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highcountry

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  1. highcountry

    NATIONAL POLICY: AOL and Crossover Ceremonies

    No they won't listen, waste of time and energy. Just hang it up and maybe....someday they will wonder what happened. Of course blame for it will be deflected far from the real problem.
  2. highcountry

    NATIONAL POLICY: AOL and Crossover Ceremonies

    I looked at the BSA/OA provided scripts.....I didn't gauge them as more lame vs less lame. I viewed it as one more detail, one more corner where the BSA is micromanaging how troops and volunteers do, say, plan and carry out even minute parts of the program. This is very sad, I think I need to watch Follow Me Boys again and get a sense of why I did get involved when I was between 2003 and 2011. Mandating how old kids can be to use a wagon, no squirt guns, must use scripts, my replacement at Scoutmaster got into an aguement with some woodbadge dude at IOLS about proper dish washing procedure, my replacement had 20 years camping and whitewater experience. The attempt to micromanage and script out more and more details is a reason why I retired out. I was happy we were in a remote area and were able to keep council at a distance. Our UC was a rational reasonable guy and he was never a problem.
  3. highcountry

    NATIONAL POLICY: AOL and Crossover Ceremonies

    Eagle 94 lamented in the other thread on a WDL who was disappointed her younger scouts would not get to have the same crossover experience as her old scouts got to enjoy. There is a solution for this...."hire out" the ceremony. Our local pack used 2 types of ceremonies over the years that I saw it, sometimes thy brought in a local guy named the Mountain Man"....he was not a member of the BSA but did a fine crossover ceremony the cubs all enjoyed. Sometimes they had the OA chapter come in and do the crossover with all the Indian Regalia. So I suggest a pack that wants the OA style crossover with Regalia do so as a side agreement, much like the area pack that brought in the mountain man. Have the OA ceremony team come in as an "Independent group" no regalia, no official mention of the OA lodge or chapter, do the ceremony as thy have done. As far as anyone is concerned, they are not OA they are an outside "Club" that agreed to do the ceremony, by weird coincidence the all just happen to be OA lodge members. Keep District and council out of it, keep communication low key and just get it done. This unaffiliated group may suggest the pack make a donation somewhere...perhaps even to some local OA lodge they have had good experience with. District our council never had an issue with the local pack using the mountain man, district people were in attendance a few times. Nothing wrong with an outside group being brought in to do a crossover, just happens this is a local Indian re-inacting group. I doubt there would be much trouble, it isn't like you are bringing in exotic dancers to do the crossover. Keep it low key and fly under the radar, no sense in bring attention from council or district to make peoples lives more difficult.
  4. highcountry

    The need for personal liability insurance

    With my experience with BSA, I don't trust them enough to lay confidence they would cover someone in the event of a serious issue coming up. At least I would never put myself in the position of finding out bad things the hard way when I should have sided on being cautious. I believe comments before are right, BSA might try to get you or the CO to cover first on your insurance and then back you up unless their lawyers could find some detail to be a reason to not cover you. I witnessed a serious event in my community involving another church and one of their volunteers late in my scoutmastership. A teenage female student accused a female volunteer music teacher of sexual misconduct, when in fact, the teenage "victim had made inapproprate advances toward the volunteer teacher which she rebuffed and reported. The teenager made false accusations against the volunteer teacher in retaliation. The result was financial ruin for the volunteer teacher and her husband, lost their house and everything. It went to county court and entire case was dropped, false charges and unsubstantiated but the damage was done. No recourse for the teenage accuser as she and her family had all moved overseas since. I was near the end of my term as scoutmaster and this was one of the final straws, no way was I going to put myself in something I could be liable for and damaged and I am not going to pay for insurance to protect myself volunteering. I will in no way volunteer ever again in any fashion involving youth and their parents, it just isn't worth the exposure to trouble. In my years in the Fire dept, I stuck with being a fireman, not on the Med side, the more Med training you take the more you open yourself to possible frivolous lawsuits, the house fire or car wreck however will not sue you. The national wildfire network suffered serious problems about a decade back when lawsuits and possible prison time reared it's head on a few incident commanders on a few wildfire incidents. The result was about a 40% drop in qualified IC's taking assignments, others took early retirements, took lesser jobs, discontinued advancement and training or found other jobsd out of that field. Many who stayed ended up taking out personal liability policies to cover them for the act of doing their jobs. Paying insurance premiums so I can volunteer my time is not something I would ever do.
  5. highcountry

    Death of a Thousand Paper Cuts: Time to switch?

    To the original OP. You are involved with a bunch of lazy, selfish, self centered and some dysfunctional parents and the mess of a pack they created. The previous CC did NOT fix the issues, they told you that as they were burned out and fed up. You inherited a bunch of adult babies who are completely used to someone else doing everything for them, complain when everything is not just so, complain that you don't send them enough reminders....on and on. These people will not change. The only way to fix it is to eliminate (Don't allow them to recharter) all the deadwood adults and complaining parents and start with people who you can somewhat depend on and are reasonable functional people, not adult babies. Be prepared for all kinds of back biting, complaints, drama etc if you take this route. To my way of looking at things, way too much grief, drama and stress for someone trying to VOLUNTEER and make things good. It is high time these dysfunctional group of people stop having a place to dump all the work/grief etc and either learn to do something for themselves of have the pack sink into the swampy mess these people created. The longer you stay in there the longer you will be enabling them, they are never going to step up or even appreciate what you do or change....their problem, not yours. Your son will only be young a short while, find another pack and just go. The funds thing for the adult application may be a blessing from above, you are not an official anything other than being a doormat for loser parents and "helpers". Go elsewhere and give your son a good experience, help in a pack that has it going, enjoy your life and other people that have a clue. As for the deserving boys in the existing pack, yes maybe stinks for them but they need to make their own decisions and find their own way, you cannot fix the world. Have a backbone, fully realize the reality of the situation, MAKE A DECISION....stick to the decision and move on. Don't spend any time explaining it or justifying it or answer the why's why not's etc. Walk away clean and move on, don't feel bad and don't look back. Go choose another pack NOW, DO NOT do another thing about the adult app and funds do not mention it and do not yourself write a check and pay so you can be neglected, abused, taken for granted. Sign up your son in the other pack, notify them by email that you are not the CC and you and your son have left for pack X, do not discuss with these bozos ahead of time, do not tell them in person. They may not even bother reading the email and become bewildered when you are suddenly not there to spoon feed them and take them by the hand and make everything all better for them. They will certainly resent you and worse as they fully expect you to stick around and do everything. The real anger is they deep down realize it ain't gonna happen in the pack anymore unless they actually do something, which they seem incapable of and probably won't. At the end of the day you have to live with yourself, do the best for your son and try to live a life you feel you have made a worthwhile commitment and try to be happy. You have one life to live, don't waste it on miscreants.
  6. highcountry

    What to do with older slackers?

    Not entirely Jblake. We know he wants Eagle and we know he intends to drop at the end of February. We discussed all the short comings and the need for him to grow up and do things outside mom's cover, that actually working hard at and completing things neeing to be done and not waiting for adults assigning it to him is where he needed to go in his route to becoming a young man. We gave guidance on exactly what things he needed to be doing since over time he has become so detatched from any commitment, leadership or responsibility that without the guidance he would be bewildered. We laid out for him all the things he needed to improve on and be doing and that he had to be EXTREMELY active and engaged for 4 months to make up for 4 years of coasting and his mom running interference. We gave him a laundry list but it was up to him to plan, communicate and carry these things through. There may be a little bit of following there but most of what he is now doing is all being planned and done himeself or with other scouts at his palnning and direction, I see nothing wrong with that. We had our troop meeting last night and he had a markedly different attitude, far more positive and engaed than I have seen in a very long time. He is actively planning our coming patrol LEaders Council, he is setting up the bicyle trip he had abandonned this summer, he is attending our Camporee and is both SPL and helping District at the ranges, he is leading the plan for our November campout and is asking one ASM about helping coordinate our December activity with the 2 local packs. We had an issue come up yesterday and he helped offer a solution that was adopted. He worked with the younger scouts last night and even asked to help read parts of the Agenda at the begining of the meeting. I see that as positive progress.
  7. highcountry

    What to do with older slackers?

    What to do regarding older scouts seems to be a very common theme, but I don't agree it is as easy as blaming the adults for not having a good program or allowing the scouts to fix the program by what they put on the schedule, I have seen those scenarios play out and it doesn't fix the problem for the most part. Our scouts put the annual calendar together from suggestions made by scouts and adults during the course of the year. We also encourage scouts, particulalry older ones to add events to the calendar that they plan and run entirely on thier own to develop planning and leadership (Skiing, skating, caving, biking hikes and other one day activities). To date no one has followed through, but I have one scout now who with a lot of prodding is setting up an additional activity. Some of the past things the older scouts wanted that got onto the calendar were cancelled for lack or participation, all of the scouts who wanted those events on the calendar were ones who never signed up despite reminders form adult leaders. We have had them suggest ski outings and the same scouts cancelled out of the troop event becuase they got invited by friends to ski somewhere else with kids their age etc the same day. We can't compete with everything there is out there to occupy kids time, I am slowly losing a few really good scouts who are Eagle and 16-18 years old, they want swimming, wrestling, cars, girls and jobs. They have camped enough and are not interested enough in white water, biking, sking, backpacking etc as a troop, even the RAMS crew or OA is not of interest, they have been there, done that and want to hang with their high school friends and do high school things, this is not unussual, it's life as teenagers in America today. In response to some of the later postings, I too,once again have a slacker trying to make his Eagle. He hasn't been on a campout in a year, provides no mentoring, coaching leadership or work ethic in the troop at all. He is 15 and a half and has stated he is done the instant he gets Eagle, our re-charter is in February. In his POR he has been a place to sew a patch and stand at meetings, and has done nothing else. He is very smart so good grades come easy but he demonstrates the same lack of commitment to other activities outside the troop. He is a good kid but has never shown any form of leadership and has been somewhat negative in the troop. Things have deteriorated so badly that he is having a terrible time getting scouts to help on his Eagle project, we have been told by numerous scouts that they won't show up and help as he has he shows no leadership and basically does nothing in the troop, even some of our 11 year old crossovers in the spring have readily observed this. To make htings worse, his Mom is our advancement and merit badge coordinator, she does her her job dependably but molly koddles her boys like nothing I have ever witnessed before. She understnds the BSA program well but is blind the the "mama's boys she is raising". We are certain that some or most of her boys Eagle Req'd. Merit badges were mostly done by mom and signed off (She councils 9 of these badges) but we can't actually prove it. All the ASM's, myself (SM) and the CC sat down with thsi scout a couple wweks ago and told him nicely what was up. We told him we knew he was through with scouts but in order to make Eagle he had to show particpation, leadership and scout spirit in the next 5 months before Re-charter. He was good with it and since then has done everything we have asked to happen to date. Mom of course had to come in and defend her son and how unfair it all is, she took up 45 minutes of our time before I had to put my foot down and tell her that her son was good with what was asked. One of my asm's pointed out her son si the only scout we have ahd so far that has his mommy to act as his agent. I think she realizes she cannot win this one and is now silent, we are getting a new MB Coordiantor, Advancement Cahir to replace her as she too was slated to be doen when her son made Eagle. With 4 months left to go we have a new person to fill the shoes and the son is so far doing what was requested.
  8. Although we are relaxed a little on uniforms (we encourage the scouts to wear as much as they can afford or desire) we expect scouts who are going to be at an Eagle Board of review to wear as much of the uniform as they can. We don't greatly care if they wear scout socks, pants, belt but if they do it is favorable. We at least expect Class A shirt that is clean and does not look like it was balled up in a pile producing a huge wrinkled mess, tucked in with necker and slide, clean pants or jeans and decent shoes or dark colored hiking shoes or sneakers. Clean grooming, no goofy hats, ripped pants, flip flops etc. Merit badge sash is also kind of expected. We are not anal about patches but they should be on straight, not falling off or pinned on etc. To date we have had no problem with this as all the scouts understand this is scouting's highest rank and is a very reasonable expectation. I know if we ever do have a scout show up in less that presentable appearance the adults at teh BOR won't chastise him and not pass him, they will ask him to come back at a rescheduled meeting when he can dress the part of someone who has earned the respected rank of Eagle. I know our UC feels the same way. I don't think it is too much to ask for someone coming to their own Eagle BOR to wear at least a clean class A with Necker, slide and sash with good grooming, they obviously cared enough about BSA and it's principles to go to the time and effort to achieve the rank, they can at least recognize the honor and tradition by wearing at least some of the uniform regardless if the "rulebook" allows otherwise or not.
  9. highcountry

    Commitment.

    "Skin in the Game"......I hear that one. We have about given up on getting kids to fund raise, folks get tired of tying to motivate kids and families to do this, we have tried all kinds of methods and coaching and motivation and different fund raisers, have begged the scouts to come up with new ideas that ar workable for fund raising and other than a few exeptions nothing happens. I can't make roundtable (I have Fire Dept Trainings on RT nights so my CC and Treasurer attend) and they are hearing that it is becoming more common for troops to toss in the towel on most of fund raising and just have the parents write a check. I find this sad as to me it is important to teach boys to plan, set goals, work hard and begin to learn to to make it on their own steam, and yes, the decisions they make may be different if they have some skin in the game. In general, kids are mostly more self centered today and if they are not interested in something, they just won't do it, the parents quit the battle long ago and no longer have expectations on the boys, they have pulled back to the "this is the way it is and I can't change it" mentality. They write the check. It is impossible for us as Scout leaders to effect much change on these boys if the parent won't stand tough and put an aend to this type mentality at home. In the end, should we make a stand and say....."you won't go on campouts unles you the scout earned the money" we will end up with a lot of cancelled campouts and after which, a lot of dropped memberships from kids who are bored. The eventual death of the troop would problably take about 2 years. So in the end we encourage participation on the fundraisers we do and we are looking at cool neat ideas to fund raise but mostly we hit the parents up for checks to keep their kids account in the black and keep the activities and the fun happening.
  10. highcountry

    Commitment.

    There is comfort in knowing you are not alone, I have this all the time but it is not quite as bad as it used to be. Being SM for 3 years now the scouts and parents know what the expectations are, in addition we have created some rules and implemented them. Some folks never learn though. Some things helped, others didn't work. I too am amazed at the parents who have given up on this battle, people's attention spans are short and with many, it is apparent they will change their minds and do something else when something "better" appears on the radar screen. I have tried to illustrate to parents we are trying to teach the scouts the value of commitment and communication vs the latest gratest flavor, courtesy and the value of planning (Actually writing things on a calendar is a foriegn concept to many) and being mature enough to say no to a later, funner opportunity than what they originally committed to. We have a troop policy that if one does not make a campout they signed up for without giving 5 days prior notice, they will be charged for the full cost of the event. Un avoidable circumstances are of course exempt. The scouts that fail to show, or we find out 2 days beore that they chose to go dirt biking or whatever with buddies are charged....period. That has helped a little. We tried custom made permission slips but that did not work. Our slips were a 2 part deal, we were to get back a signed copy so we had confirmation the parent knows about what their son signed up for and they are clear on it. The family keeps the other half as it serves as a reminder of the event and provides the name and number of the lead adult on the activity to contact in case something happens or they have questions. This was aimed at fixing the problem of "Oh we forgot" as I mentioned the art of making notes on a calendar seems to be a forgotten art. It also is aimed at fixing the old defualt of everyone calling the SM for every change, question etc. Despite constant reminders we only got one quarter to one third of the slips back, chose that it is not a battel we wanted to fight any longer and dropped it. I have a scout or two that have had several trips debited off theri accounts when they failed to show or cancelled out last minute for a non essential alternate activity that came up. They ahve or are in teh process of dropping out of scouts, having had theri fun with camping and now moving into new interests in the later teenage years...that's life. We have gotten many parents and otherwise caring scouts to think and chang etheir attitudes a bit though. I think this is another symptom of the times we live in and it is sad.
  11. Horse manure to you too John, sorry the kids in my trioop/town are not jsut like yours, bbut that is the way things work and the way kids are wired up here. We are in a somewhat remote town, nearest next troo is 20 miles away. I can tell you it is hard enought o get parents to drive to campouts an hour away, gettting them to drive kids to merit BAdge Couneslours isn't going to work. The kids in my tropp WITH EXTREMNELY RARE EXCEPTION don't have it on their radar screen to look up and call MBC's from outside the troop. As I noted without MB Colleges and Summer camps we would rarely have anyone make Star. As I noted, we make sure the boys learn the skills we don't make getting a badge easier than it should be but we don't go out of our way to make it any harder either. Doing it the way some have suggested would absolutely lead to nearly all my scouts dropping after making 1st class and either sticking with school sports or sitting home with the Xbox. As I noted, I have a pretty full plate, I have to manage my time and having Scouts call from my troop or others to set up doing a badge is not going to fit in my schedule. I shouldn't have to put inmore time, I already volunteered to do a good job as SM and councel badges on occasion as well. As far as I am concerned, let district try and get teachers and othes to sign up as MB Counselours, other than felo Firefighters I managed to get to co first aid, E prep and Fire saftery, I really don't have even more time to get others to come on board. We as I am sure many units have experienced, it is terribly hard to get adults to volunteer at all, let alone do a good job. To ask even more of their time and demand things be done in a manner that is significantly more inconvenient and you will see good volunteers drop. If counsel came to me and told me I could not be a troop only MBC, I would do one of two things....Say fine take me off as a counselour to all badges or List as a district wide MBC but not be available for anyone other than my own scouts inmy troop. This goes back to a problem found anywhere where people donate time, money or services, keep going back to the pool of volunteers and ask for even more, then wonder why they end up leaving. Glad it works for you John, but it won't for us, and I gauranttee you I understand our kids, our adults, commute times, motivation etc better than you our situation. And no, it is not the same everywhere.
  12. We have no problems with a parent being a MBC for thier kids so long as other kids are doing the badge with them at the same time. I am SM and I am also listed on about 8 MB's to counsel. The only times I do MB's is with a sign up sheet and the badge is done outside scout meetings, each scout is tested and engaged and we watch to see each one is actually learning the skills, not just sitting through the sessions and getting a checkoff for having had a pulse and sitting there. The only other time a parent signs off on their kid's MB requirements for which they are a registered is when they send copies of their son's work to other troop MB counselors to verify the scout did the work. This happesn when tehy come home from MB Colege and summer camp and they have a partial and finish up the remaining req's. When my boys are in one of my MB classes, we all know they must go way above and beyond in demostrating they know the material so there is no question there was no favoritism. My boys know that with me, knowing the skill is more important then getting the badge. I suppose some don't like the idea of doing MB clases, but a scout is thrifty, my time is tight and the best way for me to teach E prep or some other badge is to prepare well, get the materials and support, plan the time and do a really good job teaching the badge. We have a lot of fun that way, with fire saftey they get to see all kinds of neat movies at the fire hall that help teach teh requirements, they get to mess around with the fire trucks, teh hoses, the ventilation fnas and all, they learn alot and have fun. When teh day is done I finish teh blue cars and we are done. I am too busy to have all kinds of different scouts wanting to meet and work on different parts of different badges at different days and times and keep track of it all. When we do railroading merit badge, they learn well as they are happy having fun, motivated and excited. We go as a group down to the Locomotive cafility and fet to climb on engines, blow the horn, sometimes ride a yard switcher. I can't take time to set all that up for just one scout but it is worth it when I get a dozen scouts and we set up a great progam. They learn more when they are truely engaged. I have never heard of a scout approaching a MB counselour at anotehr troop to do a badge one one one. To help control my time, I am a trop only counseour as are my other MB Counselors. We already volunterr a ton of time so the boys have a good troop to go to, I have no additional time to counsel badges one on one with kids from other troops from other towns. I'd love to see boys show the initiative to approach a counselor to take a badge he is interested, but in todays day and age, the kids don't think that way and the adults can't work their time efficiently that way either. The majority of our scouts get MB's at summer camp, MB colleges and district our council offerings, after that comes troop MB counselors and classes. Some might say we are making it too easy, I disagree, I think we have adjsuted teh program to meet todays realities. I don't beleive on making it easier, but I also don't beleive in making it a lot harder either. The reality is, if we were to be purists and not go to MB summer camsp, not allow MB colleges or troop group classes, we would not only have no eagle Scouts I wouldn't have any Star scouts, they would revert to X baox and drop out after making 1st class being content with the fun they had ccamping while thery wee mebers. That is the reality of it. The good things is we are not an eagle factory and we make certain the highest priority is the scout learns the requirements and skills in the badge.
  13. I'm experiencing what GB and Lisa explained earleir. I had on of our Eagle Scouts (Now in College) tell me he really didn't get the leaderrship, reposnibility palnning picture until after he was 18. He is one of our most exveptional scouts too. I ahd a parent who is tiuned into reality tell me the same thing independently, that they are only ready for so much at scouting ages, they get better as they move from 12 year olds to 17 year olds but there is only so far you can go in general. I thin k short attention spans, instant gratification, narrow mided focus and other factors make this the norm today vs what kid were like 40 years ago and before. I have had scouts come to mne and exclaim they want to start planning more troop meetings, I have tried to teach, encourage and prime the pump but when it comes down to actaully doing this they are totally un engaged. I have seen the behavior pattern a lot....through out some verbal ideas and then be doen with ti, hope someone else (an adult) picks it up and actually does the work. I have had older scouts suggest bicycle trip activities 3 times, I have encouraged it and promoted their trips as they failed to do so. The guys who insisted on putting one of these events on teh calendar one year faield to sign up for theri own event ! Same with Skiing, had a couple scouts suggest we do a ski outing in addition to the event alreay on the calendar, we said great, and began to coach them on what to plan for and suggest how to go about it. As was predictable, even with check ins and little motivations and ideas they entirely dropped the ball. Our previous scoutmaster allowed events to simply be cancelled, the result was not the boys stepping up and learning from it, they jsut got bored, quit and went home to their xbox. I am getting the level of boy led increasing in the troop but I know there is only so far wecan go and only so fast we can get there. Having a rapidly dying troop is less preferable to the boys having fun and learning some skills via boy led method that has considerable adult led pieces where they are needed. The lst scoutmaster had a troop the was chaotic and diminushing in fun and activity and the mebership and attendance levels were headed downward. I've made significant impovement on the fun and activity level, the mebership and the advancement and even in regards to boy led, but I can't allow enough failure to occur that it keills what has been built upp in our troop. The majority of my scouts are just not that motivated and I know ou limits.
  14. highcountry

    Scouts who leave outing early.

    We are dealing with one of these scouts right now. The Scout in question is reaping what he has sown. He is working on his Eagle Project and it has been dragging on for months, the reason, almost no scouts in our troop will help him on the project as they have no respect for him, leaving campouts early (And sometimes showing up late) is one of his hallmarks. He will be having a friendly chat from several adult leaders soon regarding his poor attitude and lack of participation or leadership. He will be informed that no SM or ASM in the troop will be signing off on his SM conference until he starts demonstrating scout like behavior and more over....Eagle like behavior. This includes being on campouts from begining to end, no more of Mom showing up with him saturday about 10 am and her picking him up at 7:30 am Sunday. I like 2 cub dad's idea ! I wouldn't shift the agendas around so they miss out on fun, I'd be plain and direct. 1. Inform scout and his dad the EVERYONE is sick of the selfish behavior and failure to pull his own weight. In the future dad or momn will not be allowed on campouts and the son stays the entire camp and pulls his weight. If they cannot live with that then they will not be permitted on any more campouts. 2. If ths scout does come on campouts and stays the entire time but still won't do any of the work, they will be delayed advancement as they will not be having scout spirit signed off and no one will sit and have a SM conference. If they whine and create a problem, suuggest they find another troop. You don't need negative energy and wasted time when you have a troop full of scouts doing the right things to put your energies into.
  15. highcountry

    Religious services on overnight trips

    I don't see a seperate signature line for the DRP. Reading the DRP (It has been years since I filled out an application so I have forgotten the wording since) I see nothing that requires the unit to provide religious services. I make it convenient for each family to provide the service of their choosing so I support it in that way. We are normally back early enough on Sunday and can accomodate everyone. The problem I had was one demanding parent that had to have something custom for his kid, and I tried a couple ways to accomodate. That wasn't good enough and he remained demanding, I was glad they never joined, he had clear warning signs of being a PITA, something I don't need more of when I am volunteering my time and energy. The other 30 some odd families were fine and dandy with the way things have been running, I'm not making major shifts to accomodate 1 complainer when the majority are good with how we run things.
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