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MattR

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Everything posted by MattR

  1. Sounds like a great fundraiser for the scout shop! <place sarcasm emoji here>
  2. Is that your kitchen or your camping storage? Quite the collection.
  3. I have a lodge skillet and s glass top and have had no issues with scratches. There's a difference between the old and new cast iron pans in that the casting process of old was fairly crude and required sanding. The newer pans aren't sanded but are still a bit rough. The result is the old pans are much smoother. So, I borrowed an angle grinder and sanded my lodge skillet. I really like it. If you do this, be careful as an angle grinder can easily add divots. They eventually fill in from the seasoning 🤫 We got our patrols steel skillets. You treat them the same as cast iron but they weigh less and aren't brittle.
  4. MattR

    Kudos to my council - Northern Star

    Sounds like a chicken and egg scenario. We want good people more than documentation or metrics, but in order to create those good people we need a definition of a good unit. But in order to define a good unit we really need a concise description of the goals and how the big pile of methods support those goals. My guess is most everyone here has their own view of these things, mainly because it's very vague in any documentation. I'm honestly tired of trying to convince people that our main jobs, as scouters, is to work our way out of a job and have the scouts own it. Everyone says sure, that's obvious, until they see that the new scouts aren't advancing to some schedule. I could really use something, anything, that I can point to for these adults to go read. The trainers don't have it (they have trainer's edge!) The commissioners don't have it. The idea of levels of patrol method above is a great idea. But it will never become widely used . Someone could get it to work at their district and it would be great until that person left. The waves of new people would just slowly wash it away like a sandcastle on a beach. All we have is JTE, because that's what the BSA has backed. Any new scouter will be taught JTE, so it will continue. I'm not so sure it's documentation or good people. What we really need is leadership. Good, bottom up, support your people, leadership. Just like all these scouts are supposedly learning. We will never see it as long as the focus is on money and old crimes. This is just like a church or temple that has to pay for their expensive building and start worrying more about money than spirituality. We need a CSE that is more interested in the spirituality of scouting than anything else. The only way to get that is to get drastic and remove the massive debt load the BSA has. Another option is to find one council that has a strong CE and no money issues and see if they would take this on for, say, 5 years. Proof of concept. Could a district do this? I kind of doubt it. Mine is certainly too week. And my council, however, has got to be one of the worst in the nation with respect to money problems and leadership, so I'm out.
  5. MattR

    standards for Scouts

    Part of that is having mush for brains, and I don't mean that in a bad way. Everything is changing and they have no idea how they fit in. At the same time, they also think they're the only ones going through this. My guess is the slovenly attitude is just their way of saving face. I was once one of them.
  6. MattR

    Kudos to my council - Northern Star

    But let's assume there's some sort of commissioner that has the authority to make changes and the heart to help. Maybe like this neighborhood commissioner. That's a very different position than current commissioners and, with the right person, could help immensely. It gets back to leading as an example for the scouts to see. Instead, we have SMs with big egos because nobody is there to call them on mistakes. It's also a huge responsibility for the commissioner. I'd be up for it.
  7. MattR

    Changing BSA's Image

    Ahhh, now that I'm over the turkey coma... I think what you're all saying is do what you can and don't even look at things that, well, we have no control over. And you're right, but deleting all the describe and discuss requirements is just ... something stuck in my bonnet. But, back to reality. What can a half dozen people do? Something to remember is that it's highly unlikely we could fix the BSA, and yet if we could help a few troops here and there it would be worth it. I think the idea of 20 to 30 minute discussions is a great format. Round table, any scout event where the adults should be out of sight, it's easy. I always thought a wiki would be a good idea. Wow, this is really coming up with a message, the message, that national hasn't figured out. You have 5 seconds with a parent that's trying to find an activity for their kid, what are you going to say? It's like that video above, but you only have a few words. It could be backed up with a youtube video, or maybe the equivalent TedYoutube video but that initial hook is required first. I can read this too many ways. What problem is this going to help with? Scouts that go along with anything, get bored and drop out? Scouts and parents that think scouts is webelos 3? Adult led troops? As an aside, the phrase Right to Expect sounds a bit confrontational. I mean, there are expectations of the scout as well. How about a 20 minute quiz to measure how much the scouts are responsible for vs how much the adults are responsible for? Sort of a Patrol Method metric. This could be very wide and deep and bring up things like getting more volunteers to step up, finding more ideas, balancing the program for everyone, getting more scouts. Maybe it starts with the patrol method metric?
  8. MattR

    Stonewall Jackson Area Council Changes Name

    Interesting discussion. I'm just curious, though, where else have people built statues to generals that have lost? I'm not talking about rewriting history, just who wants to recognize the guy that lost? I'm not sure I've ever seen this anywhere other in the US. I've seen plenty of memorials to those that have died, and those are worthy for everyone to learn from, but not to losing generals. I'm not saying there should be statues to winning generals, either. If anything, statues of winning generals is a bit close to glorifying the wrong thing, in my opinion. But statues of the losing generals seems way over the line. Maybe I'm wrong. I'm open to different interpretations.
  9. I sort of doubt that "middle schoolers" are interested in "Jump Up, Kids Gym, etc." They're interested in getting away from mom. That's why they're hanging out at "Mickey Dees."
  10. MattR

    BSA Mortgages Philmont Scout Ranch

    I certainly understand where you're coming from. No harping at all. And yet, a few points (while I wait on the potatoes). First, I just threw this out. I'm open to other ideas. My main point is that the BSA does not follow the model it professes. Consequently their training is hard to believe or get behind. It bothers me when companies don't use the products they sell. The BSA is selling servant leadership. They talk about it, yet they don't really mention how to teach it. They certainly don't model it, not at the national level, not at council (at least not mine), and while our district tries they have little guidance on how to do that. Next, @yknot is one person that could really benefit from this. He (I assume) is also new, inexperienced, and eager to help out. That's the volunteer the program should be set up for. You've also mentioned that there are fewer volunteers with outdoor skills and I agree, but the BSA has to adapt. The old model, since at least the 50's, of assuming volunteers come pre trained has to change. As for SM's with big egos, I agree with you. And yet, the worst of those people, that I know, have the worst programs. Finally, as for having yet one more meeting and wasting time, I agree with you. Anything done would have to be value added. Of course, current round tables are anything but value added, so shaking that up might help. Again, I'm not sure how, I just see a problem.
  11. MattR

    Font for Unit Numbers

    Or, find something close and never mention it to anyone. Nobody, and I mean nobody, will be looking for that. My guess is the uniform description manual, or whatever it's called, does not specify fonts. So anything is good. Use comic-sans, or something else fun. Great way to start a conversation.
  12. MattR

    BSA Mortgages Philmont Scout Ranch

    I think this is getting closer to the crux of the problem. There is training and there is coaching mentoring and encouragement. The troops use both. In fact, it's heavily weighted towards the latter. The councils barely use training. For other than safety related training, the model is one and done. So, how to run a scout troop? It's based on the lowest common denominator and one and done. Outdoor skills? One and done. Everyone here says one needs to seek further on one's own to improve. This doesn't match the problem of having fewer parents with outdoor skills. They don't know what they don't know, just like the scouts. Everyone here knows that when working with scouts and developing their leadership skills it is anything but one and done. So why does anyone expect treating the volunteers the way we would never treat the scouts expect this to work? Also, maybe this is why one and done is considered acceptable in the guide to advancement. Can't retest. Say that to the wilderness first aid people. And when you look at this issue in the larger context of how national works with councils and councils work with units, it's worse. The definition of a good unit is based on JTE. JTE is based on SMART goals from the one and done woodbadge training (simple, measurable goals). And yet, when we work with youth it's much more of a relationship than a form to fill out. What are their goals? What would they like to accomplish? What do they think should be done? How can we help facilitate that? We push for a mixture of bottom up with a humble, wise use of top down. Look at how that matches with the top down approach that defines the BSA. No wonder people say it has to be more than training. In a way, it does. Someone needs to grow the volunteers the same way we try to grow the youth leaders. What a novel concept, the council will work with the volunteers the way they want the volunteers to work with the scouts. Wouldn't that be a great way to learn the program? The usual explanation is that's what round table and commissioners are for. But that doesn't work, because it's not central to the program. You can run a troop without ever going to round table. In fact, most SM's don't because they're too busy as it is. And that round table is usually just a bunch of announcements. As for a lack of volunteers, at least in my council we have lost a good 75% of the best, bleed green, will continue long past their sons, volunteers over the past 10 years because of the idiocy of the CE. Consequently, all we ever hear from our DE's are sell more popcorn, make a bigger donation, and get your numbers up (and this is coming from the CE). Just imagine that approach between the SM and the PLC. Would you call it servant leadership or adult led? So, I'm not saying I know the answer. I just see a problem. Some leadership would be greatly appreciated. I don't think the BSA needs to do much with the methods or aims. However, they should focus on how the methods achieve the aims and, particularly, they should hold up everything they do against that metric and do a massive start, stop, continue, with a lot of input from the volunteers. Just one idea: within a district, make patrols out of the SM's. 6-8 in a patrol (all from different troops or packs) with a patrol leader. They're in it together to help each other out. Round table is the "troop" meeting and it includes plenty of time for patrol meetings. They talk about what they want to do and accomplish. If they want to do their own camporee then great! They trade ideas. Offer help. It helps the units. It also teaches patrol method. Another idea: Make ranks for scouters, or at least ways to recognize and develop scouters based on their interests. In depth outdoor skills? In depth patrol method? Well, in depth anything that the usual training covers. Just two ideas that came from looking at how the methods lead to the aims and applying that to district unit interactions.
  13. MattR

    BSA Mortgages Philmont Scout Ranch

    I really hate to be a cynic, but I don't know if the origin of the debt matters. They're losing money and in the red, and they used Philmont to get more money. If they're lucky membership will stop declining, but for now it won't go up. Eventually they will run out of money, file for bankruptcy, and then it gets interesting. I'm more curious about what happens after they file for bankruptcy. In particular, would a judge say "you guys are clueless, it's time for you to get better leadership?" The BSA keeps saying the problems are all external; membership, volunteers, society, whatever. Yet they've never said boo about the possibility that some of the problems are with them. The same thing holds for my council. I keep wondering if it would be so bad if the BSA just folded. Other scout organizations would benefit and there'd be more competition. Parents could also find what they're interested in. Christian, secular, Latvian, whatever you want. Maybe they'd even start having camporees together. Wipe the board clean and start over. I would be sad if scouting ended in the US. But if scouting kept going and it wasn't called the BSA, I think I could get behind it.
  14. MattR

    BSA Mortgages Philmont Scout Ranch

    Just to verify, I went on facebook and looked for Stinnett's facebook page (he's a lawyer in Colorado Springs). He put up two posts on the 21st: he quit his Philmont position as Camping/Program chairman and his National Committee Member position. So, I guess there's no point in sending him any email.
  15. MattR

    Changing BSA's Image

    While there is less community it certainly isn't less relevant (look at suicide rates over the past 50 years), and I think that's the key to your last question: what image should the BSA project? There may be fewer parents interested in developing responsibility and self sufficiency in their kids, but the BSA isn't even close to getting the attention of those that are left. But I do agree that the image problem is a wreck. Part of the problem is the need for some better PR. Maybe we can get our UK friends to ask the Duchess of Cambridge if she'd pop on over and visit some scout troops around here. Unfortunately, the bigger issue is we're stuck in the middle of the culture war. Fifteen years ago all the liberals I knew viewed the BSA as a youth military development organization, Jr Jr ROTC, if you will. And while they still do, now the conservatives see us as morally bankrupt. Who wants to put their kids in that mess? And before anyone says "that's not my troop!" it's the image we have. And yes, this image is compounded by the fiscal incompetence of national. People with little or no experience with scouts are who the message needs to be focused on. So, the culture war, which led to the enormous split in this country, is getting worse and the BSA is a lightning rod for it. In the meantime there are parents looking for healthy activities for their kids. Talk about needing leadership at the highest level. Kool-aid drinkers need not apply. Here's a message: Not only a message but a way to focus a program that has gotten bloated. The simplest way I can describe the bloat in the current program is to consider a very old idea that I'm paraphrasing: Nobody cares what you know or think, they only care about what you do. Put another way, the methods don't support the aims as well as they could. In a nutshell, every method needs to be gone over to see what is supporting the aims and what is getting in the way. Since the BSA doesn't even describe how the methods lead to the aims, I'm fairly sure they don't do this. Here's an off the top of my head view. First, advancement: Other than safety related issues, all of the describe and discuss requirements are nothing but a drag on having fun. They do not promote fun, leadership, independence, or responsibility so chuck them. Everyone knows that most of the requirements to get eagle are just a slog of check boxes. That's what's killing the program. Next, add requirements that develop creative problem solving, both individually and as a patrol. By creative problem solving I mean find a problem and fix it. The eagle project should be the last in a series of problem solving projects and not just the only one. Give the scouts more freedom and encourage them to pick their own projects. A first class requirement could be to organize an outdoor activity for your patrol and lead your patrol in that activity. I know, this is close to a very old requirement but I like it. Along with the above, to encourage community, teamwork, and just plain getting along with each other, make a few rank requirements be for the entire patrol. Advancement is completely personal and yet we're trying to develop people skills. To support this, make some MB's that are patrol based. So, as a patrol, learn a skill and then go do it. That's a simple way to encourage patrol method, do something different, and do something other than cook as a patrol. It could be as simple as making some requirements that encourage a patrol to do a MB together and follow through with an activity based on it. The MB program is a hidden gem that has been sidelined and obfuscated by boring requirements and MB mills. Use them to be part of the program. Next, quit trying to teach everything a kid should know with advancement. Cyber security, nutrition, Citizenship in the Nation, etc are things that are either taught in school or are so far from having fun learning to be responsible that they're just a drag. We can't be everything for everyone. Figure out where the line is. As for the adult method, the adults don't understand the program. The program is how the methods lead to the aims and we know how well that's taught. So teach it. Next, it's easy for a troop to get in a rut. I have never seen any training from the BSA that describes typical problems and how to solve them. They only teach skills that you have to do. So there are no case studies in how to fix a failing troop. Many people here say there are plenty of good units and I agree, but there are a lot more mediocre units. JTE was supposed to help those units. It hasn't and it won't. Giving people metrics won't teach them how to solve their problems. It's like telling an alcoholic to just drink less. Outdoor method: I think kids still like it. Wilderness survival skills are always a hit. However, there are issues. First, IOLS is way too short and fewer adults know the skills they need to teach. Take half of woodbadge and put it back to teaching outdoor skills and making fun activities using them. And if scouts are tired of the same campouts, how about a hike somewhere fun? Or star gazing from inside your sleeping bag? It doesn't need to only be a campout. The biggest challenge and biggest reward is getting scouts to learn how to solve their own problems and come up with their own events. That should be a big focus of all the methods starting at the first rank. Uniform: Just simplify it so the scouts can own it and afford them. I would much rather see a $10 shirt that a scout can raise his own money to pay for, and 1/10th the patches, so the scouts can put them on themselves (how about POR and rank pins?), then the high tech bling boards we have now. Quit thinking of it as a dress uniform and more of a field uniform and scouts will start wearing them in the field, and maybe even to school. There is nothing inherently wrong with scouts, the aims, or the methods, but there is a huge need for real leadership that is willing to ask some hard questions and get away from the mindset that we have to do something because that's how we always have done it. I completely agree with the comments about changing the hiring practices, controlling costs, and giving volunteers more room to innovate. It won't be a simple fix, but it's doable with the right people.
  16. The aspiration is no yellow snow.
  17. We ask the scouts to knock down the roofs so nobody gets hurt playing on the snow and it caving in. They get more and more solid so it's difficult to completely knock it down after a day. And think about it. We walk into an area with 3' of pristine snow and create tracks and caves and tent slots all over the place. There's no way we can leave it the way it was.
  18. MattR

    Wood splitting tips

    Not sure if this is related, but I have a really nice axe and they explicitly said don't use a sledge hammer to push the head in further as the sidewalls of the head could split. That's also my half axe, so not sure if their full axe is not built with thicker walls.
  19. MattR

    Hair-Brained Idea du Jour...

    If marching band is ever combined with scouting I will quietly exit. Sports, at a rec level could actually work. A patrol of soccer players could go look for other patrols in other troops for a pick up game. Or ultimate Frisbee. Or robotics. For those that enjoyed the activity but don't want to go full type A competitive, it could me more fun than a normal meeting. Lots of opportunities to learn useful side skills. How to have fun at a skill you suck at would be great.
  20. MattR

    Wood splitting tips

    A couple of comments. The video shows the use of a splitting maul. Few scouts learning to use an axe can even control a full sized axe, much less a maul. There are different sizes of axes. The sizes are 1/4, 1/2, 3/4, and full. A 1/4 axe is a hatchet. A 3/4 axe is often sold as a "boy's axe" and is really good for younger scouts. I have a half axe (be careful how you say it) that I really like because I can hold it with one hand and, with a sharp blade, can split most of the wood I deal with. I didn't watch the whole video but something I noticed is that the guy is standing with his feet together. If he misses the wood with the axe then the blade will come down to where his feet are. That's a big no no. Keep your feet apart. The big stump really helps. When the axe hits the wood it should be traveling straight down. A tall stump helps or else the person has to bring their hands down to be even with the top of the wood. I didn't see any discussion on starting the swing. Especially for scouts, start with the main hand at the end of the handle and the other near the head. As the swing moves toward the wood the hand near the head slides down toward the end of the handle. Most people new to this stand too close to the wood, resulting in overshooting the wood and smacking the handle against the wood. This guy is splitting logs so that won't happen much, but when cutting the wood further down to make a fire, one needs a good aim. There there's all the safety issues. Axe yard. No branches to get caught on. The head is on tight. Assume the head will fly off (been there, done that). Also, learning how to really sharpen an axe. I use a fine, single cut file. I never see them at the big box hardware stores but I can get them online. Files are like sand paper, they come in different grits. Fine, single cut leaves the smoothest finish. Bastard double cut is the coarsest and likely not needed unless the axe is really chewed up. Once you get used to it, cutting wood is better than mediation. It takes a lot of power and also good control. The focus required will wash away any other issues you have.
  21. MattR

    Did BSA "Abandon" LDS?

    @swilliams, I respect that you don't like how the LDS church wants to run their program. At the same time we need to respect their program.
  22. MattR

    Did BSA "Abandon" LDS?

    Well, I'm not there yet. The whole premise of this thread is a bit antagonistic and given that, y'all have been fairly good. I have to agree with the comments that the BSA and LDS just grew apart. I know several LDS members that are disappointed with the split. I'm also guessing that the outdoors will not be used much in the future LDS program. That will be a shame but I'm not trying to make a world wide program. Now that I mention it, I guess there already is a world wide outdoor youth program. I think it's called scouts or something and it's doing real well. Maybe the BSA should figure out what they're doing that works so well.
  23. MattR

    National Leadership, Surbaugh Leave of Absense

    And hence, too much kool-aid drinking. I hope it's someone that can sell a lot of popcorn. I'm hoping Chapter 11 will force that change. Time to drain the kool-aid, so to speak.
  24. @Onslow, my guess is you're getting a response you didn't expect. Hang in there, you're at least trying. It sounds like this culture you're seeing is new to you. Don't be so quick to judge. Keep listening and watching. There is goodness everywhere. If there's anyone that needs scouts it's these kids in the town you're describing. Nobody else is trying. So it would be great if you would. To those that see this as the usual tribalism in our country at the moment, all I can say is never waste a problem.
  25. MattR

    Anyone hear of Raise Craze?

    Once a year we hand deliver an addressed envelope and a flyer to a few thousand homes. We tell them if they put out their old x-mas tree on the curb we'll recycle it. In return we'd appreciate a donation. It's a good fundraiser, completely based on the honor system, and the scouts have a bunch of work to do.
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