Good Turn Daily

The Promise Continued

SMCONFIt is the Scoutmasters obligation to work to achieve the Aims of Scouting… that’s pretty much it.  To do that it should be every Scoutmasters goal to get every Scout to the rank of First Class not Eagle Scout.
If you take a look at the requirements to achieve the First Class rank you will note that its pretty much all about Character, Citizenship, and Fitness.
Through the working of these requirements the Scout will learn about the three aims of Scouting and coupled with the skills learned, the teamwork developed, and the fun of the program, the Scout will assist the Scoutmaster in attaining his goal.
Once the foundation has been laid in the working to First Class, the Scout then should be prepared to work toward Eagle Scout where he can explore his world while working merit badges.  He can learn and demonstrate leadership, and he can develop a sense of service to his community.  Putting it all together we will have produced a good young man.
So back to the First Class rank.  When we do not put in the proper perspective and make it all about skills and a means to the end (Eagle Scout), we lose focus on what we are trying to accomplish in Scouting.  We are not here to make Eagle Scouts, we are here to make good men.  Good Citizens of Character that are fit, mentally, physically, and emotionally.
So, the next time you sit down with a Scout to chat during his Scoutmaster conference for Second Class.. take a look and see if that young man is getting it.  If not, reinforce those ideas and share with him your goal.
This is a part of the promise that we make to our Scouts.  The adventure comes when the rest is worked.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Modeling Expected Behavior

expectmoreI often preach about how I expect more out of our young men, that nothing in life will be easy, and that there are no participation ribbons just for showing up in life.  When it comes to leadership, the Scouts in our Troop hear it over and over again that we all need to “Model Expected Behavior” and they all  should at least have an understanding of what that means. For the Scouts of our Troop that means that good is not good enough.  It means that we do things right, we learn from mistakes, and we hold one another to a higher standard.
So what does that mean?  Is is arrogant of us to act that way?  Well, to the outsider looking in, yep.. but for us we look at it this way.  The world around us is happy with mediocre leadership, results, and standards of living.  I’m not ok with that when it comes to our Scouts.
We are not a merit badge mill nor are we an Eagle factory.  We do not measure success in the amount of Scouts that earned awards or rank each year.  We measure success in the way our Scouts act.  We see direct results in watching older Scouts teach younger Scouts and hold each other accountable.  We measure our success in growth and sustained attendance.  Is our Troop for everyone.. nah.. but no troop is.  Even though we all work toward the Aims of Scouting, our programs are different in their delivery.  I could not be in a Troop that had more adult involvement than Scouts.  I could not be a unit that did merit badge classes each week.  I could not be in a Troop that produces Eagle Scouts that can not do the basics.  I could not be apart of a Troop that did not seek adventure and test the limits.
This weekend, our Troop camped at a local Scout camp.  There were not a lot of miles walked and the weather was great.  It got real cold, and that tested some of the boys in the troop.  Some Scouts pushed their boundaries by shooting Shot guns for the first time, while other Scouts increased their knowledge and leadership skills at Junior Leader Training.  A few Scouts were taken out of their comfort zones as they taught the Junior Leader Training.  No matter what level of the Scout there was challenge enough for everyone.
Our Junior Leader Training follows the National program, but we tend to focus heavily on communication skills, team development, Conflict resolution, and expectations of leaders.
We start the session with a talk about Modeling Expected Behavior and then everything that follows in the course of training maintains that theme.  We expect our Scouts to be and act the best.  Good is never good enough.  The team deserves that attitude from everyone.  If they all act their best.. they become the best.  A high performance team.
Now you may ask.. aren’t you expecting too much from these young men.  Nope.  If I don’t who will?  We see too much “getting by” in our world and I will not be party to it.  Do we exclude young men when we expect more from them?  NO.. we expect more and they give more… like it or not.. That I don’t care about.  Life is going to expect a lot from them.  Why treat them with kiddy gloves now.
Does this mean we are hard ass’s?  Not at all.  We stay within the Scout Oath and Law.  Teaching in a friendly, fun, challenging atmosphere.  But when things are not right, a leader (adult or youth) simply corrects the issue and we move on.  Un tied shoes, un tucked shirts, gear looking like a yard sale, bad attitudes, improper set up or use of gear, not living the vlaues of the Scout Oath and Law.  These are things that other Scout leaders just allow.  Kids will be kids… yeah.. but bad habits last forever.  Good attitudes, skills, and behavior does to and gets them a lot farther in life.
So modeling expected behavior is a cultural thing.  We don’t march, we don’t yell.. yelling is for ineffective bad leaders.. we just teach, coach, train, and mentor.. oh and we model expected behavior.  Adults don’t get a free pass on bad behavior either.  We are expected to model what we expect.
The proof is in the pudding.  Our Troop grows annually.  We lose Scouts too, and that’s ok, maybe we are not the fit for them.  Maybe XBox and lower expectations is what they are looking for in life.  And that’s ok.. just not in our Troop.
This morning a Scout was standing under a shelter pouting.  His hands were cold, after all, it was 24 degrees outside.  His Patrol leader had just instructed him to get his gloves on.  The Scout could not find them.  So the Patrol leader and the Scout went to his pack and dumped it out.  There were the gloves.  I then saw the Scout standing there not assisting with his Patrol in breaking camp and wrapping up the clean up.  I called him over to where I was standing watching.  I asked him if he was ok.  Yeah.. he said, but I’m cold.  I suggested that if he would get moving he would warm up.  If he would help his Patrol mates out.. he would start to feel a bit warmer.  I asked him why he was pouting earlier and he told me that his hands were cold.  I asked him what he did about it… fully knowing what had happened.  He said that he found his gloves and put them on.  Then I had him recite the Scout Law to me.  And asked to him to reflect on the meaning of being Trustworthy.  We talked a bit about making choices and how he was either going to develop good habits and skills, or he would develop bad ones.  The choice was his, not mine, the Patrol leaders, or his parents.  He would have to make a choice which path he wanted to take.  He turned and walked back to his patrol and pitched in.  You see, if we let it go, it won’t change.  If we expect little, that is what we get.  So we chose to expect more.  And not surprisingly we get more.
When our Youth leaders set good examples and model the behavior that we want out of our Troop.. that is what we get.
There is nothing wrong with winning and losing.  We can learn from both.  There is everything wrong with not learning and not trying to learn, to push, and to find success.
I had a talk with a Scoutmaster about this a while ago.  He said that “I bet they all march around and it’s all yes sir this and no sir that..”  On the contrary.. In fact the Scouts in my Troop call me Jerry and we call them by their names.  There is no marching, yelling, or military like behavior.. just a lot of fun and development.  It is an environment that is comfortable, friendly, and leaves them wanting to come back.
At the end of each camp out we close with lessons learned, Start, Stop, and Continue.  Today the Senior Patrol leader led the discussion with whole troop.  As the next two camp outs will be up on the mountain, this camp out was a great opportunity to learn and get ready for the up coming outings.  He had each Scout share one thing that needs to improve in the next 3 weeks.  I listened as the Scouts really gave some thought to their answers.  It was in some of the more experienced Scouts answers that I realized that they got it.. they are modeling expected behavior.  They were critical of themselves and how they prepared for this camp out.  The next one will be that much more successful.
Expect more.. get more.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Character again…

HOFWe talk a lot about Character and making men of Character in Scouting.  We spend a great deal of time reinforcing the ideals found in the Scout Oath and Law and expect our Scouts to live those values which will lead him to a life in which he will be counted as one that has Character.
I have talked about Character a lot here in this blog and believe that if we do nothing else with these young men, we owe them the very best training in being a man of Character.
I have said it before and I will echo it till the end of time… I really don’t care if a Scout earns his Eagle as long as he develops Character.  His Character will get him much farther in life than a red, white, and blue ribbon with an Eagle suspended from it.  Having said that though, you all know that I want them all to earn their Eagle, but the Eagle award does not make the man, Character does.
I was listening to some sports talk radio today and they were discussing the “steroid Ballot” for the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame.  Now, I am not going to bother getting into the details of the discussion and I also will not share my opinion on the ballot.. well actually I am in a round about way.
The reason that this caught my attention was that to the folks hosting the discussion made it an issue of Character.  And yes sir.. that’s what it is all about.  There was an argument that the guys that are on the ballot that used “Performance enhancing Drugs” were Hall of Famer’s before they used the steroids.. well if they were Hall of Famer’s then.. why did they need to cheat?
Mark McGuire who is the only player that actually admitted to the use of steroids said that it was important for him to “come clean” because at some point he had to look his children in the eye and explain all of this.. and that is what got my attention.
In previous posts I have explained the rule of “Saying it aloud“.  It works every time.  I really liked the idea of McGuire holding himself accountable to his kids.  That is a great rule for character.  We are all accountable to some one and we should act accordingly.
Along with the values of the Oath and Law, knowing that at some point we will have to answer for our actions should force us to act with character.  I was listening to Dennis Prager the other day, he said something that reinforced this idea.  He said he did not care how you feel.. he cares more about how you act.  This too plays a big part in curbing selfish behavior and a lack of character.  We live in an era where people feel entitled and that as long as they feel it is ok, then it is.  On the contrary, we are still accountable for our actions and at the end of the day you will have an effect on someone else.  Knowing that at some point I will have to answer for my actions and that the last people on earth that I ever want to disappoint are my children, I act in accordance with my values.  Does it always make those around me feel great.. No, but at the end of the day they can see that I acted with character.
I have made it a point to always demonstrate good character to my kids.  It has not always been the cool thing and at times it has left them feeling like I am mean-spirited or a jerk, but then they realize that I care and want only the best for them and all of us.
We often use the standard of the Oath and Law in our discussion of wrong and right.  We know that at some point we will all have to answer for a decision we make.  If more people used that standard, the world would simply be a better place.  There would not be spouses cheating on each other, there would be less crime, there would be far less Congressmen… oh I just could not resist, but seriously our leaders would be driven to make better decisions… after all they are accountable to US.. right.
So Barry Bonds, Mark McGuire, and Sammy Sosa all juiced and had amazing stats in baseball… they are all on the ballot for entry in the Hall of Fame.  We don’t get a vote, but can they say they got in as a player that did not cheat?  Just because they all did it, does that make it right?  Not if you are judging based on character.  If they get in they are in and will have to continue answering the questions about steroid use.  If they don’t get in, they will still have to answer for why they did not get in.. the steroid use.  If they were actually Hall of Famer’s before they used.. they should have use McGuire’s standard of how he would answer to those that are most important.. his kids.  Personally I don’t care one way or the other if they are Hall of Famer’s.  To me, they cheated and therefore lose the privilege of being in the Hall of Fame, but then my only vote is how I look at them in regard to their character.  I judge.
As for me, I will use the values I have and the remember that one day I may have to look in my children’s eyes and answer for my actions.  That should be enough to make anyone remember that Character matters more than Eagle Medals or statues in the Hall of Fame.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Tomorrow

“Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes into us at midnight very clean. It’s perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we’ve learned something from yesterday.”
― John Wayne

Happy New Year… make the most out of the next 364 tomorrow’s

Have a Great Scouting Day!

8,000 lbs of Peace

Today was our annual Scouting for Food Campaign.  The Scouts of the Cascade Pacific Council canvassed neighborhoods and collected the much need food that will stock the shelves for distribution in our area.  There is a great need and the Scouts today did their part to meet that need.
Today, the Scouts of the Cascade Pacific Council sent a Message of Peace.
Here is a short video of Troop 664 in the Thunderbird District, my Troop, and how they made an impact on our community today.
Special Thanks to Bryce, Ben, and Parker for helping in the presentation of this video.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Give to Get?

When I was a young boy, my family instilled in me the value of being helpful.  By my parents example they showed us how to be of service to our community, to our church, and to our neighbors.  They were active in social functions that typically came with a cause.  My Dad is a pretty good handy man and would often drag me to helping those that needed cabinets fixed or other repairs.  We spent the better part of the spring of 1979 working in a Monastery doing odds and ends and the pay was great.  Onion Soup. 
I never once heard my Dad complain or ask for compensation for anything he ever did.  It was just a part of the deal.  Even to this day my parents are advocates for helping other people at all times.
And so as I grew up this attitude of service has stayed with me.  In church they always ask of people to give their time, talents, and treasure.  I always jokes that my treasure is limited but my time is free.. oh.. and limited talent too.
And so it is in Scouting.  Saturday at our Program and Training conference I sat in and listened to a discussion about Friends of Scouting.   The presenter asked the question why do we or why do we not give to FOS?   A few answers went around the room.  “To attain Presidential status and get free camping”, “To get a patch”, ‘To get the free advancement patches for our unit” were just a few.  The common theme.. To Get.
Most people Give to Get.  And that is the wrong approach when giving.  We give for the program.  We give so that our Council can maintain its outreach programs, maintain the camps we enjoy, and provide program for those that maybe would otherwise be left out.  We should not give because we get something in return, we give because we can.
Back in 2008 I had the good fortune to give to the Council’s endowment through the James E. West Fellowship.  Many Scouters half-joking could not resist to tease that I bought a knot.  It was and is not about the knot.  After thoughtful discussion with my wife, we decided that we could afford in our budget to give the $1000 over the year to help our Scouting programs.  Knowing where the money goes was important to me and knowing that all of it would be used for bettering Scouting programs in our Council was the answer I needed.  So we gave.  Yes, we got a knot, but that knot to me is a demonstration, just like my parents showing me how to give and be of service, people who know and understand what the James E. West Fellowship is see that I am a servant leader.  I wear it to be an example of giving.  I put my money where my mouth is.
Many families take advantage of all that Scouting has to offer.  We teach that “A Scout is Thrifty” and he pay’s his own way.  But many families make excuses that the economy is bad, or we can’t afford this or that.  I understand that times are tough, but times get tougher when we make bad choices.  This may offend, but tough times are tougher when we make a choice to be lazy, wait for hand outs, or not accept our part in whatever it is that you value.  Time and time again I hear Scout parents talk about how expensive Scouting can be.  How much did you pay for those cigarettes?  The average price of a pack of smokes today is $4 to $6.  For the $60 spent on a carton of cigarettes you could send your kid to camp in a month.  But who am I to tell you how to spend you money?  The fact is, smokers value it over other things.  No one needs to smoke, they make a choice to smoke.  But for the money they literally burn, they could help their son have a great Scouting experience.  Now, I’m picking on smokers here, why?  Because they are the easy targets.  You can see the dollars physically being burned with them and I can’t help but pick that out when they say they can’t afford Scouting.  Truth be told, It pisses me off when they make excuses about money then light up a cigarette.  I wonder about priorities and that obviously they are being selfish.  That goes for lots of things.  How many times do you eat out a week.  I know for my family that’s at least a $40 to $50 trip.  So you limit that activity and use the money for something better.  I’m not suggesting that a night out is not called for here and there… but isn’t Scouting worth it?
Dollar for dollar you will not find a better value than Scouting.  If you believe that, and make an effort to support that, than doing what it takes to keep it going should be a priority of yours.  If not, then keep letting others do it for you…and the beauty is that you can expect everything that is offered.
I give, and expect nothing.
I love the Scouting movement and think that there is no better place for our young people to learn and practice what they learn to be productive members of our Country.  Learning skills, teaching, practicing leadership, developing a sense of citizenship, and becoming men and women that value Character and understand that it certainly does matter.
I do this without pay or the expectation of compensation.  My reward comes in seeing these kids grow up. 
The fact of the matter is that to do this it costs and who better to provide than people who know and understand the value of the program?
But why expect something in return?  Is that the spirit of giving?  I have heard it said that “The only thing that take with you is what you leave behind”.  I saw a great example of this in August down at the Philmont Scout Ranch.  Now I do not think that I will ever be a millionaire, and I don’t think that I will ever be donating major tracks of land to the Boy Scouts of America.  But what I do know is that my time is free, my talents are available, and my treasure, well I give what I can.  And I think that is all one can ask for.  With no strings attached, and nothing expected in return.. We give.
I am once again on the Wood Badge staff, and once again I give of time and talent, and I am sure some of the treasury will be spent.  This is something that between my wife and I we have decided is good.  It is good for us, it is good for those that come to the course, and it is good for Scouting.  We both understand that the value of Scouting is greater than any dollar amount.  The program is greater than any one leader.  Scouting is life changing and worth every penny, every hour, and everyone’s talent.
Give.  Not to Get, but because it is part of being a servant leader.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Messengers of Peace

Timely.
As some of you may know, but now you all will… My oldest son, John, the Eagle Scout made a huge decision recently to put college on hold and follow in his Dad’s footsteps and join the Army.  Not just join the Army, but do exactly what I did in the Army.  Airborne Ranger.
While I am proud of him and excited for the adventures that await him, and know that there will be many.  My heart, like that of any father wants him to be safe.  I have served my time in combat and know what it is like.  And as much as I loved my time in the Army and know that he will do well, I don’t want him to get hurt.
Having said that, it causes me to reflect on Baden Powell’s intent for Scouting.  A World organization for peace.  It is with that thought that this morning I stumbled on the BSA’s “Messenger for Peace” Site and thought to myself.. if only this works.  My son (and your son’s and daughters) would not have to go to war.
I am on board with this.  Check it out and see what you can do to be a messenger of peace.
From the BSA Website:

Fellow Scouters,
In 1920, just two years after the most terrible war the world had ever known, 8,000 Scouts from 34 countries came together for the first world jamboree. At the closing ceremony, Scouting founder Robert Baden-Powell called on participants to carry the spirit of the jamboree home “so that we may help to develop peace and happiness in the world and goodwill among all Scouts.”

The Scouts of the world have been answering that call for more than 90 years.Today, Scouts in dozens of countries are working for peace by solving conflicts in their schools, building links between divided communities, teaching their peers about health and wellness, and repairing environmental damage. To recognize their efforts—and to inspire more young men and women to help Scouting create a better world—the World Scout Committee has launched the Messengers of Peace initiative. The Boy Scouts of America is proud to join this effort in 2012.

How can BSA units participate? All they have to do is go online and register the MOP-related community service projects (including Eagle Scout projects) they undertake. Doing so adds pins to a global Messengers of Peace map, which Scouts from around the world can click on to learn how their fellow Scouts are making a difference.

Scouts who complete MOP projects will be eligible for a special recognition: a ring patch that goes around the World Crest. That patch will symbolize their participation in an ever-widening circle of Scouts who are not just visualizing world peace but are helping to make it a reality.

The Scouts of the world have always been a powerful force for good. This initiative lets us celebrate what our Scouts have already accomplished and inspire them to accomplish even more. Please join us as we work together to create a better world.

There is a cool recognition for this program also.  You can read more about it on the Byan on Scouting Blog.

Have a Great Scouting Day!