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Everything posted by USMA_Eagle

  1. Thanks for the resource-- I know recruiting is a constant worry for Scouting in general, as it seems that membership is declining. A difficulty that we're having in our council is with the troops that aren't pack-fed, and we're looking for any ideas out there on how to grow troops without that natural feeder unit. Would welcome any input on that! Thanks, Paul http://www.scoutspirit.com
  2. I'll also submit a couple other solutions for this-- there's a lot of good software out there that does event management, too. A lot of it is also online and accessible, such as http://www.bigtent.com , http://www.wildapricot.com, and so on. I'll admit to being biased-- I'm interning with the non-profit developing ScoutSpirit, which has a lot of event-management functions, and Advancement tracking w/personnel records, etc., besides--but you shouldn't have to use an Excel spreadsheet when there are programs that do registration, email lists, etc. Hope that helps! Paul Lukehart http://www.scoutspirit.com
  3. Concur with Scoutfreakdad... If the boys are not using packing lists, particularly in areas where weather is a real concern (wet, cold, etc), then that's probably where the direction needs to go. Coming from a military background, packing lists were built by leadership and then inspected by lower-level leaders, and gave a great framework so that we knew that everyone had what they needed to survive and prosper. Over time, lists can be modified for continuity purposes and tailored to specific events, and can be annotated with "essential" (i.e. Scout can't go without it) and "recommended" items. The major downside to them is that you'll run into the inevitable "I don't have/can't afford this" Scout/piece of equipment, in which case you may have to have serviceable items in the Troop locker, or provide Troop funds, or do some good ol' fashioned borrowing, or just decide that the Scout can't attend that particular event. A pre-camp accountability inspection also instills ownership of the patrol in the PL, especially when he's the one reporting "All Up" to the SPL or SM. This is a good technique for teaching supervision and giving the leader a real hand in ensuring his unit's success. YIS, Paul http://www.scoutspirit.com
  4. I'm a big fan of bivouac ("bivvy") sacks generally... I've used them quite a bit, and they're great pieces of equipment. A good technique is to have one person in a group bring a tent, and the rest bring bivvys, just so if you need to provide shelter you can--but the group isn't weighed down with tents. Pros: Very light, portable, durable, and will keep you dry and warm. Great for trekking, not so much for fixed campsites. If you're doing some serious backpacking where you're moving around a lot, these are a great solution. Your mileage may vary with your tolerance for camping in the rain. Downsides: If you will be at a fixed location for a considerable amount of time, then you probably want that tent. Not for mixed-sex encampments. Not for lots and lots of wet weather. And you still need a sleeping pad or mat. I'd also go with some heavy-duty gore-tex ripstop material. I think REI has some good ones, as does Snugpak. Cheers, Paul http://www.scoutspirit.com
  5. Hi! In addition to doing some work in my District's advancement, I'm working with ScoutSpirit to design Event Planning and Unit Management software for cloud and mobile platforms, so here's a shameless plug for that... http://www.scoutspirit.com'>http://www.scoutspirit.com ... but am also interested in what everyone else is currently using as far as Scouting or Event Planning and Registration software. Is that something that's made its way into mainstream scouting yet? What sort of features do troops and councils need? Thanks for your consideration! Paul Lukehart http://www.scoutspirit.com
  6. @BadenP: I welcome the critique... Here are my sources for perusal : Regarding student loans being marketed as low-risk non-dischargeable securities, which entice students to take on debt they can't afford: http://nplusonemag.com/bad-education Notable quote: "The Project On Student Debt estimates that the average college senior in 2009 graduated with $24,000 in outstanding loans. Last August, student loans surpassed credit cards as the nations single largest source of debt, edging ever closer to $1 trillion. Yet for all the moralizing about American consumer debt by both parties, no one dares call higher education a bad investment. The nearly axiomatic good of a university degree in American society has allowed a higher education bubble to expand to the point of bursting." On validity of college as an investment for the majority of students: http://www.cracked.com/blog/the-question-youre-not-asking-should-you-go-to-college/ Which is written a bit tongue-in-cheek, but still has a large number of valid points. On 45% of students demonstrating no value gained from college: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/09/education/edlife/09books-t.html?_r=2 The implication is that those 45% would have been better off going straight to the workforce or vocational school instead of incurring the debt and opportunity cost of lack of job experience. On higher education as an investment akin to the housing bubble, due to social expectations, proxy value, and the loan structure: http://washingtonexaminer.com/node/80276 More on (lack of) value added to most college students: http://chronicle.com/article/A-Perfect-Storm-in/126451/ There are others I have not included, but after reading these I tend to agree with the conclusions that: 1) There are too many unsuitable students in college, encouraged by a social milieu that has traditionally designated a bachelor's degree as a proxy for smarts and hard work when other tests have been made legally unavailable 2) These students' educational pursuits have been unnecessarily encouraged by tuition available through loans made possible by market-distorting regulation 3) Banks and schools have an incentive to keep this going to get that low-risk loan money 4) Those students that should not be in college are being permanently damaged financially, in their job-worthiness (years in school vs years on a job), and quite possibly in their self-esteem and most future prospects by being sold on the unsuitable (for them) investment in undergraduate education 5) An undergrad degree by itself is no longer necessarily a marker of smarts and perserverance--although a degree in hard sciences from a credible school is. As always, I welcome feedback-- thanks much! Paul Lukehart http://www.scoutspirit.com
  7. This is sort of near and dear to my heart-- thanks for posting it. I think we have started to neglect the proper recognition accorded to our MoH recipients. They are real heroes. Unfortunately, media focus is not so much on them and what they have done in service to their country and fellow soldiers as it is on our military's shortcomings in other areas or on policy. I've had an opportunity to hear some Medal of Honor winners tell their stories, and read citations, and they're simply incredible. Very modest, and humble, too--but real men. Medal of Honor Archive Regards, Paul Lukehart http://www.scoutspirit.com
  8. @PackSaddle: Hm, no, not so much saying the practices were good or fair or just, particularly in the way they were used--but that the court-ordered actions afterwards had the effect of robbing companies of objective, low-cost means of measuring employee potential. So now we have bachelor's degrees from schools costing $40k/year as a legally valid means of judging individual worth--the aforementioned proxy for ability. Not the intended outcome, but an outcome nonetheless. I feel this is a tragedy that has had the effect of misleading many kids and making them believe that they HAVE to go to college to be worth a darn to an employer. Which, if you look at job pre-reqs for many employment positions, they aren't so far off in believing. Which if you follow it further, with companies prohibited from administering other than very high-correlation-to-job-duties tests, and college prestige closely linked to the cohorts admitted on tests such as the SAT, ACT, GRE, and GMAT... means that employers are still administering the same tests and hiring the same people as they would with other testing mechanisms, but just 4 years later and at considerable cost to the student. Fortunately, Peter Thiel (with his 20-Under-20 initiative, and uncollege.org, and others) and some others have started trying to open peoples' eyes to the fact that people have potential beyond what their sheepskin says. I don't think it'll take hold, because we're still too deeply bought into college as a gateway to a good life. Anyway, would love to hear your impressions. I've done a bit of reading on this topic and find it intriguing. Thanks for the reply! Paul Lukehart http://www.scoutspirit.com
  9. Not a Troop Site, but... http://www.scoutspirit.com'>http://www.scoutspirit.com It's something a buddy put together-- he was building some Scouting software services to address some needs that he saw, and came up with this. Cheers- Paul Lukehart http://www.scoutspirit.com
  10. Too many kids are indeed going to college. This is the reason that college tuition rates keep on rising-- supply and demand curves = price, etc. If more people are demanding the good, then prices will rise. This is because as a society we've decided that a college degree means that you're going to "make it." As we continue to use the Bachelor's degree as a proxy for intelligence, aptitude, and initiative, and more people who have few of those things earn it, it becomes devalued--but because it's still used as a signal, people have to continue to seek it, like in an employment arms race. This trend was started in Griggs vs. Duke Power CO where the Supreme Court obligated companies to prove a distinct relevance of a test to employment. Since employers can no longer use general IQ tests to determine aptitude, they then start looking for proxies for desirable qualities in their hiring process--of which the Bachelor's degree is one. So, because the Bachelor's used to be the mark of intelligence and ambition, it's become sought after by so many people that it's lost its original meaning--see large numbers of students in "X Studies" programs, communications, and so on. If you care to, you can dig into 4-year graduation rates and see how dismal the situation is... but it keep going, because of school loans and the financial incentives of banks and colleges to keep bringing students on. However, part of this situation that is often ignored is the easy availability of college loans, guaranteed by the government, and non-dischargeable in most bankruptcy courts. These loans encourage students who wouldn't otherwise seek out a college degree to go to school and incur massive debts, all the while enabling schools to keep raising their tuitions. I believe the total amount of school loan debt recently exceeded mortgages in the US... don't have a source for that right now though. There's been increasing popular backlash against this, but we haven't seen the bubble burst yet... Paul Lukehart http://www.scoutspirit.com
  11. Hey Everyone- Hi! I'm recently out of the Army, and started getting back into Scouting through volunteering with my local troop. I found this forum and decided that it's got a lot of good resources for dealing with the issues that Scouting Leaders frequently encounter, but don't usually have someone else to talk with about. As mentioned, my background is that I was in the Army--I went to West Point right out of high school, served as an Infantry platoon leader in Afghanistan with the 82nd Airborne, then learned Intelligence and Operations in Iraq. I'm headed back to business school in the fall, and in the meantime am helping a local district and troop in various capacities. So, thanks for your attention- I look forward to learning from you all, and with luck being able to contribute some of my experiences and background in organizations, leadership, and anything else. Don't hesitate to contact me directly if you have questions about any of my experiences or if I can contribute some value to your unit. Paul Lukehartp.lukehart@gmail.comhttp://www.scoutspirit.com
  12. I am a District Advancement Committee Chairman. I have been doing this job for about 7 months, and assumed it shortly after I got out of the Army. I am an Eagle Scout, and have worked in the Army as well as an executive in a large retail corporation. I am the guy who approves or disapproves Eagle Projects and conducts the Boards of Review. As such, when I see a project, I judge it solely by the requirement-- a Scout must Plan, Develop, and Give Leadership to others in a project beneficial to... etc. The length or size of the project is immaterial to me, as long as the Scout demonstrates all of those things. That said, there are certain requisites to Planning, Developing, and Giving Leadership. One of those things is being able to communicate effectively. Another is actually owning his own project. Another is being able to demonstrate that he developed his plan through obstacles and shortcomings and executed it himself. These are the subjective measures where I maintain control over the quality of the Eagles coming through my district. If a project is poorly presented, then this is ineffective communication and thus is not demonstrative of good planning or leadership skills. Then it is rejected for the Scout to re-look. I do look at spelling, organization, and so on, but my Bible is the Eagle Scout Project Workbook and the guidelines it sets forth. If a Scout meets the requirements, then I don't care if it takes him 20 hours or 500 to accomplish--but he's accountable for meeting all the requirements and avoiding the restrictions. There is a squishy area in there, but it is generally easy to tell whether a project has potential or not. Sometimes, I approve projects that I don't personally approve of, but which meet the requirements--this is fair and within the intent. These are the trying circumstances, but there's no way around it--short of getting National to put out more concrete guidelines on Eagle Projects. My job is to help Scouts be successful-- to ensure that they are able to meet the intent of the Eagle Scout program, and after that, ensuring that the integrity of the rank isn't polluted. As long as I am doing both of those things, I can sleep easy at night knowing that I'm doing my duty to the BSA. Paul Lukehart http://www.ScoutSpirit.com
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