Author: Scoutmaster Jerry

Enough is Enough

shutterstock_219086257I once had an Assistant Scoutmaster in our unit that came to me one night and announced the he was “Burned Out” and that he was leaving Scouting because “Enough was Enough”.  He felt that he no longer had something to give the program.  Well, much to my dismay, I had to respect his feelings and let him go.
I wondered why he felt that way for the longest time.  It was something that weighed on my mind.  I asked myself over and over if there was something that I could have done to keep him in Scouting.  Unlike retaining our youth, where we know that program keeps them interested, what is it that keeps our adults around?
We make assumptions when it comes to our adults.  First, they will stick with the program as long as their son or daughter remains in the program.  Second, the adults of our program believe in what we are doing and understand why we do it.  And third, they feel that they are value added to the program.
So when is enough.. enough?  I would also assume that it is when one or more of the first three assumptions are no longer valid or true.
There is the adult swinging door when their Scout is no longer a Scout.  I would hope that they always feel that our program is understood and they continue to believe in what Scouting does for our youth.  And I would also hope that they always feel valued.
Having said all of that though… I understand that we all have phases in our lives in which our priorities change, we grow, and we move on.  In some of those cases enough of one thing becomes enough of that thing and we move to something else.
But we are talking about Scouting.  Timeless in its values, programs that are second to none, and leadership development that our youth will never get in School.
Scouting develops citizens, it builds character, and in a world where we have way too many kids overweight and addicted to video games, Scouting gets them outside, lets them run and be boys, and reinforces good health and fitness.
Back to my Assistant Scoutmaster.
When I sat with him and asked what he was burned out over, he really couldn’t pin it to one thing.  He sited the time commitment.  He talked about the expectations of being an adult leader in our unit.  His sons were leaving the program.  And there I had it.
While all of the other Assistant Scoutmasters where committing to attend Wood Badge and seek additional training.. he did not.  While we all committed to spending extra time in developing our youth leaders, putting in extra time to work on the program, and some of us still had boys in the program.. enough had become enough for this guy.  By the way, he was and is a great man.
So what?   The question that remains is what do we do about it?  How do we keep it from happening?  How do we keep our adults motivated, valued, and committed to the program?
First of all I don’t think I have all the answers.  But I do know what is working in our unit now.
Adults are motivated by the program goals and having a part in achieving them.  They all play a role in making our program the very best that it can be.
There is a job for everyone and that means that the work is spread out.  No one is overwhelmed wearing too many hats.  There is an understanding that “NO” is an acceptable answer.  We all need time to step away and have a free weekend or a Monday away from the meeting.  When we do this and no one is made to feel bad for being gone for a camp out or meeting night, they are more apt to giving more later.
Every team member is valued.  We all have our talents and skills.  Each one of us bring something unique to the unit.  We value that.  We say thank you a lot.  Even for the little things that people don’t think matter.  They matter.
And our adults are committed to the program.  Everyone of our Assistant Scoutmasters have been to Wood Badge.  This next year, many other adults of our unit will attend.  Why?  Not for the beads, but for the opportunity to learn and get on the same sheet of music.  When we all sing the same song we make outstanding music.  Wood Badge is a model of Scouting at it’s best.  That is what we want in our unit.  Best is what we strive for.  Our youth count on it and deserve it.
So when is enough, enough?  That is in the mind of the individual.  When is that a red flag for a unit?  All the time and it needs to be addressed, figured out, and fixed.  Enough is not good enough for the youth we serve.  Does that mean that everyone stays forever?  No, but when they leave it is not because of burn out or being fed up.  It is not because they feel that they have nothing to offer or lack value.  It is not because their Scout left.  They always have a place, value, and should believe in our program.
Keep an eye out for Enough is Enough, it could be a terrible trend in your unit that can get ugly real quick.
Stay motivated, be an asset to your unit, know you have value, and commit to the greatest youth program on Earth!

Have a Great Scouting Day!

And I’m going to work my ticket if I can…

calmticketThose of us that have been to Wood Badge, and those that have been around to hear a group of Wood Badgers sing the Gilwell song have heard the refrain “and I’m going to work my ticket if I can..”
What the heck does that mean?
Well, there is not a real simple answer other than to explain what the ticket is and the attitude of all Scouts and Scouters.. WHOA!.. All Scouts and Scouters???  Yes.. from a very early age in Scouting we pledge to “Do our Best”  To give it a 100%.. the “it” is whatever we find ourselves doing.  So to work the ticket if I can.. well, we suggest to one another that we will do our best to work the ticket that we write while in Wood Badge.
The Ticket.
The readers digest version of the ticket is this; British soldiers would have to purchase their tickets back to England at the end of their service.  This was a real big deal when the soldier found himself in India, Africa, or other far away places that the British Empire sent their Army.  So the soldier would request assignments closer and closer to home.  This became a goal of the soldier to make his way back to England.
Baden Powell used the “Ticket” as an analogy for setting goals and accomplishing them, thus leaving a lasting legacy in Scouting.
Wood Badge has adopted the Ticket as part of the program since the beginning.  The ticket is the way to move the participant to seeing his or her vision to reality.
So when we work our ticket we are working our goals that get us to accomplishing our mission which eventually see’s our vision to something that is very real.
Doing our Best to leave a Legacy in Scouting and our world.
So we are going to work our tickets if we can!
Another fantastic Tradition of Wood Badge and Scouting!

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Close the back door

back-doorThere are two phrases that absolutely drive me up the wall, First is “Aging out” and the other is “Eagleing Out”.  No where in Scouting are those two terms found.  These are terms founded by lazy leaders that do not understand the entire Scouting program or are not creative enough to keep a Scout interested enough in Scouting to stay.
So what does this have to do with the subject at hand?  Everything.
You can never out recruit you losses.  When we allow Scouts to leave our program, a program designed to keep them through adulthood and reinforce the “Lifetime” of Scouting we lose as an organization.  We allow the institutional knowledge to walk out the door.. institutional knowledge of youth leadership.  We lose the succession of youth leaders passing down the unit traditions, skills, and attitudes.  We lose the ability for youth to train the next group of youth to lead their Troop.
When we let the backdoor swing wide open, we take away the opportunity for the young person to continue in the program.  With Venturing and Sea Scouts providing fantastic co ed adventures, we should be encouraging our Scouts to seek those opportunities while maintaining some level of activity with the Troop.
Our Unit started a program we call “Vertical Scouting”.. I will talk more about that later, but essentially it amounts to providing Scouting opportunities that flow through the spectrum of Scouting programs.  From age 6 to 21 the youth of our program have a vertical look at all that Scouting has to offer.  We form that in a single Scout group that allows the young Scout and his family to see what lays ahead for them in Scouting.  It sets the table for retaining Scouts for a life time of Scouting.  It removes the attitude of “Aging Out”…  it provides an opportunity for an Eagle Scout to stay in Scouts and continue to lead and make a contribution to the unit as a whole.  It introduces young women to the Scouting program and keeps teen aged young men interested in more adventures in a co ed environment.  We often joke about our Scouts getting to that age of getting the “3 G’s”  Girls, Gas, and Goofing Off… Well we know they start driving, that won’t change, doing values based activities with girls is a healthy way of growing their character, and we all know that goofing off with other Scouts is way better than most alternatives.
This program offers excellent opportunities to retain our Scouts.  And that is what our goal is.  Close the back door, start growing tomorrows Scout Adult leaders in the units they are playing the game with a purpose in now.
Think about ways you can close that backdoor in your unit.  Retain Scouts, and stop the “OUT”.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Tradition and Legacy

dadbeadsIt seems that all of my life I have been a part of or surrounded by organizations that are rich in tradition and have left lasting marks on society, our country, and the people that are served by those organizations.  The Army is one of those organizations that for 21 years I lived in, learned, and passed on traditions.  During my service, I made it a point to understand and appreciate those traditions and while not making new traditions, found my way to leave or be a part of the legacy of our Army.
Scouting has been a part of my life since I was about 7 years old.  Scouting is rich in tradition and has seen its share of leaders that left a lasting mark or legacy in Scouting.  Baden Powell, William Hillcourt, James E. West, and countless Scoutmasters that have left their chapters in the story of Scouting.  These traditions that have been built on our programs values and goals that shape the vision of Scouting are passed down from generation to generation of Scouts and Scouters.
Spend the day at your local Summer Camp, listen to the songs and laughter.  Take in the spirit that the camp instills in the campers.  The local traditions of the camp come alive year after year.  A legacy built over time and energy of Scouts and Scouters that love their camp and want to see it last forever.  It always lasts in their collective hearts as long as that Scouting Spirit stays with them.
One of the greatest parts of Scouting that I have embraced is the Wood Badge program.  The fact that it is a direct link to our founder Baden Powell.  A link of training leaders to make Scouting and their world better.  The rich traditions in Wood Badge that are passed from Course to Course and Scouter to Scouter through the wearing of little wooden beads.
The Woggle and neckerchief that link all Scouting programs world wide.  These traditions are special to me because they remind me of the legacy that Baden Powell left.  A vision as clear as the planting of oak trees for future building at Oxford.  The legacy of Baden Powell to train leaders to make the game with a purpose meaningful and lasting in the youth of the world.  The tradition that comes with that legacy that is passed from Course Director to Course Director.  And now it is my turn.
Over the last three days, my dad and I have been working on a piece of tradition and Wood Badge Lore.  We made a replica of Chief Dinizulu’s Wooden Bead necklace.  The beads that would later be presented to the first Wood Badge class.  The same beads that 104 years later still represent the completion of a Wood Badge ticket.  What a wonderful tradition and legacy.
This opportunity for me has caused me to think a lot about the tradition and legacy of what I am about to do over the next year.  I am honored to be a part of that legacy and tradition.
What traditions to do appreciate?  Home, Family, Scouting…?  Please share your favorite, leave a comment.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

One small step for …!

wood-badge-clipart-1In 2015 I was informed that the Council had decided that I would be a Wood Badge Course Director, if I chose to accept the position.  It did not take a lot of time for the answer to come from somewhere in the brain to the mouth and I quickly said I would be honored.  I was at Staff Development 1 for a course I was staffing.  I wanted to run downstairs and tell everyone, but I was told not to say anything until I was given the “OK” to do so.  That “OK” didn’t come for a whole year.  So I sat on the information and began taking notes.  After the course in 2015 ended, I was told that I would be the Assistant Scoutmaster for Program for one of the courses in 2016 in preparation for becoming a Course Director.  I was contacted by the Course Director for W1-492-16-1 and invited to serve on his course.  I was again.. honored to serve.  And I continued taking notes.
Mid way through the course, I was paid a visit by the Council Program Director.  We chatted about locations and dates for my course in 2017.  He also gave me the “OK” to start talking to possible staff members.  I did not want to do that while on course, but there were a few staff members on the course in 2016 that I wanted to be a part of my team in 2017.  So I quietly and discreetly pulled them aside and had rather quick discussions about their level of interest and possibility of staffing with me.   And I continued to take notes.
The syllabus drives Wood Badge training.  The delivery is pretty much standard from one course to the next, with a touch of personality that each staff brings to it.  So much of the note taking was along the lines of assessment.  Both my self assessment of where I thought I was in the Wood Badge Training staff and what I thought went right or not so right.  Little things like the way the troop arrives at Gilwell Field or how meal times went.
It amounts to pages and pages of notes, a lot of great stuff, and things that I would rather not see on “My” course.  The syllabus is what it is and won’t be changed.  But adding my personality and that of the staff to it will be a big part.  Eliminating “Stuff” or “Things” just for the sake of doing “Stuff” is another thing I want to take a look at.  Now I like “Stuff” like the next guy, but when the “stuff” takes over the program… I have an issue with it.  I have seen staff’s that get wrapped up in “stuff” and forget the main reason they are on staff.  That is not to say that “stuff” is unimportant… again, time and place and the reason for the “stuff” needs to be considered.
Enough of that.
So, for the better part of two years I have had a looming task over me.  The fact that I have been entrusted with being the Course Director of Wood Badge.  A program that I love and see the benefits that reach all over Scouting.  For two years I have waited to get a staff together, to start planning the course, to get the ball rolling.  The course will be the second of two courses in our Council in 2017.  It will be in August at one of our gems of the Council, Butte Creek Scout Ranch.  Needless to say, I’m excited.
Tomorrow is the first time I really get to act in the part of Course Director.  Some of the staff that I am building and I are meeting at Butte Creek to look at the facilities.  It has been a long time since our Council has held a Wood Badge course there.
We will be looking at physical arrangements for the training area.  Camp sites, kitchen, Gilwell Field, Activity areas, Parking, water, shower house and more.  For a few hours we will take the first steps on an incredible journey.  One that they are joining with me to make it a great training experience for 56 Scouters of our Council.
This past two years of taking notes, watching, and staffing a program that I love is now in my hands.  Tomorrow is the first big step in the process, but just one small step on the journey!
I’ll be posting a lot about this journey this year and next.  If you are a Wood Badger, come along for the journey.  If you have not yet gone to Wood Badge… GO!  But come along with me on this climb to Gilwell!

START THE WAVE!
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Scout Book

In February of 2014 I wrote a review of Scout Book.  At the time, a pretty new system for recording Scout Data for your unit.  In that post I was given the opportunity to give away a couple subscriptions to Scout Book.
I was also given a free year for my unit, which we never used as our unit decided to stay with Troopmaster.
Since February of 2014, I have received more emails about Scout Book than of any other subject I have blogged about.  That’s great and I hope that I have been able to answer the questions and give some advice along the way.
Here is the number One question:  Do you have any more free subscriptions to give away?
The answer is No I do not… thanks for asking.
The Boy Scouts of America has adopted Scout Book now and the program is officially the property of the Boy Scouts of America.  When it was new it was independently owned and when they reached out to me they wanted a review.  They offered the free subscriptions as part of a promotion for Scout Book.  I am sorry if I don’t have any more.. that’s up the BSA now.
So if you are interested in Scout Book.. check out the Scout Book site and let me know what you think.
Thanks for all the emails and all the great questions.  I wish I had more to give.. but it is what it is.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

The Uniform Police

The "Not so new" Centennial UniformWe have all heard of the “Uniform Police” in our Scouting circles.  I am not a member of the Police Force charged with making a scene about uniform violations and forcing a Council wide investigation on this patch or that.. tongue in cheek, but we all know “That guy”.
Here is my position on the uniform.  Wear it and when you do wear it correctly.
The Uniform of the Boy Scouts of America is part of the methods that get us to accomplishing our goals.  It is a mark of membership on the team.  It is an identifier of being a part of something bigger than ourselves.
It is NOT required, but if worn it should be worn correctly.
There are plenty of resources out there that tell us how to wear the uniform.  There are guides and PDF’s that show us what we can and can not wear.  There is a chart that shows proper placement of patches and how to wear a sash.
So we don’t need a police force, we have the BSA.  We do not need to make members feel bad about volunteering their time, spending their money, and giving hours and hours to serve our youth.
When I wear the uniform, and boy do I wear it a lot…I wear it completely and properly.  I wear the shirt, pants, socks, and all of my patches are authorized and in the right place.  I don’t do this to avoid the uniform police, I do it because I am a leader.  I set the example of what right looks like.  I model what I expect.
My Troop is a fully uniformed Troop.  We do it because it is a part of Scouting.  We do it because we are team and teams wear uniforms.  We all wear the full uniform.  It is NOT a money issue.  There are ways to get around the cost of a uniform.  We encourage “experienced” uniforms to be handed down.  We provide a uniform closet for our Scouts.  We wear the uniform like we want the Scouts to wear it.
When we started our uniform closet, I went to the local Good Will.  I purchased as much Scout uniform stuff as I could find.  I bought something like 4 shirts, 3 pair of pants, shorts, and even two of the red Jack shirts.  I think I spent a total of $40.  That was enough to seed the closet and get things started.  We now have enough uniform items to outfit a patrol.
The point is.. as a leader we should not make excuses.. we should find solutions.  It is about the methods Scouting that move us to the Aims of our Organization.  That is your charge as a Scout leader.  Not to be the uniform police, but to encourage proper uniform wear.
I would rather have a Scout that has patches all screwed up wearing the uniform than not wearing it.  I never make an issue of how they sew on their patches.  I praise them for being in a full uniform.  A subtle hand out once in a while of the Uniform Inspection sheet may be enough to move the patches to the right spot on the shirt.
Don’t be that guy.. encourage your Leaders and your Scouts to wear the uniform and wear it right.  It’s important for your unit and Scouting.  Says Scouting!
“The uniform makes for brotherhood, since when universally adopted it covers up all differences of class and country”. Robert Baden-Powell

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Hey gang.. I would really love for this blog to make a difference.  Can you help me reach more Scouters?
I want to have another contest and try to boost the number of subscribers/ Followers of the blog.
Help me with that.. what kind of contest?  What kind of prize?  The floor is yours… leave me a comment or drop me an email at tbirdironchef@gmail.com
Thanks a million!