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kenk

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Everything posted by kenk

  1. Ask a kid my father was the Scoutmaster and most of the Scouts called him "Mr. K" (as you might guess our last name starts with a 'K'). I myself called him Dad. It felt weird to call him that while everyone else called him "Mr. K", so I tried calling him Mr. K. That was weird too.
  2. "our next campout is the weekend of 15 Sept at XXX Camp" It would seem that the PLC should have been heavily involved in the decision to go to "XXX Camp" and hopefully even the decision as to when that trip would be held. Somewhere on this forum - in the last day or two (my brain is getting old and lately I've reading this forum in short spurts rather than a long sitting) someone mentioned that it is important that the Scouters don't just leave the PLC and other Scouts to "do their best" and fail, without providing training, mentoring, guidance, and setting them up to truly succeed. I wholeheartedly agree with that idea. Responsibility is best handed over as a process that includes training and mentoring, rather than simply getting the responsibility dumped on one's head.
  3. Sometimes I think that Boy Scouts puts too much emphasis on leadership and not enough on self-reliance. As the father of a Scout, self-reliance is the skill that I most want developed in my own son. I agree that the patrol method, an active boy-run PLC, and REAL active positions of responsibility are all key to developing and encouraging self-reliance. Oh, and letting them fail, counseling them to learn from mistakes, and celebrating and sharing success when it happens.
  4. kenk

    Which brand of compass?

    Be careful!! The Suunto M-2 has an "adjustable declination correction scale". It does NOT have adjustable declination. That means that the user has to remember to use the scale correctly with every reading, rather than use the set-and-forget adjustable declination feature in the M-3.
  5. kenk

    Which brand of compass?

    In the NE Illinois area the magnetic declination is so small that leaders in the council have become comfortable ignoring it - and no teaching Scouts about it, nor teaching them how to adjust for it. I think that is a mistake, especially when they go someplace in the northern corners of the U.S. where the declination can be over 15 degrees off. I hear there is a new GPS-related merit badge coming. I would also like to see Scouts learn the RIGHT way to use a GPS with a map & compass.
  6. kenk

    Which brand of compass?

    In the U.S. compasses with the "Silva" trademark are NOT made by the Silva of Sweden that invented the plastic baseplate compass. Its a long story. If you want a Silva of Sweden compass, look for the clear baseplate compasses sold in the U.S. by Brunton (which is now owned by Silva of Sweden, which in turn is owned by Fiskars/Gerber - the scissors/knife folks). Besides highly recommending a plastic baseplate style of compass - as opposed to a lensatic compass - my #1 recommendations are to get one with adjustable declination (not to be confused with a declination adjustment scale) and to buy from a good company (I recommend Brunton & Suunto). My picks for Scouts and Scouters are: Suunto M-3 (sometimes call the Suunto Leader) Brunton 8010G Both are around $20-$25, from great companies, have adjustable declination, and are very good quality. If it means anything, I have both, but bought the Suunto M-3 for my son when he joined his troop. The Brunton 9020G is an excellent little compass whose rounded shape makes it very pocketable (I bring it along when going to places like Disney World - where I get more lost than I do in the wilds!), BUT its symmetric shape also adds to the risk of Scouts pointing it backwards if they don't watch for the direction arrow. BTW, my favorite book on the use of map & compass: "The Essential Wilderness Navigator: How to Find Your Way in the Great Outdoors" by David Seidman and Paul Cleveland It provides the easiest-to-read and best organized approach (showing all the options) for map & compass navigation that I have found.
  7. kenk

    Scoutmaster voting on Committee

    Its a council camp. There are some other adults there - certainly in Shooting Sports (a wonderful gray-haired gentleman), but climbing is staffed by youth, though there may be an adult in charge behind the scene that I haven't seen after several years attending. One of them could be college age. I've not seen an adult at the waterfront, though again, I suppose the waterfront director could be college age. The director might be in college (??), but no older than that. I might be off on their ages, but I'm so impressed with what even college-aged kids can do.
  8. kenk

    Prerequisites for Leadership Positions

    Why would a patrol leader need to be First Class? I see the rank as a skills-based achievement rather than a matter of age or maturity. My advice would be to allow the patrols to decide who is their patrol leaders, to allow the PLC and/or Scoutmaster to review/veto the list of Scouts up for SPL, and then put the SPL up for a general vote. I would agree that it would be preferred to have an SPL who is at least First Class, but not sure the requirement is really necessary. Technically, per the program, the ASPL is appointed by the SPL, but my son's troop does the same thing mention here - they actually vote for an ASPL who will be the next SPL - unless there is some reason for a revote at the time of the next election (so the troop can change their mind if there has been an issue). BTW, I also would prefer Scouts rotate through positions - to maximize the chance to experience & learn - rather than stay in the same position time after time.
  9. kenk

    Scoutmaster voting on Committee

    Kind of adding on to what Beavah said ... The Troop Committee doesn't really vote on anything. Each person on the committee has a role in supporting the Scoutmaster's program and the PLC's decisions. If money is needed for something - whether equipment or an activity - it is someone on the committee's job to work toward getting that money - usually through fundraising or donations or dues. They work things out and come to an agreement. No need to vote. The other main task of the Troop Committee is ensuring that the Scoutmaster is ensuring that the troop is getting an appropriate program and following BSA policies - including safety. This is accomplished through communication with the Scoutmaster and Boards of Review with the Scouts. If there is a parent meeting that is a great thing - it can provide a nice format for communication, but it is for the most part outside the regular program. The troop is run by the Scouts, guided by the Scoutmaster (and ASMs) and supported by the Troop Committee. If a parent meeting is needed - for the purpose of communicating with parents - I would encourage the PLC & Scouts themselves to develop and run the parent meeting. What better way to show the parents how Boy Scouts works? That also takes it out of the hands of the adults and puts it into the hands of the Scouts - where it should be. By the way, there wouldn't be any need for voting at a parent meeting either. In my own council I see no better example of a youth-run activity than our summer camp. Except for registration, the main camp office, and the kitchen, the entire summer camp and its program are youth run. Its astounding what those young men and women - all under 18 years of age - can accomplish.
  10. kenk

    What patch(s) means the most to you?

    As a parent and adult leader the patches don't mean the same thing to me as they might my son. The one patch that probably means the most to me is my son's Patrol Leader patch - which now sits proudly in the top drawer of his chest of drawers. You see, my son has Asperger's Syndrome, and it tends to make it very hard for him to make friends and to fit in with other kids. He fears looking stupid, or bossy, or nerdy, ... you name it. Its very hard for him, though most of the other Scouts respect him and are patient - most of the time. Since he joined the troop he asked for PORs that didn't really involve leadership - Historian, Quartermaster, ... Well, last year, on the drive home after after a troop election night, I was stunned to find out that he had run for and was elected as patrol leader. Before that night he had always said no when I would ask if he'd like to be patrol leader. I didn't push, but always told him he could do a good job if he chose to. He told me that after one particularly poorly planned campout he decided that he COULD do a better job of planning (and if you know kids with A.S., planning is not one of their strengths), so he spoke up when it came time for the election. I found myself almost in tears by the time we got home (he didn't know that). Scouts have brought my boy with such odd needs/problems so incredibly far. Right now he is in the process of scheduling his Eagle board of review. Yeah, I'll be VERY proud of him for earning Eagle, but there is something about that Patrol Leader badge that means a lot to this father. Last night when I asked him if he could picture himself being the SPL he didnt' say no, he just smiled at me and shrugged. Amazing!!!
  11. I'm my son's troop advancement coordinator, so I've read all the policies (old Boy Scout Handbook, new Boy Scout Handbook, Scoutmaster Handbook, and the Advancement Committee Guide) trying to determine who is supposed to sign off on rank requirements through First Class, but none provide much guidance on this. The sign-off areas themselves use the word "Leader", but this could be a youth leader or an adult leader. When my son first joined his troop their rule was that only Scouts with Star rank or higher could sign off on rank requirements. Recently the Scoutmaster has limited the sign-off to himself and the assistant Scoutmasters (some of which may not know the skills as well as some of the older Scouts). Who signs off on rank requirements through First Class in your troop? Who do you think SHOULD initial & date the requirements at the end of the Handbook?
  12. Oh, and I'm playing no games here. I don't disagree with the old way or the new way ... so long as the requirements are not being added or subtracted. I'm just asking what other troops are doing.
  13. "...patrol leader, Scoutmaster, assistant Scoutmaster, a troop committee member, or a member of his troop" Doesn't that pretty much say ANY registered member of the troop may sign off on the completion of the rank requirements ... so long as they are on the Scoutmaster's list of QUALIFIED individuals? Thus my question: Who is on the Scoutmaster's list in your troop? How does your Scoutmaster determine who is qualifed and thus able to sign off on rank requirements?
  14. You can always change the schedule and tell them what they should have done later. Hah ... just kidding!!! Its nice to know the boys have sufficient youth leadership to do this on their own. Its tough to start - my son's troop - including the Scoutmaster - is trying to turn the troop to be youth lead. After many years of the boys having NO say on the the troop does, the boys are having trouble understanding that what they choose can indeed happen. They're struggling to think outside the box a bit.
  15. kenk

    Eagle Workbook

    From what I've read, after January 1, 2009 Scouts must use the Eagle Scout Leadership Service Project Workbook, BSA publication No. 512-927. This is the one with the Scout smiling on the cover page - he wasn't smiling on the previous version. The differences between the newest version and the previous version are quite subtle, so be careful. I have yet to find the current version in any other form than the pdf version from Scouting.org and nesa.org. I can tell they are the same version because text entered into the grand total of project hours field displays with a teeny tiny font size. My son started using the older version - he didn't know any better. Luckily we caught wind of the new requirement before he got the project signed off. He didn't want to take any chances that use of an old form might delay his Eagle, so he transferred to the new version. As the first post said - it is a real pain to work with - almost unusable as intended.
  16. kenk

    thoughts on a "1st year" patrol

    My son's troop tried using a New Scout Patrol for one year. It didn't work well at all. As someone else said, they knew NOTHING and really struggled in the first too many campouts. Yes, the troop assigned an older Scout to help them, but the older Scout didn't really want to do that at EVERY meal, and so the younger Scouts struggled. The next year we mixed the patrols and had much MUCH better results. Once a Scout earns Star and is at least 13 years old, he can move up to a Venture patrol. Our troop is smallish, so we have two regular patrols, one Venture patrol, and the SPL & ASPL eat with the Venture patrol ... unless enough of the Venture patrol is attending, then the SPL & ASPL can split meals between the two regular patrols. For now at least, we've had the troop voting for the "next" SPL and then previous ASPL becomes the SPL (a kind of training period), but I do wonder if they need a way to vote the ASPL out if they decide they don't want them. Maybe its time to just go with the straight up vote ... with SM approval of the nominees. The adult leaders are another patrol and try to camp/eat a good distance away. BTW, we've found the patrols work best if camping/eating a good distance apart. I've read others who recommend that. It gets real messy when they have to cook/eat right next to each other.
  17. kenk

    Bugler now OK for Eagle

    I hope that new Eagle application also has way to ELECTRONICALLY enter the names, addresses, E-MAIL addresses, and telephone numbers for the recommendations. My council is requiring Scouts to use the ScoutNet application. That means boys are asked hand-enter and/or type information into the PDF file. NOBODY has a typewriter anymore, and some of their handwriting is not good. ScoutNet needs to provide an application with electronic form fields. BTW, the current Eagle Leadership Project Workbook from NESA.org has an error in one of the editable PDF fields. The field in which the Scout enters the total number of hours is in a non-changeable teeny tiny font size - almost comical. Of course the other problem is that the form fields don't auto-wrap and won't allow insertion of tables or pictures, so they are a major pain to use. My son just entered "seen next page" and hand-inserted paper pages created using Word or Excel.
  18. kenk

    Does the uniform drive kids away?

    Does the uniform drive them away ... no. I honestly don't think so. Heck, if they want to they can join a Venture crew and choose to do away with the uniform entirely ... but they often don't. The Scouts like the uniform when it makes them fit in ... like at summer camp, but ask them to where it while walking through the halls of their high school and you'll get a VERY different reaction. What if we took the synthetic centennial switchback pants and toned down the color a bit, but not olive drab. Those would be cool. Still way too expensive, but cool and well designed for the outdoors. Now, take the synthetic centennial shirt. Nice color - I might prefer a little more toward what I think they call that "mushroom", but still tannish. The pockets are goofy. I imagine that if it looked more like this shirt: http://www.campmor.com/outdoor/gear/Product___91226 , AND more subtle insignias, that Scouts would feel more comfortable walking down the school hall. What do I mean by more subtle insignias? Well, think about what the uniform currently indicates: (1) Your unit - council, troop, patrol. Couldn't that be put on one shoulder with simple interconnecting patches and someone muted "natural" colors? And it would be great if these all attached via Velcro instead of sewing - like the Army does. Keep badges off the pockets - they are a pain to sew!! (2) Your position - Patrol Leader, asst Patrol leader, ... Couldn't that be right below the unit patches - or on the other sleeve? - again, in a simple design with muted "natural" colors. (3) Your rank - again, that could go on the sleeves too - OK maybe above one pocket. That would really clean up the shirt and make it much more friendly. (4) In the days of old the neckerchief was a useful tool, but I think their time has come & gone. I'd dump them (sorry!). Then again ... why don't they have Scouts define the uniform - I mean create a web site and take - and publish - recommendations. That would be a nifty thing to watch. All in all the uniform needs to focus on outdoor wear and COMFORT, and come down almost 50% in cost. Parents simply don't want to spend almost $80-$100 on a uniform that could get trashed in one campout or that probably won't fit their boy after a few years. Now, if it cost $40-$50 that would be different.
  19. kenk

    Adults wearing uniforms to boost ego?

    I don't really care what Scouters are wearin' so long as the critical regions are covered and they're doing what they're doing is MOSTLY for the boys (and girls, where applicable). Scouters come in all shapes, sizes, backgrounds, and foregrounds. God bless every one of them.
  20. kenk

    Adults wearing uniforms to boost ego?

    You are dead nuts on target! The uniform is a key method of Scouting. Adults need to set an example - preferably wearing a full uniform. My own personal beef is that my son's troop uses really small neckerchiefs. They look silly on this 6'5" leader. I like when adults have Arrow of Light, religious award, and especially Eagle knots on their uniforms ... I try to point out what they mean ... pointing out that its important to work hard to achieve those tough goals. Most adults I talk to wish they would/could have earned their Eagle (myself included). A kind of carrot if you will. I like when adults wear their adult patrol patch (we use the Owl patrol - Old Wise Leaders) - another example set. BUT adults who wear so many knots and other junk that they look like wanna-be generals ... its embarrassing.
  21. Ever since my son joined his troop they've had parents who are not Troop Committee members participate in Boards of Review. Their only rule has been that at least one person on the Board of Review must be a committee member. I'm the troop's Advancement Chair, and I've read the Scoutmaster Handbook and Advancement Committee Guide, and I KNOW that doesn't match BSA policy. I've asked the troop Scoutmaster and the Committee members to follow policy, but that pretty much falls on deaf ears - partially because our troop committee is small enough (just the primary roles filled) that its hard to get three or more members together for the BORs). That led me to wondering how many of your troops do the same thing. OK, fess up.
  22. kenk

    High Tech Eagle Project

    So, how is he demonstrating leadership in this project? Isn't it all about him planning and directing others who are doing the work - and not so much about him doing the work by himself? There was no mention of others helping with the project - other than the IT Director and the father - but I suppose that doesn't mean it didn't happen.
  23. Next time you might use fewer caps in the title. My son's summer camp only keeps records for MB partials for two years, though BSA says MB req's completed have no expiration date except for 18 years of age timeout. I think they want to encourage Scouts to complete partials by the next summer. That is why the troop generates blue cards with the completed requirements listed. Those won't expire (except for the 18 years of age thing). I don't think its a troop's responsibility to encourage Scouts to complete MB reqs. It might be different if you're the Scout's parents though.
  24. I'd recommend either the Taurus 4 w/ aluminum poles, or the Vertex 4. I have the Taurus (5 - for tall adult leader) and love it. Not sure if Vertex poles are too complex. The Meramac 4 would be better suited to real hot weather where air circulation is vital. I have the Meramac 6 and like it a lot - but it gets kind of breezy in northern midwest fall and spring.
  25. I'm an Advancement Chair for a young troop. My son is in the process of completing his Eagle Rank, and so has obtained his pre-filled-out ScoutNet Eagle Scout Rank Application from the Council. The application lists his Eagle-required MBs in 'slots' 1 through 12, but then selects non-Eagle-required merit badges for slots 13 through 21 alphabetically (not chronologically. I asked the Council about that and they said that use of the alphabetical order is a standard set by National. So my problem is that this puts my TroopMaster records out-of-whack. Here is the non-Eagle required list as TM sees it: Star: Basketry, Leatherwork Life: Pioneering, Rifle Shooting Eagle: Wood Carving, Horsemanship, Metalwork, Bird Study, Indian Lore, 1st Bronze Palm: Mammal Study, Aviation, Art, Astronomy, Canoeing 1st Gold Palm: Fish & Wildlife, Weather, Wilderness Survival BUT Aviation, Art, Astronomy, Canoeing, and Fish & Wildlife were used by ScoutNet for the Eagle application, so my TM records are all out of whack. Should I go back to Star and Life ranks and try to swap out MBs by hand? I really don't want to change the historical record. If I don't, then the TM-generated Advancement Report will be incorrect. I'd have to create reports by hand for Eagle Palms. That's not a big deal, but its a pain. I need advice.
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