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About KoreaScouter

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    Oahu, Hawaii
  1. When we cold-weather camped in Korea, the only thing we nixed were air mattresses and cots. Some Scouts (older and long-termers) sprung for thermarest and had no problems. And, many younger Scouts used the closed-cell foam -- they were readily available at the military clothing sales stores, and not expensive. Either work fine, as long as your son follows all the other great advice here. One additional thing I did, right before lights out, was shove a Hershey bar at each Scout, before they tucked in, and told them to eat it before they went to sleep. Our Troop would also put a cup full of water on top of a chuck box. If it was ice in the morning, they got a polar bear patch. All the cold weather camping we did, I only remember one Scout having a problem. He didn't follow our guidance to use the toilet before bed, had to get up in the middle of the night, had a hard time re-warming after he got back in his tent, and you know the rest... KS
  2. I've seen this from both sides, as a Cubmaster and later, as a Scoutmaster. I've found that dropouts were minimal when the Troop had an active First Class First Year program that included a dedicated ASM for the New Scout Patrol, a hyper-emphasis on summer camp for the NSP, and a Troop Guide who's respected among the other older Scouts, a good teacher, and has a union-steward mentality toward the NSP's care and feeding. When any of that's deficient or missing, attrition starts going up. It's not easy to judge a Troop based on meeting visits. That's a part of the overall picture, but I'd try to see them at camp, projects, and ceremonies, too. That can take a big chunk of time. If circumstances permit, you could talk to your DE, DC, or a couple of unit commissioners about your concerns, and they could steer you toward Troops with strong FCFY programs. Real life isn't like the BSA training videos, in which all the boys immediately get along with each other. Some of them will, some will eventually, and some never will. That's okay; it's preparation for adulthood. Also, boys mature at different rates, as you certainly know. Even though WEBELOS is meant, in part, to be a transitional program, some boys cross over into a Troop and are not quite ready for what they (and their parents, often) perceive as anarchy or the "inmates running the asylum". A good FCFY program can give them roots as long as they need them, and wings when they're ready for them. KS
  3. One advantage of Boys Life going into the home is that if the unit follows the program recommendations in the Council calendars, Roundtable planning guide, Program Helps, etc., there will be program-related articles for the boys each month, that tie right into their unit program/theme, and in turn, their advancement. Even if the unit program doesn't follow the calendars lockstep, if the boys save the magazines, they'll come in handy eventually. My son's 16 and can't advance any further; he's not interested in any more MBs, but reads and saves his BL each month, for the game reviews, adventure articles, etc. That pile of magazines is something my wife thought he'd throw away when we moved, along with his old PWD cars. He packed them all more carefully than his computer. The best nine bucks you can spend in a year. KS
  4. Radmom; Just one piece of advice from an old 2-time cubmaster: avoid felt at all costs. It's not durable, and when you have to wash the vest (and you will), it'll self-destruct. I'd also recommend a pocket or two if your seamstress is "ambitious". KS
  5. MinnSM: I apologize in advance if this comes off as harsh, but here goes: First, I wholeheartedly endorse CalicoPenn's advice: if there's been a BOR, appeal right away. The circumstances of the BOR weren't optimal, but at least you have something to appeal. Second, get a copy of the BSA Advancement Committee Guidelines. It's a full size booklet, meant to be snapped into a 3-ring binder. Your council service center should have them on hand, but probably not in the Scout Shop -- go back in the office and ask; they cost a few bucks. Now, consider yourself tongue-lashed. I've been a Scoutmaster twice, in addition to other positions at the unit, District, and Council levels. I paid attention to everybody's advancement, but the most important ones were Life-to-Eagle, and First Class-First year, in that order. And, in the Life-to-Eagle advancement process, I watched the projects most closely. Why? The projects were the most difficult, the most time consuming, and perhaps most importantly, so many of the required elements of the project took place away from Troop meetings and activities. Every adult leader we had was an Eagle advisor, but there were really only two: the Scout's parent/guardian and the Scoutmaster. I know we walk a tightrope regarding "how much help is too much?". There's no one right answer to that, but I do know this: checking the workbook for a signature before project work starts is definitely not too much help. Moreover, when our District Advancement Chairs turned over, I made it a point to speak with them at a Roundtable to establish a relationship, and find out their philosophies on advancement, particularly Eagle advancement -- it's that important. By doing so, I discovered their idiosyncracies, preferences, likes/dislikes, and so on. Now, I'll admit that doing so may not make an unreasonable advancement chair more reasonable, but at least you'll know they're unreasonable and you have absolutely no "wiggle room" with them. That, in turn, will shape how you deal with them. It'd be great if every Scouter was a reincarnation of Fred MacMurray, but they're not. I feel terrible for what's happening to your son, who seems to be a fine young man from your description of him. Again, I urge you to appeal immediately, and I hope and pray that it turns out in your son's favor. As a follow on, I also urge you to silently promise yourself that this will not happen again on your watch -- I think you know how. For what its worth, my son is an Eagle Scout, and I was a registered leader for all but a year of his entire time in Scouting so far. He didn't get any more help from me than any of the other Scouts got, but he didn't get any less either. It was all his work, but I reviewed it, and gave him advice and pointers along the way. regards, KoreaScouter
  6. The assumption is that you have the necessary outdoor training for your program level. For Cub Scouts, I would think that BALOO would be the minimum necessary. Depending on the setting in which your council holds their WB course, your actual nights outdoors may vary from just several to virtually the entire course. There have been numerous other WB threads in the forum. I suggest you dig them out and read through them; you'll probably find them helpful. KS
  7. Little KS did his 5th grade science project on "What makes a PWD car go fastest?". He got about 30 kits, and configured them differently. There were blocks, wedges, paint, no paint, max weight, weight out of the box, weight in different places, polish, lube, polish/lube, no polish or lube, and so on. The pack left the track up after pack PWD, the school let him have cafeteria access, he made up worksheets, and we spent the entire next day running the test cars (and a control car). Here's what his experiments revealed. 1. Shape doesn't matter. Blocks and wedges with all other things being equal showed no statistical difference in speed over multiple runs. Hypothesis: If wedges appear to be faster, it's not the shape, but the fact that a "team" that bothers to shape the car is also polishing axles and lubricating. Not saying that aerodynamics don't matter at all, but the speed and distance of PWD render shape a much less important variable than others, below. 2. Weight matters...a lot. The 5-ounce cars and the stock weight cars generally stayed neck and neck down the track, but the stock weight cars had a lot less stored kinetic energy, and slowed markedly after they bottomed out. 3. Friction matters, but not as much as weight. Again, all things being equal, polished and lubed cars consistently finished ahead of those not polished and lubed. But, their margin of victory isn't as great as the 5-oz cars demonstrate over the stock weight cars. 4. The position of the weight doesn't matter. He moved it all over the place, and there was no statistical difference in the results. In my experience as a Cubmaster (twice), I can offer these PWD secrets. They aren't really secrets, but you'd think they were, because so many parents don't seem to be aware of them. They are: 1. Let the boy work on the car -- it's intended to be a shared experience. You shouldn't do it all, and neither should he. Power tools, inhalants, and safety are individual decisions, but even the newest Tiger can pick a design, hold a dremel, put on stickers, and make it his own. 2. Let the boy race the car. If your pack has adults handling and putting cars on and off the track, change your methodology. This isn't meant to be a spectator sport for them. If you need stools or platforms, get or make them. Both times I was Cubmaster, our most strictly enforced rule is that "only the boy who built the car will handle it, unless he allows his parent to help him in the pit." 3. Overcome the "new guy" disadvantage with car clinics about a month before PWD, with tools, paint, equipment, etc. It'll be good for new families, single moms, families with deployed parents, parents who are all thumbs, etc. In my opinion, the ribbons and trophies don't last, but the memories of building the car with a parent, and racing it with his buddies, last a very long time. Little KS is 16 now, an Eagle Scout, playing football, driving, dating, working part time, and planning for college. Every time we've moved, his PWD cars somehow get packed, unpacked, and end up back on his shelf in his room. He's not sure where the trophies and ribbons are, but he can tell you stories about each car, how and where he built it, who his buds were when he raced it, and how much fun it was. KS
  8. I've got three North Face 20-degree synthetic fill bags -- got 'em overseas for a song about six years ago. Good for spring and fall in Korea, too cool for winter, and too hot for summer. Haven't used them at all in Hawaii. Also have a few of the military OD green down-filled mummy bags, two cold weather, and one extreme cold weather. They're okay for most winter weather, but the extreme cold is very bulky, and if it gets wet, it's a 3-man lift. I also have a couple of Coleman 40-degree cheapos, bought originally for sleepovers, but in Hawaii, we actually use them a lot for real camping. I used to monitor them for wear-tear until I could declare them unserviceable and replace them with something that has more outfitter cred, but the darn things are too sturdy -- I've given up and they'll be heirlooms passed to my grandkids, I guess. My favorite bag is a military modular bag insert, light as a feather, tough as nails, and plenty of protection for Hawaii camping. If it's a resident camp, I usually just use a cot and a poncho liner. KS
  9. The lyrics clearly indicate you're SUPPOSED to sing it before you earn your beads ("...I'm going to work my ticket if I can..."). Now, I was admonished at a District Dinner some years ago that we Wood Badgers shouldn't sing it in a group where non-Wood Badgers were present...they might be offended. We did, and they weren't. KS
  10. I consider "stage mothers" (and, to be fair, fathers) to be a pain the neck sometimes, but in the balance, I also consider them to be a "good problem". At least they're: 1). There 2). Involved I've known many boys in Scouting whose parents have never looked between the covers of their Handbooks, don't help with anything, and are MIA when their sons are recognized at a COH. That's a heart breaker, because you know that Scouting likely isn't the only part of his life his parents aren't involved in. Coincidentally, or maybe not coincidentally, those boys tend to advance far slower than their peers, and don't get as much out of Scouting. One thing I've learned is that it does you no good to critique other people's parenting styles. For one thing, it really is none of our business unless they're doing something reportable. And for another, who really knows their kids better than the parents? I hit as many foul balls as home runs with mine...and I've lived with them since their first breath. How could a stranger know better? I realize those are probably two extremes on a fairly broad continuum. Most of us are in the middle somewhere. I remember when my son was a 2nd year Webelos, he asked if he could have a notebook computer. I told him he'd get one at his Eagle Scout COH, and congratulated myself for deflecting that request for what I thought would be a long time. Well, wouldn't you know he remembered that promise, and I'll be darned if I didn't have to start looking at the ads in the Sunday paper! KS
  11. As a former SM, I would have more confidence in the putting green project if the nursing home in question would allow non-residents to use it when it's completed -- making it more of a "community" project. That said, my opinion wouldn't matter much if the District/Council Advancement Committee still had a problem with it... KS
  12. Maybe I'm missing something, but everything Lisa mentioned as an area for improvement in her initial post is covered in our training and in the mainstream BSA pubs (not the arcane stuff that us unwashed volunteers can't readily get our hands on). Communicating with new parents? Look at the recruiting section in the SM Handbook -- it gives an outline for a new parents orientation. New Scout transition? That's in the SM Handbook too, and in the SPL Handbook, all laid out under the First Year program, and so is the older Scout relationship, the advancement program, etc., etc. The term "snatching defeat from the jaws of victory" comes to mind... KS
  13. I believe external motivation will only overcome inertia as long as it's applied. Remove it, and friction will again take over, sooner or later. Self-motivation is the only type of motivation that can sustain itself. The trick, in my opinion, is to match opportunities with the Green Bars' inclinations to act. I've found that this almost never happens without coercion at antiseptic monthly PLCs. Conversely, I've also found that it can happen almost spontaneously if we meet/plan at the end of an event, sort of like an enhanced reflection. For example, carving out a half hour with the PLC on checkout morning of a camporee, right after the morning assembly, may generate the most ideas and suggestions for a better camporee next time -- captive audience, and the memories are very fresh. KS
  14. If your PLC uses Troop Program Features when they do their annual Program Planning Conference, they will select 12 monthly themes for the upcoming year, either straight from the book ("shrink-wrapped", I believe it's being called), or tailored to fit the unit, the environment, the resources, District/Council calendars, etc. By definition, they should pick and choose, because there are 36 monthly themes, and only 12 months in a year. Unlike some on this thread, every unit I've been associated with uses Troop Program Features, even if we modify them to substitute certain interpatrol activities that don't work for us, or replace some skill instruction with upcoming camporee-specific prep events, etc (check the Web; there's lots of unit sites with fillable blank TMPs that make it easy to tailor). However, we very much do consider them a critical part of both annual and monthly program planning. In my opinion, they key to using them is to start with the annual program planning conference, publish the annual calendar, and flesh out the Troop Meeting Plans, based on the theme, at each month's PLC. In my experience, when the PLC realizes that the Troop Program Features constitute a significant portion of their planning task, already completed, they'll be a lot more inclined to embrace them. Check out the SPL Handbook for a full explanation of how it's supposed to work. Good luck, KS
  15. In my experience, "tent lines" are sometimes necessary when you're compelled to use a troop camp site that's too compact for the "willy-nilly" method. Tent lines also help channel traffic, etc. Tent lines aren't the only way, of course, but they are one way. And, you can still use the patrol method while doing so, and allow younger Scouts to select patrol camp sites, even if it's just which row they're going to use, the line alignment, and the spacing/interval -- it's all attention to detail. It's optimal if all the tents are identical, but even when they are, it works best to at least stake the tents out sequentially starting at one end, then work your way down. Otherwise, you'll invariably end up doing the accordion thing to either move tents closer together or further apart. All that said, I agree with other posters who wonder whether or not your Troop's technique in application is perfectly acceptable, is a reportable crime, or something in between. I also agree that a BOR is a perfect forum to bring it up if the opportunity presents itself. In cases where the Troop committee is detached from operations, is untrained, or possibly both, it may be the only way the topic will be given the light of day. If the SM's a better transmitter than receiver, it'll be more of a struggle. KS
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