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Everything posted by MattR

  1. MattR

    Lawnmower Parents

    I'm a push mower parent. Not nearly as loud or obnoxious as a lawnmower parent and I can also cut the lawn at 7am on a Sunday and not bother the neighbors.
  2. MattR

    Linked Troop Mission Statement

    @scotteg83, you have an opportunity to start fresh and not fight old baggage and old/wrong perceptions. This has nothing to do with girls. So first of all, this could be a lot of fun. I think the challenge is coming up with a small, tight, easily understood list of guidelines that everyone, scouts and adults, will respect. That will make the communication and training of all these new scouts and adults much simpler. Ideas these guidelines might cover, in no particular order: The separation of what the adults and scouts are responsible for. What the adults should and should not do. Same for scouts. How problems are solved. The process for defining/changing the calendar. Types and rough amounts of events? Challenging, fun, silly, advancement, service, fundraising ... The process for handling failure, both for the adults and scouts. (and what failure is, how to identify, review in general) The aim of scouting, in much clearer words than the BSA's (it better include fun) How you handle the situation where adults want to step in and scouts want to step back. How you handle the situation where the older scouts just don't want to do anything challenging.
  3. MattR

    Linked Troop Mission Statement

    You could easily use the forum titled "Girl Scouting"
  4. Rather amusing that the one form of communication that's a huge no-no, is making a phone call (it's one-one). And yet we all managed to deal with those as kids.
  5. MattR

    Qualities of an Eagle

    @Zebra132, not sure if grumpy is the right word, but I'm certainly old. There are lots of discussions on this forum about what an Eagle scout should be. It's mostly about character. There are also lots of discussions about not adding requirements. Unfortunately, these two ideas create a lot of tension because what we think an eagle scout should be has little to do with the requirements. The requirements are very concrete whereas character is not. Courteous and kind and putting the needs of others is very subjective whereas 20 nights camping only brings up conflict when the idea of sleeping in a cabin or a lock in is brought up. I once said a scout had to be active in my troop to advance. There was a very clear description of what active meant. One scout didn't care for it and mom took it to council. I was, after all, adding requirements. They gave him his eagle. They said he only needed to be active for 6 months. So, in your case, has this boy's girl friend not been pregnant for 6 months while he was a life scout? I know, it sounds insanely stupid to phrase it that way but that's what eagle is. It certainly sounds a lot better to say a scoutmaster conference can not include retesting a scout on skills but it's essentially the same thing. It's a simple algorithm with little room for interpretation. And I kind of get it. I see stories where others were unreasonable about how they interpreted the rules. I was always reasonable . Rules rarely leave room for interpretation and character is rarely black and white. A recent example I've run into is where I had to disqualify a "patrol" for cheating on a competition at the camporee. The 2 previous SPL's along with the current one and a couple of other older scouts took the place of one of the regular patrols at the final competition (where the overall wining patrol was decided). That alone would be nothing but an opportunity to teach some scouts about playing fair. What bothered me was that when 4 adults talked to them they just didn't see how what they did could be considered cheating. For a half hour we tried to explain this and they didn't get it. They said all the troops did this. So I went and talked to the other troops and, in fact, none of them cheated. They still didn't accept it. I have never run into this type of situation where a group of scouts, all of which will soon be eagle, just couldn't grasp what most cub scouts understand. So I really have to ask myself what eagle is worth. If your scout does right by his baby and is otherwise a good scout in the troop then I'd take him over the scouts in my troop. We won't know for some time, though. A friend of mine kept reminding me that we're playing a long game. We hope they get it figured out in 10 or 20 years from now. Will the scouts in my troop come back in 1, 5, or 10 years from now and realize they were cheating? If so, I won. If not, I wasted my time. Either way, it has little to do with that patch with the bird on it.
  6. MattR

    Boys, Girls, and Cub Scouting

    Here's another view of @Eagledad's observation of failure. All of the YPT reporting rules are dependent on what the offender did. I think you also have to look at how the target of that offense took it. Back to the girl being picked on by the cub, if the girl was upset but an adult noticed it soon enough to talk to her and validate her concerns that what the boy said was wrong, then this doesn't need to escalate to involving the council. The girl learns some kids should be ignored. Hopefully the boy learns that he's wrong, or at least that's his last warning. Problems should be opportunities to show scouts how to solve them. I think this is what Eagledad means. As soon as the council is brought in there's not much room for anyone to learn. There won't be scouts shaking hands, apologizing, accepting that apology, and moving on. Rather, everyone learns that any infraction is a huge deal that the scouts can't be trusted to handle.
  7. Hi @shortridge. I was a scoutmaster for 12 years. The real question here, if I may be so bold, is will your wife be okay with all the hours? Scoutmaster conferences, eagle projects, packing for said trips, going to blue and golds, training, just spending time figuring out how to crack some nut. Those are some of the things you've forgotten. I'm sure there are more. Some of this has to do with the size of your troop as well as how many adults will actually help. We estimated 1 hour per month per scout in the troop is what all of the adults put in together. How much of that will people help with? How good are you at convincing others to help out. I didn't do so well at that but a bunch of adults did step up. However, there seem to be fewer helping out. And yet, I am really glad I did it. BTW, I didn't answer your question. I didn't really want to know.
  8. Absolutely, @RennyTompson! You're still going to have to talk to someone about this and I think you're really worried about this. It's going to be fine. We all make mistakes. Life is not so much about not having problems but how you deal with those problems. You're trying hard to make this right. That's a great way to deal with the problem.
  9. MattR

    Oh Shoot, Worksheets in Cubs

    Re news 1) Is it the filling out the work sheet or that it's a bunch of things to check off? If the former, start off by just doing it for him. Oh, and add a fun sticker. In fact take him to the sticker store and have him pick the stickers. If you can get him to the point where he just gets the stickers on and you fill in the rest then you're good. Tell him when he does fill in the rest you'll give him a second sticker, from the super cool sticker set, to put anywhere he wants (forehead, mirror, door, ...) And if he only does the whole line some of the time then so what. Re news 2) I was under the impression that for webelos a parent had to be there anyway. When the G2SS says "in most cases" this is one of them. Or is this in scouts? This scout just needs to hang in there until he matures. Developing a relationship with him when he's in a good mood will likely shorten the times when he's frustrated.
  10. MattR

    Switching councils

    Welcome @Podscouter. The only happy thing I can think of is having a sit down with the council exec, president, etc. It's time to make connections and relationships.
  11. A lot of people don't realize this but if you read the original Hebrew, when Moses received the tablets that God had written the commandments on, there were 11. After Moses broke and then rewrote the commandments he dropped one. First of all, this illustrates that man wrote the 10 commandments and not God. Also, the one that was dropped was "Thou shalt not argue about religion, it just pisseth me off when you get so angry about what should be about love."
  12. I agree with with the quote @Thunderbird found. Anything can scale up to the point of requiring leadership. Planting 6 flowers is easy. Planting 600 requires leadership. I suppose it's difficult to measure leadership. At least one way is to ask what would happen if the leader wasn't there. In this case a Webelos scout could have decided the flag pole needed flowers, asked mom to buy a pack of 6, and planted them. So what did the scout in your example provide? All he did was make a task list that was completely unnecessary. Another way of looking at a project is asking how much preparation went into it. We just rejected a project that involved painting stain onto a wood shack. The stain and brushes were provided. All the scout had to do was get the labor to show up. We asked the scout to ask the benefactor if there weren't more things that needed to be done in the area around the shack. It turns out they have drainage issues. That requires figuring out possible solutions, talking to the city about the best way to solve the problem, working with the benefactor, asking for donations. It's substantial. And the shack will get stained. There's also vision. The vision is typically solving some problem. The plan fills in the details of how to solve the problem. In the flower planting case there really aren't any details to fill in. If the vision is to plant flowers than I'd ask why? If the vision is to make the landscaping look nicer than it's easy to show that the plan, adding some flowers, isn't going to have much impact. But doing a landscape design of the entire area around the flagpole is much more substantial. We have run into many project proposals that just didn't have much to them. In every case we've been able to work with the scout to expand the vision to be something they were proud of. The too simple proposals are usually just a case of a scout not caring and wanting to be done with it. And that's a good description of a project that has no leadership.
  13. We're going to have a travois segment of a Coulter's run at a camporee. Has anyone done anything like this before? Hints? Here are my plans. If I have time I will go find some small lodge pole pines for poles. If not, I'm going to rip some 2x4s. There will be two long poles, a cross piece for the load at the bottom and a cross piece at the top for pushing against. The patrol lashes this together with provided rope. A scout hops onto the load pole and holds onto the long poles while the rest of the patrol picks up the push pole and pushes the scout the requisite 10 or 20 yards. I'm wondering if the push pole even needs to be lashed in. Rather, lash the other three in the shape of an A and just wedge the push pole through the top of the A.
  14. MattR

    Travois competition

    It was fun! We ended up using two 8' 2x3's along with two 4' round fence poles (about 2" diameter) we found at camp. Turns out lashing rectangular lumber together is really hard so we suggested making a pointy ladder instead. 2 scouts pull and one rides. All of the 2x3's had nice rounded ends by the end of the day. A lot of scouts also learned the difference between tight lashings and not. Some learned that a diagonal lashing without fraps is close to worthless. Only one scout that was riding got run over by his own pullers (the lashes fell apart). We ran 4 patrols at a time and there were about 4 more stations to do after the travois. We had 15 out of 29 patrols do the race. Given how busy they were until that point that was fairly good. (At 6:50 this morning there was nobody awake.) In the morning there were 10 different events that each patrol could do to collect points. Archery, tomahawk, fry bread, first aid, even climbing for scouts with higher ranks (we have real rocks to climb on and we ended up finding a handful of climbers to resurrect our council climbing committee). Anyway, the points they collected in the morning was used to deduct time in the race. The competitiveness was really great. I took some nice photos of the travois jockeys. The only down side was the competitiveness was overwhelming for some older scouts in my troop. They gamed the system, picked the younger patrol that got the most points in the morning and then volunteered to win the race for them. I figured that one out and had a talk with them, the SM, and the other ASM's. Unfortunately the scouts never figured out that this might not be scout like. It was amazing. Four adults trying to explain how rearranging patrols to win for the troop was not ethical and the scouts just not getting it. They said all the troops did this so I went and talked to SM's of patrols in the order they ranked to find 3 that didn't cheat. Turns out I just had to talk to the first 3. That was the good news. Now I understand why I was so burned out as SM. Two of the four adults had scouts involved in this. It's really a case of one self centered, outgoing scout that created this. This kid is about to age out but he's been a pain for a long time. I honestly feel sorry for his dad. He was frustrated. There was another patrol that was fairly sure they got a bad deal with the scoring. But they were very polite and asked me. So at 10pm last night I was waking up adults to get to the bottom of the story. Turns out there was a misunderstanding in some numbers this patrol saw. They were disappointed but respectful. I'm thinking of making them an extra award ribbon just for being very scout like in a tough situation. I told them they showed a lot more character than the scouts in my troop that whined and complained and argued with the adults over what was fair and what wasn't. Some adults warned me about having patrol vs patrol competition and the ugly stuff that would come up. It certainly was a headache for me (look at how long this story is!) but it was also a teachable moment and a lot of fun for the scouts that didn't worry so much about the award. All in all, we'll keep doing it.
  15. MattR

    Ideas for a game about Causes of WWI?

    Welcome @dciesla. Sounds interesting and different from what we do. Thank you very much for the glossary.
  16. MattR

    What is the future of Training?

    We have someone new so I hope it changes but previously half of each is announcements and half is something that the council thinks is important but doesn't really help the units put on a better program. Examples are how to do ypt online, lots of versions of our new replacement for FOS, how to do internet advancement using the latest and greatest. All good things for the committees but nothing for the cub and scout masters. I should add that people have tried before to have discussions on skills but nobody comes in and shows us something new, it's just the regulars signing to the choir.
  17. MattR

    What is the future of Training?

    Not in my district, so no. My guess is most round tables are not so good. I've seen some good people struggle with it. Just having a book, like the field book but covering a lot more than just outdoor skills, might really help. Figure out how to make this more consistent would really help a lot.
  18. MattR

    Opinions on Alcohol stoves

    What you really want is drinkable alcohol. Denatured alcohol is just natural alcohol, or ethyl alcohol, with poison added. So, Everclear at 190 proof. The last 5% is just water. If you spill it in your pack just open it up and let it dry. The big problem is buying it. First, it's expensive. Second, I'm not sure it's scout appropriate. I did use it on a backpacking trip once. I did not tell the scouts what it was.
  19. MattR

    What is the future of Training?

    I certainly don't know how to tie a sheep bend. Is it like a hog bend (related to a hog tie). Maybe you're thinking of sheet bend? Anyway, I really like the idea of "give them enough to get started" but a critical part is to include information on where to find more. Get them through their first meeting and if they're excited then show them where to easily find a bit more. I'm sorry, but the current handbooks that I've seen don't really help. While Hillcourt has some really great ideas (fun with a purpose really could be the basis of that first idea), expecting a new parent to dig through the hundreds of pages he wrote is not going to happen. People don't have time and if they don't know there could be more then they won't look. Rather, someone else can dig through them. It's like fire building or knots. The basics are good but here's where you can find more info on starting a fire in a rain forest or here is how to tie a woggle. Or something deeper about scouts leading the troop. The point is make a sequence of ideas, or a tree of ideas, that they can explore and quickly get results from. Not only that but give examples of how to have fun learning each skill and that would help immensely. A think tank has to produce something that's easily accessible. Just waiting for people to come and ask won't work. If it did we'd have thousands of scouters asking us questions about how to improve things rather than how to deal with an odd SM. So, start writing. If you write it they will come.
  20. MattR


    Well, the forum has changed, scouting has changed, but the boys are still interested in knives, fire, food, gross stuff.... All is good.
  21. MattR

    Time between rank

    We do mostly outdoor meetings in the summer. It's light enough we can do most anything. Those meetings are the most fun. So, from my viewpoint not counting that time is really odd.
  22. MattR

    New girls in Scouting

    Unfortunately, the Polaris system has not been applied to that yet.
  23. I'm not sure I like the words "redundant or dumb" but there are just a lot of words in these policies. No slight to the lawyers among us but when things start getting into that much detail it sounds like there's just no trust between the SM and the scouts. Much of it is already in the GTA so maybe that's what DuctTape means by redundant. Also, so much of it just begs for more complex answers. It says there will be a uniform inspection at least once a month. What if there isn't? So what if there is? If a scout shows up in blue jeans then what? Is this really a policy or is it what the troop usually does? If it's not policy then remove it. The scoutmaster can remove a scout from a POR if he doesn't fulfill his position's requirements and there have been two meetings. And those requirements are specified where? It says the scout should ask for a conference at the start of the meeting for the lower ranks. Does this imply he'll get one? What if it's the week before a COH right after summer camp and 10 scouts ask for a conference? The SM is going to do all of them? What if the meeting is a bike ride to DQ? Is the SM still going to do all of them? Rather, I'd suggest writing a document that just describes how things work. Don't call it policy. Explain how the scout or a parent can get things clarified. As long as the SM and committee treat all the scouts the same and there are no surprises then nobody will complain. My troop has been around for 20 years and we have few policies. We do have a document that describes how things are done. To me it sounds like the real problem here is a lack of trust.
  24. MattR

    Travois competition

    Well, a 2x4 is really 1.5 x 3.5 and split is more like 1.5 x 1.7. Anyway, 2x3's are $2.50 apiece. I'll try those. Run a planer down each corner to get rid of the splinters. But you know what this means? I need to make one and jump up and down on it. That's a video I won't take because, well, it could go viral.
  25. MattR

    Scout trailer and gear

    Welcome, @Pack07. Plain white is just fine. We found someone that made us decals. They're still on their after 15 years.