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About smalltroopSM

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  1. There are already plenty of electronic guidebooks out there to help with stargazing, tree identification, and the like. How about something along the lines of a reasonable national troop database that you can address with any internet-savvy device and keep track of troop records, camp registrations, advancement, training, etc. Really help the SM/CM's in their work! Dreaming on......(This message has been edited by smalltroopsm)
  2. As long as it shows respect and teaches the boys, not to mention breaking the boredom, why not? Have the boys (SPL/PLC) decide how they wish to handle it and carry it out. You might be pleasantly surprised.
  3. I have done some software development in the distant past. It appears to me that most of what BSA has done along that line is about where we were in 1985-86. Maybe a good thing they decided to hire a Chief Information Officer as in the video. Maybe not, too. Usually those guys are a lot of talk and no action. Scouting needs a strategic plan to service the needs of the volunteers, then execute. Paying a lot of money for executive horsepower doesn't seem to have worked up to now! Maybe they need to get on Scouter Network and ask what we need......won't hold my breath!
  4. Just finished signing the troop up for summer camp using a web-based package (apparently commercial) called "Campersoft 2005." Absolutely one of the worst applications I have ever used for this type thing. Took me 3 hours to sign up 8 scouts - yuck!! Signed most of them up twice, the rest three times. At least it works somewhat with my Safari Browser, which is better than all of the recent BSA software I have tried, like Internet Advancement, etc. You might think with all of the smart folks involved in scouting that we could at least get reasonable web-based stuff on a national level (developed for national and distributed to the councils with iPhone app plug-ins, etc.), but not so in my experience. I guess these folks don't see it as important that the SM/CM's be able to do the job in reasonable time. Not to mention the poor people who don't do scouting every day trying to get a little info. Even the council databases are unstable, keeping lots of garbage and dropping a lot of important stuff, like merit badge records. I sure don't need a bunch of cub scout records on a scout who has been in boy scouts two years, but I get them on every report. So far, Scouter Network seems to fulfill a great communication function. I hope the policy guys are on here, because they are losing a lot of opportunities in electronic media with garbage interfaces and sorry applications. Not everybody out here is behind the times, but BSA needs some serious help. Maybe put the recent college grads in application development and the folks with a little more maturity in the DE slots?
  5. I buy my ASM's the Harbor Freight variety for Christmas every year and engrave them (Job well done, year troop #, etc). The anodized finish is great for this after you screw up two or three. Those go to me and I use them till next year, but not on night hikes! Oh, No!! That would be sacrilege!! Also I am not allowed to shine them in my scouts' eyes as they do me all the time! They are cheap and I have proven they will survive a trip under the tire of a very heavy 4X4 Ford, long as it's off-road. Also just the right size to hold in your mouth and knock out your teeth as you try to sweat connect the water lines back together at scout camp in the dark. Why is this necessary? Maybe better not get into that - council politics, you know. Seriously, though, for the money you cannot go wrong on cheap LED's. For backpacking get the best and smallest headlamp you can afford and pray you never really need it. Once again, it will be storing dead batteries and corroded terminals for you, and that spare set of batteries? That is why scouting backpacks have zippered pockets on the outside - to spill those dead batteries on the ground in the rain. Boys are required to carry the biggest, clumsiest, and brightest flashlight they can afford! It's a wonder we don't have to carry a car battery for them!
  6. Hmmmm!? Seems like it's all a matter of what are you doing. Moose antlers don't fit on my internal Kelty, but it holds everything for a week-long hike. Think about this, though. Most of us don't average over a day or two a year strapped to a load of stuff on our back, so whatever you buy, it better fit you because you will never change to fit it! A vote for the Kelty: I mistakenly ran over it with the scout trailer last year and I just bent the spring steel bars back into shape and kept on packin. Bought it for Philmont in '08 and have left it packed ever since. The squeaks just let me know that I am still walking and haven't died on the trail! My externals are loaners for new scouts and stolen by my Eagle son to build equipment packs for his job. You see, this might all pay off one day. Good scouting and keep packin!
  7. Good info and some fine suggestions. Seems, as always, that one like this depends a lot on the folks involved. My own experience suggests maneuvering around the District/Council staff involvement any way you can. They usually have a tendency to muck it up and cost you a lot of unnecessary time and effort. I have carried in my SM notebook (and am now carrying) a lot of crossover registration forms already filled out and signed so the boys can be Boy Scouts while they wait on some laggard adults to get the AoL ceremony fulfilled. Makes the parents feel good, and that is worth a lot. Good SM's know how to make the system work for them, even when it is stacked the other way! We're here for the boys. Let the rest of it ride on someone else! Every DE worth his salt would want you to preserve that unit. What?! They want to cut their own throat? Fat chance! Maybe take care of it your own way and keep the DE in the loop. Hate the expression, but a "Win/Win" might be possible! If you want to soar with the Eagles, you have to get above the crows!! (This message has been edited by smalltroopsm)
  8. Great job! Keep up the good work. Started our troop 10 years ago and had all the same hassles, worries, etc. Keep the Patrol Method foremost and remember this is for the boys. Everything becomes fairly routine if you handle it that way. And get some sleep! Remember, "It's only an hour a week." Kidding! One thing I did right was not trying to do it all myself. Sure, boy led troop, but recruit a trusted ASM to look after each patrol and help them solve the problems, learn the skills, etc. Not do it for them! And DON'T let the PL's Dad be that person. No nepotism here. Keep a healthy separation. The boy did not join scouting to have to teach other kids to "ignore dad like I do."
  9. And what is a MBC? Just a human with maybe a little extra knowledge of a particular subject. Second the other guys opinions about new scouts and merit badges. Give him a little time. As he moves through TF, SC, and FC, you will see his interest pick up. Encourage it! Merit Badges are meant to help a boy get a quick look at a variety of subjects, some of which could be possible career paths. Ranging from obviously elementary (Swimming and First Aid) to much more complex (Family Life and Personal Management), they tend to be sort of a side program which seems not to lend itself to any particular order. This is great because the Badges of Rank program is very exacting in requirements and the boys need an outlet lending itself to more free form expression. Merit Badges are typically taught in the troop, at camps, at home, and by out-of-home counselors. And the best part is the SM awards the badge, so he has a real say in what is going on with the scout. Our troop uses adult leaders, boy leaders (each SPL is required to teach at least one Merit Badge to the troop), outside experts (Aviation at Letourneau University, Fire Safety at the fire department, etc.), camp counselors, and parents with the SM's permission. That is a pretty wide range of talent, with a snafu now and then, but overall very good results. Our typical Eagle Scout has around 40 MB's. We also have a process of approval: The MB counselor signs and dates the front page of the work, regardless of the format, then the SM checks it and awards the badge. Out of maybe 500 MB's, I have sent back only a couple that had glaring deficiencies! Maybe a rough process, but it seems to work, and we have yet to have an Eagle candidate unprepared for a BOR. Merit Badges seem to be just the ticket to being prepared.
  10. Some great stuff in this discussion. But while some of you were waxing eloquent about our scouting predecessors, you were ignoring the real reason we do all of this. BOY LEADERSHIP TRAINING! Of course a small troop needs a SPL. Ever been to a summer camp or Camporee that did not have a meeting of the SM's and SPL's? Somebody needs to wear the patch and take responsibility for the troop. And that, my friends, will do more to teach the boy leadership than anything any of us will be able to accomplish. The PLC is just a small part of the SPL job, and is an important interface for the adult leadership. If your troop is all young scouts, this will take a lot of coaching. Want to take it a step further and watch this really flourish? Have your PL's elected by the boys and give the SPL patch to the kid who needs it most - the budding Eagle candidate - who needs the troop at his behest to do an Eagle Project and teach him how to truly lead others over whom he has no authority other than his badge of rank. If you have no current Life Scouts, pick the next likely one. We give our Eagles a TG patch and expect adult judgement from them. Seldom disappointed. And you should see the knot competition when one of those Eagle TG's takes a patrol of Tenderfoot Scouts and challenges the Star Scouts! The number of patrols in a small troop is unimportant. Roll with the flow - some kids need smaller groups, others get along in a bunch! Just make sure the patrols are boy led with a seasoned scouter close by to prevent "Lord of the Flies" from breaking out. Am there - doing that for 10 years. It Works!
  11. Great question, but not easy to answer. I always ask a newbie to just be an unassigned Committee Member until we get to know them better. Had many disappointing experiences with "experts" straight off the street, including getting the application back from the Council with a felony No-go stamp. Better to be safe than sorry! Most troop and pack positions are optional, with the possible exception of Committee Chair and SM. Those two positions need your best and most experienced. Try temporary assignments to find strengths and weaknesses. If training is done well, by the end of one year a new member will be able to take the helm, or have proven inabilities that will keep them in the shadows permanently. Everyone loves a title, but fulfilling the responsibility is another story!
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