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Everything posted by GKlose

  1. Thanks, Barry and TheGong -- when faced with a troop that was (in my opinion) dying a slow death, I struggled with the question of what I should do. General advice, on this forum, and on AskAndy, was closer to "you can't fix it, best to just walk away", but I decided to do it the hard way. Most importantly, I didn't do it alone. But I also didn't go straight to the committee and say "we need to fix this now!". I kept quiet for the first year, going to committee meetings. Then I started making suggestions -- Here's a quick aside: our guys weren't cooking for themselves on outings. The
  2. So we just got back from a Canadian Scout camp (which is outlined in another post), and it struck me that they didn't have commissioners either, and with the way the camp was set up, it didn't really matter. The Camp Factor (director) was available almost all of the time, for any issues that popped up (but there really weren't any). She started off the campsite inspections, the first day, with one unit leader. The next day, that unit leader accompanied our unit leader on inspections. Then the next day, our unit leader accompanied the next guy. The last day, the Camp Factor joined the unit
  3. I personally hate the worksheets. They are treated way too much, even by my own sons, as "fill in the blank" things, with little thought otherwise. So my protest is this, and it's happened about a dozen times so far -- I ask a Scout to take a look at his worksheet (especially if I ask him a question and then he looks at the sheet first). I glance at it and then turn it upside down on the table. Then I start a conversation with him. I've seen this done many times...I'm a musician too, and I recognized a long time ago that most student instrumentalists are lost if they don't have a mus
  4. About three years ago, when our outing attendance dropped down to about 6 to 8 Scouts (out of 24 or so) per outing, I made a suggestion at a committee meeting. Since we were discussing reorganizing patrols, I said that it would make sense to form a patrol out of those 6 to 8 Scouts that went on every outing. Another committee member, a dad, whose son was not one of the active ones, actually shouted at me. "NO! You can't put all the good kids in one patrol!". I let that hang for a second and said, "listen, I'm not talking about good or bad or anything else -- I'm talking about rewardi
  5. Right now, we're kind of finishing the second year of such a transition. It hasn't been easy, and we didn't have many adults trying to undermine the process. The hardest part, for us, has been the older Scouts in the troop. If they weren't expected to actually lead in the past, it is like pulling teeth to get them to change. I haven't really thought this through in terms of an overall plan, but here are some random thoughts: - just make the changes all at once...our prior SM labored, for years, saying "we're working on that" (in terms of re-instituting patrol method), and that was pa
  6. This won't help either, but some 5 councils in the northeast do "MassJam" every four years -- at least the last couple have been held at the Barnstable County Fairgrounds on Cape Cod. Coming up again October 2013 (Columbus Day weekend). Guy
  7. Funny you should ask this -- we're considering the same thing. About a year ago, a family transferred up from Puerto Rico to our area and found our troop. I am really glad they didn't decide to join another troop :-). Wonderful people, wonderful stories, good Scout and Scouters. At summer camp last month, they suggested setting up an "interchange program" so that they could bring up selected Scouts from Puerto Rico to some of our troop outings. I immediately said, "let's figure out how to make this happen." Two days later, we had commitments from two Scouts to fly up for our August o
  8. We shifted to the web version about a year ago -- the primary data entry is still done through the PC version (on the SM's laptop), but I access and make changes via the web. The SM is able to look up, via a web app on his phone, details at troop meetings. One thing we've noted -- he still does backups, and then generates the "transfer" data file for our SOAR-based website. Troopmaster has a few of the features that our SOAR site has (calendar, email) but we don't use it for that. No complaints so far, except for one annoying one that SOAR is working on fixing. We have two names with
  9. When I was on camp staff in the late 70s (Camp Hugh Taylor Birch, Tecumseh Council, near Springfield, OH) I spent one year on the commissioner staff. I enjoyed it because the head commissioner was a fun guy (he was early 30s, one other commissioner was in his early 20s, and then there were two or three of us that were 17 or so). It wasn't a big camp, so we did "rounds" in the morning, and then in the afternoon, we were the "scoutcraft" program staff. We set up a "model campsite" and taught there. I was a special case though. My Scoutmaster, a photographer, was the Program Director. He set
  10. Arrived home late Saturday from a trip to Tamaracouta Scout Reserve, in Quebec, less than an hour north of Montreal. Had a fantastic week. There are so many things to report, I don't think I can do them justice in a short note -- overall, pricing wasn't bad. If we'd gone for "full catering" (dining hall) it would have been close to $400 (CDN) per Scout. Lots of troops, though, do either partial- or self-catering, which brings down the cost. We bought 3 meals in their dining hall (arrival day dinner, evening before departure dinner and departure day breakfast), and the rest was covered wit
  11. We go to a patrol-oriented camp (Camp Bell, Griswold Scout Reservation, Daniel Webster Council, NH) and it relies heavily on commissioner service. They run the camp with 3, I think, and they are among the hardest-working camp staff I have ever seen. They assist with equipment setup and lending (things like fixing broken stoves, refilling propane, providing dutch ovens or consumables, such as soap, TP, sanitizer tablets, condiments, etc); they do the regular morning and afternoon "rounds", sometimes specifically for talking to patrol leaders directly (instead of just the adult leaders), bu
  12. I don't think they were so much phased out as there was someone in the program division who liked the idea so much that it was repurposed for Cub Scouts. :-) Guy
  13. Third. Camp and hike. Word of mouth. So get the word out. If you build it, he will come. "It" being program, and "he" being the Scout. It doesn't happen immediately, though. Takes some time. Guy
  14. I don't mean to be hypercritical (and I certainly don't know in this particular case), but the only small troops I've ever seen were "Webelos III" troops. Guy
  15. The epiphany for me... I remember that, as a Scout, we sang really well, and our skits were always funny. Even the old, tired skits that we saw millions of times, there was always some twist that kept it fresh. Fast forward to a couple of years ago, when I returned to the program as a Scouter. We're at a camporee, with bunches of troops -- couldn't stand the shout-singing and the old, tired skits that I've seen millions of times before were annoying more than anything else. Then I looked over and noticed a Scoutmaster who I'd met a few months before (when we were troop-shopping,
  16. I ran a weekend session a couple of years ago...it was a rainy weekend, so we spent a little more time indoors than I'd hoped. One thing we did that I think was notable was that we had the SPL run a model patrol meeting on Friday night, based on prepping for an outing (all PLs were complete novices). They planned the weekend menu, for example, and they didn't know it at the time, but that became their menu for the training weekend. Their last task was to select from a pile of DVDs I brought. They selected Band of Brothers, and we finished that evening by watching the first episode. E
  17. This is our second year of two camps -- but let me back up 3+ years ago -- The troop had lapsed into a mode where a kid would attend summer camp with the troop for two summers, then they'd go to "Eagle Week" at the local camp, for one or two years. After that, they'd have all the merit badges they needed, so they didn't go to camp any more. You know those complaints where every Scout only has the merit badges earned in a summer camp? Well, that's kind of like what we had. Along the way, our guys forgot how to have fun at camp. They only went to summer camp to earn merit badges.
  18. Heard a story, a long time ago (no idea if it is true or not) -- one of my closest friends was a guide at Matagamon, circa 1978-79. He said one of the other guides, on the Allagash, had a group go over a "grand pitch"...the guide couldn't stop them in time, so he just decided to go too. Story is they ended up with just one broken leg in the group, and a whole lot of damaged equipment. I've been there -- it is some scary looking whitewater. We did a "rump bump" on Webster Brook, which wasn't too bad. But I did hit a rock with my knee, and it took months before it felt better. Guy
  19. This is yet another "me too" post -- not me, though. I get my forms in promptly, because I am all too familiar with the receiving end. Summer camp (last week) wasn't so bad this year, but I started in January trying to collect all forms. 16 Scouts, and only 1 had to bring the form with him (the deadline for the camp was June 1 -- my troop-imposed deadline was mid-May, so I could make the June 1 deadline). I had a bigger problem, this year, with two Scouts bringing medication in unmarked packaging. The camp nurse, on check-in, took their ziplocks and handed it directly to me and said "I ca
  20. I've been custom ordering for a couple years...for one thing, with the separate numerals, the font of the digit "2" does not match the other digits. So our troop number, "82", looks ridiculous when it is separate numerals. Really -- you can see it on Scoutstuff.org! They don't match! And they haven't matched since the new numerals were introduced with the Centennial uniform, some 3 years ago. The other thing is that the price of a custom-made two-digit patch is about the same as buying the single digits from the local Scout Shop. Guy
  21. I only know of two cases, related to our troop. One night, a new Scout showed up with his mom, to check things out. While the Scout was off with the rest of the troop, I had a chat with mom. Turns out he was kind of unhappy in his other troop, and wanted to see if this might be a better fit. I didn't really put on the full sales job, so to speak. I just told her about the third troop in town, and that they may want to check out that one too. The next weekend, I saw the other troop's SM at a training function. He didn't really know me, so I introduced myself, and told him about the visit,
  22. I've filled out two plans, in the last couple of weeks. No issues. Well, minor issues. Maybe. Or not. The second one isn't complete. I don't have a vehicle listed for one adult, so that was flagged. He's stonewalling me. I've asked him year, make and model twice, and I don't have an answer yet. The other is that we have two adults, out of 7, where there is no YPT. It's flagged as a deficiency. That's okay, but I thought that according to the G2SS you don't need to have every adult with YPT. I know it's a good idea, and maybe this is a mandate coming down the pike, but at the mom
  23. >> the advancement chair (the arbiter of "new rules") tells Scouts, >> at a Board of Review, "okay,... from here on out you're going >> to be expected to actually participate > >But that is not the role of the Advancement Chair, and they are not entitled to say such a thing. >The Advancement Chair doesn't decide if a requirement is met. The SM does that. The SM makes that >decision. That was my original statement -- perhaps a poor choice of words. I meant "arbiter" in the sense that the AC was given responsibility of working the new policy into effect
  24. A real life situation: adult-led, troop method advancement-oriented troop (is this the Perfect Storm, or what?)...new(er) leadership decides to push for a shift in advancement, namely giving credit to Scouts for positions of responsibility only when they've actually been present and doing something. Believe me, that transition from "old rules" to "new rules" can cause lots of problems. In particular, the advancement chair (the arbiter of "new rules") tells Scouts, at a Board of Review, "okay, so you've pretty much had a free pass up to now, but from here on out you're going to be expected
  25. I proposed an idea to the Scoutmasters of the other two troops in my town: what do you think about a "Super PLC" meeting? (my term -- another one just referred to it as a local roundtable). Why not, we're all on friendly terms, all three troops are different, and we all want to see each other succeed. My idea came about because I keep thinking about joint events, strengths and weaknesses. We've done some trips lately that the others might like hearing about...we go to a different summer camp than the other two, and I love our camp so much that I want them to know about it. It is a real pa
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