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Everything posted by qwazse

  1. qwazse

    Snow Days?

    We took our kids out of school to attend a wedding in Rapid City. Son #1 was assigned a lot of journaling. He had a lot to write about. We took a drive to the Badlands one day.
  2. qwazse

    Ideas for Wood Badge gift

    We woodbadge earners are fairly simple folk. The favorite memento from my crew for my beading ceremony was a picture with the first and only venturer in my crew to earn a bronze award. Even if you get him a book, I'm sure your CM would like a picture of him with your scouts as a bookmark!
  3. qwazse

    "Pencil Whipping" Requirements

    FWIW, I also think a UC (or any of us who are friends of a unit) should critique positively when a new SM/ASM is by-the-book regarding advancement. It's likely that they are getting flack from someone for it, and if you don't voice your positive reinforcement, you may not hear that a leader may be struggling with parents on that issue. Sometimes someone from the outside can provide the necessary unified front before such parents. I've often found myself in that position, and leaders and parents have thanked me for walking them through the advancement method.
  4. qwazse

    Snow Days?

    That black soot went away with most of our steel jobs. The debate is out as to if those stacks "seeded" more than "heated" the clouds.
  5. qwazse

    Snow Days?

    Not presently, but we have in the past. Since we attend week 1 of summer camp (which is usually synced to the week after Pittsburgh Public Schools' last day) it has impacted us. Fortunately, in those years, our school district didn't take as many snow days as PPS, so it only cause problems for a minority of scouts. I can't remember how they resolved this issue. I do remember them camping with us, so either they came mid-week or were granted an early dismissal. (Being a good student comes with some perks.) For us, the serious issue is that it cuts into long weekends for backpacking, or spring break for high adventure. We just can't do last-minute camp outs on snow-days (although I'd certainly rather).
  6. qwazse

    "Pencil Whipping" Requirements

    Yes. Without question. What's at issue is how to deliver that critique. I started advising a crew after being a seasoned ASM; however, I still felt inadequate. And I felt that I had to respond quickly to things that were coming up. So, I sought out folks who could give me a blunt critique quickly. And the venturing commissioner was pretty good at laying out "must do" vs. "must stop doing" vs. "take it or leave it" advice. And for the "must stop doing", I could go back to my youth next meeting, apologize, and promise to do better. I think this SM and ASM are in a similar situation. The only question is if they will take brusk advice, if they will allow such critiques at a committee meeting, or if they need a let's-sit-and-have-a-coffee approach.
  7. qwazse

    "Pencil Whipping" Requirements

    There's a reason I called it a "challenge." No adults want to be accused of not delivering on the promise of scouting. The UC in this thread might have an advantage in that this is a new unit. He might not if these are old scouters wanting to run things "better" than their former unit did.
  8. qwazse

    "Pencil Whipping" Requirements

    @Treflienne, your daughter has some good quotes to work from! Kids usually get it. The challenge is to convince scouters that it's more fun to make good on the promise of scouting than dole out bling.
  9. qwazse

    "Pencil Whipping" Requirements

    Thicker skin, @Ranman328, please. You didn't say that they actually have the leader's sign-off in their books for "whipping and fusing." If that's the case, the UC has to come down firmly and say 3/4 of scouting is outing, and 1/2 of outing is working with fire. If it's bad outside, surely they can light candles somewhere in that church! (The kitchen?)
  10. @mrkstvns is right. It's great that you Scoutmaster is just learning "the ropes." That means he's citing the rules based on how he's read them - not how he's made it work for hundreds of scouts. If that's the case, then the best thing your son can do for this troop is ask the SM if a counselor for each of those MB's can come visit the troop, do a presentation and explain how a scout and his buddy would go about earning those badges with him/her. If the sailing camp has a representative, they might be happy to speak to this group of scouts, teach some new knots, and pitch their camp to parents. And, most Hiking MB counselors have pictures and maps of trails where they like to hike. They might even be a part of a club who holds family events. Rather than dickering over the rules, find ways for everyone to learn together. (Oh, and if your son and his buddies really like sailing, start saving. A week at Seabase might be in their future.)
  11. I think most leaders split hairs over this: How do you test that someone has hiked a hike? Or righted a capsized sailboat? If an SM has seen too many scouts just flash a sailing certificate (or affidavit of whatever requirement) at a counselor, he's likely to insist on his pick of counselors and his way of implementing requirements. Its almost worse than the "naive SM" (like @mrkstvns describes) in that the cynical SM is trying to fix a problem in other scouts that might not even pop up in the next round of scouts.
  12. @iguanita, welcome to the forums! Yes and no. Everything is more fun with a buddy anyway. But ... 1) His sailing camp might have a merit badge counselor on staff, and there just might be another scout at camp (it happens). So, he should really try to see if he can earn his MB from someone at sailing camp. That being said ... if the troop's summer camp has sailboats and he likes to sail, but the only way a scout can check out a sailboat is if he is taking the merit badge, he might just want to sign up for fun. I had one scout take Small Boat Sailing three years in a row. Never earned Eagle, but had lots of fun. 2) This depends on the Hiking MB counselor. Ideally the scout and a buddy meet with a counselor, talk about the hikes they are planning to make. Then, they implement those plans upon review with the scoutmaster. Those plans may be with the buddy, a different buddy, the scout's patrol, or the scout's family. The requirement doesn't really say who the hike should be with. (But, it is definitely more fun to do them with another scout or a patrol.) It is highly unlikely that the MB counselor will join you on any of those hikes. So, in both cases the instruction is with the buddy. But the actual doing of the requirements is on the scout.
  13. Not harder for the scout who, 5 years straight, "forgets" to check in at the aquatics area to round out that last requirement his swimming MB partial.
  14. I think it has to do with age. Younger scouts can easily earn swimming at year 1 or 2 at camp. Most are at the pool all the time at that age, so parents really want them to have that skill down. I remember at that age hiking and cycling were rough. En.Vi.Sci has been around for a lot longer. Most camps have cabins chock full teaching aids for it. I loved Lifesaving because I was also trying to advance in ARC classes at that age. And those classes provided my first real physical challenge that I thought I could overcome. My boys were indifferent about it. One did Lifesaving, the other (because he never completed swimming early on) did E. Prep.
  15. qwazse

    Merit badges for Venture and Sea Scouts

    Yep, @mashmaster. it's only a matter of the skipper being amenable to processing blue cards. The only down side, I imagine, is if half the crew can be awarded MB's because they were in Scouts BSA, and half can't, and that bothers the youth. I've never known anything like that to bother youth. But, it's a big country.
  16. qwazse

    First Year Scouts Should Parents Attend

    I detailed why camp was good for me, because, if someone else would feel refreshed by the same things that refreshed me, it might be good for them too, as it was for me. It might just be the smart thing to do. Do we really want a potential ASM to miss out on spending a lot of time fishing, meeting staff, getting to know troop leadership, taking any available adult training, landing a bullseye when the archery range is free, hiking, training for the mile swim, helping some other troops' first years learn to swim, fishing ... just because he's afraid of his son's motivation? There is a false dichotomy of "keeping distance" and "camping with your son". Camp is not a 4x4 cell. Parents often have an impression that camping with a troop will be like cub resident camp. That if you're there, you'll be assign to tag along with your son or his patrol. Nothing could be further from the truth. Now, for the parent who can't help himself and wants to stay on his boy's case constantly, that's a culture shock. But for the parent who's been waiting for the boy to really take off on his own, it's a rewarding thing to see. But if it helps, I'll qualify my opinion: Talk to the kid. Ask "Are you doing this just to please your folks?" If he replies "Don't be stupid, Dad!" Then your idea is likely dumb.
  17. qwazse

    "Pencil Whipping" Requirements

    Yep, this is one of those situations where the UC could definitely help ... even if it's by showing up with a half-dozen frayed ropes asking, "Hey, since I saw that you learned this ..." Meanwhile pull the SM/ASM aside and ask if the girls told them their desired agenda for the next two meetings and next event. (In other words, ask what the adults learned from those SMC's.) Most of the Scout Rank requirements would be demonstrated in those 1st 15 minutes. So, that's when he needs to be there. If thinks aren't looking sharp, he could also drop that as a goal going forward. I would be slow to call out "high-speed low-drag" until I saw that scouts weren't remembering basic things like Oath, Law, square-knots, and their patrol yell.
  18. qwazse

    Can a CO profit off a unit?

    I would tell the CO, that if the $1000 is becoming a burden, they should keep it. Then, I would suggest that they should cut a deal with the scouts (and any other group) that for each month when that group volunteers, $85 will go to the to their treasury. Is only $85 a night worth it to the committee? It depends. Are there other advantages to getting scouts "front and center" in uniform in public slinging burgers and sausage once a month? Can the scouts serving get a free meal? Are you just a Pack? Or, Pack + Troop + Crew? If my crew were sponsored by this CO, I might take them up on it. We'd arrange to have our officers' meeting that night, pass out recruiting flyers, and maybe even flash a slide show of recent activities.
  19. qwazse


    One of the first times my SM volunteered to come to a crew event with me, he volunteered to transport ... thinking that he'd wind up with a car full of the boys ... since they basically knew the drill and he was, after all, their SM. (As you might guess already, I'm not to map out these details in advance.) Well, sure enough, come departure time (which involved the complexity of roof-top carriers, etc ...), the boys piled in my car and the girls in his! The terrified look on his face was one of those precious crew advisor moments that will stay with me forever. It wound up being one of his better four hour drives to camp. The young women were truly great, as I knew they would be. I would never let YPT hype rob us of what is right and good in the world.
  20. qwazse

    Proud of our ceremonies team

    Crossover dog-and-pony shows are nice, but what really will be net positives for O/A? I think most will involve broader troop issues ... Allow the use of sash-racks. (I.e., everyone stop griping at scouts folding sashes over their belts.) Make sure 1st Class means skill mastery. Only hold elections at camp. Usually by day 2 the younger scouts can pick the roses from the thorns. Do serious Indian Lore at camp. That includes inviting Native Americans to join the camp staff. Leverage the opening to female ordeals to talk about women, culture, and family. Look for your troop's O/A rep at roundtable (or wherever your chapter meets). If he's not there, let him know your troop isn't getting the representation it deserves.
  21. qwazse

    Merit badges for Venture and Sea Scouts

    That's new. Thanks T-Bird! There you have it, Mash. Loophole closed.
  22. qwazse

    "Pencil Whipping" Requirements

    Timing oneself is a good idea. But, if many of the new scouts are 16 year old venturers, camp staff, or girl scouts, I would suggest that "kid factor" will be less than 1. They are very efficient at making sure everyone is on the same page. Keep in mind that "Group Identity" is a method of venturing. Most folks relate that to uniforming. But in application it comes down to making sure everyone knows the ideals and by-laws of the group. As time goes on, and older scouts get busy doing other things, and younger scouts have more interest adventure and fellowship than advancement, then you get that lag that we normally see in most crossovers.
  23. qwazse

    How should I help my boy?

    Is that distinction fading? Or is one arm of the organization not aware of the other? Continue the discussion here:
  24. I do agree with you that the SM went overboard on the "this is how it's gonna be" line. With any sudden influx of members (like I said, I've been in the middle of three) a little humility goes a long way. He would have been better to admit, "We're gonna have to flex, this is our plan A, we think it will work, but we're open to improvement." As to the funds. When I was Advising my crew, I used separate accounts because there were some wannabe watchdogs who feared troop funds being drained. That kept the peace, but towards the end, the troop could have used those crew surpluses. Not the other way around. So, it took a while to get everyone settled on writing them the check that closed the crew account. Chances are if these new scouts are all they're cracked up to be, they'll be putting in their share of time at the sales tables -- especially if some of the parents are wary to join that fundraiser. I suspect these girls are going to need a little autonomy to get down the advancement trail like they want. So, for that reason alone, I'd have them use their own bank account. But, even there, the troop treasurer may have preferred to operate in a consolidated fashion at least for now.
  25. So, you think I should take the time to let every parent know that if there were girls interested in starting a unit, the CO would let them do it under the same roof as ours? Even if there aren't any such girls? Isn't that a form of stirring up hype, where poor @mashmaster want's it to settle down? Should I also let them know that we'd take on boys from outside our district if they'd ask? If immigrants/refugees settled here, we'd welcome their boys? That we'll start a crew up again as soon as a few of the boys and their girlfreinds ask? What other hypotheticals should I disclose? And then, if I were a parent, what would I do with that information? Go find a troop who's CO solemnly swears they won't let membership scenario X happen - at least until my kid ages out? Does beascout have a special color pin for units like that? In the past year, the only scheme of mine that I made sure everyone knew about was World Scout Jamboree ... because 1) I thought it was cool, 2) I wanted to make sure interested scouts didn't miss out, 3) I made a solid commitment and wanted fellow scouters (both Advisors and SM's) know that my leadership time would be spread a little thin for a while. For anything else where only the 1st criteria was met, you would have had to be around a campfire with me to hear about it.