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Posts posted by Woodsmith

  1. I knew you guys were going to jump all over me about "the tent not being the main problem" -- but I already recognized that and alluded as much in my initial post. I am taking over as SM in a couple weeks and training the leaders is my primary goal (naturally) -- but I wondered if I was out of line in limiting the size of tents...


    Thanks for all the feedback!

  2. Quick question --

    Do any of you have any troop policies regarding the size of, or number of Scouts sleeping in one tent?


    We've had a problem with one of the older boys bringing an 8-man tent -- and then packing it with at least that many boys. This becomes a big hangout for the "boy leaders" and they invariably spend most of the night hootin and hollerin...


    My thought -- other than making sure the boy leaders have better things to do (like leading!), is to set a maximum tent size -- or at least limit the number of occupants.


    Anybody else have any experience with this kind of situation?



  3. UncleGuinea: "Just a couple of rhetorical questions to get your minds working.

    Do you consider your position (s) in Scouting to be as important to you as the boy's positions in Scouting are, or should be, to them?

    What is your term limit?

    How would you feel if someone told you, 'you can do this job for six months and then never again?'"

    UncleG -- I know you said they were rhetorical questions -- but you bring up some interesting points, so I'd like to answer anyway.

    Yes, I consider my position very important -- yes, I would hope that the boys take their position seriously too (some do, others ... not so much) -- no, I have no specific term limit (other than sticking it out for as long as my sanity or wife will let me) -- and, of course, I would not appreciate being told I could only hold the position for six months.

    Now -- reality -- 1) A Scoutmaster position is in no way comparable to that of a Patrol Leader -- other than they both are part of the BSA program.  Hopefully I don't have to list the differences I see.  2)  If there were a line of qualified adults waiting to take over as Scoutmaster (oops, we were talking reality here...), I might be happy to step aside and give others their shot. But, 3) a Scoutmaster could not hope to accomplish a tremendous amount within just six months -- and neither can a first-time Patrol Leader be fully trained and acclimated to his position within that time. And, 4)  I never suggested six months -- or even one year -- as an ideal term limit for a Scout in a "leadership" position.

  4. Dan:"Before I could give anymore suggestions, I need to know. Are YOU going to let them vote for SPL and PLS? At the next election?"


    Actually, I am to address the PLC within the hour -- this is how I intend to begin:

    "I dont want to scare you, thinking that I am going to make a lot of changes and shake things up with a lot of new ideas because I do intend to make a lot of changes and shake things up but with a lot of old ideas. Those ideas that have been part of the Scouting program for almost 100 years. Much of the Boy Scout program has been tweaked and modified hopefully improved -- over the decades, but fundamentally it is the same. This program has been carefully prepared and it is my charge as Scoutmaster to see the Eight Methods of Scouting delivered to every boy in the Troop not just my version of Scouting.

    Do any of you guys have a problem with me running the Troop? No? Well, I do! A Boy Scout Troop is intended to be Boy Run. (blah blah blah here)"

  5. Bob and Dan --

    I really don't want to create any more rules -- just an effective argument against having the same person hold a leadership position for too extended a period (whatever that is). Our Scribe has been the same for 3 years. The Historian and Quartermaster about the same. Now the Patrol Leaders are into their second year (at least, heck --they may have been a PL before I became involved with the Troop) in that position.


    I guess this is a situation where I should just butt out, huh? I suppose I should be happy that I have such strong and willing Patrol Leaders -- and be wary what I could get if they stepped down -- but I'd just like to see the others get a chance to see what they can do.


    Another question -- Scouts are all about developing leadership qualities, character and good citizenship -- but many of the boys are quite content to let the other boys take the leadership positions. I know roles like Scribe and Historian are considered "leadership" positions sufficient to satisfy rank requirements -- but what's the best way to encourage the guys to step forward and test their mettle?

  6. I guess my biggest problem stems from the fact that the PLs were selected by the SM and CC (an issue well covered on another thread) -- and I am stepping in as SM just AFTER a the latest round of "elections". The PLs that were chosen were undeniably the most trained, most qualified, most responsible bunch of boys in the Troop -- but I still don't think they should be Patrol Leaders -- AGAIN. The Powers That Be (or at least, the Powers That WERE) felt that the boys next in line are not ready for such a responsible role.


    It is my feeling that just about any boy can learn to be a quality PL, and as Scoutmaster, it is one of my primary duties to help train these Junior Leaders.


    Now, I recognize that not every boy will become the ideal PL, and some boys are stubbornly resistant to training, and it may become necessary for the APL, SPL and the SM to take steps to ensure the other Patrol members don't start dropping out because of the "bad apple" PL -- but I still feel it is the right of any qualified Scout that wishes it to be given the opportunity to see what kind of a leader he can be (and likewise, for his Patrol members to see what kind of a leader he is -- perhaps causing them to take the election more seriously the next time).


    Plus, we have too large a Troop to have the top leadership positions "hogged" by a select (literally) few.


    I also think that these already-proven leaders, given the chance, will make excellent mentors for their new replacements.


    Anybody see any flaws or omissions in my thinking before I gird for battle on this issue?



  7. I have not found anywhere where BSA states how many terms in succession a Scout may retain the same leadership position -- whether that's SPL, Patrol Leader, Scribe, Historian, etc. Is there a guideline for that?


    In my opinion, Scouts that have already held the position of Patrol Leader (for example) for one year need to move on. It is my understanding Boy Scouts is designed to develop leadership skills in boys. Boys that have held such a position already know how to lead a Patrol (or whatever duty they're responsible for) and should now be in the position to help teach the next Scout ready to step in to the role.


    Obviously, my Troop thus far has no limits on the number of times you can be re-elected (or re-chosen, as the case may be) and it irks me a little (a lot).

  8. Thanks guys --

    We have our Annual Planning meeting coming up soon -- the first that I will be observing -- and I plan to implement your suggestions and open better lines of communication between SM (soon to be me) and the PLC so we can address any issues and increase participation. Wish me luck!

  9. "17 Scouts out of over 80?

    This ought to be looked at as a red flag?"

    Yes, indeed.


    "Not so long ago you posted that you had 25 new Scouts are you using the NSP? Do you have an annual plan?"

    Yes and yes. (actually, it is more like 30 New Scouts)


    "If possible you might want to see if your Council is offering a JLTC course this summer and see if some of your Scouts can attend."

    All the current PLC members are Green Bar trained -- we have 4 more Scouts attending JLT next week.


    "There is a very big difference when the PLC plans the event and when the PLC approves the event."

    I am seeing that -- that is what I hope to address at the next PLC meeting -- it may be that we will have to let go of some "Favorite" annual trips of some of the adults to better address what the boys really want, hopefully increased "ownership" of the schedule will increase participation...

  10. Yes, they plan the events -- for the most part -- some of the events have "fixed" dates, such as the Camp-o-ree. Some are annual/traditional events -- the schedule is planned far in advance, so I doubt the boys really know what conflicts to expect -- except dates that are close to the usual school obligations (exams, sporting events). Some outing locations must be reserved a year in advance, which makes changing things to accomodate schedules tricky.

  11. I apologize if this subject has been addressed before -- I did not see it. I come from a large Troop (over 80 boys) and for 3 out of the last four campouts we have only had ONE or less member of the PLC present. Usually it's a Patrol Leader who has to be temporarily promoted to SPL. This weekend we have 17 boys attending, NO PLC or "Senior" Scouts -- only 3 are 1st Class, 4 are 2nd Class and the rest are New Scouts. The PLC selects, or at least approves, the outings and activities -- and profess enthusiasm -- but at campout the roster is lacking.

    I intend to address the PLC at their next meeting and see if they have any ideas as to what can be done to increase participation. We've only been trying to really utilize the Patrol Method over the last year -- but it makes it rather difficult if there are no leaders to lead.

    Any advice/suggestions before I confront the guys?

  12. FOG wrote:"Nothing wrong with shows either. Just a campfire without the fire. The important thing is that people are getting up and performing."


    Right -- I was less concerned about the actual burning of stuff in the Campfire Program than I was the "Program" element!

    I don't understand why Scouts would ever need to PAY a performer to entertain the kids -- from my experience, just asking the audience if anyone would like to perform a skit provides ample entertainment -- at least it used to....

  13. Our Troop participated in our Camporee -- a good time was had by all, but I came away a little dumbfounded...

    Instead of the traditional Saturday evening Campfire with OA Tapout -- the itinerary stated: 8-8:30pm -- OA Tapout in Pavilion 9, 8:30-10pm -- Live Entertainment in Pavilion 10


    I asked the boy who was in charge of planning the event (a slightly overwhelmed 13-year old) why there wasn't a campfire program listed. He told me "Boy Scouts don't do campfires so much any more -- now they're more into 'shows'."


    That evening, though there had been a chance of rain -- none was to be found -- neither was a campfire... The Tapout proceeded with respectable ceremony and then the mass of boys (34 troops were present) proceeded to the next pavilion where they were entertained by a PAID performer (who started off his performance letting it slip he thought he was to entertain Tiger Cubs -- BIG difference!). Anyway, by 9pm the boys started wandering back to their campsites -- the whole "entertainment" segment lasted 30 minutes instead of 90... No skits, no songs... no campfire.


    Please tell me this was an anomaly! Campfires are really here to stay -- right??

  14. I thought I had a pretty long list of songs (not that I ever sang them in Scouts -- I got them from my long-time Scouter Dad -- we used to sing em around the family campfire), but I don't know Boy Scout Sunday School -- and I don't see it at the scoutsongs link... anyone help here?

    Also -- I grew up with "Green Grow the Rushes Ho" -- anyone have an explanation behind the lyrics? I know there must be a significant religious story there, but I'm not making the connection...

  15. Thanks again Fboisseau --

    Good suggestioins -- and I had to laugh when I neared the end of your comment -- I had JUST sat down after returning from the Scout Shop after picking up the latest SM Handbook (had several old ones), SPL Handbook, PL Handbook, Troop Committee Guide -- gotta keep those guys in their place ;) -- and the Scoutmaster's Junior Leader Training Kit. Looks like I have some homework to do....

  16. Thanks for the feedback -- this issue seems to be one where the CC and I butt heads. He strongly believes we need to get a list of all the boys and divvy them up into 6 or 7 or however many patrols that are each consistent and equitable. And he has very logical, eloquent, and persuasive reasons for this.

    I would like to leave more of the decision to the NSP boys as to where they would like to go (among the existing regular patrols) or whether they'd prefer to stick together and form their own patrol.

    The problem I have with their being absorbed by the regular patrols is a question of numbers. The reg patrols are filled to capacity right now, allowing for some to move up to the Venture patrol and a couple to drop out as is bound to happen, that still only leaves 3 or 4 openings in each of the four patrols -- and I have 25 NSP Scouts!

  17. I know y'all have beat this New Patrol/Mixed-Age issue into the ground -- but I need to bring it up again...

    I am an ASM from a large Troop -- there are four regular patrols, each with 8-10 members, and a "Venture" Patrol with about 6-7 guys. Last month we had about 25 new boys cross-over from 3 different Packs.

    Ideally, as I understand it, these new guys should be split into four different NSPs (or even five) with a Troop Guide for each and an ASM or two asigned to them. Four or Five NSPs??? Yipes! As is typical, our older Scouts are involved in many other things (High School, sports, etc) so coming up with the necessary 4-5 TGs that are willing, and capable is a definite problem.

    But we'll figure it out -- that's not the reason for my post... Last year we began earnestly implementing the "Patrol Method" (not too good for a 55 year-old Troop), and to start things right, the Scoutmaster and CC selected the Patrol Leaders (4) and then had the PLs choose up their patrols in a way that ensured there would be an even mix of ages represented. It has worked well, though we still have a ways to go before we are a properly functioning Boy Lead Troop using the Patrol Method -- but we're getting there...

    With so many NSPs, they cannot be absorbed into the existing patrols, which are already maxed out. My concern is -- after Summer Camp, the SM and CC plan to take the NSPs (which is currently two large patrols) and the four regular patrols and mix them up and extract 6 or 7 new mixed-age patrols. To me, this starting from scratch again totally obliterates any patrol loyalty and sense of "team" that has been created over the year. I believe the boys would be better served to stay in their existing patrols and upgrade the NSPs to regular when they are ready.

    (I am taking over as SM -- so my opinion will count -- but I don't wish to start things with a power struggle).

    Any thoughts/opinions/advice? Thanks!

  18. As a recent (litle over a year ago) crossover Dad from Cubs to Scouts (and a Den Leader for five years) I was really looking forward to sitting back and letting the boys "run things". As many former Cubbers know -- this cutting loose the boys is easier said than done.


    It's hard not to be in there helping the guys when you've been doing it for several years -- and they are also used to having you help them.


    Then I remembered one thing my Dad had told me (he was a regular Woodbadge Staffer -- and I was just a kid). The Woodbadge staff would always carry around their walking staffs -- which were often festooned with carvings, or fancy knot-work, or Scouting memorabilia -- not because they wanted to show off, or because they needed assistance with walking -- but because it gave them something to fill their hands, making it more difficult to come to the Scouts aid and show them how to do something when the boy should be doing the work himself. Also, it served as a natural pointer, so some helpful directions could be given if needed, while still staying a good distance away.

    I still think it's a great idea... and I must say, today it is much easier for me to let the boys do things for themselves (but I am still having an ongoing battle with other well-meaning, but interfering parents).

  19. First off -- I just want to say how great I think this forum is! It's like a (very large) group of like-minded old far-- er, fogeys -- sitting around a campfire discussing anything and everything remotely related to Scouts (yeah, yeah, I know there's a lot of you young Scouts in the Forum too -- more power to ya!).


    I was involved in Scouting in one way or another since before I can remember -- my father was a Scoutmaster as soon as he was old enough (21). By the time I had made it up to the Boy Scouts, he was above the Troop level -- a perennial Wood Badge staff instructor. He had a office at home that was a Boy Scout museum to die for!


    As for me -- my adult BSA career is nowhere near as impressive as many of you. I was a den leader for 5 years (receiving the Trailblazer Award) -- and became an ASM a little over a year ago, when my son crossed-over to Scouts. In a couple months I will become SM. I told the Committee I had planned to lurk in the background a couple years before I "took over", guess I better learn fast...


    Hence the reason as to why I like this forum so much. With my impending SM position, I have many questions and concerns about the position, and especially about how the troop is run versus how I feel it should be run. We have been working hard to re-establish a proper Patrol Method-system within the troop, but still have a ways to go. The many threads on the subject and others such as "Patrol Spirit" and SPL Elections have been very helpful to me.

    Keep up the good -- and beneficial -- work!

  20. I am also in Bob White's camp on this. The boys of our Troop elect the SPL from a list of "qualified" (and willing) candidates. Currently, the PLs are selected by our SM and overzealous CC. I hope to change this deviation from the official Scout way once I take over the reins in a few months (as SM).


    One way to avoid electing an inappropriate or ineffective SPL is to be VERY clear to the boys -- BEFORE the elections -- exactly what are the responsibilities and expectations of the SPL. This is important for those doing the voting as well as the candidates themselves. It has been my experience, that sometimes boys that the adults would have pegged as true "leadership" material have turned out to be anything but -- and some boys that have "goofball" written all over them are exposed as true leaders when responsibility is foisted upon them. Training, support and encouragement make a lot of diffence in the quality of an SPL.

    Let the boys choose -- and give the "undesirable" choice a chance to prove himself!

  21. Well, it looks like I came to the right place with my tales of woe!


    Thanks to all of you for the excellent feedback -- it is right in line with my thinking, but it helps to have it reinforced by others -- and expressed in a logical and eloquent manner.


    I plan to have a little sit-down with the CC, and discuss things much the way MikeF proposes. I sure don't want to alienate the CC -- he's a great guy and has been very good for the troop. Quite possibly it is just as Mike suggested -- that he will be quite willing to step aside once the SM (me) asserts himself into the role the CC has felt obligated to fill. Hopefully, he will then be able to focus his attention on the Committee -- and I will do my best to help the SPL lead the troop (with the CC's valuable assistance -- in the background) and we'll all be happy campers.

  22. My Troop has a Committee Chairman who has taken it upon himself to reinstate some semblance of a "Patrol Method" into the program. This is a very good and needed thing, as things had rather degraded over the years, and the Scoutmaster -- a fine and gentle leader -- had let things slide, often tending to lean towards what was "easier" for the boys -- and adults -- rather than what would benefit the boys most.

    But I digress... I am soon to become the Scoutmaster of this Troop (in a few months), and I am concerned there may be some confusion amongst the boys as to whom is in authority -- the Scoutmaster or th CC. The CC often speaks out at meetings; giving reminders on expected/proper behavior and imparting life lessons to them. He also pulls PLC individuals aside to offer guidance and evaluations.

    Now, many of you might not think this is a bad thing, and might suggest I count my blessings to have someone so interested (and capable) working with the boys. But I have also heard grumblings from the boys that he can be a little too heavy-handed (figuratively) in his delivery, and they feel he is riding them too much...

    Finally, to my point -- exactly what are the functions of the Committee Chairman, beyond heading the Troop Committee? Specifically, what are his responsibilities regarding the boys and interacting with them? I have tried to research the CC's "Job Description", but have not found anything useful. I am not trying to be a "control freak" -- I'm just want the boys to be getting direction from one source -- not pulled in several directions. I intend to approach him and discuss the matter tactfully, but I wish I had something tangible with which to present my case.

    Thank you in advance for your sage advice and wisdom.>

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