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NJCubScouter

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Everything posted by NJCubScouter

  1. BobWhite says: You are right NJ, what is uppermost on the minds of scouters outside of unit scouting is the growth of the program. You surprise me, BobWhite, by twisting my words and meaning. You know that is not what I meant. I expect such gamesmanship from some in this forum, but not from you. What this particular commissioner had uppermost in his mind at the moment in question was not the growth of the program -- it was getting credit for numbers. The boys in question (who are still hypothetical for another 18 hours as I write this) will get the program regardless of whether they are registered before June 30, but whoever gets credit will not get credit for this year unless they do. That is what the commissioner was concerned about, and I can't imagine that he is the only person who thinks that way. As I said before, I am happy to accomodate my DE and commissioners, they are a good group of guys and have been nothing but helpful to my pack, which has undergone a rocky transition from one group of leaders to another. I also see the benefit of signing these boys up as soon as possible. None of this changes the fact that it has been confirmed to me that there is a motivation at work here other than (or in addition to) the growth of the program.
  2. Ed Mori says: At the unit level, we should be concerned with delivering a quality program regardless of the numbers. Obviously a good program is the key, but at the same time, I think units are encouraged to give attention to the numbers as well. One of the requirements for the Quality Unit Award (it may be optional) is that you are rechartering with at least the same number of boys as last year. (I have never seen the troop Quality Unit requirements, but this is on the list for packs, and I can't see why it wouldn't be for troops.) Now, some might say, run a good program and the numbers will take care of themselves. But I don't think that is all of what we are being asked to do. We are also being asked to recruit, AND to retain the recruits by having a good program. (And to have a good program for its own sake, but that is an intangible that can't be easily quantified on a Quality Unit form.) Also, the fact is that just a couple of weeks ago, I personally was asked to "worry" about the numbers, and I mean somebody else's numbers. I was at a roundtable and was discussing the district's spring Tiger recruitment efforts with our new DE, and one of the commissioners was standing by. Through a miscommunication between the council office and our Cubmaster, no flyers had gone out in our local school to the kindergarten boys (next school year's Tigers)and so we had missed the intended date for the roundup meeting. I said, well, we can get the new Tigers in the regular fall roundup. The DE and commissioner said, almost in unison, No, we really want to do it now. And then the commissioner turned to the DE and said "because we get reviewed on our numbers as of June 30." And so I said, fine, and in the ensuing conversation I committed us (meaning me, since the CM is going out of town tomorrow) to do a roundup meeting before our last pack meeting of the year on Friday. (This also means I am running the pack meeting, for the first and hopefully the last time.) I have no problem doing the roundup, though I do question whether many of the boys we are recruiting are really ready to be in a Scouting program. But national says they are, and on this (as with almost every other issue) I happily defer to the wisdom of national, council, and district. But I do find the commissioner's comment amusing, and revealing. He didn't say to do a spring roundup because studies have shown that kindergarten boys who register in the spring have longer or happier tenures in Scouting than those recruited in the first grade. (I don't know if there are any studies like that.) He didn't say to register the boys now so they have a chance to participate in the pack's summer activities, which would have been a reasonable thing to say. He said to register the boys now in order to boost the June 30 numbers so the DE (and council, commissioners, whoever) can get credit for them this year. (He wasn't talking directly to me, but he wasn't whispering in the DE's ear, either.) I am not at all offended by this, but it does lend credence to suspicions that many Scouters have about what is uppermost on the minds of at least some people above the unit level.
  3. I agree with most of what OldGreyEagle said. This is a minor point, but it is my impression that the "council" does sometimes initiate the formation of a new unit by trying to "sell" the program to a prospective chartered organization. In fact, I thought that was part of the job of a DE, usually when there are "gaps" in a particular area. I have never actually seen this happen (that I was aware of), but that is probably because I have always lived in areas where there were enough units that every boy was getting the opportunity to join and recruitment efforts were reaching every boy. (Well, almost always, but that's a subject for another day.) Of course, units are formed in many other ways as well, and the DE "cold call" approach is not what happened in the situation that started this thread. Someone wanted to form a new troop, went to council and asked for help. I assume that any DE fielding that request would proceed to assist her, rather than trying to persuade her not to, so that the existing unit can retain its recruiting advantage. As for whether "numbers and money" are overemphasized in Scouting, that is an interesting subject and always makes for a lively debate, but others have not taken the bait so I won't either. Except to repeat that it is indeed part of the DE's job to encourage formation of new units, which seems like a good thing. However, I assume DE's are also "graded" on recharters (and numbers of boys), so I don't see how it would benefit a DE to have a new unit charter while another one folds. Unless there is a formula that is "weighted" in a way that I don't know about.
  4. NJCubScouter

    Is the Bible infallible?

    packsaddle says: Each person should view their faith personally and leave popular opinion and politics out of it. Further argument is recreational but not very illuminating. I agree. Personally I would rather not know or hear about the religious beliefs of others, and I certainly do not want their views imposed upon me. I have a right to the latter, both as against the government and within the BSA. The BSA's declaration of religious principle says that this organization is "absolutely nonsectarian." When the BSA leadership imposes the religious views of the current, temporary majority on one particular issue, over those who hold different and opposite religious views, I object. The BSA is violating its own policy. Thanks for raising the issue again though, things were getting too quiet.
  5. NJCubScouter

    Webelos to Scouts

    I agree with all the comments and suggestions made so far (except for Mike Long's first post, which he no longer agrees with either.) In consultation with the parents and the boys, you should (and can) find appropriate activities and challenges to keep these boys interested until they have met the time requirements for Arrow of Light or have turned 11. (But of course if you go by age, they will not all be able to join a troop at the same time.) Sctmom made several good, specific, suggestions. I would focus on the outdoor skills aspect (while remaining age-appropriate for 10-year-olds) while providing continuing "advancement" opportunities through the Sports and Academics program. In particular, the pins in the Sports and Academic program have requirements that are not easy to meet. The boys could decide on one activity per month and pursue the belt loop and then the pin in that area. Some of the sports pins really require that you be a member of a team, but others, and the academic pins, do not. In many cases the requirements for the pins (particularly the academics) are considerably more difficult than the activity badges. So there should be more than enough things for them to do. Plus, if you focus them on outdoor skills, by the time they do cross over, they can be more prepared and confident because they will have had this "extra time" to practice. I might even go so far as to get the Scout handbook and pick out some of the Tenderfoot and maybe Second Class skills for them to learn and practice, so that they can be ahead of the game when they have the opportunity to actually pass the requirements. But it would have to be done in such a way that when the time comes to do the requirement in the Boy Scout troop, the boys' attitude is not "been there, done that." They are NOT passing the requirement while a Webelos, they are just learning and practicing the skill. BobWhite, do you think that would be appropriate? I am not talking about the boys doing the First Class swimming or first aid requirements, but surely some of the Tenderfoot requirements would not be too far out of age-appropriate range. Where to draw the line probably depends on the boys themselves. The bottom line is that these boys need to be in an age-appropriate program, and you are in a position to provide it, even though they have passed all the "traditional" Webelos requirements. (I speak as the fellow parent of a fourth grader. He is already past 10-and-a-half and will turn 11 in October. If we wanted to, he could earn a few more activity badges and pass a few more requirements and earn the Arrow of Light by September, and then join a troop, or join in October regardless of the Arrow of Light. But what would be the point? I am very happy leaving him in the pack until February or March when the second-year Webelos traditionally graduate. At a few months past 11, I think he will be at least slightly better able to handle the challenges of the Boy Scout program. He also won't be the smallest and youngest kid in the group (especially if he is in a new-Scout partrol), an important consideration to me because he is somewhat meek-and-mild. I'm not talking about competitiveness, but I am talking about confidence. As long as he is a getting a Scouting program, I feel (and my son agrees) that there is no need to rush.)
  6. NJCubScouter

    Cubmaster

    BobWhite says: The green web belt is only for Boy Scouts and adult leaders to wear. Webelos wear the blue web belt even if they are wearing the tan iniform shirt. That is not correct. Webelos wearing the tan uniform may wear either the green Boy Scout belt or the blue Cub Scout belt with Webelos buckle. Presumably they have kept the blue belt as an option because, as previously stated, the Academics and Sports belt loops do not fit the green belt. My source is the official BSA Supply Division online catalog, www.scoutstuff.org. When you go there, the "welcoming" photo includes a Webelos Scout (apparently the tallest 10-year-old in the world), wearing the tan and green uniform with a blue belt (and that new hat.) But after you click on the "enter" logo, then on "Scout Necessities," then Webelos, you will find the following statement (I have added the underlining): Webelos Scouts may wear the blue Cub Scout or khaki Boy Scout uniform. Webelos cap, neckerchief, and insignia placement is the same for either uniform. They can choose the blue belt with the Webelos Scout buckle or the olive belt with the Boy Scout buckle. Cub Scout belt loops fit only the Cub Scout Web Belt. Then below that, in the list of Webelos uniform parts, you will find both the Cub Scout web belt (blue) and the Boy Scout web belt (green) as well as the Webelos belt buckle. Clicking on the latter 2 items reveals the following: WEBELOS SCOUT BELT BUCKLE Fits blue and green belts, sold separately. WW80831 $3.25 BOY SCOUT WEB BELT Includes buckle and clip. Order by size. (Note for Webelos: Cub Scout Academics and Sports program belt loops will not fit the Boy Scout Belt.) WW52992 $6.15 (SM/M) WW52993 $8.45 (M/LG)
  7. NJCubScouter

    When to call the police vs. parents

    dan says: I would call the parents and not the police! I would give the parents a chance to deal with it before I would put the scout through the legal system. That would be my preference too. And after reading my first post, I take back the statement that I would "probably" report the pot-possessing Scout to the police. I really don't know what I would do. BobWhite's solution was a good one under those circumstances. But obviously there is a line somewhere. After all I am not postive it is not Thyme! At least that would be my out for not calling the police. Well, I don't think that is one of your options under the facts given by BobWhite. If you are going to turn a blind eye and pretend you aren't sure what's in the baggie, then you also don't call the parents and have them drive 1,000 miles (yikes!) to get their son. You can't be sure its pot for one purpose and pretend you don't know what it is for another purpose. Guilty unitl proved innocent, wait that is not right, is it? Not right, but in the everyday "criminal justice system" it often does turn out to be the case, particularly for some types of crime.
  8. NJCubScouter

    When to call the police vs. parents

    This is a good question but has no easy answer -- just more questions. In the pot examople, I suspect there are some (possibly including me, I'm not sure)who would have called local police AND the parents. I guess I would always try to err on the side of delivering the boy to his parents (even if they must come to you to accept delivery) rather than to the authorities, but somewhere there is a line. How about a Scout who hits another? "Just" a fight or a "scuffle"? In the words of my town's police chief, when commenting on the reluctance of school principals to call the police when a fight occurs in school, "What you call a scuffle, we call an assault." And yet I suspect most Scouters, like most school principals, would try to handle the matter "internally." How about a boy who steals something from a fellow Scout while at camp or other Scout function. The "internal" Scout discipline for such an offense would be severe, probably terminal. But it is also theft, regardless of the amount. Once the item is recovered and returned to its owner, how many Scouters would call the police? What role does the does the severity of the harm play in the decision? Theoretically, a violation of the law is a violation of the law, but I don't think we can ignore the difference between a "harmless" crime and one that causes actual injury or is particularly serious. For example, the boy has cocaine or heroin instead of pot. Or the Scout was not only in possession of the pot, but sold some to another Scout. (God forbid, as my mother would say.) What if, instead of just hitting the other Scout, the boy uses a tree branch and causes serious injury? Or, on the other hand, the offender "only" hit the other boy and did not intend serious injury, but the victim fell back and hit his head on a rock and now you have the paramedics on the way to deal with a life-threatening injury. Does it make a difference if the law of the state treats something as a "felony" rather than a "misdemeanor"? (Or in New Jersey-speak, a "crime" rather than a "disorderly persons offense.") Possession of a small amount of pot for personal use is a d.p. in New Jersey, and technically not a "crime." In some states it would be a felony. If that matters, why does it matter?
  9. NJCubScouter

    Hazing

    Quixote says: NJ - when i read the first line of your post, i thought you and rooster were going to agree on something (thought the 2nd coming was right around the corner on that one ) Nope, it was just me being slightly facetious for the first few words of my post. I suspect that somewhere, at some point, Rooster and I must have agreed on something, though it certainly hasn't happened many times. After all, even a stopped clock is right twice a day. By the way, my people are still waiting for the first coming.
  10. NJCubScouter

    Hazing

    First I says: Perhaps, as an imperfect adult, I can empathize more readily with children who are imperfect. To which Rooster replied: Wow. "Wow"?, asks I in response. What do you mean, Wow? First I had to check a dictionary to make sure "empathize" means what I thought it meant, and it does. Actually it means "to experience empathy," but "empathy" has 2 meanings, and definition number 2 is: "the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner" Admittedly that is a bit more than I had in mind, though technically it fits. What I basically meant, in my sarcastic way, was that since I am a human being (and therefore imperfect) I understand how other human beings feel when they also prove to be imperfect. Which raises the question, and this is not a personal attack, Rooster, are you of a different species than the rest of us? That would explain a few things. To complete my thought: When human beings make mistakes, especially those that don't actually hurt anybody or anything, they don't expect the Spanish Inquisition -- nor do they expect to be hauled on stage to be made an object of ridicule. And if in a particular unit, they have come to expect such treatment, the expectation needs to be changed. Scouting is not about punishment.
  11. NJCubScouter

    Hazing

    Rooster says: On a more serious note, singing is not the actual object of the exercise. That's right. As near as I can figure out from the original post, the "actual object of the exercise" is to punish and to publicly humiliate a boy, or at the very least, embarrass him. When I was a Boy Scout, humiliation of boys through hazing rituals and otherwise was "part of the program" (at least within a unit) and was often encouraged or at least condoned by leaders. Fortunately, there is now a recognition that that is not supposed to be the case, though I am sure it remains the case to some extent and in some places. Just thinking about my own son (one year til crossover), if he ever had to go through some of the things I went through, he would be out the door of Scouting in 5 minutes. Let's not forget that this is a voluntary organization. It is not school and it is not jail. The door goes out as well as in, and there are enough other distractions trying to pull the boys out the door, without us adults giving them an extra push. Admittedly, this particular case is close to the line. When I think of hazing, making someone sing (even as punishment) does not come immediately to mind. But I agree with those who find it unacceptable. If not for the grace and thoughtfulness of others, many of these belonging would be lost and/or stolen. If the others are Boy Scouts or Scouters, that "grace and thoughtfulness" are not optional, they are required by the Scout Law. (Kind, friendly, trustworthy, perhaps loyal as well.) The "singing" requirement gives the boys a consequence for their neglectfulness (without having to incur the loss of a possession). There already is a consequence. If you are careless on more than one occasion, sooner or later one of your items will be irretrievably lost. Then the boy has to face the court of Mom and Dad who bought the item, and maybe he has to replace it out of his own pocket. If he bought it himself, that lesson is learned more directly, now he has to buy it twice. Even if the boy is eventually reunited with the item, I personally have known on occasion the discomfort (ranging to outright terror depending on what the item is) of misplacing something and having to spend five minutes, a few hours or even a few days not knowing if I am going to get it back. That's "consequence" enough for me, and certainly should be enough for a boy. It also serves another purpose. It forces young boys to go in front of a group. It gives them exposure to being in the spotlight. For most boys, this can be a learning experience that will help them later in life (i.e., give presentations to adults as an adult). As someone else said, performing as part of a program and performing because you are being made an example of are two entirely different things. For one thing, when performing as part of a program, the boy is usually part of a group. My son is extremely stage-shy, and yet when there is "no choice," like when his den is doing a blue-and-gold dinner skit or he is in a class play, he does what he has to do, and usually says his lines like a pro and has a good time doing so. If there were even a hint of negativity attached to it, it would be an entirely different story. There are a few times when a boy MUST be "on stage alone," I believe there is one requirement for the Webelos Citizen Activity Badge of a short speech, but most of these are voluntary. The Public Speaking Merit Badge is not required for Eagle; I earned it, and hopefully my son will too someday, but I'm not making any bets. In speaking of losing keys, Rooster says: Instead, something more consequential might occurlike I could miss a very important business meeting. And as I said above, the boy could suffer a financial consequence as well. Or not. And you might not miss the business meeting, you might just be delayed for a half hour in going on a family trip. The point is that the consequences of a careless act are what they are -- there is no benefit in adding an artificial consequence like making a boy perform for the troop. Fortunately, my troop taught me not to "lay things about" (i.e., they made me sing whenever I did)? As a result, I never lose those darn car keys. Fortunately, you are perfect. I wish I was perfect. Perhaps, as an imperfect adult, I can empathize more readily with children who are imperfect. If a troop made a boy do a presentation on safe food handling (because he blatantly disregarded the same), would you consider that hazing or harassment? I would hope not. It's merely a consequence for not doing something right. I think that would be different. You are requiring the boy to learn something. Of course, I think I'd rather have the presentation done by someone who didn't disregard the rules, and have the careless boy be part of the class. Especially if I were going to be a guest of that boy's patrol at dinner time. (Mostly kidding, but not completely.) If we shelter these boys every time someone makes a claim of "hazing", we're doing them a disservice. At one time, the political climate in this country mandated that only the "victim" had a right to claim whether or not a crime was committed. In other words, if someone claimed sexual harassment, then it must be soif someone felt he/she was discriminated against, then it surely happened. What we should be teaching our youth, is how to deal with realitynot false perceptions. Labeling these events as hazing is insane. It's the same political correctness that inspires grade school principals to suspend kindergartners for playing cops and robbers. Is it really necessary to bring politics into it? As far as "claims" of hazing, the issue is not whether there's a claim, the issue is whether there was hazing. As far as "shelter," yes, this is the role of Scouting to some extent. Your other comparisons, such as to overreactions by school principals, are beside the point. The kindergartner who shapes his hand into a gun is, in my humble opinion, not doing anything wrong. The Scoutmaster who has a shy boy dragged in front of the troop to sing a song because he misplaced his flashlight probably is doing something wrong. I don't think the program should be tailored so that its impossible for any boy to be feel inadequate. I think that making a boy feel inadequate is something the program tries to avoid. Sometimes it is impossible to avoid, but we should not go out of our way to make it happen. And as for this and the balance of your comments, I would just say this: This is not the Marines. We are trying to make the boys into better people, but they are not in boot camp, and we should not make them feel like they are. Didn't Baden-Powell say Scouting was supposed to be "fun"? And not just fun for the boys watching the reluctant singer, but for the singer as well. (This message has been edited by NJCubScouter)
  12. NJCubScouter

    Donation question

    So as not to be seen as shilling for my own profession, I will just second OldGreyEagle's advice that you see a lawyer. There may be one or more who are members of your CO, or parents of boys in your troop, or if you have a lawyer he/she might be willing to discuss the matter briefly without charge. You have all kinds of potential issues here, depending on your state and local laws. If it were in New Jersey (which I strongly suspect it is not if the land value is only $1,000-$1,500 per acre) you would have all kinds of zoning laws and environmental regulations to deal with. For example, would you be cutting trees to clear campsites? Building a cabin or lean-tos (or any permanent structure)? What about, um, waste disposal? All of these might involve government permitting or regulation. And you also have to think about property taxes -- perhaps you could get an exemption if the ownership is structured properly, but if not, you do not want to inherit a financial liability. Perhaps even before a lawyer, I would talk to your council and probably to a professional. (No offense to commissioner-types.) If they can give you help, great, and if there any problems, you might as well know about them now. Ownership is very definitely an issue. I would be very hesitant to have the land deeded to your existing CO. This becomes an especially sensitive issue if your troop is going to do work on the property, i.e. clearing sites, hiking paths, lean to's, etc. The boys and adults would be putting in a lot of labor and would want to keep control over the result. A non-profit corporation could own the land, and in most states such a corporation is not very difficult to set up and maintain, but you would have to follow at least the minimum formalities which a lawyer would explain to you. I believe that in order to qualify as a non-profit under IRS rules, you would have to make provisions for what happens to the property if the corporation is eventually dissolved, and you only have a limited range of choices. The best approach might be that the corporation's property would be transferred to your council if the corporation is dissovled. We recently had a discussion in the forum about a "dummy front" organization to hold troop assets instead of the CO. I don't think this would fall into that category. Your fund-raising proceeds and dues would still go to the troop treasury, but the non-profit would own the land. If the non-profit incurs expenses (permit fees, professional to cut down big trees, whatever), then the non-profit can charge the troop a nominal fee for use of the land -- that should be perfectly legitimate, and it probably would be nowhere near what my pack pays our council for use of a campsite ($6.50 per person per day, no meal service plus the showers are turned off.) If invoices come due before camping fees come in, one or more parents of boys in the troop could loan funds to the non-profit, get paid back when the fees come in, and donate the interest back to the non-profit (in other words, waive interest.) You also want to make sure, however, that the non-profit remains in synch with the troop and its needs. Maybe the members of the troop committee could automatically be trustees (or directors) of the non-profit. Again, compliance with your particular state's laws is critical. Maybe the non-profit could become co-Chartered Organization, as "Friends of Troop Whatever." There is a lot more to consider but those are some things to start thinking about.
  13. NJCubScouter

    Greatness

    Quixote says: Sally Ride - First woman astronaut - she was on Challenger. When I first read this I thought you were saying that she died in the Challenger disaster, which would not be correct. Now that I look at it again, that may not be what you were saying. It is literally correct that she was on Challenger, twice in fact -- her first flight in 1983 and again in 1984. After Challenger was destroyed she served on the commission investigating the tragedy. And she definitely does belong on the list, thank you for mentioning her. It seems that until your post we had forgotten about pioneers in space and aviation (except for Amelia Earheart.) We could add Charles Lindbergh, Chuck Yeager, Alan Shepard, John Glenn, Edward White, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, James Lovell and others. (I know Glenn is an Eagle Scout, probably some of the others are also.) And if we don't mind having Soviet Communist functionaries on the list, we also could add Yuri Gagarin, Valentina Tereshkova and Alexei Leonov -- the first man in space, first woman in space and first space-walker, respectively.
  14. NJCubScouter

    Greatness

    A few more and a few comments: While I would agree with the placement of Vaclav Havel on the list, if he is there, then the list must also include Lech Walesa -- perhaps a bit higher on the list. While Havel brought a free and democratic Czechoslovakia out of the collapse of the Soviet bloc (and then allowed the natural de-merger of his own country), I think Walesa did more to bring about that collapse. He and his Solidarity movement demonstrated that a Communist country could have an opposition movement, and no matter what the Communists did to stop him, he eventually prevailed. And just as Havel let Slovakia go, Walesa stepped aside peacefully when he was defeated in elections -- not something that has always occurred as the former Soviet bloc countries have struggled to achieve democracy. The mind briefly moves to the name of Boris Yeltsin, but passes over. The story of the collapse of the Soviet Union cannot be told without him, and he did show a great deal of courage against adversity. However, his respect for democracy once in office was somewhat spotty, and his overwhelming personal weaknesses (alcohol and corruption) probably don't add up to an "exemplar for today's youth." Anwar Sadat was mentioned, but next to him must go Menachem Begin. You need two people to sign a treaty. While Begin did not pay with his life, it still took a great deal of courage for him to lead his country into giving up the same piece of real estate for the third time, in exchange for a mere promise of peace. The fact that that promise has held up through all the subsequent turmoil in the Middle East is a testament to both men. Then there is the third man at the table at Camp David -- Jimmy Carter. There has been a lot of discussion about him on the other thread and I don't want to repeat all of it. (For the record, I voted against him in the 1976 and 1980 Democratic primaries, for him in the 1976 election, and against him (for John Anderson) in the 1980 election.) I do not believe he was a great president, but I do believe he was a great peacemaker, and was and is a great humanitarian, and ultimately a great man despite his failures as president and occasional goofs and glimmers of poor judgment as ex-president. Unlike many politicians, even what he has done poorly was done because he thought it was right and in a sincere effort to make the nation and the world a better place. Going back to Sadat, I think Yitzhak Rabin also goes on the list. He, too, gave his life for peace. He shook the hand of Arafat for the first time, and without getting into everything that is going on now, that was an extremely courageous move at the time and paved the way for the subsequent peace efforts that could have succeeded if... well, I'd better not go there lest this go way off-topic. (I don't want to make this too Jewish-centric, but my personal list of heroes also includes Israeli leaders David Ben-Gurion, Golda Meier and Moshe Dayan.) But I do have to add Albert Einstein -- not just a great scientist, but a great thinker generally, a great humanitarian and a great man. Teddy Roosevelt was in many ways a great man, but in many other ways a hack politician and blustering taker-of-credit where no credit was due. But I think he did awaken the country to the need for what was then called "conservation of natural resources," and for that alone I would put him on the list. (And politics-watchers please note, he was a Republican.) In somewhat the same vein as Vaclav Havel and Lech Walesa, the name of Nelson Mandela also belongs. He did not have a spotless record in his pre-government years, but it's tough being a revolutionary. He was, amazingly in my view, able to pull together a large and diverse country that could easily have dissolved into chaos, as it was threatening to do when the white government was transitioning out of power. Compare South Africa to neighboring Zimbabwe, where dictatorship and civil war have followed the end of colonial rule and continue to this day. Mandela also stepped aside in a peaceful democratic transition of power, a rarity in Africa. If the list can include sports figures, although this might be controversial, I think Muhammed Ali belongs on the list. He was not just a great athlete, but in my opinion a great man, in contrast to many of the great athletes of today, for example I would not put someone like Tiger Woods on the list, though he is seen by some others as a role model for youth. Going to the world of entertainment (but not too far from politics), I would add John Lennon. "We're only trying to get us some peace." I hesitate to say this, but there is one name previously mentioned that I would not put on the list as an exemplar for youth. Just as I expected someone (and it turned out to be Rooster) to mention Ronald Reagan, it should not surprise regular readers that I would not have him on my list. I don't want to get into a political argument, though.
  15. NJCubScouter

    American Heritage Girls

    Rooster, in discussing the "moral standards" that are "enforced by the BSA", says: These standards are not from one religion (or "one type of religious belief"). They are, for the most part, reflected in the major religions of the world (Christianity, Judaism, Muslim, Hindu, etc.) That's not true, at least as to Christianity and Judaism. Both these religions are divided on the morality of homosexuality and the morality of excluding gays from full membership in their faith. There are openly gay Episcopalian priests and openly gay Reform Jewish rabbis, and these denominations (or "movement" in the case of Reform Judaism) do not regard homosexuality as a sin. Some denominations are divided even within themselves, such as the United Methodist Church. So there is a division within the "major religions" on this issue. Apparently, Rooster and others choose not to recognize the division, because of their view that scripture can only be interpreted one way and that scripture is to be applied literally. But the division nevertheless exists, and the people currently in charge of the BSA are imposing one side of the religious argument on everybody. It is, as I said before, saying that "one type of religious belief" is better than another and that the beliefs of that group of religions (denominations, movements, etc.) will be enforced to the exclusion of the other. That violates the BSA's own declaration that it is "absolutely nonsectarian" towards religious belief. And that is wrong. I also have said that the BSA "policy" (though not contained in any of the "policy" documents) is a temporary one, and some people have objected to this. Maybe I will reconsider calling it temporary if and when the gay-exclusion appears as a policy in an official BSA publication. But for now, it is temporary. One of the reasons that I do not feel compelled to leave Scouting is that I believe the BSA will eventually return to its core values as stated in the Declaration of Religious Principles, and turn away from the religious politics in which it is now mired. Rooster also says: If BSA included every religion, there would be no standards (too many contradictions between the religions). Likewise, if religion were removed from the equation, there would be no standards (no basis for the standards except personal opinion). This leads back to the discussion of whether the BSA's "values" are (and/or should be) based on religion, societal morality or a combination of both, which I do not choose to get into right now. It is sufficient to say that because the religions on which BSA values are allegedly based are in fact divided on this one issue, religion alone cannot be the basis for the standard. There is no single religious standard. Or in Rooster's terms, there already are "too many contradictions between religions" for this particular "policy" to be based in religion, or even on the Christian and Jewish religions alone. So the standard has to come from somewhere else. And where would that be? Society, which takes its moral values from a variety of religious and blends them into a societal standard of morality. Unfortunately, one this one issue, the blending has not gone so well, perhaps because religions are so divided. Society itself is divided on the issue. The result is that there is no enforceable moral standard by a nationwide organization and that a compromise is in order, allowing local standards to prevail. Of course, we have gone round-and-round about this several times, and I am considering one of those statements that sometimes crop up on the tail-end of a provocative post, i.e. "I shall no longer post about..." or "I am now going to take a break from..." I have noticed that such breaks or disappearances seldom last long. For now, I'm still here.
  16. NJCubScouter

    Patriotism in School

    I am not sure that the teaching in school has really changed that much in terms of facts, places and dates. Although it may include things that were formerly omitted (how did the Pilgrims feel, from what I have seen from my own childrens' school papers, they still do learn about Thomas Jefferson, the Civil War, Teddy Roosevelt and all the rest of it. I think the issue is not so much what kids learn in school, but what they retain. This also goes for adults. On these tests where college-age kids do so poorly, I suspect that adults of my generation would not do much better -- and we did have the historical facts drummed into our heads. I am pretty good at history, can name all the presidents in order (and the monarchs of England as well), but that is because I am interested in history, continued taking it in college when I didn't have to, and have read history as an adult. Same goes for Geography -- ask the average adult to find Afghanistan or Zimbabwe on a blank world map and see what happens. And forget about the Articles of Confederation or what the Fifth Amendment actually says, as opposed to what 3 generations of television watchers think it says. The reason, I think, is that most people today just don't care about things that they perceive as not directly affecting them. This is not limited to kids and it does not matter whether they learned it in school. Where there was once a general pride in having knowledge, I think most people only care about having the limited knowledge they need for their career or hobbies. If they read, they read novels, and if they read non-fiction, it is basically trash biographies. As for New Jersey's core curriculum standards, I think this was an issue that was taken out of context and blown out of proportion, particularly by conservative media such as the Washington Times. I don't think there was ever an intent that teachers not deal with Ben Franklin, the Mayflower, etc. It was more that they should add the other items mentioned. And I think when the issue arose, they added the "traditional" subjects back into the core curriculum standards. Those standards, which I know something about, are basically an exercise in political and legal gamesmanship, but I really don't feel like going into the intricacies of educational politics and court battles in New Jersey. By the way, Quixote, from what I remember of my own grade schooling in New Jersey (in the ancient 60s, before any of the "new ideas" in education took hold), they called it "social studies" through the 8th grade because it also included geography and some of what was then called "civics", and then in high school there were separate courses in "History" and electives in "Government." But again, not too many kids took the electives.
  17. NJCubScouter

    Religious services and Scouting

    My question is, who within a troop should be making the decision as to whether attendance at religious services is mandatory; and secondarily, who should be making the decision as to what excuses are legitimate? My understanding of "boy run" is that the boys make the rules except where there would be a violation of BSA policy; or involving health and safety issues not specified by BSA policy (but which would almost always involve interpretations of BSA documents (Guide to Safe Scouting, Safe Swim Defense, etc.) anyway; or financial matters. I know that "discipline" is a hot subject and some troops have rules approved by the troop committee, some have it approved by the boys, some a combination, some have no written rules, and so forth. However, what boys should be doing on a campout sounds to me like something that should be decided by the PLC. Shouldn't they, not an adult or the committee, be deciding whether this is a mandatory activity? Now, if they DO decide it is mandatory, I suppose the issue of what is a legitimate excuse could be left to the Scoutmaster as an interpretation of the policy. Or the PLC could further define this issue as well. If this seems like "inmates running the asylum," I thought that was the whole point: A troop isn't an asylum and the boys aren't inmates. They are supposed to be running the show, within boundaries, and this sounds like something that is inside the boundary. (Perhaps this is answered in a book or training somewhere, but I am still at the Cub Scout level where the adults make the rules. In my pack we attend twice-a-year district-wide family camping weekends where religious services are offered on Saturday evening (Catholic and nondenominational.) The issue of "who goes" is very simple, because every boy is there with at least one parent, and whether the boy attends services (or any of the other activities for that matter) is up to their own parent. Obviously this is not the case in the Boy Scouts where the parents aren't there, and if they are it is in the capacity of a troop leader and not as a parent.
  18. NJCubScouter

    Disturbing News from NY

    Thank you, sctmom, for actually reading what I wrote...
  19. NJCubScouter

    Disturbing News from NY

    Quixote says: One behavior is normal, the other is not. very simple. And that relates to whether someone should be penalized for doing what is not "normal" how, exactly?
  20. NJCubScouter

    Disturbing News from NY

    Quixote said: Whether you like it or not, there is a HUGE difference between being married and being an avowed homosexual. Didn't say there wasn't. What I did say is that there is no difference that has anything to do with what I was discussing. And since you have not said anything about the issue I was discussing, you have not really contradicted me.
  21. NJCubScouter

    Disturbing News from NY

    On Rooster's original post: I agree that this is a strange-sounding case. In reality it may be a little less strange if, as I suspect, the "at least a year" refers not to his actual sentence but to his earliest parole eligibility date. If this was in New Jersey, and he had been sentenced to 5 years (which is within the range of options for this type of offense), after credits for working in prison and "good time," his first parole eligibility date would be 12 months and about a week (I don't have the chart in front of me.) Also, I don't know what type of facilities they have in New York, but in New Jersey this guy would most likely be put in a place called the Adult Diagnostic and Treatment Center -- a special prison for sex offenders. The parole rate for ADTC inmates is much lower than for the overall prison population, and if you look only at first-eligible hearings, it is much, much lower. (Some of my work is in this area of the law.) So, if NY is anything like NJ, it is probably unlikely that he will actually get out in a year. Also under New Jersey law, if he were to be denied parole and "max out" on his sentence, he would be considered for indefinite civil committment under the Sexually Violent Predator Act. He might be a candidate for this due to the repeated acts for which he was convicted, combined with the other incidents that are not being prosecuted because the accusations are too old. As long as he has one conviction, all of the allegations against him that could be proven to a judge, even those that were not prosecuted, would be taken into account in a SVPA civil committment proceeding. Again, what NY has I am not sure. It is also not unheard of for people who have been sentenced for violent crimes to be allowed to delay their prison time, though this is very rare other than for health reasons. One justification for the "furlough" in this case might be that if he is able to wrap up his business and sell it in an orderly manner, he will have money to pay some restitution to his victim. Obviously that must be closely monitored, both financially and to make sure he has no unsupervised contact with any youth. He should not be driving a bus with Boy Scouts or any other children, and I am not sure from the quote from the story whether he will be allowed to do so. I suspect (and hope) that there is some supervision involved here that is not mentioned in the quoted story.
  22. NJCubScouter

    Disturbing News from NY

    Rooster says: I'm not an avowed heterosexual. That is to say, I don't go around telling everyone that I'm a heterosexual. First of all, I think sctmom's point was that since the Scoutmaster in question apparently was not an avowed homosexual, the anti-gay policy would not have excluded him. The issue is not whether he is heterosexual, homosexual or something else (and I think experts in the field would mostly vote for something else.) The issue is what he did, and secondarily, why the methods adopted by the BSA to prevent this (which have nothing to do with one's orientation) apparently did not work in this case. Second, the statement you are not an "avowed heterosexual" brings up an interesting issue that I believe I have mentioned somewhere around here once before. Over the years I have asked several openly gay people why it is that many gay people today feel compelled to announce their sexuality. Part of the typical answer is that we heterosexuals are constantly "announcing" or at least strongly implying our sexuality in ways we usually don't even realize. So, Rooster, since you claim not to be an avowed heterosexual, let me ask you a few questions: Do the members of your family (outside your household) know you are married to a woman? Do your friends know you are married to a woman? Do your co-workers (if any) know you are married to a woman? When you find yourself in a new job situation and one or more of your co-workers asks if you are married, and whether you have children, and their ages and names, do you refuse to answer on the grounds that this is private information? Do you have pictures of your wife and/or children in your office at work (if any)? Have you ever, in your life, held hands with your wife in public? Or made any other "public display of affection"? Now, my answers to these questions are yes, yes, yes, no, yes, yes, (and yes.) I assume the vast majority of married people (and many non-married heterosexuals in committed relationships) would answer all of these same questions the same way, possibly with some variance as to the handholding/p.d.a. question. The result is that most of us straight people are telling the world almost every day that we are oriented toward the opposite gender. Even more than that, since the vast majority of people are oriented toward the opposite gender, we don't need to make an overt statement. There is a societal assumption that a person is straight unless he/she says otherwise. It is assumed that we are straight unless we say otherwise. And your response can't be that that's ok because being married is different from being gay. The point is that since the vast majority of hetersexuals are in fact avowed, you can't criticize gays for being avowed as well.
  23. NJCubScouter

    American Heritage Girls

    Unfortunately, respect for the beliefs of others is not "in style" right now in this country (and in many other countries as well.) This isn't the 60s and 70s. So many people are convinced that their way is the only right way, that maybe the national motto should be changed to "My way or the highway." This is especially true for people who think they have "found the answer" on religion, like a few of our regular posters here. And that attitude has become reflected within the BSA, through the imposition of one type of relgious belief as the national standard for adult leaders.(This message has been edited by NJCubScouter)
  24. NJCubScouter

    Council conflict

    A bit of clarification might produce better answers for you and might also help you better understand the situation and how you might deal with it. When you say "monthly leaders meeting," are you talking about the district (or council) roundtable? Who (as in what position) is questioning you about what is going on in your unit? Is this questioning going on while you are sitting around the meeting-table with other unit leaders, or is it off on the side when you attend a meeting? Are other unit leaders similarly questioned about what is going on in their units? And, are other unit leaders joining in the questioning of you, or is it just at the commissioner/executive level? A roundtable, as I have come to understand it, is supposed to be for supplemental training and to share ideas, and to make sure everybody is up-to-speed on district/council events and activities. It is not supposed to be an opportunity to put someone on the "hot seat" in front of other unit leaders. In the roundtables I have attended, there has never been a discussion of "problems" within a unit (and I am not saying you have problems), either at the table or off on the side, unless the unit leader initiated the conversation in an attempt to get advice or assistance. Having said that, it would be a good idea for your boys to go to summer camp, but it has to be their decision. Maybe, instead of interrogating and threatening you, someone on the district level could attend your next troop meeting and give a presentation on the summer camp program, and perhaps the boys will change their minds. In my council there is a promotional video for the Cub Scout camp program (the council is paying each pack $25 or $50 to show the video at a meeting), I am not sure whether there is one for Boy Scout camp. Maybe your council has such a video that you can use.
  25. NJCubScouter

    What it really is and why it really matters

    Well, a Cub Scout camping trip seems to have gotten in the way of me keeping up with this forum, but I have finally read everything posted since Friday morning. Chances are I will never have the time to write responses to everything I would have otherwise, but there were a couple things in Rooster's latest post that jumped out at me, so I'll say something about them and maybe catch up with the rest later (or maybe not.) Rooster says: Second, we would have contradictory standards. What kind of message does that send to the Scouts? It's immoral in the Mid-West but not on the West Coast. It's okay in D.C., but not in Baltimore. Worse, it's wrong on the south side of "Smallville", but not the west side. "We" already have "contradictory standards" on this issue, as in We the People of the United States of America. And these contradictions reach down to the local level. In some states homosexual conduct remains illegal (though in some states it is prohibited by "sodomy" statutes that literally apply to certain heterosexual conduct as well, but are in practice only enforced (if at all) against gays.) In other states, it is illegal to discriminate against gays in employment or public accommodations. (It was New Jersey's statute in this regard, combined with the decision of the New Jersey Supreme Court that the Boy Scouts is a "public accommodation," that set up the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the "Dale" case.) In one state, all of the legal benefits and responsibilities of marriage are made available to committed gay couples, but instead of calling it a "marriage," the state calls it a "civil union." In another state, several municipalities prohibited discrimination against gays, while the voters of the state as a whole not only refused to do so, but attempted to nullify the local actions. (The U.S. Supreme Court declared the nullification unconstitutional in Romer vs. Evans.) Each of these groups of states and localities have made a moral statement about homosexuality, as expressed through its laws. Some states say homosexuality is immoral and will punish that immorality by law. Other states say, in effect, that it is immoral for a private employer or place of public accomodation (though privately owned) to deny participation on the basis of sexual orientation. It is implicit in such statutes that homosexuality itself is not immoral, otherwise they wouldn't prohibit employers and others from discriminating against gays. Vermont thinks it is wrong, or immoral if you will, to deny gays the benefits of marriage. Now, how does the BSA fit into all this? The BSA seeks to involve all boys. It is part of our society and culture. I know some may say that the BSA should not follow society down the drain of degradation. But my state's law against discrimination was not passed by some transvestite Hollywood actor, it was passed by the elected legislators of my state, on the whole a group of moderate-to-conservative people, to my knowledge all straight, and not given to displays of flamboyance. (And by the way, the same legislature that banned anti-gay discrimination also has tried to get prayer into schools through the back door, including a "moment of silence" that was declared unconstitutional.) So you have BSA units in states and communities that have taken drastically different approaches to the "gay issue," and often the units and councils reflect that division. It is my understanding that nine councils (most if not all from urban areas) requested that the BSA permit local option, but the BSA's current leadership rejected that request a few months ago. So if the BSA adopts a position that allows contradictory moral positions in different areas, what message does that send to the boys? It doesn't necessarily send the boys any message, because I don't think there is any need to discuss this issue with the boys one way or the other. But to the extent that the boys read the newspapers, it sends the message that our society is divided on the morality of sexual orientation. In other words, it sends the truth. We like that in the BSA, the truth, don't we? And ultimately I think if local option were adopted, the whole issue would fade away and the boys wouldn't even think about it -- unless people like you, Rooster, continued to make an issue of it. Rooster also says: Third, we would not be able to share the same facilities. We would not be able to camp together. Imagine the struggle BSA would have trying to balance that logistical nightmare. I don't think it can be done. You have absolutely no evidence for that statement. There is no reason at all why units that have an anti-gay policy could not share facilities with units that do not discriminate. (Remember, the BSA says that the anti-gay policy is NOT related to youth protection.) I suppose a small proportion of units might refuse to attend a camporee or summer camp because the unit in the next site MIGHT have an openly gay leader -- though statistically the number of openly gay leaders would be extremely small. But I doubt it would be more than a small proportion of units. One religious organization that has charters for a large number of units might become even more insular in its attitude toward Scouting than it already is; maybe it would abandon Scouting in those states where anti-discrimination would be the norm, though its numbers are probably small in those states anyway. But most day-to-day Scouters and Scouts would just go along, doing Scouting. Fact is, you wouldn't even know about the policies of the troop in the next campsite unless you did an investigation. And who wants to do that? And, although I know supporters of the temporary BSA policy absolutely hate this analogy, the argument of "we will not be able to camp together or share facilities" is exactly the same argument that was made in the late 40's against racial integration in the military. Opponents said that many white soldiers, especially in or from the South, would never share a barracks or a bunk with a black soldier. Well, once the deed was done, those white soldiers got over it, because they had no choice. Maybe a few who had the option of getting out of the military did so. But we were able to fight a war shortly after that. In the long run, the BSA would be fine, this issue would die away, and to paraphrase one of the prolific posters in this forum, everyone could get back to the business of Scouting.
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