Scouting

The Worthy Cause

acorn-wideAs I was driving home from work I was listening to a local Classical Music station.. it sooths me.  What I like about the Classical station and most talk radio stations is that they do not play a lot of advertisements.  This often goes without notice as you listen and enjoy the station but it is always noticed during those one or two times a year that the stations have their “listener-athon” or whatever they call it.  The annual or bi annual plea for funding to keep the station on the air and free of advertising.  Now there are many reasons I am sure that these stations try to stay away from endless ads, but it would also seem that the ads could remove some of the stress of “begging” for money every year.  Sure these stations receive funds from corporate donors and “friends of” donations, but by and large they rely on the listener, the end user, the person that enjoys what they produce.  It is a worthy cause to be sure… for the station and the listener.  It is free to produce what they want without being tied to this or that company paying for ad space or promoting their interest.  It is one thing to be “brought to you by…” than Company X paying holding stake in your product.. I suppose.  But a worthy cause none the less.
I, like many of you have many causes that are near and dear to you and what you do.  We get their pleas in the mail, most to only end up in the trash can.  They are all worthy causes and are in need of funding, after all it does take money to make most things happen.  I get mail from the Pacific Crest Trail Association,  The Non Commissioned Officers Association, the Red Cross, the National Infantry Association, various Alumni groups etc.  They are all worthy causes and at some point I donated, joined, answered their plea, or took interest in them.  I believe in giving to worthy causes.  I can not be an active part in all of them, so sometimes my contribution, big or small, is my way of fulfilling a need to support a cause.
Ok, by now you are noticing that I have not mentioned the Boy Scouts of America.  Well we will get to that here real soon.
First however I need to rant a bit on what seems to be an overwhelming theme with the “Worthy Cause appeal”.  The theme is that someone else will do it.
Someone else will donate.  Some “Big Business” will take care of it.. after all.. they can afford it.  Someone else should step up and keep this station on the air, or that trail maintained, or that museum staffed, or…
Someone else always seems to take care of your worthy cause.  That which you enjoy, take advantage of, or participate in.  Membership allows for that right?  I pay my dues.. I shouldn’t have to do more.  Someone else can afford to do more.
Time, Treasure, Talent.  We all have some, we can do more, we need to budget our worthy cause or causes into our lives.
You pick and choose what that cause is, we all do.  We decide what is important to us and those around us and make a choice to support it or just take advantage of “Someone else”.
The Boy Scouts of America.  My worthy cause.
For over a century it has relied on the stewardship of its members, Alumni, and those that know and understand what its mission is.  It takes money to make programs happen.  It takes support to ensure that the mission can be sustained and accomplished.  A mission that takes the life span of the member and will never stop as long as a 7 year boy comes to a join night.  It will forever need support and funding as long as Troops load up the vans, buses, and station wagons and head to summer camp.  It will continue to be in need of time, treasure, and talent as long as we wish our young people to learn, live, and share the values and make choices that shape their character.  Yes, a worthy cause.
But, Someone else will do it.
Each year the BSA asks of its members to become a Friend of Scouting.  To go above and beyond their contribution of time and talent.  To do more financially than their annual dues and registration fees.  To support the organization where it counts.  The worthy cause that is provided at the local Council level.  Where the Scout and the Scouts family benefit.  It takes more than registration fees and lending a helping hand at a local camp, it takes money, just like you local radio station that asks for support to maintain its programing uninterrupted by ads.
Yes the BSA goes to corporations and asks for their contribution.  The BSA targets organization that share our values and support our type of programing.  Buts not enough and we can’t rely on someone to do it.
We all know that Scouting is a worthy cause.  We all know what the outcomes can be because of Scouting.  We all know that Scouting offers programing that no other youth organization can do.  But we can not wait for someone else. We all need to do our part.
Budgeting your worthy cause.
I will not tell you how to spend your money.  My wife and I are like everyone else, we have a budget and try to stick to it.  We know what we have and what we can give.  We make a choice each year on what and who we are going to support.  For us, the Boy Scouts of America is our worthy cause.  We have seen what it does for the young men and their families.  We have watched as our sons took advantage of the all of the great programs the BSA offers.  From monthly campouts to the National Jamboree.  From Summer camp to Philmont our family has always enjoyed what the Boy Scouts of America offers and does.  So when we budget our giving we make a choice to give to our worthy cause.  We choose to support Scouts.  Our sons are grown and no longer actively in the program, even though Scouting will always be a part of their lives.  Now we support someone else, we have become that someone else that does it because someone else didn’t do it.  Like the radio station, I want Scouting’s programming to stay on the air.  I budget how much time I wish to give, how much of my talent I have to give, and how much treasure I have to give.  The bottom line is what we decide is our worthy cause.  The cause that means the most to us.  The cause that we see the most impact for our dollar.  And the cause that we know can last forever if we all pitch in.
What is your worthy cause.  Just because you are reading this does not mean it is Scouting.  I know that.  When I make our annual Friends of Scouting appeal to my Troop we ask that everyone help support a Scout.  We ask that they all do something to help.  A dollar, Two hundred dollars, whatever they can budget to help Scouting.  I ask that they take a look at their Scout and Scouting family and see the benefits that come with Scouting.   Finally I ask that they believe in what Scouting does and decide if it is important enough to them to keep it going.  I ask that they make Scouting a worthy cause.
Each year, we make our goal, last year we exceeded our goal and that is wonderful.  The best part for me is the understanding that the families of our unit make Scouting a priority and worthy of their giving.  This says a lot about them to me.  They share the values of Scouting and do not want to let “someone else” be the reason their son and the sons of families in the future enjoy Scouting.
Yes, it is a worthy cause.  Worthy of our time, our treasure, and what little talent I have.
Have a Great Scouting Day! 

Hitting the target

FoundersAwardOver the past two weeks we have had a wonderful Scouting experience learning about the fantastic people that we have in Scouting.  Our Council Court of Honor was held a few weeks back honoring those that received their Silver Beaver award this year.  As they read the bio’s of the recipients I sat listening and soon found myself in awe of the people that had the shiny new Blue and White ribbon around their neck holding on to that little beaver.  I leaned to the person next to me and mentioned how proud I am to be there among all these great people.  People that do so much for Scouting and the youth in our programs.  The hours of service they dedicate, the talents they have, and the love for Scouting made me feel that Scouting is in good hands with people like this.  He leaned over to me and pulled on my Silver Beaver… “yep” he said, “Make you feel good to call them your friends”.
Then the big Rendezvous weekend with the Order of the Arrow.  Our Lodges biggest event and when we have our annual Lodge Awards banquet.  The Rendezvous is always a great event, this year marked with the 100th Anniversary of the Order of the Arrow, needless to say it was going to be special.
Rendezvous is always fun and the annual gathering of the Liars Club.  A great group of Scout friends of mine, each year we take some time to just sit and chat,, liars club?  The first liar does not have a chance in that group.  Seriously, we have a great time together and the discussions typically result in fixing all the problems in Scouting and sharing best practices within our Troops.
Again it is one of those things that remind me of the great people that are in Scouting and all of the fantastic things that they do.  Saturday evenings events conclude with the awards banquet.  The Lodge Chief gives a state of the Lodge address sharing the members with the amazing things that the Lodge did last year.  Thousands hours of service, Journey to Excellence (Gold) Lodge, Thousands of dollars donated that help the council camps and other programs, a recap of the Lodge service project.  Really impressive to say the least.  And just when you think you have seen the best in Scouting they present the Founders Awards and the Lodge Service awards.
The Founder’s Award recognizes Arrowmen who have given outstanding service to their lodge. The award is reserved for an Arrowman who demonstrates that he or she personifies the spirit of selfless service, as advocated by founder E. Urner Goodman and co founder Carroll A. Edson.  I love this award in that every Scout or Scouter that I have seen that was awarded it truly exemplify that which I think is the very best of not only the Order of the Arrow, but Scouting.
This year was no exception.
The Lodge Service Award is also presented to those members of the Lodge that go above and beyond that which the average Arrowmen does in service to the Lodge and as a result the Council and Scouting.
The Lodge awarded 5 Lodge service awards this year, and again, they are 5 people that are so remarkably deserving that it leaves me thinking about how much I admire those recipients for the work that they do within Scouting and their communities.
The last recognition of the night is the call out of the Vigil Candidates for the year.  This is a special group of people that have proven themselves worthy of the Order of the Arrows highest honor.  From the Order of the Arrow’s website; 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.  The Vigil Honor is the highest honor that the Order of the Arrow can bestow upon its members for service to lodge, council, and Scouting. Membership cannot be won by a person’s conscious endeavors. 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 to one or more of the following: Lodge, the Order of the Arrow, the Scouting community, and our Scout Camps.
After the banquet a group of us sat and talked about the evening.  I shared my thoughts and how impressed I am of everyone that received awards.  We talked about what motivates people to do as these recipients have done.  It takes a willingness to wake up every morning and look in the mirror and say “I am going to be great today”.
It takes a person that understands that if we aim at the bulls eye we will hit it more times than not.  This commitment to not being average, after all, any one can hit the target… but hitting the bulls eye takes practice, skill, and focus. We need to have that kind of focus when we talk about making a commitment to being a cheerful servant.  Again, not being willing to be average. Just like our Silver Beavers, Lodge Service award, and Founders Award recipients have been recognized for the service they have done, it is never done for the award but because they have been focused on being the very best that they can be.
I shared these thoughts with my Scouts the other night at our meeting.  I asked them to take that look in the mirror and ask themselves if they are willing to be their best.. not good.  Good in not good enough in the world today.  Every morning they need to make a commitment to being a great person.
I think that we can look to our Founder, Baden Powell when he said that “But the real way to get happiness is by giving out happiness to other people. Try and leave this world a little better than you found it and when your turn comes to die, you can die happy in feeling that at any rate you have not wasted your time but have done your best.”  This thought has weighed on my mind lately as I watch all of the great things that are happening in Scouting.  All of this at the individual level.. and that is what drives Scouting. Being Great!  Great people doing Great things.  This helps our program, our Scouts, and the world.
I am happy to know these people and to be counted with them.. I wake up every morning and try me best to be one of those that do something great.  I don’t always hit that bulls eye.. but at least I am aiming to be my very best.
Are you hitting the target?  Are you aiming?  Think about it.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Tradition

growthofaleaderI consider myself a traditional Scouter.  What I mean by that is that I believe in the program as it has been and how it should be.  I am a fan of William “Green Bar Bill” Hillcourt and the program as Baden Powell set in his vision for Scouting.  I am sure that the program as outlined by those men hold up today as they did back then and one of the elements of that vision is or are the traditions of Scouting.
Each Troop has it’s own traditions and customs.  They give the unit identity and connect the current and future Scouts with the past.  Traditions run deep in the Scouting movement.  The handclasp, the salute, and the sign.  They are not just elements of identity, they go back to the founder and there are reasons we have them.  The handclasp for example is not just a handshake, the root of our handclasp in Scouting comes from Baden Powell’s service in Africa.  He noticed that the warriors would place their shields on the ground when meeting with a stranger.  They kept their spear in the their right hand when then joined hands with the stranger using their left hand.  This was a sign of trust.  They were in essence putting down their guard showing the other person that they were trusting the exchange would be friendly.
The Scout neckerchief was not just a fashion statement, but a way that early units identified themselves.  Before Troop numbers, the color of the neckerchief seen from afar could identify a Troop to other Troops.  Again, it served a purpose other than fashion.  It was a useful tool in first aid and kept the sun off of the neck.  Today, most units opt away from the neckerchief.  I wish we all still wore them, they are a great piece of Scouting.
Campfire songs and Patrol flags are yet more of Scouting’s great traditions.  A Troop that enjoys the cheerfulness of the campfire is truly living the vision of Scouting’s founder.
Many Scout camps have traditions they use to promote the camp atmosphere and create a connection to the camp.  A camp song, flags in the dinning hall or lodge, some icon that is the beacon or icon that is used to connect the camper to the camp.
Troops establish traditions that connect older Scouts with newer Scouts and lay the foundation for the Troop to live long into the future.  A troop hat or special patch, the troop yell or song and the way they set up camp.  In our Troop, we have a wonderful tradition of singing vespers at the end of each meeting and camp fire.  We are a singing Troop.  Camp fires are always fun and full of song and laughter.  We have a distinctive hat.  It has become a feature of ours that is easily identified within our district.  We also have established the tradition of being a Backpacking style Troop.  The Scouts pride themselves in their ability to pack it all in and pack it out quickly.  The Troop does it’s best to be the first Troop packed and loaded at Camporee.  What started as just a method of camping has become a tradition.
Some of Scouting’s other great traditions are the way we wear our uniform.  With the exception of the uniform style changes, the uniform is the uniform, not only a method, but again a way of identifying us as Scouts the world over.
Wood Badge is a great Scouting tradition that links us to the founder.  His way of passing on the importance of trained adult leaders and that link for leaders all over the world to provide quality programs to the youth they serve.
When most people think of traditional Scouting they think about Scouting “back when I was a kid”… for the most part “Traditional Scouting” represents Scouting before the 1960’s.  This is that period of Scouting found in the paintings of Norman Rockwell.  It is the the vision of Scouting we all see when we close our eyes and think about what Scouting should look like.  That is the Scouting, even though I was not a Scout “way back then”, that I consider traditional and where most tradition comes from.
The basics are still there and always have been, but we know that starting in about 1972 the Boy Scouts of America looked for new identity.  The Scouting movement in America changed drastically to meet the needs and changes in American culture.  I can remember back in the ’70’s as a Cub Scout and young Boy Scout the Scouting programs of “Boy Power” and finding a way to bring Scouting to the youth of the era.  But the traditions of Scouting were still there just waiting for Scouts to pick them up and rally to the vision of the Founder.
The Order of the Arrow is full of it’s traditions.  Mainly found within the purpose and values of the organization and it’s ceremonies.  From it’s beginning the tradition of service has been the mainstay of the Order of the Arrow and has strengthened Scouting as a result.
The Uniform, the Outdoor Program, the Patrol Method, and Patches are all traditions of Scouting.  They serve as methods to achieve the Aims, as well as provide lasting ways that we pass Scouting on from generation to generation.
Patch collecting and trading, Jamborees and Conclaves, and playing games within the Patrol all help in providing traditional Scouting programs.  They are the things that we think about when we talk about Scouting.
Looking at our Scout Slogan of “Doing a Good turn Daily” is as tradition laced as it gets in Scouting.  From the very beginning when William Boyce found himself lost on a foggy London street assisted by a Scouting that would accept no pay for his help the tradition of service and values based programming have long lasted in Scouting.
It’s more that old stuff that we keep doing.  It is our identity, our program, our organization that is steep in tradition and we are the keepers of that tradition.  It is up to us to create traditions with our Scouts and promote those traditions that have for over 100 years been apart of Scouting.
Singing, collecting patches, hiking, camping, and helping old ladies across the street… it’s all Scouting and we need to preserve it and make it stronger.
What are some traditions in your Troop?  What are some traditions you love in Scouting?  What is that one tradition that you love from your Scouting past?
I would love for you to share.  Scouts Honor.. (That’s another tradition in Scouting)
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Seeing the Forest for the Trees

treesScouts that join our units begin their walk on the Eagle Trail through our program forest.  This forest of Scouting has much to offer the passer-by.  When you enter the forest the trail is clearly marked and a guide is provided.  This guide keeps the new Scout on the right trail while he learns about the forest and the skills that he will need to navigate the trail through to his destination.  The trail is long and provides many opportunities for the Scout.  There is a fork in the trail called First Class.  Once the Scout reaches this point in the forest, the trial gets a little less clear.  There are still markers along the way, but the Scout is challenged to seek the path and maybe do some bushwhacking.
The trail through the forest at times will seem to be very narrow and at times the forest opens up into meadows and the trail needs to be tried and new routes found.  A Scout needs to remember that the forest is full of trees.  Those trees represent the opportunities of Scouting.  Every four years a Scout will find a huge tree called Jamboree.  He can choose to visit that tree and learn about its opportunity.  He will also chance upon trees called NOAC (National Order of the Arrow Conference), he will have the opportunity to visit four trees called the National High Adventure Bases.  A trip to the Philmont, the Summit, Sea Base or Northern Tier tree will prove to be a high light of his Scouting walk through the forest.  There are merit badge trees and places along the trail to practice leadership and service.  The trails always need maintenance.  There are trees along the trail that the Scout will find other Scouts that need help finding the way.  He will make the choice to lead them until they can do the same for other Scouts they meet.
There is a big lodge near the edge of the forest.  This is where the Eagle Scouts hang out.  They are still close to the forest so they can hear the call of Scouting and spend time back on the trail.
The forest of Scouting is full of great opportunity, fun, and adventure.  But the opportunity, fun and adventure only comes to those Scouts that see the forest instead of the trees.  The trees are the things that we bump into as we travel through the forest, but they are not the reason we go through Scouting.  Finding the trees in the forest are the things that we do as we move forward in Scouting seeking the opportunities and fun that come with the program.  The name of the trail is called Scout Oath trail.  Along that trail we learn our laws and rules.  We develop a habit of service, and we become a person that has Character.  The trail is hard at times and forces us to stay physically and mentally strong.  The trail is long and full of adventure, but we need to keep the forest the most important thing and let the trees appear.  The Forest is the Scouting Aims and along the way you will bump into those trees that keep you moving in the right direction.
Loosing focus on the Forest and jumping right to the trees will eventually cause the Scout to turn around and leave the forest.  He will hit all the trees that he wants but will miss the whole trail through the forest.  The trees that are deeper into the forest are bigger and better, but the Scout that enters the trees and not the forest will miss out on them.
I have seen Scouts that have walked into the forest only to find a small stand of trees.  They provided lots of merit badges and rank, but never any of the exciting opportunities that lay ahead on the trail.  I also have seen Scouts that have immersed themselves into the whole trail.  They have seen the big trees, participated in the great adventures and when he reached Eagle Lodge looked back at a great time in Scouting.
As you mentor young men in Scouting and as you introduce young men as they join your troop, show them the trail head into the forest and remind them to see forest rather than the trees.  The trees will appear as you follow the trail.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

8 months… Where are you?

scoutlawbelieveitIt’s August, 8 months into the year 2014, 8 months into “The POLICY” Change that sent Scouters into a tail spin running for the hills and screaming that our values suddenly changed.  8 months since the “End of Scouting” as we know it.  Really?  Where are you?  What has changed?
I have yet to see an openly gay Scout.  I have yet to have to deal with sleeping arrangements and one boy hitting on another one.  Just has not happened and I hate to be that guy.. but I told you so.
I lost a good Assistant Scoutmaster over this non issue.  And 8 months later nothing has changed except for ink on a policy letter.
So where are you?  Where are all these gay boys that were screaming to get into Scouting?  Where?
Ok… drama aside…
Last night at our District committee meeting we were discussing the real issues, in particular membership and saving Cub Scout Packs.  The idea that people have turned away from Scouting because of this policy change came up.  The fact of the matter is that nothing changed, EXCEPT… now we are open to serve ALL young men.
So, this should open doors to new membership, right?  Wrong.  Boys that are attracted to Scouting will join Scouting.  So what do we need to do to attract them?  That is what we need to do to get them in our great organization.
Ideas floated around and you know it all comes down to what Scouting is.  A great values based outdoor organization that promises adventure and fun.  It appeals to parents and boys and always has.  The biggest issue is that we do a terrible job of selling that.  We get to wrapped up on political correctness and worrying what the public perception is.  If we just stick to the basics of what Scouting is.. they will come.  But we need to tell that story.
National is not spending the dollars during prime time to tell our story.  Local Councils do not have the budget to do it either, so it’s up to us to get out there and tell the story of Scouting.
Start by know what Scouting is.  Tell the story as often as you can.  Don’t be afraid of what people think, change their minds by what they see.
A policy to allow ALL young men the opportunity to join Scouting should not have sent anyone into a tail spin, it should have opened the door to talk about what Scouting offers in the year 2014 and beyond.  Instead an over reaction and a terrible  lack of action on the part of Scouters to get out in front and say.. NO.. We invite everyone, but the need to follow our rules.. it’s that simple.
8 months into this year of change and where are they.  Those that value Scouting and Scouting’s values are here, the rest left or have not joined.
So now what.  We have a crisis in membership at the Cub Scout level.  WE NEED TO GET MORE CUB SCOUTS!
Is this policy an issue?  NO.  So lets move on and sell Scouting.
Tell our story.
From the Boy Scouts of America website;  The Boy Scouts of America is one of the nation’s largest and most prominent values-based youth development organizations. The BSA provides a program for young people that builds character, trains them in the responsibilities of participating citizenship, and develops personal fitness.
For over a century, the BSA has helped build the future leaders of this country by combining educational activities and lifelong values with fun. The Boy Scouts of America believes — and, through over a century of experience, knows — that helping youth is a key to building a more conscientious, responsible, and productive society.
Is there something there that people have a problem with?  If so, move on and tell the story to someone else.
A Scout is Friendly, Courteous and Kind.

Get out there and tell our story!
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Independence

DOIToday is Independence Day.
As you may have noticed I have not been blogging since about mid month in June.  For reasons that I think, looking back are real silly.  I found myself in a bad place when it came to my internet presence.   Lately I have been really upset with the way my Country is going.  The issues to many to note, and I really would rather move on, but needless to say it has put in my in a dark place as far as blogging goes.  I did not want to spread that “negative” vibe here on the blog.  I was even commented to on Facebook from a follower of the blog that he would rather read the blog and it’s “wisdom” than the stuff I have been sharing on Facebook.  And Larry, I concur.  And so it is Independence Day.  A day that we celebrate the Birth of a Nation.. our Country.  The day that brave men stood up and pledged their Sacred Honor to remain Free.
Today, I am getting back in the saddle and being Independent.  Free.  I am making the choice not to allow politics to derail this great blog that I love so much.
I enjoy writing and sharing my thoughts with you.  I took a look back though at the month of June.  I could see the posts that really showed the trend of me heading into the political rabbit hole.
I am a conservative.  I love Liberty and Freedom and have and will stand up to defend it.  But this blog is about Scouting, Adventure, Leadership, and fun.  There is no room for politics here.

Independence Day!
Not politics… Independence and celebration of America!  I love this Country!
Today, as they have done for years, the Congress of the United States will read aloud the document that created our Independence.  the Declaration of Independence.  I think it is important to remember the pins and needles that those men must have been sitting on when they signed their names to a paper that at the time meant treason.  Their lives and fortunes lay in the balance.
I am proud of that American spirit and willingness to stand up for something that we believe in.
That spirit continues today in the heart of America.  We may disagree, but that is our right and the right of free men to express their thoughts, their desires, and safeguard their home.
Happy Birthday America!
God Bless you.
“We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.” -from the last paragraph of the Declaration of Independence.  July 4th, 1776

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Meet the new President

Allow me to share this video of our New National Scout President.  Dr. Robert Gates.
You know his resume… so I will not share that.  I listened to this 27 minute speech given at the National Meetings with some interest.  I want to know what he is planning on doing to impact Scouting during his two-year term.
I had the pleasure of meeting with Rex Tillerson, the previous National President.  I thought he helped move Scouting forward.  I have great hope in what this new administration will do, especially after listening to this speech.
I really liked his closing.  I think he is spot on.
Enjoy.

Have a Great Scouting Day!