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Posts posted by MattR

  1. I asked my Rabbi, who was a chaplain in the Air Force, how he would answer a 13 year old if he asked "Why should I be reverent to God?" This is his response:


    "Good question. In fact the most important questions often come from the mouths of babes and suckingly ( a biblical quote). Now to the question. When we look at the meaning of the word reverent if can mean respectful so we can say a scout should be respectful to God. OK now to God. Without going into too much theology we think of God as representing the sum total of humanity's highest aspirations. After all, where did we learn these high hopes? So being respectful of God can mean we are respectful and work toward the application of our highest moral and ethical standards to be put into place on a daily level. We speak of God because otherwise we run the risk of making relative all that we hold dear. If morality is human in origin then it can be shifted to meet the needs of those in power and adjusted to fit the needs of the powerful. Such as slavery became a moral and ethical benefit according to the slaveholders. We know that ultimately the absolute God- given right of freedom triumphed. So we need a power and force outside and above human beings to give us ultimate and eternal truths. Therefore we are respectful of God because we have hope for humanity."


    It has to be simplified a bit for the 13 year old I'm thinking of, but I like it.

  2. Two points. First, the Scout Handbook describes the 12th point as "A scout is reverent towards God. He is faithful to his religious duties and respects the convictions of others in matters of custom and religion." The first sentence is the important part. It's not vague and it definitely mentions God.


    Second, I'm just looking for ideas on how to explain why a scout should be reverent towards God. I've already decided how I want to handle the situation. So, if a 13 year old asked you "Why should I be reverent towards God?" what would you tell him. It's a really honest, innocent question, and we should be able to answer it. I want to approach this scout as if he had asked that question. It's positive. It encourages discussion. And if I can't answer that question then I'm not such a great scoutmaster.


    Maybe BS87 is right and this should be moved elsewhere, but for now I'll leave it here.


  3. I was in a SMC with a young scout and I asked him what reverent meant. He said he didn't know, so I told him it means you believe in God. He said "Oh, I'm atheist, I don't believe in God." Long pause. All I can think is oh boy, here we go. Good news was this conference didn't finish because it was late, and I have time to figure this out.


    At this point this won't prevent him from advancing. If he tells me this at his Eagle SMC that's a different thing, but for now I'd like to work with him. I figure a lot of scouts are a work in progress. I'll also talk to his parents to make sure it's not just a kid checking boundaries but since he knew what atheist meant but not reverent it's certainly possible this came from home. But I will check.


    I'd like to explain to him that Reverent is just as important as any other Point. Remember, this has to be free from any particular religion so "Hell ain't no picnic" can't be used.


    This is what I'm thinking: To me, the Scout Oath and Law, if I were to put it in a single word, is about being selfless. And reverent certainly speaks to being selfless. You are not the center of the universe. It's not about you. It's easy to talk about selfless but unbelievably hard to be selfless. Why should I give a dollar to the homeless guy that looks like a drowned rat? I'll never see him again. He might end up spending the money on booze. That's being selfish. Whatever his problem, he likely needs your sympathy. But where does enough sympathy come from that you'll help people like this? It doesn't come from thinking or talking about it. After our discussion you're not going to suddenly change and help every homeless guy in town. It comes from believing in something bigger than you. You'll never see it but if you try hard you might feel it. When you do it's profoundly powerful. Many people call this God. The important thing is you have to work at being selfless. You have to constantly remind yourself that something is bigger than you and you're not the center of universe. That's why a lot of people go to religious services. I think it would be great if you could feel what I'm talking about. But how are you going to get there?


    I'm not sure I'll get much of a response, but at least I'll have tried.


    So how would you explain that Reverent is important?


  4. I'd like to give this thread a push as it has everything to do with a crew my daughter is in. For those that have an active crew going, what types of events will bring in a coed group of high school kids that have no idea about Boy Scouts? And how do you advertise it? How much time does it take to get the word out? I'd really like to hear from those that have started a new crew or rebuilt a crew.


    The crew my daughter is in needs to be rebuilt. It's down to half a dozen kids, none of which are too interested in leading. I think that's because they don't see a successful program. I'm not that active but am willing to give it a try, assuming I can come up with a vision of success that my daughter and the crew adviser likes.


    I have a lot of experience with a troop but not with a crew. My idea of what a crew should be is that giving the scouts more leeway is fine by me. I'd be fine without advancement as along as the scouts are having a healthy good time with some challenges and service mixed in. My troop doesn't have to have anything to do with the crew. I don't want to be the crew adviser. I believe the crew adviser has the same idea.


    I appreciate constructive feedback.


  5. We do what has been mentioned above. But I try to spend a lot of time getting them to talk about why they're in scouts and what they want out of it. We compare that to what happened last year and that gives the scouts new directions. One of the things that came out last year was that they prefer doing instead of sitting. So this summer we've only met at our usual meeting place about 1 in 4 weeks. We went swimming, did several conservation projects, biking, anything to get outside. Some of the parents hate it because we don't have time to do bureaucracy, but I'm ok with that ;)


    Campouts are more challenging. Sometimes a campout is great because of something the scouts made on the spot (eg, frozen lake + slash pile = great big fire) but usually there needs to be something organized. They're in charge of picking events but it's whatever they can think of in 15 minutes. Even if we give them 2 weeks they'll only spend 15 minutes at home making a list. So we tend to do the same things over and over unless some adult throws in a good idea for them to think about. I'd like to make this a much longer process that involves creativity, teamwork, and problem solving. I'm not quite sure how to organize this.


    One of the things I'm realizing is that scouts need much more time to plan and prepare for events than they take. Since everyone is time poor this creates a real challenge.

  6. Thanks for your input. I guess I have to think this through some more.


    BTW, I don't want 100% participation. I hear too many horror stories. But five campouts a year doesn't sound extreme.


    There's the punishment side of this but I've also thought about the encouragement side. I realize I want more camaraderie in my troop. High school sports is great because of camaraderie. Scouts could be the same way but it's barely happening. Teamwork is a side bar. The perception is I can come and go as I please and my patrol doesn't need me. And there's a lot of truth to that. There's little teamwork outside of a campout so if you don't go there's no loss to anyone.


    So how about creating problems that require teamwork at the patrol level to solve? How about campouts require several meetings to prepare for (Tie flies for fishing, make snow shoes, etc)? You can't go if you're not prepared. Maybe each patrol must organize their own event and if they don't they aren't allowed on the campout. Maybe the patrol leader must set goals for his patrol and he gets credit based on achieving those goals. Scouts will have to learn to work together and if not they can find another patrol or patrol leader. And maybe a patrol leader can remove a scout from his patrol if the scout doesn't do his share of the work. This would be Lord of the Flies if not carefully guided but it would put a lot more responsibility with the patrol leaders. Maybe the scouts can solve the participation problem once they understand how it affects them.


    This would not be easy to get going.


    I also agree that there needs to be some serious discussion with everyone about expectations, goals and what scouting is about before anything else.

  7. Over the past few years I've been working on participation. I've always taken the view that make it fun and they will come. So, the emphasis is on camping. 10 campouts, summer camp, two high adventure trips. The scouts pick the calendar, they have enough new ideas so we are anything but in a rut. At the end of every campout we have thorns and roses and the scouts are honestly having fun. Half the troop is making at least half the campouts. Some are doing a lot more.


    The problem is the other half of the troop. These are the scouts that always have something else more important going on. They're missing something and I can't do anything about that, but it's also hurting their patrol in morale, fun, teamwork, and attitude. If only a quarter of a patrol goes camping then it's a downer. I don't want to drum them out of the troop. But I don't want them slowing down a group of eager scouts, I want there to be consequences based on their level of commitment, and I want them to take responsibility for their decision. There are honest reasons why a kid can't make half the campouts but "I have other plans" is not one of them.


    So how about this? Ask each scout what his commitment is. If they go to at least half the campouts they can be in a patrol of their choice that will stick together. If they don't want to be active then they're not assigned to a patrol and if they want to go camping they can make their own patrol for that campout. Communication about meetings? That's there problem. They won't have the camaraderie but life is a tradeoff. If a scout wants to be active but doesn't like the campouts, he has a problem that someone can coach him through (find better ideas!). If he has too many other activities going on he can't just nix scouting and will have to choose. Again, a problem to solve. If he wants to have a position of responsibility he'll have to be active. Some scouts will drop out and that's a shame but maybe it's just the push they need to find something they really want to do. If they just want to cruse along until they make a decision then that's great too. Scouts that want to excel will be given a chance to feed off of each other in a positive way. This may encourage some scouts to get active.


    Anybody try anything like this?

  8. A vibrant OA could really help scouting. It would be great if the super enthusiastic scouts in a district could get together and feed off of each other. Challenging campouts. Meaningful service. A lot of intensity. That would be great. Everyone would look up to it. A lot of scouts would want to be a part of it.


    But I have to admit, the scouts are correct when they say the OA now is dull. At least our lodge and chapter is. There's a lot of ceremony with nothing behind it. Changing the rules for wearing pocket flaps and how scouts are elected won't change much. If it's the honor society than it should be doing a lot more of what scouts normally do. Go climbing every week in the summer, or do a 100 mile backpacking trip, or build your own kayak, or build a habitat for humanity house, or take a scout reach troop camping every month for years, or, you know, a super version of what we're trying to do all the time. Memorizing Alowatsakima's speech is not nearly as meaningful as knowing that since you took half a dozen kids camping 5 times that you got them interested in scouting. I understand the need for ceremony, but if the ceremony is stripped out of the OA, all that's left is cheap labor twice a year to help the local scout camp. The scouts know this. If instead you had just one scout that could say the OA is more intense than a high adventure trip and more meaningful than an Eagle project, the numbers would take care of itself. That, and Alowatsakima would be the biggest, toughest, most respected scout in the council.


    All it takes is an hour a week....



  9. Speaking of imprinting, if boys tend to imprint from dads and girls tend to imprint from moms then the typical broken family will tend to hurt the boy more than the girl. Is this why male graduation rates are below female rates? I wouldn't be surprised. Girls and boys think differently and if you don't understand how a kid thinks it's hard to help them grow up.


    That said, I still struggle getting scouts to take responsibility :)


  10. Now that I think about it, blaming the women for all the men's problems is not a very manly thing to do ;)


    But, since I'm a Scoutmaster and motivating boys is my main job, this is a good subject. That and the most frustrating thing I ever see is a group of 15 year olds that are capable of doing amazing things, sitting around like a beached whale. So I certainly don't have the answers. But I try.


    Boy Scouts is interested in developing well rounded young men. In my view there are two parts to that. The first is being selfless and is basically described in the Scout Oath and Law. The second, for lack of a better name, is what I call spirit. Look at the previous posts and words like adventure, conquest, competition, dreams, and excellence are used. Think of those words and what's the first image that comes to mind? It isn't homework. I'm a firm believer in homework but I'm also a firm believer in what a good adventure can teach you. Society pushes homework but not adventure. I think, on average, this hurts boys more than girls. Girls want and learn from adventure, too, but they don't typically seem to need it like boys.


    With all that said it still seems to take time to get boys into the spirit. They have to learn to get out of their comfort zone. When they join a troop at 11 they want fun. It's only when they get older that they need adventure and challenge but they also need encouragement, and I don't think they're getting that outside of scouts, and maybe not enough within scouts. I have beached whale kids and it's easier to be lazy than spend a week backpacking. So, we have most of it figured out.



  11. This may be somewhat related but I just did a scoutmaster minute on excellence. Excellence is setting your own bar and reaching for it. Mundane is having someone else set the bar for you. School is mundane. Even if you get straight A's you can be mundane because you might not have had to push yourself, it's just the teacher telling you what to do to get an A, over and over and over.


    Competition requires excellence. You have to dig it up from the inside. Boys like to compete. Boys also like to be a part of something bigger than themselves. Having your team win the superbowl is something special. So are gangs, to boys that have nothing else.


    Excellence can also come from things other than competition. An Eagle project usually requires a scout to stretch himself a lot and set his own bar. Real leadership also encourages excellence. A leader decides where the bar is.


    Mundane is easier than excellence. Boys want the easy path. But I have a hunch excellence is what boys need. So, to get a little closer to your question, I think boys need more opportunity for excellence, whether it be competition or leadership or just being the best at something I'm not sure it matters. Boy Scouts can easily fill that need but it's too easy for adults to make it look no different than having a teacher tell you what to do when.


    I'm trying something new in my troop. I asked for scouts that want to be excellent and told them they will meet, find something they want to lead for the troop, and be excellent about it. I'll teach them leadership skills that they'll use on their projects and I expect them to bring a positive attitude and make the time needed to do a good job. It's kind of a cross between NYLT, a woodbadge ticket, EDGE, and a team effort. I have half a dozen scouts signed up. We'll see how it goes.


  12. He was running at the swat team with a rifle. It was his fault. His first bad decision was to do something that caused the police to show up. That's not so bad, relatively speaking. What he didn't do is realize he made a mistake and back down. As the police tell us, sometimes good people make bad decisions.

  13. I had just become SM and we were talking about limiting scouts (we were over 50). A dad called me asking if his son could join my troop and I was going back and forth about whether to tell him to bring his son in. The dad was kind and so I finally told him yes. The boy is great, as is his little brother. The father died of ALS a few years ago. While talking to the boy about getting Eagle I asked him why he was letting things not get done and he said his dad used to kick him in the butt. I asked him if he wanted me to kick him in the butt once in awhile and he said yes. He'll be an Eagle this Spring (he'll be 17). His little brother is next in line for some adult guidance.


    The result of this is that it's really hard for me to say no. I'll tell people to look at other troops but I'll never say no. We could easily have 85 scouts in March and I don't know how we're going to do it.


    As for helping other troops, a group of SMs and I just started getting together to compare notes, trying to help each other out. I'm not doing this so I can impart my wisdom on the smaller troops that need help. We're all doing this because we all recognize we all need help.

  14. EagleDad,



    >Just get in the habit of asking scouts what they are thinking (goals wise) when

    >they are struggling on something. It works for all ages, just keep the

    >expectations realistic for their age and dont get hung up on their answers.


    About a year ago I came to the conclusion that the average scout has really poor time management, goal setting, and planning skills. They mostly drift with the winds and their Eagle project is a big rock that they crash into. So I started quarterly goal setting. I don't care what the goals are that they set, but I'm trying to get them into a process, as you mention. The planning part is simply a matter of asking as many questions of how to achieve their goals as possible, who, what, where, when, how, .... The meeting before the COH we do a troop wide thorns and roses session on what the scout's goals were and what they achieved. Between that and making sure there are scouts that can teach skills available, that's most of what we do for advancement. I think the scouts like it because they take ownership.


    I used to have a much less structured way of asking scouts their goals and it didn't stick. They would think about it, and than forget about it five minutes later. That's why I went to a more formal process that reminds them periodically to think about their goals.


    >Its like asking a scout to set a goal of earning the Eagle, in reality the

    >average boy can even conceive how to earn the Eagle because it is so

    >complicated. They may say that is a goal, but they arent really seeing it. Its

    >to big, especially for new scouts.


    Absolutely! That's why the 3 month time frame.


    >Do that consistently in bites that he can understand and see for his maturity

    >and eventually you have scouts who can plan a campfire, then COH and a whole



    That's where I'm going with this. Eventually I want every position of responsibility to set goals and have a plan. Not mine, theirs. Same thing for those that lead events.


    >The Eagle will be a breeze after all that. It will happen faster than


    Well, I hope it will just be a good hard hike rather than crashing into a mountain.


    >you think, especially if you start doing this with the new scouts. Where I

    >really saw this make a big change in our troop was in the PLC planning

    >meetings. You will find one day that they are planning faster than the adults.

    >It will be a shock, so keep a chair near by.


    Funny you should mention the PLC. Six months ago I started them reviewing troop and individual goals as well as plans they created. They're getting a lot more done now. I always smile when I don't know what's going on but the scouts are taking care of things. Probably in the next month or two I'm going to have each patrol start creating their own goals for each quarter.


    >Once you get going on this, reflection is the next step.


    And this is the part I'm struggling with now. A plan is based on goals, and goals are based on a vision. A scout without a vision will have few goals, no plan, and will do very little if anything. My response to a few scouts like this was to encourage them to work on Eagle hoping that success would motivate them. After everything I've read on this thread I'll try helping them figure out what drives them.


    This is easy for the younger scouts: fire, water, long pointy sticks (fun), and advancement. It's much more complicated for older scouts. Fun and a high adventure trip a year are not enough when there's baseball, and marching band, and swimming, and lego robotics, and student council, and a whole lot more where each coach demands 100% participation. I see really great kids with huge leadership potential struggle with scouts not because they're bored or the program is not fun (they really enjoy the events) but because they're so good at so many things that they do a lot and consequently they don't have the time for scouts. Scouting is a high priority but it's pushed down the list because other activities require nearly 100% participation. In a way this is a different thread than the original but I think it's the same issue. Boy Scouts is not like other activities. The goal is not obvious like in sports (win!). Some may say the goal is the Scout Oath but a scout's response would be, OK, I did that for a week, I'm done. The goal of scouting may be the Oath but each scout needs their own goal. I guess what I'm saying is I'm looking for a process for scouts to figure out what their goals are, and it should be more than "get Eagle" so as to help reduce the dad effect and the time effect. No other activities allow a boy to select their own goals and that's the power of Scouting. Unfortunately, I really don't know how to help a scout figure that out.


    >Really MattR, you sound like a really good Scoutmaster.


    I appreciate the compliment, but, honestly, I'm clueless most of the time.


    >How long have you been doing the job? Maybe you are working someone elses

    >problems. The two scouts that quit after Eagle doesn't match your style to me.

    >Could they have been the products of a previous SM? And the other two scouts

    >sound like they are relating the goals that someone else has piped in their



    Five years. No, they aren't someone else's problem, I just can't figure out how to bring them out and I'm frustrated. I've had luck with other scouts. One scout, I just said I thought he'd be a good SPL and I turned him on a dime. Another, I made him do his Eagle project over. Now he appreciates what I did. So, I have a mixed record.



  15. EagleDad, funny you should mention teaching scouts to set goals. Six months ago I started having scouts set goals the meeting after each COH that they want to achieve by the next COH. It's helping a lot of scouts. It's much better when it's their idea. This is one part of something that includes having older scouts create their own vision/dream/future whatever. Maybe I need to get that going, although I'm not sure how to do that.


    I should add I'm not pushing Eagle so much as I am pushing scout spirit. It's participation, having fun, jumping in, helping out, cheerfully dealing with problems. I have scouts that aren't interested in Eagle and just want to go camping and I'm happy with that. We schedule only a few meetings a year for advancement and that's for the younger scouts. Of the scouts I mentioned, I asked them why they were in scouts and they all said to get Eagle, so that's why I encouraged them to get Eagle. I figured if they had some success then they'd get motivated to do something else. I completely missed the mark. The two that did get Eagle didn't participate, have fun, jump in, help out or do anything afterwards.


    Twocubdad, you're right, "I shouldn't even try" is more frustration than reality. I did try with these scouts, for a long time, but it looks like I tried the wrong things. After this discussion I see two different things to try. The first is helping a scout find their scout spirit (or purpose), and the second is helping a scout do that independently of his parents. Those two are so intertwined I don't know that they can be pulled apart.


    As Beavah says, scouts are all unique, so finding their purpose has to be a one scout at a time process. So, it's a SM conference thing? How does this work? I could really use a list of 30 questions that could help squeeze some ideas from a scout. One challenge is that teenage boys have a lot of trouble putting ideas into words. Maybe once a scout turns 14 he goes on a vision quest? Starving and sweat lodges are probably not in the guide to safe scouting.


    I think parents are a bigger issue. I think they need training on how to be a scout parent. They need to help out, but at the same time gradually let go. Is there any such training? Twocubdad, isn't that the problem you're up against? Dad won't let go so the son is in rebellion? I've had several scouts finally decide they really did want to get Eagle about a year after dad finally gave up.


    Thanks guys, you're helping.




  16. As I see it, my job as SM is to motivate scouts to live the ideals of scouting. My best tool is praise after a job well done. Set the bar high and help the scout reach it. Sometimes it's a lot of help. Mostly encouraging them, keeping them focused, and sometimes being hard nosed about it. Most scouts respond. Some incredibly so.


    A couple of scouts don't, however, and I'm wondering if I should be helping them. Or maybe there's a different way to help them? Some scouts just seem lazy and self centered and I'm not happy with the results. Example 1) Scout was enthusiastic when young but disappeared around 14 spending a lot of time playing video games. I talked to him several times and convinced him to do his Eagle project. He did a nice job. Now he's back to being a sloth and is very unreliable (the PLC's words, not mine). I think I made a mistake helping this scout. Example 2) Scout is a good kid, but will never step up, help out, or do much of anything. It took him almost 2 years from when he completed all the requirements for Eagle to have his SM conference, BOR, and COH. I think this had something to do with dad saying get Eagle before you can drive. So I don't think he ever really cared. Example 3) Good scout. Mom, dad, uncle, and grandpa want the boy to get Eagle. After several years of struggle he finally said no. I respect this kid more than the other two.


    It seems that scouts need to find their own reason for wanting to get Eagle (and not dad's). If they have a reason then I can help them and I enjoy it but if they don't then I shouldn't even try. The question is how do you tell whether a scout really wants to get Eagle for himself, as opposed to for dad or peer pressure or whatever? If you asked the first two of these scouts they would have said they want to do it, so that won't help. Do you ask them why they want to get Eagle? I like to do the "five whys" with being selfless but maybe the five whys for being Eagle would help both of us more.




  17. What a great way to give the scouts ownership, Red Feather. Do you set expectations that all upper rank scouts need to give service back to the troop? More than just the 4 or 6 months for the POR. It wouldn't have to be as time consuming. Tie that in with them setting their own goals and everyone helps out. I've been talking to some other people about doing this and working the goal setting in with the calendar planning. I'm just not sure what the pros and cons are.

  18. Cheermeister, game master, hike master, cook instructor, dutch oven instructor, backpacking master, campfire mc instructor, leave no trace instructor, service project lead, webmaster, color guard master. I like these. Thanks.


    Red feather says "All of these PORs were thought of and proposed (in writing to the SPL and SM) by the scout doing the job." I'd like to hear more. How do they come up with ideas? Do they have to set goals for each position? Do the scouts need help defining the position? Can other scouts help them with this? How much mentoring/coaching do they need?


    SR540Beaver, I do ask older scouts if they'd like to be troop guides and they're great with that. In fact that's what started this because I had a scout go from almost dropping out to wanting to become SPL after he was troop guide.


    I've turned several older scouts around by matching them with the right task. Some like leadership, some like to be the best at something, it depends on their personality. While this really helps these scouts, I'd rather the scouts figure this all out on their own. I'd also like most of the 14-17 year olds having some specific responsibility. So this process needs to be part of the culture of the troop. You know, we have a planning session for the calendar that gives us a very specific set of events but we don't have a planning session for responsibility that would give each scouts a specific set of responsibilities. What if after the calendar is made, or every 6 months, the SPL makes a list of all the PORs he needs, and any scout can propose something they want to add to this list? There's a responsibility planning session (the older scouts are encouraged to go), and other than the PLC, the SPL matches scouts to responsibility. Scouts walk away with a list of goals and the SPL knows who's doing what. Everyone has a job, the calendar is set, scouts can than plan their own time, and then the fun can happen.



  19. I'm looking for tasks for older scouts in upper ranks to keep them engaged. My reason is the following: While patrols cook and clean on campouts I constantly repeat "everyone has a job", and it works. While something needs to be done everyone has to help out. There's no arguing, it's easier for PLs to lead, team work develops, the scouts have more fun, it's great. I've also noticed that older scouts, when they have the right responsibility in the troop, also thrive. Scouts that were ready to drop out all of a sudden really get into scouting once they are matched with the right task to do. So I was wondering about taking "everyone has a job" and extend it to the entire troop. Specifically, I'd like to give older scouts in upper ranks an opportunity to own a task to do for the troop. I don't want to make them do it but I want to help them find something they can get into. It could be a cooking instructor, helping younger scouts set goals, organizing a trip, putting together a list of good games, or whatever. It might be a regular position of responsibility or it might not. I don't care as long as the scout sees it as important, he sees that it can be done, and he owns it. This could also be seen as preparation for doing an Eagle project (come up with an idea, create goals and a plan, see it through).


    So what kind of tasks does everyone else have for their older scouts?

  20. Eagle732,


    I doubt that today's kids are not physical enough. Some scouts are obviously stronger than others, but I'm guessing you're reasonable (or else you wouldn't be here asking).


    I don't know if I asked this before but did the scouts that picked the calendar go on the campouts? If less than half of those that picked the calendar went then that suggests they're in a rut. If all of those guys go but the younger scouts don't go, that's another problem.


    I do like SMT224's idea of checking out the tents and patrol boxes before and after the campout. I also like five minutes of thorns, roses, and buds at the next meeting. We sort of do it but I think giving everyone a chance to talk is good. I recently changed the meetings so most are about the campout. Pick songs, pick skits, plan it all out and then have a game.


    So now the challenge is coming up with some aspect of the campout that's new every month. eg, we came up with GPS frizbee golf (the "basket" is a coordinate, if the frizbee is at the coordinate then it's in the basket), so now we need to teach the scouts how to use the different coordinate systems.

  21. I think all of you are going to be pleasantly surprised in 2010 as the BSA rolls out some changes. They are going on offense with their message. They feel that their message was being written by everyone besides the BSA. I think Arrow Corps 5 was a way to focus attention on all the conservation work scouts do. I had a chance to ask people at national whether putting the outing back in scouting matched their goals and they said absolutely. As for Scoutreach, that's being replaced with something intended to bring all sorts of people that don't understand the scouting culture into scouts. My understanding is that scoutreach failed because it didn't bring Hispanics all the way in to a regular troop. For example, Scoutreach districts never had OA. There is also agreement that different troops have different issues. I talked to a few excellent scoutmasters and whereas I'm competing with band camp and soccer they're competing with meth labs and gangs. Flexibility and being nimble is a new push at national, but they are rock solid on keeping the core values of scouting.


    I'm optimistic, but it's going to take time.

  22. Here's something I noticed in my troop. The PLC came up with a calendar that they liked but few of them actually showed up at the campouts they picked. I think we were getting in a rut so we scrapped the calendar and started over. We're trying to work with the scouts on creating a better calendar. On our Spring camporee we told everyone to bring camo for capture the flag and also required every patrol to use a dutch oven for dinner. They said it was one of the better campouts they've had. The thing is they never would have come up with this on their own. We're trying to show them how to come up with more fun and to challenge themselves. They would not have voted for a dutch oven campout but I forced it and then had a meeting with a bunch of dutch oven recipes they could pick from. I've taken over the calendar for three months, after which I hope the scouts will be more willing to find and try different things.


    Your calendar looks great to me, but I've never done those things before. I'd ask yourself if you're doing the same things over and over.


    A completely different but related issue I've noticed is that motivating older scouts is not easy. Having fun is not enough. Adults want notoriety, challenge, power, success, etc, and older scouts are starting to need the same things. I've talked to a lot of Scoutmasters and many of them create a lot of PORs that are specific to each scout's desires. The standard troop has roughly 10% of the scouts in a position of responsibility and some troops have 40%. I think this is a way to let scouts excel at something so I'm going to move in that direction.

  23. Eagle732,


    You say only 25% of your scouts are going on the bike hike. Have you done bike hikes before? (We haven't and it sounds like fun.) If it's not a new idea, is this to a new place or have you already been there before? I really would like the answers to these questions.


    Since I first started this thread I've added a new requirement for every campout. It has to be memorable. New place, new skill, or new theme. One campout was to the Air Force Academy (canceled because of bad weather, so we'll keep it for next time). At Spring Camporee we told them to bring camo and they played capture the flag (in the fog) and we also required the use of a dutch oven for dinner. We gave them a list of a dozen dutch oven recipes to try from to make it easier. We got half the troop to show up and considering it was end of school, prom, etc this is the best showing we've had in a while. It was a success. When I say "we" I mean myself, another adult, the SPL, and the ASPLs.


    It seems like coming up with unique ideas is a skill that needs to be developed. Right now the adults are doing most of it and I want to move it towards the scouts, but it's going to take time.

  24. Hi Kudu,


    Interesting comments. With the PLs picking the SPL it sounds like a parliamentary system as opposed to a democracy. I guess it has its pros and cons. However, I would really like a book with 400 pages of ideas for having fun. That should be reprinted.


    We used to have something more along the lines of what you're talking about. The patrol leaders picked weeks to plan and they were responsible for those weeks. From what I can tell that's the way it's described. The problem was that the PLs spent so much time organizing meetings they didn't have time to do anything else. Troop meetings were great but patrols were just collections of scouts. There was no cohesion. The PL had no time for his patrol. As often as we told them to delegate some of the planning it didn't work.


    The problem as I see it is there aren't enough scouts taking on responsibility. Something like 10% of the troop was responsible for organizing events and it needs to be somewhere around 25%. I'm not talking about helping. Most of the scouts help. I'm talking about organizing something. They, like the adults, are time poor so I'm trying to get more scouts to help. We also ask every family to help in some way, too, but that's another story.


    To spread the responsibility I said the PLs are responsible for their patrols and the SPL and ASPLs will ask other, older scouts to help organize troop level events. If you're star or above you're expected to help. The SPL and ASPLs are also responsible for training and mentoring all the other responsibility positions. The PLC still picks the calendar and maybe it should help pick other scouts to help organize troop level events. It may not be elegant and I appreciate your comments and what the PLC is supposed to do, but just like the adults, we can't depend on a small number of people doing most of the work. I was told the BSA needs to adapt to two things, time poor people and changing demographics. That's what I'm seeing.

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