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wffarrell

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About wffarrell

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  1. wffarrell

    Scoutmaster Frustration

    Hello All, After a long absence from this forum I am pleased to see that is alive and well. Certainly, this group helped me as a new SM and I am eternally grateful for the help I received here. That said, yes, as SM I did sway one or two elections and definitely it's a judgement call. In both cases the boys felt good about voting for the successful candidate and the troop was strengthened as a result. In one case the candidate was very quiet, but turned out to be a great administrator and his quiet demeanor was quite different and appreciated by the boys from his predecessor who was loud and fun, but ineffective as SPL. The boys appreciated that "things got done" when D was in charge. The other case was a boy who was a bit obnoxious and disliked by a lot of boys, but he had an inner quality that came out in Scoutmaster conferences. I felt with coaching that he could bring out this quality, given the chance and motivation. Before the election I commented that I thought that A would be a good choice and, surprisingly, he was elected. About half way through is term, A blossomed, developed confidence and found that he actually had a following in the troop. Both A and D became Eagle Scouts and I don't regret steering the course. Boy led with adult supervision. I think that's the key. I'll let them cross the street by themselves but I'll hold them back if a bus is coming. It's not an easy call as SM and out of the 8 SPL's I worked with I only guided the process twice.
  2. wffarrell

    Cooking Disasters

    I was cook for the Adult Patrol. Eight adults signed up for the campout and eight "forgot" to sign up but showed up. I bought food for 8-10 and 16 were in the camp. I was cutting bananas in half, tearing tortillas into little pieces and adding many cups of water into the chili. However, far from a disaster we all ate well, did not overindulge, and I think I ended up with an onion and a can of sardines left over!
  3. wffarrell

    By-laws or policies

    Every troop is unique. Every troop has it's own history and style. I think that if a troop has "Lawyer" as a committee position, they've gone too far. Some troops operate using the Scout Oath and Law as their bylaws. Hat tip to them, I assure you! For the rest of us there needs to be further clarification. Fees and camping policies, for example, can be codified in bylaws. Reimbursement for travel, or not, how to submit expenses. Scoutmaster evaluation and succession policies may be important to some troops and not others. Whatever the bylaws or policies a troop decides to adopt, it's very important to explain them in detail to new parents when Scouts join a unit to prevent misunderstandings. In my experience I have observed that parent-parent conflicts occur more often than Scout-Scout conflicts!
  4. I'm a Roundtable Commissioner and this is an excellent question! In two words: cooking themes In another word: competition The boys will rise to the occasion given a theme and a contest. We've had great success with box ovens made out of a cardboard box and foil. They actually work and the boys cook everything from pizzas to pot roast. Cooking themes push the boys to trying new stuff and new foods. We were successful with an unlikely theme of Grilled Vegetables, but the boys really got into grilling zucchini, carrots, onions and even eggplant! And, they ate it. As adults, we lead by example and make a great show when we cook our meals. There's nothing quite as rewarding as for a young Scout to wander by and say "Wow, what smells so good?" and to show him what you're cooking and how you're doing it. These are skills that the boys will use throughout their lives. At Roundtable I would expect to learn that: 1. Cooking themes can be a fun way to teach Scouts how to cook. 2. Scouts love competition and cooking can be a sport. 3. Pop Tarts and Hotdogs are a tragedy. Please, save your Scouts!
  5. wffarrell

    Thanks, Scouters!

    Hello Scouters, I haven't been here for a while, at least as a contributor, but I have been lurking in the shadows. I decided that some thanks were in order for the help I received when I became a Scoutmaster over 3 years ago. It was a rough time for me and the advice and support that I received from Scouters here on this forum helped me find my groove, so to speak. During my tenure I graduated 22 Eagles and had countless moments that only a Scoutmaster can have. Now, I am still active in my troop but also serve as Roundtable Commissioner and Vice-Chair Program for the district. I'll be serving on staff at the World Jamboree in England this summer. So, you see, my second or third Scouting career is only starting! Who knows where it will lead? A special thanks to the Scouter "Bob White" for being the rock: stick to the program. No wiser words were ever uttered and it's the mantra I impress on my Training Chairman. Thank you Scouter dot Com and Scouters all. I'll see y'all back at camp. I've got some bisquits browning in the Dutch oven...
  6. wffarrell

    firemaking woes

    Yes, many, many, many years ago my wife and I went on a ski trip to New Mexico and stayed in a lodge with 6 other people. There was a large fireplace and split oak, but no newspaper or gas jet. None of the other adults could figure out how to start the fire and I disuaded one guy from trying to get gasoline from his car! With only my Swiss army knife and my Scout training, I had a roaring fire going in no time. Hold the applause, just throw money.
  7. wffarrell

    Have you done TJLT "campouts"

    Hello Korea Dude, I switched to the campout method of TJLT last year and have run three sessions. I created a program using the JLT material, NJLTC from Philmont and Wood Badge. It's been successful for our troop. Here's the basic blueprint. The whole weekend is planned out minute by minute. The SPL is given a peek at the "next event" only a little before it happens, much like in Wood Badge. The Leadership is divided into patrols, and with my troop it's been two patrols: North and South. On Friday night after arriving at camp the patrols are created, a leader elected and they are given the assignment to pitch camp, come up with a patrol name, yell, song, flag and a skit for the campfire. I give them each a flag kit consisting of material, pens, etc. We hold an opening campfire around 9:30 pm. Being an expert cook and cooking is my hobby and passion, I cook for the weekend so the boys and adults aren't preoccupied by that activity. It works well and the boys appreciate my fare. We conduct a variety of team building exercises, Scouting history lectures and role playing to get them prepared for the main event, which is the 6-month planning session. We rotate patrol leaders like in Wood Badge, every 4 hours or so during the weekend. They never see the schedule, rather, it is given to them during 5-minute PLC meetings after the new PL is selected. One event that is a lot of fun occurs early Saturday morning. The boys are awakened at 7am and the PL's are told that breakfast is at 8. It's already cooking and the campsite smells great. The PL's are told that they camped in the wrong spot and they must pack up and relocate across the road in a new campsite. They have 45 minutes to complete this task. I don't know about your troops, but getting my boys to break camp in an hour is a challenge, much less break camp, relocate and set up a new camp in 45 minutes. Yet in the 3 times I've done this exercise, the boys have succeeded with time to spare. This is right out of Philmont where you learn to set up camp and break camp very quickly. Finally, let me say that the only time I've had my leadership actually rapt with attention is when I discussed Baden-Powells early life and how Scouting was derived from his experiences in Africa. The boys hang on every word. However, as a leader, you must read everything you can about Baden-Powell before doing this, especially Tim Jeal's book. The boys have become pumped for leadership. I have 55 boys in my troop and 30 in leadership positions. Yes, I make a lot of use of Troop Guides, Den Chiefs and Instructors. I also created a position I call NJLT Advisor to encourage our Philmont trained scouts to contribute. It only takes an hour a week!
  8. wffarrell

    Can a axe be used safely

    Hello All, It's been a while since I posted, but this is an interesting topic. Yes, an axe can be used safely. Also true, modern camping may rely upon propane stoves that makes an axe somewhat of an historical tool. As a young Scout myself I was comfortable using an axe because I used one around the home. Not so modern city boys. I set up an axe yard whenever possible and encourage the boys to use an axe to prepare for campfires, etc. The shock of my life was a Life Scout who could not figure out how to make a tent peg out of a piece of wood. But, unlike me as a young Scout, he had never been required to do so. He always had metal pegs available. As for a bow saw, in my day you had to be Star to use a saw. It was cool to attain that rank and be able to saw a branch into firewood. Very cool. I feel the same way now, but that's me! bill
  9. I'm 52 closing in on 53. By the time I was 16 I had spent half my life in Scouting. I took a 25-year nap during college/grad school/early married life and returned to active duty when my son became a Tiger. Now, I'm a Scoutmaster, my son is Life and we both went to Philmont for the first time this summer. Each year is better than the previous one. I can't wait! bill
  10. wffarrell

    not (?) a camping troop?

    I think that in the future Scouting will have something like the video game The Sims. Let's call it The Scouts. Real Scouts will have virtual Scouts that they manipulate through advancement. There won't be any camping and troop meetings will be a bunch of Real Scouts at their laptops networked into the National Scout Simulation. As the Virtual Scouts earn their ranks, the badges will be ordered automatically through Amazon.com and FedEx'ed directly to the Scout's home. Courts of Honor will be on-line, that is, virtually. Just imagine, no heat, no humidity, no bugs, no dirt, no smoke in the eyes, no misty dawns, no herons swooping across still waters, no wind rustling through pine-scented air, no crackling campfires where you can see your very soul in the embers, no satisfaction at the end of a long day of a job well done, ahhhhh, won't it be great!
  11. wffarrell

    Really Interesting Eagle Court

    I love Houston. No, I haven't been out in the sun without my hat again. It's true. Houston is a great place to live because of its multicultural society. Our troop is very diverse representing at least 10 nationalities if not more. As SM I should know this stuff; if only I had another hour a week. Our campout cooking themes have been a lot of fun. We've had Curry Weekend, Vegetarian Weekend, and, my personal favorite, Iron Chef where I pick the theme ingredient. At our Luau campout I chose pineapple. Several patrols brought fresh pineapple. I demonstrated several dishes including an invention: pineapple-jalapeno salsa that was a real hit. Or was it real hot? One or the other. We've connected with a couple of troops in England through the Scout Net so we are sort of "twinned". We are hoping to establish links with troops in other countries, too. And regarding what "caste" can make Eagle, well this is the USA and we don't recognize a caste system. The trail to Eagle is open to all those who can make the climb.
  12. wffarrell

    So what do you do for a living?

    Web developer for a major oil company in Houston, Texas. Yippee! Scouting was a big part of my youth and I achieved Eagle with palms and Vigil Honor in the OA. I was fortunate to attend the National Jamboree in 1964 and the World Jamboree in 1967. I had a 25 year nap during college, graduate school and early married life until my son was Tiger Cub age. I should have said "I'll be back." and I would have been famous. Now, my son and I are on the trail to Eagle together and it's even more fun. I can't wait to get laid off so I can do this full time! I'm off to Philmont for the first time in a few weeks. Yes, it's true. Super scout just couldn't afford Philmont as a youth, and now with creaking knees and various aches and pains I will finally meet the Tooth of Time with my son by my side. Poke me with a fork, I'm done!
  13. wffarrell

    JLT help pls

    In our troop we conducted a traditional JLT, whatever that is, over a weekend as a lock-in arrangement. We showed the videos, went through the script, did the games and discussions and concluded with a long range planning session. After doing this a few years even I dreaded JLT because it was just so boring. So, when I became SM I decided to shake things up a bit. I combined the elements from JLT, NJLT (philmont) and Wood Badge into a customized program for our troop. I know where we are weak and I put special emphasis on those parts. Instead of the lock-in we did a weekend campout much like Wood Badge. I had a strict schedule and amazingly enough we managed to stick to it. We had a combination of lectures and discussions in the woods, some games and competitions, a couple of campfires that turned into discussions of how to make the troop operate better and, according to the boys this was the best part, I cooked all the meals for them. While I cooked dinner they had free time and I was surprised and gratified that instead of playing football or some other sport, they spent their free time planning and discussing ideas for campouts. It was a very successful weekend and we are in the process of formalizing the script and timeline for our next JLT in August. I think the kids benefit from being in the outdoors for this kind of training, rather than inside. They're inside so much with school, etc that the diverse environment is interesting to them and they aren't as bored, even when the same material is presented.
  14. Swiss Army Tool. The Victorinox version of a Leatherman. I never knew I needed it until I bought it. All tools accessible without opening it. Pliers are the most useful camp tool. Granted, I coped just fine without it and I once fixed, er, "fixed" a coffee pot with a rock but the SAT does a much more "refined" job. The saw is great. I cut a great red maple hiking staff from a fallen tree using the saw. I'd take it to Philmont, except I'd rather carry the two liters of water it weighs instead! For weekend camping, though, I can't beat it.
  15. wffarrell

    A "Sticky" Topic

    Raised in Arizona; live in Houston. Love the dry heat and the wet heat. Yes, I think that living in air conditioning sort of ruins you for the outside. I try to run every day outside at lunchtime. Just for an hour or so. I find that I can go to soccer games, camp and do outdoor things without the heat bothering me. Many of my friends wilt in the heat because they're not used to it. Also, I've learned to stay hydrated, seek the shelter of live oak trees, and to be truthful, I'm not a big fan of the beach because of lack of shade. A big part of it is attitude. I live in a hot place so I've come to expect it to be, well, hot. In Arizona it was so hot that it would rain but the rain would evaporate before it hit the ground. We only knew it was raining because the birds were wet. We occasionally had six-inch rains; rain drops six inches apart. It's so hot there that the animals have to develop special strategies to cope. The stick lizard, for example, carries a stick in its mouth as it runs along the desert. When its feet get too hot, the critter jams the stick in the ground and climbs up it to cool off. In Houston we have the fan fly. It's attracted to peppermint. If you want to cool off you pop a mint in your mouth and exhale a lot. The fan flies will be attracted and hover a few inches from your face fanning you. Great way to cool off at a soccer match.
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