Month: October 2012

And the beat goes on…

Today I received a comment on the blog about my last post.  It seems that an Irish Scouter is a bit unclear as to my position and/or does not see consistency in my opinion.  He asked 4 questions and I thought.. just to kick this horse a little more.. I would not just hit ‘approve’ on the comment and leave it at that.  Nope, you all will get the pleasure of reading my response and lets see where it lands.
His questions are as follows.. oh.. and my response.
1. If this list that is due to be released has someones name on it that has never broken any law nor can they be seen as a danger to a youth how are they able to clear their name.?
First of all, lets remember where this list comes from.  No one’s name is on the list unless they put it there.  The files are generated from applications submitted by the person to become a member of the BSA.  It is during the checks that the person is deemed ineligible.  So, they can clear their name by not getting into trouble in the first place.  NO.. I have no sympathy for anyone that has or will hurt a child.  In short the person in the file or list will have “self identified” themselves as someone who may potentially be a risk.
Second point on the files.  Who is going to see them.  These files are not going to be released to the local newspaper and will not be placed on bulletin boards in lunch rooms across the city.  The BSA has been instructed to make the files available upon request.  I know for certain that I will never see these files, nor will 99% of the public.
2. If someone who is public about their homosexual yet was a member as a youth but as soon as they turn 18 they must then leave because they may be a risk and find themselves on a list.
That is the current policy, has nothing to do with the files.  Nowhere on the Boy Scouts of America Application for membership is there a question about sexual orientation.  So given the current practice of background checks it will never come up.  Most of us in Scouting really don’t care about the sexuality issue.  But to answer the question.. Nope they would not “find themselves on a list” as this is not a piece of information that is on the application and I am sure not part of a background check either.
3. Should all military service personal be barred from American scouting. Some have fired on innocent children in a combat zone some may suffer from ptsd at a future date. ?
Yes All military service personnel should be barred from American Scouting… ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?  NONE have fired on innocent children in a combat zone.  OH… unless you served with LT. William Calley in My Lai Vietnam.
This is a non issue.  A soldier that commits a crime is a criminal and the Military, unlike civilian courts drop the hammer.  This would make him a convicted felon and therefore he/she would be ineligible to serve in Scouting..just like any thug that would fire at innocent children.
I did two back to back tours in Iraq and served in the Army for 21 years.  Never saw what you suggest.  Stop watching Vietnam war movies.  I am sure you think we all smoke dope and drink too.  I have been diagnosed with PTSD.. but then again, they diagnose everyone with a combat identifier.. I earned a CIB (Combat infantryman’s Badge) and a Bronze Star.  My PTSD only flairs up when people that don’t know what they are talking about pop off.  If you want to talk about firing at innocent civilians I have story I could share about British Soldiers in the Basra area that would make you puke… but that is neither here nor there…. we are talking about Scouting right.  Oh and don’t forget our founder served in the Army.. I am sure that his soldiers were angels.
4. How can you stand by as your organization prevents personal who follow the scout law and are being honest about being gay and then kicked out and their name added to a list FULL of people who break the law. ?
John, you claim to read the blog.  I outlined my position on this issue in this post REACTION.  Again.  They would not be “on the list”.
OK this horse is now officially kicked.  In John’s opening statement of his comment he said, “I read your blog and have done so for a while, this is the second time that I nearly deleted all links to your site…”  I hope that you find my response satisfactory John, if not then I invite you to delete my feed from your reading list.  I am not changing my thoughts and ideas because of comments.  You asked how I can stand by our organization?  Well that is simple.  Even if it has issues, the Boy Scouts of America, the Scout Association, Scouts Canada, and all of the other 160 some odd Scouting organizations are still the best youth program on Earth and I am not willing to throw the baby out with the proverbial bath water.. are you?
Have a Great Scouting Day!

People…Please

OK.  Everyone take a deep breath and step away from the ledge.  There is way to much chatter about files being released and who is going to have to answer questions in the media etc.  Relax.
Once again, I have been poked and prodded to give my opinion on the subject and true to form I have one and I will be consistent in my measure.

1.  Who cares that the list or files have been released?  Let me tell you who cares.  People that are on the list.  If you are on the list, how did you get there?  If you got there because you are a threat to Scouts.. I Love that you are on the list.  So who cares.  The people that care are people I want to see on this list and I really don’t care that everyone knows it.
2.  So what?  What is the big deal that the list or files have been released.  Well I get why the BSA looks at is as a big deal.  And so do I.  We don’t want kids getting hurt.  It’s that simple.  Who among you want a Scout to get hurt.  None, right, so when the BSA puts in a “file” system designed to protect our Scouts it is a good thing.  This is only an issue because people that hate Scouting is getting their grubby paws in it.  I would first ask them why it’s not a good thing to keep a file on an ineligible person.  The reason is for protection.  If only we could have a file in our Schools and Church’s.  I was asked why the BSA needed these files and to me it’s simple.  The BSA unlike any other youth program actually cares enough not to allow potentially bad people in the organization.
People that would argue that these files are not necessary do not understand youth protection.
3.  Now what?  So the files are out there.  Does that change anything?  Nope.  We are still going to do background checks, we are still going to screen for potential  issues when it comes to youth protection, and we are still going to turn away people that may do harm to our Scouts.  There will be no concession given to a previous offender, and there will be increased awareness and training to prevent bad things from happening in the future.  If you don’t like that.. Oh Well.  Go somewhere else.
So now what.  The BSA is the best youth organization out there.. hands down.  It will continue to be the greatest well into the future, because it cares about our Scouts.
Everyone take a deep breath and get back to doing the work of Scouting.  If the media calls, direct them to the Scout Executive.  If your friends ask, tell them what we do to protect our youth, and if you can’t handle it.  Do nothing, Either way, Scouting will be just fine.
Have a Great Scouting Day

Learning by listening

One of my favorite things to do as a Scoutmaster is sit with a Scout and have a Scoutmaster Conference.  It is not only a requirement for the Scout to advance, but a great opportunity to learn.
I learn so much each time I sit down with a Scout and listen to them during the conference.  Tonight I sat with two Scouts and learned more about them, the troop, and their development as Scouts.  I learn when I listen to the Scout.
So here is how I do it.  Keep in mind, I am like most Scouts (and leaders for that matter) in that I am a scatter brain.  Back when I was a kid, it was called hyperactive.. now-a-days.. it’s grounds for medication.. but either way.. I really have to work at staying focused.  So when I sit with a Scout, I need to give them 100% of my attention.  So, I take their book, make sure that everything is signed and dated, sign my two boxes and then put the book away.
Then we start the conference.
The Scout then has all of my attention.  I know what’s in the book, and it really doesn’t matter anyway.  The Scoutmaster conference is not a retest, so we talk about what challenged him, what he learned, and what he is doing to get to the next level.  Then we talk about leadership.  I ask them, yes even at the Tenderfoot level, what they are doing to demonstrate leadership.  This typically sparks lots of talk about where the Scout thinks he is in the spectrum of being a leader.
Using the EDGE method to teach is a Tenderfoot requirement, so I figure that he had to learn something about leadership there.
We discuss spiral learning and reinforce the skills that were learned along the way.  This discussion usually leads to what the Scout is looking forward to.
We talk about School.  Not because the Scout wants to, but because I want to know.  We talk about girlfriends, and sports, and even how the Scout law works on a little sister.  The conference is a talk that we have to learn.  The Scout learns and I learn.  I get to know them and they get to know a little more about me and how I see the world.  They get to see how I demonstrate the Scout law in my life, and I get to learn how they are struggling to make the Law a habit in their lives.
The Scoutmaster conference is one of my favorite things as a Scoutmaster and I am lucky that I get to do them every week.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

From the edge of space

While I thought it was very cool to rappel from the 2nd tallest building in Portland this takes the cake.
There has not been a lot of chatter about this incredible stunt in the Scouting world… but I think this is way to cool not to talk about.
A former military paratrooper from Austria jumped from a balloon from 129,000 feet.  24 miles in the air at the edge of the stratosphere.  WOW!
Falling at over 600 miles per hour Felix Baumgartner broke the sound barrier.. not in an airplane, not in a space ship, in a pressurized suit wearing a parachute.  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?
I am so glad that I got to witness this (at least via the internet) in my lifetime.
Learn more about this at the home page of Red Bull Stratos.

Now that is the spirit of adventure!
Have a Great Scouting Day!

SMMPodcast – Recruiting and Retention

Welcome back to the SMMPodcast, after a long break in the podcast we are back at it and talking Scouting.
In this episode, we talk about Recruiting and Retention.  It’s about that time of the year to start thinking recharter and recruiting for the coming year.
Listen in as we discuss the common reasons Scouts leave and how we can get them to come join us in Scouting!  I may not have all the answers, but I sure like to talk about Scouting.
All the music in this Podcast is by the Tobasco Donkeys from Philmont.
Hey if you want, you can hear the podcast on Stitcher also.
This show is sponsored by ClassB.com.  Visit our friends at ClassB for all your units branding needs.
I hope you enjoy the show.  Drop me a message, and email or leave a comment on the blog.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD HERE

Lighten up

As we get into the colder weather of fall and then winter our packs will start to get a bit heavier.  At least that is the norm.  Winter gear is a little heavier and you tend to carry more.  That is unless you have a rich uncle or top of the line winter gear or both.
Well, I have great gear but no rich uncle, but I know some ways that we all can lighten up our packs in the winter.
The first thing that you can do is in the planning and preparing stage of your next trip.  Food and water account for a lot of weight in your pack.  You have to eat well and increase the hot food consumption in the winter, so dumping food is not an option.  What you can do though is look to repackaging your food.  You can shave a pound in getting rid of boxes, can’s and wrappers.  Invest in zip lock bags and repackage your food.  You will shave weight and space by doing this.  While you are thinking food, think dehydration.  Pick up a dehydrator and start making your own light weight, great tasting food.  A nice way to get started is by dehydrating left overs.
One of the benefits of dehydrating is that you need to watch what you cook to dehydrate.  You will automatically reduce the fat content in your food.  Fat will not dehydrate.
So there’s a pound.
The next thing you can do is to make sure that everything in your pack does double duty.  Loose the pillow.  In the winter you should have a nice fleece layer.. Shove that fleece into the hood of your sleeping bag or use the compression bag with your fleece in it as your pillow.
Drop the mess kit.  You really only need a spork and bowl.  You may be able to shed precious ounces here.
Do not take any cotton.. synthetics, poly pro wear better in the winter, allow moisture to wick and as a result you don’t have to change as much and thus carry less.  That’s weight out of your pack.
Water.  Loose the bladder.  Your platypus or camel back will have a tendency to freeze up in the winter.  Now, you can buy an insulation tube, but then you are adding weight.  A Gator Aid bottle works way better than a Nalgene and while it will freeze too, if you drop it in a wool sock and store it upside down, you will be fine.  A 32 oz. capacity bottle weighs 1.6 oz.  A Nalgene typically runs at 6.2 ounces.  If you must use a bladder… don’t fill it all the way and use it as your pillow at night.
Shelter and sleeping.  Your tent really only keeps you out of the elements.. get a tarp and learn how to set it up against the elements.  I switched to a tarp a few years ago.  Incredible weight savings and no loss in comfort and shelter from the elements.  In the snow, the tarp works exceptionally well.
Look at your sleeping bag.  New stuff is best as it is designed to be light and warm.  If you can’t get something new, get something rated a little higher.. The lower the rating the heavier the bag.  Add a sleeping bag liner.  It will add 10 degrees to your bag and there is no real weight in the liner.  You can save the weight of the bag and maintain the comfort.  Fill that gator aid bottle with hot water before you hit the rack and throw it in the bag with you.  You will stay warm, have water in the morning, and shave weight.
Finally, leave stuff at home.
Do you really need to carry your whole wallet, your cell phone, that extra pocket knife?  How about that extra pot that came with your MSR Cook kit?  You only need one pot.. leave the other one at home.  Do you carry a poop trowel?  A stick will do the same thing.
Here is my rule of thumb.  If you have not used a piece of gear in 6 months.. it’s out of the pack for ever.  I have a box that I keep my winter specific gear.  Stuff I only use in the winter.  Each year, I look at it and reevaluate whether I used it last winter.  A critical look at gear will shave lots of weight.  Now I don’t pull out the scale and weigh all my gear, but I know when my pack gets heavier and I know how to reduce the weight when I need to.
The older I get the lighter my pack needs to get.  Which is actually the last thing you can do to shave unwanted pounds.  Get a smaller pack.  You won’t put as much in it and it will force you to look at each and every piece of gear that does go in, on, or hang from it.
Share some of your weight saving techniques.  Leave a comment.  We all learn when we share.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Reaction

I suppose it is time to poke at the hive again.  I reposted an article by Doug Metz the other day called Honoring the Scout Law.  Now I did not write one word of the original post, but I thought it was well written and expresses the views of many Scouts and Scouters currently serving in our organization.  I knew that by putting this post on my blog I would get emails, comments, and other communications regarding the content.  And yes I did.  Most of the emails I received were in line with the sentiment of the post, I wonder how much communication Doug got.
Either way, while it was not my post, and since I received multiple, let’s call them “opinions”.. I figured it was my turn to give you mine.
Now, if any thing I about to write upsets you of causes you to unsubscribe from this blog, well, I understand and I thank you for the time you spent here.  I hope that you got something out of the blog or at least enjoyed reading it until now.
So.. here it goes.
The Boy Scouts of America have policies, I understand and agree to live by those policies.  What I think is more important than policy is living the Scout Oath and Law.  And I think that all policy should stem from them.  The policy that excludes certain people from being a Scout or Scout leader is just that and certainly there is room for interpretation in it.
When it comes to homosexuality.  I just don’t care and don’t think the BSA should either.  I understand the apprehension that the BSA has, but don’t think it is thought through completely.  My guess is that the policy is directed at adults and not the youth.  Again, I understand, but don’t necessarily agree.  Examples of non homosexual adult abusing children out weigh those of homosexual ‘predators’ I think.  Now I don’t have the numbers to prove it, but you never really seem to hear of it.
Besides if the BSA was really concerned there would be better checks on who can and can not be an adult volunteer.  Really, the current process is lacking if we are really that concerned.
My opinion is allow the Charter Partner to make the decision on who is a leader.  Let them go through the vetting process.  Ensure that good interviews are in place and background checks.  But even background checks are not enough.  They will not tell what a person is capable of.. right.
Anyway.. when it comes to sexual orientation, the church, the government, the PTA, and the Boy Scouts of America should stay out of it.  As a private organization, the BSA has the right (upheld by congress) to decline membership to anyone.. and I agree with them having the right to do so.  I think the screening process needs to be tightened up.
The other argument here is that of a Scout being Reverent and Duty to God.
This is where the argument should just stop.  Why?  Because the BSA does not define God or how to worship that God.  The Boy Scouts of America have a Declaration of Religious principle.  It states: “The Boy Scouts of America maintains that no member can grow into the best kind of citizen without recognizing an obligation to God and, therefore, recognizes the religious element in the training of the member, but it is absolutely nonsectarian in its attitude toward that religious training. Its policy is that the home and organization or group with which a member is connected shall give definite attention to religious life. Only persons willing to subscribe to this Declaration of Religious Principle and to the Bylaws of the Boy Scouts of America shall be entitled to certificates of membership“.  This is wide open for interpretation and allows for pretty much anyone to participate.  Further the BSA does not define who God is or how we are to worship and so that is up to the member and his family to decide.
Once again, when it comes to religion.  The Boy Scouts, the Government, the PTA, and the local Ice cream shoppe should mind its own business.  I have seen Scouts have greater connections to their God in the out doors than they will ever find in a church.
Now to the point of a Scoutmaster not signing a book because the Scout “comes out”.  SHAME ON HIM.  The Scout did the work, as far as you know he has faith in something (as defined by him and his family).  You, MR or MRS Scoutmaster I know for certain are NOT God and you need to get out your pen and start signing.
YOU Mr or Mrs Scoutmaster are not allowed to make the decision of faith or sexual preference.  If you will decline his membership at the end than you were wrong all along.  As far as you know this Scout has been a good Scout, completing all of the requirements as laid out by the BSA.  Over the last 7 Scoutmaster conferences you approved all this work and determined that this Scout was worthy of advancement.. now.. you would change you mind?  I work with an individual that goes to church every Sunday and is gay.  You see in her church it’s ok to be homosexual.  I know that her son is being raised by good person and it is my hope that one day she may even consider bringing him to Scouting.
All of this rings of the civil rights movement to me.. what ever happened to judging a person by their character and not their color, sex, sexual orientation?  Hmmmm are we going to preach being helpful, courteous and kind and turn our backs on our neighbor?
We make a promise to live the Scout Oath and Law.  Do we keep it?  I suppose that is what Doug was asking in his post.  To keep myself morally straight does not mean I turn my back on those that live in our community.  And who are we to decide that homosexuality is immoral?  Again, if are not to discriminate when it comes to our religious declaration than we need not make that call.  Morality is shared values and I am certain that even homosexuals find that being Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, and Reverent are good values.  I am sure that all of us agree that Doing unto others as we would have done to us is a Golden Rule.  But we are willing to make these decision based on… what?
So do I think Homosexuality is wrong?  I have no idea.. truth is, I don’t really care.  The older I get the more live and let live I get.  Right or wrong is immaterial to me in this case as it is up to the individual and his family.  NOT the Church, the Government, and certainly not the Boy Scouts of America.  This whole issue to me comes down to Scouts.  How do we treat them and how do we handle a Scout that may be searching for answers both in religion and sexuality.  Both of those discussions need to start at home, but we all know that sooner or later, they end up in Scouts.  How will you handle that conversation?  It’s easy to avoid it, but that Scout is looking to you for guidance.  You are a mentor, you are a role model.  What is your answer.
So that’s where I am on the subject.  We can discuss.  But I have always been told to be careful when talking Politics and Religion… and the BSA should not engage in either and so neither will I.  We can talk about Scouts and how this effects them and I am certainly glad to hear your thoughts on the issue, but I won’t argue this issue with you.  Opinions are many on this, share yours… but when you do remember the Scout Law when you hit the submit, send, or enter key.
Have a Great Scouting Day!