Month: July 2012

The ‘Camp’ Speech

Last night at our Troop meeting I gave my annual Summer Camp talk with the Scouts.  This is never a popular talk with the parents because I kind of go against the grain when it comes to conventional wisdom regarding “Camp”.
The rub comes when I tell the Scouts that the number priority of Summer camp (aside from being safe) is to have as much fun as you possible can.  Do not worry about merit badges.  Take a few and have fun.
I harken back to my Scouting days and the memories I have of Summer camp.  1978 at Camp Freedom was the best time I can remember.  The fun we had purposely falling out of our canoes, shooting bows and arrows and never earning the merit badge, time spent with my best buddies swimming and goofing around at the water front.  Fishing at the lake, singing songs in the dinning hall and just having a great summer camp experience.  That’s what it is all about.
Taking away from camp a life time of memories is more valuable than any merit badge.  Parents often times view summer camp as an advancement opportunity, and it is certainly there for the taking, but cranking out merit badges without having fun is a waste of summer camp.
I encourage the Scouts to take a merit badge or two, participate fully in the evening programs, make new friends, and emerse themselves in the camp experience.
Our younger Scouts are heading off to camp this Sunday.  The older guys hit the Trail at Philmont next week.  Both of the trips offer great life time experiences that needs to be taken advantage of.  Getting wrapped up in what I get out of it by way of cloth is not the focus and when it becomes the sole purpose you miss out on the wonderful Scouting experiences that are part of camp!
Have a Great Scouting Day!


The other night at our weekly Troop meeting we did something really out of the ordinary.  The Scouts did their thing.. that was normal.. but we held a parent meeting and then Parent break outs for the Scouts going to Philmont, and the Scouts going to Summer Camp.  Out of the ordinary in that we dedicated the entire evening to the Parents.
I feel that we do a pretty good job communicating, but with the move to the new church (meeting place) and the high pay off events just around the corner, it was a great time to get all the parents in one room together and talk about some of the issues that are currently being addressed by the Troop.
I did most of the talking.. duh… but I thought it was important for me to personally communicate certain topics to the parents.
Some of the things I talked about was the fact that all of a sudden the Scouts are getting a bit “relaxed” in their uniforming.  Many of the younger Scouts are deciding for themselves that the uniform is not important while the Troop does feel it is important.  The PLC addressed this issue a month ago and was having a hard time getting some Scouts motivated to comply with the Troop uniform policy (as outlined by the PLC).  So I explained why the uniform was important to our team to the parents and asked for their help in getting little Tommy Tenderfoot to wear his uniform.
We also talked about bang for your Scouting buck.. simply put the dues are not pro rated based on your attendance.. so you should attend everything and get the most out of your Scouting dollar.
Now, I know that asking to be at everything is unrealistic, but in recent months we have seen a drop in our attendance for camp outs.  Some of the younger Scouts have had ‘other plans’ on some of the fun camp out weekends and then I hear them complain that the guys that went on the camp out got lots of stuff signed off in their books, while they did not.
The point to the parents was this; if you participate you will get a lot out of Scouting.  If you Scout ala cart.. you don’t get the full meal.  You get out of Scouting exactly what you put into it.
I was challenged by a parent saying I should do a better job encouraging the boys to go.  And I do.. but I won’t beg a Scout and I certainly won’t beg a parent.  They all have a calendar, they all know when we meet, they all know a year in advance when the camp outs are.  Part of Scouting’s lesson is self-reliance.  If Scouting is not that important to the Scout and/or their family, well then they simply will miss out.  I have said it many times.  I want them all to attend.. but at the end of the day, I would rather have 15 Scouts that are motivated and having fun then 45 that I have to drag along fighting their attitude.  Is that to say that I give up on them.. certainly not.. But once again, I asked the parents to be excited about Scouting and encourage their boy to hit the trail with us instead of staying home.
So I will continue to encourage.. but not beg.|
This subject of participation led to me telling the parents that our Scouts have a ton of potential.  Some of the older Scouts have expressed that I have been “riding them”.  And yes, I suppose that is true, but then again, I guess it depends on how you define “Riding”.  You see, I see lots of potential in these Scouts, in particular the current leaders of the Troop.  Yep, I said potential… not performance.  They have the necessary skills, tools, and knowledge.  What they lack is want to.
So when they say I am riding them what it really means is that expect a lot out of them and will not settle for them being lazy, I will not settle for them to not do their job, and I will not settle for them to set this example to the younger Scouts.
Now it should be clear.  I never belittle them, I never yell at them, I never make them feel like they are failing.  I just stay on them and expect them to perform their position of responsibility.
Does it get old for them?  Sure does.  Do they do well when pushed? Sure do.  So I define “riding” this way…
I am extracting performance from their potential.
Once they start performing it becomes a habit and then they are moving the troop along with a full head of steam.
They get it.  They just need a gentle push from time to time.
I felt the need to communicate this stuff to our parents.  They have a big influence on the participation level, the attitude level, and the support that we as Scout leaders get from the Scouts and Scouting families.
Coming out of the meeting I felt that the parents were once again on our team.  They were encouraged with our program, and they all gave me a great feeling of support.
I closed by expressing my love for Scouting and the Scouts in our Troop.  They will all be developed, protected, and loved in our Troop.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Messengers of Peace

As some of you may know, but now you all will… My oldest son, John, the Eagle Scout made a huge decision recently to put college on hold and follow in his Dad’s footsteps and join the Army.  Not just join the Army, but do exactly what I did in the Army.  Airborne Ranger.
While I am proud of him and excited for the adventures that await him, and know that there will be many.  My heart, like that of any father wants him to be safe.  I have served my time in combat and know what it is like.  And as much as I loved my time in the Army and know that he will do well, I don’t want him to get hurt.
Having said that, it causes me to reflect on Baden Powell’s intent for Scouting.  A World organization for peace.  It is with that thought that this morning I stumbled on the BSA’s “Messenger for Peace” Site and thought to myself.. if only this works.  My son (and your son’s and daughters) would not have to go to war.
I am on board with this.  Check it out and see what you can do to be a messenger of peace.
From the BSA Website:

Fellow Scouters,
In 1920, just two years after the most terrible war the world had ever known, 8,000 Scouts from 34 countries came together for the first world jamboree. At the closing ceremony, Scouting founder Robert Baden-Powell called on participants to carry the spirit of the jamboree home “so that we may help to develop peace and happiness in the world and goodwill among all Scouts.”

The Scouts of the world have been answering that call for more than 90 years.Today, Scouts in dozens of countries are working for peace by solving conflicts in their schools, building links between divided communities, teaching their peers about health and wellness, and repairing environmental damage. To recognize their efforts—and to inspire more young men and women to help Scouting create a better world—the World Scout Committee has launched the Messengers of Peace initiative. The Boy Scouts of America is proud to join this effort in 2012.

How can BSA units participate? All they have to do is go online and register the MOP-related community service projects (including Eagle Scout projects) they undertake. Doing so adds pins to a global Messengers of Peace map, which Scouts from around the world can click on to learn how their fellow Scouts are making a difference.

Scouts who complete MOP projects will be eligible for a special recognition: a ring patch that goes around the World Crest. That patch will symbolize their participation in an ever-widening circle of Scouts who are not just visualizing world peace but are helping to make it a reality.

The Scouts of the world have always been a powerful force for good. This initiative lets us celebrate what our Scouts have already accomplished and inspire them to accomplish even more. Please join us as we work together to create a better world.

There is a cool recognition for this program also.  You can read more about it on the Byan on Scouting Blog.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Oregon and Youth Protection

The BSA’s response to the Oregon Supreme Courts recent decision on ineligible Volunteer files.
There should never be a cover up, and we want those that are sick enough to engage in this activity to be punished severely.  Further, we don’t want them in our organization.  If we can screen them out early.. then let’s get them out or not let them in.
God help the sick bastard that try’s to hurt a Scout in my Troop.
A Scout is brave.. he is even more brave when he knows he can trust his leaders to tell when things are wrong.  A Scout is also brave enough to stand firm on policy and say no to those that fail to live the values that we promote.
I’m glad that those of us in the BSA take this more serious than our Supreme Court.  Arrgh!

OK.. so directly from the BSA website here are the facts about the ineligible volunteer files.
Know the Facts: BSA Ineligible Volunteer Files
The Boy Scouts of America refuses to compromise on the safety of our youth. As part of our comprehensive screening and youth protection efforts, prompt reporting of inappropriate conduct with youth is required of all Scout leaders. The BSA records such allegations in the Ineligible Volunteer Files—whether or not the adults involved were Scout leaders or the youth involved were Scouts. By being proactive and acting upon many kinds of information—including tips and hearsay that cannot be proven in a court of law—the BSA has successfully kept dangerous or potentially dangerous individuals, as well as inappropriate role models, out of our organization.

Scouts are safer because of the Ineligible Volunteer Files. Recent efforts have sought to make the files public and suggest that the BSA is trying to hide something by maintaining their confidentiality. That is far from the truth. The following provides additional information about how they help protect our members, and why their confidentiality is important.

  • The Ineligible Volunteer Files are an important part of the BSA’s comprehensive focus on youth protection. Youth protection is of paramount importance to the BSA. Accordingly, the BSA developed a three-pronged youth protection program, including local and national screening of adult volunteers, education and training, and clear policies to protect youth members. The Ineligible Volunteer Files are used as part of the national registration process that follows a leader’s selection by the local chartered organization, prior to granting membership. 
  • The use of the files at the time of application is a long-standing and well-documented process. While the records maintained by the BSA are confidential, their existence is a well-known component of Scouting’s registration process. Their use has been referenced as far back as the 1930s in books, Scout publications, and news articles. 
  • The files provide an added layer of protection to criminal background checks. Today, any adult who wants to join Scouting must pass a criminal background check, but the BSA began collecting information on those ineligible to be volunteers well before computers and other electronic databases were available. The process that exists today is much the same as it was then and has proven to be effective in keeping potentially dangerous or inappropriate individuals out of Scouting.  It is actually very simple: The Ineligible Volunteer Files links a name with information that led the BSA to determine that the individual was not suitable to lead youth. As part of the membership application process, the names of adult applicants approved by local chartered organizations are cross-referenced with the names included in the Ineligible Volunteer Files. If the individual appears in the files, he or she is not permitted to join Scouting.
  • Files are updated any time a determination is made that an individual should not serve. Scouting policies require prompt reporting of any inappropriate conduct with youth, whether in a Scout unit or in the larger community. Whenever the BSA receives such a report from the local community, the national organization creates a record, whether or not the adults were Scout leaders and whether or not the youth involved were Scouts. In some instances, the allegations cannot be proven to the degree required by a criminal court, but the person is still banned from Scouting. Centralizing this information helps the BSA act more quickly (on suspicion alone in some instances) to identify and keep out persons who have been determined to be ineligible to serve as volunteer leaders. 
  • The sole purpose of the files is to prevent those deemed ineligible from registering as Scout leaders. The Ineligible Volunteer Files maintained by the BSA have always served solely as a barrier to entry preventing those who are ineligible to serve as Scout leaders from joining or rejoining Scouting.  Suggesting that they would provide any greater insight from a research perspective reflects a misunderstanding of the purpose and content of the files. The BSA believes—and independent, third-party experts have confirmed—there is nothing in the files that would further the research field or help develop a profile to prevent abuse.
  • The confidentiality of the Ineligible Volunteer Files encourages prompt reporting. BSA members are instructed to report any suspicion of abuse to local authorities and Scout executives, but BSA has always believed that victims and their families have the right to choose for themselves whether to share their stories publicly. People are more likely to come forward to report real or perceived misconduct if they can do so confidentially.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Prepared. For Life

As everyone that reads this blog knows, the BSA’s new(er) slogan is as the title reads… “Prepared.  For Life”.   I have often stayed away from advertising gimmicks and jingles.. “An Army of One”, and “Be all that you can Be” come to mind.  But this one hit home as I thought about how Scouting does impact our lives.  Yesterday was my first day back from vacation and so I spent a little time catching up on emails, reading my favorite blogs, and cleaning camping gear.  My good buddy Adam posted a piece about his vacation last week.  It is a great article and illustrated just how Scouting is Preparing us for life.
I was and I suppose still am reluctant to tell this story in light of Adams blog post, but once again I find myself in need of sharing this wonderful thing called Scouting.
Last week we spent at Glacier National Park.  If you have never been.. GO!  It is truly an amazing place.  So as you can imagine when I go camping I go prepared.  We are ready to sustain for a week in comfort and have a good time out in the woods.  This time was no exception.  Since it was family time, I went a lot heavier than I am used to, the big cabin tent, the big stove, the coolers etc.  But I still had my day pack which had my 10 essentials in it and since we were in Glacier NP, a canister of Bear spray.
One afternoon as we sat in camp, a scream came from the road in front of our camp site.  The boys were throwing a football around and one fell.  HE ran straight into our site crying.  Why our site and not to his parents.. I don’t know.  Maybe instinct told him that I had just completed the Wilderness First Aid course, or that I was a Scoutmaster, or he had no idea where he was.. either way.. here he ran into our site bleeding from the hand.
I had him sit down and told him to look me in the eyes.  Josh, my youngest son, had already got to my day pack and retrieved the first aid kit.  I told this youngster to relax and that he was going to be fine.  His alligator tears started to dry and I just kept talking to him.  Found out that in three days he would be turning 9 years old and that he was from Canada.
All the while I gloved up and started treating his cut.  He had fallen on his hand and took a good layer or two of skin off his palm.  Cleaning the area and bandaging with non stick pads I was done with the bleeding part.  Then I started looking for possible fracture.  He asked why I was poking and pressing on his wrist and hand.. I told him I wanted to make sure he was ok.  He was.  Right about that time, his dad came into our camp.  He said he had heard the scream and started heading in this direction.  I told what I had done and that I think everything is going to be ok, keep it clean and if he needed I would change the dressing the next day.
He saw the Scouting stickers on the back of my truck and made a comment about them stating that his son had run to the right place.  “Who else would be ready to anything”, he said referring to the stickers.
So all of this got me to thinking about just how we Prepare our Scouts for life.
It’s not just first aid and camping skills, but as the mission statement states, Making ethical choice throughout their lives.
I often talk in this blog about character and making choices.  Being fit and healthy, being of service to others, and of course skills that will help them get through life.
Scouting is a great platform for this learning, discovery, and practice of the life skills that these young men will need as they go through it.  Being Prepared for as Baden Powell said.. Anything.
So it’s not just about camping and fun.  It truly is a game with a purpose and all of us should remember what that purpose it.  This new(er) slogan.. Prepared.  For Life.  Is the Boy Scouts of America mission statement in three words.  It is our call to action as Scouters.  It is what we are here for.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Scout leaders at Camp

Scouting Magazine’s blog, Bryan on Scouting recently posted an article discussing 25 ways Scouters can make the most of Summer Camp.
I found it interesting some of the comments made, by and large, they were spot on.  I thought this was one worth sharing.
So check out the article share your thoughts (both here and there).
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Independence Day

The two subjects that cause the most argument and trouble historically are those of religion and politics.  I try to steer clear of both.  Not because I lack opinions in those matters, just that I believe at the end of the day, your opinion is yours and by and large I can’t change it.
The day that we celebrate the birth of the greatest nation on earth, the day that we celebrate the greatest experiment in democracy the world has known.  Today, as we celebrate we need to take a look at this great experiment.  How are we doing?
“I have no fear that the result of our experiment will be that men may be trusted to govern themselves without a master.” – Thomas Jefferson
Well I think that Jefferson would be very disappointed in our “Masters”.  Those men and women that we have elected to govern us.  By and large and both democrats and republican, they have forgotten that they serve the people in a nation For the people and By the people.
“I hope our wisdom will grow with our power, and teach us, that the less we use our power the greater it will be.” – Thomas Jefferson
Nope.. missed that again.  Over and over we see the abuse of the power of our so-called leaders.  They forget the lessons learned though our history and No one party seems to be better than the other.
I do not wish to debate democrat philosophy over republican.  I am an American and love my country.  I look to the past to see the mistakes of our current government.  The great experiment of our Republic I fear is in danger and none of our politicians seem to care.  Their interest is self-serving and not in the interest of America.  Our current administration is moving us to a point of socialism and I will not have it.
“My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government.”- Thomas Jefferson
Look at our government.  It encourages us to be lazy.  It asks us to trust them and they will provide.  It suggests to us to be dependant on them.  That is not what our founding fathers had in mind in creating our nation.  Our government is bigger than ever.  Why?
Social programs that encourage Americans not to work hard.  The government will provide.
Now I don’t know about you.. but it seems to me that our Constitution only Provides one thing.. and that is for the common defense.  The constitution sets us up for a more “perfect union”.
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
Domestic tranquility?  Promoting the general welfare.. not providing.  Blessings of liberty?  I think we need to take a look at what liberty really meant to the founders.. and what it means to us now.  I think we are way off.. or at least our government is.
Like I said at the outset.  I try not to engage in political discussion.  It only serves to upset people and create argument.  We live in a great nation that is not being helped by our government.  This is my opinion.  I love this country and it is days like today that I think are important to reflect on how we got here.
I think that if you listen to the past and learn you can hear the thumping of our founding fathers rolling in their graves.  This nation that they gave everything for is being sold.  The American people have allowed this to happen.. in the name of what?  political parties and corruption have led this country down the wrong path.  Is it to late to turn things around?  Don’t know.  I hope not.
And that is where Scouting comes in.  Teaching our Scouts to be good Citizens of Character.  This is the only way that I think things can change.
Once again.  My opinion.
Not really interesting in debate, but you are welcome to leave a comment.

“Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.” – Thomas Jefferson
Yep.. I am a fan of Thomas Jefferson… it’s to bad our current politicians aren’t.
Happy Independence Day!
Have a Great Scouting Day!