Scout Law

Running to action

Wood Badge thoughtsBare with me while I try to collect my thoughts and try to share them in a coherent way…
We just wrapped up the first session of Wood Badge course W1-492-13 and as is the case in or of  the Wood Badge experience, there are plenty of opportunities to do some reflection and looking inward at the person that you are.
Learning leadership is just part of the Wood Badge experience and can’t really be placed into action until the leader has made internal commitments to be a better person.  Thank goodness we in Scouting have this wonderful set of values that we find in the Scout Law.  Assessment tools that are learned and practiced in our quest to find knowledge and self-realization of our strengths and weakness’.
What I am saying is that once again, I have had an opportunity to reflect and take that critical look inside.  Couple that with the rest of the fun of Wood Badge and we are on that emotional roller coaster that comes with the experience.
What I am always amazed about is the people.  The 53 Scouters that paid, took time off, drove out to the coast, and make the choice to attend Wood Badge are dedicated Scouters in their respective programs.  They are enthusiastic about learning how to be better Scouters, husbands and wives, Fathers, Mothers, and employees or employers.  The Wood Badge program makes all of those aspects of our lives better.
The amazing part is the dedication that they demonstrate.  They are great people.
Last night when I got home the news was filled with the Boston Marathon bombing.  Thank God that the damage was relatively small.  I am not going to rant and rave about the scum bags that would do something like this.  You all know how I feel.  Here is what I saw when watching the never-ending coverage.  The reactions of the people.  You see as the first bomb exploded we saw three groups of people.  The first group was those that were injured.  The second group was those that ran away from the danger.  And the third group were the people who ran to the explosion.  What makes people do this?
I saw this over and over again in my Southwest Asian vacation in Iraq.  When the shots starts soldiers face the fire and move toward the danger.  Yesterday, we saw runners, members of the National Guard, First responders, all heading to the danger.  They selflessly give, forgoing their own safety and comfort.  They put other people ahead of themselves.  They are living the values that we promise in the Oath and Law.
I am proud of these people and thank them.
Now this is going to sound like a stretch… but it is how I feel, so please bare with me here.
I have served on two Wood Badge course’s now as a staff member.  The number one thing that I have learned on those two staff’s is that there are terrific people who care so much about Scouting and Scouts that they give and give and yes.. run to the sound of the drum.  They are like the first responder that runs to danger.  They are dedicated and motivated to help.  They take the Oath and Law and apply it in their daily lives and it makes a difference.
Our Course Director is a Scouter that I have looked up to for many years.  He has a love for Scouting that shows in everything he does.  His passion is contagious.  On Thursday night at our staff dinner, he shared something with us just hours before the participants arrived.  He shared with us that it had been a long time since he served as a Scoutmaster in a unit.  For many years now he has been serving at the District and Council level primarily in a training capacity.  We all agree that where the runner meets the road is at the unit level where Scouters and Scouts interact and we teach, train, coach and mentor our youth to achieve the mission of the Boy Scouts of America.  John, our Course Director shared this with us.  While he has not served at the unit level in a long time do the math on the impact that we make as Staffers at Wood badge.  53 participants, mostly from Packs, Troops, and Crews will be learning from us. By myself I can only impact say 40 boys that are in my unit.  Over 10 years or so, I may have a direct impact on a couple hundred Scouts.  Imagine though the impact of a Wood Badge staffer.  53 participants will go back to their units and apply what we teach them.  Lets go low and say that each of those 53 have 25 Scouts in their unit.  That is about average.  Over the next 10 years this one Wood Badge class will impact thousands of Scouts.  That is far more reaching than I can do myself.  Over the next few years, these Scouters will run toward the target… they will run toward the Scouts that need help, coaching, and mentoring.  They will put hours upon hours into making Scouting and Scouts better.  They will dedicate time, money, energy, and love to our program.  This makes me proud to a part of it.
John inspired me to give my best when it was my turn to present course material, lead a song, and participate in a skit.  He made me want to give so that others would follow my lead.  John runs to the help needed as a trainer.  Most of all, he made Scouting better by leading us.
A lot is going on in our world.  We need Scouting and we need Scout leaders that run to the boys!
Thank you all that do what you do to make our world just that much better.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Why Wood Badge?

For those of you that have been to Wood Badge you understand the great training, the lasting friendships, and the spirit of Scouting that comes in every Wood Badge course.  You get idea that every Scout deserves a trained leader and that in Wood Badge you are participating in the Advanced Leadership Course of the Boy Scouts of America.  You understand the committment that it takes in time and money to seek out the best training and then follow-up that training by spending up to a year and half working a ticket designed to make Scouting better for the youth we serve.  You get all of that.
So why should a Scouter go to Wood Badge.  Yes, it’s all of the stuff previously stated but it’s a lot more than that.
Why Wood Badge?  Well for starters it is the best Scout leader training the BSA has.  No matter at which level you serve in Scouting, Wood Badge has something for you.  Whether you are the Chief Scout Executive or a Den Leader, Wood Badge will teach you how to provide a great program for our Scouts starting with why we do this thing called Scouting.  The Wood Badge experience gives you insight to the World of Scouting, not just your little piece.  It reinforces methods and Aims and gets all Scouters on the same sheet of music, and yep, you will be singing a lot!
Wood Badge allows you the much-needed opportunity to step back into the hiking boots of a Scout and be that Scout as he experiences Cub Scouting, Boy Scouting, and is introduced to Venture Scouts.  You get to learn like a Scout learns and in doing so you become a better communicator and teacher.  You learn to train and lead using the EDGE method.  I think you will find that this method satisfies every learning style and will assist you in sharpening your leadership skills.
Wood Badge sends you back to you unit with a song in your heart, a smile on your face, and a mission to make Scouting better.
The training at Wood Badge will make you a better Scouter, a better Spouse, a better employee when you use the tools taught in the course.  It gives you perspective on everything in your life and a method to work you future plans in and out of Scouting.  The Wood Badge training is world-class and is used in corporate America and in organizations big and small.
So why Wood Badge?  Well, for one thing, it is our direct link to Baden Powell’s training of Scouters.  The methods may have been refined, the uniforms certainly are different, and Scouting has changed with the times, but the Wood Badge is the Wood Badge and our history and tradition in Scouting is brought full circle in the Wood Badge experience.
When Baden Powell held the first Scoutmaster Training at Gilwell, he organized the participants into Patrols.  This is the foundation of a Boy Scout Troop and BP understood that we learn by doing and do it with our Patrol.  During the Wood Badge course the instruction all leads to doing.  Within the Patrol, the participants work together to become a high performance team.  Once this is realized, the experience can be taken back and applied in the Scouters unit. 
Wood Badge has four specific objectives and as a result of attending Wood Badge, participants will be able to:
First, View Scouting globally, as a family of interrelated, values-based programs that provide age-appropriate activities for youth.
Second. Recognize the contemporary leadership concepts utilized in corporate America and leading government organizations that are relevant to our values-based movement.
Third,  Apply the skills they learn from their participation as a member of a successful working team.
And finally, Revitalize their commitment by sharing in an overall inspirational experience that helps provide Scouting with the leadership it needs to accomplish its mission on an ongoing basis.
So Why Wood Badge?  Back when I became a new Scouter helping out with my oldest son’s Pack I was invited to go to Wood Badge.  I did not give it too much thought, after all, I was just a Cub Scout Den Leader, why do I need more training?  Then I became a Cubmaster, and again, an invitation to Wood Badge was extended.  A group of Scouters that were (and still are) super active in the District kept encouraging me to go to Wood Badge.  They kept telling me that this “Mountain Top” Scouting experience was something that I really needed to attend.  And again, I blew it off thinking that everything was going great in the Pack and I really didn’t need more leadership training.  In 2004 I became a Scoutmaster, and again the same group of Scouters encouraged me to get to Wood Badge.  I went to a Wood Badge dinner in January of 2005.  It was a gathering to recognize Wood Badge participants that had completed their tickets and introduce Wood Badge to prospective participants.  My wife and I went and enjoyed the evening.  The room was filled with the most enthusiastic Scouters I have ever seen.  They were from every corner of the council and represented every level of Scouting.  Toward the end of the program a Scouter stood in front of the crowd and asked if “There were any Beavers in the house?”  At first I thought he was referring to the Oregon State Beavers.. but what happened next sealed the deal for me.  About a dozen Scouters stood up and broke out in song, when they were finished, the whole room (well those Scouters with beads on) stood and sang.  They all sat down and about another dozen different Scouters stood and sang a verse about Bobwhites.. and so it went till the whole room was singing.  The staffers closed out the song and everyone began hugging and shaking hands and there was nothing but smiles and laughter in the room.  I sat there with my wife with a big grin on my face.  My wife looked at me and said.. “Well… go sign up.”  And that night I registered for the next course. 
I participated in WE1-492-1-05 and was placed in the Beaver Patrol.  I did have a “Mountain Top” experience and took all I learned back to my Troop.  In 2009 I was asked to be on Staff.  I had to turn it down because I was over extended as not only the Scoutmaster of my Troop, but the Scoutmaster of a Troop heading to the National Jamboree.  In late 2010, I was asked again to be on staff for the 2011 course and I immediately said yes.  I served as a Troop guide for W1-492-11 and as I have shared with my fellow Troop guides and the mighty Buffalo Patrol, “I had a great experience when I went to Wood Badge, I fell in love with Wood Badge on staff.”  Early this year I was asked again to staff a Wood Badge course.  And again, I said yes. 
The people who attend Wood Badge and those that staff Wood Badge are the greatest Scouters out there.  Their dedication to Scouting and the youth we serve is second to none.  Their committment to training and making the Scouting organization better is beyond compare.
So Why Wood Badge?  Why Not?
If you have been invited to attend Wood Badge, please consider it.  You will not regret it.  If you are concerned about time and money.  Contact your local Wood Badge staff, ask at your next roundtable, there are ways to get you into the next course.  The benefits of Wood Badge outweigh the excuses not to go.  You are a dedicated Scouter, I know this, because you waste you time reading my blog.  SO if you have not been to Wood Badge..  GO!  And you will have a great experience.  I promise.
If you are a Wood Badger… What’s your Critter?  Leave a comment and share your Wood Badge story.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Election 2012

I have no comment on the results of the election.  I hope that everyone voted and did their civic duty.
What I do think about the election and our election process is this.  No matter who won there was a process that we the people agree is the best way to elect our leadership.  It may not be perfect but it works for us.  Not everyone is happy about the results.. about 49% of America is not to jazzed about the outcome, but that is how it works.  If we want to change the way it works, we have the ability to do so through the process.
This is a great teaching opportunity for our Scouts, who I am sure have also had their collective fill of TV commercials, junk mail, and dinner table conversations about the election.  Now is the time to answer those questions that they may not understand, encourage them to be a part of the process starting with their student government, but most importantly the fact that whether it is a school election or a national election, they must get out and vote and let their voice be heard.  Even if that voice is a small oval on a ballot.
I am trying real hard to keep my political opinion to myself here.  As we should when talking with our Scouts, but this is my blog and I suppose I can say what I want, but in the interest of being Loyal, Courteous, and kind… I will reserve comment on how I feel about the bad choice we American’s made… Again.
Have a Great Scouting Day

Are you a Messenger of Peace?

Last week I was surprised when I was given the patch for the messenger of peace initiative.  This is a unit and individual recognition, and so when I got it while I was down at out council office, I was humbled.  The person that submitted it said that it was for the “Work I do using media to improve our Scouting world”.   Again, I am thankful, and I am sure that our unit is going to get this also for a recent project we completed.
The question came to my mind, why have I not seen anyone wearing this?  Are units unaware?  Are they just doing it?  It’s obviously not about the patch, but the initiative is such a worthy one, that we in the Scouting world should be embracing it.
I went back and reread the letter at the BSA web site.  I suppose I have always been one that is impressed with the grand scope of the Scouting movement.  In short I think it is cool to be apart of somehting this big and something that is world-wide and yet has shared values.  There is not much else in our world, save religions, that can say that.  And look what a mess religions have made in the world.  I am not suggesting that faith in a higher power has screwed things up.. I am saying however that people tend to screw it up.  Scouting seems to have stood the test of time.  Yes, we have our ups and downs, but the values and mission of the Scouting movement have not changed.  People come and go, but those that “Run Scouting” at the World and National levels all seem to understand the good that will come from Scouting when allowed.
I have talked with many Scouters about our National office and our Council/ District.  There seems to be an overwhelming idea that they are in it for the money and numbers.  And to that I say.. yes.. yes they are.  And then I say I am glad they are promoting the program, getting money and sponsors, pushing recruiting and retention, and developing relationships in our community.  If they didn’t do it.. who would.  ME?  No way.. I am to busy working Scouting where Scouting matters.  Being a messenger for peace starts at the unit level.  Where the Scouts are.  Too many Scouters get wrapped up in the wrong things.  They worry about what everyone else is doing, most of the time with little or no impact of them.. but people are people and you have to worry.  If they spent as much energy in their units, growing them, teaching them, letting them learn and develop, their unit would be world-class.  But they choose to get wrapped up in politics and he said she said.  This is how things get screwed up.  I guess that’s how things get messed up globally.
So back to my thinking about why I don’t see this patch around.  Well that thought led to our global Scouting community and how many Scouts and Scouters in the 220 countries and territories that are participating in this.  Just think.  Take 220 countries and have all their Scouts and Scouters working toward peace.  There would never be war again.  Oh silly me.  We would have to get the politicians out-of-the-way… but wait… we could.  The people could force this change.  I really believe that it could happen.
Remember that in 1920 there was a world Jamboree.. just a few years after the First World War.  If you know history, just because the war was over does not mean that things were peaceful, especially in Europe.  34 countries showed up
As most of you know, I am a combat veteran and I certainly support the efforts of our military and those that lead it, sometimes begrudgingly.  And I am believe that what we did in Iraq was just and worth it.  I have no regrets.  But when I look back at the pain that wars cause, the ripping apart at families, the destruction and the lives that have to be repaired after these conflicts it is it not uncommon to ask, Why?  What for?  Now there are bad people in the world and I for one am glad to know that the world no longer has a guy named Saddam Hussein on it.  Those people need to be stopped and removed.  The Hitlers and Stalin’s of the world need to go.  But dealing with the “Bad vacuum” is the next issue.  Enter Scouting and people with real good values.
As a messenger of peace I think it is up to us to do what we can to fix our Three meter zone.  We all can do it.  We just don’t.
I guess it all comes down to people.  How do we change them?  How do we effect that change in our community.  Baden-Powell had that idea back in 1907 and started seeing the reality of a world-wide peace movement as Scouting grew.  It is now up to us to carry that torch.  Will you?
Stop worrying about the things you can’t control.  Control the things you can and be an influence.  Influence this change in your units and community.  Demand more of your elected officials.. you know the folks that swear to work for you.  Hold their feet to the fire and don’t settle for men and women that lack character to be our leaders.  Work hard to fulfill the mission of Scouting.  Be a messenger of peace, let your actions speak louder than your words.  And for goodness sake let people know that we are committed to being an instrument of peace.
So what does it mean when I challenge you all to “Have a Great Scouting day”?  Live the values of Scouting.  Keep the promise that you make in the Oath.  Be a messenger of peace.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Effort

The other day I went to the high school to pick up my youngest son from Football practice.  Practice was running late, so I hung out and watched as the players ran sprints and did up downs.  Now, for those of you that have played a little football, you know that after 3 hours of practice the last thing you want to do is wind sprints and up downs.  But the team seemed to run and run and run.  After each lap and set of up downs the coach would tell them to watch the ball and then they would get in a ready position.  The idea was to be disciplined and ready to finish games in the fourth quarter.  He asked the players to give more effort.
The longer they ran.. the less effort the coach would see.  They were tired and as they got more tired, the less effort they would give.. the less effort they gave, the more mistakes they would make, the more mistakes they would make, the more they ran… and so went the cycle.
It all came down to effort.  Who was willing to give more when it counted.
I stood there and watched and thought.. yep, it is about effort.  Life is about effort.  You can over come many things with more effort.  The harder you work, the more you will be rewarded.  If you apply the effort to any task you will eventually see results.
In the fourth quarter, weather that is on the football field, in the classroom, or in a Scout troop effort matters.
Here is what I see way to often… a lack of effort.  I see this in most things in life.  Way to many times we see our young men just try to get by, to “Max the Minimum”.  To give the least amount of effort and expect the same results.
We see that a lot in our Scouts..  Way to often do we see them avoid patrol chores, planning, or pitch in when they are needed.  Way to often do we see them demonstrate a lack of effort when it comes to finishing tasks like service projects.  And then there is advancement.  I see a lot of Scouts that expect to be moved along, just like when they were in Cub Scouts, with their peers.  Or I see the effort coming from their parents.  That lack of effort will not get the work done.  I suppose that’s why only 4% become Eagle Scouts.
Now, we won’t make them do wind sprints and up downs.. no we just encourage them to “Do their best”.. well, I guess what I am saying is that maybe “Their best” is not good enough.  Maybe they need to apply more effort and make their best better.
This is the game of life and where do we want them to be in the fourth quarter.  I want them to be winning.
I want them to be successful.  I want them to work hard for what they get, not expect a hand out or to be “moved along” with their peers.  No I want to see them give the effort to their lives.  It is then that they will appreciate the things that they earn.  It is with more effort that they will be great men.
I love these teachable moments they seem to pass in front of us each day.  Watching as my son and his team mates ran until they proved that they wanted to be winners made me look at other areas of our life.  Wouldn’t it be great if every one in the School gave that much effort, or in the neighborhood and community.
Living the Scout oath and Law takes effort.  It’s not easy and it’s not designed to be.  People that do not give effort just get by.  Those that give extra effort succeed.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Prepared. For Life

As everyone that reads this blog knows, the BSA’s new(er) slogan is as the title reads… “Prepared.  For Life”.   I have often stayed away from advertising gimmicks and jingles.. “An Army of One”, and “Be all that you can Be” come to mind.  But this one hit home as I thought about how Scouting does impact our lives.  Yesterday was my first day back from vacation and so I spent a little time catching up on emails, reading my favorite blogs, and cleaning camping gear.  My good buddy Adam posted a piece about his vacation last week.  It is a great article and illustrated just how Scouting is Preparing us for life.
I was and I suppose still am reluctant to tell this story in light of Adams blog post, but once again I find myself in need of sharing this wonderful thing called Scouting.
Last week we spent at Glacier National Park.  If you have never been.. GO!  It is truly an amazing place.  So as you can imagine when I go camping I go prepared.  We are ready to sustain for a week in comfort and have a good time out in the woods.  This time was no exception.  Since it was family time, I went a lot heavier than I am used to, the big cabin tent, the big stove, the coolers etc.  But I still had my day pack which had my 10 essentials in it and since we were in Glacier NP, a canister of Bear spray.
One afternoon as we sat in camp, a scream came from the road in front of our camp site.  The boys were throwing a football around and one fell.  HE ran straight into our site crying.  Why our site and not to his parents.. I don’t know.  Maybe instinct told him that I had just completed the Wilderness First Aid course, or that I was a Scoutmaster, or he had no idea where he was.. either way.. here he ran into our site bleeding from the hand.
I had him sit down and told him to look me in the eyes.  Josh, my youngest son, had already got to my day pack and retrieved the first aid kit.  I told this youngster to relax and that he was going to be fine.  His alligator tears started to dry and I just kept talking to him.  Found out that in three days he would be turning 9 years old and that he was from Canada.
All the while I gloved up and started treating his cut.  He had fallen on his hand and took a good layer or two of skin off his palm.  Cleaning the area and bandaging with non stick pads I was done with the bleeding part.  Then I started looking for possible fracture.  He asked why I was poking and pressing on his wrist and hand.. I told him I wanted to make sure he was ok.  He was.  Right about that time, his dad came into our camp.  He said he had heard the scream and started heading in this direction.  I told what I had done and that I think everything is going to be ok, keep it clean and if he needed I would change the dressing the next day.
He saw the Scouting stickers on the back of my truck and made a comment about them stating that his son had run to the right place.  “Who else would be ready to anything”, he said referring to the stickers.
So all of this got me to thinking about just how we Prepare our Scouts for life.
It’s not just first aid and camping skills, but as the mission statement states, Making ethical choice throughout their lives.
I often talk in this blog about character and making choices.  Being fit and healthy, being of service to others, and of course skills that will help them get through life.
Scouting is a great platform for this learning, discovery, and practice of the life skills that these young men will need as they go through it.  Being Prepared for as Baden Powell said.. Anything.
So it’s not just about camping and fun.  It truly is a game with a purpose and all of us should remember what that purpose it.  This new(er) slogan.. Prepared.  For Life.  Is the Boy Scouts of America mission statement in three words.  It is our call to action as Scouters.  It is what we are here for.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Going All in

Our Scouts like to play card games.  In their tents.. on picnic tables.. when ever we stop for an extended period of time, it seems that a deck of cards come out.  Now, they are not gambling, no money exchanges hands, and for the most part they are simple games.  But as I watched a recent game I realized that had this been a real hand of poker and they were playing with some skin in the game.. it would be a great metaphor for the Scout Oath and Law and more importantly.. a Life of Character.
You see.. we have the Oath on one hand and we have the Law on the other.  They are the cards that we are dealt and they are the cards we must play.  The cards represent our values, the values that are found in the Scout Law.  The chips we play with represent our character.  As we live the Scout Oath, we promise to live the parts of the Scout Law that shape our character.. and so as we go through the poker game of life, we bet that we are going to keep those promises.  When we have a Royal Flush.. that would be a great hand, we bet it all.  We go all in.
The problem is that ‘going all in’ requires us not to lose.  When we lose this hand, we lose our character.
Now I am willing to go all in.  I have to, and so do you.  You should not pick and choose which parts of the Law are important.  You focus on what needs work and highlight the rest.. but the 12 points of the Scout Law are equally important.
I asked a Scout the other night about values.  I asked him to tell me where he gets some of his values.  The response was immediate.  “Treat other people like you want to be treated” he said.  I asked him if that sounded like the Scout Law.  He did not see it at first, but then I asked if he wanted his friends to trust him.. he said yes.. How about Friendly.. yes.. and courteous.. yes.. we went through each part of the law.  The answer was yes.  So you want people to treat you like they were living the Scout law?  Yes, he said.  Then I told him that he should go all in to. 
We all need to go all in.  See the game with a purpose is a good game.. even when playing cards.
Have a Great Scouting Day!