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Everything posted by ParkMan

  1. ParkMan

    Ordeal in 31 days, oh my

    This is my thought too. My other suggestion is to focus on making the ceremony as fun and rewarding for the ceremonies team you've still got. Challenge them, but don't stress them. If it's a smaller ceremony - that's fine. Use them as your core while you rebuild.
  2. ParkMan

    Philmont Announcement - March 27

    I'm thinking this is the tradeoff of the BSA high adventure program. To make the challenge achievable by many, it has to be achievable by many different kinds of youth. I full imagine there are lots of 10-12 year olds that could easily handle the more strenuous treks. I imagine that you'll find that in general, the kind of family who is likely to do this is that same family who's kids are more likely able to handle the treks. But, once you open it up to younger youth, you dispel the notion that it's only achievable for older scouts. Even if just for maturity's sake - I think it should remain 14+. If I were a 17 year old going on my "pinnacle of Scouting" trip, I'd rather go with other older scouts.
  3. ParkMan

    Virtual Campfire

    I'm really glad to hear you're in the mend. I've had more close calls with saw blades than I care for myself. Sounds like the Scouts are having a little good natured fun at your expense.
  4. ParkMan

    New member

    Welcome @ScottishNaomi!
  5. ParkMan

    Why is so hard to find Venturing information?

    Welcome @ngoclinh23. It's not a FAQ, but I understood Venturing better after skimming the Venturing Handbook. I'm guessing that part of the reason why there isn't more info is because it's a much less structures program. Each Crew does their own thing, their own way. In theory, the variation between Crews is much greater than between troops.
  6. ParkMan

    SM Discretion on OA Elections

    I think most COs are primarily interested that the Scout program on their premises is being run in the best interest of the boys and the CO. That the Scoutmaster can't manage a simple election without a fight would be my concern.
  7. ParkMan

    SM Discretion on OA Elections

    A Scoutmaster is not king. If a Scoutmaster is acting unprofessionally - other volunteers have every right to say so. The OA election team are invited guests. They should show due respect to the SM. In turn, if the SM begins to act unprofessionally, they should walk out. But, in the end, if things escalate quickly, I full expect the OA advisor to stand up to the SM. As a CC, I place trust in the SM to lead and organize the program in a way consistent with the best culture of the CO.
  8. Yep- I'm pretty certain this is the only reason. From the GTA: Before he begins working with a merit badge counselor, however, he is to have a discussion with his unit leader. I think this is really just their way of helping to make sure this happens
  9. ParkMan


    I'm confused. You didn't tell anyone about his felony record. Did the Cubmaster tell you that he knows about it?
  10. ParkMan


    As a Committee Chair, if a parent came to me and said - my boyfriend is a convicted felon, it would give me a reason to pause. Not so much from a CYA perspective, but from a risk assessment perspective. I'd suggest giving it time. Follow their rules for a while, let them get to know him. At some point comfort and trust levels will probably be high enough that things may change. But, forcing the, issue isn't the path.
  11. ParkMan

    Is BSA Sustainable?

    @MattR I agree with you that figuring out how to fix Venturing would indeed go a long way towards fixing the problem. In my area, I see two things: 1) There is not sufficient involvement in Venture Crews. Adults often provide the organizational backbone upon which the unit program is built. Recruiting, finances, marketing, etc. They are things that Venture scouts can lead, but you need a core group of adults that provide the year to year continuity. 2) The fundamental value proposition to high school students is just not clear. I think youth of this age want to have fun, be challenged, and spend time with friends. I don't think this is happening well. Our troop does very well with recruiting. 20+ new scouts a year is not unusual. Many of brand new scouts with no scouting background. However, it is pretty rare to get a new scout in that 14-17 age range. My guess is that the reason we see few 14-17 new scouts and we see Venture crews struggle are related.
  12. Feels to me like a perfect lesson for boys in Scouting. The SM (or whomever) sees price gauging going on. Isn't this when the Scoutmaster has a talk about this with the scouts? Isn't Scouting the place where boys can fail in a safe environment? I'm reminded of the simple phrase - "Scouting is a game with a purpose". Scouting is a microcosm of life. It's not about camping, campfires, or pioneering. Those are the game - not the purpose. Let magic card games be part of the game - just make sure you leverage them to achieve the purpose.
  13. ParkMan

    Is BSA Sustainable?

    I'm sure an 11-17 year old troop can work. So too can a 11-14 and a 15-17 troop. It's not a question of what can work. This is a topic about the sustainability of the BSA's program. For years we've seen declining membership numbers. We hear numerous stories about boys becoming less active once high school starts. We've got another topic now on re-engaging older scouts. This forum has seen countless topics on how troops are mis-applying the program. You get the sense that the true "boy led" troop is a pretty rare thing We see story after story about how Venture crews struggle and often just don't work. When we talk about older boys, we hear that we need to focus on keeping them engaged. The how usually seems to be some combination of high adventure & leading the troop. Troops seem to struggle with how to do this and make it work. The answer to much of this seems to be to double down on the "boy led" program. If only we need one more training, one more nugget of knowledge from one of the Scouting founders. But for so many it seems elusive. The UK and Canada have gone to a split older scout program. I've got no idea about other countries. In the UK at least, membership appears to be growing. But, here in the US, the 11-17 Boy Scout program seem sacrosanct. Why? So, in the context of this topic on the future of the BSA, I wonder if the 11-17 year old troop is that important. Would the scouts be better served letting troops for 11-14 be a bit more adult led? Let the 11-14 year olds focus on building good patrols and the leaders on being good patrol leaders. Would we be better served letting the 15-17 year olds focus more on what they enjoy rather than trying to program to the younger scouts? Let them organize their own troop and focus on peer leadership than wrangling a bunch of 11 & 12 year olds.
  14. ParkMan

    Is BSA Sustainable?

    I'd agree with much of what you write here. But, what if we're asking the wrong question. What if it's not how to make it work - but whether we should be making it work. Yes - 11 year olds & 16 year olds will play laser tag together. But, is that really what your average 16 year old wants? You can challenge a 15 year old to develop the program to get an 11 year old to first class - but again, is that what your typical 15 year old wants? Is it that the American program is failing because it is trying to make the Scouting into a leadership lab? What if the BSA did draw a line at 14 and split the program? The older boys were forced to go to the older boy program. The younger boys were forced to go to the younger boy program. We could still do the whole boy led thing for the 11-14 group. The older boys are really just focused on leading themselves and developing their own program. High adventure, high challenge, lots of autonomy. The older boys who really like the leadership work could go and be the senior leaders/troop guides in the 11-14 program. Like den chiefs, but for the 11-14 program.
  15. ParkMan

    Combining Venturing Crews

    Agreed. One of the biggest differences I've noticed between troops and crews in our area is the lack of a vision and shared desire to succeed for Crews. Scoutmasters, Committee Members, other adults - they understand what a troop is and what needs to happen to sustain it. Funds, membership, program, etc. Crews seem to float by, lack direction, vision, etc. I'd worry that when you combine three crews into one, all you're doing is delaying things by a few years. If you really want to have a Crew, I think the CO (and by extension other adults) need to rally around the Crew. Just as you would for a troop, that Crew Committee needs to push to make sure things are moving. The Advisor needs to develop some youth leaders who really understand what it takes to lead and grow at Crew. It's not to say that adults need to lead the Crew - they should not. But there needs to be a longer term vision for that Crew so that it develops and grows. Just my .02.
  16. ParkMan

    Why Did You Leave Scouts ?

    What's we've done to help with this is we've got a focused BOR organizer. That person explains the concept to new parents and organizes a BOR such the either he/she sits on it, or another experienced person does. That helps us make sure that it's never just new parents in the room with the scout. One person who knows the ropes is always there. It has also helped us dispel the notion that a BOR is about testing. Sure, we have the Scout talk about accomplishments. We also have him go over the oath, law, etc. That latter is done so that we can have a conversation about how a scout presents himself. A newer scout we can guide to be a better job and improve. An older scout, who should know, we can talk with about making sure he is prepared. I don't think we've ever failed someone in a BOR. We might have told someone to come back if they are out of uniform. But, our purpose is not testing.
  17. ParkMan

    Is BSA Sustainable?

    Kids are going to generally gravitate towards spending time with those people who they feel at ease and comfortable with. 17 year olds live in a very different world than 11 year olds. High schoolers live in a different world than middle schoolers. Sure, they can and do spend time together - but it's different than "hanging out" with friends. I think this is the easy to say/hard to do part of Scouting. Once a 15 year old has been camping 30 times, then what? Once a 15 year old has been through the core camping skills 3 times, then what? It seems that in my troop, older Scout activities become a mix of leading the troop, some high adventure trips, and the push to Eagle. When we talk about Boy Scouting, particularly for older Scouts, it often becomes a discussion of leadership. It's as if Boy Scouts becomes a civics laboratory. I'm sure that there are many boys who thrive on that, but I expect many do not. I was looking at the UK Scouts website. In their program descriptions they have: Explorer Scouts (14–18) Explorers are encouraged to lead themselves in deciding the programme and direction of the Unit, with support and guidance from leaders. The section also includes the Young Leaders’ Scheme, where young people are able to take on a leadership role in one of the younger sections. There is wider scope for activities like offshore sailing, campaigning, performing, parascending, mountaineering and expeditions. This feels about right to me. If an older scout wants to be a leader of younger scouts - that's great. But we should be careful not to assume that's the path for all scouts. So, I'd disagree with your statement: "And I'm curious why you don't see leadership and mentoring as the challenge for the scouts." But, reword slightly and I'd agree with "And I'm curious why you don't see leadership and mentoring as the challenge for some scouts." It feels a lot to me like we know how to run a 10.5-13 year old Scout program. Camping, cooking, outdoor skills, etc. When the boys get older - some like it so much they stay. Others like to lead such things and so they stick around. But, I think lots of troops struggle with what to do for the 14-17 year olds. We try leadership - but it doesn't apply to all. We try high adventure - but then folks say - don't forget the younger guys This feels like one of those core things we struggle with.
  18. ParkMan

    Is BSA Sustainable?

    I think the key thing is having a differentiated program at each age range. In theory, a group of kids could start together as Lions and progress together. It's not so much that 6 years of Cub Scouting is bad, it's that 6 years of the same Cub Scouting with minor differences each year has a high potential to get boring. Separating them by ages lets each group take on a different feel and helps inject some newness, but it's not a guarantee. A good pack could make it feel new as well through a thought out progression, den leader change, etc. At the Boy Scout level, it's a tad different - but the same principles apply. Since Boy Scouts is boy led, keeping them together from 11-18 provides a way for boys to grow their leadership skills. It does though increase the liklihood of boredom in the older boys. It also sets up some interesting age challenges - 11 years old generally don't hang out with 17 year olds. So that becomes the challenge we all discuss so often. How do you provide the leadership and mentoring structure within the troop, but yet also have a program that is challenging and appeals to 15-18 year olds.
  19. ParkMan

    Is BSA Sustainable?

    Maybe this is the point where packs differentiate more sharply between Cubs and Webelos.
  20. ParkMan

    Why Did You Leave Scouts ?

    We do this in a BOR. At the end of the board, we tell the scout that we are done asking him questions and would like his feedback on how Scouting is going. We explain that it is quality control. In the boards I sat it on, we seemed to get pretty good feedback. While the Scoutmaster can gather similar info - it's good for the MCs to hear. It provides for some objective adults hearing it too - brings more people into the discussion.
  21. ParkMan

    Re-engaging Older Scouts

    I like this. Older scouts don't want to hear - "tonight we're going to have a lesson on ..." Build the challenge into what you do.
  22. On the GSUSA side - all adults have to be registered. The BSA is actually pretty lax on this one.
  23. ParkMan

    Adding Girls to Pack

    We tried to help everyone earn their rank award every year - regardless of when they joined. I always found that earning their rank was pretty important to most Cub Scouts. Sure they had fun participating, but they had more fun participating and earning the badge. If someone asked me to work to get these girls to their rank in a few months it would have been a no brainer. I'd have wanted that for my son.
  24. ParkMan

    Adding Girls to Pack

    I'd make sure you know the BSA YPT rules here. But as you're den leader for a den of just your daughter, maybe those rules are a bit different. Me - I'd focus on figuring out how to build a den around your daughter. I'm worried your den of one will turn into a troop of one in a year. If you need to jump packs, rally more help on recruiting, or something else - I think you need to be asking those questions. My goal would be a patrol of 10 girls your daughters age in a year.
  25. ParkMan

    Family Scouting Update

    It's not a topic for a troop meeting, but us male Scouters probably ought to get used to hearing about it. It's just a normal part of life. I do imagine the girls would be more comfortable talking with a female, but we should be careful to not make them feel awkward about it. Interesting take on the skorts though - never thought about that. I'm 100% behind uniform updates that are thought out and practical. With that in mind skorts with pockets now make sense to me. I'm curious to see what the 11-18 year old uniform updates will bring.