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Everything posted by jmcquillan

  1. jmcquillan

    God OR Country ?

    If memory serves me correctly, in the time when the words "under God" were added to the Pledge, this country was not far removed from victory in war, and our President was Eisenhower. The addition of the words was originated by the Knights of Columbus, I believe, but the follow-up was by the leadership, Executive and Legislative, of a nation very thankful for having succeeded in their efforts during the war. Remember that during that time, the predominant religions of the country were Christian or Jewish, and the words were added, I think, in as generic fashion as was understood in that day, and as a way of recognizing that a diety, undefined officially but known to all of that day, had played a great part in guiding the nation to the successful conclusion of the war. That being the case, it has always been my understanding (by way of my upbringing and childhood), that God (the one of your choice) had played his part, that he had guided a grateful nation to victory, and that by doing our "duty to country", we were, in fact, doing our "duty to him (God of choice)". Acting and behaving in a fashion that followed his guidance, whether doing duty to country or going to church, no matter the religion, he was satisfied with us. Thus, the two have, for me, been inseparable and equal. My faith in my God (even though for years not practiced by regular church attendance) is the same as my faith in my country. The two exist side by side and always will. And even though the fervently religious might argue that He holds the "power" over us, and therefore reigns supreme over us, I would argue that He's all too happy to see us doing our duty to country as our duty to him. Today, as the variety of religion has advanced many fold over that of the late 40's and early 50's here, I would still argue that the words "under God" can be read as "under your God"...whatever God or Gods that might be. Ultimately, if there is, indeed, a God above, I believe that He or She is one, no matter that multitude of names we humans give to Him/Her. The end for all of us will be at the same gates, whether Pearly or not, and that diety will be waiting. Our many eyes on this planet see in many colors and ways. And my vision of my God is certainly not the same as that of the other gazillion people that inhabit the planet with me. That He/She knows. And that He/She accepts and expects. Thus, for me it is a wonder that the words "under God" have stirred such contraversy. For in each of our visions of God, the words "under God" could certainly be read as "under My God, and under Your God, too". If only we made the effort to see it that way...
  2. jmcquillan

    Statement of Faith

    Rooster7 said: "I don't think it would be appropriate if the Scoutmaster lectured the Scouts and their families as to the significance of those differences." Good point, and one that I always tried to keep right up front in my mind, for I knew no more than the rest of the crowd about the differences, and was always learning myself. I never pretended to minister to the troop. That was, as still is, beyond me.
  3. In Scouting we already have a method by which we, as Scout Leaders, should be teaching manners. It's known as "setting the example". That should be sufficient.
  4. jmcquillan

    Statement of Faith

    If asked to lead a prayer... I usually found a way around it, for in my troop, the circumstances that NJCubScouter eluded to were real. We had Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Muslims, and two Chinese families (I admit to never really knowing what faith they held). I was never comfortable with a generic format with such a variety. My appreciation for the depth of belief and the differences between us all lead me to using that variety as a learning experience and tool for all in the troop. If asked to plan for a prayer at whatever troop function we had, I would always seek out members of each faith the troop had, and ask that each provide us with a prayer specific to their faith, short, but specific. And prior to any of my volunteers speaking, I would remind the gathered throng that the prayers we were about to hear and partake in, were a reminder of the very differences between us all, and that we should all listen, and hear as best we could, the words spoken. From time to time, I would ask one of the volunteers to talk about what the prayer meant in his/her own faith, so that those of us unfamiliar with that faith might glean a little more understanding. I was always just a little amazed at how far that simple method went to promoting a better understanding and tie between each of us. If asked to lead a prayer, and asked to be generic under those circumstances, I never could do a good job. So I chose a different road.
  5. jmcquillan

    What would you do?

    At the very least, have him clean up his own mess...i.e. consequences for ones actions. I might side with sctmom but for the thought that "punishment" might over-ride lesson learning by some degree. Knowing the boy and the circumstances would attend to that issue, though. Did he know right from wrong? Was this a prank? Was this done with malice? I assume he doesn't do this at home....
  6. From memory here, I don't have my book at the office... The SM is charged with performing that task, and no other, unless specifically charged by the SM due to extenuating circumstances (like illness and immediacy of need). That's why they call it the SM conference. Although I will say that in my time, I did have need to ask an ASM to fill in for me when circumstances prevented my attendance. But in each of those cases, the ASM asked had formerly been SM of the troop, and our philosophies were pretty much identical, so I felt quite at ease asking him. Again, just from memory...
  7. jmcquillan

    How Do You Stop a Runaway Troop?

    Bingo, OGE. You hit the nail squarely on the head. Controlling a troops growth can very much depend on whether your troop is the "only game in town". A troop really doesn't want that if there's a large pool of potential Scouts. We faced that years ago in our troop. There were, and still are, two troops in town. Ours was growing leaps and bounds. From what we heard from the in-coming parent corps, our troop had the structure and program that parents were hoping their kids would pick. Obviously, they did. Our numbers climbed while the other troop in town stayed stagnant for a while, and then started to decline. Nothing we could do made a difference. We feared stepping on toes by going to the other folks and trying to help them out with suggestions. We did try making those suggestions as "asides" during conversations with the leaders at summer camp and roundtables, but almost all our help fell on deaf ears. We were becoming overwhelmed by our own success. We never had more than 7-8 boys per patrol, but we had a lot of patrols. And we kept our head above water, and kept the program up, too. But we saw problems if things didn't change. The numbers were too big. At cross-overs, we'd usually get all but one or two boys from the two large (100+ Cubs) packs in town. Then, out of the blue, the leadership in the other troop began to change. The new leaders got themselves trained, (a blessing for all), and they started to become active in their program, and their interactions with the Cub Packs. They even came forward and asked us for "suggestions". We breathed a huge sigh of relief, and the floodgates opened. When they realized that we were in fear of becoming the only game in town, and that we were hoping, praying actually, for an equal split at cross-over, they really set to working with us to get their own troop up to par with ours. And it worked. Since that time, both troops have been able to maintain their own, the cross-over split is usually 50-50, or 60-40 one way or the other. And the retention in both troops is remarkable. Of course, if you're the only troop in town, then, as others have indicated, working with your Council to get another troop started may be the best route.
  8. I came home from my second tour in Vietnam with a few missing parts, and 2 Purple Hearts. That effort and sacrifice might have meant more, and might have been more tolerable, had the Commander in Chief had the slightest bit of sincerity in his concern for the troops he sent forth. eisely, you probably understand more than some. A deep sense of sincerity towards ones position and responsibilities shows forth without effort. And that's one thing that I like about GWB. There's no show there. It's real, and it's deep. He may be far more of a religious man than some who have occupied that office, and that's alright with me. Somehow, the old hurts seem a little lighter for it.
  9. jmcquillan

    Hatchet or just ax

    One of the visible trademarks of Scouting has always been that of self-sufficiency in the boy. The ability to survive in the wild using the skills he learned in Scouting. Although the ax and hatchet are only small tools that do only one job, it's kind of sad to see them being left on the wayside as not necessary any more. With all due respect to the leave no trace and environmental movements, I still like to see the boys learning the old ways, how to do things with their hands, without electricity, without buttons to push, without the things we take for granted as necessities today. Having to build a fire or shelter using hand or woods tools may not be something everyone has to, but I think it's a skill still worth knowing and understanding well. The lights may go out someday, the gas may run out someday, even if only for a little while. Or the boy may be one of those who is lost in the woods and has only his wits and tools with him. I'd rather he know how to use them, and therefore will never look upon them as eventually disappearing.(This message has been edited by jmcquillan)
  10. jmcquillan

    Hatchet or just ax

    Woods tools all have their place, and as long as their use is taught, observed, and checked correctly and frequently, there should be no reason to eliminate any. Eliminating one is doing ourselves no favors. Teach it right and make sure it's being used correctly is the better way. With regard to fears that the blade may come in contact with the fingers of the other hand, I'd say that's a sign that they're not being used right. The fingers of the other hand should be nowhere near the point where the blade impacts the wood. And, unfortunately, there are no devices of protection for the hands like boots for feet. And even boots on feet will only slow the blade, not stop it. Steel toed boots will stop or deflect the blow, but only if dead-on. Leather is no fool-proof protection against the blade of an ax, or the chain of a saw. Woodsmans competitions at any level less than adult require the use of armor over the boots, but that would be costly and hardly easy to provide for Scouts in all circumstances, even if it provided the best protection. Hands don't have that option at all. There are Kevlar gloves and gloves made with a core of stainless steel wire under a fiberglass yarn on the market, specifically made for protection against cuts, but not direct puncture or blade impact.
  11. jmcquillan

    square knots?

  12. jmcquillan

    Square Knot Earned?

    That is incorrect information. See section I of the Guide to Safe Scouting under "Youth Protection and the Adult Leadership" Again...I stand corrected. Hey, give the guy the patch, and the credit due for a job well done, if, indeed, he's done the job well.
  13. jmcquillan

    Square Knot Earned?

    If this fellow is serving as a Cubmaster, he's registered with his "primary" position being Cubmaster, not his "only" position. He should have dual-registration showing that he serves as the Tiger Den Leader, too. If he was registered as a Tiger Den Leader first, then he's probably dual registered. If so, that record should show his time in position. Use that argument, along with the other eloquent arguments you've stated here, and write a letter to, or call, the chairman of the "Council" Training Committee. Your District Chair sits on that committee, as do the other district chairs, and hopefully that whole committee should be able to "see the light". This is not a time, nor is there ever a time, in Scouting, for adult leaders to be this, how shall I say this...anal...in their interpretations of the guidelines. Being registered in one "primary" position should not block the possibility of deserved recognition for efforts put into another. Case in point...your District Training Chair likely serves in another position with a troop. Which is his primary? Does he feel that he should not be eligible for any recognition for his efforts and energies spent in the other? If he does, he's really only hurting himself, and obviously, others. It's rather simple really, and you've hit the nail right square on the head. He deserves it. But, before you go swinging the bat, try to see what registrations he has, when did his Cubmaster registration became his primary, was his Tiger Den Leader registration still in force and stay in force when he took on the Cubmaster position, too?
  14. jmcquillan


    "I guess the people of Boston (or at least some of them) are liberal in this respect." One must remember that the Greater Boston area is, indeed, a bastion of liberalism, and more Democrat than Republican in a big way...but we have a Republican Governor...go figure. If a conservative point of view or policy is to be taken to task, it will happen here...for better or worse.
  15. jmcquillan

    SPL Elections

    I always encouraged the PLC to set election guidelines that did not permit on Scout to serve consecutive terms. They've gone along with that, because they all would like a shot at the position themselves someday. They do, however, allow for a Scout to be re-elected to a second term after he's sat out for one term.
  16. jmcquillan

    So, about this ticket thing...

    OGE, Don't let the secrecy thing become a discouragement to the course. Look at it this way... No matter how much education or experience we've had in our private, public, and professional lives, the experience of Woodbadge is one that wants you to enter fresh and ready to go, with no preconceived notions about agendas or skills. If you enter the course with an open mind, ready to learn new things, ready to let things you might already know be put into a new order for you, ready to see how many things you've always taken for granted as a skill you know can be put to new use, in a new way, with folks you don't know but are going to get to know pretty quick, then you'll get the most out of the course. It's easy for those who have been through the course to say "all will be revealed", making it sound, oh sooooo secret, but all will be revealed, at the appropriate time in the cirriculum. Any good teacher knows that there's a sequence to presenting information, to best instill it in the student. And that's part of WB...the timing. It may seem secret, but many adults tend to enter these things with a "I've been a SM for 10 years, and I know it all" type of attitude (I did). And that won't serve them, or their patrol mates well. So...just let it happen, and in good time, the information, the program, your patrol, and your ticket will happen. And you'll be happier that you followed the trail, rather than trying to get to the finish first. Good luck. Enjoy.
  17. jmcquillan

    Campaign hats

    Most Scout Shops, or the BSA catalog, offer a "board" to slide the hat into by its brim, thereby keeping the shape and protecting the edges. I'm not sure if the same folks offer the rain protector, which is basically a clear "raincoat" for the hat, but you might look. I had one left over from the military, and was able to get more at my local Army/Navy store. You might try that. As to it getting tossed into a locker....well, that's a discussion you'll have to have with your Scout....good luck.
  18. jmcquillan

    A Parent's Guide to Summer Camp

    ScouterPaul, That really depends on what the camp offers for program. I'd say that what your Scouts are signed up for is about as much as they should be, no more, perhaps one badge less. But...check the daily camp program and see what other activities the Scouts might be able to involve themselves in as a "troop". The work part of camp is important, to be sure. But it should not take away from the opportunity to have fun. My experience is that it's always easier to drop a MB session than to add one, so you might leave things as they are for now, and check out the program at the first SMs meeting at camp, day one. Then you can sit with the Scouts and talk about other things they might be able to do. Let them be part of the decision making process.
  19. jmcquillan

    Wood Badge Neckerchief

    You might be able to obtain them directly from Gilwell in England. Having worn the one presented at receiving my beads years ago, it felt pretty small and I'm pretty tall (large), and I really wanted a larger one. A friend happened to be making one of his regular pilgrimages across the pond, supposedly on business, but we knew better, and asked if I'd like him to get one at Gilwell. The one he brought home was larger, and made of a finer fabric...quite nice actaully...and it fits!! You might seek their website and see if they offer it for sale.
  20. jmcquillan

    getting the parents to stop talking

    As drhannon said, "...I have stood in front of the pack with "Signs up" and will stand there until everyone is quiet." This is an especially good tactic. It works even better if you can add a little factor of "shame" into it. Years ago we did this by asking the den leaders to participate, too. When the Cubmaster (me) found himself standing in front of the crowd with his "sign up", the den leaders would quietly get the boys into standing formation, also with "signs up". It took only a little bit for the parents to realize that their own sons were asking them to behave. And it only took a few times doing this to get the "hint" across, after which, from time to time, it would be repeated when necessary.
  21. jmcquillan


    Two to three hours, not more. And start as early as you can. After three hours, and after 9:00 PM, you'll begin to have problems. Rememmber, these are still very young boys, and usually their siblings (if in attendance) are younger and harder for Mom & Dad to control at that late time. It was years ago for me, (1980's), but we pretty much followed a program similar to sctmom, but with no guest speaker. I think the notion of a guest speaker was, for us, just a little beyond the age of the kids. The exception was those few times we had a local and well known story-teller ply his trade at the meetings. He kept the kids enthralled with his tales and stories. Other times, we would, like others, have a magician or clown, or other entertainer. Once or twice a year, we'd have a cake "auction" where families (or dens) would make cakes to put up for auction after dinner. Those cakes would become dessert, and the money raised would go back to the boys in the form of funding pack or den activities or awards. It was never a large amount. The prices were kept to a limit of $5.00 and price increments during the auction were kept to 10 cents, and only with the den leaders or parents permission. Even with all of this, and opening and closing ceremonies, we were able to fit awards into the program and not go over on time. It just takes planning and a lot of adult help to make it happen. We were, at the time, "blessed" with 14 dens. That's 100 cubs, and their parents, and their siblings, and....you get the picture. We were also "blessed" with a couple of folks who knew how to get parents to volunteer to do things and help out where they might not have wanted to, and ended up having fun anyway.
  22. jmcquillan

    What do you tell the boys?

    Quixote Understanding that you directed your question to Bob White, let me take a stab at explanation from my point of view... Part A requires that the Scout discuss the "how to" part of planning and carrying out a family discussion. No discussion of sex with the counselor is necessary. Part B requires that the Scout actually plan and carry out that family discussion, as a family exercise, without the counselor attending. I would suppose that any feedback and reporting between the Scout and the counselor, after the fact, would be an area where the counselor would ask how things went, but not delve into details about the discussion, for obvious reasons.
  23. jmcquillan

    What do you tell the boys?

    When my own sons joined Scouting, that was the time I got involved. Almost immediately I was "offered" the opportunity to become the SM, but that's another whole thread. Knowing that the boys would be subject to ideas and words they might have not heard before, my wife and I decided that even at their young age, starting "the talk" at that age might prove worthwhile. We discussed concepts of foul language, sex, and inappropriate behavior. We discussed our own views on the subjects, how others might see these things differently, how we hoped our boys would treat the subjects, and, most of all, how Mom & Dad would always be open to any discussion the boys wanted to have on any of the subjects, no matter how embarrassing the boys might think the matter was. Better to have Mom & Dad's door wide open for anything, than to have the boys think they were on their own to figure things out, or believe only what other boys might tell them. And...we did get a lot of questions. But we were only too glad to field them and dispell any incorrect notions. We made it a point of asking, from time to time, how things were going on this front with the kids. Better to ask sometimes, than to wait for them to bring it up. That thinking is what I used as my guide when having that very first introductory get together with new Moms & Dads as their boys joined the troop. I was quite open, but not specific in detail, of course, in telling these parents how my wife and I opened the doors for our boys, knowing all too well what they might be faced with. My stated purpose was to get these parents to understand that it's better that their sons learn certain concepts and ideas from them, than from other kids. And it's better that their sons know that Mom & Dad's door for questions and answers is always open. I also told them specifically that I, as SM, nor any of the other adult leaders, wanted to fill that role for them. We would, if necessary, field questions and handle situations when called upon, but would rather that M&D prepare their boys for a new level of life experience. I also told the parents, and instructed the boys yearly, that my door was always open for any discussion, not to feel embarrased, and not to worry about being a snitch if they felt they had to tell me something. I told them all that I expected them to be on their best behavior all the time. And while I knew they couldn't possibly be perfect gentlemen (although I referred to them all that way), I expected them to not use foul language, and that certain subject matter was off-limits for discussion while in the troop setting. We were always fortunate enough that the example we, as adults, set, was one that kept the boys feeling comfortable around each other and us, so that anything that needed to be talked about, could be.
  24. jmcquillan

    When to call the police vs. parents

    While not thought of as "illegal" in the same way pot is, fireworks of any sort are illegal here in Massachusetts. My only experience with this type of situation is with possession of fireworks...at summer camp. While not a member of the troop who had this problem, I was directly involved. A Scout came to summer camp with fireworks in his possession. It seems his family had just returned from a visit to North Carolina, where the stuff is quite legal, and brought home a supply, knowing all the while that it was illegal at home. (What kind of example is that?) The stuff was stacked on the dining room table, and the kids were told by the parents not to touch it. (That's an invitation if I've ever heard one.) Naturally, our young Scout decided that bringing some to summer camp would be a great idea...he'd be a local hero with his fellow Scouts...even though he and all the Scouts had been told by the Troop leaders that the stuff was illegal. They were attending camp during the 4th of July week. Once at camp, the Scout showed his limited wisdom, and showed the stuff off to friends within hearing and sight of a camp counselor. Upon realizing that he had been caught, he hurried to "sell" the stuff to a fellow troop member, thereby thinking he'd be free and clear. Both were caught. The situation was brought to the attention of the troop leaders by the camp staff. Together they had to decide how to handle the situation. The guidelines for camp were clear...the Scouts would have to leave camp. "How"...was the question. Should the police be called in addition to the parents, or just the parents. In the end, it was decided to call only the parents and send the boys home. (This was day 2 of camp. No refunds...nothing...the rules had been broken.) The parents were, needless to say, quite upset, and those who had brought the stuff home from NC did not understand at all. That was as close as we came to needing the police...if for no other reason, to explain the definition of "illegal". Eventually, both families left camp with their sons in tow. The fireworks were delivered to the local police station for disposal by camp staff. The police told them that they had made the correct decision in handling the situation. One of the boys, the one who got caught "holding the bag" after "buying" the stuff, never came back to Scouting. The troop thought they knew why, but never expounded upon that. The other boy, the one who brought the stuff from home, ended up staying in the troop, and became somewhat the better for it. Although most feel he never got to his "true potential" as a young man, he did become a better Scout and a better kid in general. Having the police involved, and thus a police record, might have made things generally worse for all. We'll never know. Now, for sure, pot might be looked upon as being "more" illegal by some, and "less" illegal by others. But I'll leave that to the differing camps on whether it should be legalized or not. In my mind, illegal is illegal. The decision on how to handle the situation comes from knowing all the people who will handle the situation without the police. Are Mom & Dad known to the troop leadership? Are Mom & Dad the kind of folks who will take the matter and "fix" it? Are they not? Is there a need to pursue the matter through the police, or can it be resolved by the parties involved (M&D and Scout Leaders) without a police record? Is the boy simply a victim of his age and inexperience, or is he more sinister? Only those involved can tell whether treating the situation through "all" appropriate channels means involving the harshest. Sometimes that will, indeed, be necessary. Sometimes not. Is this taking the law into our own hands? Perhaps. But we're dealing with children, and our best judgement. That's all we have to work with. We hope it's enough, and we hope we're right. In the situation I described, the police couild have been called, but after the fact, even they admitted that their involvement was probably unnecessary.
  25. jmcquillan

    Outing planning

    Our PLC always planned, and still plans, the trips. I should note here that the PLC is always attended by the SM, and the SPL works with him to make sure that the plans being proposed are plans that the SM feels the Troop Committee will support. The SM will give the SPL advice and counsel on dates and acceptability of the boys plans, and once a proposed calendar is set, the SM and SPL present it to the full Committee for consideration, which in our troop takes about an hour or so, just to be sure the dates can be accomodated, and/or changes can be given back to the SM and SPL, ASAP, for PLC consideration. Sounds kind like the book says it should run, huh? Well, it works...not like clockwork all the time. There are bumps in the road, but on the whole, the boys end up feeling a lot of "ownership" of the plans, and therefore they work a little harder to keep their end of the bargain. And that's what it really is...it's a bargain with the SM and the Committee... "We (the Scouts) want to do "X". If you (the Committee) will help us with "Y", then we will do all of "Z" to do our part." Otherwise, and the Scouts understand this, nothing they want to see will happen. It's a learning experience.