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mlg0171

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About mlg0171

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  1. $50 Annual dues including BSA registration $200 Summer Camp Weekend campouts free (paid by troop funds via fundraisers.) One or two campouts a year may have special activities requiring fees. All profits from popcorn sales go to the scout's account to pay for any fees, equipment, uniforms, etc. The troop has a hardship fund so nobody is excluded due to $.
  2. mlg0171

    question about camping merit badge

    We tent camp eleven months per year, so when we see the splitting-hairs approach, it is with scouts who are not very active. It's pretty easy for an average scout to get to 20 nights over a few years if not in one year. But we always have a few scouts in 7 sports who show up once a year and want to bend the definitions because they are being pushed to Eagle by Mom and Dad. So this is a symptom of that larger problem. The sad thing is that if a scout comes to summer camp one time, and a weekend campout once per year, he can earn this requirement before he is 18, yet some still want to stretch the rules. On another note, I am thrilled to see they added "[t]he 20 days and 20 nights must be at a designated Scouting activity or event."
  3. We recently started using Google Documents (docs.google.com) to help plan and communicate. I thought others might be interested. Note that all troops have different circumstances and this may not be everyone's cup of tea. E.g. we have a large troop and our SPL's are usually computer literate high schoolers with internet access. Google docs are online word processor and spreadsheet documents (think Word and Excel) that multiple users can use. Note there are also "Presentations" which I suspect is like PowerPoint, but I haven't played with it. We've found two uses so far. 1. TROOP MEETING PLANS We first created Troop Meeting Plans. Each looks like the standard BSA form. We posted one form per meeting. The SPL, ASPL, SM, and SA's can log in at docs.google.com, view, and change the documents. You can control who has access to only view vs. who can make changes. At the start of the SPL's term, we posted a blank form for each troop meeting and now the SM can log in any time to see the SPL's progress. Has he finalized plans for the next couple of weeks? Does he have the major parts for the next few months? How far out is he planning? Here's the really cool part. The SM and SPL can be on the phone together, both sitting at their computers looking at the same document, and see changes in real time. So as the SM coaches the SPL and the SPL types changes, they both see the updates. (Not letter-for-letter real time, but it seems to refresh about every ten seconds.) So, in this busy world, it makes it easier to communicate without having yet another meeting. You can print the documents to take to troop and PLC meetings and download them in formats such as pdf, doc, txt, html, open office, and rich text. 2. CAMPOUT ROSTER Our standard way to find out who is going on the campout is to have the PL's communicate with their members and report back to the SPL. We used to have a sign up sheet at troop meetings, but found this was inaccurate (e.g. a scout is not at the meeting, but plans to camp) and consumed too much time at meetings. We prefer to use the patrol method to find out who is going, then walk into the troop meeting already knowing. So, we posted a roster on Google Docs (again, viewable and/or changeable by SPL, ASPL, SM, SA's). As the SPL gets reports back, he deletes the names who are not going on the campout and he's left with a list of who is going. The other leaders can log in and see the progress. We can print and take it with us. Because the roster started in a patrol format, the SPL can quickly see which patrols have only 3-4 guys going and combine them for the weekend. He also makes notations about which scouts have a parent coming and how many seat belts each parent's car has. I hope you find this helpful. You'll need to set up an account, but it's fast and free. Just put in your current email address (gmail account not required) and make up a password. We're also looking at Google calendar to replace our current one, but I'm not sold on it yet.
  4. mlg0171

    Troop web site -- frustrations! guidelines?

    cubdadinnj, I run my troop's website. It is a great resource, but you are right about there being pitfalls. I'll leave behind the security concerns that have dominated the posts so far and give you some other advice. 1. Start small. Add later. 2. Think hard about what you need there. Just because you can put something there doesn't mean you should. Assuming you have other forms of communication (patrol leaders making phone calls to their members, announcements at meetings, troop emails) you don't need everything at the website. 3. Some content on your site will be "static" meaning it will be unchanged for a long time, and therefore low maintenance. "Dynamic" content can become a hassle to keep updated. Think carefully before filling your site with a lot of dynamic information. What is exciting when you start a website becomes a chore in a few months. 4. Remember that websites are a passive way to get information to people. Phone calls and email push information, but with a website you don't know if people are going to go and pull the information. Websites have their place, but only for some types of information. 5. My troop uses a weekly email as part of its communication plan. One way we use the website is to avoid attachments to the email. Spam filters go crazy if I send an attachment, such as a map, flyer, permission form, etc., to a large group. So, I put the attachment on the website and put a link in the email. 6. Keep the content simple for the visitors. Some people who visit the site still use dial up and old computers. I don't have any fancy graphics. 7. Keep the technology simple for the webmaster. I'm not a website designer or programmer. Most of the pages are made using Microsoft Word, (saving the files as .html instead of .doc). Most professionals would sneer at that, but it works for us. So, I could teach someone else to update our site if I want to hand it off. 8. I found a local business who has their own website on their own server in their office to host our website. My troop's website, with our own domain name, is on their server, so I don't have to pay for a hosting service. They even paid for the domain name registration. Good luck.
  5. mlg0171

    Troop web site -- frustrations! guidelines?

    cubdadinnj, Like all of us, you've had a person or group of people volunteer to take on a task and now it is getting nowhere, but I gather from your email that they haven't actually quit. If they quit, then you could at least pick up the ball and run with it yourself or hand it off to someone else. So, my first advice is to deal with the fact that you have a couple of volunteers who aren't making it happen. Until then, the rest is moot. Security sounds like an excuse. You can make one, some, or all pages password protected. It doesn't take two years. Be polite but upfront with them. Maybe they are no longer interested in doing this and just need the chance to say so. Or if they do want to press forward, set a deadline. This is tougher in a volunteer organization than at work, but try to extract a deadline out of them. "Can we have a front page with our troop number and one picture up by the end of the month?" Build from there. I'll post another response about website content in case you end up starting from scratch.
  6. Most browsers (I use FireFox) will remember your username and password and load it for you, if you have that option set up.
  7. mlg0171

    Scouts say the darndest things

    A few years ago, I had an older scout leading the younger scouts in a meal planning session for the next campout. He was fielding ideas from the group and making a written plan on a white board. When they thought they were done, I suggested they go through the menu again and add some fruits and vegetables. The older scout, very sincerely concerned about wasting money, looked at me and said "no one eats that stuff."
  8. mlg0171

    Summer Camp w/in 4hrs of Columbus OH?

    ASM915, The troop considered all BSA camps within Ohio and many outside the state. Seven Ranges would, of course, be on that list. I believe it made it to the short list and was also highly recommended by one of our Eagles. (He went to Seven Ranges years ago with another troop.) Our selection was based on many factors including space availability for our large troop, distance, etc. and shouldn't reflect negatively on the camps we did not select.
  9. mlg0171

    Wait Time Between Lower Ranks

    Yeah, Beavah, but it's the exception, not the rule, so I don't think it's a big deal. The alternative (two or three BOR's close together) just seems like jumping through hoops to satisfy our sense of order. Interesting, though, your use of the term "stranger". I realize you are exaggerating, but our committee members aren't strangers. It's common to see some of them on campouts and at meetings. Maybe we're lucky to have that level of involvement.
  10. mlg0171

    Artifically delaying rank advancements

    At the SM conference, our SM instructs the scout to call the CC and schedule a BOR. Puts the responsibility on the scout.
  11. So Beavah makes a good point about artificial time hurdles to slow down boys who tore through the ranks fast. As he acknowledged, it is not clear that this is the reason for Kansascity53's situation (the scout may have been in for a long time, but had one Tenderfoot requirement holding him back), so I spun it off. I came across a troop that uses only quarterly BOR's. If a scout finishes a rank one week after a BOR, he's on hold for three months till the next one. This quarterly system is meant to slow the scouts down because they were advancing faster than the adults preferred. I thought this artificial hurdle was treating the symptom instead of the problem. Our troop has a policy that inadvertently controls T-2-1 advancement in a more natural way. (It's intended purpose is to encourage long term retention of the skills and knowledge learned in T-2-1.) Because most of the T-2-1 requirements are skill/knowledge based, and we want scouts to retain the skill/knowledge, we will not teach a scout and sign his book on the same day. We will teach a skill today or we will test a skill today, but not both. We want them to learn the skill/knowledge for longer than ten minutes. I can teach a knot today, but I want to see it next week or whenever. So when a scout comes to me and says, "I want to do xyz requirement" I ask "great, are you ready to be tested, OR would you like me to teach it to you?" If I teach him today, I encourage him to go home, practice, and demonstrate it next week. This system also happens to keep the advancement on a more natural pace and teaches the boys to take responsibility to practice/study at home between meetings. The troop I came across seemed to be racing through the requirements, then artificially holding the scouts back when they saw the consequences.
  12. mlg0171

    Wait Time Between Lower Ranks

    When we have a boy complete two ranks at once (or even three) I don't think the BOR is much longer than a normal one, if at all. We're not re-testing the material. We're having a conversation to find out more about him, what he enjoys about the program, what he'd change, what meaningful experiences he's had so far, whether the SM helped him set goals for the future, whether he's aware of how the whole system works... None of that changes in a BOR for two ranks. I can't imagine how the scout would benefit from doing that three times in one night or one month.
  13. mlg0171

    Summer Camp w/in 4hrs of Columbus OH?

    Believe it or not, the search committee (from which I distanced myself because I have enough on my plate) started with a list of 50(!) camps, got info on all of them, and whittled down from there.
  14. mlg0171

    Wait Time Between Lower Ranks

    This is a common occurrence (finishing two at once is more common) and should not be held against the boy. Star, Life, and Eagle intentionally have requirements that keep those ranks in a progressive order, but such requirements are glaringly absent from Tenderfoot - First Class and it is not our place to add them.
  15. mlg0171

    Summer Camp w/in 4hrs of Columbus OH?

    Funny you should mention it...we booked there. Thanks.
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