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  1. 11 points
    The friendship knot, especially tied loose like those will come undone very easily, you only need to pull one tail out and the whole thing falls apart. I blame the World Jamboree of course, all those foreign degenerates with their casual unit t-shirts, friendship knots, and gaudy patches, leading your fine upstanding smart Boy Scouts astray, and now they've taken the trend back to their units, spreading the abborance like a virus.
  2. 11 points
    It's ironic that the BSA claims it knows how to develop leadership.
  3. 11 points
    While there is less community it certainly isn't less relevant (look at suicide rates over the past 50 years), and I think that's the key to your last question: what image should the BSA project? There may be fewer parents interested in developing responsibility and self sufficiency in their kids, but the BSA isn't even close to getting the attention of those that are left. But I do agree that the image problem is a wreck. Part of the problem is the need for some better PR. Maybe we can get our UK friends to ask the Duchess of Cambridge if she'd pop on over and visit some scout troops around here. Unfortunately, the bigger issue is we're stuck in the middle of the culture war. Fifteen years ago all the liberals I knew viewed the BSA as a youth military development organization, Jr Jr ROTC, if you will. And while they still do, now the conservatives see us as morally bankrupt. Who wants to put their kids in that mess? And before anyone says "that's not my troop!" it's the image we have. And yes, this image is compounded by the fiscal incompetence of national. People with little or no experience with scouts are who the message needs to be focused on. So, the culture war, which led to the enormous split in this country, is getting worse and the BSA is a lightning rod for it. In the meantime there are parents looking for healthy activities for their kids. Talk about needing leadership at the highest level. Kool-aid drinkers need not apply. Here's a message: Not only a message but a way to focus a program that has gotten bloated. The simplest way I can describe the bloat in the current program is to consider a very old idea that I'm paraphrasing: Nobody cares what you know or think, they only care about what you do. Put another way, the methods don't support the aims as well as they could. In a nutshell, every method needs to be gone over to see what is supporting the aims and what is getting in the way. Since the BSA doesn't even describe how the methods lead to the aims, I'm fairly sure they don't do this. Here's an off the top of my head view. First, advancement: Other than safety related issues, all of the describe and discuss requirements are nothing but a drag on having fun. They do not promote fun, leadership, independence, or responsibility so chuck them. Everyone knows that most of the requirements to get eagle are just a slog of check boxes. That's what's killing the program. Next, add requirements that develop creative problem solving, both individually and as a patrol. By creative problem solving I mean find a problem and fix it. The eagle project should be the last in a series of problem solving projects and not just the only one. Give the scouts more freedom and encourage them to pick their own projects. A first class requirement could be to organize an outdoor activity for your patrol and lead your patrol in that activity. I know, this is close to a very old requirement but I like it. Along with the above, to encourage community, teamwork, and just plain getting along with each other, make a few rank requirements be for the entire patrol. Advancement is completely personal and yet we're trying to develop people skills. To support this, make some MB's that are patrol based. So, as a patrol, learn a skill and then go do it. That's a simple way to encourage patrol method, do something different, and do something other than cook as a patrol. It could be as simple as making some requirements that encourage a patrol to do a MB together and follow through with an activity based on it. The MB program is a hidden gem that has been sidelined and obfuscated by boring requirements and MB mills. Use them to be part of the program. Next, quit trying to teach everything a kid should know with advancement. Cyber security, nutrition, Citizenship in the Nation, etc are things that are either taught in school or are so far from having fun learning to be responsible that they're just a drag. We can't be everything for everyone. Figure out where the line is. As for the adult method, the adults don't understand the program. The program is how the methods lead to the aims and we know how well that's taught. So teach it. Next, it's easy for a troop to get in a rut. I have never seen any training from the BSA that describes typical problems and how to solve them. They only teach skills that you have to do. So there are no case studies in how to fix a failing troop. Many people here say there are plenty of good units and I agree, but there are a lot more mediocre units. JTE was supposed to help those units. It hasn't and it won't. Giving people metrics won't teach them how to solve their problems. It's like telling an alcoholic to just drink less. Outdoor method: I think kids still like it. Wilderness survival skills are always a hit. However, there are issues. First, IOLS is way too short and fewer adults know the skills they need to teach. Take half of woodbadge and put it back to teaching outdoor skills and making fun activities using them. And if scouts are tired of the same campouts, how about a hike somewhere fun? Or star gazing from inside your sleeping bag? It doesn't need to only be a campout. The biggest challenge and biggest reward is getting scouts to learn how to solve their own problems and come up with their own events. That should be a big focus of all the methods starting at the first rank. Uniform: Just simplify it so the scouts can own it and afford them. I would much rather see a $10 shirt that a scout can raise his own money to pay for, and 1/10th the patches, so the scouts can put them on themselves (how about POR and rank pins?), then the high tech bling boards we have now. Quit thinking of it as a dress uniform and more of a field uniform and scouts will start wearing them in the field, and maybe even to school. There is nothing inherently wrong with scouts, the aims, or the methods, but there is a huge need for real leadership that is willing to ask some hard questions and get away from the mindset that we have to do something because that's how we always have done it. I completely agree with the comments about changing the hiring practices, controlling costs, and giving volunteers more room to innovate. It won't be a simple fix, but it's doable with the right people.
  4. 11 points
    I had my ECOH earlier today (right as I got home from staffing a camp, I was and still am tired), and it was a great experience! I thought I didn’t want one at first, but now I realized it would’ve been a mistake if I didn’t. We had a dinner buffet and a cake. I was at camp, so I wasn’t involved in much of the rehearsals or anything but it went pretty good. I was shocked with the town officials coming and everything.
  5. 10 points
    No dog in this fight (BTW - do not support dog fighting but it's a great old expression) as our unit has eschewed any camporees, etc. The judging of "best" troop or "best" patrol at events when there are NOT objective measurements is suspect at best. Have a camporee competition where Scouts paddle a canoe out and back, lowest time wins, great. Tie 8 knots in a relay, lowest time wins, super. When you start adding mystery "Bonus" points for patrol spirit, team effort, appearance, etc etc, then the competition becomes no longer a competition, but an anointing by the camporee adults of who they think (or feel?) should win. The Scouts can see through this sham very quickly
  6. 9 points
    Today was a long but good day. My Facebook Memory for today was May 28, 2014. My oldest attended his first PLC as the PL of the New Scout Patrol. i commented how he was a little overwhelmed at times, but represented his patrol well. He did a really good job as PL. So good in fact, that when his term as PL ended, he was nominated for, and won the SPL position, beating out slightly older and experienced Scouts (troop he was in at the time was 2 years olds and the oldest Scouts were 13) Well tonight, he had his Eagle BOR. Paperwork is being cent to the council tomorrow, and onwards for national confirmation. Here's the funny thing. I knew since he became SPL at 11 he was going to make it. I admit I tried to talk him out of being SPL at 11. I talked about the challenges he would be facing, especially as an 11 year old. But the last time I tried to talk him out of it, he said something that made me realized he got everything we try to teach these Scouts, summed up nicely as servant leadership. he told me, "Dad, the troop elected me SPL, I can't let them down. I gotta do the best job I can for them." Life at the moment is very good.
  7. 9 points
  8. 9 points
    Well, most of them aren't very tall to begin with. 😁
  9. 9 points
    I think you treat this at face value. We are here to serve the Scouts. If a Scout calls you up and says he'd like to visit your troop and even join, you tell him the time and place and welcome him. While I understand the feeling that you should tell the other Scoutmaster, I would suggest that you do not. This is not a situation where you actively pursued the Scout. As such, a change of troop is hard enough. If you tell the Scoutmaster, that may result in added pressure on the Scout. This is the Scout's journey and it's the Scouts choice who to tell and when. Now, after the Scout joins your troop there is nothing wrong with a courtesy call to the Scoutmaster to let them know. At that time, if you learn something as a Scouter you can certainly pass it along - that is assuming it was not shared in confidence or you were asked not to share it. Discretion is important here. I'm reminded in this discussion that retention does not lead to a healthy troop. Strong program and recruiting lead to a healthy troop. Retention is a byproduct of a strong program. But, even the best troops lose Scouts. Troops are all different just as Scouts are all different. Better for the Scout to stay in Scouting in a troop they love.
  10. 9 points
    I concur with @Eagle94-A1, I've got bad feeling too. I'm glad to see the gains, but they are modest at best. They mostly represent motivated girls, the ones who have been waiting to join the BSA and did so as soon as they could. While there are still more girls that will join and excel, I doubt the additions will offset the other much larger losses the BSA is facing. Factor in other issues: 1. Adult volunteer fatigue/burnout/resignations 2. National's woeful financial status; its commitment to bureaucracy and poor communication; its ham-fisted management style with volunteers (and even council level pros) 3. Units inactive or not rechartering (several to my personal knowledge) 4. Ongoing litigation and insurance crises I think the BSA is an organization at risk. A good example: National's decision to put Philmont in hock. When you resort to taking grandma's wedding ring to the local pawn shop, you're one step from the poor house.
  11. 9 points
    For the life of me, where does a families permissive or non-permissive sexual ethic come into BSA? I do not equate being an inclusive organization as being a reflection of any sexual ethic.
  12. 9 points
    Our shirts have an upside down camp map on the front. That way, they can lift up the bottom of the front of their shirt and have a camp map ready at all times.
  13. 9 points
    One thing I learned as a scoutmaster: get all the information before having an opinion. We don't have all the information. We can guess but won't help. Something else that has helped my sanity; realizing that eagle is nothing but a bauble at the end of a list of check boxes. While most scouts get what we'd like them to get out of it there are those that just see it as one big check box. I have a lot more respect for those scouts that volunteer to be SPL or PL because they know it's a job that needs to be done than an eagle scout that only held a POR long enough to get the check box signed off. I'm not saying just give in to the scout's desires and sign everything off as quick as they'd like. Rather, use eagle as a tool. Each scout is different and requires different tools to motivate them to do their best. I used to treat eagle like, well, how the BSA sells it. Consequently I would seek those scouts that would cut corners and make them go back and do it again. While a lot of scouts thanked me I also broke some rules in the process. I'm not sure it was worth it. The adult's job is to motivate scouts to do their best. The eagle bauble is just one tool to do that. It may have been better to spend more time developing other tools, such as teamwork within patrols, or having fun activities that develop outdoor skills. There's a lot of tension in this thread and it's just like all the other threads about advancement. Did the girl cheat? Did the leaders or parents grease the skids? Or was this just a really motivated scout? We really don't know. But the tension is going to do a lot more damage than the good that might come from making sure scouts don't cut corners.
  14. 9 points
    It may be encouraging to remember that while 2 years may sound like a tight squeeze, it's not impossible. Scouts have been doing just that for a century - starting at 11 or 12 and earning it at 13 or 14. If they can do it at such tender ages, I'm sure these young women will be even more capable of making it happen, what with their advantages of maturity, desire, and resources. I will express, however, that if a young lady joins a unit with the driving goal of earning the rank of Eagle Scout, she may have already misunderstood the purpose of Scouting. The goal of a Scout should never be "to earn one's Eagle." This overlooks the vast and myriad spectrum of opportunities which Scouting affords our youth, the real goals which are represented by the rank of Eagle Scout, but not beholden to it. Learning how to camp, learning how to vote, learning how to treat a wound. Learning first aid, and communication skills, and crafts and sciences and cultures, becoming invested in the world around them, and using what they learn to help others. Discovering for themselves the possibilities - and responsibilities - of the world around them. Above all, becoming, truly, trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent. Those are the true goals of Scouting. So, if you want to give these girls the most that Scouting has to offer, make this focus on personal development your top priority, using the Path to Eagle as a means of organizing, focusing and measuring their personal progress towards becoming better people, but never sacrificing the structure and integrity of its requirements for the sake of "pushing through it." It's a tool towards preparing young people with the vital life skills and knowledge they will need to be effective and honorable adults, and if a Scout follows the advancement program faithfully and diligently, with the goal of absorbing all that they can from the program, then they will have achieved the real achievement of Scouting - becoming a good, moral, contributing part of their families and communities. So, I opine that the single best approach, FOR ALL SCOUTS, is simply to follow the program faithfully, intentionally, and sincerely, using advancement as a tool to help you organize your activities and measure your progress as you work to learn all you can in the time allotted you, but not allowing it to become the reason you Scout. Those early ranks teach the core principles and skills of Scouting. They are not designed for "young Scouts." They are meant for new Scouts, of any age, and they are intentionally designed to create the essential foundation of skills and knowledge espoused by this program. I have more respect for the First Class Scout who has truly invested himself in mastering the requirements of his rank than for the Eagle Scout who brushed through them just to get started on his leadership tenures. For these new Scouts, it's FAR more important that you focus on ensuring the early ranks are passed thoroughly than it is to "skip to the higher ranks." Besides, success at those levels inherently depends on whether or not the Scout has truly demonstrated his competence in the requirements leading up to First Class. It's wonderful that these girls are driven and willing to work. Your job is make sure that they are in Scouting to become Scouts, in the deeper sense of that expression. Working carefully, not hastily, towards Eagle will help them to get the most out of their experience. And even if they don't make it that far, such an approach will ensure they still reap the true benefits of the program for the rest of their lives. Good luck!
  15. 9 points
    Dear Friends, including Moderators: I agree with those who think we should mainstream discussion of Scouts BSA all-girl troops. Pigeon-holing us into a politics chapter continues a negative cast on a decision that, while not supported by all of our members, is actually working out quite well. We should not have to defend against negativism when what we really want to do is discuss how the program is best working in the new units. Please make the change. I've been the senior volunteer at the Unit, District, Council (major metropolitan) and Area levels, and served on national and council committees for over 30 years. I've formed over 20 units in my time. I "retired" from all of that and am now a Scoutmaster of a 25-member all-girl troop in an urban area with a committee of 15. I thought I had seen it all until we added these all-girl Scouts BSA units. In my opinion this is the best enhancement to our ability to serve young people over the last 20 years. I was on camp staff for a few years in my youth, and the kind of cutting and unrelenting negativism from those who do not appear to be on the front lines of this development sound like a Scoutmaster named Igor we saw during first period each year. He could never be satisfied with anything the camp staff did because "national" and the "council" had "ruined" the Scouting program of his 1940/50's youth. We had - gasp - propane in the patrol kitchens, were shifting to "ugly" tan shirts, and somewhere at some other chartered organization there were now girls doing things in Exploring. Yes, even though he had no obligation to involve himself with a female Explorer Post, the knowledge that a BSA group out there included young women had indeed ruined his experience of operating his all-boy Troop. Folks, there are always changes to our program and there will always be people who claim that those changes have ruined what was better or perfect before. In the 50's it was the - gasp - welcoming of African-American Scouts into Troops. Imagine that -- Scouting "ruined" way back then. These people will always be with us and there is nothing we can do about that. But there is one thing I have learned about this through my years as a Scout and my 30 years as a unit/council/national Scouter. It is the optimists and cheerleaders who make Scouting happen and will always be the future and leaders of our movement. I urge the moderators to begin a program thread on Scouts BSA implementation for girl troops and prohibit political discussions on that thread. Let's get on with helping the 1,800 new Scoutmasters, Troop Committee Chairs and Troop Committees out there. When was the last time we actually had 1,800 new Troops in this movement? Yes, it was back in Igor's youth -- in the 40s and 50s. I believe the good times are returning because now everyone is welcome..
  16. 9 points
    Barry: My effort is to create a positive, encouraging thread that highlights positive program activities about all-girl troops. Under the rules of this blog it is proper that off-topic postings are removed from a focused thread, and that is what happened here (and not at my request). Nothing aggressive about that. I look for the better side of people, like the overwhelming majority of bloggers here. My scouting bio includes AOL, Eagle, sea Scout QM, camp staff, vigil, unit leader, district Chair, Council President and Area President. Now I am focusing only on being a Scoutmaster. I have a child in our program, as do my three Eagle brothers. i fully support that the BSA is fully welcoming and my personal engagement has shown me that the decision on girls was the right one.
  17. 8 points
    Agreed. Lets rip the bandaid off. We need to put these cases behind us for good, and protect the CO's from potential liability. I hope my council participates in the settlement. Ideally try to keep local camp properties if the council can afford them. I'd be sad to see us lose the HA bases, but they aren't the meat and potatoes like summer camp is. I share @MattRs concern. The program has always been about character building and citizenship development. Camping and outdoor fun is important because it (along with the patrol method) is how we accomplish these bigger goals. If Scouting becomes a purely camping club, particularly a family camping club, I have no need to participate. Even if I have kids, I could do cheaper, more robust, less restrictive outdoor activities with them than I can with the Scouts. No juggling other peoples calendars, no sending money to Irving.
  18. 8 points
    Just one, huh? This is kind of like eating potato chips. Proposal #1: refocus every member (employees and volunteers) of the BSA to the core principles of scouting - having fun in the outdoors as a means to develop responsibility and good character. Support #1: The program is the most critical aspect of scouting but it has been watered down because of a lack of focus. Rather, there seem to be silos in the BSA that are diluting the focus. There is advancement, popcorn, making money selling scout stuff, scouting-as-a-way-to-a-better-career, JTE, leave no trace, STEM and just a really bloated program that tries to be everything to everyone. This is expensive and has little appeal to young parents that have no history with scouting. By focusing on outdoors and responsibility the silo that should rise to the top should be developing scouts that the adults can trust to make their own decisions. That means improving patrol method and scout run programs. It means having more fun at summer camp and making it less like school. It means rewriting requirements so scouts are doing rather than talking about it. It means taking every aspect of scouting and checking it against the core program. If it's not supporting the basic program than consider chucking it. It's like cleaning your basement. Think of it as Start, Stop, Continue, only with focus on what makes scouting great. Proposal #2: Change the hiring practices so external people can be hired into councils rather than only promoting from within. Support #2: Newly hired DE's make very little money and consequently all those great scouts that were trained in the program tend to find jobs elsewhere, where the pay is better. Consequently, the vast majority of people working for the BSA have no experience as scouts. Not only that but there is a fair number that have no experience working for well run operations. This results in a lot of problems such as: Council execs that have no training in running non-profits and few people that understand how scouting should run. Most of the people I see working at the BSA are focused on one thing - making more money for the council or the BSA to pay for programs that have little to do with the core program. Please note that proposal 2 is really just one instance of what proposal 1 is trying to address. The hiring model is not supporting the core program, so change it to match what every other non-profit uses.
  19. 8 points
    Some advice from the National Park Service:
  20. 8 points
    y'all sound like a bunch of grumpy people. If the youth want to wear the friendship knot, let them.
  21. 8 points
    I mean "erosion" in this sense: Originally, troops were made up of patrols. Now troops are divided into patrols. Patrols used to be more or less permanent, with traditions of their own, composed of Scouts of all ages, with the older Scouts being responsible for younger Scouts and competitions among patrols. Now, patrols frequently change membership, change names, and disappear out of existence (the New Scout Patrol is even designed to be temporary). Every member of a patrol used to have a job with a title and real responsibilities, and the younger Scouts earned their way to positions of greater and greater responsibility. Now, there often isn't much for patrol members to do because the work is being done at the troop level by Scouts who need recognized Positions of Responsibility for advancement. Patrol members used to tent together, away from other patrols. Now, Scouts are often just jumbled together in a troop campsite. I could go on, but the larger point is that the Patrol was where a Scout learned teamwork -- or, more properly, citizenship -- by committing to work, play, and live in a little community in which success depended on the efforts of every member despite age differences, background differences, skill and experience differences, and personality differences. All too often these days, patrols are just temporary groupings for the purpose of troop administration.
  22. 8 points
    1000% agree. Unless I'm missing something, it would be incredibly stupid for councils to start merging now. Why would any financially strong council merge with a weaker one in the face of litigation? Depending on how the national bankruptcy shakes out, I could see lawyers going after councils and a series of bankruptcies there (or perhaps councils brought into the National bankruptcy). Now, post bankruptcies, I think it really depends on what is left of the BSA. If, as rumored, a lot of work will transfer from National to councils, then it probably makes sense for many council mergers. However, it seems too early to even consider given the litigation we are facing.
  23. 8 points
    I'm sitting in Rwanda right now. I've been in Africa for 2 weeks. Some Safari but mostly I've been in poor areas. Over half the population makes less than $1.50 a day. That said, most people are quick to smile. I wave and smile at people and nearly everyone just lights up with a smile and waves back. In a way, it's part of their culture. But I've found it to be more than that. Some people I wave to are clearly down. Its not so much that they have little money but that they have little dignity. Many Rwandan children have been abandoned by their parents and are not in loving homes. Essentially, they are a burden on some other relative and they know it. Many parents are distraught over having to abandon their children. So what happens when someone smiles at these people? A smile says I'm happy to see you. That tiny bit of dignity can mean so much to someone that is down. I would look at adults, look right at their eyes, so they knew I was thinking of them, and I simply smiled and waved. Most would break out with a huge smile. It's as if I just affirmed that they were important. All of these interactions and I don't speak Rwandan. So when you see someone clearly having a bad day, try smiling at them. Let them know you're thinking of them. That's all a part of being cheerful.
  24. 8 points
    A woman brought a very limp duck into a veterinary surgeon. As she laid her pet on the table, the vet pulled out his stethoscope and listened to the bird's chest. After a moment or two, the vet shook his head and sadly said, "I'm sorry, your duck, Cuddles, has passed away." The distressed woman wailed, "Are you sure?" "Yes, I am sure. Your duck is dead," replied the vet. "How can you be so sure?" she protested. "I mean you haven't done any testing on him or anything. He might just be in a coma or something." The vet rolled his eyes, turned around and left the room. He returned a few minutes later with a black Labrador Retriever. As the duck's owner looked on in amazement, the dog stood on his hind legs, put his front paws on the examination table and sniffed the duck from top to bottom. He then looked up at the vet with sad eyes and shook his head. The vet patted the dog on the head and took it out of the room. A few minutes later he returned with a cat. The cat jumped on the table and also delicately sniffed the bird from head to foot. The cat sat back on its haunches, shook its head, meowed softly and strolled out of the room. The vet looked at the woman and said, "I'm sorry, but as I said, this is most definitely, 100% certifiably, a dead duck." The vet turned to his computer terminal, hit a few keys and produced a bill, which he handed to the woman. The duck's owner, still in shock, took the bill. "$150!" she cried, "$150 just to tell me my duck is dead!" The vet shrugged, "I'm sorry. If you had just taken my word for it, the bill would have been $20, but with the Lab Report and the Cat Scan, it's now $150."
  25. 8 points
    I'm on something like my fourth retirement from various aspects of Scouting that I no longer found fulfilling. The first was Cub Scouting. When I first started, I loved the skits and dumb jokes and costumes and den meetings. But after about a dozen years or so of doing about every job in a couple of different packs, it just didn't hold my interest anymore. By that time I was Scoutmaster of my second troop, and Boy Scouts was my joy. The second was district work. I had been Boy Scout Roundtable Commissioner, Unit Commissioner, District Committee member and Vice Chair, and I was still a Scoutmaster, and I just wanted to focus on my troop. So I stepped back from the district stuff for four or five years. The third was Scoutmastering. More and more the parents and other leaders had become focused on doing advancement when I believed it was the natural consequence of doing the fun stuff. And I was tired of dealing with the adult issues. After that, I started re-engaging with district stuff and also got involved at the council level with our camps. After another six or seven years of that, I was tired of struggling against bureaucratic priorities, and my personal life was changing in good ways, which provided a good opportunity to step out of most roles. My main "official" role now is coordinating volunteer service days at one of our camps, mainly doing "handyman" work. And I pop in on some district meetings just to stay on top of things. Popping in on forums like this, only when I feel like it, helps keep me engaged in the Movement without meetings or bureaucracy. When I was Scoutmaster, I saw a need to provide more opportunities for Scouts to just play and work on basic skills which would involve real learning, not "one-and-done" signoffs. They weren't getting it at meetings, and campouts weren't always the best venues for working on skills one-on-one. So I started once-a-week 45 minute sessions at my house: Scouts could come by with a parent, and the parents were invited to bring a chair and watch, and I'd help the Scouts who came with whatever hands-on skills they were interested in: knots, fire building, wood tools, etc. I called it "Garage Scouting," since we were either in the garage or the yard next to it. It was a lot of fun, and I know Scouts and parents appreciated the extra attention.
  26. 8 points
    Why does this disease that everything has to be bigger, better, blingy-er always infect organizations? Instead of Bechtel, BSA could have done so much more good if it had developed a program to help retain Council level camps and properties on a regional basis. Property management expertise, help in setting up regional joint purchasing agreements to maximize cost efficiencies, marketing help, seed money to help transition some holdings into public ownership rather than being lost to sale and development. We are not scouts if we can't get kids outside. We are losing too many council camp properties.
  27. 8 points
    I know we argue about Sports versus Scouting. I ran across this on another Scout Facebook page. It is long, but worthy of your reading. I attribute it to the name at the top. 'Nuf said... Brock Moore October 23 at 9:26 AM I promised myself years ago, every time I saw this I would re-post. Happens about twice a year. Rings true EVERY.SINGLE.TIME.... Here goes!!! Most people won't take the time to read this all the way to the end. I hope that you will. 17 INCHES" - you will not regret reading this An excellent article to read from beginning to end. Twenty years ago, in Nashville, Tennessee, during the first week of January, 1996, more than 4,000 baseball coaches descended upon the Opryland Hotel for the 52nd annual ABCA's convention. While I waited in line to register with the hotel staff, I heard other more veteran coaches rumbling about the lineup of speakers scheduled to present during the weekend. One name kept resurfacing, always with the same sentiment — “John Scolinos is here? Oh, man, worth every penny of my airfare.” Who is John Scolinos, I wondered. No matter; I was just happy to be there. In 1996, Coach Scolinos was 78 years old and five years retired from a college coaching career that began in 1948. He shuffled to the stage to an impressive standing ovation, wearing dark polyester pants, a light blue shirt, and a string around his neck from which home plate hung — a full-sized, stark-white home plate. Seriously, I wondered, who is this guy? After speaking for twenty-five minutes, not once mentioning the prop hanging around his neck, Coach Scolinos appeared to notice the snickering among some of the coaches. Even those who knew Coach Scolinos had to wonder exactly where he was going with this, or if he had simply forgotten about home plate since he’d gotten on stage. Then, finally … “You’re probably all wondering why I’m wearing home plate around my neck,” he said, his voice growing irascible. I laughed along with the others, acknowledging the possibility. “I may be old, but I’m not crazy. The reason I stand before you today is to share with you baseball people what I’ve learned in my life, what I’ve learned about home plate in my 78 years.” Several hands went up when Scolinos asked how many Little League coaches were in the room. “Do you know how wide home plate is in Little League?” After a pause, someone offered, “Seventeen inches?”, more of a question than answer. “That’s right,” he said. “How about in Babe Ruth’s day? Any Babe Ruth coaches in the house?” Another long pause. “Seventeen inches?” a guess from another reluctant coach. “That’s right,” said Scolinos. “Now, how many high school coaches do we have in the room?” Hundreds of hands shot up, as the pattern began to appear. “How wide is home plate in high school baseball?” “Seventeen inches,” they said, sounding more confident. “You’re right!” Scolinos barked. “And you college coaches, how wide is home plate in college?” “Seventeen inches!” we said, in unison. “Any Minor League coaches here? How wide is home plate in pro ball?”............“Seventeen inches!” “RIGHT! And in the Major Leagues, how wide home plate is in the Major Leagues? “Seventeen inches!” “SEV-EN-TEEN INCHES!” he confirmed, his voice bellowing off the walls. “And what do they do with a Big League pitcher who can’t throw the ball over seventeen inches?” Pause. “They send him to Pocatello !” he hollered, drawing raucous laughter. “What they don’t do is this: they don’t say, ‘Ah, that’s okay, Jimmy. If you can’t hit a seventeen-inch target? We’ll make it eighteen inches or nineteen inches. We’ll make it twenty inches so you have a better chance of hitting it. If you can’t hit that, let us know so we can make it wider still, say twenty-five inches.'” Pause. “Coaches… what do we do when your best player shows up late to practice? or when our team rules forbid facial hair and a guy shows up unshaven? What if he gets caught drinking? Do we hold him accountable? Or do we change the rules to fit him? Do we widen home plate? " The chuckles gradually faded as four thousand coaches grew quiet, the fog lifting as the old coach’s message began to unfold. He turned the plate toward himself and, using a Sharpie, began to draw something. When he turned it toward the crowd, point up, a house was revealed, complete with a freshly drawn door and two windows. “This is the problem in our homes today. With our marriages, with the way we parent our kids. With our discipline. We don’t teach accountability to our kids, and there is no consequence for failing to meet standards. We just widen the plate!” Pause. Then, to the point at the top of the house he added a small American flag. “This is the problem in our schools today. The quality of our education is going downhill fast and teachers have been stripped of the tools they need to be successful, and to educate and discipline our young people. We are allowing others to widen home plate! Where is that getting us?” Silence. He replaced the flag with a Cross. “And this is the problem in the Church, where powerful people in positions of authority have taken advantage of young children, only to have such an atrocity swept under the rug for years. Our church leaders are widening home plate for themselves! And we allow it.” “And the same is true with our government. Our so-called representatives make rules for us that don’t apply to themselves. They take bribes from lobbyists and foreign countries. They no longer serve us. And we allow them to widen home plate! We see our country falling into a dark abyss while we just watch.” I was amazed. At a baseball convention where I expected to learn something about curve balls and bunting and how to run better practices, I had learned something far more valuable. From an old man with home plate strung around his neck, I had learned something about life, about myself, about my own weaknesses and about my responsibilities as a leader. I had to hold myself and others accountable to that which I knew to be right, lest our families, our faith, and our society continue down an undesirable path. “If I am lucky,” Coach Scolinos concluded, “you will remember one thing from this old coach today. It is this: "If we fail to hold ourselves to a higher standard, a standard of what we know to be right; if we fail to hold our spouses and our children to the same standards, if we are unwilling or unable to provide a consequence when they do not meet the standard; and if our schools & churches & our government fail to hold themselves accountable to those they serve, there is but one thing to look forward to …” With that, he held home plate in front of his chest, turned it around, and revealed its dark black backside, “…We have dark days ahead!.” Note: Coach Scolinos died in 2009 at the age of 91, but not before touching the lives of hundreds of players and coaches, including mine. Meeting him at my first ABCA convention kept me returning year after year, looking for similar wisdom and inspiration from other coaches. He is the best clinic speaker the ABCA has ever known because he was so much more than a baseball coach. His message was clear: “Coaches, keep your players—no matter how good they are—your own children, your churches, your government, and most of all, keep yourself at seventeen inches." And this my friends is what our country has become and what is wrong with it today, and now go out there and fix it! "Don't widen the plate."
  28. 8 points
    At our school we have this poster which helps distinguish rude vs mean vs bullying.
  29. 8 points
    You should probably ask the older scouts Mom as she obviously has set the rule.
  30. 8 points
    I am Scoutmaster for a 22-member all-girl Troop that is "stand-alone" and not linked to an existing unit. In fact, we are the only youth program at the church that serves as our CO. I'm a 30-year Scouter and have done it all. I will observe that the girls attracted to our group represent a normal cross-section of girls in our city in terms of income, race and interests. 8 crossed-over from an all-girl Webelos den at anther CO, which they just loved. 5 came over from GSUSA for a variety of reasons. Two remain dual-registered. We have had four troop meetings, one day hike and go on our first camp out this weekend. We have a very full program outlined for the next 20 months. We have attracted a 15-person Troop committee and have a Scoutmaster staff of 7. I am here to tell you that even at this early stage I sense this is going to be a very successful move for the BSA. First, the Boy Scout program is working perfectly with the girls. They love it and as an earlier commenter forecast, they really like to "do stuff". Second, the parents are thrilled with BSA-style organization and program implementation for an all-girl program. The welcome from our community has been crazy-approving. Third, our district volunteer Scouters and fellow Scoutmasters of nearby all-boy Troops are thrilled to the point where they went out of their way to entirely outfit five of our girls from under-resourced families with gently-used uniforms, sleeping bags, packpacks, the works. The naysayers with the nasty blog comments have not in any manner impacted popular and supportive opinion in our local Scouting movement or city. The folks who departed after the membership policy changes are not taking people away because of the move to include girls. My experience is so counter to the things those folks have been writing over the past year that I am starting to conclude many must not be actual active Scouters -- I just have not experienced negativity and I would have noticed it. I believe that as long as the generally-smaller linked girl troops scale up quickly and the BSA does a better PR job when the financial restructuring is announced, we will be looking at significant growth that can reverse our recent membership losses. These conclusions are based on my experience in planning, organizing and now operating a best-practices Scouts BSA Troop for girls. We should do at least as good as the girl Cub Scout numbers.
  31. 7 points
    The idea that YPT is a feature of the program seems to be a very unfortunate, yet common viewpoint today. YPT is certainly a critical component of BSA activities, but a "feature"? When you start getting to a point where limitations and risk mitigation requirements are viewed as features, it's a pretty sad state of affairs. That's like choosing a school for your kids based upon the fact that they have metal detectors, bulletproof glass and regular armed patrols in the hallways. What's worse is that the stepped up rules changes aren't even to combat current problems with the program, they are to deal with a perception problem based upon problems from 30-50 years ago (and of course to appease lawyers). And while it would be nice to think that maybe some of these things could be changed in the future, it is usually VERY hard to roll back the restrictions dial because the only way to do it is for the organization to say "We went too far and this is unnecessary", and no one ever likes to do that. That might be what it should do, but in today's society I suspect that will only happen a portion of the time and the rest of the time units will just fold up because they can no longer function on the 3-4 active adults they have when no one else steps up. Off the cuff, I'd suspect the reason you can't comprehend it is that you haven't been particularly impacted by it at this point. If your troop has been operating like so many do, functioning with a single large group with little to no patrol activity (except on paper) and plenty of adult involvement to "keep things running smoothly", these changes probably won't even be noticeable. Plus you don't seem to see pushing the kids to function independently as a particularly critical component of the program the way I do. But for someone that grew up with independent patrols going on camp-outs alone together and a troop where the scouts really did run things with the SM sitting in his chair over with the "Ups", seeing the mandating of more and more adult involvement just makes me sad for my teenager who is desperately trying to figure out how to get the adults to "back off" so he and his PLC can do things their own way. I think you aren't making a distinction between venues. When I'm dealing with scouts, "This is the way we will have to do it, how do we make it work" is the approach I take. I've agreed to follow the BSA's rules by being a member. (or at least ignoring the really stupid ones quietly *cough*Age appropriate tool use*cough*) But the notion that anything put forward as "Being for Youth Protection" should be considered sacrosanct and incontestable is a dangerous idea. There have been plenty of pretty silly and even destructive notions put forward over the years to "protect kids" that lead me to believe that saying something out loud in an appropriate forum is clearly what's called for when ruling bodies start going overboard. BSA doesn't really accept much in the way of user feedback beyond their surveys, so I'm left with the option of forum posts and in-person discussions with interested parties hoping that maybe I'll strike a chord in someone who actually has an official ear listening to them.
  32. 7 points
    As a Backpacking MBC I do not count Philmont as completing the requirement. They didn't create the itinerary, they didn't create an emergency plan, they didn't create the menu and so forth. The most they could possible do on a Philmont Trek for this requirement is create a daily schedule and a budget for the trip but will miss some obvious valuable lessons if they used a trip they create on their own. I.E. the true cost of feeding a crew for 5 days and how to keep the cost low.
  33. 7 points
    IMHO, camps should be independently owned and managed by a camp alumni trust, thus the camp is shielded from the financial misfortunes of the Council or National. This trust rents out its camping facilities and storage to cover its operation and maintenance. The camp neither owns nor maintains program inventory (archery, baskets, STEM, kayaks, whatever) that is Council's cost and responsibility or whatever group is renting the camp for their respective program. My $0.02,
  34. 7 points
    In the case of Scouting, the BSA may dissolve in this bankruptcy, if so, it will be replaced and Scouting will move on. IMHO, Scouting is an idea, a philosophy of life, not an organization. Another $0.02,
  35. 7 points
    IMHO, I do NOT think we will see - any changes to the torte system coming in time for this case. - the Federal government bailing out the BSA or any non-profits. - taxpayers paying for a reparation fund or for another government oversight agency. For an organization whose motto is "Be Prepared", I think many will say accept the consequences and fix your own problems. My $0.02,
  36. 7 points
    We have a new CSE. Not only that but he's been a volunteer for a long time and has worked outside of the BSA. This is different in a very hopeful way. Maybe we have an opportunity to be a part of the discussion, to have our ideas heard. I'm not sure what the odds are but I'll take it. We'd have a much better chance of making things better if we were part of the discussion. Unfortunately, our collective view of national is, mildly saying, not so good and consequently we probably aren't looked upon very favorably and thus, are not part of the discussion. So, what would it take to change that? What would it take for us to make scouter.com an inviting place for Mr Mosby to participate here? Or at least someone close to him? While many people here would like to give him advice on how to do his job I don't think that's going to be very productive. When I started as SM there were lots of people trying to give me advice and it just wasn't helping me at all. Creating a good relationship where we both listen to each other might be a lot more productive. While we have a lot of collective experience there are certainly things we don't know about. My guess is we also suffer from older generation selective memory syndrome (kids these days!)
  37. 7 points
    I wouldn't mind it (the trolling) so much if the financial impact of the lawsuits fell on the wrongdoers. As it is, the burden of paying off the lawsuits is falling on the kids, through increased dues and fees, even though most of the kids in scouting had not even been born yet when these abuses occurred.
  38. 7 points
    When your organizational leadership acts as if the "customer's" desires are wrong, you get Sears.
  39. 7 points
    I hope and pray my thoughts here will be articulated in a way that will generate a positive response and greater unity of understanding and discourse by those who read it. I notice that the impending separation of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Boy Scouts of America has garnered much discussion about the motivations, ideology and mechanics behind this process. However, as I member of that faith, I also see that there has been an unfortunate trend by some to use this as an opportunity to make sideway comments voicing their opinions about our beliefs, our organization, our doctrines, our history, et cetera. It is entirely appropriate and healthy to maintain an open dialogue about how these coming changes will affect Scouting, the youth, the programs, and all other such related issues. It is also good to ask questions about why our church is making these changes and where our thoughts and feelings come from. However, is it appropriate for these discussions to be used as a platform for members to express incorrect information or inflammatory opinions about our faith? Is that a Scout-like thing to do? Is it ever right to deride in any way a religion or its leadership, to make accusations or spread calumny about another's faith? I cannot believe that it is. I do not only express this concern as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I speak thus on behalf of any and all faiths - Judaism, Islam, Buddhist, Hindu, Protestant, Evangelical, even atheist - whatever it may be, it behooves us to speak with nothing but respect and kindness about the religions of others - especially those of a fellow American. I think we can do better in these forums in regards to preserving goodwill between all faiths. I will gladly strive to improve my discourse here in regards to the ideals and thoughts of others, but that means I hope for the same from all here. That concept, the concept of fighting to preserve the right of all people to live and express their faith, is central to Scouting. A Scout is brave; a Scout is reverent. Those go hand in hand. Joseph Smith Jr. himself one wrote: So as we discuss at length the tremendous wave of changes that both the Church and Scouting face with the coming of the new year, let's keep the discussions kind and civil, and not use them to put down ANY faith or religion, whether explicitly or subtly. This website, filled with the thoughts of Scouters, leaders, and good people, should be an example of goodwill, grace, and respect. Let's watch what we say, and how we say it. I hope I am not too forward in sharing my feelings about this here, but know that I commit myself to do better from here on out before asking it of any of you. I hope others might be willing to do the same.
  40. 7 points
    By Larry Geiger on January 25, 2012 in Scoutmastership,The Patrol System Adult leaders often say things like; “I don’t override the boys decisions at all. ” “I asked them what they wanted to do.” “This was their decision.” What most of us fail to recognize is that many of these ‘boy led’ decisions were probably coerced, at least in part, by the presence of adults when they were discussed. It’s not that the adults shined bright lights in their eyes or twisted their arms behind their backs – it is much more subtle than that. When adults are present youth leadership – the Scouting way- is not happening. Say what? You mean when I am in the room listening and not talking I am somehow affecting the outcome of their decision making process? Yes! So I want to suggest that you lead by walking away. Let Me explain: When adults are listening, watching or talking Scouts are instinctively looking for the assent and approval of the adults. This is a result what they do at School and at home; listen to adults and seek their approval. So even if you say absolutely nothing at all your presence is somewhat coercive. It’s not that you are a bad person or anything – it’s just the way things are. So if we are not supposed to be around and not supposed to talk to them and not supposed to watch what they are doing, how do we do our jobs as adult leaders? Excellent question. We use very specific, scheduled, regular, and commonly understood opportunities to interact with youth leadership. Otherwise we leave them alone; alone enough that sometimes we cannot see them or hear them. I have found that one good opportunity to exercise this concept is when patrols go grocery shopping. The Scouts create a menu, estimate how much money they need, schedule a time and place, their parents drop them off and leave them to shop. No adult leaders or parents accompany them into the store. They work totally autonomously until they exit the store after successfully shopping and paying. Are you comfortable with doing something like that? What do you think would happen if you did? No adult is assigning, watching, checking, offering oversight or any other means of interference or intervention. Drop them off at the door and pick them up when they exit the store. Only the patrol leader works with his guys to get it done. A patrol leader given this opportunity is leading; if adults are present he is looking for their approval. In my experience his is true of all Scouts up to around age sixteen or so. Here’s a few of the times when adults and youth leaders talk with one another: 1. Occasional reflections with a senior patrol leader or patrol leader after a Scout meeting. 2. Scoutmaster Conferences. 3. Scoutmaster senior patrol leader two-minute chat before a patrol leader’s council. 4. Scoutmaster’s minute. 5. Troop Leadership Training. This is the Scoutmaster’s show. [BSA says the SPL should help lead the training .] 6. When a senior patrol leader or patrol leader walks over and asks the Scoutmaster a specific question or asks for help. [Note: "senior patrol leader" vs "Scoutmaster. How about "Senior Patrol Leader"?] Here’s times when you should refrain from interacting with youth leadership: 1. During patrol and troop meetings. 2. During patrol leader’s councils. [Even if they ask a question?] 3. During campouts. 4. During the troop annual planning conference. 5. During summer camp at meals/around the picnic table during the day/etc. 6. During patrol shopping trips. 7. During patrol and troop activities when a Scout is in charge. I cannot overemphasize how important it is to realize that when adults are physically present Scouts are looking for approval – not leading. Think about this, think about it a lot; When adults are physically present Scouts are looking for approval – not leading. Start observing how this happens and change the way you do things; I’d be interested to hear the results!
  41. 7 points
    As for PR, I know many of the people on this board has seen it, but perhaps many of you haven't. This is from Scout South Africa, and this is that kind of advertising that the BSA needs.
  42. 7 points
    I think that you have swallowed the bait. We Southerners have always used a slow speech pattern to deceive carpetbaggers into underestimating us while we separated them from their money and women...
  43. 7 points
    A one time event, sure why not. Every campout? no way in hell.
  44. 7 points
    A lot lot lot of focus on Cubs. Looking on my council website; picture of a Cub, Lots of Cub Training, Lot of Spook-o-ree stuff. When they put in Tiger Cubs in 82, a good number of us thought that was a bit much. As many have noted, Cubs is less a fun program and more of a slog. We have had many boys over the years that bailed on Cubs / Webelos but came into Scouts. They were just tired of the same thing over and over. Input also is that 5th graders are not really into the family camping, they want to build fires and tell crude jokes The BSA's strength and distinction in the market place is the Outdoor Focus. If a unit does this, they will recruit and retain Scouts. The STEM stuff, Schools do it better. Duty to God, the Church youth groups likely has the better program. Leadership and independent thinking, learning life skills outdoors, yeah, THAT is what we do and what we SHOULD be focusing on. National is doing it's level best to limit the risk and activities, but many units plunge ahead. They have also WAAAAY over sold the Eagle rank. Yes it is good and yes it is a long term project, but that is not WHY we are running units, that is not the reason. Ranks advancement is a by product of good program, not the reason for it.
  45. 7 points
    If you like good news, I have some to report. The patrols in our unit are much stronger now. I nudged a little, and the SM and ASMs were quite open to the changes. There was a reforming of the patrols along the lines of natural gangs I spoke of in my original post. The patrol with the older boys chose to keep their old patrol name. The patrol of younger guys created a new patrol with its own new identity. There is now no question who is in what patrol. No more going to the list at the back of the room to check. There is now a patrol meeting during each troop meeting. These are not very productive, perhaps, but the patrols meet separately during the troop meeting. We held a pioneering event with a competition, and the two patrols were 'against' each other. They used to create ad hoc teams for that. When planning for outings, each patrol does meal planning and tent arrangements separately. This used to be done as a troop. On Troop outings, the patrols are next to each other but separate. They used to be all mixed where-ever. The younger Scout patrol has met twice outside of troop events; once a service project, once to design a flag. Plus they have a patrol hike coming up. Its far from done. For instance, the other patrol has not yet had a patrol gathering outside a troop meeting or troop outing. Its too early to tell if this will help with the aims of Scouting, or if the boys are happier, or if its made anything easier. In fact it seems a little more work. But certainly the younger patrol fellows are more engaged in their own Scout destiny. As far as Scout-led, I don't know, there is still some adults taking over the meeting, and one of them was me. But there is less of adults planning for the Scouts outings. I think we're on the right path.
  46. 7 points
    I wanted to share some success from this weekend. Since I joined two years-ish ago, I have been trying to effect a change in our troop to move towards the Patrol Method. I was accompanied by a very experienced ASM who joined in the spring. Together we've been talking to the SM about the Patrol Method, tag teaming him in small ways with encouragement etc that makes the SM more inclined to think Patrol Method. Stuff he already knows, but hasn't been doing. He and the "Wanna-Be-SM" have been making excuses about why they aren't doing the Patrol Method. Really stupid excuses like "but you know they won't do it" and other things. Yah, they won't do X when they know you will do it. Or the scouts tried to do X and then SM/Wanna-Be-SM barge in and take everything over, brushing anything the scouts have done out of the way. So this weekend the SM saw me talking with the new SPL. I was explaining basic Patrol Method stuff. I had his ear driving to the campsite too, along with the acting ASPL. The SM supported it for the first time I've ever seen. The wanna-be-SM also saw how the wind was blowing and stood back more than normal. It's a step in the right direction. Us adults talked Patrol Method at several points in the day. We started mentoring the scout leadership group (SPLs & PLs) in things they needed to know in how to lead their troop/patrol. We pushed the scouts back to their troop leaders to find the answers they needed. We let them make mistakes and work through them for the most part. Can't get all the adults out of their habits in a single weekend. All in all, a very nice and good step in the right direction. I'm hoping to keep that progress and will continue to do what I can to encourage things to the right direction. My next major goal is having a PLC without extra adults in the room trying to run things. Haven't seen a PLC in all the time I've been in this troop.
  47. 7 points
    I was a Rifle Instructor at a Council camp. We had a scout who was autistic. He had a leader from his troop that came with him and helped him shoot. He didn't get the badge because his accuracy wasn't enough to complete the badge, but his leader and I made sure he had fun and the other Scouts were safe.
  48. 7 points
    Five years, and I am still trying to sort out how leadership is in any way distinct from character development, citizenship, and mental and physical fitness.
  49. 7 points
    Well, then if the "Barriers to Abuse" are to stand and be considered rules, they should change to FAQ to read: Yes, 2 registered adults over the age of 21 are required at ALL activities. A stupid rule that is consistent is better than a stupid rule that's inconsistent with arbitrary exceptions. And at least with a consistent rule people can stop arguing about what the rule means, and start just deciding when they are going to obey it, and when the stupidity of it means that it will get ignored. The unfortunate thing about the stupidity of issuing rules that can't be obeyed is that all it really does is erode the credibility of the remaining rules along with the authority of the national organization to decide them.
  50. 7 points
    It’s almost official! My EBOR went fantastic, the scouter from the district was amazing. We talked for almost 2 hours about all different kinds of stuff and it was great! Thanks to everyone who answered my questions on here. My scouting journey has only just started. Now the final thing to do is to drop off the application at council to get sent to national.
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