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About RMcCown

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  1. RMcCown

    Burning out

    FScouter: Maybe my message isn't clear enough, I did ramble a bit. We DONT have a fundraising chair, an outing chair, an equipment chair, or a webmaster. All of this has been falling on myself and the ASMs. The TC chair and I have TRIED to recruit people, but nobody is interested. That's our problem.
  2. RMcCown

    Burning out

    Howdy folks I'd like to start a discussion on how to avoid burning out when you don't have enough volunteers to do much of the heavy lifting. First, my own history and where our Troop is. We have about 65 registered/45 active scouts. I'm the SM, I have 3 ASMs, and one of them is also TC Chair. We have about 3 or 4 trip honchos that help out once in a while, and maybe half a dozen parents that go on trips occasionally. We have a treasurer, MB coordinator, and a permitting/training coordinator. Our advancement chair works 'once in a while' (translation, maybe once a month). Thats all for positions we've been able to fill. I've tried for two years to get a fundraising chair, an Outing chair, and an Equipment chair, to no avail. The heavy lifting for this falls on myself, my ASM/TC Chair, and the other two ASMs. Consequently, its not getting done like it should. I just spent a bunch of time with the QM going over gear, trying to figure out what we need. Our troop is boy-led (it wasn't, but we turned that battleship around over about 3 years!) so we don't have interference, more the contrary, we don't have enough volunteers to get stuff done. Currently, I'm honcho for our Philmont Trip, and for 4 of the training hikes coming up. I'm also coordinating the Eagle COH we're having in a couple of weeks. I'm also in charge of Troopmaster, and I'm the Webmaster for our site. I've been working with the town's Natural resources commission for various projects around town. All this combined with the normal SM stuff of mentoring, guiding, etc etc. In a nutshell, we're drowning. One of my ASMs is being deployed in the fall, so Ill lose him. I've asked a couple of involved parents (dads and a moms) if they'd be interested in being an ASM, or on the TC, but all have said that they're too busy. We've put out a general cry for help a number of times in the last year, and only managed to get a honcho or two for a trip. No long term committment. What does the Great Scouter.com Brain Trust have for advice? YIS Bob McCown Scoutmaster, Troop 132, Concord MA
  3. RMcCown

    "Light Responsibility" Positions

    To answer some questions: scoutingagain: In short, yes. We have "POR Blue Cards", which describe the position, and are regularly tracked (Every couple of months). All of the boys in POR were 'mid-term reviewed' a couple of months ago. One of the 'problems' that I inherited becoming SM is a 'non-PL type positions get pencilwhipped' syndrome. i.e. we had a bugler that never buguled, but got through his Star and Life SM conference no problem (Before my time). Now what I'm dealing with, but not TOO much, is the feeling from some of the older parents of "this never mattered before, why are you giving my son such a hard time?". I'm lucky to have a TC Chair who was one of my ASMs until a few months ago, and we think alike on the whole Scouting Ideals. He's going to address this in the next TC meeting with the parents, and I'm going to spend a bit of time with all the PORs in the next two weeks going over their cards (again). I love this job, but you couldn't pay me to do it sometimes.
  4. RMcCown

    "Light Responsibility" Positions

    A great thread, and addresses an issue I'm facing right now. Tuesday I had a SM conference with a First Class scout, who is QM, and he hasn't been doing his QM-ly duties much. Gear from the lockers hasn't been signed out consistently, and stuff that gets taken out during the Troop meetings hasnt been signed out AT ALL. The conference went OK, he agreed that he needs a bit more time in the position (I said no more than 60 days), but his dad sent me a rather scathing email along the lines of "That will put him 3 months over the required time for the position". I'm now trying to figure out how to best address the dad's feelings.
  5. RMcCown


    Howdy all You may have seen my infrequent posts, asking some questions, or lamenting an adult-run Troop. Well, I've got good news. But first, some backstory. When my son, now 14, crossed over into the troop, I was impressed by the lip service and 'rah rah' the scouting program was given by the then leadership of the troop. They did outings, merit badges, camp, all that. Sounded great. In less than a year, my wife and I realized one of two things, either 1) scouting change a heck of a lot since I was a scout in the early 70's, or 2) these parents were way to involved in the troop. I volunteered to be an ASM, and my wife dove into being MB coordinator. She left after a year, due to the prevalent "Im going to offer this merit badge only to my son, and the other 3 boys that need it right now" attitude. The committee chair and the rest of the board was basically rubber-stamping anything the Scoutmaster wanted done. After a year, we realized that my son had crossed over into Webelos 3. No PLCs were being held, there were no patrols besides in name, and the meetings were an unorganized mess. A couple other dads got involved as ASMs as well, and we all started talking to other Scoutmaster and members of council, finding out things we just didnt plain know. I started attending roundtables, and bringing stuff back into the troop, only to be ignored, or given a 'thats nice' pat on the head. In frustration, 18 months ago, I told them I was leaving the troop. The committed, and the SM asked why, and I held no punches. We were so far off Scouting's path, that I didnt think we could get there within my son's scouting career. We had many meetings, and it turns out the SM had never gone to position training, and wasnt really aware of what to do, so he just took over. He wanted to stop being SM anyway, so they offered the position to me. I told them Id take it, but that I wasnt interested in being in an adult lead troop. Id train the boys (since the older guys didnt know what to do), that Id be willing to do hands-on for a while, but the boys HAD to run the show. Well, last January I was made SM. We already had been having PLCs this past year, and those were going ok. Not great, but ok. But in the last 8 months things have really turned around. We had 26 boys at summer camp (a record for us, usually a dozen or so), and had over 140 merit badges. We also sent 6 guys to Eagle week (never done that at ALL), and we just had our first boy-run Planning meeting for the year. A great success. I sent out my first email of the scouting year to everyone tonight, and it feels good to be part of a troop that is going in the right direction. It took a couple years to turn us around, but we're headed on the right course now. This September we're having our first troop-run position training, and we're tracking our PORs with 'leadership blue cards'. All in all, we're doing ok. A lot of it is due to things I've read on the forums here. Thanks for reading my ramble! YIS -=Bob McCown Scoutmaster, Troop 132, Concord MA
  6. RMcCown

    The SPL

    In the last few months, I've become SM, and started going minutes. We never did them before, and theyre one of the 'neat things' I remember as a scout. i started with a lot of the classics, or some good ones I found around the web (wear your labels, etc). But lately (in managing some troop-wide behaviour issues) I've been doing them more along the lines of "what's the 5th part of the scout law, and what does it mean?" kind of items. Last night, I did a bit about the SPL. Here it is, as best I can recall. Who can tell me why Sam here is SPL? [various murmurs of 'he's cool', etc, until one scout said 'we elected him'] Right, you elected him. Where did he come from? Did we order him from the SPL factory? Did aliens beam him down to lead the troop? Did he transfer in from another troop where he was already an SPL? [more murmurs, until one scout said 'he was a scout like me'.] Exactly, he was a scout just like you. For the last two years Sam was guide to the New Scout patrol, and did a great job at it. Before that, he was an APL, just like some of you guys. Before that, he was Second Class, Tenderfoot, Scout, Weeb Crossover, just like you. He's been trying different ways to get the talking down, to get you to line up smoothly, and move the program along at a good pace every Tuesday. Sam here is a Scout just like you, and, before you know it, some of you will be up here, trying to get the rest of you to stop talking out of turn. Treat Sam the way you want to be treated, because in a few months, one of you is going to be up here, as frustrated as he is with the talking and lack of cooperation.
  7. Howdy I read GernBlansten's post about his Troop being a "Webelos III", and it appears that his troop mirrors what mine is going through. First, some history. When my son crossed over, they most definately WERE a camping and badge club. There was ZERO leadership from the boys, all positions were for the sake of advancement. One year they graduated 5 Eagles out of 6 boys. I knew there was somethign wrong with the troop, but any concerns I ever raised about what was going on was met with resistance, or downright "You cant deny my son becoming an Eagle Scout!" anger. Within a year, I was asked to help out, first by honchoing trips, and, then by becoming an ASM. I went to various trainings, and 'saw the light' as to the correct way to do things. As an ASM, with help from another, like-minded ASM, and a SM that wasnt quite sure what direction to go, we started 'turning the battleship'. It hasnt been easy, and we've lost a lot of the older boys, specifically because 'things have gotten harder' with their leadership roles. This past year, I was asked to take over as SM, and this past January I took the reigns. Along with a new SPL, and a handful of new PLs, I'm completing the turn to be a "boy run" troop. We've had regular PLCs, and, though they're not always pretty, the boys do most of the planning. The adult roles at the PLC is advisor. Same goes for Troop meetings. But, its still a hard row to hoe. Lots of the boys have been in the troop for several years, and are resisting the change by being passive-agressive (i.e. disruptive, but not overly so, just slowing things down). But, they never said the job would be easy.
  8. RMcCown

    Scouts that aren't into Scouting

    Thanks for the replies. The main 'culprit' is a First Class scout, though how he got through his SM conferences is beyond me (that was before my time in the barrel). He shows *zero* interest in participating in the meetings. He approached the former SM and myself about getting a leadership position in the troop "so I can get my next rank" (he's run, and failed to get, a PL position during patrol elections). We told him, tiwce so far, that to be a good leader, you need to be a good follower, and show some interest in supporting his patrol and the troop. He nods and says 'OK', and then reverts right back to being not interested. This past summer camp he was actually detremental to a degree. We had a fairly extensive service project for our campsite, and he didnt participate at ALL (whereas the other 16 guys put in a total of 140+ hours). At the end of camp myself and the other ASM at camp talked to him, and his mom, about his attitude, and that he needs to be either in or out, but not disruptive. He sat on that for the rest of the summer, and before the start of school, we contacted his mom to ask what he thought about what we said, and if he was interested in persuing Scouting as an activity. We got an email back from his mom, and I quote "Yes he has expressed a strong intention to continue in scouting and to advance to Eagle. He has also expressed a desire to be part of troop leadership." Which, of course, went nowhere. This weekend is our Winter Skills campout (55f in Januaruy in Massachusetts?) and he expressed interest in showing the younger guys how to use a Dutch oven. This past troop meeting, he said "No, Ive decided I dont want to do that, Im not going on the campout" Now that its my turn at the helm, and he's continued to be 'out' and minorly disruptive at troop meetings, I feel that its time for a heart-to-heart with him, his mom, and my ASM.
  9. Howdy We have a couple of boys who, for reasons unknown to us, aren't interested in 'being scouts'. They don't participate willingly in a lot of the mechanisms of the Troop meetings, they barely go on any outings, and aren't showing any of the SMs any scout spirit. Having talked with the boy, and then with the boy and his parents, he SAYS he's interested in being a scout, but he just refuses to show it. The other SMs and I think its the "do you want to play piano?" question; he wants to because his parents want it. As far as the other SMs and I are concerned, he's welcome to come along as long as he's not disruptive, but he's already caused problems at last summer's camp, and in our eyes he's on thin ice anyway. Any suggestions on how to get this guy in or out? YIS -=Bob
  10. ...or maybe a minute and a half... Next tuesday, at our winter COH, our old SM steps down, and I take the reigns. I've been doing the Scoutmaster Minute for the last few months, and I'd like to do one this time and touch on some issues we're having. They're mostly along the lines of "Safe Haven". A few examples. When we're teaching lashings, invariably, there are a few scouts that take a stave and start doing kung-fu moves with it. They're stopped and talked to, but it'll happen again with another scout sometime later, or the next week. Or, we'll have 'hat stealing keep-away' before the pre-opening, or, which happened tonite, we had one scout grab another Scout's shirt. I separated them, talked to them both, told them it didnt matter if it was fun or not, that kind of behaviour isnt acceptable. Now that I'm going to be in the driver's seat, Id like to come down hard on this kind of garbage, without coming across as a control freak. Paraphrasing the whole 'safe haven' idea is a start, but how can I let the boys, and their parents, that we're about to have a zero tolerance policy for that kind of stuff? -=Bob
  11. RMcCown

    Now I've gone and done it

    Thanks for the congratulations, and the advice. I know this is something I *really* want to do. When I first became ASM, and went to Leader Specific training, I was asked "Why are you here?". I said I wanted to learn how to be an effective Scout leader. "But why? Why do you care about 40 boys that you barely know?". After some back and forth, it came down to, for me, that these boys have shown interest in something I liked when I was a kid, and I feel its my duty, as their leader, to be able to give to them the same quality of Scouting experience I had 30 years ago. I've never before had the feeling of "This is something I need to do". Teaching a 12 year old how to tie a bowline on a bight, or some other knot, seeing the puzzlement and frustration on his face as he practices it again and again, and, then, finally, seeing him use it on a campout for something. THATS one of the greatest feelings of accomplishment Ive ever felt, for something so simple I can do it in the dark. Our Troop has thrashed back and forth the past year. We were headed to become an Eagle-for-resumes Troop, then we had half our Troop Committee resign for various reasons this past spring. The boys wern't getting the leadership training or direction they needed. Late spring/early summer direction changes, and an incredible-for-me experience at summer camp, plus a great Venture trip to Catalina Island in August, has given the boys, and the adults, renewed direction and energy. The current SM, and us two ASMs have taken another step back, away from being so involved in 'driving' the Troop, and the new SPL and ASPLs are doing 95% of the troop meeting planning and execution. We have better deadlines for campouts than "the tuesday before the campout, who is going, and what food?" we had before. We've balanced the patrols out nicely, and our attendence is up and steady. In the words of my son, after this past Tuesday's meeting: "We're a lot better than last year, but I think we could be a lot better still". I think that sums it up nicely.
  12. First a little personal background. I was a scout when I was a kid, and loved it. I didn't advance far (there didnt seem to be this big "push" for advancement like there seems to be now), but I was in for a long time. My son is 13, and been in Scouting since Tiger. During Cubs, I was on the sideline mostly, though I did help out with the Pinewood Derby every year, and the occasional outing. About 2 years ago, the Scoutmaster for the Troop made an announcement that he'd like a couple of dedicated adults to take on the role of ASM under him. Myself and another dad stepped in, and we've been ASMs since, gone to training, and generally tried to turn our troop around from adult-lead to boy-lead. It's slow going, but this year we've made great strides toward that. Now, the SM wants to step down, and my name has filtered to the top of the list as replacements. In a moment of weakness, I said yes. It'll be a transition period of a couple months, but by December, I'll be in the saddle. I'd welcome any advice from the masses.
  13. RMcCown

    Getting a Troop back on course

    Therein lies some of the problem. >Did the SM conduct an annual planning conference with the boys? No, PLCs were an unknown until this past December. >If not, then why did the committee let the program move forward without an annual plan? Because the SM said that we could have a "good enough" troop without all the advanced planning. >Is the committee outings and activities person handling the logistics of troop outings? Yes. >Does the committee advancement person come to troop meetings occasionally to work with the troop scribe and patrol leaders about the advancement status of the boys? Is the committee treasurer working with the troop scribe? Not generally, though the SM/ASMs get a report occasionally on advancement. Its generally fallen on my shoulders to insure Troopmaster and the boys scout books match. We don't have a scribe. >Is the committee equipment coordinator working with the troop quartermaster? We don't have a committee equip coordinator. Requests for equipment come from the SM or troop quartermaster, and generally are paid for out of pocket, though sometimes out of the troop expenses. Usually equipment failures/missing/etc are noticed when we're getting equipment from the lockers the day of a trip.
  14. RMcCown

    Getting a Troop back on course

    Thanks for the encouragement, all. Ive been reading through the forums, and it doesnt seem like our problems are insurmountable. I think we just have to take things one step at a time, with a lot of handholding. We'll see how the SM reacts, but there is enough support for being 100% by the book that I dont think he'll have much choice. The WB course is coming up in about 3 weeks. I definately have a good choice of things to put on my ticket. No boredom for me. Right now, we're trying to get JLT in-house. Council hasnt had one for a while, the last 2 were canceled. We may even try and do our own. -=Bob
  15. First, some background. My son crossed over into the troop 2 years ago. At that time, I attended the orientation meetings with the SM/TC, and liked what I heard about the troop (heavy on camping, lots of service projects, etc). My son got his Scout rank within a couple weeks, and attended camp that summer. All seemed well. But, by last March, though, it was obvious 'something' was amiss. There had only been one camping outing during the year, and that was only for one night. My son hadn't advanced at all beyond Scout, either. About the same time, the SM put out a notice that he'd like some people to step up and help out as ASMs, so I threw my hat into the ring. I attended summer camp last year, and started working with the new guys. I started to get training last fall, and from the training, it was obvious that we wern't a boy-run troop. We aren't even a Troop-lead troop. We're an adult-lead troop. A handful of us new ASMs went to position-specific training last November. I even signed up to do this spring's Wood Badge. We all came back with a lot of enthusaism, having talked to other SM/ASMs, and learned tons of information about the patrol method, boy-lead troops, the whole 9 yards. When we presented this info to the SM/TC, the SM basically told us "Yes, thats nice, but I dont think our boys can do that". The SPL relies on the SM to come up with the plan for the troop meetings. The meetings dont have any real form, though this has been getting better in the last few months. There is almost NO advanced planning for outings. Boys have no idea week-to-week what they are going to be doing at the troop meetings. Outings are last-minute-quick-get-gear-out on saturday mornings. At meetings, the Venture scouts hang out up on stage in the hall, while the other troops work on skills, or play a game. There is a big disconnect between the older guys, and younger guys. This past week, its come to a head. At the TC meeting on tuesday, about 3/4 of the TC tendered their resignations at the end of this scout year, citing lack of organization. We're down from 43 paid scouts in september, to 10-15 showing up at meetings. Last night, myself, the other active ASM, and the 2 TC co-chairs, spent several hours discussing what, if anything, we can do to salvage the troop. We all agreed that we *HAVE* to embrace the BSA method of running meetings, and running a troop. Both myself and the other ASM agree that neither of us want to put any more energy into a troop thats not a Boy Scout troop. We're now trying to figure out how to proceed from here, without feeling disloyal (A Scout is Loyal) to our SM. Has anyone gone through something similar, or have any sage advice? YIS -=Bob