise.  It’s obvious what we need to do.  ON MY HONOR I will do my part!
What are your thoughts?  I am curious to know what you think.  drop an email, leave a comment, or send me smoke signals.
Have a Great Scouting day!

Methods – Outdoor Program

A long time ago a Scouting mentor of mine told me that the secret to success in a Troop is PROGRAM, PROGRAM, PROGRAM.  When you have a strong program you have Scouts that stay in Scouting, you have good advancement, you have Trained leaders, you have active Scouts and Scout parents.  PROGRAM, PROGRAM, PROGRAM!
The outdoor program is Scouting’s classroom.  It is why Scouts join and stay in Scouting.  Without the outdoor experience it’s just another club.
Outdoor adventure is the promise that we make to these young men when they join Scouts.
Here is what the BSA’s website (Scouting.org) has to say about the outdoor program, I have highlighted a few key words in this excerpt from the site.
In the outdoors, boys have opportunities to acquire skills that make them more self-reliant. They can explore canoe and hiking trails and complete challenges they first thought were beyond their ability.  Attributes of good character become part of a boy as he learns to cooperate to meet outdoor challenges that may include extreme weather, difficult trails and portages, and dealing with nature’s unexpected circumstances.  Scouts plan and carry out activities with thoughtful guidance from their Scoutmaster and other adult leaders. Good youth leadership, communication, and teamwork enable them to achieve goals they have set for themselves, their patrol or squad, and their troop or team.
Learning by doing is a hallmark of outdoor education. Unit meetings offer information and knowledge used on outdoor adventures each month throughout the year.  A leader may describe and demonstrate a Scouting skill at a meeting, but the way Scouts truly learn outdoor skills is to do them themselves on a troop outing.
Scouting uses the patrol method to teach skills and values. Scouts elect their own patrol leader and they learn quickly that by working together and sharing duties, the patrol can accomplish far more than any of its members could do alone. The patrol succeeds when every member of the patrol succeeds and Scouts learn that good teamwork is the key to success.
Exercise and fitness are part of the outdoor experience. As Scouts hike, paddle, climb, bike, or ride, their muscles become toned and their aerobic capacity increases. When they work as a patrol to plan menus for their outings, they learn to purchase cost-effective ingredients to prepare flavorful and nutritious meals.
Service to others and good citizenship is learned through such outdoor activities as conservation projects, collecting food, building trails and shelters, and conducting community service projects that promote healthy living. Through helping other people, Scouts learn to appreciate how they can share themselves and their blessings to those in need. By giving service to benefit others, Scouts gain a sense of personal satisfaction.
Your outdoor program is essential to the success of your unit.  Getting the Scouts out side and active is the method in which it all comes together.
Lets talk a minute about types of activities… CAMPING!  I don’t care how you camp… camp!  Backpack, tail gate, sleep in cabins, whatever.. just get out and camp.  And when you camp.. make it for more than 1 night.  1 night is not enough to excercise the important parts of the Patrol method.  Camp!  Place NO RESTRICTIONS on camping or activities in your unit.  Sumer camps and National High Adventure bases place age and rank restrictions on certain activities.  These are in place to reduce lines, give older Scouts incentives, and maintain certain levels or risk management.  At the unit level as long as you have QUALIFIED  and WELL TRAINED Leadership… the sky is the limit.  Younger Scouts can do amazing things when you let them.  So take them climbing, Kyaking, swimming, rafting, canoeing, backpacking… The sky is the limit.
Never say no to your PLC!  Let them plan and carry out great outdoor adventures!
Last weekend our Troop did a 10 mile Backpack trip over 2 nights (2.5 days).  The whole Troop did the event.  We have 17 brand new Scouts in the Troop and for a few this was their first camp out.  We trained them to pack their packs and reduce their loads. We did a shake down before we left to ensure they were all prepared.. then we went.  On Saturday, we gave the first year Scouts the option to carry their packs or have them forwarded to the next camp location.  Most of them carried their packs.. and after many adjustments.. they all did very well.  The best part is they challenged themselves.  They pushed themselves and did their best.  I am proud of them.
This is the adventure that they joined the troop for.  Remember.. They joined Scouts.. we did not join them!  You have to deliver the promise!
PROGRAM, PROGRAM, PROGRAM!
The outdoor program is an essential part of the Scouting movement.  It is universal, it is the class room of Scouting, it is… The Promise of Scouting!
Pictured above are some of the Scouts that went on the backpack trip this last weekend.  Most of the Scouts pictured are in the new Scout Patrol.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

From the Founder

Just a little follow up on the Patrol Method..  It serves us all well to know what, why, and how we are deliver the promise of Scouting.

“[F]irst and foremost: The Patrol is the character school for the individual.  To the Patrol Leader it gives practise in Responsibility and in the qualities of  Leadership. To the Scouts it gives subordination of self to the interests of the  whole, the elements of self-denial and self-control involved in the team spirit  of cooperation and good comradeship.

But to get first-class results from this system you have to give the boy  leaders real free-handed responsibility-if you only give partial responsibility  you will only get partial results. The main object is not so much saving the  Scoutmaster trouble as to give responsibility to the boy, since this is the very  best of all means for developing character.

The Scoutmaster who hopes for success must not only study what is written  about the Patrol System and its methods, but must put into practice the  suggestions he reads. It is the doing of things that is so important, and only  by constant trial can experience be gained by his Patrol Leaders and Scouts. The  more he gives them to do, the more will they respond, the more strength and  character will they achieve.

Robert Baden-Powell (1930)
Aids to Scoutmastership

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Methods- Patrols

The Patrol is, like the ideals, the foundation of the Troop.  The Patrol is where the Scout learns citizenship, it is where they practice democracy, leadership,  and teamwork.  It is where they find companionship, life long friendships, and a place where they belong.  The Patrol is unit of Scouting.  Whether for work or play, the Patrol is where Scouting happens!
In the Patrol you have democracy on the small-scale.  The boys choose the leader they would like to follow, they plan their own activities and take part in activities planned at the Troop level.  When they plan, they execute those activities together.
In a good Patrol, Scout spirit is steadily at work, prompting the participation of each Scout.  The 1947 Handbook for Scoutmasters says, “The life in the Patrol creates in its Scouts a strong feeling of comradeship, of obedience to a common cause, and the willingness to help and share so necessary in life.”
The Patrol eats together, camps together, cheers together, and pulls together when the going gets tough.  They share the joy of accomplishment, and put their heads together when they fail.  They learn together and assist one another in their Scoutcraft and other skills.
The Patrol elects its own leadership.  This is an important part of Patrol life.  The decisions the Patrol makes in choosing its leadership is up to them and should not be influenced.  The Patrol Leader grows as a leader and the rest of the Patrol develops strong skills at being good followers.  Soon ever Scout gets his turn, and he will reap the benefits of good followers when he steps up to lead.
The Patrol leader is part of the Patrol Leaders Council (PLC).  They run the Troop.  Using the Patrol Method, the Patrol Leaders Council will make decisions that have the best interest in the Troop in mind.  They will push the Patrols in directions of adventure, service, and committment to the Troop.  The PLC along with help from the Scoutmaster is heart of the Patrol Method.  When Baden Powell spoke of the Patrol Leaders Council he said, “… is not so much to save trouble for the Scoutmaster as to give responsibility to the boy- since this is the very best way of all means of developing character.”
I am a firm believer that the Patrol is the heart beat of the Troop.  Patrols that demonstrate spirit and enthusiasm tend to be great Patrols and have a lot of fun getting the most out of Scouting.
A note on the Patrol method.  There are NO ADULTS in Patrols.  Adults do not participate with Patrols and aside from the Scoutmaster have no say in the Patrol Leaders Council.  The Patrol method is not always pretty.  It takes on many shapes and sizes and the level of struggle will vary from Patrol to Patrol.  It is important for the Senior Patrol Leader to tackle as many of those struggles as possible.  He, after all is the leader that Patrol Leaders look to for the answer.
I have a pet peeve about adults calling themselves a Patrol in the Troop setting (outside of Wood Badge of course).  The Patrol method is to be led, practiced, and perfected by young men.
Give them a chance to run their Troop.  This is an important method, with out the Patrol method you do not have Scouting.
Have a Great Scouting Day!