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JMHawkins

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About JMHawkins

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  1. Ha. Yes, good point. Just like BSA prohibiting laser tag. Nothing to stop a bunch of guys - who happen to also be members of Troop 123 - from playing laser tag on their own, so long as their parents agree. Shoot, after laser tag, they might even go camping with sheath knives and home-made alcohol stoves. Or maybe help out around the house by using a cordless drill or wheelbarrow. The sad thing is, BSA could have fought against the overlawyering that's at the heart of the risk-aversion in society. "How are kids ever supposed to learn to do anything if people get sued for letting them use a wheelbarrow?"
  2. JMHawkins

    Response to Stosh

    I'm pretty much with Stosh on this. The whole point of the program is to give the scouts experience being responsible for themselves and their fellow "citizens." Adults carry so much inherent authority in a boy's routine world, our very presence can cause them to go passive and wait for an adult to tell them what to do. By the time a boy joins a troop, he's had five years of Elementary School to learn how to do what he's told in a group setting, and another 7 years of Middle+High School if he needs extra practice. He doesn't need Scouts to learn how to follow someone else's rules. He needs to start learning how to make decisions on his own. We are experiencing a variation of this in our Troop. We started it 3 years ago, and had no older scouts. All our guys had to start learning from scratch as 10 1/2 or 11 year olds. Three years later on, the core leaders of that initial batch have emerged, put on some maturity and gained some experience, and are doing really well. The problem is, those guys tend to like to hang out together - they are a natural patrol at this point, and they now wield that same sort of authority shadow - the other guys wait for one of them to make a decision. Well, great, but it's slowly morphing us into a Troop Method troop where it's the older scouts that are stunting the patrols instead of the adults. Funny thing is, the older guys are showing some of the same frustrations with younger scouts that adults often do. They're sort of extra-junior JASMs. None of this is a complaint, just an observation. We all struggle to make the program work right and none of us pull it off perfectly. But if we remember that our goal should be to help the scouts practice for adulthood, we're more likely to get closer to the mark.
  3. ~~Or does your statement assume adults are around and just in the background?/b> Or possibly it assumes BSA could change some of its rules?
  4. JMHawkins

    Backpack Wood Badge?

    Kudu, is this course for the Adults or for the Scou...er, ha, Trailmen?
  5. JMHawkins

    Soda on camping trips

    The SPL should run the PLC. The PLC "runs the troop" and "running the troop" should mostly consist of coordinating between Patrols. Which are run by the PLs. I'm partial to the idea of an ASPL being the PLs primary "coach" for helping them learn their job. That's the ideal anyway. Usually it falls short, maybe by a little, maybe by a lot, depending. But the more we can push things in that direction, the better the results. As to "Rules", I'm not partial to them. Sure, there need to be some, but the fewer arbitrary "Adults said..." rules, the better. We struggle with this of course, as our well-intentioned parents want rules. (Funny thing about rules though, they never solve the problem. Possibly someone following the rules can solve a problem, but the rules never solve anything by merely existing.. but that's another subject). Especially with Scout-aged young men, it's kind of important for them to understand "why" more than "what." If we're going to "prepare them to make good ethical and moral choices" in their lifetimes, we're going to need to let them practice actually making choices. How are we helping them to make good choices if we're not only making the choices for them, but making choices they don't actually like?
  6. Iron Chef is one of our troop's favorite outings. We use an off-season council camp and get a building with some table space - something like a craft lodge. Friday night, Scouts arrive, set up camp, have a campfire, etc. Saturday we have volunteers from the families show up to teach various culinary skills. It's one of the few adult-led instruction activities we have. Patrols rotate through three stations in the morning (about a half hour to 45 minutes each), learning things like proper knife skills, preparing a whole chicken, mixing sauces, making stocks, spices, baking, etc. (all the cooking is with dutch ovens, backpacking or camping stoves). Then the scouts usually go off for a couple hours at a local pool. Afternoon there are three more instruction sessions, then it's Iron Chef time! We unveil the mystery ingredient and the "pantry table" where we've got a collection of food available for them to use. They have 40 minutes to come up with their menus, then it's the Draft. Each patrol in turn gets to "draft" one item from the pantry, so they sometimes have to contend with another patrol picking something they planned to use. 90 minutes to cook three to five dishes, then the adults judge. Saturday night they do whatever, and Sunday we pack up, clean up, and head home. They're pretty creative and actually do a really good job putting together decent meals. The most amazing thing to me is how energetic the Scouts are about it. Even the guys who are usually slackers bust their behinds.
  7. Well guys, it's been fun. Thanks for all the advice I've gotten over the years. Keep doing your best to do your duty, all of you are making a difference in young men's lives.
  8. JMHawkins

    Decision delayed

  9. JMHawkins

    Changing horses midstream

    Oh dear. Not that I should be complaining about the free ice cream, but I am not a fan of the new website.
  10. JMHawkins

    Help me understand your point of view

    I'm just thinking that A Scout is Courteous has taken it's hits over the past 20 years and probably will continue to do so for a few more. Toleration is based heavily on respecting others, their beliefs, their choices, and their privacy. I give that courtesy and expect it in return from others. This is one of th most worthy comment made on this thread, or perhaps any recent thread. Thank you. Courteous is underappreciated today.
  11. JMHawkins

    No Patch- No SMC and No BOR

    Does anybody think its units like this that drive kids out of scouting less than anything that comes out of Irving? Scoutdaddy21- Its really your sons battle, you should talk to the scoutmaster about advancement, on a troop level, not just about your son. You should be ready to take over as Advancement Chair as the reason the jerk is such a jerk is because he doesnt think anyone else would do what he does Surprise him I agree with this, though Standard Disclaimer #1 applies, namely: parents should give unit leaders the benefit of doubt and not leap to conclusions about motivations and personalities. Take the time to make a thorough and fair evaluation of the Advancement Chair before reaching any conclusions about his residency in jerkdom. But if you do conclude he is in fact a jerk and presenting a poor example of authority to the scouts, then volunteer for the committee, make yourself a thoroughly useful and valuable member, then chuck the jerk out of his position of authority. That is also a good lesson for the scouts, that when someone has power who doesn't really deserve it, that it takes more than just complaining to solve the problem. But that fight is separate from your son dealing with his setback. Things operate on two levels -he had to own dealing with the current situation, and it will be a valuable lesson for him. This won't be the last jerk with authority he ever meets in his life. But you own dealing behind the scenes to improve the unit as best you can. Do everything you can to keep those to fights separate, don't step on your son's opportunity to grow and learn, and don't let there be a problem with the AC be just because your son had an issue. If it's not a widespread problem with the troop, then let it go. As far as uniforms go, our Troop does require full uniform and book for a BOR, but considering that several scouts have borrowed shirts and neckerchiefs from other scouts for the BOR, missing a patch would hardly be a problem. I'm actually quite impressed with the lenghts our Scouts will go to sometimes to make sure their fellow scouts don't miss out on an advancement opportunity.
  12. JMHawkins

    Help me understand your point of view

    I think the local option will not be satisfactory. Parties on both sides want the BSA to be a conduit for disseminating their practice of morality qwazse is absolutely right about this. Now, on the one hand, there's an argument to be made that's exactly what you should be doing if you have a the proper morailty, since BSA is in the business of disseminating proper morality. But I disagree a bit there. I think BSA technically isn't in the business of disseminating morality. It's in the business of "preparing youth to make good ethical and moral choices." It's hard to prepare someone to make a choice if you tell them what all the "right" answers are ahead of time. I think we need to focus on the "making good choices" part, not on the "right answers" part. To that end, whichever side of this debate you are on, if you have to argue your case, explain why you believe your answer is right, that's going to do more to prepare youth to make choices than if you can point to a rule made two thousand miles away and say "them's the rules."
  13. JMHawkins

    Top-Down Advancement -- Why?

    Because he's not confident, he's also apt to avoid da task. Not good at firebuilding? Fall back and let another boy do it. Not good at compass work? Follow along with a patrol mate and fake it. Yeh never can be retested, eh? So yeh aren't likely to be put in a spot where yeh individually have to perform da skill on your own. I see this all the time. The same handful of truly proficient scouts build the fire, cook the meal, etc., for the guys who don't have the skills. I mean, after all, we teach them to be helpful, right? Now, as SMs, we hold up those proficient scouts as great guys, but ultimately, even though we have a very active outdoor program, that by itself isn't a guarantee that each individual scout will learn these skills. We need something to prod them into learning. Advancement is one of the individual things in the program - seems like a waste not to use it. I'm amazed when our goal is to teach character and citizenship and fitness, yet scouters won't follow the words as written Y'know fred, if us folks who you think shouldn't be Scouters were willing to just ignore what BSA put out when we didn't like it, we wouldn't be having this discussion. We'd just be ignoring it instead of making the case for changing it. Remember, there's a second part to the full definition of "A Scout is Obedient." It doesn't end with "he follows the rules" and it doesn't say "he follows the rules without questioning the wisdom of the people who made them."
  14. I can hardly complain if National does with membership decisions exactly what I think they should do with Advancement and Saftey, namely leave it up to the units. They've done a terrible job centralizing everything else, so I say let the COs make the call.
  15. For these near misses, can we just send in a photo and general description of each boy in the troop? Proactive reporting would save so much time! Just mention you drove to the trailhead on a public road. The near miss there probably dwarfs anything that (almost) happened on the trail. Seriously though, I think structured interviews of a stratified random simple of unit's across the nation will be more effective and accurate. If the objective is getting information out to other unit leaders about things that can go wrong, this would be great. My insurance company sends me a quarterly newsletter/magazine with lots of stories about claims. The highlight is always on what could've been done to prevent the damage or injury. I've learned more about safety from those articles than I ever have from restrictions coming from on-high. Most leaders have a good idea of the troubles they had last year, and your more likely to get them to rattle off that info than to report every incident pig or small. We have a strict policy of hushing up pig incidents around here. It's only common sense - the last pig incident in the Pacific Northwest nearly led to war between the US and Great Britain.
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