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Everything posted by kenk

  1. kenk

    New Requirements Question

    As the Advancement Coordinator for my son's troop my only concern with the new requirements is how we'll track exactly which Scout Laws are "used" when completing the Tenderfoot through First Class Scout Spirit requirements. Almost certainly I'll ask the SM to write the Laws used into the handbook (wish they'd have given dedicated spaces for it) in the sign-off boxes (there's a fair amount of room there). BUT, I wonder if there will be an expectation that I capture those in our TroopMaster database - just in case a Scout looses his Handbook. Ken K.
  2. kenk

    New Requirements Question

    Even though all of the Tenderfoot/Second Class/First Class requirements can be worked on simultaneously, I think it is pretty clear that the intent is for the Scout to complete the "next" rank (as of 1/1/2010) under the current requirements, and then all of the remaining ranks would require completion under the new requirements.
  3. kenk

    New Requirements Question

    On page 443 of the new Handbook (under the Eagle Palm Rank Requirements) it says: "The rank requirements in this book are official as of January 1, 2010. If a Scout has started work toward a rank before that date using requirements that were current before January 1, 2010, he may complete that rank only using the old requirements. Any progress toward a rank that is begun after January 1, 2010, must use the requirements as they are presented in this Handbook or in the Boy Scout Requirements book."
  4. I've used http://www.smugmug.com for a number of years for my own personal photos. They are NOT FREE. There is a yearly fee, but that means there is no limit to the number of pics, you don't have to worry about whether they'll be there in the future, there are no adds anywhere, you get great security - from hiding the site to passwords, and now, with their premium service, you can even upload videos. If you want I can give you a code that takes some amount of money off the first year's service, but it also gives me a small amount off my year's service. I'm not including it here because I don't want you to think I'm promoting it for my own benefit. I'm not. I'd rather have you experience it and see how good it is than for me to get some $ savings. Its that good. When you go to http://www.smugmug.com, click on Learn More, and look for the "Why Pay?" tab. The only thing I wish smugmug had that it doesn't currently have is a slick easy way to download fullsize pics from entire galleries. There is a way to do it referred to here: http://www.smugmug.com/help/download-photos and it works quite well and is really pretty easy, but I wish it was built into smugmug.
  5. kenk

    Not passing Board of Review

    Which Life or Eagle requirements involve the need to "hold this kid's feet to the fire"? That is the kind of nonsense that drives me crazy. Let me spell out the Life requirements: 1. Be active in your troop and patrol for at least 6 months as a Star Scout. From the Advancement Committee Policies & Procedures: "A Scout will be considered active in his unit if he is (1) Registered in his unit (registration fees are current) (2) Not dismissed from his unit for disciplinary reasons (3) Engaged by his unit leadership on a regular basis (informed of unit activities through Scoutmaster conference or personal contact, etc.)" That last part is in the book - I didn't make that up. 2. Demonstrate Scout spirit by living the Scout Oath (Promise) and Scout Law in your everyday life. From the Advancement Committee Policies & Procedures: "Scout spirit is defined as living the Scout Oath (Promise) and Scout Law in a Scouts everyday life." 3. Earn 5 more merit badges (so that you have 11 in all), including any 3 more from the required list for Eagle' 4. While a Star Scout, take part in service projects totaling at least 6 hours of work. These projects must be approved by your Scoutmaster. From the Advancement Committee Policies & Procedures: "This may be done as an individual project or as a member of a patrol or troop project. Star and Life service projects may be approved for Scouts assisting on Eagle service projects. The Scoutmaster approves the project before it is started." 5. While a Star Scout, serve actively 6 months in one or more of the positions of responsibility listed in requirement 5 for Star Scout (or carry out a Scoutmaster-assigned leadership project to help the troop). Note that this doesn't specify that a Scout has to complete a project, or a series of tasks, or attend a number of meetings or outings. From what I can tell this is the requirement most adult leaders use to mess with Scouts by telling them that they didn't do enough, or didn't shown enough leadership. 6. Take part in a Scoutmaster conference. From the Advancement Committee Policies & Procedures: "The requirement for advancement is that the Scout participates in a Scoutmaster conference, not that he passes the conference." 7. Complete your board of review. From the Advancement Committee Policies & Procedures: "The review has three purposes: To make sure the work has been learned and completed To see how good an experience the Scout is having in his unit To encourage the Scout to advance to the next rank" "The review is not an examination. The Scout has learned his skill and has been examined. This is a review. The Scout should be asked where he learned his skill, who taught him, and the value he gained from passing this requirement. The Scout reviews what he did for his rank. From this review, it can be determined whether he did what he was supposed to do. The review also reveals what kind of an experience the Scout is having in the troop. With that knowledge, the troop leaders can shape the program to meet the needs and interests of the Scouts. The board should attempt to determine the Scouts ideals and goals. The board should make sure that a good standard of performance has been met. A discussion of the Scout Oath and Scout Law is in keeping with the purpose of the review, to make sure the candidate recognizes and understands the value of Scouting in his home, unit, school, and community." Again, which requirement did he not complete?
  6. kenk

    Not passing Board of Review

    I suspect that the BOR members are adding requirements for the Life rank - which would be a violation of policy. What requirement did the boy not complete? The Scoutmaster already signed off on the POR, right? I don't believe that the BOR has the right to undo that signoff. If he didn't complete the POR then the SM shouldn't have signed off. Now that he did - that is too late - it should not be the boy who pays the price of that misunderstanding between the SM and the Committee members. I feel sorry for the Scout and would most likely advise him to find a new troop. Yeah, I know that procedures say the BOR team - Troop Committee members - have the responsibility to "to determine the Scouts attitude and his acceptance of Scoutings ideals", "make sure that good standards have been met in all phases of the Scouts life", and have a "discussion of the Scout Oath and Scout Law" "to make sure that the candidate recognizes and understands the value of Scouting in his home, unit, school, and community." BUT, to considering most Troop Committee members have marginal background in Scouting to begin with, I would say it had better be a MAJOR transgression from the ideals of Scouting in order for a BOR to reject a Scout.
  7. kenk

    SM report @ Committee meeting

    Budget and plans for new/replacement equipment Fundraising plants Long-range plans for next year based upon feedback from PLC & others
  8. kenk

    Cub Scout knife changes?

    You may be thinking of the Cub Scout knife made by the U.S. company Camillus, who went belly up in 2007 due to the cost competition from Asian manufacturers. They also made the Boy Scout knife and a really nice line of tough knifes under the name Becker Knife & Tool (BK&T). Luckily, the BK&T line was purchased by Kabar. Sadly the same can't be said for the Scout knives. BTW, a cool piece of trivia ... Ethan Becker - designer of the BK&T knives was a co-author of the classic cookbook "The Joy of Cooking".
  9. kenk

    Eagle and the Minimums

    I know I'll upset some of you, so I'll apologize up front. My son completed his Eagle Scout rank in early September of this year. His ECOH is in November. I've read this forum for many years, so I'm pretty well versed in the somewhat inflated expectations that many of the folks on this forum have for Eagle Scouts. I'm pretty sure you'd say my son does not deserve his rank. He's not the finest leader in the troop. Heck, he'll probably never be elected as SPL. The older boys are much more cool and popular than he is, and by the time they age-out the younger boys will be considered more cool and popular than he will be. He didn't get elected into OA in his first election. He completed all the required merit badges and more. Quite a few of them were at summer camp - at what many of you would describe as an Eagle-factory. Still, he did them. He did the swimming, proved his lifesaving skills, and he did the research and "sits" for EnvSci. Most of the other Eagle-required MBs were earned through troop-offered merit badge sessions. He learned first aid - though he's not an expert, he did the volunteering for Cit in the Community, the money & time tracking for Personal Management, the projects for Family Life, and the writing and interviews for Communications. He learned and experienced a lot doing them, though I'm not sure I'd call him an expert at any of the MBs he's done. He loves camping - he's gone on just about every campout since he's joined the troop, but still, in these days of dome tents and self-standing EZ-up dining flys he's not an expert at knot tying. He knows his knots, but doesn't have much of a call to use them on a regular basis. He can start a campfire, but he still struggles with them at times, depending on the type of wood available. He doesn't do a lot of cooking over an open fire - most of it is on Coleman stoves. Still, as he earned his Tenderfoot through First Class ranks, nobody complained. His camping and Scout skills were the equal of most any Scout in this area (I'm basing that from Klondike Derbies and other similar events). When he earned his Star and Life ranks nobody said he was too young or that he wasn't enough of a "super Scout". Now that he finished all of the required MBs for Eagle, Eagle project, and the other requirements - including passing the Board of Review, I get the distinct impression that the folks on this forum wouldn't think him deserving of his Eagle rank. You would say he needed to be something more - something that would make him stand above the other Scouts. You would say at 14 years old that he was too young. You would say that his summer camp and troop were merit badge factories which made his accomplishments too easy. You would say that he has to hike farther, run faster, swim better, be smarter, be more popular, be better ... He's just a nice boy who enjoys camping, who attended merit badge sessions when offered, and finished the requirements with some encouragement from parents and counselors. He took POR's and did what was needed of him. He lives by the Scout law - unlike some of the other Scouts. He did an Eagle project that he loved to do and is proud of, but that didn't do much more to change the world except for a few bats in a local park. He doesn't have big life expectations, but is filled with possibilities. He's not a super Scout, but he finished his Eagle requirements and earned his Eagle Scout rank. He's happy he earned his Eagle rank, but he doesn't make a big deal about it. Like I said, he'll probably never be SPL, doesn't show much interest in Philmont, and probably will never be a counselor at summer camp. He a good kid who just wants to go camping and be with the troop. I tell people that he's not the hare - he's the tortoise. He isn't flamboyant or especially fast or fancy, but he gets the job done. It wouldn't be enough to be an Eagle Scout in your eyes, but I'm proud of him and I (and luckily the district advancement chair) think he deserves it.
  10. kenk

    Eagle Workbook Fillable Forms PDF

    My son had to work with it the "old" way - no wrapping. He pasted one line at a time from Word. If it helps, for the more complicated sections - where you might want to add tables or pictures, my son just entered "See Next Page" on the form, and then hand-inserted the pages with the tables/pictures/etc... He put this all into a 3-ring binder with the pages in those plastic sleeve page protectors. Looked very nice. BTW, my son has Asperger's Syndrome. If you knew him you'd know how far he's come. Scouts and Taekwando, both with fantastic adult leaders/mentors, have done amazing things for him. He completed his Eagle on September 4th. My pride is unmeasurable.
  11. kenk

    I need a Why Real Men Dont Curse Speech

    The best that I can offer is that excessive (to be defined by the listener) swearing gives the impression of ignorance or stupidity. I don't care whether its a football player in the NFL, an admiral in the navy, or a the President of the United States of America. Do YOU want to sound stupid?
  12. kenk

    Sleeping Bag and Space Blanket

    Some thoughts to add ... Don't put a space blanket or survival blanket OVER your sleeping bag. They are plastic bags and will trap moisture (some use "vapor barriers", but that is a special thing beyond Scouts). Go to your local Home Depot or similar, buy a sheet of that pink rigid foam insulation, cut it to a length & width that suites you and your tent (keep it big!!), then cut that into three or four pieces with VERY straight lines that will allow you to fold the pad to a transportable size. Then use duct tape to tape those three or four pieces back together ... make sure you put tape on opposite sides at every other seam, so you can fold it like an accordion - or a Z for 3 pieces or a W for four pieces. Put the rigid foam pad down first, then a soft foam (Thermarest!!) pad on that for comfort, then the sleeping bag. Lately I've just been opening my mummy bag and using as a quilt with my feet stuffed in the end. It feels less constricting for me. The foam pads get nice and warm pretty quick. Don't put your face/breath inside the bag. It will accumulate moisture. Strip off all of the day's moist clothing. Sleep with dry cloths or very few cloths. Try to make sure your feet are nice and dry before going to bed. Sometimes I'll take my shoes off and warm them near the fire to make darn sure they are dry. Wearing synthetic or wool socks will help a lot. Cold feet is my biggest problem. I'll try the hot water bottle next time - great idea and cheaper (?) than hand warmer packs. Wear a loose-fitting knit cap. If its real cold I'll wear a balaclava (sp?) to keep my neck warm too - it also is less apt to fall off during the night. If your bag is still cold, bring extra blankets to put over the top ... just like you might at home. With the rigid foam pad under you there is no need to put blankets underneath you - unless a fleece blanket just feels better to you than the pad itself. Open the tent vents big time so you don't get too much condensation. All the tent really needs to do is to act as a wind-break, keep out bugs if any, and provide some privacy if needed.
  13. kenk

    Trying to help a patrol leader

    "Yah, this is why I've never cared for da notion of an 11-year-old Patrol Leader for a NSP, eh? Not only are yeh putting a kid who does not have the necessary skills into a role which demands those skills, you're settin' him up for failure on da social side. Eleven year olds aren't ready to "stand out" from da group, and even if they are, their peers aren't ready for it and will undermine it. " Beavah, do you prefer to have a wider mix if ages in patrols (as opposed to the NSP) so the older Scouts can mentor & lead the younger Scouts? We've been trying to run with a "Venture patrol" with older Scouts, and "regular" patrols with 1st & 2nd years (11 & 12 year olds and one 13 year old, but a mix of ranks) and they are really struggling with leadership and experience. Do you think we should have left the 14 year olds in with the regular patrols? Our troop is struggling with silly menus and boys not knowing how to organize food buying, cook meals, and cleanup after meals. We assigned troop guides, but they are in the venture patrol and usually not all that involved. I'm not sure the troop guide thing is working well.
  14. kenk

    Glacier National Park

    My family took the train (Amtrak) from Milwaukee to Glacier a few years back. It was a delightful experience. We had a family room in a sleeper car. I'm assuming your troop will be using the regular passenger cars. While I suspect your trip will be a lot shorter than our's, I did notice that the bathrooms in the passenger cars got fairly dirty after some time with so many using them over a fairly long time (not like a plane ride). You might want to bring along some basic gear (gloves, disinfecting wipes, plastic shopping bags for trash) to clean things up a bit if needed. Those aren't a bad thing to have along anyway. The food on-board is quite expensive, and the snack car (can't remember what they called it) was usually full and busy, so consider bringing your own food that can be managed in their seats. Ken
  15. kenk

    Trying to help a patrol leader

    I am just echoing this thought from an earlier reply to a different topic that was a big Ah-Ha experience for me as an ASM .... Nothing changes behavior quite so much as another youth - especially an older well-respected youth - telling a boy that what they did was uncool and not acceptable. You, an adult, can lecture them 'till you're blue in the face and they don't really care what YOU think. They DO care what the older boys think of them. Instead of guiding the patrol leader on how to deal with it, instead guide the SPL, ASPL, and Troop Guides on how to deal with it. I'll bet they (the older Scouts) thought the whole thing (non-pepped Scouts) made the younger Scouts look kind of foolish. Just my $0.02. Hope it helps.
  16. kenk

    Signature of unit leader on Blue card

    Put me in the group that thinks a SM assigning responsibilities to the ASMs is the RIGHT thing to do, so long as there is good communication there and the roles/responsibilities are well understood. I know if I was a SM trying to do everything I'd burn out in short time, but that's just me. BTW, my son's SM is currently trying to do too much on his own - at least I think he is and I've voiced my concern to him. He needs to improve the communication with ASMs and get their help. It makes the ASMs feel needed too. He is taking the troop in the right direction and doing GREAT work, but I fear he's overwhelmed. BTW, back to the can the parent do xxxx topic ... If the parent prefers someone else to do xxxx I'll respect that decision (especially for SM conferences ... hint hint), but I'm not for disallowing a parent to do xxxx if BSA rules allow it. Ken
  17. kenk

    Signature of unit leader on Blue card

    BuffaloSkipper, I couldn't agree with you more, and, as an advancement coordinator, I WISH I knew more about the counselors outside my son's troop ... but for the most part I don't. If a Scout says he wants to earn the Railroading MB, I won't call around and interview the Railroading MB counselors. I just won't do it. I don't have the time to do it. The reality is that unless the troop has some prior experience with a particular counselor (and since that is usually an activity that happens with only the Scout(s) and the counselor (and maybe a sibling or parent attending for youth protection), I don't think we even get to know the non-troop counselors. So picking a counselor is usually picking names out of a hat, though its often based on the proximity of the counselor to the Scout's home. Who's job is it to make sure MB counselors meet the skill requirements? According to the Advancement Committeee Policies & Procedures (the Advancement Guide Book)it is the Council Advancement Committee's duty to "Approve merit badge counselors and publish council and/or district merit badge counselor lists." It goes on to say that the Committee should "Help the troop to identify parents, committee members, and other qualified individuals to serve as merit badge counselors by using the Troop Resource Survey and the Parent and Family Talent Survey. The district merit badge counselors list will supplement the troops list." It also says "They must be men and women of good character, age 18 or older, and recognized as having the skills and education in the subjects for which they are to serve as merit badge counselors, as well as having the ability to work with Scoutage boys.", but it doesn't specifically say who should make sure they have the skills & education in the subject(s). The Troop Committee Guide Book says that the Troop Advancement Coordinator should "Develop and maintain a merit badge counselor list." It doesn't really say anything about recruiting, reviewing, or approving MB counselors, but it seems that all adult leaders could take some part in that activity. Ken
  18. kenk

    Signature of unit leader on Blue card

    In my view its all about the Scouts learning and experiencing (not only the MB, but the experience of meeting and getting to know the MB counselor - a person he may not have met before), and it shouldn't turn into any kind of power trip or similar. I hope the SM doesn't use that blue card sign-off as a way to control whether or not the boy can try to earn the MB. I hope the SM would offer the boy (and likely his parents) the names of several potential MB counselors (if available). Just choosing a counselor may be an experience or lesson-learned in itself. I am the advancement coordinator & an ASM in my son's troop. A Scout is told that if he wants to earn a MB he can either talk to the SM or myself. Be both have the MB Counselor list, have blue cards, and will sign that first page. We don't keep any kind of record of which Scouts are working on which MBs, unless they are the group MB sessions our troop hosts/runs - and even then, we really leave it up to the counselors to keep track of that. I know that isn't the exact process described in the publications, but that's what we do, and I think it meets the intent of BSA (an ASM signs instead of the SM) and it meets the needs of the Scouts. When the MB is done, they turn the blue card (usually minus the counselor's section) in to me (the advancement coordinator). I sign the Scout's section and give it back to him, and then I record the MB into TroopMaster and initial/date the troop's section. Now, for something I'm not entirely sure of ... I've always assumed that the Scout meets with the MB counselor, and gives the blue card to the counselor. That is pretty universal. Does the MB Counselor hold on to the blue card while the Scout is completing requirements and use it to capture/track the completion of the requirements> Then, once all of the requirements are completed, the counselor signs the sections of the blue card, keeps the counselor section, and gives the Scout+Troop sections back to the Scout to be turned in to the troop. I would think if the Scout chooses to switch to a new MB counselor - for whatever reason - they should ask for the blue card back. OR, does the counselor hand the blue card back to the Scout at the end of each meeting, and the Scout keeps the blue card throughout - much as they keep their Handbook while working on rank requirements. Do the counselors you've worked with keep the cards while the MB is in progress? Or does the Scout keep the card and bring it to each meeting with the counselor? What is your own preference? After writing this I find myself leaning toward the Scout keeping the blue card, but to be honest, I worry that the Scout will loose the blue card, and thus lose critical records. It might just be safer to have the counselor keep it. But, then again, the Scout keeping the blue card and protecting it is yet another learning/growing process in itself isn't it? Ken K.
  19. kenk

    BSA Urban Myths--Busted!

    Being a Scout leader will only take one hour per week. (while true during some weeks, on average it is false ... very false) Scouts must use THE "blue card" to get credit for completion of a merit badge. (false - though the process calls for a "Merit Badge Application", troops can use other versions of the application)
  20. kenk

    Wrist Rockets/Slingshot Advice?

    Also remember to have eye protection for Scouts who wear glasses. I think objects hanging are just as fun, and don't need resetting as you'd need for cans on a stump. In my activities with Girl Scouting I've not found a document similar to Boy Scout's GTSS. I'm hoping it exists. Make sure you ask if such an activity is allowed, and under what controls. It sounds like the girls will have LOTS of fun!!
  21. Can you give any advice/experience regarding what a troop can do to keep older Scouts (high school age) interested in the troop meetings? We've put them into a Venture patrol, which they seem to like. We're finding that they are tiring of always teaching younger Scouts the Tenderfoot to First Class skills. I think they want to learn too. Should we focus on teaching them more advanced skills? If so, any suggestions on skills we might teach? Should we offer them some of the more unusual/fun merit badges to broaden their experience? Its my understanding that its considered "bad form" to offer merit badges during troop meetings. Any advice you have is welcome!! Thanks. BTW, I'm an ASM and Advancement Coordinator, and the SM & I have been discussing this issue and trying to brainstorm.
  22. PLEASE don't take these rights for granted!! Not to get political on anyone, but did you know that the U.S. Congress was recently considering a law that would outlaw ownership of knives that could be opened one-handed??? Yup. Those who see knife ownership as important have formed a civil rights protection organization (something like the NRA). Please consider joining. http://www.kniferights.org
  23. kenk

    Parents on Troop Campouts

    I'd agree that an untrained parent is hard on the program. They usually simply don't understand how it supposed to work. They find it very hard not to interfere. Some also tend to irritate the adult leaders since the adult leaders' attention should be on the youth, and not on wrangling the parents. If the untrained/unregistered parents NEED to come to campouts - like others have said - your ultimate goal is to segregate them from the youth. The easiest way to do that is to give them some pre-trip training of the rules, put them into the adult patrol, have them do patrol duties, place the patrol well away from the youth patrols, and tell the parents that they should NOT interact with the youth patrols, and that all their interaction will be with other adults. Most of the parents won't like this and actually will find it difficult and irritating. By the way, first year ASMs go through the same thing. Its hard not to interfere with the youth patrols. As an ASM myself, I tend to think of myself as a more of a "lifeguard". My job is to stand off to the side, try to prevent really bad stuff from happening, and be there to jump in if it does happen. What do I mean by "bad stuff"? At one campout - at the very last minute - I managed to prevent a 1st year Scout from trying to fry an egg using a plastic plate on the Coleman stove. Sheesh! BTW, the root cause of this was that he was in a new Scout patrol, the troop guide wasn't doing his job, the new Scout didn't know that a cook kit was available to him, and had he ever cooked an egg before. All we had to do was to pull the troop guide away from his friends in the Venture patrol and make sure he did some teaching.
  24. kenk

    blue cards for EBOR?

    My son's troop does the same thing with most merit badges earned throughout the year - either I sign the right bits or I have the SM sign them (if he's nearby), and then hand the Scout's portion back to him ... ... but those earned at summer camp come in larger quantities ... and at the camp they don't - in general - use blue cards. So, I create blue cards for the Scouts so they have the record of the merit badges earned based upon camp records given to the troop by the camp staff.
  25. kenk

    blue cards for EBOR?

    So, as the advancement coordinator for my son's troop I have to ask ... After they earn a handful of MBs at summer camp I need to distribute the respective blue cards (I write out blue cards, sign them, and enter the camp name as counselor). Do I give the blue cards to the Scouts along with the actual MB patches at a regular troop meeting? ... where especially the younger scouts have a higher chance of misplacing or loosing them, or ... Do I wait until the Court of Honor when the Scouts are more likely to hand them to a parent for safe-keeping? I know the Scouts are supposed to be responsible, but my ultimate goal is to maximize the chance of the blue cards not being lost. Of course I keep the troop stub in my own records. Ken K.