Author Archives: Scoutmaster Jerry

Patch Trading

patch1One of the fun traditions of Scouting is patch trading. I have been acquiring patches now since about 1978. I would like to say that I have a ton of patches, but I really don’t. You see, I did like most Scouts and Scouters do and did, I got a patch for going to Camporee or Summer camp, a new Lodge Flap, or a special event and threw them in a box. No rhyme or reason, just a box of patches. Over the years some got tossed and others given away. I wish I knew then what I know now.
Then in 2010, I went to the National Jamboree. Before we left a good friend of mine, also a Scoutmaster, suggested that I get extra patches for trading. I was reluctant as I was not a patch collector or trader for that matter. Yeah, I liked to get patches and liked to go to the trade-o-ree at Conclave but a collector or trader I was not.
So, I bought extra patch sets and the night before we left for Jambo I threw in a handful of patches that I had from the box into my duffel bag.
My eyes where opened to the world of patch trading on the steps of the Smithsonian were Scouts had laid out blankets and were trading. Then we got to Ft. A P Hill and as far as you could see patches exchanged hands and hand shakes sealed the deal on a trade. I decided that I would try to trade for patches from the Councils in which I held membership as a youth. The National Capital Area Council, The Transatlantic Council, and the Calcasieu Area Council. In my travels around the National Jamboree I found myself seeking out Scouters from those three Councils and I did. I ended up trading set for set the 2010 Jamboree patches from the Councils of my youth. I had been bitten by the bug and now I could not walk around the Jamboree site without looking for patches.
I literally bumped into Bob Mazzuca the Chief Scout Executive one afternoon, he gave me his patch. Then Tico Perez, the National Commissioner surrendered one of his patches for my collection. I met a ton of great Scouters over patch conversations and handshakes. I started collecting and trading.
Once we got home from Jamboree the collecting did not end. Each event patch brought new meaning, I paid attention at OA events and sought out patches I did not have. I got into trading patches on Facebook. The patches in my box started to become a collection.
Patch trading is a great tradition. It creates an environment of fellowship. The patches tell a story. Each event patch sparks a memory. Each trade a new friend. This year is a special year for the Order of the Arrow and a great time to collect special patches. And so the patches and the story of this year is going to be not only unique, but special much like Jamboree years.
So here is what I thought we could do. As you know I like to think of this blog as the meeting after the meeting after the one in the parking lot. And now I am going to throw out my patch blanket. Over the next weeks and months, lets trade cloth and a virtual handshake. I will post some patches. If you would like to trade, just send me a note. First response will get the trade, but we can keep this going as long as you like.
I will post a picture of the patch and let you know if I am looking for something specific for it. Fair enough?
100lodgeflapTo get things started I would love to trade Centennial Flap for Centennial Flap. The patch I am trading is the Wauna La Mon’tay Lodge #442 Centennial Flap.  This Flap was just issued and was made in limited quantity.  It is brand new, never sewn.  I have three (3) of these to trade.  Again, Centennial Flap for Centennial Flap.  Let me know.  Send me a message in the comments section.  Or email your trade to
This could be a lot of fun.  Let’s have fun with this.
Patch trading and collection is such a fun tradition, lets keep it going!
Have a Great Scouting Day!




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Epic Fail Dude…

failWe just got home and got cleaned up from this years District Camporee.  It was a good event, not without it’s ups and downs and for one Troop, disappointment.
This morning we stood and watched as Troops received ribbons for placing in events and then the Camporee Top Troop.  This Troop gets a flag and bragging rights for a year.  Our Troop fell short once again.  But as with all things in Scouting there were learning opportunities to be found and shared through this event.
We held our monthly Patrol Leaders Council Meeting when we got back to the hall.  Of course it started with what we could have done better and where they think they fell short.
It was identified that they did not work as well as team within their Patrols.  They could have shown more Scout Spirit. They are enthusiastic, but are not always Rah Rah kinds of Patrols.  Just their nature, but it does not score well at Camporee.  Many Scoutmasters in our District think that if you are not yelling and jumping around you are not motivated and lacking in Scout Spirit.  I disagree, but then again, it is not helping our Troop when it comes to the final score.
Scout Skills are not an issue.  In every event that involved Scout skills, they did very well.  But the little things that were subjective to judging ended up hurting them in the end.
To some of the Scouts it was an epic fail.  The gateway was amazing, but not good enough.  The camp site was perfect, but did not show the judges what a car camping Troop looked like.  The menus were simple, the camp craft was basic.  Basic, but perfect.
An epic fail some of the Scouts said.  But not an indicator of failures.  I think the Senior Patrol put it best today during the PLC meeting when he said, “It’s ok for us to fail… it’s not ok for us to be failures.  We are only failure if we don’t learn and get better.”  I think this young man has been listening to his Scoutmaster.
It was not an epic fail… but yes, we failed to achieve our goals.  One Scout came to me it seemed in an effort to console me in our loss and said.. “We’ll get’em next year.”  Yep, I think we will but we have learning to do and some effort in learning to play the game a little better.
I wish it was just about Scout skills, but it is what it is.
I will not rant about all the moms making sure their little precious was drinking water and keeping up with his patrol. I will not rant about the dad’s that felt that it was unfair to not give points to a Patrol that could not make a fire or splint a sprained ankle.  It just is what it is.
But what it isn’t is an Epic Fail.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

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How Healthy is your Troop?

Summer Camp Wrap UpAs in the business world, Scouting is something that can and is ranked and rated.  The things that we do in Scouting, in keeping with all great organizations that have a purpose and direction, a vision, measure what they do to stay focused and on track.  We measure our Packs, Troops, and Crews with the standard of the Journey to Excellence.  In past we used the measurement of the Quality Unit to make sure that we at the unit level are delivering the promise of Scouting.
In other words, we have systems in place to measure the Health of our units.  We can look to those systems to analyze numerically how we are doing, but does it tell you the story of the health of our units?
Last week I had the pleasure to sit behind a Scout from my Troop as his advocate during his Eagle Scout Board of Review.  My Scouts always joke after these Eagle Boards that it is the quietest that I am during their Scouting career.  This is the eleventh Scout that I have sat with as he answers questions and demonstrates to the Board that his is in fact an Eagle Scout.
This last board however I really watched the process and listened.  What I came out of the board with was the fact that our unit is healthy.  As I listened to this Scout tell about his Scouting experience, the places he has been, the awards he earned, the leadership he developed I could not help but think back to when this young man came to our Troop.  Like most young Scouts he crossed over from a Cub Scout Pack and followed his friends.  They all came to our Troop with the understanding that they would be a part of a great adventure.  It was up to the older Scouts and our adult leaders to make the promise come true.
We have always took great pride in the way that we deliver Scouting’s programs in our Troop.  We use the eight methods to achieve the goals of Scouting and place at a premium the Scouts overall experience in Scouting over one method or another.  Advancement being one of the methods that we believe will happen when a Scout is engaged in his unit.  The age old adage of the more a Scout puts into Scouting, the more he gets out of it.
This has played out over and over again, and listening to Matt, I could see that it would play out again with him.
He participated fully, going to Summer camps every year, attending monthly camp outs, ultimately becoming a Staffer at one of our Council camps.  He we to Philmont with the Troop and enjoyed a fun time with a patrol of great Scouts.  He carried his leadership learned in Scouting to his participation on the Football field and on the Track as a two sport athlete in High School.  Being a Scout was not always easy, but he managed to do well and come out of both Scouting and his time in our Troop with an understanding of how to be a leader, skills for life, and a good citizen.  The aims of Scouting can be seen in him.
So we measure Scouting and the health of our units using metrics and systems that place our performance in categories and rankings.  We are either Bronze, Silver, or Gold but what does that mean to our Scouts.  Free patches or a price break for summer camp?
The real measure of the health of your unit is in your Scouts. Are they staying?  Are they attending activities?  Are they seeking leadership opportunities?  Are they advancing?  Do they wear the uniform and take pride in belonging to their Troop?  Do they take advantage of the programs of Scouting. Jamborees, High Adventure bases, and the Order of the Arrow?
When they sit with you during Scoutmaster conferences is it a chore or a conversation?  I find that the easiest conference that I do is the conference for a Scout earning his Eagle award.  If it has not been said or discussed prior to this conference we have missed something along the way.  By the time he is having his conference for Star, we have discussed his need to be of service and to develop leadership.  We look to the Scout to take a bigger role as a trainer for the younger Scouts.  We look for him to become a servant leader.
By the time he is having his conference for Eagle he has already demonstrated all of those things we are looking for and as he stumbled along the way we helped him up, encouraged him to keep going, and had many conversations about what he is doing good and bad.  He has had many opportunities to learn, grow, and develop.  He has earned his Eagle.  He has lived the Scout Oath and Law and made the most of his Scouting experience.
As I sit and listen I can’t help but think that these Boards of Review, whether it is for Star, Life or Eagle are the true measure of the health of the unit.  They satisfy the adult interaction method and allow the Troop and District a peek into the life of our Scouts and the health of the unit.
So how healthy is your Troop?  How do you measure the health?  Do you take advantage of listening to your Scouts?  They will tell you everything you need to know about what kind of program you are running and how well your Scouts are doing in it.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

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Badges… we don’t need no stinking Badges…

patch1While it is true that we don’t need no stinking badges… We do have a need for patches and lots of them.
If you follow me on Facebook, you may have noticed that I am in a patch phase.  Well truth be told, I have been a patch guy for a long time, but until recently, as in this year, I have made the transition from one who acquires patches to one that has a patch collection.
What the heck does that mean?  Well, in looking into collecting patches I have been researching some collections and getting focus on the type of patches I want in my collection.  While I have a bunch of patches.. and I mean a bunch… I have looked at what I really want to collect.
patch2I have an extensive collection of Scouting literature.  Scout handbooks being the the center piece of the collection.  I collect Handbooks, Fieldbooks, and Scoutmaster Handbooks.  The rest of the collection is miscellanious Scouting pamplets, booklets, and Boys Life magazines.  I have been collecting these for years now and enjoy the style and history found in the collection.  I have not really been a collector, I did have a small collection of Baseball cards at one time, but I can’t say that there was any passion in that collection.
patch3Scouting patches tell a story.  They mark a place in time and share Scouting’s history in the threads that make up the patch.
So when I look at patches I see that time in Scouting and the event that it represents.  I have patches from my time as a youth in Scouting.  Patches from Camp Freedom in Germany.  Camporee’s in Belgium, and summer camps in Louisiana.
As an adult I starting amassing patches as a Cub Scout leader and then the cool patches started being added to the pile when I got back into the awesome world of our Boy Scout Troop.  I had forgotten how great Order of the Arrow patches are and how much I enjoy them.
So this year I am becoming more focused with my collection.  Jamboree patches from 2010, Order of the Arrow Patches, Council Should Patches (CSP’s) and Badges of Rank at the focus of the collection.  Everything else will still be added to the pile and one day used as trading material or maybe even become some patches that I move into a collection.
The collection however is not just patches.  They are patches that tell a story.  They are patches that are sequenced or a series.  They are from my past in Scouting.  They reflect what I am in Scouting and what I do.  For example CPS’s that represent Wood Badge.  This being the Centennial Year of the Order of the Arrow, I am collecting OA patches that tell the 100th Anniversary story.  I want to collect Lodge flaps in particular.  Right now, it is a small collection, but I think that attending the National Order of the Arrow Conference (NOAC) this year is going to bring lots of opportunities to increase this collection.
One of the things that I am doing to make my patches into a nice collection is not only completing sets or series, but I have began framing for display the patches.  This has really become a fun part of the collecting. Looking at them and sharing them with the Scouts of the troop at special events.
Again, with NOAC coming up I am encouraging the Scouts of my Troop that are attending also to start their collection.  At NOAC as well as Jamboree, Camporees, and Tradeorees, patch trading is a part of the tradition and growing of the brotherhood of Scouting.  It is a way to connect with other Scouts and learn a little about them and where they are from.  Looking at patches from around other Councils or Lodges and what kind of Scouting they do.
Those of you that have been to a Jamboree know what part patch trading plays in the event.  I know that through trading I have met many great Scouters and learned more about our scouting world.
So no.. we don’t need no stinking badges.. but they sure are fun and a great part of Scouting and its history.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

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calmwoodbadgeIts never late to learn, you are never to old to figure things out… you don’t know it all.
You know what famous person this quote is from? neither.. I just wrote it, but I am sure that there are lots of great leaders out there that share my sentiment when I say there are times when you have to remember to practice what you preach.
I tell our Scouts that to be an effective leader you must first learn and develop the ability to be a good follower.
Yep, you need to follow before you can be a good leader.  It is a simple statement, but very true.  You are never in a position where you are not accountable.  As a Dad your kids count on you, you are accountable to them.  Your spouse counts on you and holds you in account.  Your boss, your community, they all count on you and therefore you are accountable to them.  You need to be able to follow their needs.  You must be able to be a part of the team that makes a contribution to moving them toward high performance.  You will not always be in a place where you are out front, making decisions, and getting things done.  Sometimes your place is subordinate and that of a member of the team.  Your role is an important one.  That of a follower, a good team player, available to give input and take direction.  As a follower you know the vision and direction of the leader, you know what it takes to move the team forward.
We used to hear the term “Lots of Chiefs, not enough Indians”.  While some may think that we could find a better way to put it, the message is clear.  We need members of the team as much as we need effective leaders.  At times there can be too many voices that confuse, contradict, and undermine the message.  We teach in Wood Badge and in our Troops what effective communication is and those skills to be better communicators.  Again, it is important not to lose focus on practicing what we preach.  There are senders and receivers.  But the most important part is the message.  When building a high performance team the message is greater than the other parts.  It is the leaders job to communicate effectively and it is the receiver or followers job to listen.
Today at our Wood Badge Staff Development I had to step back and remember that I am a follower on this course.  There have been clear directions and vision given.  I am a member of a team that is well on its way to being one working at a high performance level.  The unique part of a Wood Badge Staff is that we are all good Scouters, we are all motivated, we are all leaders.  It is in that environment that takes the most attention and awareness that we need to follow.
I had a personal bout of storming today.  I quickly realized that to get to performing, I need to be a better follower.
Hmmm… you can teach a on old beaver new tricks.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

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New Pack- Quick Look

Hey gang.. Been awhile.. certainly got away from my blogging goals over the last couple weeks.
No real excuse other than to say other things have taken priority.
The Troop obviously, Staffing Wood Badge once again, and of course family life.  Other Scouting opportunities have been popping up in the world of training also.  I have recently taught Train the Trainer for our Council and Trainers EDGE over the last month or so.. so lots going on and I have not really had time to sit down and bang away at the computer.
In the mean time I got some new gear and I am super excited about my new Backpack.  I ordered it direct from Osprey back in January, but due to the striking long shore men the pack just got here yesterday.  Ah well.. it is what it is..
So I will be doing a thorough review and video on it in the near future, but today (after painting the living room and hall) my wife said I could play with my new toy.
I thought I would share my initial thoughts on the Pack with you and like I said, I will get into the weeds with it soon.
First of all I now have the Osprey Aether 60.  I went with the Aether 60 pack as that volume seems to be the sweet spot for my backpacking gear, style, and they way I pack.
I have tried to go smaller, but find that I struggle with loading the pack and having my gear accessible while on the trail.  Any bigger on the other hand, and I find that I want to fill it.  Unneeded gear and extras that I can do without.
So I went with the 63 liter pack. The Osprey Aether series packs come in various sizes ranging from 55 liters to 85 liters.  The 55 is just a hair to small for me.  I have been using my Mountain Hardwear Koa 55 this past year and have really been unhappy with the way I have to fight it.  The 85 liter packs are designed for expeditions and does not fit my needs.  Again, when choosing your next pack, know your sweet spot.
The Osprey Aether 60 also comes in 3 different sizes Small which is 3478 cubic inches of space or 57 liters, Medium which is 3661 cubic inches or 60 liters, and Large which comes in at 3844 cubic inches or 63 liters or space.  Again, I went with the Large or 63 as it meets my needs and fit my frame.
Which brings me to sizing.  It is important to size your pack.  I went to my local REI and met with a sales rep.  He is trained in sizing for the custom fit of the Osprey packs.  Using the Osprey measuring tool at the store we determined that I needed a medium pack to fit my torso.
The nice thing about the Osprey packs are that they are custom.  You can mix and match pack components.  The Shoulder straps, hip bet, and Frame are all interchangeable.
The hip belt can be custom molded to your hips.  This is highly recommended, but if you do not have an authorized retailer with the hip belt oven near you, just wearing the hip belt as you hike will heat it enough to mold it to your hips.
So why did I pick this pack over others?  After all I have carried a good Kelty External Frame pack, the Mountain Hardwear pack, a Granite Gear light pack, and the ULA Ohm over the last couple of years.  Well, it came down to fitting my needs and my style of backpacking.
Since we have been back from Philmont (2012) I have been toying the idea of getting a new pack.  I carried the Granite Gear pack at Philmont and it was not big enough to handle the gear we carried as a crew.. namely all the water.  The ULA pack, while I loved how comfortable it is did not fit my needs for winter camping and I found myself worried about its durability.
An Assistant Scoutmaster in our Troop had been carrying the Osprey pack and after our big backpacking trip in the Olympics last summer I started looking at his pack and how it may fit my needs.  After doing my homework.. I came to conclusion that the Osprey Aether 60 was for me.
Here are the specifics:
The pack weighs in at 4 lbs 11 ounces.  A bit heavier that I would like in a pack, but I had to make a compromise somewhere.  With my overall gear getting lighter I am ok with the base pack weight being a little heavier.
The Aether is made of 210D and 75D Stretch woven ripstop nylon and 500D plain weave nylon oxford.  I got the Arroyo Red pack.  It also comes in a Blue and Green.
Features of the pack that I drew me to it; A nice removable top pouch that can become a Lumbar pack for day trips.  I like the separate sleeping bag compartment at the bottom and I love the Airscape Suspension (back panel).   It breaths well and is super comfortable.
With this pack it is the little details that I really love.  All of the zipper pulls are fantastic.  They are a molded plastic covered pull, comfortable to pull and usable with gloves.
There are plenty of ways to compress the pack for a custom fit.
Finally the outside back panel is a huge stretch pocket.  Great for storing all of those need to get to fast items.
The pack is a top loader, but it also has front panel access.
Ok.. so am starting to get a little to far into the weeds with this.  I will be doing a good video review soon.  In the mean time, here is a short video put out by Osprey.  It will give you an introduction to my new pack.
My first impression is that I like it a lot.  I love the ease of access, the design, and the over all detail in the features.

Stay tuned for a full review.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

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E. Urner Goodman

Dr. E. Urner Goodman is the man that founded the Order of the Arrow.  His story is one of love of Scouting and of teaching young men to grow into men of Character.
I stumbled on this video the other day and thought it is worth sharing.
For those Scouters that feel the Order of the Arrow “takes away” or is “Cliquish” I would suggest that you get involved with the Order of the Arrow and learn more about it.  Become active within your Chapter if you get the feeling of the Clique.
Clearly it is not the intent or purpose of the Order of the Arrow.
Listen to the founder of the Order, Dr. E. Urner Goodman

Have a Great Scouting Day!

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To serve

give“And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.”- John F. Kennedy
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” ― Mahatma Gandhi
“The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was: ‘If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?’ But…the good Samaritan reversed the question: ‘If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?” ― Martin Luther King Jr.
“The most worth-while thing is to try to put happiness into the lives of others.” ― Robert Baden-Powell

Service.  Given with no expectation of something in return is how a Scout must live to hold up his end of the promise he makes in the Scout Oath and Law.  But the world we live in today dictates that something is gained when something is given.  It is how things work.  Except when we are talking about true leadership which of course is a dedicated life of service.
We see in the quotes above a call to service.  John F. Kennedy in his famous “ask not” inaugural speech instructed America and the World to be of service to one another.  To forgo expectation of getting, but rather to give.  It is when we collectively give and expect nothing in return that we truly serve.
Martin Luther King Jr. quoted from the Bible sharing the story of the Good Samaritan.  A perfect example of giving, of serving our fellow man, not just those that we like or we find in our circles.
And finally, our founder Baden Powell and his reminder that happiness comes from serving other.  These are not new concepts nor are they ground breaking discoveries.  They are simple truths that in our self absorbed world we in Scouting need to take back and show that service is not a thing of the past.
I saw on TV the other night a Coca Cola commercial.  A man buys a Coke ™ and sees a girl that could use it more than her.  She accepts the Coke and immediately sees someone else that needs it, so in turn gives it.. and so on until a meteor strikes the stand where the Coke was originally purchased.  The Coke is handed to the man working the stand.  A full circle of “paying forward”.  It is a nice message, but reality being what it is, I would venture to guess that Coke would never have made it around the circle.
Having discussions with our Scouts about service reinforces to me that we have a ways to go when it comes to driving home this point of service selflessly.
The discussions about service always result in “what do I get out of it”.  I get something signed in my book for rank.  I get service hours applied to this or that.  I get.. I get.. I get.
Talking with a recent Scout about the completion of his Eagle Project I reminded him that it did not matter what the project was.. it is not about the project it is about leadership and being a servant leader.  The project is the vehicle that allows for the leadership to be demonstrated.  “Yeah but..” the Scout started.. “I get credit for high School graduations community service points for this project”.  Yes you do, what then again, what is the point.  To serve or to get.
It has become a running joke that Scouts help old ladies across the street.  Values of days gone by when Scouts sought out those opportunities to be helpful have been replaced by opportunities to get something in return.  I will help that person when I get something whether that is credit, recognition, or something tangible like money, a free dinner, or yes even money.
In ancient times when a Roman Soldier was to become part of the Principales or a Centurion, he would have to stand watch all night long.  This was to demonstrate to his men that he was not beyond the duties of a soldier.  It also put his men’s welfare above his own allowing them to sleep while he kept watch.  As he kept watch those leaders above him would also demonstrate the model of selfless leadership (service) as they paid him visits throughout the night bringing him small tokens, food, drink, and other items that would make his watch a little more comfortable.  These acts of service modeled the expectation of this new leader.  He would see what it would take to be a leader in the Cohort.  Nothing was expected by the new leader, he was giving of himself and being trained in servant leadership.  This lead from the front attitude shaped the Roman Legions and made them strong.
We can learn a lot about our leadership and our service from these examples.  From the Roman Legions to John F.Kennedy we are called to serve.  We are called to bring happiness to others through our Service.
We make a promise to help other people at all times.  We should try to keep that promise.
Oh, I know its hard.  But think about that Coke ™ commercial.  If we all past along an attitude of service we can help the world… or at least our communities become better places to live.
You don’t have to be a Hero or wear a badge, you need only remember that we do make a promise to be helpful and that as Baden Powell said,  “The main question of life is not “what can I get?” but “what can I give?”
Something to think about when you have that next discussion about service with your Scouts.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

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20150321_120648Like most units, our Troop has a new Scout Patrol that has started their Scouting adventure in earnest. They crossed over in February, like most Webelos and went on their first camp out with the Troop that following week.  The Troop went to Camp Meriwether to do some Shot Gun Shooting and start working their Trail to First Class.  The older guys shot and spent time either teaching the new Scouts or hanging out on the beach.
This last weekend, the new Scout Patrol (the Eagles) went on their second camp out as Boy Scouts.  A 10 mile backpacking trip down the historic Barlow Trail.  The trip was a perfect shake down trip getting these young Scouts ready for future adventures.  We had everything.  Rain, Snow, Sun, and perfect trail.  Great camp sites and lots of fun.
The Eagles did fantastic.  They were prepared and had a great time.
When we got home, I spoke with one of the parents of the new Scout patrol.  He asked how the weekend went and I told him that the boys did great.  He shared with me how excited his son is about being in the Troop and that this is what he wanted Boy Scouts to be like.  He has friends that joined other Troops and are not getting the same level of adventure.  I thanked him and told him that our Troop would have it no other way.
In our discussion we talked about why we can take first year Scouts out on these adventures immediately.  It’s about our expectations.  Scouts join our Troop expecting to go on great adventures and so we deliver on that expectation. There is also an expectation that the Scout participate and embrace the adventure.
We expect them to be prepared.  We expect them to want to be there and be engaged.  None of this is written down in a pamphlet or Code of Conduct.  It just is.
We wear the full uniform.  Again, not written down, just is.  A new boy paying the Troop a visit immediately see’s the team dressed alike, acting alike, and preparing alike.  It just is that way.
We have three rules in our Troop.  #1, Have Fun.  #2.  Be Safe.  And #3, Live the Scout Oath and Law.  Everything else takes care of itself when those three rules are meet.  It is expected.
Not every young man is willing to raise themselves to met these simple expectations.  Most however look for ways to be a part of our team.
We do not let money, time, or social status hinder our expectations.  Scouts are expected to pay their own way.  They don’t have to sell pop corn or candy… they can mow lawns, shovel snow, collect cans, or whatever.. but they are expected to pay their way.  There is no excuse not to go to Summer camp.  Money is not an issue when you earn your way.  Excuses do not get far in our troop.. just another expectation.
We expect the parents to be involved.  They don’t have to go camping or become merit badge counselors, but they do have to take an interest in their son.  We ask them to be drivers on occassion and show up to celebrate our Troops success.
Parents that are engaged in their Troop keep their sons engaged in the Troop and there is always help needed somewhere when you have an active Troop like ours.
So what of these expectations?  Why?
Simply put, Units that have high expectations are better performers.
They have a better product and do better in every measurable area of the unit.
Retention, Advancement, Participation, and developing Leaders.
I recently heard a conversation recorded with General (Retired) Stanley A. McChrystal.  Now, no matter how you feel about the military (which Scouting is not) you can not argue with Leadership and what makes an effective leader.  Stanley McChrystal is a dynamic leader and has proven that at multiple levels.  Now he owns a company that teaches leadership and develops corporate cultures to become high performance teams.
He states that raising the expectation level of an organization is key to building the High Performance team.
There was a study conducted by the US Army in the late 90’s.  They took a soldier from a Super High performing unit and placed him in a under performing unit.  The first couple months the soldier maintained his high level of performance, within 6 months, he began to adapt to the level of the unit.  Within a year, this soldier no longer wanted to be in the Army.  The opposite was also found to be true.  They placed a soldier from an under performing unit into a super high performance.  He had the basic skill sets and was qualified to be in that unit.  He was an average soldier upon entry.  Within months he had adapted to the rigorous physical training and skill level performance increased.  Within a year he was completely entrenched in the unit and a super soldier.
It all came down to the expectations of the unit.  In the Army a Ranger Battalion has the exact same configuration as any other Infantry Battalion.  Yet the Rangers are elite and other Infantry units are not.  Why?  Expectations.  They are indoctrinated in this culture of excellence from the day they arrive.   They are all volunteers and are expected to meet and exceed the norms of the unit.
So what makes one Boy Scout Troop different from any other Boy Scout Troop?  The Scout handbook and Field book are the same, the skills are the same, the configuration of Patrols, Committees, and Adult leaders are all the same.  The Training is the same (National Syllabus).   The Districts and Councils are all operating under the same rules and commitment to delivering the promise of Scouting.  So what is different?  Expectations.
We can see too why Scouts leave units.  Scouting in that particular unit fails to meet the expectations of the boy and the parent and so they leave.
Units that take Scouting serious and make a solid commitment to delivering the promise of Scouting do.  They do not make excuses and they do not compromise when it comes to delivering a great program.
They do not let money dictate their program.  They do not allow failure to stop them from getting back up and trying again.
They are youth led and use the Patrol method.  They do not make up their own rules, they use the program as designed.  They understand Scouting and what it is designed to do.  They have trained adults that care.
The new Scout Dad that I was talking with on Sunday asked what the little beads I was wearing meant.  I told them they are the Wood Badge and it is for completing Wood Badge training.  He asked if Wood Badge was mandatory in Scouting.  I told him no, but it should be.  He said that the reason he asked was because he noticed all of the Adult leaders in the Troop wear them.  I said it was because they believe in giving our Scouts the very best.
It is not mandatory, but clearly has become one of those unwritten expectations of our unit.  It is one of the things that makes us different, better, a High performance team.
What do you expect from Scouting?  What do your parents expect from the unit?  Do you have big expectations or is mediocre fine for you and your unit?
Just asking.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

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Find a Map

philmontmapWatching an old episode of Bonanza the other day and as with most of the stories, the guys with the white hats typically come out on top while the bad guys in their black hats seem to have the opportunity to listen to Mr. Cartwright give them a lesson in good livin’.
The lesson this time was about finding your way in life.  I don’t remember the particulars of the story, but Old Ben Cartwright shared some wisdom that I immediately felt a need to share.  He said “It’s alright to find your way in life, it’s a lot easier if you have a map.”  I could not help but think that this is a message that we often share with our Scouts.  The map, our Oath and Law.  There are many other maps out there also, The 10 Commandments, our laws, the Golden Rule.  All pretty much lead you in the same direction and certainly make your life a little easier and worth living.
Baden Powell left us a good road map to a successful life in that first Scout Handbook.  He shared with us the Values of Scouting, a good Oath to live by, and skills that help make a young boy a man.
It is important to find a good map to live well.  Whether that is through your faith, our laws, or in our Scout Oath and Law it is of value to you and others to live right.  I always go back to what BP said about Happiness in that true happiness comes from making others happy.  It takes a good map for good living to do this.  I think that there are many ways just as there are many maps to do this.  I grew up in the Church and it gave me a firm foundation of how to treat other people.  As the Golden rule says in essence to treat others as you want to be treated.  I thought as a grew up that this was a Christian thing, but as I got older I learned and came to realize that happiness is universal and so too is the Golden Rule.  This ethic of one good turn deserving another goes a long way in the happiness of the world.  The Golden Rule often called The Ethic of Reciprocity is found in 21 of the Worlds Religions.  Knowing that it is a wonder why we fight and how Religions the world over have caused so much pain in the world.
The Roman Pagan Religions taught “The law imprinted on the hearts of all men is to love the members of society as themselves.”  Native America teaching lead us in “Do not wrong or hate your neighbor. For it is not he who you wrong, but yourself.”  And hundreds of years before Christ walked our planet, “What is hateful to you, do not to your fellow-man. This is the law: all the rest is commentary.” from the Jewish faith.
I think that this last quote speaks more to me in the world that we live in today as it relates to the Golden Rule and Happiness.
So what does all of this have to do with our map?  It’s simple.  The map does not have to be complicated.  It does not have to come with a degree in Social Science.  The map needs to be clear and easy to understand.  The map needs to have clear markings that lead us in the direction that we wish to go.
Our map in Scouting is the Scout Law.  It is simple, clear, and leads us in the right direction.  12 simple words that are the foundation of our happiness and the happiness of others.
So you can have the Bible, The Tora, The Koran, or any other of the sacred text, what matters in the end is that you use them to do find good and happiness… more importantly, you use them to give happiness to others.
If you don’t you are not using them right.  The same is the Oath and Law in Scouting.  Words are great, Actions are better.  Finding your way in life is a good venture… having a map certainly does make it easier.
Find and use your map.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: blog, Character, Good Turn Daily, Ideals, Leadership, Oath and Law | Leave a comment

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