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Showing content with the highest reputation since 04/03/19 in all areas

  1. 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..
  2. 8 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 6 points
    I met an Eagle Scout a few months back. Talked to him for a bit coming out of the hospital. He was 20 years old, about to marry his high school sweet heart and was enrolling in college. He wants to be a biomedical engineer. He lost both legs below the knees and part of his hand in Afghanistan. I assume from IED, he didn't say and I didn't pry. He did say he was an E4 and a squad leader over there. I couldn't imagine telling him he was not ANYTHING enough to be a full fledged Scout leader if he chose. Yet I have met fifty-something year old Scouters I wouldn't let walk my dog let alone depend on them to get my children back home safely from an camp out.
  6. 5 points
    "Leadership" is now included among four Aims of Scouting (up from the previously clearly understood three), which are prominently displayed in boldface on the face-page, along with the BSA Mission Statement, in the 2019 Guide to Advancement. The eight Methods of Scouting, though they remain unchanged, are not so highlighted and practically buried on page 11 of the GTA. Perhaps someone on the blog, preferably a professional Scouter can speak to this? I saw where some of this was discussed elsewhere in the topic "Whats in a Name"; however, the root of this change was never discussed nor was any official BSA policy change ever highlighted. I have to say I'm stunned at the lack of communication regarding an addition to the Aims (as well as the apparent subordination of the Methods). I've been championing three Aims and eight Methods over my 15 years of scouter-ship and I actually feel foolish that I wasn't aware of this change. If Leadership is truly now one of our Aims, I think National could start by demonstrating better care and concern over our cherished values ... either they mean something, ladies & gentlemen, or they don't. I remember when AYSO - recreational youth soccer - added a sixth philosophy "player development" several years ago. That change was communicated far and wide, up and down the structure, because everybody in that organization respected and cherished the core principles. Far from being nit-picky, or trifling, everything in my professional and volunteer leadership training - which is considerable - says that capricious or slight-of-hand changes to core principles are significant red-flags in an organization. I hold the BSA so very dear, I hope someone accountable can stand up and explain the change to our Aims and its unacceptably poor communication. - - Craig
  7. 5 points
    There is a very balanced, intelligent article in Bloomberg today. It is, perhaps, the best factual and neutral piece of reporting on Scouts BSA I have seen in months. Just google Scouts and Bloomberg. Highly recommend it.
  8. 5 points
    As a former CC of a large troop, my opinion has evolved on this. When I started in the role, I would have said that bylaws are a useful way to make sure that everyone has the same sets of expectations. I realized that while what we do as a Scout unit is has a lot of details, it really is about Scouts interacting with people and be consitent in your dealings. If your leaders are generally pretty consistent in their approach, are open with communications, are empowered to make decisions that are appropriate for their role, and work collaboratively to solve problems, then bylaws are not really needed. Further, I'd argue that if you think the leadership team doesn't exhibit those behaviors, then as a Scout unit, they are probably better served addressing that instead of writing bylaws. It seems like many of the discussions that arise on this forum about bylaws usually come from some sort of contentious situation that has occured because people are not working together. Just my .02.
  9. 5 points
    sadly, most Eagle boards I sit on I am depressed afterwards because they just checked off the marks, got a project from the scoutmaster or committee and went through the motions. They are Eagles, yes, but the variance is great between them. It goes on their resume, mom and dad are happy, and we all move on. Hornaday, Ranger, and Quartermaster awards carry more weight as a group imho.
  10. 5 points
    This happens from time to time. Somebody not being allowed to hold their talking stick when and where they want to. @SSF Why don't you start your own topic of Abysmal Examples of Scouts BSA for Girls? That way you can have the moderators ding everyone who posts something positive. Then those folks can claim foul about being manipulated by elites. @Cburkhardt, you have gone to some lengths to reply to everyone who hasn't proffered the responses that you'd like to see. That's nice. But I will note that it only intends to invite equally long off-topic aggrieved retorts. It kind of defeats your purpose. We can still enjoy opposing views on this forum. But, going around raining on someone's parade is not the way to do it.
  11. 5 points
    As per December 4, 2018 Moderator Policy in Forum Support & Announcements An Original Poster (OP) can state in that first post "Only on-topic responses, please." Off-topic responses will then be moved or deleted by moderators.  Consider so stated. Any member could have done this. If we mods miss an off-topic response, use Report Post function in upper right corner of post to bring to our attention. Only on-topic responses, please in this thread. RS @MattR , @desertrat77 , @John-in-KC , @NJCubScouter
  12. 4 points
    Eagle may be scouting's highest rank, but there are awards that are FAR rarer and more prestigious. The oldest of these is the Silver Hornaday medal. In many years, the number of these awarded nation-wide is in the single digits. Many scouts find their Eagle project to be a daunting challenge. Imagine having to do at least FOUR projects of equal or greater complexity, all of them focused on different areas of conservation....and requiring approval by national. Well, that's the kind of effort a highly motivated scout must have to earn a Silver Hornaday. My heart soared today at the news that a scout in West Texas achieved this very difficult and prestigious award. (The first time in 108 years that anyone in his council has earned one.) I am so proud of him. https://www.conchovalleyhomepage.com/news/news-connection/texas-boy-scout-awarded-highest-conservation-medal/1911775258
  13. 4 points
    News Story: How the Boy Scouts are Teaching Girls about True Womanhood BSA’s troops for girls are proving, ironically, to be a bulwark against the muddy seas of gender confusion. http://www.ncregister.com/blog/jenfitz/how-the-boy-scouts-are-teaching-girls-about-true-womanhood
  14. 4 points
    I know of boys young men who no longer have an interest in serving Scouting who are in the 18-20 year old range because the BSA no longer trusts them due to their age. We spent years mentoring and advising them. They have more knowledge, skills, abilities, and EXPERIENCE than some of the new Scouters coming aboard, but they cannot be utilized. Heck, they can no longer be MBCs except at a summer camp or merit badge college. All because of their age an the new YP rules.
  15. 4 points
    ASM patrol advisors...a horrible concept. For both scout and scouter. As I look back, I value my patrol leader experience (Stampeding Antelopes) because the adults gave me plenty of leeway to succeed or fail. And I failed quite a bit early on, sometimes in a blaze of glory. When I needed anything, the SPL was the one who chatted with me. This made me a better patrol leader and then a more squared away SPL down the road. ASMs? They were mysterious adults who camped with us and took care of stuff like driving, things we scouts couldn't do. They kept their distance, and on rare occasions, providing a joke, an encouraging word, or a kick in the pants as appropriate. The SPL and PLs taught scout skills, signed off requirements up to First Class, conducted boards of review up to FC (with no adult in the room), planned/ran meetings, etc. The scouts will never learn leadership with an adult hovering around. And no disrespect to NYLT et al, leadership can't be fully developed in a training course. It can only happen on that rainy weekend when everything goes wrong. And the 13 year old PL has to figure out how to salvage a burnt dinner, fix the leaking tents, settle a dispute between PL members, and keep morale high. The PL won't learn a darn thing with an ASM advisor hovering about.
  16. 4 points
    The scout leader certainly has the right to ban a skit. Just don't be surprised if the boys respond by refusing to do any skits from now on.
  17. 4 points
    Interesting you mentioned computers. When I first got into application development I received some sage advice. Others, as well as my own experience, have added to that advice over the years, for my own version of KISS. You can design and develop the most beautiful piece of software in the world, but if no one uses it, it is worthless. No one will use your software if it does not help them achieve their task easier, faster or or with less hassle than the way they do it now. If you don't talk with, listen too, or simply ignore your stakeholders, you are going to design things that make their job harder, slower and more of a hassle. Build only what you need to solve the problem at hand. Don't over engineer. Not every problem is a nail. SO put down the hammer and figure out the real problem. At some point, the list of problems will outgrow the solution. When that happens don't just keep adding on (iterating) the original solution, but stop and look for a better solution. That sentiment served me well, and it holds true for things other than software. In the last 4 decades I have watched many well meaning initiatives collapse under their own weight from failing to heed simple realities like the ones above.. Substitute GSS or even Scouting Program for the words software above. How much of the above list can be applied to our Scouting program? How far has it pushed us off course in our game with a purpose of developing character, citizenship and fitness. Maybe it is time we looked for better solutions before our program collapses under its own weight.
  18. 4 points
    Last week I learned that a troop can no longer camp with one adult over 21 and one over 18, but not yet 21. When did that change? I now that is how its been for venturing as long as I could remember, but for troops. This is just another nail in the coffin for small troops like mine, with parents that work for a living. It was kind of weird telling a 19 year old Eagle Scout and Vigil Honor arrowman that the BSA didn't think he was good enough to be an adult on a troop camp out (but uncle Sam would send him off to die halfway around the world).
  19. 4 points
    All really good posts. I've helped several new troops get started and each one is a little different because of the skill levels of the adults. Remember, in a scout run program, adults have to learn more faster than the scouts if they don't want to get in the scouts way. The challenge is to give the scouts as much decision making responsibility as their maturity can handle without taking the fun out of their program. In most cases, the adults don't respect the abilities of the scouts, and the scouts don't understand the purpose of the program. I'm a big believer in the SPL and PL Handbooks because they help the adults and scouts learn the program together. Scouts learn to trust the adults when they feel they are a team. By the way, the troop may not be ready for the SPL yet, but the SPL Manual has a lot of guidance for a new troop trying to build inertia. Where adults have to feel their way is measuring the maturity of the scouts. 10 to 13 year old boys (not sure about girls) would much rather play Capture the Flag than plan the meals for the next camp out. Of course part of making decisions is doing the boring stuff, but it wears on the younger scouts quickly. I usually recommend just 3 or 4 months for the first couple of election cycles to prevent burnout. I assure you the an 11 year old doesn't mind handing over the responsibilities if they are truly making decisions for the group because it's hard, very hard. As the patrol and/or troop starts to get the swing of things, the election cycle should be extended to the normal program standard. As for the adults, the biggest challenge is allowing the scouts the room to make decisions, while giving just enough assistance to help keep the program moving forward. Faltering is when the scouts aren't having fun. There are no easy examples to know when the adults need to apply some subtle assitance to help the scouts. But, I recommend the SM monitor the young scouts enough to know when the fun is over. Scouts should look forward to coming back next week. If they don't, then likely they have max out and need some help. That being said, the biggest problem with new leaders is adult intrusion on the boys (umm, youth) program. For example, there is never a time an adult should stand in front of the group with the youth leaders unless the youth leader gave them permission for a temporary moment on the floor. When a scout stumbles, their first reaction is turn to the adult for help. And the adults reaction is to step in. When adults are out-of-site, they are out of mind. Scouts need to build the confidence of pushing on to the next item and go to the adult later for guidance when they have a moment. Adults should stand in the back behind all the scouts. I also suggest that adults never put the scout sign up first. It's the scouts troop or patrol, the youth leaders should always put the sign up first to control the group. If the adult needs the groups attention, they ask the youth leader of the group to get control for them, then patiently wait until the group is down to a quiet roar. The adult thanks the youth LEADER and continues. I've even done this during Scoutmaster minutes. By the way, when scouts felt the need to talk to their buggy during a SM minute, I took that as a cue that I need to improve my presentation. Adults should talk as little as possible. Words from adults are sleeping pills for young scouts. I have seen adults go on and on for 20 minutes just doing announcements. For some reason Scoutmasters need to feel important by talking and talking and talking (Practice making Scoutmaster minutes only 2 minutes long). I found that scouts don't start respecting the adult leadership until they have a need to ask the adults for help. Standing there watching chaos creep into the activities requires adults biting down on a stick, or a bullet for the squeamish, but scouts don't like chaos anymore than the adults. When the scouts come to the SM for help, they really want it and are ready to listen. As I said, how much guidance adults need to give to scouts of new program is challenging, but scouts do learn fast. So, adults need to learn the skill of backing up and giving more of the decision making to the scouts as they gain experience and confidence. Even 11 year olds with three months experience are more mature and need more room. It's much better for adults to let the scouts go to far to find their limits than to assume the limits and hold them back. I often say I made more mistakes as a scout leader than I did right, but scouts are amazing if you let them go to their full abilities. As for SPL or not, I agree with letting the scouts fill responsibilities as is needed. But, the handbooks suggest SPLs, so there is a balance of doing what is needed along with following a plan. The scouts will figure it out as they go back and forth. Barry
  20. 4 points
    We conducted a parent meeting yesterday for our girl troop regarding going to our council summer camp. I needed to spend time explaining the basics because girl parents are used to the standard “sleep away” and GSUSA camps that operate differently. They were thrilled with the focus on skills acquisition and merit badge advancement. And, the concept of the entire troop attending together was fresh to them, as they were used to sending their girls as individuals to camp. Our council has done a great job by including girls in the camp promotional materials. We have just begun our sign-ups and have 8 of 25 members after just a week.
  21. 4 points
    In our linked troop structure, the boy troop provides two Troop Guides (an Eagle and Life, both of which have been TGs before) to assist the girl troop for the next few months or until they send them back.
  22. 4 points
    I am getting ready to pass out Scout rank pins and cards tomorrow during our regular Saturday meeting. 13 of our 25 girls have earned them, and I expect the balance to so so in a week or two. We might have some Tenderfoot ranks to award before our COH in early June. Our Scouts BSA girl members are taking to the program as-is, and having a lot of fun along the way. We are having so many sign-offs from our 6 ASMs that I needed to have help to get the Scoutmaster conferences done. There will be a lot of happy girls around DC tomorrow. On the issue of tents, we have decided to go with 2-person tents for our group to better-manage the YPT issues. We are borrowing tents for the moment from a very helpful all-boy troop, so we will not actually buy our tents until we camp in Shenandoah National Park this September. Things are indeed going very well.
  23. 3 points
    I agree 100% with @fred8033. Start your program off on the right foot, and it will save you all kinds of headaches later. How you begin a unit will establish its culture, traditions, and values for years to come - and those need to solidly based on the patrol method. Yes, there will be mistakes and failures and setbacks. Those experiences should be treasured as essential learning opportunities. We are what we grow beyond, so give them as many opportunities to try and do and experience and learn as you possibly can. There are all kinds of great resources for new youth leaders. The new SPL and PL handbooks are great ways to start, as is the Handbook itself of course. There is troopleader.org, a wonderful website that helps guide new leaders, and scoutingrediscovered.com, which features a lot of well-written articles getting into the roots of what Scouting is and how it should look. And for those kids who really want to invest in their future leadership skills, there's always NYLT. But don't wait. Elect your leaders, train your leaders, then trust your leaders. The whole point of Scouting, for adults, is discovering the huge potential of these kids and letting them blossom via safe but unhindered leadership opportunities. The first few months will be rough, and they're supposed to be - that's when the learning happens. You've got to trust your youth to figure it out and make things happen on their own. This is how we mould our leaders in Scouting.
  24. 3 points
    I'm sure there are a million reasons this is true. I'll just point out this one. The Eagle project is a bureaucrats fantasy. A project workbook with 47 pages, pictures, addenda, receipts, ledger sheets, sign-up sheets, board reviews, signatures, approvals, etc. What 17 year old boy doesn't want to do that! I don't know much about the bureaucracy of the Hornaday, Ranger, and QM awards but it seems like they are more related to a boy's passion than his inner project manager.
  25. 3 points
    A youth with an actual anxiety disorder is not going to EVER going to get to go to camp if some accommodation isn't made for the first time. Staying home the first year just puts it off because now 2020 is the first year... and 2021... until the kid ages out and never makes it to camp at all. If we're talking about homesickness in the general realm of "normal" I totally agree with you. A lot of anxiety is normal and is best handled by either jumping in with both feet or waiting for another year of maturity to help the anxiety go away. Kids with anxiety disorders tend to have it get worse, not better, with age. The more experiences you can expose them to in a safe and positive environment early on, the more activities they'll be able to handle as they get older. I wasn't clear from the original post whether we are talking about a "nervous" kid or one with a disabling level of anxiety. My response is based on my own experience raising kids with actual anxiety disorders. Fortunately my kids did the whole cub scout thing and were already acclimated to camp by the time they were in a Troop, so they were fine going without me and when I went (which I did some years and not others) I wasn't there to support them, but just to be another YPT-trained warm body or whatever it is that they make adults attend camp at all for. The secret I found to getting them more independence is to do whatever was necessary to make them comfortable the first time, and usually within a few hours they were off and running on their own. But in situations where that wasn't possible, they often just missed out entirely and weren't able to overcome their anxiety long enough to get started. I think it took us three times (three years running) of waking up the morning of the 50-mile backpacking trip (which I could NOT go on) before I was able to get my oldest child to get out of the car and actually leave with the troop in spite of a debilitating anxiety attack. The important thing here is to make a decision about whether the child actually NEEDS a crutch to get started, or whether the child NEEDS to just be pushed. Or, I suppose, needs another year to shake it off; but depending on the kid that could mean never going to camp because there always has to be a first time and it doesn't get easier for kids with real barriers.