Summer Camp

Shared Experience

Break is over, Summer camp was an awesome experience and I need to share more with you once I collect me thoughts.
I will share this with you today however.  Shared Experience!
One of Scoutings treasures is the shared experience of your Scouts and you.  Summer camp is one of the best times to have the shared experience and make memories that will last forever.
On the last night in camp, we sat around the camp fire.  Our SPL was talking with some of the guys about how great camp was and then I spoke up about the memories that were forged this week.
We went around the fire circle and talked about merit badges, mile swims, catching fish, hanging out with friends, and being part of a great troop.
This year is Camp Pioneer’s 75th Anniversary.  The guys of the Troop pledged to come back in 25 years for the 100th.  We all decided that we would come back to Camp Pioneer to celebrate together.  I’m in!
I had a great time with the Scouts this week at camp.  They are all a part of a wonderful shared experience I will never forget!

Have a Great Scouting Day!

I got that Scouting Spirit up in my…

I spent the better part of the weekend at Camp Pioneer.  This weekend, among other things, the camp celebrated its 75th Anniversary.  I received an invitation along with other Scoutmasters and folks throughout the Council, so I RSVP’d and attended.  It was extra special as my oldest son is on Staff at Camp Pioneer this year, so it was an opportunity to see him.  My Troop is heading up to Pioneer in a week, so it was also a real good chance to pick up some Blue cards, look at the program areas and just hang out in my favorite camp our Council has.
Friday night was the celebration for the Anniversary.  They had a special dinner and then a program in the Dinning Hall.  A slide show of the history of the camp and some “Then and Now” pictures.  The 1974 Aquatics staff was there.. all of them.  It was neat to hear their stories and meet them.  They have all gone on to do good things with their lives and to hear them speak about the camp with such fondness really hit me.
Their collective love for this camp brought them back, not only as youth, (many had staffed at the camp for up to 7 years), but now to be a part of the 75th Anniversary.  What really touched me was the strong tradition that they embodied.  This was particularly special to see and as I watched today’s staff interact with them I saw light bulbs flash on.  I saw the passing of the torch. 
I brought our son home for the night and as we drove the 128 miles we talked about this tradition at Camp Pioneer.  He said that up until he talked and heard the 1974 staff share their stories he did not understand where some of the stuff they did came from.  Songs that are sung, ways that programs are introduced, skits, and camp traditions.  It made the camp come alive for all us that love Camp Pioneer.
I have always loved Camp Pioneer and this weekend really increased that love.  Yesterday before I left camp I sat and looked over the spectacular view.  The lake and the over looking Mt. Jefferson called me.  As I sat in the Chapel bowl I could hear the staff wrapping up the end of the week’s session with the Camp Song.
Camp Pioneer we’re loyal to your code, Together we will hike the eagle road, We love your lofty pines and lake so blue, Camp Pioneer our memories always turn to you, In love and friendship we will work and play, A helping hand to each upon his way, And may our faces shine, And spirits intertwine, Camp Pioneer, that’s why we’re here, Camp Pioneer.
Hip Hip Hooray, Hip Hip Hooray, Hooray, Hip Hip!!
It brought a smile to my face remembering the 1974 staff singing the song on Friday night along side the current staff.
Then as we walked out to the parking lot after dropping John off to head home the sound of Pioneer Vespers rang in my head.  I could not help but feel that Scouting traditions are alive and well and summer camp is that place that really brings it out in all of us.
When this land was untamed and free, A few brave men built a great country, Fighting for freedom, Despite their fears, We know these men as Pioneers,
High in the mountains where the green meets blue, Camp Pioneer’s calling you.
Here in the Cascades, the spirit lives on, A brotherhood of love, our voices in song, Learning to be leaders, For Future years, We shall be known as the new Pioneers,
High in the mountains where the green meets blue, Camp Pioneer’s calling you. Camp Pioneer is calling you.”

Have a Great Scouting Day!

SMMPodcast Show 92

This show is about Summer Camp and Annual planning.
We talk about providing incentives for older Scouts and getting younger guys to attend. 
After summer camp we discuss some of the elements of the Annual Planning session and some keys to making our Scouts successful in planning and executing a great year of Scouting.
A few reminders on the show about the SMMPhoto contest!
Enjoy the show.
Listen in on iTunes, Stitcher, or on the web!
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Special Awards and Recognition

Every Troop has its traditions, customs, and special awards and recognition.  I thought I would share with you a special award that our Troop does every year.  This is my favorite award of the year and I take a great deal of pleasure in presenting this at our Court of Honor after Summer camp.
We call it the “Bobby Walker Award”.  It is named after a Scout that used to be in our Troop.  Now without going into to much detail on Bobby, lets just say that Bobby had a hard knock life.  Close your eyes for a minute and imagine a truly hard knock life… ok then now you get it.  Bobby was brought to us by a sponsor from an organization in Portland.  They were looking for some “other experiences” for Bobby to see and do.  Well, much to everyone’s surprise Bobby took to Scouting like he was Baden-Powell son.  He loved everything about it.  He had a uniform, he had friends, he loved to camp and hang out with his new buddies, but most of all.. He LOVED Summer camp!  When we arrived at Summer camp, Bobby fully immersed his whole being into the camp.  He would work merit badges, spend lots of time at the water front (he learned to swim at summer camp), he loved the camp fires, the songs and skits, well… just everything that summer camp is supposed to be.  The week at summer camp for Babby Walker was like a week in heaven.
After one particular summer camp I was so moved by watching Bobby over the week that we (the ASMs and I) decided to give him a special award.  So I purchased one of those Boy Scout memorabilia boxes from the Scout shop and we presented it to him at the Court of Honor.  We called it the Spirit of Summer camp award that year.
The next year Bobby had to leave our Troop.  There was no good byes or reasons why, his sponsor just showed up without him one meeting night and with a tear in his eye told me that Bobby was “moving on”.  I never asked any more about it, but it saddened me.
So the next year at camp the Troop and I decided that the award would be called the Bobby Walker award.  Awarded to the Scout that demonstrated the best of what Summer camp is all about.  To the Scout that immersed himself into the camp.  Each year we give a Scout memorabilia box to the most deserving Scout as voted by the Assistant Scoutmasters and I.
This has become a great tradition in our Troop and each year the Scouts look forward to seeing who gets the Bobby Walker award.  It is also a great opportunity to share the story with the Scouts to remind them that they are the lucky ones.  I’ll do a post on that another time.
So what are some of the traditions and special recognitions of your Troop.  Leave them in the comments section.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

SMMBlog Photo Contest

OK its contest time!!!
Email me your best Summer camp picture.. Scouts honor, it should be from this years summer camp.. and you should have actually gone to summer camp.
This contest is an easy one.. just email me your picture.
Email the picture to tbirdironchef@gmail.com
The winner will receive a copy of the book “Working the Patrol Method”!

The contest will end at the end of August… so you have a few days to get your best summer camp picture in!

I hope you all had a fantastic Summer camp with your Troops!  Show the rest of us how it went!

Have a Great Scouting Day!

This weeks Poll- The Annual Plan

In this weeks poll I want to know about your Troops annual planning session.
Your choices are:  Totally on the Scouts, meaning the Scouts put together the annual plan and submit it to the Troop committee to receive the support to run the program.  The PLC does the planning.
It’s all about the Adults, meaning the Scouts just take what the adults decide.  The PLC does not do the planning.
Lets go 50/50, meaning Adult input to the PLC and they split the planning responsibility.
As a primer, here is how our Troop handles the annual planning session.  We start our planning at Summer camp.  This is a great opportunity for the patrols to take a look at the previous year and get the most input from the patrol members.  Sometime about mid-week at camp the PLC will meet and discuss the input from the patrols.
After summer camp the PLC will again sit down with all the calendars and look at months, dates, and locations from the next years plan.  I sit in with them on this planning session to answer questions and offer advise when asked.
Once the PLC is satisfied they have a 12 month plan, they bounce it off me and then the SPL and I take the plan to the Troop committee.
The Troop committees job is to say “Great plan, lets support it” and that is what they do.
Our Senior Patrol Leader and the Patrol Leaders Council does the planning for the year.  That is the way it is supposed to happen, this is their program.  Having them plan their year gives them ownership, tests leadership, and then as the year unfolds and they understand the program, their monthly PLC meetings are better organized and the plan is executed by the Scouts.
It’s not always pretty and often the planning is painful to some… but letting the Scouts run their Troop is the way Baden-Powell intended it.

“The more responsibility the Scoutmaster gives his
patrol leaders, the more they will respond.”- Baden Powell

Have a Great Scouting Day!

The age of an Eagle?

Funny how time fly’s when you’re having fun.  This week has been an amazing week of Scouting and thus, I have not been on the computer much at all.  The Outdoor channel is currently filming Scouts from my Troop on an amazing adventure for the series Scouting for Adventure
Last night I sat down with the Key 3 of our District, we had a little meeting on the changes we were going to make in the coming year.  The conversation turned to advancement.  The subject “young Eagle Scouts”.
Now before I go any further, let me tell you what the Boy Scouts say on the subject.
YOU MAY NOT ADD TO NOR TAKE AWAY FROM ANY REQUIREMENT. PERIOD.
So having said that if a Scout completes all of the requirements and has everything signed off properly.. well then.. he’s an Eagle Scout.
RIGHT?
Now some will argue.. and have, that a 13-year-old is too young to be an Eagle Scout.  After all, we are looking for a young man who has DEMONSTRATED Leadership, a young man who has been an ACTIVE member of his Troop, a Scout that is KNOWLEDGEABLE in skills etc.  These are all super valid points and I agree whole heartedly.  Now, here is the rub.  Has a 13-year-old done all of that.. I mean really done it all.  Sure he may have served as a Patrol leader in a New Scout Patrol.  Went to one summer camp and earned a bunch of merit badges, and can do the basics that got him to First class, but has he developed enough to truly test his leadership at the Troop level?  Has he been that active?
I don’t know.
The other argument against is the maturity level of the young man.  At 13 is he mature enough to understand his responsibility as an Eagle Scout?
I don’t know.
An argument for young Eagle Scouts is that they now can spend more time in the Troop as an Eagle Scout.  Ok.. I buy that.
But I don’t know.
You see, boy develop at different rates and stages.  They are all different.  I know some 13 year olds that act 18 and some 18 year olds that act 12… so that is not a good measure.  I know some young Scouts that develop the skills at a much faster rate than some of the older Scouts.. so that is not a good measure.
So here is the bottom line in my opinion.  Becoming an Eagle Scout is not an excercise in passing through gates.  Becoming and Eagle Scout is all about BECOMING the Eagle, developing leadership skills, demonstrating the skills of Scouting, and learning about the world around him.  The way I see it is that the young man must participate in five Scoutmaster conferences before his conference for Eagle.  IF the Scoutmaster and the Scout have not had these discussions during those conferences, IF the Scoutmaster has failed to mentor and coach the Scout along and develop him, IF the Scoutmaster has signed off the book and in good consciousness said that everything was alright.. then the Scout should be an Eagle Scout.
So having said that…. a 13-year-old Eagle Scout?  I have not had one in my Troop.. and it’s not because any adult has thrown up a road block.  If the book says to demonstrate.. the Scout demonstrates, if the book says to show, the Scout shows, if the book says to explain, the Scout explains.  If he does not do it correctly.. it does not get signed off.
If the book says to serve in a leadership role for 6 months.. then the Scout is expected to actually serve in that role.  And during the Scoutmaster conference explain what he did while in that leadership position.
You see the road to Eagle is not meant to be hard, but it is meant to allow the Scout to navigate the program and develop.  You become an Eagle Scout over the course of the journey.
There are obstacles to over come and challenges to face, that is the way the program is set up.  Can it be done by 13, I suppose.  But at the end of the day, does the Scout get a patch out of it.. or a life experience?
I don’t have the answer here, the book does.  I can only give you my take on the subject.
I am curious to know what you think.  Drop us some feedback, leave a comment, or shoot an email!
Have a Great Scouting Day!