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About bokris

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    Douglasville, GA
  1. How do you transport your Boy Scouts? We have historically transported our Scouts in a 15 passenger van, provided by our CO. Last month, we were advised that this was no longer an option, and we set out to look into purchase. We've come to find out that 15 passenger vans are not safe to operate, and many insurance companies do not lite to insure them. We have enjoyed the van in the past, as it allows us to have SM/ ASM/ Scouts as the campers, and doesn't require non-scouter parents (especially the helicopter type) to come to the camp out. It also provides great marketing for the Troop, as parents aren't expected/ needed to drive in caravan. Short distant camp outs aren't as much of an issue in this case, but we go 2-6 hours away, and this causes major transportation issues when caravanning. We're heading for summer camp, and will have to ask parents to drive 2.5 hours to caravan, and then turn around and drive again 2.5 hours back home, only to have to come back up at the end of camp for pick-up. Gas has never been a problem, as we have a "gas fee" for the van (per boy), and now with parents driving, gas fees are difficult, as some drive and other boys are primarily riders. We are now looking into a church bus (under 15 passenger does not require CDL), but it raises its own issues. How do other Troops transport their Scouts to regular camp outs, as well as long distance trips?
  2. When I began as a Scoutmaster, I required that Scouts signing up for Merit Badges obtain the Merit Badge book and read it, as well as complete the worksheets that go along with the Merit Badge prior to attending a Merit Badge class. As I read the books myself, I found them to be boring and tedious; very text book style writing. I am of the belief that Scouts don't come to Scouting to be in a second classroom, but to have a more dynamic form of learning; learning primarily through experience. I have gradually begun moving away from the school of thought that the books/ worksheets are necessary except when required by the instructor. I believe that the learning should occur through a series of well designed experiences, but I do realize that some boys simply can't focus on auditory (and tactile) learning alone. Some may need the visual learning style of the Merit Badge books in order to better absorb the information. With this said, I think that the worksheets (and books) would benefit some boys, but not necessarily all of them. I also believe that its not as important to master the subject matter through the initial introduction, but through continued exposure to the material. I think that if a boy gravitates to a merit badge subject, that he'll further explore the material, and gradually retain (and master) the subject matter. I realize that some Merit Badge counselors"require" that Scouts read the Merit Badge books and complete the worksheets prior to coming to a Merit Badge class. Others state that the books need to be read, but the worksheets are not necessary. Still others do not require either to be done. I realize this is at the discretion of the counselor, and shouldn't be questioned. When Merit Badge book reading/ worksheet completion is not listed in a prerequisite, I have recently not been requiring this to be completed. What are others thoughts on this practice?
  3. On most of our camp outs, we have no idea whether the Scouts are still talking. They are in their Patrol area, at least 300 feet apart from the adult patrol.
  4. I reviewed this booklet. It seems to have a lot of good, useful knots; some of which I've never seen before. I believe it would be helpful, depending on what the overall purpose of the booklet is, to describe the uses of the various knots as well. My Scouts don't care for knots very much, until I introduce them to the practical purposes of them, and then they have a lot more interest...
  5. Here's the story that I shared at the end of Court of Honor tonight... The Christmas Scout In spite of the fun and laughter, 13-year-old Frank Wilson was not happy. It was true he had received all the presents he wanted. And he enjoyed the traditional Christmas Eve reunions with relatives for the purpose of exchanging gifts and good wishes. But, Frank was not happy because this was his first Christmas without his brother, Steve, who during the year, had been killed by a reckless driver. Frank missed his brother and the close companionship they had together. Frank said good-bye to his relatives and explained to his parents that he was leaving a little early to see a friend; and from there he could walk home. Since it was cold outside, Frank put on his new plaid jacket. It was his FAVORITE gift. He placed the other presents on his new sled. Then Frank headed out, hoping to find the patrol leader of his Boy Scout troop. Frank always felt understood by him. Though rich in wisdom, he lived in the Flats, the section of town where most of the poor lived, and his patrol leader did odd jobs to help support his family. To Frank's disappointment, his friend was not at home. As Frank hiked down the street toward home, he caught glimpses of trees and decorations in many of the small houses. Then, through one front window, he glimpsed a shabby room with limp stockings hanging over an empty fireplace. A woman was seated nearby . . . weeping. The stockings reminded him of the way he and his brother had always hung theirs side by side. The next morning, they would be bursting with presents. A sudden thought struck Frank : he had not done his 'good deed' for the day. Before the impulse passed, he knocked on the door. 'Yes?' the sad voice of the woman asked. 'May I come in?' asked Frank. 'You are very welcome,' she said, seeing his sled full of gifts, and assuming he was making a collection, 'but I have no food or gifts for you. I have nothing for my own children.' 'That's not why I am here,' Frank replied. 'Please choose whatever presents you would like for your children from the sled.' 'Why, God bless you!' the amazed woman answered gratefully. She selected some candies, a game, the toy airplane and a puzzle. When she took the Scout flashlight, Frank almost cried out. Finally, the stockings were full. 'Won't you tell me your name?' she asked, as Frank was leaving. 'Just call me the Christmas Scout,' he replied. The visit left Frank touched, and with an unexpected flicker of joy in his heart. He understood that his sorrow was not the only sorrow in the world. Before he left the Flats, he had given away the remainder of his gifts. The plaid jacket had gone to a shivering boy. Now Frank trudged homeward, cold and uneasy. How could he explain to his parents that he had given his presents away? 'Where are your presents, son?' asked his father as Frank entered the house. Frank answered, 'I gave them away.' 'The airplane from Aunt Susan? Your coat from Grandma? Your flashlight? We thought you were happy with your gifts.' 'I was very happy,' the boy answered quietly. 'But Frank, how could you be so impulsive?' his mother asked. 'How will we explain to the relatives who spent so much time and gave so much love shopping for you?' His father was firm. 'You made your choice, Frank. We cannot afford any more presents.' With his brother gone, and his family disappointed in him, Frank suddenly felt dreadfully alone. He had not expected a reward for his generosity; for he knew that a good deed always should be its own reward. It would be tarnished otherwise. So he did not want his gifts back; however he wondered if he would ever again truly recapture joy in his life. He thought he had this evening, but it had been fleeting. Frank thought of his brother, and sobbed himself to sleep. The next morning, he came downstairs to find his parents listening to Christmas music on the radio. Then the announcer spoke: 'Merry Christmas, everybody! The nicest Christmas story we have this morning comes from the Flats. A crippled boy down there has a new sled this morning, another youngster has a fine plaid jacket, and several families report that their children were made happy last night by gifts from a teenage boy who simply called himself the Christmas Scout. No one could identify him, but the children of the Flats claim that the Christmas Scout was a personal representative of old Santa Claus himself.' Frank felt his father's arms go around his shoulders, and he saw his mother smiling through her tears. 'Why didn't you tell us? We didn't understand. We are so proud of you, son. The carols came over the air again filling the room with music: '. . . Praises sing to God the King, and peace to men on Earth.'
  6. Thanks All, for great feedback. I have been able to absorb much of the information, and have utilized it well (for now, until the next mistake!). I have since, reached out to the mom, the divorced dad, and the Scout, and let them know that while the Scout may not be the most organized, and the family may struggle with time commitment, that the Scout is a great boy. He stands up for the boy who is weaker, the ones who are picked on at times, and when he doesn't know how to handle a situation, he comes to my Assistant Scoutmasters or myself. He is a leader; with or without title. Tonight is Court of Honor, and the Patrol leaders will run it, and then its Christmas break. On January 7, our first meeting back, we will have new boy leader elections (this has been scheduled since our Annual planning meeting in August). The family were all in agreement that the Scout was still too "disorganized and immature" to handle a leadership role, but loves Scouts, and will continue in the program. I have learned: 1. Don't respond to upsetting emails by email (I keep learning that one) 2. Take a few moments (days possibly) to respond, and use the time to reflect on the most appropriate response, as to not react out of anger. 3. Have a pre-nomination counseling session with the Scouts AND the family, to review expectations and time commitments. 4. An 11/ 12 year old Scout does not need the same level of expectation in a role as a 15-16 year old Scout. (This one is hard, as I want to allow the Scouts the responsibility for their program, and not "do it for them," but when the Troop is 11/12 year old boys, I find that they don't have the organizational/ communication skills and experience to do it alone, and I struggle to find balance). 5. When I continue to make the same mistakes, I am obviously not learning from the mistakes I'm making. It is great to be able to air things on this forum, as there are so many differing opinions from which to gain knowledge and insight, as well as constructive criticism and affirmation. Thank you all for taking the time to review and offer help.
  7. I like the thought of having a "pre-election counseling session" for the Scouts who are looking to run for the position (as well as their parents). I believe it will be a hard sell to keep the boys from wanting to have an SPL... As elections begin to be on the horizon, the Scouts really begin to look forward to them. They begin looking at positions they would like to run for, and as of late (elections are in January), have begun picking "running mates." IE. "Lets run as a team... You run for SPL, and I'll be your running mate for ASPL (appointed by SPL). We'll campaign on a dual ticket, and should be able to pull more votes than if running alone... Kind of funny. I have 2 Scouts doing this right now, one on a Patrick ticket, and one on a Taylor/ Andrew ticket. It's getting pretty heated, and its still a month away....
  8. yeah... after sending my, "oh look at me" statements within the email, I realized that I should have known better... You would think that I might learn to hold my emails until the emotions are in check. After several years, I still struggle with the same issue I guess I won't struggle, once I actually stop doing it!
  9. yeah... after sending my, "oh look at me" statements within the email, I realized that I should have known better... You would think that I might learn to hold my emails until the emotions are in check. After several years, I still struggle with the same issue I guess I won't struggle, once I actually stop doing it!
  10. Hey BD... Yep... I'm a new Scoutmaster, barely a year into the Boy Scout program. The Troop is 75 years old, but there was only one boy returning, so I told the WEBELOS group that if they wanted to cross over into the Troop, that I would be their SM (the old one had no desire, and hadn't for the past few years). We've been learning together. I crossed 12 boys, and now we're a 17. Camped 20 nights this past year. We've attended summer camp, been climbing, sailboating, caving, whitewater rafting, backpacking, and a variety of other things. The Scouts are working on advancement (4 - 1st class, and a handful of 2nd class). I know one or 2 other SM's in the District that I occasionally speak with about issues, but they seem to either talk up how well their Troop is doing, or struggle with similar issues. Roundtable has been a session where we go in, do pledge, a presenter presents about a merit badge, and everybody leaves. No hanging around talking about issues, successes, and ideas. Maybe I just haven't "become part of the gang" yet, but everybody seems disjointed. Our program in itself is going pretty good, but some stuff; I'm just struggling with, making it up as I go, and doing the best I can. I try to follow Greenbar Bill's teachings, and try to utilize the Patrol method throughout everything done in the Troop. I read constantly,, from this forum to Scoutmastercg.com to meritbadge.org etc. etc. I don't have a UC, and my CC is very motivational... "Your doing the right thing." "The programming is great." You have a great grasp on the Patrol method." ETC.... But when I have issues, the standard reply is, "You'll figure it out." That is why I reach out to various forums, and have found my way back here... To get honest, objective feedback. ideas, affirmation (when deserved) and constructive criticism when needed. Its all very helpful...
  11. So, I have an SPL who has been inconsistent in attendance at best. Last night; 45 minutes before the meeting that he'd been stating that he would be attending, a week before COH, I get an email. This is the following email thread (and I know that email discussions are bad news, but I struggle to resist responding) Boy: Hey mr bo I will not make it to scouts tonight so Joe (ASPL) will take over tonight. Me: Ok I was expecting you since next week is Court of Honor, and you are supposed to be the main speaker, and you told me last week that you'd be there tonight and at Court of Honor. I needed you to review the information, and to decide who would be in place of Joe, who will not be there for Court of Honor. I won't have time to meet with you between now and then. With this situation, I will be asking the next down in the chain of command who will be reading in place of Joe, and I will have somebody to take your place, in case you aren't there next week. Boy's mother: Scoutmaster,This is Stacy. I was not aware that Chuck was supposed to be there tonight. Chuck told me he was supposed to be but I did not get the option to explain. That is fine about next week.Chuck has his first basketball practice and was torn as to what to do, so now the decision has been made easy. Please know that Chuck will NOT be running for any leadership positions going forward. Me: Hey Stacy, I have no hard feelings with Chuck. He is a great boy! I'm surprised that you didn't know that he was supposed to be there tonight. It is Tuesday, and the last meeting before the Court of Honor, with Chuck as the main boy leader in the Troop, and should have been the main speaker at one of the three big ceremonies of the year. I understand that leadership positions require a lot of time, commitment and prioritization, so if he (ya'll) chooses not to run for a leadership position again at some point; I understand. As a leader in Scouts, I find that I give 40+ hours each week of volunteer time to make sure the boys have a good experience. Most of the time, I defer away my own son, in order to ensure everybody else is getting as much attention as I can provide. I take calls and respond to emails at all times of day and night, and many times, my wife and girls don't have my attention. I do realize leadership positions are difficult. I only ask the boys who choose to be leaders to give a couple of hours a week towards their role in Scouting, which hopefully helps them gain communication, citizenship skills, leadership, and organization. I try to ask for much less time than any other extra-curricular activity offered. I try to offer the Scouts opportunities to do things that they may never be able to do otherwise. I try to respect the Scouts who take on leadership roles by expecting the best of them. I honor these boys, and the boy leaders; and wish I could have had the opportunity to do this when I was a boy. It is something that they can look back on and feel proud. If I have too much to have asked of Chuck; to be present for meetings, to wear his uniform and to bring his book; to set an example for the boys that he leads, then I am sorry... I really don't believe I made a mistake in my expectations in the boy leadership. I bcced the ASMs on this email, and 2 of the 4 responded that i was being unfair to the family, and I was too harsh on the boy... Too harsh??? If so, how would you have handled this situation differently? (obviously, the possibility of handling this in a phone call, as our next meeting after this is January 7, and the issue would be too historical to handle face to face)
  12. Yeah... jpstodwftexas...I understand... Its just hard to motivate the Scouts/ leaders to become involved, as I am a new (1 year old) Scoutmaster, with a Troop that I have been working to revitalize (a top age of 12, with 4 brand new 1st class/ 20 night in the woods this past year Scouts). My Scouts have hiked, camped, whitewater rafted, climbed, sailboated, been caving, and backpacked over the past year. They have had a ball, and have bee aiming towards the goal of OA, as their next short-term endeavor. I believe in the promise that Scouting provides, and I cheer them on in their endeavors. I search out information to help back my advocating for Scouting, and have, on occasion, come here to review, as this site has a wealth of wisdom and knowledge. It just saddens me to see those who have been around the Scouting world for longer than me being so critical. I thought that one of our roles as Scouters is to teach our youth how to problem-solve. That's a part of the reason I was drawn to Scouting, and encouraged my son to join. We need more problem-solvers in the world, and I have been of the belief that Scouting was the best extra-curricular activity to offer this skill. I come to the OA thread, thinking the best of the best hang out here, and the first post that I read is about all of the problems... That's discouraging. I thought Scouters, especially OA Scouters, were of the "Great!... We have a challenge! Let's figure out how we can overcome.... Not, "hey, we have a problem... Lets all complain about how bad it is." Voicing issues is healthy.. It gets the issue out on the table... but the next step is to brainstorm through the wealth of knowledge throughout this site, to work towards overcoming the challenges... That's kind of what I thought Scouting; and the OA was about. I look forward to when I am called out; when my son is called out, and when the other Scout 1st Class boys are called out. I look forward to Ordeal, and if the lodge is not the greatest; then I will do what I did when we entered Cub Scouts into a 6 boy Pack, that rose to 50 boys and well respected throughout the District and Council. I will do what I am working to do with the Troop that was about to fold; having 1 boy left at time to recharter last December, and now holds 17 active Scouts, recruited over the past year, with 100% retention. I will systematically work to strengthen the Lodge that we enter into one of the great lodges in the region. I just have to continue to learn what a lodge is supposed to do... Thank you all who serve in the OA... With hope, you are making a positive difference for our Scout youth.
  13. I get that as well. It confused me, and I ended up posting the same thing 3 times, and then couldn't delete the 2 subsequent posts. I've found that I can push any option, and the refresh to see whether I posted. There are glitches even in this method, but I'm beginning to learn the "posting game."
  14. Yeah! I've seen some positive input in the last few readings, and this is what I like to see... Scouters who are still involved in all things Scouting, with good experiences to share. These are the things that novice Scouters search out for in forums such as this to see. Its a downer when we see the folks in the Honor Society of Scouting downing the program. It makes those of us who are looking to advance in our Scouting endeavors wonder "why bother." I am new to being a Scoutmaster and I speak with my young Scouts regularly about Scout Spirit. I believe that Scout Spirit is about making the best of whatever is put before us. I also believe that Scout Spirit is not just for the Scouts, but for us as Scouters as well... I hope that I haven't offended anyone here with my comments.
  15. Wow! It seems as though there is a lot of negative reaction to OA on this thread... I don't currently have a vested interest, other than my son, who recently earned 1st class is excited that elections are upcoming, and hopes to be elected. As I am a new SM, and have met camping requirements, I have been told that I will be nominated as well. By looking at these responses; OA comes off a little lackluster, and I hope my Scouts (and I) am not disappointed. Very negative vibe throughout this thread. I hope the experience is better than the reports!
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