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Everything posted by MattR

  1. MattR

    A tale of two scouts

    This has to be a British phrase. Is the water butt the one responsible for getting the water? My scouts will likely have a lot of fun with that one. Anyway, a leader that rarely has to talk to everyone at once is probably the best kind.
  2. Maybe this is why people think the program is advancement. I see where you're coming from but shouldn't the objectives and purposes for each unit be the aims? Living the oath and law? Maybe there are different ways to get there but the goal is the same. The thing missing is how the methods get us to the aims. It would do a lot of good to talk about how advancement teaches a scout to help other people at all times. That alone should get us over the idea that the goal is eagle. How does the patrol method encourage selfless decision making? I could go on for every method except the one about ideals (and that's mostly just redundant to the aims). Something else missing is teaching the scouts all of this as well. I've never understood that. Why doesn't the scout handbook explain the program as well? I would think everyone in at least a troop should understand what the program is. Why the outdoors, why advancement, why patrols, etc. That way, when one of the adults, parents, or scouts start making a mess the everyone else will know something is wrong. When the parents start complaining that their kids aren't advancing fast enough it would be so much easier to point them to some page in the handbook that explains how advancement helps a scout reach the aims of scouting. "Here, read this page with your child." While I agree that this is a good thing to describe, the problem is that not enough people even understand that older scouts should be working with younger scouts. If you mean adults want training that is to the point, timely, and useful, I agree. My experience was that the BSA training was not that.
  3. The thing that's missing here is a description of the program. We have aims and methods but no description of how the methods lead to the aims. It almost sounds like it's multiple choice. It seems to me that @Eagledad is saying the program has a large component in which older scouts teach, work with, and lead the younger scouts to eventually take the place of the older scouts. Although I like this it isn't explicitly explained anywhere. @fred8033 seems to be saying it's less about that and more about adventure. Of course, that isn't described anywhere either. Maybe I'm putting words in people's mouths but my only point is there's no guidance as to what the program is. This is causing confusion. For a contrast, and I've mentioned this before, I met some Israeli scouts and their program is almost entirely about the older scouts guiding the younger scouts. A scout troop goes from Kindergarten to 21-ish. There are no den leaders and very few adults (2-3 in a troop of 100). The older scouts are responsible for everyone and everything. We talked about ranks and they just didn't see how ranks could help them with their responsibilities. Eagle was just an odd idea to them. If you're going to be an older scout then you will be running a troop. From the day you join as a 6 year old you know what you'll be responsible for as you get older. Whether you like this model or not, there's no question what the program is. Everyone knows what it is. I'd rather see more outdoors but their sense of camaraderie, teamwork, and community is impressive. The scouts I met, while admittedly a select group, were above and beyond what I've seen in any similar group in the BSA. Leadership, confidence, responsibility. They were an impressive group. They also have over 90% of eligible youth in their scouting program.
  4. No, this has nothing to do with the spl or SM. It has to do with developing teamwork and getting things done. Ideally, the patrol is self sufficient and needs very little from the spl or SM.
  5. A patrol is a good size for a scout to work with. Smaller and there aren't enough to get all the work done. Larger and it's too many personalities to work with. Also, try cooking for more than 8.
  6. MattR

    Merit badge sash

    I've been consistent. I haven't responded to either thread. Personally, I'd rather see the MB patches be small enough that 21 can fit on a uniform and then there's no need for a sash. But it is what it is and isn't worth the argument. Same applies to the other thread.
  7. MattR

    Flat Council Support fee coming to your unit?

    Ours is $200/scout. I've been told that I could also charge $40-$60 per person for a camporee and the extra would go to the council. I not so politely said no. The problem in our council is that those in charge really have no idea how to run an organization. Business 101: There's no point in having a budget if you can't track it. In other words, they have no idea where they're spending money. They have staff making North of $85k a year that do nothing. Lot's of money is getting sucked out of camps, the real profit centers, to pay for these people. It used to be that lots of people donated money. That's over and nobody knows how to deal with it. So they're raising fees. Our DE's regularly don't get paid at the end of the year. A few years ago they took all new DE's and showed them how to get food stamps.. The underlying issue is the BSA pays really poorly to new hires at the lowest level and then only promotes from within. So, DE's are mostly those that couldn't find a job elsewhere. Granted, there are a few that really believe in scouting and are doing it even though they're not making much but the majority that I see have little to no experience in scouting or how to run an organization. That's the pool of expertise they have. My apologies to anyone that works for the BSA that I've offended. Maybe other councils do a better job. I suspect they just live closer to more companies that donate more.
  8. MattR

    Adult led and youth led

    The pros of this is anything that you want to do you'll get the backing of the parents. This is huge in today's world. I'd take a "troop" of these kids in a heartbeat. This is not very well defined. Due to your Free Range Kids activity, I'll assume this has nothing to do with the BSA (although I wish this mindset would infect the BSA) and is really about offering some scouty things to the FRK community. The pros are the kids want to, and have to, take ownership. Since they've been encouraged to do this from a young age they will be more accepting of it. This is really big. A con is those children that come in to this late. The kid that has been taught to cross busy streets when they were 7 knows how to take care of him/herself, but might not know how to deal with the new kid that's not paying attention to the walk lights. Ranks in the BSA used to handle this. A First Class scout could take care of himself in the outdoors. Not so much now. So you'll have to figure this out. If this indeed is more based on FRK then one pro is that advancement really is just a method. If a kid wants to advance then they figure out how to do that. It's not front and center. Adult association is both a pro and a con in scouts. Teaching the youth the skills they need to safely engage in the adventures they want is a big pro. Reinforcing scout ideals is also important. Helping the scouts come up with ideas for adventure is also beneficial. Beyond that it's likely a con. Institutional knowledge (outdoor skills, regular outings) is created with the typical troop's existing calendars. Without that there can be a loss of knowledge to the youth. There might be a lot less service, but there could be more if the youth enjoyed it. Things like camporees and merit badge fairs would likely fade away. (mostly a pro) Summer camp would be about fun. (huge pro). The outdoors might get a lot less interest but maybe the youth would find something else, such as music or a sport. That could drive some youth out. So, you can't do what the GSUSA did and drop the outdoors. Camping is still fun. Sounds interesting. Keep us informed.
  9. MattR

    A tale of two scouts

    Scout 1). How about starting with a duty roster? Everyone needs a job so she has to decide. She should also not give herself a job unless she's short scouts. It seems to me that scouts have a lot of trouble delegating because they don't want to rock the boat. We're all friends and nobody tells anyone what to do so I can't mess that up because then I won't have friends. Talk to her about servant leadership. It's not the evil boss. There's a time to play and a time to get work done. One of her jobs is to help her patrol get the work done faster so they can play more. She's not telling others what to do so much as helping them get back to having fun. Scout 2). He did briefly pull his weight, so take that as a win even if he's looking to you for approval. Do that a couple of times and then work with his PL to take over your job. It sounds like just maybe this scout knows he's not making friends but doesn't understand how this works. As ridiculous as that sounds think of it from his view. He may never have pulled his weight before. He may only have people tell him how much he's screwed up. Some kids just don't know.
  10. I was a scout from roughly 71 to late 76. I vaguely remember the no camping required. We went anyway. While Hillcourt was pulled out of retirement to fix things he really needed to fix the culture at national because we seem to be close to no camping required again. I mean, how can you be a First Class scout with only 3 campouts? Maybe by the third one I could set my tent up correctly. First Class? not a chance.
  11. We have a designated ASM that does all the SM's kids SM stuff. None of our ASM's sign off anything on their kid's advancement unless it's a really unusual MB.
  12. MattR

    back again

    Sorry to see you go. I just ran a camporee that was all patrol competition. That and making a fool of myself and the scouts had fun. So, it's not all bad everywhere. Anyway, take care.
  13. MattR

    Hornaday Award????

    First of all, congratulations to the young man that did all that work. It's impressive. Second, given that it's a subjective call on whether a project is adequate, why is there no feedback or other way to do a check? Sounds contrary to everything else in the G2A.
  14. I'd rather see pictures of mangled pineapple upside down cake. Of course, chocolate will also work.
  15. MattR

    Pioneering Campout

    This is true, but the BSA doesn't recognize MB's as sufficient training for adults. See First Aid, Life Saving, and any shooting MB for examples. Maybe this is a different topic. Anyway, I'd rather see training and let us make towers than just cut all the fun out of pioneering. Dry isn't a hard part where I live. Good requires lodge pole pine. Anything else would require a really large saw for ripping boards from lumber. I still remember making a tower when I was a scout. That was the greatest fun. As an adult we made an hour glass tower at a summer camp and had it done by Tuesday. Then the scouts just used it as a jungle gym the rest of the week. Scouts talked about that for several years.
  16. MattR

    Pioneering Campout

    This is where I wish they just had more training or certification rather than blanket rules. I get that towers might be tippy, so teach people the proper way to anchor them. We made a monkey bridge and had to use a sledge hammer with steal spikes (the wood ones shattered) because the ground was so hard. But pioneering projects are fun. Make your own playground. Climbing on rocks is the same thing. Scouts like going up high things, so teach them how to do it safely.
  17. MattR

    What constitutes an "Eagle Factory"?

    I'd say it's a [derogatory name] if advancement is the sole aim. When my troop had 70-ish scouts we'd have 6-8 get eagle a year. We also had two high adventure trips and summer camp every year because the scouts wanted to do all that. If anything, I added requirements (mainly, scouts would have to know all the skills they had ever been signed off on before any rank SMC). It was never a pass fail test. It was show me or let's learn it again. Another thing I noticed was that nearly all the scouts would get Life somewhere between 14 and 16 and then decide they had plenty of time. At which point they would go into what one scout called slacker phase. They'd still have fun camping. Then one day they'd wake up and say "AHHH, I'm running out of time!" I honestly tried to get them to set some reasonable goals but it was akin to squeezing water from a rock. Just about every scout that stuck around till they were 18 got eagle. That was completely self motivated on their part. The thought process was something like "I've spent all this time doing scouts, I should at least have eagle." I once tried to figure out our percentage of scouts that got eagle and of the scouts that joined about a third stuck around and got eagle.
  18. One thing I learned as a scoutmaster: get all the information before having an opinion. We don't have all the information. We can guess but won't help. Something else that has helped my sanity; realizing that eagle is nothing but a bauble at the end of a list of check boxes. While most scouts get what we'd like them to get out of it there are those that just see it as one big check box. I have a lot more respect for those scouts that volunteer to be SPL or PL because they know it's a job that needs to be done than an eagle scout that only held a POR long enough to get the check box signed off. I'm not saying just give in to the scout's desires and sign everything off as quick as they'd like. Rather, use eagle as a tool. Each scout is different and requires different tools to motivate them to do their best. I used to treat eagle like, well, how the BSA sells it. Consequently I would seek those scouts that would cut corners and make them go back and do it again. While a lot of scouts thanked me I also broke some rules in the process. I'm not sure it was worth it. The adult's job is to motivate scouts to do their best. The eagle bauble is just one tool to do that. It may have been better to spend more time developing other tools, such as teamwork within patrols, or having fun activities that develop outdoor skills. There's a lot of tension in this thread and it's just like all the other threads about advancement. Did the girl cheat? Did the leaders or parents grease the skids? Or was this just a really motivated scout? We really don't know. But the tension is going to do a lot more damage than the good that might come from making sure scouts don't cut corners.
  19. MattR

    Girl Scouts vs. School Dress Code

    Okay, maybe it's time to let this thread end. We are far from the OT and much further from agreement.
  20. Always time for good news: I had a great time at our camporee. The weather was great. The theme was Alien Space Crash. We worked into it some novel team work problem solving, first aid, a mile map and compass course, an old BP game (sneaking up on the blind folded scout), semaphores, first aid, some search and rescue, shooting tennis balls with a water balloon launcher, and a relay race through the woods (everything had an alien theme). That, and I got to make fun of myself channeling my inner Dan Akroyd with an aluminum foil cone head hat. The best part was that I saw a lot of smiles this weekend. I also stepped down as camping chair and may have found an organized replacement. The deal is they'll handle the mundane details and the asinine council if I keep helping with the fun ideas. How great is that?
  21. MattR

    Worst things you seen taken to summer camp

    Marijuana. But I'm sure that was not the intent of this question. We don't have cell phone coverage at any of our camps so we naturally see more low tech games. It's interesting to see how some scouts just adapt to it easily and some really struggle. Most scouts have a lot of fun with something simple like a stream or a patch of mud.
  22. MattR

    Scout dies hiking Picacho Peak (AZ)

    Two miles might not sound like much but it looks like it goes up around 1000 feet. That, and if they left late, and they didn't have enough water, and they weren't in shape, and they weren't paying attention ... tragedy. One of the biggest challenges is knowing to say it's time to turn around. I went hiking with my daughter and her boyfriend. He did not want to look bad but he was obviously suffering altitude sickness. Everyone else was willing to just let him tough it out. I was the old man and the only one willing to say nope, we'll try again some other day.
  23. MattR

    Traditionally American camp fire dishes

    As long as nobody is hurt, we trust and encourage all scouts to try something new. I hate to tell you this but some of the best barbecue I've ever had was in Argentina. The only spice they used was salt. What made it so good was the fact that the meat was all grass fed and very slowly cooked. Every house in Argentina has a very simple brick barbecue in the back yard that consists of a U shaped brick wall on a concrete slab. That's it. They put a fire at the base in a corner, stretch the meat across an antenna looking thing, and just lean it over the coals. For several hours they drink beer and rotate the meat every hour. That and some salads and it was incredibly tasty.
  24. MattR

    Traditionally American camp fire dishes

    What the scouts would cook over a fire and what I would cook over a fire, on July 4th, are very different things. Barbecue. (Where are all the people from Texas?) Burgers with good stuff mixed into the meat will work but marinated something is my favorite. The least expensive is probably chicken thighs. They taste good and have enough fat in them that they're a little more forgiving if they get too much heat.
  25. @Randymck55, this is why I said it's going to be longer than a brochure. This is a really big topic and this forum has talked, and argued, about it for a long time. It gets down to the very core of what scouts is about. If you could make a good, engaging presentation about this that could run anywhere from 30 minutes at a round table to a weekend at a council camp and covered boy led and patrol method and all the methods and how they impact older scout interest it would be a fantastic resource that would fill in a lot of holes in the BSA training material.