Month: November 2013

The Wisdom of Time

In our last post we talked about Time management.  This post will discuss time again, but time as it relates to wisdom, as in time as a teacher.
Often times I find myself shaking my head in wonder when talking with our younger people.  Now, truth be told, this is nothing new… it’s been this way forever.. What I find my self wondering, now that I am older is why they do not have the wisdom to look ahead.  Younger folks tend not to look to the future and see what will happen if they continue down the path they walk.  Some look as far as achieving their goals in college and maybe what they want to be when they grow up.  What they do not have yet is the wisdom of time.
They have not accumulated the life experiences that can help them make sound decisions that will effect them in the long run.
What is fun or cool today, will not be in the future.  Finding a way to communicate the wisdom of time to our young folks is a challenge.  We want them to learn from us.  We want them to see the consequences of their action through our example.
We need to be open to share lifes challenges with them.  Not in a “walk through the snow up hill both ways in flip flops” kind of way, that only turns them off.  We need to find ways to express the wisdom of time.  We need to be able to communicate that wisdom to assist our young folks in setting the right course for their lives.
The Delicate balance.
While we have the wisdom of time, we need to allow learning to happen so they will experience and develop that wisdom.  So the balance as I see it is like a football team.  There are 11 players on each side of the ball.  Each one of those players need to be able to make adjustments to allow the team to team to be successful.  Some players learn their position better than others and as a result become better players.  The coach is there to help them see where improvements are needed, where they are in need of improving their skills and most of all how to do it.
That is the wisdom of time.  We have developed those skills and need to find a way to share that with our youth.  We need to find that way that is accepting.. or find a way in which they know that they have a choice to make.  Accept and enjoy an easier path or take the hard road… that’s ok, I would share that that if they choose the hard way, they need to learn from it and share that with someone else… so they won’t have to take that path.
The wisdom of time is an important part of our lives.  Time is a great teacher and when we allow it to instruct us we are better for it.  But it needs to be shared.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Time, Time, Time… is on my side… Yeah it is…

I have said it before on the blog, but it is always worth repeating.. or at least reminding ourselves about time.  Specifically time management.  I can’t tell you how many times time comes up in conversation, typically “there’s not enough of it.” 
There are 24 hours in every day.  What we do with that 24 hours is up to us.  Most folks think that someone else controls their time.  But aside from our employer, we are in control of our time.  It is how we manage that time that we often find ourselves allowing others to dictate how that time is spent.
Scouters in particular, have a hard time with time.  Our nature is that of giving.  We believe in the program and want to give time and energy to making it the very best.  And I would suggest that it takes good people that are willing to give that time to make it so.  The problem that most of us have seen is that there are some that give and give and give, and others that have figured out that others will give and give and give.
The Catch 22.
So those that give and continue to give finally get to the point where they begin to suffer in other areas of their lives and they stop.  When they stop the program suffers.. and still.. the folks that figured out that someone else will do it keep allowing others to do it.  And so in order to not allow program to fail, the givers give more.
10% of any given organization does all the work of the organization.  That seems to be true of all volunteer groups.  Scouting, Church groups, fraternal and civic organizations are all the same.  Givers and takers.
Time management.
One of the best gifts we can teach our children is time management.  There will come a day when Mom and Dad will no longer be there to make sure they get to class, get to work, or take time to get projects done.  They need to know how to manage their time and understand that there are 24 hours in the day.  Between sleeping, working, and eating.. you get whats left.  What you do with it is up to you.
Eliminate time suckers.
Whether that is people or things.  Figure out what is important to you.  Figure out how that fits in your 24 hours and budget that time.
I know that every Monday night we have a Troop meeting.  Scouting is important to me so we.. yes we, my wife and I budget our week as it applies to time.  We learned to say No and if it does not fit in the time budget, it doesn’t happen.  My wife likes to take Craft classes and card making classes.  Our time is equal and deserves the equal time in the time budget.  When we decided what was important to us, we found that time no longer became an issue.  We have time for family, school activities, teaching our kids, time for our home, and all of the day to day things that tend to try to suck our time.  Does that mean we became takers and not givers… nope.  We just budget the time so we can give where it is needed and where we want.. not where other people decide we need to be.
So what has that really meant for me.  I used to be on multiple Scouting committees.  I paired it down to those that I feel make the most impact on Scouting.  Wood Badge is something that I love.  I give time to training.  Camporee, Webelos Woods, and the District committee… I don’t feel the need or the impact that they have… I mean real impact.  If camporee did not happen next year my Troop would still camp, our program would not suffer.  If the district did not host Webelos woods, we would still cross over Webelos to the troop and provide an opportunity for the Webelos to camp with our Troop.  Those programs, while nice are not as important to me and my unit as good training, an aggressive Troop annual plan, and time spent as a Troop.
It is a matter of figuring out what is important to you.  Budget that time, and you will find that you have more of it.
The bottom line is there are 24 hours every day.  Time can not be blamed for your lack of it.  If you fail to budget your time, you will not have enough of it and will continue to struggle with time issues.  You will not be great at anything you give your time to, you will be average at a lot of things.  You will get “Burned out” and no one will be affected except you.
Wood Badge.
Wood Badge reminded of all of this.  Through its instruction on Vision, Values, and Mission we learned that with a good vision of what we want something to look like, we know the desired outcome, we can produce a plan, we can put in place action steps to see that plan become real.  It forces you to decide what is important and what is not.  When we do this, we become laser focused and as a result we achieve our goals.  Time management is no different.
Time is on your side.. if you want it to be.
Take some time and think about that.
Let me know what you think.. use the comment section and share you thoughts.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Cha Cha Cha Changes

I know that the blog, once again, has taken a back seat to this crazy thing called life.  I suppose an apology would sound nice, but hey, we all have lives I assume.
This week has been a real moving one for me and I want to share it.  Once we get through this first part, the rest is going to make sense in the context of this blog and my Scouting world.
On Tuesday, my wife and I participated in what is called “Challenge Day” at our High School.  Our youngest son participated last year and it really made a difference in his life.  So much so that he asked to be on the Challenge Crew staff for this year.  He was accepted and has been on the Challenge crew for the high school this year.
At our high school, they offer the Challenge day to the Junior class.  Now there is an “opt out” for those students that do not want to participate, but for those that do take the day and participate it is an eye opening, life changing event.  Not just an impact on the lives of the participant, but, if it is received by the participant, it will impact the whole school and community.
Challenge is a program that asks the participant to open their eyes and their heart and see how behavior effects people.  Name calling, neglect,, bullying, race, gender, all of that come to play in how we treat one another.  OK Jerry, we all know that… No.. No we don’t.  We hear it, we say it, but we don’t live it.  We assume that we treat people with respect and dignity, but we really don’t.  Take a look in the mirror and ask yourself… honestly am I?  I suppose the bottom line is that we all can do better.
I was an adult leader for a small group “family”.  When I say adult leader.. I really mean adult participant.  We went through everything with the students.  In my group we had 3 males and 2 females (myself included with the group).  I got to hear their story and the stories of many of the kids in the room, there were about 150.  My heart broke when I listened to some of the kids open up and share the pain and hurt they feel every day.
Being abandoned by their parents, abuse, neglect, and dealing with families struggling with addiction.
Towards the end of the day there was an activity called “Crossing the Line”.  Two long stripes of tape were placed on the floor and the entire room stood on one side of the tape.  As a category was called out, if it applied to you, you crossed the line and turned and faced the rest of the participants.  The idea was to demonstrate that no one is alone, and pain and hurt is not unique to you… we all feel it and the impact is great.
“Have you lost a loved one to a violent act?”
“Have you ever been a victim of a violent act?”
“Have you lost a loved one to cancer or another illness?”
“Have you been effected by addiction?”
The list went on and on… and large groups of kids and adults crossed the line and returned… many crossing several times.
At the end the facilitator asked that everyone seriously think about the next category and then she said “If you have been allowed to be a child…cross the line”.
My heart sank as I looked around at all of the kids standing that did not move.  Better than half of the room could not cross the line.
The say ended with healing and affirmations that this class would make a difference.  The buck stops here.  As they left the room, they made a commitment to make a change, not only in their School, but in their community… and it starts with how we look and treat people.
So what does all of this mean?  There is way to much pain in our communities.  We need to make a difference.
Baden Powell called for us to be a movement of peace.  Are we?  Does a patch on our uniform make us agents of that peace?
I am blessed,
I have a great family.  I have fantastic loving kids.  I grew up in a house with both parents that still to this day love me.  My kids have never had need and have always been loved.  We are a family of huggers,.  My life is good.
So what?  Is a blog going to make a difference?  Nope, I am just sharing.. what you do with it is up to you.
I think it is time that we all reevaluate what we are really doing to be messengers of peace.  I would suggest that we forget about global problems and focus on what is right outside of your front door.  If we all do that then the global issue will right itself.  Our Government can’t get it’s own house in order.. I don’t want it screwing up mine.  WE need to make a difference.  WE… US…
We start by adding this as part of our Junior Leader training.  We adults start by living the Scout Oath and Law.. Daily.  We reinforce our values in everything we do in Scouting and we invite all young people to join our adventure.
There is a big push to get leaders trained.  We need to train them right.  We need to make sure that all of the methods are being used in Scouting.  It is through those methods that we will achieve our goals or aims… not to crank out Eagle Scouts.. but to have good young men that are great citizens and everything that the word citizen means.  Men of Character that are fit. 
I looked at the room on Tuesday and saw a lack of all of that somewhere along the line.  Crapping parents, teachers that looked the other way, friends that are afraid to be friends.  Scouting is designed to change that… but we don’t.  It’s easier just to camp and call it good.  We need to take the time and teach our boys to be men.
So… here we are.  What is the blog going to do?
Leadership posts that direct that sort of change.
Gear reviews that encourage adventure.
Tips and techniques to make Scouting better… as I see it.
I have been away a lot from the blog recently.  I have been freeing up parts of my life that did not really matter.  The blog really matters to me and I think that it helps. 
I am blessed to have a wonderful wife and family and I am blessed to have great readers of this blog.
Thanks so very much.
Think about the tag line.. “Have a Great Scouting Day”  What does that mean and why do I close with that?  A Scouting day is one in which we live the Scout Oath and Law.  One that we are prepared and looking for the opportunity to “Help other people”  It is a promise that we make daily to not just be in Scouting but allow Scouting to be in us.  It’s more than Monday night meetings, it is how we live.
Think about that for a moment and see where you are.
You can learn more about Challenge day at (more…)

Veterans Day 2013

flagThis Veterans Day marks the 10th Veterans day since we deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom.  Today was the 9th Veterans Day celebration at home.  Today in our little corner of America we stopped for an hour and celebrated Veterans Day.  The Boy Scouts of our Troop posted the Colors and listened to speeches that talked of benefits and thank yous and “welcome home” to a group of Veterans that seem to perpetually get the short end of the stick, our Vietnam Veterans.
The speeches remembered the “Greatest Generation”, the men that stormed the beaches of Normandy and turned the tide of fascism.  They remembered those men and women that took the battle to Korea to stop the aggression of China in Korea.  The Vietnam era veterans were praised for their battles in Southeast Asia as well as the home front.  Then all of the “Middle East” or Southwest Asian veterans of the Gulf War, Iraqi Freedom, and Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan) veterans were recognized for their continued contribution to our Nations freedom.  It was all very nice.
I am not one for all of the “Thank you speeches”.  I appreciate the thought, but at the end of the day, I think that sometimes it gets overly dramatic and because of how our Country treated veterans in the past, it is a make up call in some cases.  I hate to sound that way, but it’s how some of the festivities come across.
Today’s event was nice.  It was a small service dedicated to veterans and that was it.
Our VFW Post handed our poppies today.  I took a minute to talk to the Scouts about them and what they mean.  The wearing of poppies in honor of America’s war dead is traditionally done on Memorial Day, not Veterans Day. The practice of wearing of poppies takes its origin from the poem In Flanders Fields, written in 1915 by John McCrae.  But today was as good a reason as any to pass them out and wear them  I suppose.  The poppies are meant to remember the fallen.  Memorial Day is that day that we remember all of our brave men and women that answered the call and paid the ultimate price for our Country.  Today is Veterans day.  The day that we honor all of the men and women that at one point in their lives said that they would serve.  Whether it was for 4 years, 20 years, or 180 days, these men and women said “I will go”.  Those Veterans make up 1% of the population of our Country.  1 percent of us say we will protect and serve the rest… that’s it… One percent.
As we drove to the ceremony today we passed a man standing on the corner.  He held various signs in protest of our government and what he believes to be the ills of our Nation.  His last sign said something to the effect that OUR Military is a threat to Human life as we know it.  I appreciate this individuals right to stand on any given street corner in America and hold those signs.  5 blocks away stood those great people who continue to give him the right to do so.
I thought it fitting that on this day to pay tribute to good Americans, here stood one man willing to stand up for what he believes, right or wrong, he stood knowing that the folks that paid his Freedom check in full were just blocks away.
I used to hate to see stuff like that.  But now that I may be a bit older and a tad bit wiser, and having served my Country for 21 years to include a couple of tours in Iraq, seeing how other governments treat their people, I am glad to see it.
I don’t have to agree, I just have to appreciate that because of me and my brothers that served, we live in a Country that still has rights.
As much as we like or dislike our Government or the people who run it, we are still Americans and will not give up those rights without a fight.  We will fight abroad or at home, matters not.  We one percent will never let our freedom be replaced by anything.
I often share a story about our flag with the Scouts of our Troop and what it means to me.  It is Veterans day that I aways remember that time and place.
In the middle of Camp Kalsu 18 miles South of Baghdad was a flag pole and on that pole flew an American Flag, night and day, 24 hours a day, every day.  It was a beacon for us.  You see, for 10 miles or so in every direction you could see that flag.  Every day when coming in from patrol, we would set our eyes to that flag.  It was like being back on the play ground in elementary School, the flag was “home base” and when you touched it you yelled “Home” and you were safe.
One morning, like most mornings, the sun was rising over the desert as we were returning from a patrol in our sector.  We were ambushed by a small group that instantly fled.  We reacted to contact and then decided that the best thing to do was to get back to the camp.  We came around a bluff and there she was.. fluttering in the wind.. “Home Base”… Safety.  The sun was behind the Flag and it snapped and popped, waving for us to hurry back.  We stepped on the gas and raced for camp.
When we got back to Kalsu, we assessed the damage, there was none, no one was hurt.  I noticed as a group of soldiers walked over to the flag pole.  They put their hands on it as if to say “I’m home”.  Then they went about their business of recovery from the patrol.
Once my heart stopped beating fast, I took my turn at the flag pole.  I was home and safe.
Today that flag means so much more to me as do those brave men that wear the flag on the blouse of the uniform of our Country. 
Today, I watched as Veterans from 5 of our Nations wars, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, The Gulf, and Iraqi and Enduring Freedom stood together and saluted that flag.  I could not help but think that in our little corner of America those Veterans had the same feeling as I.  We are home and safe.  After the ceremony today we walked around and without a lot of words shook hands.  With a knowing nod and smile, we know.
Today, my son John celebrated his first veterans day as a Veteran.  My Grandfather, my father, and I all served and today and everyday have the utmost pride in the choice that now a 4th generation of our family has answered his Nations call to serve.  He has joined the fraternity of the 1 percent that keep us “Home and safe”.
Thank you to all that serve or have served.  You know.

Have a Great Scouting Day!
Pictured in this post.  Members of the 105th MP Co. from Buffalo NY.  They were at Camp Kalsu with our Battalion.  Note that the flag is at Half Staff.  The men in the photo were honoring one of the members of the 105th that had just been killed while on patrol.

Curious or Complacent?

When I was a kid, I was that kid that always wanted to know how things worked.  I was the kid that took a part toys to see how they were made.  I loved trips to museums to see where things came from and I liked to hang out with my dad in the garage to see him tinker around with the car, wood work, or fixing things around the house.
Now, I am not the most mechanically inclined person, but I still maintain a curious nature.  I like to know why and how things work.  I am a very tactile learner, the more hands on things are, the better I understand them.
I find that kids fall into one of two categories, they are either curious or complacent these days.  And unfortunately the latter seems to be more prevalent.
I see it in our Troop all the time.  Simple things like menu planning.  The guys would rather take the easy way out than discover new menus, different ways to cook, and out side of the box thinking
We see that often times when the Scouts do their annual planning.  They like to do the comfortable things.  Things that they have done over and over again.  This takes less work and a lot less thinking.  Now I am not saying that the guys of our Troop do a bad job.  I just think it is kids these days.  They chose to be complacent rather than curious.  They lack the spirit of discovery.  I think that society today removes this from them.  They are discouraged from discovery.
I’m not saying that I had to walk up hill both ways in the snow wearing flip flops… What I am saying is that when we were kids we were encouraged to play hard and discover.
I see it in the merit badges that our boys select.  They want the quick and easy.  I understand that the merit badge program is designed to open doors, find occupations, and develop skills, but when we look at the badges most of our Scouts work on… they have less to do with discovery than rubber stamping a piece of cloth on a sash.
Looking at the Merit badges that our council offers it does not take a scientist to see that there is no discovery in action.  But hey.. they are giving the Scouts what they want right.. lots of merit badges.  Lots of merit badges that I am sure the Scouts got a lot of motivation to seek new horizons.
Now, I am being real critical here, the bottom line is that our boys need to be more curious.
They need to take the harder trail instead of always looking for a short cut.  They need to expand their horizons and discover.  Parents need to support that effort.
They need to allow them to play.  They need to encourage them participate in sports.  They need to let them disassemble toys.  They need to allow the patrol method to happen.  They need to encourage curiosity and not be so over protective.
I was talking with a Scout after the last camp out.  He told me that he may not be able to camp again til the summer.  I asked why, was there a conflict with sports or school?  Nope, his parents don’t want him camping in the rain.  WE LIVE IN OREGON… It rains!
They don’t want him to test his skills, they don’t want him to discover the person that he is.  They don’t want him to develop confidence and self reliance.  They don’t want him to have that bond that comes with tough times and working through adverse conditions.  In short, they want him to be complacent.  They want him to just float through life, not challenged or tested.
Here is what I know for sure.
Lewis and Clark would not have found the Pacific had it not been for their need for adventure and their lust for discovery.  We would never walked on the moon if men and women did not feel the need to push boundaries and test their skills.  The Boy Scouts of America would not have been founded if it had not been for Seaton, Boyce, and Powell.  They had a vision of discovery and were not willing to sit idle and let boys go unchallenged.
Curious or complacent.. which would we rather have?

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Staying warm in your Hammock

phoenixI had a fun discussion this weekend with a reader of the blog that is interested, but not sold on the whole hammock camping thing.  We were talking about when I camp in my hammock.  The answer is all the time, every month in every season.  So the question was, “so how do you stay warm in the hammock?”
There are many ways to keep warm while having a great nights sleep in the hammock.   I use a Top Quilt and an Under Quilt.
It’s science.  You see, when you lay in a sleeping bag on a pad (or in a hammock) you crush the fibers or the down that is creating loft that keeps you warm.  Down feathers and synthetic fibers must have air pockets to allow for the warm air to become trapped and create warmth.
The quilts made for hammocks are designed to create the most insulation.  They are constructed with a nylon shell filled with either down or synthetic materials.   The Under quilt hangs below and on the outside of the hammock.  When you lay in the hammock, you are surrounded by the underquilt and none of the material is compressed.  Because the hammock is made of nylon also and as such is a breathable material the body generates heat and fills the insulation keeping you warm underneath.  If you are worried about wind robbing your quilt of the “R” value, Underquilt cover is hung below the quilt and snugged up to the quilt to protect it from wind, rain, snow, or other heat stealing agents.
The top quilt is basically a blanket with a foot box.  It is easy to get in and out of and coupled with the under quilt provides comfort and warmth.
For added warmth, a sleeping bag liner can be added.
A good under quilt and top quilt will cost you about $550, but because there is no wear on them, they last a long time, if you take care of them.
If you don’t want to spend that kind of money, there are other options that will keep you just as warm.
A regular sleeping bag works just fine.  It is a heavier option and is a little harder to get in and out of, but you can stay just as warm.
Use a closed cell foam pad in the hammock to provide insulation and take away what hammock campers call CBS or Cold Butt syndrome.  Your self inflating pad will work also, just don’t fill it all the way.  The CCF pad works much better though.  Air on air is not great insulation.
Reflectix pads or a sheet of reflectix material or emergency blanket works real well to provide a great heat source.  Reflective materials or reflectix will bounce 70% of your body heat back at you.  That’s pretty good for the size and weight of the materials.
Once you have the gear, the rest is up to how you sleep.  In the winter, I will sleep in Poly Pro long underwear and a beanie cap.  When it’s really cold I will wear down booties on my feet.   I have also placed my down puffy jacket over the hammock and zip it up creating a foot pocket.
I try to keep my load down, so I use clothing that I already have in my pack.
A tarp is a must to keep the elements off of your hammock and you.  A tarp pitched in a tight “A” frame is roomy and provides great protection from the elements.
As we prepare for our winter camping this season, I will post some video to illustrate my winter set up.
As you can imagine, I love to talk about gear, hammock camping, and being out in the woods, so I was thrilled this weekend when the questions started coming.
Hope that helped you get a better picture of how to stay warm in your hammock.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Social Media and Scouts

internetYesterday I spent the day at our Council’s Program and Training Conference.  I assisted in instructing the Trainers EDGE class and upon arrival learned that I have an hour to kill in the morning, so I helped my buddy Adam teach his Social Media class.
Before I get into that, let me just share that yesterday was a wonderful Scouting experience.  Those of you that follow me on Twitter, Google+ and here on the blog know that it has been a real busy 6 months or so for me.  And beyond Scouting with my Troop, my Scouting relationships have been few and far between.  From the time that I entered Southridge High School, the event location, I was among great Scout friends.  Immediately hugs and picking right up where we left off where ever that was in our Scouting.  It was awesome!!
Part of the Social media class was Adam and I sharing how social media can be both positive and negative in Scouting.  I thought I would take a moment and share some of my thoughts on it.
I put together some rules that I think if followed when it comes to social media and Scouting with be a positive thing, keep our Scouts safe and you out of trouble.

1.  Remember that we are trying to Tell Scouting’s story.  You represent Scouting whether you like it or not.  If you tell the story of Scouting through unit activities on your blog, facebook status updates, twitter posts etc.. people are reading it and possibly sharing what you post.  The story is out there.  We can only control one thing 100% of the time and that is the content that we share.

2.  Do not “Friend” your Scouts in social media outlets.  If they follow you on twitter or your blog (and they will) that’s ok.  Remember that you are the Scout leader 24/7… act like it.  They are watching.  Do not friend them though.  You may not want to know and see what they are posting and you do not want to get into the parts of their life that will lead to them sharing to much with you or creating the wrong relationship.  Just think Youth protection.

3.  When using email to contact a Scout… CC their parents and another leader.  Two deep leadership works here also.

4.  Pictures are great.  Don’t name the characters and get permission to use them.

5.  Let the youth leaders run the Troop web site, monitor it.  Train them on what and what not to do.  They will do what you train them.

6.  Cell phones are not evil.  Let them have them.  Teen agers use cell phones.  Learn to communicate with them using the tools that they use.  Group texting is a great way to get the word out quickly.  Again, never text directly to the Scout.. send it to a parent or another leader also.
Create “No Ear Bud zones”.  The meeting place, while hiking, whatever you determine as a No ear bud use area.  Hold them to it.  If they want to listen to their music while in the car… let them.  Set limits and hold them to them.

7.  Create unit pages, twitter accounts, facebook pages and assign admins to monitor and update them.  A site that is not current doesn’t tell Scoutings Story.

8.  Train your youth and your adult leaders on proper use of the social media tools.  Inspect what you expect.

9.  The only rules that you need are found in the Scout Oath and Law when doing the right thing in social media.

10.  Don’t forget to have fun with it.  If it doesn’t look right.. hit delete.

Hope those few rules help you with your social media experience.  Bob Mazzucca once told us that we need to take Scouting where the Scouts are.  We live in an electronic age and our Scouts are very in tuned to using social media outlets to communicate, share, and discover.  When we use it to share Scouting’s story we can be a great part in the social media world.

Thanks for checking in and hanging out on the blog.

Have a Great Scouting Day!