Order of the Arrow

Mike Rowe.. Distinguished Eagle Scout

While I am camping with my Troop this weekend I thought I would leave you with some great entertainment and a message that is priceless.
I stumbled on this video on YouTube the other night while my wife and I were talking about our experience at the National Meetings that we got to attend.  It was a special part of my Scouting life.
We watched Mike Rowe talk at the National Jamboree in 2010 and he is a great example of just Scouting does.
Enjoy the weekend and this video.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

YouTube Channel bump

Again with the reset subject.
Yesterday, I did some major work on the YouTube channel.  I am phasing out the old channel, which became a real pain switching back and forth between accounts… so it’s all in one nice bundle now.
Like I said before, most of the videos will post here on the blog also, but not all.
So here is the trailer for the new and improved channel… same old me.. but new focus for 2014!

Stay tuned friends… I have a great give away coming up!  Just wrapped up the details yesterday… Look for details this weekend!
Have a Great Scouting Day!

‘Tis the season

tis_the_season_I am sure that I have said this before in the blog, and I know this to have some truth as I have often experienced that there are themes that seem to crop up from time to time in our lives.  This month theme, and I would suggest that it started around the Thanksgiving holiday is being selfless.
It seems that the theme of being selfless or unselfish has been overwhelming since Thanksgiving.  It has cropped up in Scoutmaster minutes I have shared with the Scouts of our troop.  It has reared its head in news stories, we have seen its appeal in “adopt a family” programs at work.  We demonstrated it in our annual Scouting for Food drive, and in my own life I have really been hit with the theme of forgetting about my self so much and focusing on those around me.  I consider myself a giver.
In Scouting, I have dedicated a lot of time, talent, and treasure to the organization, knowing that my dollars and time have a direct impact on Scouts.  I am not sharing this for a pat on the back, rather to plant in your mind the spirit of giving.  A few years back I was asked to give and become a member of the James E. West fellowship.  After some discussion with my wife, we decided that this gift to Scouting would be a lasting legacy gift, money that will stay in Scouting and have direct impacts on Scouts forever.  We annually give through the Friends of Scouting program.  It’s not much in the grand scheme of things.  28% or so of the operating budget comes from FOS, but the impact is direct.
Giving of time and talent are perhaps the most important thing that we do as Scouters and to put a price tag on it would take an advanced math degree and sliding rule.. maybe even the use of an abacus and someone that knows how to calculate it.  That is where the rubber meets the road, where it really counts.
But that spirit of giving does not end when we take off our tan shirts.  Living the Oath and Law in our daily lives suggests that we are givers.  “To help other people at all times”.  This is all about giving.  Being courteous and kind are gifts to others.  I once heard Dennis Prager speak about Happiness as a Moral obligation.  I am going to quote part of his talk on this subject, as there is no way that I could say it better.  Prager said, “When people think of happiness or pursuing happiness, the first thing they think of is, “Well, it’s a pretty selfish desire, I want to be happy for me.   I mean, after all who wants to be unhappy?”  Actually, there is an answer to that, but that’ll be for another time.   But I am here to tell you that in fact happiness is far, far, far more than a selfish desire, it’s actually a moral obligation.  That’s right.   I’m sure most people have never thought of it like this, and I didn’t for most of my life.  I thought that happiness, the pursuit of happiness, was primarily selfish, but it isn’t.  Whether or not you’re happy, and certainly whether or not you act happy is a very, very altruistic endeavor.  In other words, it’s how you touch other lives.  Ask anybody who was raised by an unhappy parent whether or not happiness is a moral issue, and I assure you the answer will be “yes”.   It’s no fun being raised by an unhappy parent,  it is not particularly good to be married to an unhappy person, it is not at all nice for a parent to have an unhappy child, it’s lousy to have a chronically unhappy co-worker.  Yes, our happiness affects others tremendously. That’s why I believe and that’s why I advocate that happiness is a moral obligation.  We are morally obligated to at least act as happy as possible. Even if you don’t feel it. You can ‘t be guided by feelings.  How we act affects others.”
So look back now at the Scout Oath and Law and see how this directs us in our daily lives to be helpful to others.   How do we make happiness a Moral obligation in our lives.  Being Selfless is the answer.
Being Cheerful, Thrifty and Brave certainly impact other people.  Being Trustworthy and loyal directly touch peoples lives.
Ok, so lets get back to this recurring theme.  Why is this so important to me tonight as I sit at the key board and rattle on about it?  Simply put.  We need to think about being better givers.  Take care of our families first, friends, and other people.  Make other people happy through our happiness and our selflessness.
Again, I am not bucking for Sainthood here, but basic compassion for our neighbor dictates that we give.  About a week ago it got real cold here in the Portland metro area.  When the snow hits the ground we go about our daily lives just a little different.  Being a good Scout, I go prepared.  I throw some extra socks and a headlamp in my lunch box along with a few extra snacks to get me through the long UPS days.  It was hovering around 14 degrees as I pulled up to an intersection that a panhandler “works” every day.  I was surprised to see him out there on as cold a day as it was.  But there he was none the less.  Like most people, I am skeptical in giving money to panhandlers, so many of them here in the Portland area at least turn that money into booze or drugs.  And maybe that is the way that they deal with there condition, but I can not justify contributing to that.  The light was red so I pulled to a stop.  He made eye contact with me and I gave him a courteous smile and nod.  I could see he was freezing.  So I turned off the truck and got the socks out of my lunch box.  They were good REI smart wool socks and I knew that this poor guy needed them a heck of a lot more than I this particular morning.  I handed him the socks and encouraged him to try to stay warm.  He smiled and thanked me.  Now I am not going to judge this guy.  And I have heard from local business owners that he is running a major scam out there.  But the fact remained that he was cold and I had extra socks.  No harm, no foul.
With a cheerful spirit it was good to give.
Tonight I rolled the UPS truck up to a house that looked pretty dark for this time in the evening.  No lights were on except to glow of a few candles I could see from the front porch.  The package I had for them was clearly a Christmas gift from someone, perhaps a family member, in South Carolina.  As I got closer to the door, I noted that there were door hangers attached to the door and knob.  The electric company, the gas company and the water had all been turned off.  I could not help but feel for that family sitting by the glow of the candles.
It is easy to judge and say, its their problem for getting into that situation, yes it is.  But what of compassion for those people.  We all have had hard times in our lives.
I knocked on the door and a lady answered.  She looked at me and smiled, I returned her smile and wished her a good evening and a Merry Christmas.  I could see on her face that Christmas was going to be thin this year.  She thanked me and before she closed the door wished me a Merry Christmas.  My heart sank as I walked back to the truck.  It was my last stop of the day.  As I drove home I thanked God for all the blessings that I have.  I thought about my wife and kids at home that have never gone to bed hungry or in a house without heat.  And a voice inside reminded me of my moral obligation to be happy.  You see, I feel that because we have always had a spirit of giving, we have been given so much.  We work hard and try to share in our time, treasure, and talents and as a result we are blessed.  We try daily to live the Scout Oath and Law, and because of that we make those around us better too.
Last night I was honored by being recognized for being elected to the Vigil Honor of the Order of the Arrow.  For those of you that are unfamiliar with the Order of the Arrow,  I will sum up its purpose by saying that the Order was founded to enhance the spirit of Scouting within its members.  The foundation is Service to others.  Service rendered with a cheerful spirit.  The National Order of the Arrow web site states that, “The Vigil Honor is a high mark of distinction and recognition reserved for those Arrowmen who, by reason of exceptional service, personal effort, and unselfish interest, have made distinguished contributions beyond the immediate responsibilities of their position of office”  further “Alertness to the needs of others is the mark of the Vigil Honor.  It calls for an individual with an unusual awareness of the possibilities within each situation.”  In short, those that make an effort to serve in their daily lives and live the Scout Oath and Law.  This applies to so many people I know, but it is nice that our Lodge has deemed me worthy of such an honor.  But there again, in a short period of time, this theme of selflessness was looking me in the eye.
And now we enter the Christmas season.  Perhaps the season that’s hallmark is giving.  The whole reason for this season is the celebration of the worlds greatest gift.  A gift, that if you believe is renewed over and over.  It is a gift in which our God modeled an expected behavior.  Tonight as I pulled into our neighborhood, I passed the lights decorating houses, Christmas trees glowing from front windows, and the hope that every house has a Merry Christmas filled my heart.  I opened the door and there sat my wife writing Christmas greetings in our cards, that may or may not make it by Christmas.  Our tree, decorated with lights and ornaments collected over the past 22 years, each with meaning and sentiment to our family.  I could not help but pause for a minute and just enjoy what we have.
Being selfless has made us better people, sharing that selflessness is what all of this is about.  Giving each and every day, even if that gift is a smile, a hello, or a pair of socks.  It could be as simple as holding a door open or helping carry a load of groceries.  It can be as big as a James E. West Fellowship or just paying for the coffee of the guy behind you at Starbucks.  The impact you leave with your simple act of kindness, selflessly going through your lives make a difference.
‘Tis the season to be reminded of that.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Scoutings Honor Society?

Time to stir the pot again and call out those Scouters that choose to be Patrol leaders, Mommy/Daddy Coddlers, baby sitters, in short.. those that don’t do it right.
Yep.. I’m gonna piss some folks off with this one and to be honest.  If the shoe fits wear it.
I am going to preface all of this by saying in our Troop we have kids with ADD, ADHD, Autism in many spectrums, ADOS, OCD, etc…
The reason I must say that is because we don’t treat any of them different.  They are expected to be Scouts.  They do the work, they learn, they participate, and they don’t have their moms and dads hovering over them.  Nope they have a Troop guide or a Patrol Leader that expects them to be part of the team.
They eat, sleep, play, and work as part of their patrol.  That is the way it is supposed to be.  We don’t let the moms and dads camp with the patrols when they go.  They stay with the adults.  They are not part of the program, they are just there for the fresh air.  And some of them are in the Order of the Arrow.
So this morning I got an email from one of my ASMs.  He is down at the Conclave for our OA Section.  The Order of the Arrow, you know, Scouting’s honor society.  Anyway, his email was simple.. he asked; “The OA is Scouting’s honor society right?”  Those that have demonstrated their ability to be considered an honored camper, one that is dedicated to serve, and a Scout that has been chosen by his peers as someone who represents values found in the Oath and Law.  Right?
Well, I suppose not any more, at least according what he witnessed down at Conclave.  Dad’s hovering over Scouts to make sure they got out of their tents.  Rolling up the sleeping bag for the Scout?  Making sure the Scouts clean up after themselves?  Now th  is is minor stuff I guess, but what I know for sure is that when minor stuff happens, so does major stuff.
Now, I am a Brotherhood member of the OA.  And very proud to say so.  I consider it an honor to have been chosen to be a member.  I also expect other members to act in accordance with the values and attitudes set forth by the Order of the Arrow.
Here is what I think the problem is.  Too many people are just getting in.  There are no secret clubs within the BSA, but if we are going to call the OA Scouting’s Honor Society.. well then lets act like it.  Lets be selective on who gets in.  Why not honored campers or Scouts… it is not for everyone.
I see this at ordeal weekends.  The candidates are supposed to spend a day laboring in silence.  This is not a suggestion, it is asked of the candidate so they can spend time-serving and thinking about a life of service.  I don’t want to give too much away here, you may want to go through the ceremony one day… but I can’t tell you how many times I have asked Scouts and Scouters to remain silent explaining to them the reasons only to get a roll of the eyes and “Whatever dude”.
So how does this get fixed.  The Scoutmaster.
The Scoutmaster sets the ballot for the annual election.  The youth vote on the candidates, but the Scoutmaster sets the ballot for those eligible.
Just because a Scout meets the criteria of being 1st Class, 15 nights of camping with 6 of which are at resident camp does not gain him entry into the Order of the Arrow.  Sorry, but true.
So Scoutmasters hold the key to making sure that honored Scouts get into the Order.  This makes the OA stronger.  At least it will take on the appearance of an Honor Society.
I am glad that kids that make “C’s” are not in the National Honor Society.  I am glad that you must have good grades to get in.  I am glad that not everyone that trys out for the Varsity Football team make it.  I am glad that not every Scout will be an Eagle.  Do I want them all to try, yes.  But I am glad that only 4% will make it.  It makes it special.  Sometimes, less is more.  When there is less there is harder work to get to it.  If it is Scouts goal to be an Eagle Scout he needs to work hard for it.  If he wants to get into the OA, he will demonstrate leadership, service, and living the Scout Oath and Law before he gets elected.  If he wants to be on the varsity Football team, he will hit the weights, run, and practice all summer to get there.  If he wants to be on the honor roll, he will study hard.  He will work for it.  None of it will be given to him.
When I was in the Army, I was promoted to Command Sergeant Major at the age of 36.  I worked real hard, went to all the right Schools, and applied my self.  On any given day in the United States Army there are only 550 Sergeants Major.  I was one of them.  It was an honor to be the Sergeant Major of an Infantry Battalion.  And it was an honor to be counted among the 550 other Sergeants Major that put themselves in that position.
So it is with anything that is deserving of the title “Honor”.  Not everyone gets a participation ribbon in life.  And when we push Scouts through, or allow the nature of organizations to be less for the sake of having more we tear away at the organization.
So when we see mom and dad rolling up sleeping bags or hovering to make sure that Franky First Class gets to meals on time, we have failed.  We have failed the Scout and we have failed the organization.  It is no longer an honor.  It’s just another weekend in a tent.
Ok.. I know you have an opinion, I gave you mine, lets hear it.  Please leave a comment.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

NOS

NOS means “Not otherwise specified” in Military lingo.  It essentially means that we can’t find a category for it.. and so it is with this post.
It has been a while since I posted last, so here is some catching up and thoughts.
I’ll start with the drama.  Last week I volunteered as a ‘Guest Instructor’ for the JROTC class at our High School.  I learned a lot while teaching the 6 classes a day about accountability, military customs and courtesies, and shared life lessons that will (if listened to) help these young men and women.  What I learned about JROTC was that it has very little to do with the military.  Rather, the National syllabus for instruction focuses on Character, Citizenship, Leadership, and fitness… now where I have I seen that before?
Now I understand that there is an Army component to the class.  They structure the class around an Army Battalion, wear uniforms once a week, and use Army language, but beyond that the curriculum is very generic in its content regarding character, citizenship and leadership.  This was a surprise to me not really knowing what to think about JROTC and knowing how the ROTC at the University level works.
I was also surprised to see that very little attention is payed to recruiting or pushing a career in the military to these Cadets.  It was rarely talked about.  Now, of course there were graduating Seniors that are currently making plans for a career in the military, but the JROTC program is not a pool for recruiting. 
I enjoyed teaching the class for the week and had the pleasure of meeting some outstanding students.  I also met my share of students that frankly I fear will not make it in life.  They are lazy, unmotivated, can’t seem to develop study habits, and generally could care less about their school, community, home, or one another.  This shocked me.  All of my kids currently attend this high school and for the last 4 years we have had a very positive experience.  Our daughter has been active with the Marching Band, Symphonic and Concert bands, and has made great friends at the High School.  Both of our sons have been athletes and members of various school clubs and also have made lasting friendships.  All three of the kids have maintained good if not excellent grades over their high school careers and so our view of the school has been shaped by the athletes, friends, and social activities that my wife and I have been fortunate to participate in and get to know.  Our house is always full of kids, mostly football players, and I have gotten to know them and their families and I can honestly say that they are good kids.  So to be at the School and see the apathy that I saw this week, well, it shocked me.
NOW, having said all of that, the School District is in a world of mess right now, the teachers are minutes away from going on strike, the School District Board is not budging and neither is the teachers union.  It has become very ugly in our little neck of the woods.  The climate at the School is very apathetic and so I can see where some of the students have got it.
I hope this resolves quickly.. from the Scoutmaster perspective.  Most of my older Scouts attend this School and it is effecting them.  This close to the end of School, with the impending strike, the students have been forced to scramble to get things done in order to maintain decent GPA’s to round out the year.  The uncertainty has left them questioning the dedication of both the teachers and the school district to their education.
Enough of that… I just hope it gets over quickly.
How this affects Scouting however is clear.  When things are weird in Scouts lives.. it gets weird in their Scouting life.  I had about half the Troop missing from this weekends Camporee.  All high school age students, and students that needed to get much need assignments completed to increase their final GPA.  They called me up and we talked about what was more important.  The least I could do for them is support them. 
Now Camporee… 28 went to Camporee this weekend, a good portion were the younger (First year) Scouts.  They did fantastic!  They proved that they are mastering Scout craft and basic skills.  They were motivated and showed the district that our Troop was there to compete.  We didn’t win the District Camporee Top Troop award, but each patrol came home with ribbons for winning Scout craft events.  They did not win the best camp site, it seems we were missing Patrol boxes and a trailer.  To that, the SPL suggested that we would never win.. and it’s ok.. we are backpackers and if they don’t like our style.. so be it.  I was proud of him and his attitude.
This morning as we packed up and loaded the truck with our packs I overheard a Scoutmaster from a neighboring Troop yell at his Troop this; “Look at them.. while you are struggling with your boxes.. they are playing frisbee!”
We could not help but high five each other.. the Scout leadership had done an exceptional job this morning and ultimately got the Troop and hour and half ahead of schedule.  They ate breakfast, cleaned up and packed in an hour and half.  Made it to the camp wide flag ceremony and awards and departed about an hour before the rest of the district had their camps taken down.  Our boys pride themselves in this style of camping.  One day the district will come around and have a backpacking score sheet for the camp inspection.
On the way home one of the Scouts said to me that when he first started in the Troop, he thought I talked just to hear my voice… but as he grew in the Troop he realized that I was really saying something.  After 4 years of being passed over for election in the Order of the Arrow, he was finally called out Saturday night.  Finally, he is learning to lead, take responsibility, and his peers felt him to be worthy of membership in Scouting’s honor society.  He thanked me for teaching him.  My response was simple.  You are welcome, now… continue to earn the right to be there.
I think this principle can be applied everywhere in our lives.
Well.. it’s going to be an interesting week here.  I hope yours is great!
Have a Great Scouting Day!

SMMPodcast # 103 – Talking with Bob

In this show I have a lengthy chat with a fellow Scoutmaster and great Friend Bob Pierce.    Join us as we talk a little bit about everything.  Jamboree, Dutch oven cooking, Troop Guides, JLT, Anuual planning, Parents and Philmont just to cover some of the bases.  It’s what happens Scoutmasters get together and shoot the breeze.  The show was recorded on location at the Annual rendezvous of the Order of the Arrow at Camp Meriwether, so the crashing of waves and other camp sounds fill the background of this nice talk with my buddy Bob.
Hope you enjoy the show.
Please leave some feedback, drop us an email, or leave a comment in the comments section.  Thanks for listening.
Have a Great Scouting Day! 

Direct Download

Still Proud and not afraid to talk about it!

Yet another Ordeal Weekend has come and gone. No matter how many times I go, no matter how much I work with the Scouts of our Order of the Arrow Chapter, no matter what, they [the Scouts of the Order of the Arrow]… STILL make me proud.

A note to Scoutmasters… If you do not have active members of the OA in your Troop, you are missing out on the opportunities for both your Scouts, and your Troop, to see leadership and dedicated service in action.

As well as the ceremonies of the Ordeal Weekend, the Scouts work hard to prepare the Scout camps for the summer camp season. This weekend, due to extreme weather at Camp Pioneer, the Scouts of the Cascade Pacific Councils Wuana La’Montay Lodge moved to Butte Creek Scout Ranch. It was the first time in 10 years the OA had conducted an Ordeal weekend at the camp, and the timing could not have been better. Butte Creek is a Cub Scout (Webelos) camp with horse riding opportunities, BB Guns, Archery and the whole camp experience. The Scouts remain in camp for a 4 day, 3 night experience that is designed to prepare them for the leap to Boy Scouting.
Butte Creek does not get a lot of attention by the OA, due to the Cub Scout nature of the Camp and a robust staff of Wranglers that work the ranch on a regular basis.
This year due to the harsh and prolonged winter, the camp took a beating. Tent platforms were a wreck, weeds and brush had over grown, and general camp maintenance was the order of the day.
The Order of Arrow was there to meet the need. Cheerfully the OA went into action. A list that filled a 10X8 white board of tasks to be completed and repairs needed showed the Scouts that much work was to be done.
One by one the items on the list were crossed off, until the remainder of the list read.. “OPEN CAMP FOR SCOUTS…THANKS OA!”

The Scouts had rose to the occasion and got it done.
Pride.. yep that makes you feel great.. not just me, but the Scouts that accomplished the work.

And then there’s the Ceremonies…
Our Chapter..the Great Thunderbird Chapter, held Pre Ordeal, Ordeal, and Brotherhood Ceremonies. We certified a hand full of Scouts in their parts and provided some memorable ceremonies for the new candidates .. Arrowmen.
The site was perfect, the lodge went up and the site constructed by the scouts. Practices started and fine tuned parts lead to some of the best ceremonies I have seen.

An added bonus…

Josh, my youngest son and Arrowmen of 2 weeks, got his first shot at ceremonies. The older guys got him in some regalia, and he stood guard over the coveted sashes of the Ordeal. A bit part, but he got to dress and feel like part of the team. This is a great way to get them and keep the Scouts active and involved in the Chapter, the OA, and Scouting.

I can never say it enough.. these Scouts make me so proud to be a part of Scouting.
They give me such hope for everything that is great about our program and reassures me that Scouting is relevant, fun, and produces great results in the Scouts and camps we serve.

Have a Great Scouting Day!