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Everything posted by MattR

  1. My dog has a software compass, he has to walk while he poops to get a good bearing. I once saw a demonstration while standing directly on the equator that suggested that your balance is a bit worse there. And maybe it was a bit worse. Anyway, if dogs can sense electrical fields the way dolphins do, then who knows.
  2. To me, I'd be much more grateful if someone said L'Shana Tova to me during the High Holidays than Happy Hanukkah now (especially considering Hanukkah is long over). Saying Happy Hanukkah now is just saying the Jewish version of Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays is just the same. What holiday? Bottom line is I'm just as content hearing Merry Christmas as anything else and just taking it for what it is: good will. Life is too short to get in a knot over this. In a way, I do feel sorry for Christians in that Christmas seems to be much more cultural and commercial than religious. One of the nice things about being a minority is that your holidays aren't hijacked by commercialism. So, for those of you for which Christmas is an important day to reflect about what Christ means to you, Merry Christmas.
  3. BW, I'm not sure what your controls will be to keep your size down but I'd suggest caution with not allowing any new scouts in as it might cause troubles down the road. If 38 is where you want to be and you're running a great program and no scouts leave for 2 or 3 years then you won't have any new scouts for this period. After this time the webelos might come and see that there are no younger scouts and might find another troop more welcoming. Another problem is that a year or so after that you'll have a bubble in your leadership. This is a real challenge. I've always felt that there has to be some new scouts every year. I'd limit the size of the troop by limiting the number of new scouts allowed every year. If 8 scouts a year would keep the membership at roughly 38 then maybe some times the number would go to 40 or 44 and sometimes it might come down to 32, but there would always be new scouts.
  4. Periochas, yes he really wanted the rank. His story is different than most. He didn't join scouts until 3 years ago. And he didn't wake up until fairly late in the process. He got First Class with 17 months to go. I've seen too many Eagles that got there because mom and dad were hovercraft and watched these details. This scout's parents didn't understand what was going on. So I know this scout wanted it. He wants the recognition. That has been a driving force and a good one to bring out his character. I agree with you that his character is worth more than a patch, but he won't see that for a long time. I don't have a problem using recognition to motivate a boy to develop his character. Adults have Silver Beavers, District Awards of Merit, and Position of the Year awards, so I'd like to let this scout know, and for a bunch of others to see, that character is important. If I were a scout and I compared the Eagle award and all the hoopla with it to a handshake from the SM, it would be very clear what has higher importance, yet this is backward to what I'd like it to be. Ideally, I'd just hold all scouts to the higher character bar, and maybe I might, but for the scout that just wants to do the right thing and is not interested in the patch, I'd like to recognize that so they find a reason to exercise their character. While I like Dr Who, the First Class emblem sounds much better to me. Giving him a sonic screw driver patch along with it would be fun, though.
  5. blw2, I wasn't thinking of the Eagle emblem, just a soaring eagle, but I like the idea of the First Class emblem. Better to stay away from eagles all together. Stosh, I agree with you that an active 18 year old that "gets it" is worth more than the eagle rank, but this scout doesn't understand that. He really wanted the rank. That challenge was a huge motivation. Part of the problem is my troop puts a lot of emphasis on Eagle rank yet we don't know how to recognize scout spirit. We have an honor scout each COH but that's nothing compared to your own Eagle COH. I guess the real question is how do we recognize exceptional scout spirit to the extent that we recognize Eagle? Eagle is easy to recognize - check boxes to measure progress, court of honor, patches, and speeches to show recognition. The problem with Eagle is that the most important part of Eagle, scout spirit, is buried under a ton of bureaucracy. Scout spirit isn't about doing the absolute bare minimum to get recognition. Doing 1200 lines of requirements for merit badges has little to do with an Eagle Charge or Oath. Do I take this plaque and make it the troop Scout Spirit award and present it to scouts solely based on cheerful service and active participation? No nagging, no check boxes, no hand holding, no whining about requirements, just know what's right and do it. Present yourself to the committee and make your case whenever you want. They'll talk to other scouts to verify what you say and tell you if you meet the standard. If they say yes on your 18th birthday then you get a plaque, otherwise you can talk about how to improve yourself. This whole thing would just be a way to let the scouts know that scout spirit is highly valued.
  6. I found a nice quote: "Reputation is what men and women think of us; character is what God and angels know of us." --Thomas Paine Maybe I can put it on a plaque and present it to him. Not sure if putting an eagle with it would be a good idea or not.
  7. I did tell him I'd write a letter of recommendation for any place. The idea of writing it now and giving it to him is a good idea. I was thinking about a story about someone that dealt with failure well. Lincoln was a complete failure until he became president. Or maybe something along the lines of "Not only is character what you do when nobody is looking, but nobody can give it to you or pin it on you. You have to earn it."
  8. I have a scout that can't get Eagle. He's one of the best scouts I've ever had. More of an Eagle than most I've seen. He was a great SPL and everyone looked up to him. But, he didn't pay attention to the clock and did his Life board of review late. Part of this was due to the fact that he was putting so much time into the troop, While he is ultimately responsible, I also let him down. I think of all the scouts we've nagged to get things done on time, that don't come close to the caliber of this scout, and nobody paid attention because they just assumed he was taking care of everything. I can deal with my own stupidity, but what do I tell this scout? A lot of people say Eagle is junk but this kid made something of himself, learned a lot, and did some amazing things for the sole purpose of getting that medal. I already talked to him and said there was a possibility the appeals process wouldn't work (and it didn't) and I told him he is who he is because of what he's done, and not because of a patch and he understands that. But still, any ideas how to recognize this scout for what he is?
  9. The only way to get to the bottom of this great mystery is over a beer. We will also have plenty of leftover bird, so come on over.
  10. So two half hitches is still the same as a clove hitch? But by reversing the second hitch, in either case, you're saying it's a better knot as it won't come loose. You just need a new name for reversing the second hitch. By the powers vested in me, I now pronounce this new knot the JobBob Hitch. I agree that a clove hitch won't hold a canoe. Been there done that. While looking at images for this great debate I found the spar hitch, rolling hitch, and constrictor hitch, http://scoutpioneering.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/hitches1.jpg, all of which seem like they'd hold the canoe better. The spar hitch was originally meant to keep horses from wandering, so kind of like a canoe. The constrictor looks easy and a bit more secure than the spar. There's also a knot called a double constrictor. Enough with knots. Time to start thinking about big bird, and how she's going to be cooked.
  11. Busted JoeBob, that second image is wrong. For a double half hitch the two ends of the rope go out opposite directions from each other (if that makes any sense at all) and not out the same side as shown in the photo. Anyway, google double half hitch and you won't see another photo like the one from bollweeviltroop99. It is a clove hitch on a rope. I haven't a clue if it makes a difference, though.
  12. The requirements for Eagle are busy work. That's not to say that all the Eagle scouts are junior paper pushers, but quite a few are. If what we preach is outdoor skills and service then make those the requirements for Eagle. I really like the "take your patrol on a backpacking trip" for First Class. That's a great test of skill. Service hours for Star and Life are a joke. 21 merit badges where most seem to be doable in 3 hours could be completely revamped. I'd rather see 10 merit badges that take 50 hours each. Scouts would really know first aid if they spent 50 hours on it. There really are few tests of skill in all the requirements. If a boy passes a test of skill then he'll respect it. If it's just going through the motions then he won't respect it. The real problem is that scouts know bs when they see it. They know it's busy work but they also know we make a big deal out of it. So they do the busy work and then they forget about it. It's not the scouts, it's the adults, as usual.
  13. BD, you'll never know if he felt he "got caught", but my guess is, if he felt he got caught he'd be angry with you. Since he was almost in tears, he probably knows he did something wrong.
  14. Fred says: "Personally, I'm glad my troop does not have your attendance requirement. It's forces the older boys choose between scouting and other activities. I'm afraid at 14 / 15 years old, many will choose the other activities and it's the beginning of the end of their scouting career. It also puts the focus on the wrong place. Scouting is about character and advancement is not gate keeping." A lot of adults said we'd have a bunch of scouts quit if I put in an attendance requirement, but nobody else wanted to be SM so I got my way. A very small number of scouts did quit but most of them decided that scouts was important and they needed to put more time into it. There was something else going on as well. I used to spend a lot of time talking to scouts that were wavering on whether they wanted to stick it out. I tried to find ways to help them out. I finally said forget it, I was going to spend the time with the scouts that wanted to be there to make it the best program I could for them. That's when I came up with the requirements. I told scouts they needed to decide, and that scouting is a team sport. Patrol leaders can't learn to lead if they can't get older scouts to help them out. I made those decisions to help the PLs. The result is the patrols are forming identities, they don't want to be broken up, they want to go out on their own, and now scouts want to be patrol leader whereas it used to be a "nose goes" kind of thing. The older scouts are much more active and help out a lot more since I put in that requirement. Most scouts are unaware of the requirement because they just show up. One other thing, fulfilling the requirement is necessary for a POR, but not sufficient. They still need to do everything expected of them.
  15. Scout food is about $10. If it's a district event that's another $8-10 (patch and a potty). The troop pays for gas to whomever tows the trailer. If we're in a cabin that would be another $2-3 per person but the troop usually covers that. Adults pay $15 for food but eat well enough just to make the kids jealous. We did Iron Chef at a camporee. It was fun. The adults put together ramen noodles, peanut butter, soy sauce, Shiracha, and cooked chicken. That was good.
  16. I find the field uniform impractical in the field. In the summer it's way too warm. In the winter it's a poor layer and you'd never see it. It works in the fall and we really don't get Spring so much as winter or summer. So, I call it a dress uniform. I really like the idea of a uniform, and my troop has to travel in them, but I'd like to see a change. Well, the pants and necker are good, I guess I just don't like the shirt. Who needs epaulets in the outdoors? Who needs troop numbers on a shirt, or a council patch? Military field uniforms all have velcro unit and rank strips and it seems really practical and not nearly as blingy as a scout uniform. Scout uniforms have more bling than any other uniform. At troop meetings, the shirts are fine. But the emphasis is on the outdoors so the uniforms should be practical there first. I'd like to see different weights and materials and cheap enough so the scouts can own a summer and winter shirt. Make the patches smaller so they fit on a velcro strip and only the US flag and WOSM patch are sewn on. Everything else fits on a strip above a pocket. Simple and practical. We wouldn't need activity shirts if the field shirt worked in the field.
  17. jblake, I was in college, we wanted to celebrate, so someone said, "let's make some sort of flambe thing." All we had was 151Rum. Plenty of adventure in a kitchen.
  18. If it were me sitting down with him I'd make a small change. Before I'd tell him he won't receive the badge, and he knows he did something wrong, I'd ask him what he thinks the right thing to do is. If he says he doesn't deserve the badge then he gets it, I'm not the bad guy, and it's a good lesson in the end. He may also whine, in which case I'd continue with your plan.
  19. I created campout attendance requirements. It makes it so much easier to have the discussion Eagledad mentions. What I'm learning is the clearer the expectations the easier it is for the boys to grasp them and harder for them to fudge them. The SPL or ASPL has to be on every campout baring an act of God. Same for PL and APL of each patrol. The PL is expected to go on most of the campouts (yes, that's fuzzy for a reason). My PLC just had to deal with a PL that hasn't been on a campout with his patrol since he became a patrol leader 4 months ago. The expectations above triggered a discussion with the boy and the PLC that was good. Turns out he's in over his head with all sorts of activities. They finally agreed that it would be good for the PL to swap with his APL until he can get things under control. The participation requirements made it easier to start this conversation. It's a tool, I try to use it wisely.
  20. Thanks Kudu, nice read and answer. It's interesting that BP put an emphasis on the spiritual and there are so many people that are looking more for the spiritual. The Pew survey in another thread shows that. Maybe the BSA has an opportunity here.
  21. MattR

    How much?

    The ladder idea is good in that it can help the troop see where it is and figure out how to move forward. Tampa makes a good point in that changing too much at once will cause so much failure that scouts will walk. And that's why adults jump in and rescue the scouts. "They aren't advancing, they don't have paper towels, I'll just fix the problem for them." Then we're back to square one. Maybe rather than fix the problem the adults should just note the problem and talk to the PLC. I'm going to take my set of ladders and give it to the SPL and ask him to define the responsibilities of the scouts and adults. I'll encourage him to bite off more responsibility for the scouts. I'll let him decide how much change he can handle at a time.
  22. MattR

    How much?

    So I think what you're saying, or maybe what I want to hear, is that at the pinnacle of scout leadership, the SM is coaching and asking questions and only very rarely needs to make a decision. This seems very dependent on good scouts that want to do a good job. I talked to a few PLs last night and started asking them why we do things the way we do (why elections every 6 mo, why adults collecting permission slips, etc) and a lot of light bulbs turned on. I asked them could the scouts handle these things and how would they do it differently. That was a good discussion. I looked closer at the ladder graphic and it doesn't really help me. I like the idea of showing everyone where we are but this doesn't really help. I chucked it and started over. First of all, there are lots of parts to the program. New scouts, older scouts, campouts, high adventure, service projects, meetings, gear, patrol leadership, advancement, ... one ladder is not enough. Next, I like Stosh's idea of either you manage or you lead, but I broke each in 2. So four levels. Level 4) The scouts are merely participating or have no clue this is part of the troop. At most they get to decide from a small set of choices given them. Adults do most of it, or at least make all the decisions. Level 3) Scouts manage a task for an extended time frame. Decisions are constrained and adults have to approve. It's open loop so if things go wrong, an adult will step in or the problem will likely repeat the next time. Scouts need to participate. Level 2) Scouts lead a task for an extended time frame. They care about the result and the people involved. They recognize when they're in trouble and ask for help. Adults ask lots of questions and keep the scouts focused. Scouts need to care. Adults need to bite their tongues. Level 1) Scouts look at the big picture. They train others. They will identify problems and come up with solutions on their own. Adults rarely step in. Scouts need to be self motivated. So when I look at this for my troop, we're all between level 2 and 4. When it comes to picking patrol leaders and patrols and dealing with troublesome scouts, they're at 2. QM is between 3 and 4, depending on the adult working with them. The SPL is so close to level 1. The calendar and campouts are a 3, but recently a 2. Advancement is between 2 and 4, depending on what adults are around. Sorry about blathering on, but this helps me.
  23. There's no doubt these guys are idiots and they are lying through their teeth to rationalize what they did. At the same time the death threats and the media attention is solely because they are associated with the Boy Scouts. I've been to this park and it's just a giant play ground. The kids absolutely love playing there and it shows. There are paths worn everywhere. People carve their names into the sandstone. There is not much of nature left to enjoy. The idea that these yokels destroyed some pristine natural area is a farce.
  24. Well, it's 100 years old, but a good place to start. If I strip out the legalese and write it in a more current style I come up with: The purpose is for boys to be skilled in the outdoors, benevolent, responsible, courageous, honorable, and patriotic. ​That seems a lot more succinct than Reinforce Ethical Standards. I'm not sure the kids will think much of it. Sports is about winning and winning strikes a chord within a boy. Maybe honor and courage can take the place of winning.
  25. MattR

    How much?

    I looked at the ladder thing and it brings up some questions. For the top level it says the adults won't step in unless it's a safety issue. When it comes to bad decisions that's fine as long the the result of the bad decision is timely. Forget food? Hunger. But what about decisions that aren't very timely. Let's say the scouts decide no new Webelos this year? Or maybe a decision just goes against the grain of scouting, such as not camping anymore, or not helping the younger scouts, or the flag ceremonies have become a joke. Or maybe just a PL being a butt. What's the feedback that addresses those issues? Some of those cases could be handled by scouts that think something is wrong. What's the mechanism to do that?. But there are also things that maybe only the SM sees. I agree with Barry that the SM is the keeper of the flame, so they ultimately do have say in decisions. So can any troop ever get to that top level? Or am I just reading this wrong?
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