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Showing content with the highest reputation on 02/26/18 in all areas

  1. 2 points
    Perhaps not surprisingly, my son's favorite merit badges have been ... Horsemanship, Small Boat Sailing, Motorboating. And surprisingly ... Railroading. His instructor for Railroading was a train buff who sets up a huge train display in his front year every Christmas season. My son has no particular interest in trains, but the instructor's expertise and enthusiasm made the merit badge interesting.
  2. 2 points
    As an LDS Webelos Leader myself, I confess I have indeed seen a few leaders who seem to shrug Boy Scout training off on to the shoulders of the 11 year-old leaders, but I don't subscribe to that kind of lazy mentality. I firmly believe that it is my duty as a Webelos Leader to ensure that every last one of my boys enters the Boy Scout Troop fully prepared with the knowledge and skills they need to start off successfully. As I have mentioned in other threads, my success is measured by each boy's ability to earn the Scout rank within 1 - 3 weeks of crossing over. If it takes him longer than a month, then it is probably my fault, and so it becomes my opportunity and duty to assess what I did wrong and to make the changes I need to ensure the next boy is more successful (I also meet next door to the 11 year-olds, and the boys are always free and eager to come to me for extra help even after they move on). It is, however, essential for Webelos to engage with a Troop at least a few times each year, not only to meet a number of their requirements, but because that is the nature of the Webelos program - facilitating the transition to Boy Scouting, and ensuring that they cross over to a welcoming and active troop. If a Webelos leader doesn't keep that near the top of his priorities, he doesn't understand his full duties.
  3. 2 points
    I agree with everyone's comments that it's not the MBs and ranks, it's how they are run. That is coming from the expectations of everyone involved. The expectations from national down through the districts, the scouters, and the parents is that advancement is school work with a little bit of outdoors thrown in. I think there's an easy solution to that. Remove all the describe and discuss stuff. Assume that if the scout is interested then some day he'll go and read about the describe and discuss stuff on his own when he's mature enough. In the meantime just do more. Rather than talk about the food pyramid in cooking MB, cook an omelet, cook soup from scratch, cook pancakes from scratch, cook stir fry from scratch, cook bread from scratch, and cook brownies from scratch. i.e., the cooking MB should involve a lot of cooking and eating good food. Period. That's what the scout will remember. If he has fun doing it then he will seek out more on his own. That's what will get him hooked on it. But that's just MBs. The real issue is refocusing on the one main method: fun with a purpose.
  4. 2 points
    As Tolkien wisely wrote, "he that breaks a thing to find out what it is has left the path of wisdom." The reason the advancement program is so vital to what Scouting is comes from the fact that, at it's core, it teaches boys how to make, and accomplish, worthwhile goals, in a manner which boys can understand. They learn planning, work, and preparation. When they fail or don't quite meet the requirements, they look back and learn from their initial attempt and keep trying till they succeed. It gives focus to their inborn energies and desires to achieve by giving healthy, stimulating and enlightening goals that let them stretch themselves in constructive, meaningful, and exciting ways. It replaces mindless entertainment with the more robust exhilaration of adventure and exploration, both geographical and cerebral. And when he earns the token signifying he has met the requirements for whatever badge or rank he has worked towards, well, what to some might seem just another "silly patch" (oh the naive innocence of the over-experienced!) is, to that boy who truly worked for it, a sign that he has learned how to develop certain skills or knowledge that he didn't have before, but in which he has now gained a proficiency. He wears on his sleeve what he feels in his heart - dignity and self-respect. With each merit badge he feels he has dipped his toes in a potential new interest, hobby, even career. With each rank he feels he has grown more in character and capacity and self-reliance. And while the Scout may not be able to articulate that sentiment, the emblems he sews on after each award are cues that help him turn those esoteric ideals into the reality of his character. Sure, the lazy, detached or burnt-out leader might brush it all off as useless bling, but I find these people have forgotten what it is like to be a young person just beginning to see what kind of man he can become, while for the boys and burgeoning young men who are Scouting itself, the colorful badges and ribbons and medals actually let them visualize what might otherwise be intangible concepts - accomplishment, inner strength, maturity, self-mastery, and self-respect. I believe it is only the inability to clearly see the vision of what Scouting should be that impedes us from appreciating the magnitude of Baden-Powell's genius and profound grasp of what growing boys want AND need. His simple methods - uniforms, the outdoors, the advancement program, all of them - they are all one needs to change lives. But cynical, tired skeptics who aren't seeing their own vision of Scouting try to place the blame any place they can to assuage the frustration they feel when they cannot get their program going - they will say boys are different these days, or that they can't run the program right because the committee/council/national/tooth fairy/parents make it impossible, or that the program has deteriorated, or whatever. And so they suggest - change the program! Lose advancement! Ditch uniforms! Toss the committee! To that I say, you are looking the wrong way. Don't tear it down, but build it back up - with the very materials we have always had. Outdoor learning. Patrol method. Advancement. Uniforms. Boy led. If you can get the boys to FEEL what you want them to LEARN, they will make their own program flourish, as it is supposed to happen. But to suggest shedding core elements of the program is simply giving up on the hope that it will work. In which case, beware lest your skepticism taint the minds of those under your guardianship as a Scout leader or parent. If the advancement program's purpose has been distorted or inflated by those who cannot see what it truly should be, do not fault the system, but those who abuse and misuse it for warped ambitions such as status, reputation, prestige or gain. They are the problem, not the program. My rule is never to tell a boy that Eagle Scout looks good on a college application or a resume. Only that it shows him what he is capable of doing, who he has been able to become, and what he will prove to give back in his future. Am I defensive of the advancement program? Of course, as I am of all the ideals at the core of Scouting. Though the world slides downward faster each year, I hold that the methods are just as effective and crucial now as they were on Brownsea over a century ago. And I mean that as much for the boys coming into the program now as for our more chronologically-enhanced Scouters, many of whom seem to have coldly given up on the future while looking towards a past that has passed them by, and because they fail to see the potential of the present, they have forgotten that, yes, one person can make a difference - and that person needs to be you. If the program isn't what it could and should be, don't start by looking for who or what is to blame. Start by making a change in yourself, and how YOU are going to make the difference.
  5. 1 point
    Our Scoutmaster came up with a good way to get in some leg training and backpacking treks for us flatlanders who may not have many weekends to devote to skakedown hikes in preparations for Philmont and the AT. He did this weekend's 15K with a full pack. And we have a slew of 15K and 5K race/walks coming up between now and summer sponsored by various nonprofits. Excellent way for the Scouts - and the adults - to break in boots, get used to carrying weight, etc. - without having to devote a full weekend to shakedown treks (although there is no substitute for that). Plus, if the troop is involved, it can count as a troop activity and maybe count for certain day hikes needed for MB or rank.
  6. 1 point
    Today was pretty much the first sunny day in many many days. May have something to do with it. The boys were all over the place today. I think each boy was also threatened by their parents that they were going home if the didn't settle down. One scout did get pulled out halfway through the meeting by a parent (another leader) then made the boy come apologize after. It was nice to see all the parents stepping up and trying to keep their boys in line.
  7. 1 point
    Hello all, I just got started this past August with my oldest son just about to be Tiger. I was recommended to be the new Cubmaster and I'm looking for any tips, tricks and other info. I've been coaching for a few years and work with kids. We have a Tiger Den of 24 boys so we divide and conquer and are looking to have more tigers next year with a new school coming online. So if anyone has advice, please share. I'm currently the Assistant Den Leader and on the Committee. Thanks, Kevin
  8. 1 point
    We have a current boy scout that wears a beret like this. It has sentimental value for him.
  9. 1 point
    What about the cell phone vibration motor? I would expect that to be magnetic, just not sure how much. Note... be careful around any Lithium ion battery. Mechanical damage to that battery could cause a fire. Even when the cell phone is discharged there is a remaining charge in the battery ... so the potential exists.
  10. 1 point
    I fully agree. Drop any of the describe and discuss stuff. The passive requirements add the "boring" and introduce advancement abuse. Plus, they were bored to tears when it was lecture, etc. The discuss and describe should happen naturally while the MBC works with or talks with the scout about how the omelet was cooked or why the soup needed chicken bullion stock. My sons enjoyed, learned from and wanted to do more. They enjoyed the "active" merit badges. Canoe trips. Camping. Photographing. Wood working. Golfing. IMHO, boys (and girls) scream to do things. To get out of their comfort zone and have new experience and learn new skills. They spend year after year sitting in classrooms reading and listening to lectures. The other aspect is the quality of the MBCs. MBCs should have real expertise. My sons and scouts enjoyed working with MBCs that knew what they were talking about and were experts in their fields. My sons left MB sessions that were run by generic bodies who signed up to lead the MBC but were not experts. I remember my sons feeling cheated when they did a MB class that was run by someone that essentially was just reading what was described in the book ... while at the same time the Oceanography session was run two people who were experts. One was a professional oceanographer. The other was a navy officer (who if I remember right had time on submarines and on Navy research vessels).
  11. 1 point
    They always to seem to find something ... Hang out and give sage advice to younger scouts. Talk with adults around campfire after taps about how to solve the problems of the world. Master a specialty like BSA Guard, Medicine, Shooting Sports, Climbing, Snorkeling, ... Ask the camp director for a service project. Retake a favorite merit badge, helping out the counselor in the process. Walk around the lake (it's a 5 mile hike) with some younger scouts trying to master land navigation. Walk around the lake and chat up the girls running the trading post at cub camp. (I later conveyed my troops apologies for that one.) Build a giant hamster wheel out of lashings and sticks for a scoutcraft competition. Convert a tarp named Bruce to a coracle named Kaitlin for an anything-that-floats competition. Use up my bailer twine to rig a lakeside bivouac in the trees. (Think basket weaving, but beds instead of seats.)
  12. 1 point
    I actually had a bunch of Bears laugh at me when I told them they could not use their little red wagons any more to transport flags for our Memorial Day service project. They thought I was joking.
  13. 1 point
    When is the last time though the program was thrown on its ear like it is by adding girls? The guys I am talking to care about fun, but they care about other stuff too. Make no mistake, guys are taking notice of more than just "are we having fun".
  14. 1 point
    Our pack has simplified the PWD as much as humanly possible, and it has turned out GREAT for us. Here are some of the changes we made that have made things easier AND much more fun: 1. We don't have a 1st, 2nd or 3rd - instead, every boy received a participation medal, but then there are extra medals that encourage effort and success of all kinds. Our categories are Fastest Car, Slowest Car (what we call the "Marathon Winner"), Most Creative Car, Scout's Choice Award (the boys all vote on this one), and two other awards that change from year to year. This way, some cars are given prizes based on performance, others by specially chosen judges for effort put into them, and of course a car that the boys themselves get to choose as their favorite. Everybody gets a prize, but there is still the incentive to work hard for whichever award catches a boy's interest. 2. We have totally eliminated all electronics from our PWD. We simply bring in three "Celebrity Judges" (usually from our CO leadership, which is nice to get them involved), and their final choice for each round is considered ABSOLUTELY FINAL. We make this expressly clear beforehand. And after each race they have only 60 seconds to decide who won that round (I have a Den Chief with a timer sitting right by them). This way we don't waste time deliberating over the winner, and we move through each round very quickly. 3. Our track has 4 lanes, so for each round of 4 cars, we have them race 4 times. We know that sometimes the speed of the car depends on which lane it runs on, so by running each set of 4 cars 4 times, switching lanes each time, we get the best idea which car from that set is the fastest. We go through the whole Pack by simply starting them all off in brackets of 4, and then racing the fastest cars from each group in sets of 4 in a simple process of elimination that eventually brings us to the final 4, out of which the Fastest Car is declared. We ALSO take the slowest cars from each set, and race them in rounds to determine who is our slowest, "Marathon Winner" (the only stipulation for these is that it has to make it all the way to the finish line to count - many of our boys consider this category even more desirable than the Fastest Car!). 4. Before the races even begin, we have a short talk about sportsmanship - with the parents! I like to talk about all the worst parents I have seen at these events, exaggerating their antics and then, of course, letting them know that naturally I know THEY would NEVER act so childishly, and that SURELY our parents will be good sports and not contest the decisions made, since of course that would be RIDICULOUS and a TERRIBLE example to our judges (sure it's passive-aggressive, but they get the point). Hopefully some of these ideas will help make your next PWD a better event for you. Until then take advantage of the lessons your Scout can learn from this kind of an experience, and don't let it get you down!
  15. 1 point
    I saw that too with my son's troop. Making pancakes & hotdogs isn't all the hard for a scout to do. You can easily do it as a Webelos, if not a bear. But, when he got to Boy Scouts, the leaders took a step back and had him doing stuff he did two years earlier. I'd have been bored too. One of the things I saw in Cub Scouts was that den leaders tended to be parents. So they had a pretty good idea of what their son could do. Fast forward to Boy Scouts and the ASMs tended to be longer term volunteers who just liked Boy Scouting. They didn't know the kids that well, so they assumed the least common denominator.
  16. 1 point
    When you say "acting as patrols," do you mean in regards to camping only, or through the whole program in general? I will be frank - as a Webelos leader and an child educator I am not in favor of this idea. The patrol method is, specifically, allowing the boys to manage their own affairs, and leaving them to their own devices when it comes to activities, cooking, etc. Boys of Cub Scout age are too young for this practice to work. There is solid educational, pedagogical support for the leaders guiding activities for boys this young. They need to have solid, positive modeling for how activities are supposed to work in the first place, and they don't have the self-discipline, knowledge or skills they need at this age to do that on their own. As a Child Development Specialist, I would intervene immediately if I knew a Pack near me was attempting to fully implement the patrol method. The Webelos program is where preparation for the Patrol Method begins - they practice it for a month, and then spend time talking about it and how it succeeds (or fails) based on their experience. They do NOT implement it fully; the purpose of the adventure is to prepare them for Boy Scouts by giving them a sample of what the program will be like - it is not the program itself, nor should it be. Jump-starting the Boy Scout program by pushing it in Webelos is not age-appropriate, nor is it wise - the programs are different for a reason, and the boys are being short-changed out of the wonderful Webelos program that is in place by skipping forward to the Boy Scout methods without giving them the full Webelos/Arrow of Light experience. What surprises me is that the scaffolding of skills and knowledge clearly delineated from rank to rank seems to be largely ignored by this move. Each Cub rank's adventure are specifically designed to gradually move boys towards Patrol practices, but by setting the example through attentive adult leadership appropriate to their ages. Tigers especially need hands-on support from their leaders and parents, not just to get things done safely and correctly, but emotionally as well - remember, these are still children, and they deserve to be treated as such. Once they are old enough for Boy Scouts, you can loosen the tether on them more safely. Now, as far as cooking and setting up at camp activities - sure, let them help out, and PLEASE make them a part of the fun. But DON'T expect them to be self-sufficient at this age, and don't treat them like patrols. The Den System is designed for boys this age - don't move them up before they are ready, don't cheat them out of the Cub Program by skipping ahead, and let them be children with loving, involved leaders who help and guide them so that, when they are finally old enough for Boy Scouts, they are truly prepared for the program. *** Despite all this, a nice dining fly set-up is always nice, and looks great at festivals and events.
  17. 1 point
    My sons took on new roles in their troop -- 11 y.o. is Assistant Patrol Leader and 13 y.o is Scribe.
  18. 1 point
    No plaques for me please. On the other hand if, in my name, you create a $600 campership for scouts or scholarship for scouters' training or even a gas buy-down for parents who transport scouts, I would be truly honored.
  19. 1 point
    Wow I thought this was a joke at first ... As a den leader, I would be appalled if I wasn't invited into the monthly committee meetings. In fact all parents, den leaders, and interested parties expected to be at our committee meetings, and we have a great program going. But I would hesitate to be part of any program where the den leaders, the very core of the Cub Program, are not welcome.
  20. 1 point
    $600 is crazy. How about a $50 gift card to a local restaurant for him and his wife to go to dinner, and then get a Scouting book of some kind and have everybody sign it at a pack meeting or the B&G.
  21. 1 point
    $600 does seem a might steep. We had a long term SM retire. We did not even entertain a gift card. We gave him a troop flag folded into one of the display boxes with the troop numbers showing, also we dedicated a portion of the scout area at the CO in his name. We did invite many of the scouts from his tenure to come to the meeting, then we passed the microphone around and they shared brief memories and thank you's. That was the best part.
  22. 1 point
    $600 is obscene and most leaders I know would turn that down. A $50 plaque and a nice goodbye. A picture signed by all the scouts. Put the other $550 to use for the boys.
  23. 1 point
    That’s ridiculous.
  24. 1 point
    I have a simple, basic Singer machine. I have sewn on over 150 Girl Scout patches (2 active high seniors vests needed to be updated for an international jamboree) and 2 full new BSA shirts with in the last couple of months. Some tricks I have found. 1. Use a needle designed for denim/jeans/heavy duty. These needles tend to be stouter than a normal needle and stand up well to the demand of patches and badges. I broke 4 needles before my quilter Mom told me about jean needles. 2. I found that I wasn't very good at all the crazy angles of fun patches so I use the clear/invisible thread on the top side of badge/patch. That way if I miss a turn or veer off course a bit it doesn't show or shows very little than with colored threads. Also, this technique saves you having to match a zillion thread colors. Use a colored or white thread in the bobbin so that you can see to remove a patch if it doesn't turn out the way you want it to. 3. Get a machine that has a 'free arm'. That means part of the base of the machine comes off, makes it easier to maneuver the garment or material in all the weird ways needed to sew on patches/badges. 4. Set your machine up where you have lots of table clearance around it. By this I mean, a table like an empty dining room table. Shirts take lots of spinning around to sew on insignia. Working in tight spaces equals frustration. 5. Take your time. Expect to rip things off a few times when you start. I also found it easier to sew individual number together than to sew them one after the other. 6. Finally, pin everything in place, don't try to free sew a project. For somethings like the bling ring around the world crest I found it easier to sew the crest then the ring. I also found it was easier to use scotch tape to hold some things in place then peel the tape away when done. I did this when sewing numbers together and sewing the bling ring around the world crest. Pins can sometimes distort the shape of the patch. Good luck, happy sewing.
  25. 1 point
    To: All members of Scouter.com: In various active and recent threads in Issue and Politics, members have posted links to a video produced by BSA National on the subject of Making Scouting Accessible to Today's Families (a/k/a increasing opportunities for girls in the BSA), as well as a survey on the same subject. The moderators have been asked to remove all links to the survey, on the grounds that it was intended that the survey link be provided by councils, only to persons who have first watched the video. The moderators have declined to remove these links. We do agree, however, that the survey questions will not be well-understood without first having watched the video, which is introduced by the BSA National Commissioner and features the Chief Scout Executive, Michael Surbaugh. The moderators therefore strongly suggest that if you have not already taken the survey but plan to do so, you first watch the video so that you will be fully informed about the issues in the survey. The Moderator Team