Month: April 2013

Making the world right again…

<Insert tongue in cheek>
If you have 4:06 now is the time to sit and watch beautiful burn patterns on alcohol stoves.  Yes, we are getting back into the swing of real pressing issues.  Gear!
I picked up the Trangia stove recently and other than taking it out of the box have not really messed with it.
The Trangia stove looks, feels, and measures exactly like the Esbit stove that has become my favorite.
So I threw 1 fl. oz of denatured alcohol in each of them and sat and watched for 8 plus minutes as they burned.  I wanted to see which would go out first.  Maybe there is a jet pattern difference that would cause a difference in burn rate.  Maybe there was a material design internally that would cause one to burn faster than the other.  Really though… oh… no… you almost got me… you have to watch to see who wins.
Enjoy the video.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Last Word

morallystraightAnd on the heals of this great debate, and to be honest… like a reader suggested… I’m ready to stop talking about this and get back to backpacking and other more meaningful subjects…
But on the heals of the debate, yesterday Jason Collins, a professional basketball player in the NBA “Came out” in an interview with Sports Illustrated.  This morning on ESPN that is the head line news and Jason is being hailed as a hero.  Now, I am not going to rehash my position on homosexuals.. well maybe I should just clarify my belief.
First.  People are people and deserve respect no matter who they sleep with.  Second.  I am not homophobic and believe in live and let live… In short.. I don’t care.  Third.  I am not gay, it is not my thing, but the “Gay agenda” has little or no impact on me and my life, so… live and let live.  And finally, I think when it comes to religion and religious institutions, they should practice what they preach.  If it is a sin.. hate the sin.. not the sinner.
Ok.. having said all of that for the last time… I am going to move on.  The BSA is going to make a change in the policy.  I think they are to far into this to turn back and I think in light of Jason Collins interview, the public will not allow any other decision other than to change the policy to include openly gay Scouts.
So what do we do now?  Well, let me tell you what this Scoutmaster is going to do.  NOTHING.  I will comply with the policy and treat every Scout just like I treat them today.  I will keep teaching and coaching.  I will train leaders and I will go camping each month with them.  Nothing will change in Troop 664.  Now, some families may leave due to the fundamental idea that the organization has let them down and changed a policy that they feel contradicts their values.  I hear that, but at the end of the day… it is the collective values and training at the unit level that matter.  The Oath and Law stand firm.  I believe in the Oath and Law and know that they assist in making good citizens and men of character.  Gay, Straight, or whatever would be in between.
How I deal with the conversations that happen with those families that will certainly be unhappy with the BSA’s decision is going to be critical in maintaining a positive Scouting experience.
I had a talk the other day with a parent.  They shared with me that they did not want to see the policy change.  I shared with her that really nothing will change locally and asked if she and her family had up to this point a positive Scouting experience.  The answer was yes.  so I had to ask if she thought any of that experience would change.  She said not locally, but she was disappointed in how the Boy Scouts could let down the majority of its members.  I agreed.  Like it or not, the BSA is a pretty conservative organization that has took pride in staying the course.
Again, I don’t have a problem with opening up the doors, but that is where the change stops.  When a boy joins our Troop we ask him to promise to live the Scout Oath and Law.  We expect that they live a certain way in which the values found in the Oath and Law dictate their daily walk.  We don’t allow abuse, hazing, or disrespect.  And so when a gay boy comes in, he will be expected to do the same.  I will not make concessions in the Law and Oath.
I really hope that no one leaves Scouting because of this.  But I know it’s going to happen.  For that I am sad.  I am not leaving.  At the core Scouting will still be the best program for our youth and the program will still be selling point that keeps Scouts looking for adventure and developing into great men.
This is the last word on this subject for me.
Now, I need to weigh some gear and get packed for Wood Badge.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

King for the day

As I hit the publish button on the last post I realized that I never offered a solution.  And I am still wondering what that is… but I can tell you that if I were King for the day… or at least the Chief Scout Executive here is what I would do tomorrow.
First I would call all of the major news networks and tell them that the Boy Scouts of America is going to have a press conference to talk about this issue.
Second.  I would create a presentation that outlined what we as an organization stand for, provide, and believe.  This presentation would highlight all of the great things that young men and women get out of Scouting.  It would highlight our values and those promises that we make individually in the Scout Oath.
I would tell the world that we are the best organization in world that centers it’s mission on creating good people.  I would remind the world that we are an organization designed for peace and service.
Then I would talk about the issue of inclusive membership and state the following:  We are the Boy Scouts of America.  You have seen all that we have to offer and I think you would agree that this program is for everyone.  I would assure America that no matter what happens in this upcoming vote to change the membership policy that nothing will ever change in our program.  The Boy Scouts provide a safe environment for all Scouts no matter who they are, where they come from, and whatever their family religious and cultural background may be.  The Boy Scouts of America stand committed to provided that safe program free of abuse, hazing, and discrimination.
Then I would suggest that we as an organization have gone through many changes in our 100 plus years and have stood the test of time because of our values and our program.
I think that the Boy Scouts of America have not done a great job in telling our side of the story.  The media have been given blank check with which they write and talk about our program given their limited point of view.  The Boy Scouts of America need to get in front of this and do a better job in talking to America.
The organization is doing a nice job in communicating to its membership.. but we are already on board.  They need to get on the 6 o’clock news and sell our story to America.
Wayne.. if you need help with this… let’s talk.
Your thoughts?
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Who’s to say?

DISCLAIMER:  THIS IS MY OPINION AND NOT THE OPINION OF THE BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA, TROOP 664, OR THE FINE LEADERS THAT I CALL MY FRIENDS.

Having said all of that I am going to briefly revisit this whole “Gay Scout” issue.
This last week it was announced that the BSA will be putting the issue on the table for a vote.  You can read all about it elsewhere, I am not going to go into the details here.
The bottom line is that the vote will come down to this;  The BSA will change it’s membership policy to include “openly gay” Scouts but it would continue to restrict the membership of “openly gay” adult leaders.
OK…. here is my opinion on the matter, and in light of recent announcements from a few of the Churches that seem to be at the fore front of the issue, I should say that my opinion has not changed.
First, I really don’t think that the issue will make a difference.  I do not care personally what a person does sexually.  Now many will argue that this is a sexual issue, I tend to disagree.  How many “openly gay” Scouts do you know?  I have a feeling on some Scouts and in most if not all cases when it comes to our teen-aged boys… they don’t really care either.  I guess the better question is how many gay boys are beating down the doors to get in to the Boy Scouts of America?  I have yet to meet one.  Most if not all gay boys will not be looking for the activity that the Scouts offer.  This is not a predatory issue.  They, gays, are not looking at the BSA as an opportunity to meet and date.  I mean.. that’s so ridiculous.
Anyway… Morality is the next issue.  So I suppose we need to address what that means.  Now, I know that I will piss some folks off with this, but I think it needs to be said.  Church does not make you moral.  I know openly gay members of the Catholic Church, the Baptist Church, and the LDS Church.  They may not make it to public, but you don’t have to be a sociologist to know that they are gay and they tend not to hide it among friends.  They hide it because they are made to feel like lepers in their respective communities that preach love, peace, and compassion.
If we look at moral thinking then where does love enter the conversation?
When we look into the definition of morality it leaves the reader wondering where does morality come from?  Defined morality looks like this:
1. a : a moral discourse, statement, or lesson.  b : a literary or other imaginative work teaching a moral lesson.
2.  a : a doctrine or system of moral conduct.  b. plural : particular moral principles or rules of conduct
3.  conformity to ideals of right human conduct
4.  moral conduct : virtue
So we over time have decided what the social norms are and how we practice moral thinking and teaching.  The first documented use of the term “Morality” was not till the 14th century.  What ever did we do before then?
Since morality is decided by man’s ideals and virtues, some say they received from God, again, in the Scouting context, which God is that?  It is common that all virtue and religious teaching universally comes down to “Do unto others…”
So why then do we treat people like outcasts, deviants, and unworthy of membership in our club?
There are those that think homosexuality is deviant behavior.. and it may be.. who am I to judge?  It’s not my cup of tea, but then again, I don’t like rap music either and certainly not the life style it promotes.  Not a big fan of smoking or excessive drinking either.  Not a fan of those that abuse their kids or beat their wives… yet that deviant behavior seems to be just fine.
I work with openly gay folks.  They are good people.  I have had discussions with them about Scouting and they all think it is a great organization… BUT…
Yeah, they always have the “but” comment.  They to do not understand that a group that claims to live by a certain code and a set of values would exclude people based on their sexual orientation.  Further, they consider the argument not one of sexual acts but of who they love.  And that gets me wondering where the morality comes in and who decides it.
A Scout is starts the Scout law.. it is followed by the set of values that we live by.  Which one of the 12 points would not allow a gay boy in?  Right away people go to “Clean” and “Reverent”.  Defined (again) the Scout law suggests that a Scout is Clean in thought, word, and deed.  But I still can’t find where sexual orientation would be an issue, especially when it comes to a boy.  Straight boys don’t even have sex when they are 13 for the most part… right?
Reverent?  The Boy Scouts of America does not define who God is nor does the organization suggest how a Scout must worship.  The Boy Scout handbook says “A Scout is reverent toward God. He is faithful in his religious duties. He respects the beliefs of others.”  The BSA does not extend its moral teaching beyond that of the Scout Oath and Law and refers the Scout to his faith group and family for furthering religious teaching and moral thinking.
So that is where it comes from and that is where it should stay.  Once we put our uniforms on and raise the Scout sign we should be inclusive and respectful.  We should be friendly and helpful.  We should be courteous and kind.  We should be loyal and cheerful.
All of this is found in Scouting and why not let openly gay Scouts in?
Now the LDS church has come out for this, the Catholic Church is sitting on the fence and other faith groups are afraid to take a stand that allows for love and friendship to trump bed room activity.  Even though we are talking about young men here and not pedophiles or social deviants.
So happens after the vote.  Gay boys will either be allowed in or not.  If they are in… who leaves?  If they are out.. who drops support?
It seems to me that what ever happens the Scouts will loose.  So are we willing to deal with the results and how?  My guess is that at the unit level nothing is going to change.  If the new policy is that gay Scouts will be allowed, I wonder how many families leave my troop?  I don’t care about funding or policy… but what about those folks that are unwilling to change?  I figure that if the families that are currently in my troop are happy now.. why would that change?  But I know it will and so I need to be willing to deal with it.
Will this be the end of Scouting as we know it?  I hope not.  Are there still Scouters out there that will be willing to stay the course, even though the course will have changed?
I don’t know the answers.. I am curious to see how this all plays out.
Let me know what you think.  Leave a comment.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Draft Boards

2013-draft-logo-storyTomorrow starts the National Football League Draft.  With much anticipation I’ll be watching to see where the best college players will end up.  Now, I know you are like me and these last couple weeks have been a fever pitch of following the rise and fall of players as they… or I should say their agents jockey the players up and down on the draft boards.  Hours of film and looking at the combine score cards matched with interviews, team visits, and show casing on the sports talk circuit have placed players in position to be drafted to one of the 32 teams of the NFL.
So what’s this all have to do with Scouting?  I know that you would all love to talk football, but we really need to get to the point here.  For more football talk head over to the ESPN College Football blog.  What all this has to do with Scouting is Character.
As I have been following the mock drafts and the trying to keep up with the who’s who and where they are going on the draft board I have been taking a real hard look at the players this year.  What is interesting is that they move up and down the draft board for many reasons.  What I have learned is that coaches, GM’s and the NFL have really taken a turn toward character.
In the past it has seemed that the NFL has over looked character issues.  But like any business the lack of character ultimately will start to hurt the company.  Players like Pac Man Jones can no longer get away with the shenanigans that they used to.  Teams want men that they do not have to baby sit and worry about representing their organization.
Look at the circus around the Manti Te’o “fake girlfriend” issue.  A great football player is more than likely going to drop as low as the third round in the draft.  The fact that he lied is enough of an issue to the NFL GM’s that they consider it a blemish in his character.  The problem I have with this particular case is that Manti Te’o is an Eagle Scout.  In a moment when he could have shared his Scouting values with the world and maintained his place on the draft board, he chose to lie, he made a choice to turn against the Oath and Law.
So what’s the big deal?  Money.  A first round draft pick will make an average of $500 thousand more than a third round pick.  That’s a big hunk of change and that’s just a guess.
Looking at the big name players this year it is easy to see how much character is playing is the board movement.  Geno Smith from West Virginia has been bouncing around because of rumors about his work ethic, LSU’s Tryann Mathieu has been all over the place because of character issues.  Mathieu “the Honey Badger” is a fantastic football player and was expected to go early in the first round.  Now, it looks like he may go as late as the third round.  All because of issues off the field.  Playing the game is no longer enough to get a spot on an NFL roster.
As many of you know, my son is a great football player and there are multiple Division 1 schools looking at him as a prospect to play at the next level.  The one thing that they stress in our visits and communications is education, keeping the grades up and character.  The on the field play is already good enough to be considered.  They really don’t want to have a player that they need to worry about.  They would prefer to focus on the play.
I love to find parallels in life and no matter were I look I find opportunities to live the Oath and Law.  Character is moving multi million dollar football players up and down the draft boards.
I am going to be glued to the draft, at least for the first couple rounds.  After that.. I will follow the players that I have interest in.  You can see the difference between the players that may be shorter on talent and those that drop because of character.  Follow the law and you will get picked higher in life.
Great life lessons always to be learned in Football… and Scouting.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
picture in this post courtesy of http://www.buffalobills.com

Action from the Middle

Last night our Troop held it’s Patrol leaders council meeting.  The meeting was unlike most of the PLC meetings in that this meeting was kind of a reflective meeting as our troop is going through, like most troops go through in the course of time, some transition.
We have gone through growth spurts, and seen Scouts come and go.  For a time, we had more older boys then young ones, then we had more young guys than old guys, now our middle is flush and our older guys are few and far between.
The Senior patrol leader is a real great kid.  He loves the Troop and wants it to be the very best.  Last night the discussion in the PLC meeting was focused on what the middle was going to do to run the troop.  In short.  It’s their troop now.. what do they want to do with it?
For some of the guys this is a hard question.  Some of the guys would rather just follow and not take on any leadership, while others are willing to step up.  Unfortunately, the followers out number the leaders three-fold.
While at the camp out this weekend, I shared with some of the leaders that it was time for them all to step up and take over.
There are older Scouts that feel that the troop is boring… that there is no reason to come to meetings… that Scouting is becoming a waste of time.  Well, maybe… but it’s because they don’t want to be a part of the solution.  They would rather just max the minimum, get their Eagle and go about their lives.  Good for them, but it does nothing to help the Troop.  That’s really too bad, they could really do great things if they wanted to.  But as we discussed last night, if that is what they want, that is what they will get.  The younger guys are officially taking over the Troop as of last night.  And I am so proud of them.  I think they are about to take this Troop in a direction that will be fun and adventurous.  They are dedicated and motivated and most of all willing to put the effort into taking care of their Troop.
This weekends camp out forced some of the Scouts to do some reflection on who they are and what they want out of Scouting.  It was great to see them take it serious and think about what they wanted success to look like.
I suppose the good thing about having older Scouts that don’t want to make a difference is that they are showing the young guys what not to do.  Yeah, I guess I am spinning that a bit.  We typically want our older Scouts to set an example of the right way to do things, but sometimes we learn from the lack of action or failure of others.
I am not happy about the attitudes of the older guys that are not making a difference in a program that I think gave them a lot.  But, it is what it is.
The silver lining is the results are going to be great in the actions of the younger fellows of the Troop.
I am looking forward to seeing them kick into gear here and get things moving.
More later on this.  Stand by for great things!
Have a Great Scouting Day!

MSR Reactor vs. the Jet Boil?

Today I saw a tweet from a guy I follow.  He is an AT section hiker and shared this video, a humorous look at the MSR Reactor stove.  I have never used a Reactor, but I have seen them and think that they are pretty neat.  They are way to big for me and not really my cup of tea when it comes to stoves, but the video is funny and as I have stated before reinforces some of the reasons I am not a big fan of the Jet Boil.
All of that to say… Enjoy the video.. I thought it was funny.
Have a Great Scouting Day!