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About JerseyScout

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  1. Oh, how I wish our District Advancement Committee had this mindset. They make the Scouts jump through all sorts of hoops, threaten to fail them for all sorts of nonsense, and sometimes do fail them for the silliest of things (my favorite - one Scouts didn't say exactly where hammers were coming from. Because it's so hard to get hammers. They made him come back with letters from people documenting that they'd lend him hammers). One of our moms, who's son went through the process, said her son's write up for his proposal was harder and more complicated than her grant requests, and she's a professor at an Ivy League college. We give the Scouts way more guidance than I'd like, making sure all sorts of exact wording is in each proposal, and our Scouts still get themselves in trouble all the time. I'd never had made Eagle Scout if I had to do what my Scouts today have to. Not the leadership end, the going through red tape and navigating made up rules.
  2. Late to the show, but I've been happy with my REI Done 2 man (2 man meaning two without gear). It's $100, weighs 5 pounds (split it with a buddy), and if you have a membership you get 10% back at the end of the year anyway. Bought it as a cheap "not sure I'm going to keep doing this" option, ended up using it for over 300 miles of backpacking and counting (including 13 nights with a buddy in Wyoming). If you want to carry it by yourself and have room, it's not completely awful (although definitely not ultralight either). http://www.rei.com/product/731378/rei-camp-dome-2-tent
  3. Our old council that disbanded just over a decade ago went back to 1921. Our troop goes back not nearly that far, only to 1965, still a respectable 45 year run.
  4. Hey Shortridge, Here's where I pulled that idea from on Youth Protection Policies - http://www.scouting.org/training/youthprotection.aspx : "Cameras, imaging, and digital devices. While most campers and leaders use cameras and other imaging devices responsibly, it has become very easy to invade the privacy of individuals. It is inappropriate to use any device capable of recording or transmitting visual images in shower houses, restrooms, or other areas where privacy is expected by participants." Between bathrooms and tents (where kids change) are what I refer to as "certain situations", and those situations occur every overnight trip unless every kid has an iron bladder and wears the same clothes an entire weekend. The majority of cell phones fall under "cameras, imaging, and digital devices", especially as Scouts can use those phones to send pictures out or upload them to facebook. Its not a broad policy (its very tailered), but its a policy neverthless. Further along, there are obvious concerns that national is putting out there... "A key ingredient for a safe and healthy Scouting experience is the respect for privacy. Advances in technology are enabling new forms of social interaction that extend beyond the appropriate use of cameras or recording devices (see Barriers to Abuse Within Scouting). Sending sexually explicit photographs or videos electronically or sexting by cell phones is a form of texting being practiced primarily by young adults and children as young as middle-school age. Sexting is neither safe, nor private, nor an approved form of communication and can lead to severe legal consequences for the sender and the receiver. Although most campers and leaders use digital devices responsibly, educating them about the appropriate use of cell phones and cameras would be a good safety and privacy measure." Training at district-level had mentioned that "severe legal consequences" can include charges of taking and trafficing child porn, even if the person taking the picture is under 18. As for the PLC, they are on board with this. They also have the ability to declare cell phones as "necessary equipment" for trips where they feel they are necessary, in which case they will decide who will be carrying them and at what times. However, in this rare instance (as I'm a firm believer in boy-led), the adults made the call on the policy for safety and legal reasons. The boys are responsible for each other and the program, but myself and the other adults are ultimately responsible for each of the boy's safety on trips.
  5. Is there any National BSA policy banning the use of cell phones for youth members? Youth Protection bans the use of camera phones in certain situations as inapropriate pictures can be texted or uploaded to the Internet, but that's all I've found (and it may be it). Our Troop Committee unanimously passed a ban at the last Leader's Meeting to deal with growing safety concerns within the troop related to cell phone use on trips the past year (so its a done deal), I'm just gearing up for the backlash. It should be fun!
  6. We dole out badges at our weekly meetings (usually you wait two weeks or so for your badge to make it back from council). We have one Court of Honor each year, in December, to coincide with the troop's birthday. Quick recongniton of all adult volunteers (read names, everyone stands up, everyone claps, move on). Quick "state of the troop" speech on numbers on trips, advancements, etc. Together these take about five minutes, including bad jokes. We then recognition of each Scout for their achievements the previous year. If we're lucky, they don't knock any candle stands over. This is followed by the Scouts giving a brief (15 minute) slide show, which they usually find the most ridiculous pictures possible for. Then we give our two awards- one to the Scout who attended most activities and one to the Scout who best shows Scout spirit as exemplified by a former Scout who died shortly after making Eagle (the award is named for him). Then on to desert and storytelling for the rest of the evening. The whole thing, set up to cleanup, takes about two hours. In years we have Eagle Scouts (which is all years, last year we didn't have at least one was 1991), we allow the parents to schedule the ceremony. They usually band together and have one ceremony in May or June for all the boys.
  7. It depends what you'er comfortable with. I like to have about $2000 in the acounts at any given time. We've gone as low as $1500 and, at one point years ago, were at almost $10,000 (which was too much). Do what you need to do.
  8. I could never turn a kid away, especially as our troop gets half of our kids from word of mouth. Word-of-mouth kids are obviously interested in being with their friends more than being in Scouts as a whole. Our troop has more than doubled in size in two years to about 35 kids (14 to 20 on each trip, depending which sports season it is). 35 kids is the size of a large class of 5th graders, and is very managable for me, I am still well within my comfort zone. Ten years ago, this troop had over 100 kids in it with a very similar program to the one in place now. I remember having 50 to 60 kids on camping trips. I figure that we'll cross that bridge when (and if) we get to it.
  9. On camping days, I try to wolf down my lunch and spend the balance of my lunch time taking a nap. I then suck on Reese's Pieces while driving.
  10. Don't worry about it. To be honest, to be good at Scouts is less about having been in Scouts and more about being good with kids. If you're good with kids, you can learn the rest out of manuals, at training sessions, or from the people around you.
  11. For patrol cooking, I swear by the simple, straighforward two burner Coleman stoves. I've taken mine cross country through deserts and high mountaints, used it in 102 degrees (that's nighttime Death Valley for ya) and in 6 degrees (our Klondike Derby last year) and never, ever had a problem. We have troop ones that have to be twenty years old and are still kicking. For backpacking, I have a pocket rocket that I like just fine. The coldest weather I've used it in is about 40 degrees (in a rainstorm) and it worked lovely, but I can't vouch for it below freezing because I've never had to try it.
  12. At the end of a hard day, I don't need the joke, just a big "1-7". hahaha! hahahahahaha! haha! Stupid Cowboys. Fly Eagles fly...
  13. Eagle92, you are my favorite person ever at the moment. I just sent an e-mail to the proper fellow over at district.
  14. "Every visitor to troop meeting was openly welcomed and immediately included in the action (boy action - not adults - and probably the most important by a lot" This is absolutely, positively key (and entirely up to the boys in the troop). If the visitors feel immediately welcome, they'll almost always stay. Other than that, good luck, I feel your pain. My own troop was tetering toward a final collapse two years ago (we were down to about 12 active Scouts, almost none of them younger ones) due to poor management and adults suffocating the kids, made all the worse by the Eagle mill the next town over (with 70 kids) and the other troop in town who were taking everyone from our recruitment area (we had only one new kid recruited in three years). The adult-run (not even adult led, flat out adult run) Eagle mill gets kids and keeps about half of them, but is boring as anything (very little camping). The other troop in town looked more organized, so would pull in many of the Weblos, only to have them drop out within six months. My buddy and I (both former troop members in our early 20s) kicked the suffocating adults to the curb, threw control back to the kids, encouraged more adventure, and threw out those ridiculous "Scout Zone" recruitment flyers (replaced with one our kids made up). After two years, we're up to 32 kids despite ten age outs over that period. The troop was very lucky, the kids really took control of their troop and, as stated above, made every new kid feel welcome right off the bat, do the kids who were cajoled into checking us out almost all stuck around. Take that Eagle mill (still staying strong with 60+ kids but we handed them their butts at the last Klondike) and other town troop (fighting for survival with six kids).
  15. I can see and 110% get behind the idea that every leader should have Youth Protection training. I didn't mind taking the 700 online courses. In fact, I took every one of them, required and unrequired, just to make sure I had the best idea of how the program is supposed to run top to bottom. I am fully First Aid and CPR certified, and get renewed every two years through the American Heart Association for work. I enjoyed my one day Scoutmaster 1,2, and 3 course, I argued endlessly with the other people taking the course how their troops were "adult led" (the instructor found this funny and kept backing me up). I even took the merit badge councilor class (which was downright silly, half the training was how a blue card worked), just to set a good example for the rest of my troop leadership. But the idea of IOLS (or ITOLS as its known around here) makes me insane. Learn tenderfoot to first class skills in a weekend? I'm only ten years removed from Eagle Scout (I was only four years removed when I came back to Scouting), who has never "left" camping or high adventure. Between being a Scout, being a leader, and being a guy who camps in his free time, I have probably has over 1000 nights of camping under my belt. I've been Scoutmaster for a full year and de-facto Scoutmaster for the two years before that, so I've been "in charge" for almost 50 trips. My council does not offer an "opt-out" option. I dedicate all or part of 30+ weekends a year for Scouts (without having a kid in the program), I have not been able to bring myself to waste a weekend to learn how to tie knots, that you are supposed to hike down the left side of the road, and to learn how to properly set up a campsite.
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