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Posts posted by Krampus

  1. As an example, Webelos are no longer permitted to participate in archery and are limited to BB guns. Really? I live in Texas, and most of our scouts have been handling and shooting firearms since grade school. 


    According to BSA you can do some shooting sports at district/council camps. I believe you can also do those same sports at professional facilities too. Oddly enough tomahawks are not on the list. I am pretty sure they are listed as prohibited elsewhere, but you'd think BSA would put it on this list.

  2. The point I was trying to make is: with all the fun the kids had, and as safe as they all were, why is BSA so overly cautious when they are teaching safety and then don't rely on it.  They have to regulate safety until they reach the point that the boys have to visit the park in a 12 passenger van and not get out to see anything because someone might get hurt.



    You know I am no supporter of the overzealous bureaucracy that is BSA, but I will play Devil's advocate.

    • 15 Passenger Van Rule: Recent issues with the maintenance and safety records of some of these vehicles has called in to question the efficacy of using certain models.
    • Climbing Instruction & Training: As a climber I have seen far too many accidents from people who think they know their knots and technique.
    • First Aid: Advanced first aid is very important to know. Requiring this on what may be deemed "high adventure" or high risk activities helps to ensure that *if* there is an accident, the first responder is someone with a bit more training than basic first aid.
    • Safe Swim/Afloat Training: How many times do we see even trained adults violate the basic rules of safety in the water? With any group size this is a good idea.
    • Weather Training: Far too many people simply cannot read the weather anymore without an app to tell them what's happening. Knowing how to read the skies can make the difference between being safe and a very dangerous situation.

    Now, if they use super soakers are giant water balloons on their trip, who care, right? But these other things are there to prevent issues. The training is BSA's way of making sure those in charge at least have exposure to this training. Whether they use it is another story.


    Gotta remember, @@Stosh, not everyone are training geeks like we are. Most boat owners have the basic required training if that. They have no idea how to operate their craft well, let alone the rules.

  3. I guess when your kid leaves, you're either thinking "what's in it for me?" or "I'm enjoying this, there's more kids to lead! Carry on!" or something else that isn't a gross simplification.


    I am in the latter camp, BUT, I *am* thinking why should I be center stage when I would much rather enjoy being an assistant. Let's face it, as much as we may like the main role, the biggest barrier (at least to me) is the adult drama. As SM you get a nose full of it and frequently. As an assistant you can pretty much ignore it.


    I plan on sticking around but in "emeritus" status in the background. ;)

  4. and with troops, there are the examples as mentioned above with long tenured scouters....

    but on average, I don't have a feel yet for what's the more normal tenure for these few key positions....


    In my region it varies. I'd say the average is 3-5 years. There are some that are 18+ years, but those are few and far between. Most are in the 3-5 year area. They come to power about the second year of their own son's career and tend to step down around the time he's ready to graduate.

    • Upvote 1

  5. My problem with long-serving scouters in my area is that it makes getting new ideas in to the troop very hard. It has been my experience, again here locally, that the units with long time SMs are less flexible and less boy led. It is also hard to recruit adults to help because it is usually all run by a handful of scouters, or worse, a husband/wife duo.


    Our unit does not rotate positions due to a predefined term limit, but rather simply based on when people feel it is time. Most stay in a role about 3-4 years. We have found it is a good thing to cycle in new parents after the first year or so. This has had a direct impact on retention and activity level of our scouts. The more parents we had involved, the higher our retention and activity rates are.


    Each unit needs to find what works for them. This approach has worked great for us. We call it the "Doctor Who Approach to Leadership"; the faces may change but you will have a program that works with fresh ideas. You may not have the same SM as the guys before you, but you will have "your Doctor", er, Scoutmaster. ;)

  6. There were no certified climbing instructors, no one had to pass a swim test, everyone paid their own way at the time of the event, all chipped in for gas.  We used a 15 passenger van....Everyone had a good time.  Everyone was safe, no one got hurt.  The kids learned about poison ivy because that was in the area where we were climbing, and they found out about a bunch of other plants on the way to the climbing rock wall. 


    If my scouts ever want to go and so something fun like this I can suggest it to them as something that was really fun.

    So not a scouting for event?

  7. N=1 but my crossover doesn't like Boy Scout campouts very much. He has to do stuff, it was much more fun when the adults did everthing for him. Mom still cuts his meat and lays out his cloths in the morning. :( Not happy about that one but marriage is compromise.


    Not if you train her right from the beginning. ;)

  8. I'm only just curious

    How many years have you been at it?

    and why is it that you are planning your exit?

    Twelve years. I want to step down for a few reasons. First, in our unit we usually have a new SM every 4-5 years or so. That's pretty much a tradition where I live. It keeps units fresh and doesn't allow them to stagnate under one person. Second, I really want to focus on a high adventure program. We've got a very stable unit with a nice pipeline of incoming scouts. I want to focus on adult training and doing more for the older scouts. Mine is about to age out so the time is right to pass the baton.

    • Upvote 1

  9. My district gave these out at RT. The boys prefer a white board and electronic tools. They use OneNote and other online tools.


    The Scouters like these paper copies but you then need to re-input that data all over again.


    Wish BSA would use electronic tools. Would save the extra work.

  10. Thanks Everyone:

    I was at pack meetings last Tuesday and Wednesday.    I had parents asking what does a UC do? 


    one of my packs are going to try Scouttrack and the other on is going to try ScoutBook. 


    thanks everyone for the information   :)


    Make sure they keep paper back ups of all their data. None of those have real-time, redundant back-ups.

  11. This was the quandary I was in with one of my eagle candidates.  He covered his bases and that was about it, then he made a majorly poor decision and I felt it best not to make a recommendation which would have been the kinder option.  The council however mandated he get a glowing recommendation from the SM.  Now what does one do?


    I'd quote back the GTA, write the letter as I see it, try to be kind and constructive and send the letter.


    If council is "mandating" I write something else, they need to show me where I am required to write the letter they are requesting. If they can't, they need to proceed as they see fit.


    They can't put a gun to your head, @@Stosh. ;)

  12. But nibbling around the corners, what happens to the patrol that wishes the kind of autonomy of the old patrol method where they would go off and do patrol specific activities on their own?  It sounds like "everyone's in the game" all the time in the structure you have described.  Maybe that's what's necessary in your case, but how much "wiggle room" is allowed the PL and his patrol to decide that they are going to go to Activity X as a group, but it wasn't part of the overall troop calendar?

    One thing I have noticed in my area is that since these kids are involved in SOOOO many other activities, making time for patrol-based activities that are separate from the troop activities are few and far between. It is simply a matter of bandwidth. The patrols get time on camp outs, service projects and troop meetings to do "their thing". But rarely do you see them doing something on their own outside of the troop events. It's just a consequence of suburban Scouting in the 21st Century. Between school, scouts, sports, religious activities, extra curricular clubs, simply hanging out with friends, etc., there simply isn't time.


    That said, the PLC goes to great lengths to let the patrols do their own thing. Back in Feb we were at a great state park. Each patrol was allowed to "go explore" or do whatever they wanted. Half went exploring as patrols, one just sat around and "vegged", another had a cooking contest and other worked on SC rank requirements.


    How much are the patrols in your troop "mixed"?  How much does your larger troop adhere to the BSA's model of New, Regular and Venture patrol concepts? If push came to shove would the boys say their loyalty is more towards the patrol or the troop?

    As you know we use a mixed age patrol structure. We tried NSPs a long while back and they failed miserably. Webelos III it was. We went with the older Scout/younger Scout approach after that. Again, a miserable failure which basically segregated the ages groups and lead to older Scout apathy. It decapitated our leadership and lead to a long road back to re-training the whole unit on the Patrol Method. It also saw our retention rate drop significantly. They Eagled and left...at 15 or 16.


    The mixed age patrols work FAR better for us. Retention is near 96%, engagement and leadership is (and remains) high. Core skills development and retention remains high as well.


    There is a sense of patrol spirit, but I think my guys would say they are loyal to both patrol and troop. And why shouldn't they be. It shouldn't have to be either-or.


    Are boys ever "limited" in their opportunities by such things as calendar, PLC votes, mixed ages within a patrol?  I'm sure over time there have been some work arounds on these issues and boys having to settle for certain limitations, but how do the boys ever make their concerns known or is the troop big enough that they have to simply accept it as a way of life? 


    We don't break down activities by age. At times, and only when absolutely necessary (age matrix or skill level) would we break out an activity by skill. Canoeing comes to mind.


    By using the Patrol Method, the individual can bring things to his PL who will being them forward to the PLC. You cannot please everyone whether it is in a troop-centered model or a patrol-centered model. At some point, the dissenters will need to accept what the majority of folks want. That's life. You cannot please everyone. HOWEVER, you can at least set up a process by which the individual can have a voice and express their position.

    • Upvote 2

  13. Times change.


    I remember when a scout's references were read at his BOR. Good and bad. I gave my reference form to the cool priest at my church but somehow that form was taken by his superior, Monsignor Cotton Mather. That was a life lesson. :o


    I agree. I would love for the boys to hear what adults think of them. I mean, who asks someone to provide a reference where they don't already know the person will give a glowing reference.


    I can only imagine that, as times change, maybe those recommendations are not as glowing as one would expect. I was in that situation a few years back. One of my candidates asked me for a letter of reference. I tried to get out of it by suggesting he get a teacher or family friend to write one. It became clear that there were few people on whom he could rely. He wasn't a bad kid; quite the opposite, but he was not a strong Eagle. Box checked, moved on. My letter reflected that...but I was kind.

  14. Sure we have impact and can even do a tremendous good.  


    but what I am getting at is the major change....

    I as a "new guy" and just a committee member, cannot come in and start telling the SM to stop talking, for example..... when it's clear that he should go over there, grab a cup of coffee, and let the scouts do their thing....


    There is little if anything I can do directly to affect significant change in the unit's program.


    It's really only the folks in the roles of SM, CC, or perhaps COR that really have the authority of position to do that sort of thing.


    I can look for opportunities to respectfully hint and suggest every now and then, but it would never fly for someone like me to just hit the ground running to FIX the program.


    I hear you. I was in the same boat when I started.


    I met with the SM and asked him what his objective was for the unit. He was a helluva guy but was never a Scout, so there were aspects of "traditional" scouting he never employed (e.g., JASM, troop level training, etc.). We would chat time and again, and I'd ask him if I could offer suggestions and help in various areas (training of the instructors, service projects, etc.).


    Eventually he asked me to take over. ROFL, I talked myself in to that one. ;) He was looking to step down anyway and he said all my ideas solidified it in his mind that I was the guy to take over. That was MANY years ago. Now *I* am looking for a replacement...and keep encouraging guys to give me their ideas. The guy (or gal) with the best ideas will get the baton. ;)

    • Upvote 1

  15. @@Stosh, you know how big my troop is. We have six patrols, 75+ guys. We have a high degree of participation across the board for which I am thankful.


    When you plan our Scout year (Sept-Aug, planned in June-July) we start with a program planning introduction. We talk to ALL the Scouts about what takes place during program planning. We show them what we need from them (ideas for camping, projects, events, fund raising, etc.). When then give a few weeks for the Scouts to research what they want to do, then get together as patrols to combined and submit their ideas. Monthly themes are also part of this effort.


    After that's done, the PLs bring these forward to the PLC level where we have a consolidation meeting. We get our our calendars, discuss all the ideas, put holidays/training/key dates on the calendar and then plan around those. We categorize the events and such into themes and try to match the themes to months, then apply those to the calendar. Suggestions for everything are voted on by the PLC. Nothing is thrown away.


    The next step is to ratify it with the troop, done at the patrol level. Unless guys are REALLY against an idea it stays in. Rarely does that happen but it does happen.


    Once ratified by the unit, we assign service, honor and program patrols. Service patrols set up/take down during events. Honor patrols do colors, presentation. Program patrols are on the hook for developing the meeting plans for that month.


    It took a while to build this structure and get it running. After we do our planning -- which normally goes well -- the implementation is usually pretty good. We have our hiccups. We've had patrols forget to do meeting plans, and they've had to take their lumps in front of the troop for screwing up...but they learn.


    This process has worked for us. Your mileage may vary. ;)

  16. For purposes of discussion I will post what the GTA says about reference letters and the process:

  Council Verifies Application and Board of Review Scheduled

    Everything is checked against council records. If information in the BSA system or council files is incomplete, the Scout or the unit will be asked to provide certificates, blue cards, or other suitable proof that merit badges and ranks were earned and that dates are accurate. The regular use the of BSA Internet portal for reporting advancement as described in section 6 will help expedite this process. If everything is correct, the council provides a verification signature, files a copy of the application, and sends the original with the service project workbook and other items (such as reference letters received) to the board of review chair or other designated volunteer. The board should be scheduled only after the council-verified application is received.

  References Contacted

    Council advancement committee members—or others designated—have the responsibility to secure recommendations from the references appearing under requirement 2 on the Eagle Scout Rank Application. This may be done by letter, form, or phone call. For reasons of privacy and confidentiality, electronic submissions are discouraged.


    It is acceptable to send or deliver to the references an addressed envelope with instructions, and perhaps a form to complete. The Scout may assist with this, but that is the limit of his participation. He is not to be responsible for follow-through or any other aspect of the process.


    It is up to the council’s designated representatives to collect the responses. If after a reasonably diligent effort no response can be obtained from any references, the board of review must go on without them. It must not be postponed or denied for this reason, and the Scout shall not be asked to submit additional references or to provide replacements.


    Completed reference responses of any kind are the property of the council and are confidential, and only review-board members and those officials with a specific need may see them. The responses are not to be viewed by or returned to the Scout. Doing so could discourage the submission of negative information. For the same reason, those providing references do not have the option of giving the reference directly to the Scout and shall not be given the option of waiving confidentiality. Once a review has been held, or an appeal process conducted, responses shall be returned to the council, where they will be destroyed after the Eagle Scout credentials are released or the appeal is concluded.

  17. As the member of committee who focuses on advancement, the Court of Honor is the night where I get to see my efforts publicly recognized.  Of course, I'm still in the background, just watching as the SPL and the MC for the night do the announcing and awarding of merit badges, rank advancement cards, etc.  It is like getting a pat on the back that nobody else knows about. 


    If done properly, this is how ALL adult roles should be in Scouting.


    I cannot tell if you are upset about this or happy about this development, but if I were you I'd be tickled that the boys are running the show and your role got pulled off without knowing you were even involved. If you are one of the Key 3 and you can do that it is even more of an impressive feat.


    yeah, if you're like me you're finding being on the committee frustrating... at times.

    We aren't in one of the key 3 positions that can really directly affect change..... and honestly need to be respectful of out boundries.


    I just keep reminding myself in these situations that the scouts (and my son) are at least getting something out of the program, as long as those key folks aren't doing direct harm..... not always, but there are times like this.....


    I will respectfully disagree with you. I think most, if not all, adult roles can have a huge impact on the boys and the program. We have one ASM who does not do much, ever. BUT, his one thing is water safety. Due to his experience he is nuts on the subject and teach various craft techniques and safety, runs the annual swim test, is around whenever water sports are in play. 


    We have several adults like this; absent 90% of the time but when the one thing comes up that they are great at they step up and run the heck out of it.


    I am sure you both are doing a great job. Just keep doing what you are doing and look for other ways to help the Scouts when you can and time allows. Don't burn yourself out!! ;)

  18. @@Krampus I will let you in on a secret. There is no cloud, it doesn't exist. It's just a computer somewhere else. :)

    I have to laugh because I work for a Fortune 50 company. Our clients, like everyone else, are stampeding to the "cloud" thinking it is something different than the old-fashioned brick and mortar data centers with the old DL 380s and DL 580s sitting on the floor. I build these places for a living and just laugh that if they only knew that the data centers look nearly identical to what they did in the "old days"....just newer and cooler gear.

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