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MattR

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Posts posted by MattR

  1. I'd like to echo Packsaddle's opinion (not the whango tree thing, which is probably better then pack singing), only not just for the current circle of death. Back in January I put up a thread that referenced a bible story about how arguing to pulverize your opponent is not only wrong (people got swallowed up by the earth!) but also a waste of time. Arguing to understand each other and learn from each other, however, is fine. The difference is subtle but we need to back off, or at least be courteous when we cross that line. Since January we've crossed a lot of those lines.

     

    What we're arguing about is whose beliefs are better, or wiser. There's an old saying that, to paraphrase, says wisdom without good deeds is not wisdom. We're arguing about wisdom and seem to be ignoring the good deeds. So how wise are we?

     

    The amazing thing is that the beliefs we're arguing over have helped every one of us to do the right thing for the boys. We wouldn't be here if we didn't think we were helping kids. We're all doing good deeds.

     

    The arguing is not a good deed. It's not helping us deal with single parent families or helicopter parents or selfish kids. In fact, it's causing problems. Eammon nearly left. What about AZMike and Beaveh? Anyone else we haven't heard from lately? Scouting in general and this website in particular should be a place where people help each other out. Sometimes it's hard to be friendly, courteous, and kind, but maybe we should just suck it up and take the high road. The kids might appreciate it.

    • Upvote 1
  2. Been a hammock boy for five years.

     

    Pros:

    1- EXTREMELY comfortable.

    a- My back is fine in the morning. Don't have to climb out of bed, just swing my feet out.

    b- .I don't snore in the curved posture (put a bolster under my knees)

    c- Interior pockets for light and glasses. Hang a 'C' cell lantern under tarp for reading light.

    2- Light weight,

    3- Versatile, don't need no stinking level spot without roots and rocks. Quick set-up once you have your routine down.

    4- Can be inexpensive - $45 hammock and a $10 tarp:

    http://www.rei.com/product/736088/byer-moskito-traveller-hammock

     

    Cons:

    1- Have to cover your pack separately. (And close it when you retire.)

    2- Carry a few extra ropes to adjust for trees.

    3- I'm not good for below 30 degrees. Double Thermarests keep the backside warm, but my shoulders push so hard against the sides that they make a thin spot. At 25 degrees this past March, I just had to let my shoulders freeze.

    Summer backpacking sounds like an interesting use of this. I don't know much about them but am curious. I use a syl-nylon tarp and sleep on the ground. It would be nicer to just move it all up a couple of feet. I've read that you can sleep on your side or even stomach if you sleep at an angle to the tarp. Doesn't that make it harder to get insulation underneath? Can you hang a down blanket underneath? My pad, which isn't that big, is really big compared to a lot of things I carry and getting rid of that would be a real bonus..
  3. Jblake, I agree with you, absolutely. The selfish should be balanced by the selfless. That's a well rounded scout.

     

    What can the BSA do? Based on JTE and the Venture rewrite, I don't see anything useful.

     

    I like what you're ideas are, but they can't be requirements and check boxes. As you said, a culture change is needed. The only way I can see that is if the adults truly understand what the methods are and also how to implement them.

     

    I'd like to see better training or information for scoutmasters. The scoutmaster handbook is a nice introduction but it could go a lot deeper into the methods of scouting. Not just a paragraph for each method but at least a chapter, as well as how the methods work together and how to get them working in a troop. The patrol method section could include a good description of what leadership is and how to develop it. I would really like to see such a manual and I know many other scouters that would use it, too. The next best alternative is discussions like this website but often adults are trying to fix symptoms and not the underlying problem. Most adults want to do a good job, but they just don't know how.

    "Would you agree that the advancement part of the program is easier for people to teach than the leadership part?"

     

    Yes. I tell my scouts that the scout spirit requirement is the hardest one for them to get checked off. They don't believe me until they ask me to check it off.

     

    "I'm thinking the easy cop out is to simply make check marks in boxes than it is to sit down and work with boys developing their character and leadership abilities."

     

    It's even harder when you're not quite sure how to work with the boys to achieve this. My point is only that I barely understand how to do it right because I've never seen it done right, and I'm ahead of most SMs in my district. I'm ever so slowly getting the adults to understand what I'm trying to do and I barely understand. This forum is one of the best sources of information I have but even then it's not obvious how to do some things. For example, when people say let the scouts run it and get the adults out of there, they're missing a critical point that the adults and scouts need to trust each other. The scout needs to trust that the SM has his back and has trained him well and the SM has to trust that the boy is responsible and capable. I've seen boy-led translate into ignoring the younger scouts because the older scouts just want to have fun. Boy led but not what we want.

     

    "the only time we haul out our copy of the Oath and Promise is when the boys do something wrong"

     

    That's one thing we do a reasonable job with. At courts of honor I have time to recognize scouts for showing exemplary leadership and scout spirit. At the end of every campout I'll also call out scouts that have really helped out. I'm not sure if it's enough, though.

     

    This is also more than just servant leadership. It's really about doing the right thing when it needs to be done. Not just knowing the right thing but doing it. Duty to God and country, others, and self. The scout has to pay attention enough to what's going on around him and step up when something needs doing. They can't wait for someone to ask them to help out, they need to see it on their own. It's an attitude, how do I teach an attitude? Is it just constant repetition? This is as much art as anything. We're working with kids. Again, I need help.

     

    "If SL isn't going to start at the national level, at least let it start at the SM/adult level in the troops."

     

    Yep.

  4. Jblake, I agree with you, absolutely. The selfish should be balanced by the selfless. That's a well rounded scout.

     

    What can the BSA do? Based on JTE and the Venture rewrite, I don't see anything useful.

     

    I like what you're ideas are, but they can't be requirements and check boxes. As you said, a culture change is needed. The only way I can see that is if the adults truly understand what the methods are and also how to implement them.

     

    I'd like to see better training or information for scoutmasters. The scoutmaster handbook is a nice introduction but it could go a lot deeper into the methods of scouting. Not just a paragraph for each method but at least a chapter, as well as how the methods work together and how to get them working in a troop. The patrol method section could include a good description of what leadership is and how to develop it. I would really like to see such a manual and I know many other scouters that would use it, too. The next best alternative is discussions like this website but often adults are trying to fix symptoms and not the underlying problem. Most adults want to do a good job, but they just don't know how.

    • Upvote 1
  5. I don't think it's a tradeoff on advancement mill vs servant leadership, I think it's more the expectation and goals of the SM. If the SM wants every kid to get Eagle then the shortest path is an Eagle mill. If the goal is to have a ton of adventure then there's a different path. If the goal is to have boy led then servant leadership is important.

     

    The challenge with the last option is it's difficult to implement. Part of this is the lack of training for adults and part is it just takes time working with kids. This, to me, is the crux of what scouts is about. To be a servant leader, or truly follow the Scout Oath and Law, you just gotta believe that being selfless is important. Getting Eagle has nothing to do with it, and I think this is jblake's comment. How you honestly believe it, as opposed to know you have to do it to advance, is nothing a book or class will cover. You have to see it and practice it. Kids are all over the spectrum on this one. Some get it right away and some are a struggle. It's all art.

  6. When do you turn 18? I had a scout in my troop do a project without getting Council signatures and he is now doing it over. If you have the time then don't worry, you can just do the exact same plan again, only get the signatures first. If you don't have the time, you're at the Council's mercy. Tough lesson.
    Given it would be the same project, 1.5 months is doable. You can't use any of the work you've done but you can use the plan. So my guess is any money that anyone has given you can't be used. So you need to find more donors. You asked about whether it showed enough leadership. That's always a tough call. It's not enough if someone gave you a plan and all you did was provide labor. I would say going around to collect donations would be good. Talk to the organizations that deliver them and find out what they need. They may ask for diapers. You don't know. You can also do a drive to collect from your neighborhoods. On one day put a grocery bag stapled to a list of what you need on 1000 door steps and a few days later drive by, pick them up, sort them, and make your bags. If you did something like that I'd say it was a good project.

     

    I would ever so strongly suggest a meeting with your SM or someone from your troop, and the Council guy within the next day to get everyone on the same page, decide exactly what has to be done and when, and then start banging on it. Start making phone calls now. Forget about playing a Fall sport. Good luck.

  7. When do you turn 18? I had a scout in my troop do a project without getting Council signatures and he is now doing it over. If you have the time then don't worry, you can just do the exact same plan again, only get the signatures first. If you don't have the time, you're at the Council's mercy. Tough lesson.

  8. EagleScout441, jblake47 sure has a harsh way of saying things. However, if you look at what he said with the idea that he's really trying to help you be a better scout and not slam you, there are a lot of good ideas. I'll add my two cents as well.

     

    I noticed that the original topic was that you wanted ideas on how to get the patrol method working better. Upon discussion this changed into the fact that you were being bypassed for being SPL by someone younger and less qualified. How about digging a little deeper? Danger ahead: This might hurt but my intentions are to help you do your best. You said the vote is just a popularity contest. Apparently you have never won the popularity contest. We both know that it should be more than a popularity contest but I think popularity is important. Leadership requires the skill to get others to do something. You have to motivate people to do something they might not want to do. Cleaning dishes, organizing a campout, showing up early to practice flags, .... Part of motivation involves making a connection with someone. If you're seen as just a guy that tells others what to do then there is no connection. You can ask them to do the best thing in the world but if there's no connection they will ignore you. If you're seen as the guy that can have fun with people and cares that they get what they want and also knows what's going on and also asks people to do things then that's different. First, there's a connection (you can have fun and you look out for them). So when you ask them to do something they will follow you.

     

    As others have said, you have an opportunity here. Learn how to make a connection. You don't have to be the most popular, you just have to be one of them. Have fun with the scouts. Bring a deck of cards to a campout, teach the scouts stupid card games and play them in the tent until midnight. When they want to do something fun or silly, go along with them. Make a fool of yourself. By making the connection you will learn more about the scouts you want to lead. That will make you a better leader because you'll understand where they are coming from. They will also learn to trust that you have their best interests in mind. Then they will vote for you.

  9. Our Council's camp in Gilmanton, NH is broken up into two parts, Hidden Valley and Camp Bell. HV is a traditional MB scout camp with the classes in the morning troop activities in the afternoon and we eat in the dining hall.

     

    Camp Bell is a patrol camp with the scouts having to pick up their food and cook it at their site. The camp provides all the necessary kitchen equipment a standard menu is provided and they get a cookbook also. Only three problems occurred when we go and they are 1) The scouts trying to agree on how something is to be prepared, such as French toast or scrambled eggs and toast. 2) The 15 year old scout who's mom does everything for him and doesn't know how to even peal a vegetable. 3) I have to eat whatever they make because at Bell the scouts cook breakfast and dinner for the leaders. The leaders get together for lunch with the camp director and we cook our lunch.

     

    At a pre-camp meeting the patrol leaders select what they want to do for the whole day. Say they choose waterfront for Tuesday then they spend the whole day at the waterfront

     

    Our troop alternates camps each year. Some troops do both each year.

    I'd be interested in what the patrol activities are.
  10. When I was a scout "75-79" merit badge and skill award classes were in the morning slots only. Afternoon and evenings were open camp, or time to work on your badges on your own. We were encouraged to visit every area in camp and at least try every area. Water front, pool, scoutcraft, handycraft, shooting sports, and Eco-con. By doing this we had more chances to try new things, and perhaps taking badges in those area's in the future. If not, just have a more enjoyable camp with doing the fun things you liked.
    How many morning slots are there?
  11. Our troop likes our summer camp except for the dining hall. They offer a good balance of older and younger scout programs. Lake Front badges, climbing, shooting. They allow a max of 4 badges for the week and have plenty of free time with open areas. They just built it's own welding shop this past year and offered the welding mb as a week long program for older boys and brought in a special instructor for the season for it. Even brought it professionals trained in search and rescue to lead that program. But our troop has a mix between the high adventure lovers and the just hang and have fun boys. So our camp allows this for both.

     

    I would be against a full patrol being required to do the exact same things all week. We don't use age based patrols so while they do have their patrol time each day they also have their own time to do what they prefer to do.

    I would think you're right. Do you think the PL could decide, along with his patrol, when to do patrol activities and when to do individual activities? Or would it be better to have the camp specify that? Say, patrol activities in the morning and individual in the afternoon.
  12. Thank you for your ideas. Here's my summary.

     

    Key components are challenge, patrol based and cooking, fun, and hands on. The challenge can be found from learning new skills, having skill levels, competing with other patrols, awards, team challenges. The week is one massive challenge. Merit badges can be a great source of skill challenge but it can certainly be augmented (not to get the MB, but just to add more to it). So, build the tower and not just a model, and race the canoe. Patrol leader decides the program for his patrol. There is plenty of flexibility for how hard, lazy, challenging, fun, advancement, the program will be. Fun things like the gold, weapons, man hunt, would be great themed silliness the scouts can get into. Hands on (vs lecturing) is a big part of this. Lecturing is fine if it's kept to less than 20% of the time or part of safety. If scouts want to do the classroom work at camp, fine, but if they do it before camp that gives them more time to have fun.

     

    If anyone wants to fill in some details about the silly activities (man hunt, attacking neighbors, etc) I'm interested. I'd also like ideas on how to turn inherently single person activities into patrol activities. A Coulter's run is an example of each scout doing a different task. "Get the lowest ranked scout to advance one rank" could be a team effort.

  13. My ideal camp would be for each PATROL in a troop to have the option of designing their own program. NSP gets scoutcraft, maybe makes a bridge, tower, maybe works on advancement, special training in cooking on wood fires, whatever the boys want to do. Older boys want whitewater canoeing this year, maybe rock climbing next year and shooting sports the third year or maybe they'll just fish all week. If there be a patrol of older boys that just want to come to camp to sit and enjoy the out-of-doors for a week, jaw-jack around the campfire and stay out of trouble! :) What's the harm? Maybe they might want to take on a camp service project if they get too bored.

     

    Dump the mess hall. All patrols are supported by a commissary and they pick their menus for the week like they pick their MB's today. If they want pancakes every morning. So be it. If they want steak every night, so be it. Cost of the meals is known when they sign up and adjusted accordingly. The price of camp varies according to the menu chosen.

     

    PORs function as PORs - SPL works with camp staff to make sure the patrols get what they need. If he needs more help, the ASPL is there. QM is the go to guy for camp equipment and commissary supplies for anything the patrols may need. Whereas it doesn't sound like much fun to be in these positions, taking on responsibility for the welfare of others isn't always fun and games. Camp staff is responsible for programming in leadership development for the PORs when they are not attending to their patrol support activities. Or maybe they, too, could be doing worthwhile camp service projects of their own choosing.

     

    Nothing against MattR, but maybe he's asking the wrong person, he needs to be asking the scouts what they want for a summer camp experience.

     

    For me personally???? I would love to be dropped off someplace in a national forest, have 5 days of goods cached around the area a day's hike apart and I need to survive from one cache to the next finally exiting at a pre-designated area. No GPS, just map and compass. I would need to record my trek with camera and journal indicating all wildlife and flora I came across.

     

    Stosh

    No offense taken. I'm just collecting ideas for now. One thing I've figured out with most scouts is that if I can give them some ideas that are completely different from what they're used to, I'll get much better ideas from them. So I will be asking them. I'm really just trying to come up with a generic model, the actual activities would be based on scout input plus a reality check (money, staffing, resources,...)

     

    I'd like to see a patrol based camp. It would just be great for helping a troop develop patrol method. There is a tradeoff with what the younger and older scouts can and want to do.

     

    This will be a patrol cooking camp because there is no dining hall. There is a regular dining hall camp on the same ranch so I think this is a slightly easier sell. They have a high adventure backpacking program at the ranch, the dining hall camp, and this one. Making it the high adventure non-backpacking might fit well with the other camps (of course, if the scouts wanted to go backpacking for two days I'd think that would be great)

  14. Well, what they don't want to do is sit in a class room setting. I'd even try something along the lines of do the fun stuff at camp and save the classroom work for back home. Even nature MB might be fun if it's not writing essays.

     

    EagleScout441, I'm all about the adventure. We can do all of that but the caving. JoeBob, I like the advancing level idea.

     

    What about building patrol camaraderie? Wasn't there some camp in New Hampshire that did a week of patrol based activities? So they'd sign up for shooting one afternoon and go do that together. Combine that with the levels and the younger scouts get to start with a sling shot and the older scouts can do the tomahawk. Activities that require teamwork would also be good.

  15. Jblake, what are examples of "tossing out the military slant?" I'm not disagreeing with you, just want a better understanding of where you're coming from.

     

    I agree with what you say about the leadership, teamwork, self confidence, etc of the military. Isn't this exactly why BP started scouting? He liked these aspects of the military but wanted to leave the violence out? At least that hasn't changed. Respect for any type of leadership has certainly dropped.

    Now I understand. Thanks for writing, this is a good thing to talk about. I'm not sure what the formula was. I suspect there wasn't one and it was just a part of our culture. In the military the formula seems to be that you're in it together and you truly depend on each other. I try to create that in scouts but I struggle with it because I haven't seen it before and neither have the parents. dcsimmons, while I do have consequences for lack of participation I think it's more than that. If I reduce this idea to a number in TroopMaster kids will just game the system. It's more of an attitude.

     

    Maybe this is another thread but I see an underlying theme on several threads that somehow seem connected. This thread on the military, the one on scout spirit, honor, the out doors, and the ones on religion (aside from all the arguing). I can't easily put my finger on it but it has to do with believing in something bigger than ourselves. Whether it be our patrol, troop, nature, society, or God, it counteracts our selfish side and helps our selfless side. Logically, it makes no sense but, when done right, has a profound impact on people. I can't even describe it, yet teach it to the parents or scouts.

     

    I had a SM meeting last night and we spent half of it talking about scout spirit, helping out without being asked, that sort of thing. We talked about every scout that was Star and above. There's one I need to have a serious talk with but most of them get it. They will try and help out. Many are not sure of themselves but they know the right thing to do. Very few of the scouts in my troop are just in it for the Eagle pin so they can quit. Some have even told me they started off with that intention but have since changed their mind. So, I think they are open to this, it's just up to me to provide them a way to experience it. But I admit, I could use some help.

  16. Jblake, what are examples of "tossing out the military slant?" I'm not disagreeing with you, just want a better understanding of where you're coming from.

     

    I agree with what you say about the leadership, teamwork, self confidence, etc of the military. Isn't this exactly why BP started scouting? He liked these aspects of the military but wanted to leave the violence out? At least that hasn't changed. Respect for any type of leadership has certainly dropped.

  17. I'd like to see the uniform simplified and a necker and a uniform t-shirt for the outdoors would be fine. I think the scouts would go the way of the British and accept a simple shirt with a necker. For indoors, either a t-shirt or a scout shirt with all the pockets and epaulettes removed would be cheaper and easier to sew on patches, not to mention it would just look less formal. Formal is fine at Courts of honor, but not in the outdoors. I suspect the main reason for the formality is for adults to show their bling.

     

    I remember when the last round of shirts came out and they went on and on about how scouts could use the pockets for their mp3 players. The scouts still put them in their pants because that's what they do outside of scouts (mainly so they can change songs without reaching up to their shoulder).

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  18. I spent this past week on jury duty. It was a felony within a family. Intellectually it was a fascinating experience and I got to see how the rubber hits the road when it comes to the constitution. Emotionally, however, it was draining. There were no good guys, only bad and worse. While the legal system worked, it didn't come close to helping with the underlying problem.

     

    This family was a mess. Multiple marriages/relationships for each adult, kids out of wedlock, a family graph rather than a family tree, everyone has a step relationship, fathers not being dads, moms not knowing where their kids are, kids moving among parents and grandparents. We struggled with the meaning of "beyond a reasonable doubt" because nothing we saw was reasonable. This was a Shakespearean tragedy of character.

     

    All of us on the jury couldn't help but think that the underlying problem had more to do with an unstable family than anything else. It's not that this couldn't have happened in a stable family, but, as the judge told us afterwards, this happens to these families all the time.

     

    About a third of kids are raised in single parent families and about 40% of kids are born out of wedlock. All I can say is, beyond a reasonable doubt, this ain't good.

     

    What is honor? Maybe we can't define it but we all know what it is. Maybe it's like scout spirit. Maybe it's being selfless and loyal towards an ideal, whether that ideal is marriage or children or country or just a scout troop. Whatever it is, we could sure use some more of it.

  19. ScoutRedux, to answer your second question, it depends on whether the scout sees the mistake he made and wants to fix it. If his only sorrow is that he got caught, then I won't have much sympathy for him. If on the other hand he's honestly sorry for what he did, and wants to make it better, then I'll have much more forgiveness. Deciding where a scout is on that continuum is another problem all together.

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  20. Why are the outdoors and nature so important to Boy Scouts? I think it is, but I want a simple explanation as to why. As technology makes it easier to get away from nature it seems like this is an important question to answer. It's kind of like, what is Scout Spirit? You know it when you see it but it's hard to describe. Anyway, here's my answer but I'm just trying to start a discussion.

     

    Nature is a way to get away from our usual lives, it's fun.

     

    Nature is a source of unpredictability, scouts learn how to solve problems and take care of themselves.

     

    Nature is a source of awe, after you see how small you are in the world it's easier to be selfless.

     

    Nature can be an adrenalin rush, exciting, or scary - it teaches scouts how to live.

  21. "would it be worthwhile to require a Boy Scout (or an Adult Leader) to read a book at each level of advancement?" Diabolical! I love it!
    Kudu, you like sending people off on their own to figure things out.

     

    Here's another idea for spiritual awakening on your own that I'd like to try some day with the scouts. It's something along the lines of the vigil ordeal or a vision quest. Find a pretty place away from everyone else and sit quietly for 24 hours tending a fire. You can bring religious material to read but no electronics, not even a watch. All the water you want but no food. You're asked to think about your place in your community. I talked to someone else that does this with his troop. He said it was great for the more mature scouts.

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