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Student

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  1. Hello, Trevorum. I've used both types extensively and here are my thoughts... 1. Internal-frame packs look much more "high-tech" than those old-time external-frame packs. When it comes to style, internal-frame wins every time. 2. The internal-frame packs generally consist of a single large pocket, accessible from the top, while the external-frame packs generally have numerous pockets, accessible from the top, sides, and rear of the pack ("rear" meaning the side opposite the shoulder straps). So the internal-frame can carry much larger items, but numerous stuff-sacks are necessary if the hiker is going to keep his or her gear in some semblance of order. (This also means that the heaviest objects in the pack tend to migrate downward over the miles.) 3. Internal-frame packs are usually narrower in width, to allow the hiker's arms a larger range of movement. For climbing and cross-country skiing, where the arms swing far back, this is quite important. External-frames still allow rearward arm movement, but not as much. 4. External-frame packs are great for clipping, lashing, and strapping gear onto the frame. The internal-frame packs (at least the older ones) don't have so many tie-down points, and the points they have may not efficiently transfer the load to the frame. I'd much rather lash that wet and muddy towel or boots to the outside of my external-frame pack than put them in a stuff sack inside my internal-frame. 5. The internal-frame packs have lighter frames that tend to not have cross-pieces, and therefore the hiker can flex his or her shoulders more than an external-frame will allow. My practice is to go with the internal-frame when I'm mountaineering or skiing and with the external-frame when I'm on the trail. The design of the internal-frame packs received a lot of attention a few years ago, and in the last couple of years the external-frame packs seem to have caught up. Overall, I'd have to say the difference between the two types of packs is much less significant than the difference betwenn a well-fitted and a poorly fitted pack. There's a ton of information in the book "The Complete Walker" (4th ed.) by Colin Fletcher and Chip Rawlins that might be helpful. Also, rei.com may be helpful. I hope you have an awesome season getting ready for Philmont! Student
  2. Student

    Get Off My Honor: A Review

    Merlyn_LeRoy, is the ACLU declining to accept court-authorized payments? I was under the impression they accepted payment awards and contributions and they paid their lawyers. "Free" is what you do as a volunteer Scouter. NJCubScouter, thank you for your explanation of how the funding process works. What is unfortunate about the process is that while the ACLU may receive cash if they prevail, they are not penalized if they fail. However, their target IS penalized, because the target had to pay legal fees and take time from other work to defend itself. So the ACLU can file lawsuits knowing that some percentage of the suits will succeed and the ACLU will receive funds from these (sort of like pricing a stock option). On the other hand, the target will either (1) lose, based on the court's decision, or (2) lose, due to the time and expense of its defense. And that is not fair. Student
  3. Student

    Get Off My Honor: A Review

    "Get Off My Honor" is, by far, the most rigorous review and analysis of the activities of the anti-BSA groups in print. I commend Mr. Zeiger for the considerable amount of research he conducted and for the clarity of his editorial position. His argument is compelling, and I found myself getting upset (again) at the various special-interest groups attacking the Scouts. (Side comment: how many hours is the ACLU spending in service projects this year?) One aspect I found quite fascinating was the review of some of the internal BSA responses to the opposition, such as policy changes by individual councils. Mr. Zeiger wraps up the book with useful suggestions for supporting the BSA. One suggestion he did not list is to attack the source of the funding of the ACLU (by amending USC Section 1988 so that fees are not awarded to the ACLU or any other plaintiff in Establisment Clause cases--in summary, this entails a change in U.S. law so that the ACLU is not automatically paid by the federal government each time the ACLU files a "violation of rights" case of the type being filed against BSA.) As will undoubtedly be mentioned in most reviews (and as I will do here), Mr. Zeiger is 20 years old and is presently a student at Hillsdale College. Wow! Mr. Zeiger, you rock! Student
  4. Student

    Games/Activities to teach compass skills to cubs?

    We've had success with an indoor compass game that teaches the concept of following a bearing. Working in a large room (we use a school cafeteria), the leader prepares for the game by taping small pieces of paper on the walls, perhaps ten feet apart and at eye level. Each paper has a single letter on it, small enough that the letter cannot be read from a distance. The leader then prepares an index card for each Scout or team, listing a sequence of bearings to be followed (each team having different instructions). Each bearing leads to one of the pieces of paper. This would look something like this: "1. Start at east doorway. Follow bearing of 200 degrees. 2. Follow bearing of 35 degrees. 3. Follow bearing of 160 degrees..." Next to each instruction is an empty square or underlined space. When the Scout reaches the paper, he writes down the letter. He then follows his next instruction to the next letter. As he goes through the course, his letters will begin to spell something out. (Just be sure to make the last few letters unpredictable, to prevent any shortcuts.) In our experience, the boys get quite excited to find out their hidden message. For older boys (especially Boy Scouts), we do this with declination included. For the Cubs, that's not necessary, and would probably be overkill. Hope this helps. Student
  5. Student

    fundraising for troops

    I'd echo madkins007's recommendation of Dave and Kathy Lynn's youth fundraising book. The book has a large number of ideas, and some of them are a scream! The Lynns make two particularly salient points: 1. Units should distinguish between raising cash from current members of their organization or from outside sources/customers. I know parents in our unit get tired of buying the boys' latest product. 2. The fundraising effort should support the organization's other goals. For example, Scouts selling lightbulbs door-to-door don't have the same experience as Scouts selling birdhouses they have designed and built. Having said all that, we've had particular success with pancake breakfasts at area schools just before large sporting events (approximately $2,000 in revenue) and large--really large--rummage sales, where an entire school parking lot is filled with goods for sale. The rummage sale requires a lot of storage space to hold the sale items over the six months or so that material accumulates before the sale. Good luck on your fundraising. Please let us all know how you do! Student
  6. Student

    What if we DID drop uniforms?

    If you will forgive an edited reposting of a comment previously made in a different thread... Have you ever noticed that when an adult begins an exercise program, he or she starts wearing athletic apparel--a sweatshirt, perhaps, or a sweatsuit, along with fancy shoes? Sometimes it's just for that brisk walk around the neighborhood and sometimes it's for hours around the house before and after. It's part of the perceived process of becoming a fit person. By putting on that athletic uniform, the individual is "becoming" what he or she has selected as their goal. This has been known for years by marketers of consumer products, who sell to who people want to be, rather than to who they are now. We (the unit leadership) need to position the uniform as a sign of an exclusive fraternity of young men. It isn't available to everybody. The people that wear it climb mountains, save lives, travel effortlessly through trackless wilderness, help their neighbors, rescue children. It is only worn by those who have taken on substantial responsibilities having significant outcomes. Student
  7. Student

    BSA orienteering

    As we all know, orienteering skills need to be demonstrated for rank advancement and for the Orienteering merit badge. To improve their map and compass skills, some Scout units participate in orienteering contests. These contests are developed by individual Scout units, councils, and camps, and the U.S. Orienteering Federation (www.us.orienteering.org) runs a large number of events nationwide. At least one website focuses on Scout orienteering events (www.scoutorienteering.com). Now to my question. We are preparing to host a council-wide orienteering competition, and we must choose between the maps and symbols traditionally used by Scouts (namely, 7.5' USGS topographic maps) and those used by competitive orienteers (orienteering maps based on the USGS topo sheets but at a finer scale with additional land features added). The maps are similar but the symbols are a bit different. Do you have any recommendations as to which is best? For that matter, do you have any other advice to give about Scout orienteering competitions? Student
  8. Student

    The Adult Leader Deficit

    That certainly makes sense, bbng. One consequence would seem to be that change in units is driven internally rather than from external forces. We can't make "those guys in that unit over there" do better, but we can influence what happens in our own units. Student
  9. Student

    The Adult Leader Deficit

    One negative factor seems to be the significant amount of ego in the leadership of some units. Some individuals want to hang on to their position as CM, SM, CC, or SA regardless of their abilities or performance or the growth (shrinkage) of the unit. They get to wear their uniforms and be important. Unfortunately, this drives away other potential volunteers who see that their time could be spent more productively elsewhere. Of course, it also drives Scouts away.
  10. Student

    volunteerism decline?

    Mr. Prairie_Scouter, I believe many of us feel your pain ("I question my own role as a leader because of the amount of time it takes away from the rest of my family. The burden becomes even more because of the difficulty in getting other people to help"). You're obviously committed to the success of your program and are willing to put in the extra effort to get tasks accomplished that otherwise are left undone. I hope your family supports your commitment and what is at stake for the boys in your unit who might otherwise miss the positive influence of Scouting. Over the last year, as part of a personal strategic project to dramatically improve our troop and Scouting membership in our district, I've been studying other (non-BSA) social organizations that have been successful in attracting new members and leaders. I have not found many "voluntary activity" success stories, but one group that seems to be quite effective are some of the new non-denominational churches. Arguably the most widely publicized of these is Saddleback Community Church, in southern California. I undoubtedly have my numbers wrong, but they currently have something like 25,000 members--not bad, considering they have only been in existence for 20 years or so. They reached 15,000 members before having a building of their own, and have seeded something like 100 new churches. So they might be on to something... Conveniently, the founder and pastor of the church, Rick Warren, wrote a book in 1995, "The Purpose-Driven Church", that addresses in detail the methods he and his volunteers used in building the organization. He makes a number of points that are directly applicable to Scouting, but the one that struck me as I read this thread was that a significant portion of his work is training the "senior" volunteers. And then asking them to make specific, detailed commitments--in writing--to accomplish their jobs as specified. In fact, he aks for written commitments from all new members of the church and from members as they reach new levels of involvement. This requirement would appear to drive people away, but Warren reports it actually increased the number of new members and volunteer leaders. Without adding requirements beyond those mandated by BSA, perhaps we as Scout leaders need to change our emphasis slightly, to spend more time developing the adult organization of our units. To begin, perhaps we should ask for specific commitments. Several results might follow: - The adult volunteer will understand the importance of his or her area of responsibility and the need to execute his or her duties with skill. I suspect more adults will step forward if their work has a high level of significance (rather than being just another "warm body in the room"). Given a defined scope for their work, many volunteers will rise to a higher level of performance. Peer pressure may also be a factor. - Training takes on a new and much greater importance. - As the numbers of trained leaders increase, the unit leadership can back off from many of the operational details required to keep the unit running. This should free up a significant amount of time to work with the Scouts or the adults. - The Scouts are not forgotten, of course. "Boy-run" continues to apply. With additional committed adult leadership, more opportunities may open up for the Scouts because the Scouts have new resources (significant adult expertise) available to them. The Scouts don't all have to wait in line to talk to the Scoutmaster any more. Also, a pool of potential future unit leaders exists. Some of the committed leaders may eventually form units of their own. - As momentum builds, attracting new Scouts and new adult volunteers becomes easier. People want to be on the winning team. The bottom-line suggestion, then, is that we raise rather than lower the bar when it comes to volunteer help. And that we do this by clearly establishing expectations and obtaining specific commitments. We're rolling this out in our troop at the current time--I'll let you all know how it goes if you would like. Student
  11. Student

    Is Boy Scouting Too Loosey-Goosey?

    Isn't this the same issue the education folks are contending with as they debate raising school standards?
  12. Student

    Is Boy Scouting Too Loosey-Goosey?

    Mr. DanK's initial post mentioned that in a free market poor troops would die off and good troops would grow and prosper. This will of course happen to the extent that information is easily and publicly available about these troops, so that families could join or move from weak to strong troops and troop leaders (adults and PLC) could compare their units with their "competition". Mr. OldGreyEagle's accreditation gets after this. It communicates information about the unit that wasn't previously available to potential new members. The Quality Unit designation does the same sort of thing, but it has not (at least in the councils I am familiar with) been used except as an internal metric. Is anybody using QU as a marketing tool to grow their unit? (I mention growth of the unit because it seems at this point to be the best overall measure of unit performance available, and it is certainly quantifiable.) Would the easiest manner of getting this sort of information out be for units to publicize it themselves? A unit's recognition(s) could be included in recruiting materials and messages. Of course, the weak units will often not see such messages--after all, the leaders of such unit either do not care or are unaware, and certainly are not engaged in conversations such as this one. But potential new members and Scouts in weak units might. An aggressive unit with a strong, dynamic program is more likely to get such facts out to the public than a withdrawn, withering unit. Perhaps we should be doing this deliberately. (There's a corollary: Without good information aggressively going out to the pool of potential new Scouts, the reputation of one weak unit might be interpreted as the status quo--"that's what all Scout units are like"--and boys may be cut off from Scouting in its entirety.) Student
  13. Student

    How do you get the kids to wear the uniform?

    Have you ever noticed that when an adult begins an exercise program, he or she starts wearing athletic apparel--a sweatshirt, perhaps, or a sweatsuit, along with fancy shoes? Sometimes it's just for that brisk walk around the neighborhood and sometimes it's for hours around the house before and after. It's part of the perceived process of becoming a fit person. By putting on that athletic uniform, the individual is "becoming" what he or she has selected as their goal. This has been known for years by marketers of consumer products, who sell to who people want to be, rather than to who they are now. Perhaps we (the unit leadership) need to position the uniform as a sign of an exclusive fraternity of young men. It isn't available to everybody. The people that wear it climb mountains, save lives, travel effortlessly through trackless wilderness, help their neighbors, rescue children. Its wearers do much. And much is expected.
  14. Student

    Annoyed, Vexed and becoming Upset.

    Perhaps one reason Scouting comes out second in scheduling conflicts is the year-round nature of our program. The boys can always come back to Scouts after their soccer/swimming/football/baseball season is over. (Solution: excellent activities every month that the boys really, really don't want to miss.) Building on this is the common practice of denying youth "starting positions" on game day if they missed a practice.
  15. Student

    Troop By-laws

    I have not heard of any situations in government where passing more laws increased the freedom of the governed. One of the unfortunate effects of by-laws is that by-laws limit both the individual Scouts and the troop. By-laws are never written to enable the troop or a Scout to do bigger, bolder things than it or he had ever done before. Instead, they are written to prevent something from happening. They protect adults from having to take a stand or represent an ideal. From the discomfort of trying something that hasn't been done before. From having to tolerate the sometimes-sloppy-but-well-intentioned activities of a boy-run troop. But what a loss! Ignoring the time and emotion spent by adults writing and arguing over each of the bylaw's lines--time and energy that could instead be directed to working directly with the Scouts--there is a huge loss of the flexibility and latitude that is critical to the personal growth of the Scouts and the troop. It is critical the Scouts be able to try new projects and activities in order to grow. It is critical the Scouts have an expanding vision of the future rather than a limited (and limiting) concept of maintaining the status quo. Throwing away a Scout's dreams is far too high a price to pay for the comfort of some adults. Student
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