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Posts posted by boomerscout

  1. I pulled this from whiteblaze.net which is a site for App Trail hikers. Ms. Leller, the poster, was replying to a comment that Scouts today are basically incompetent -- don't know how to act, behave, prepare for the wilderness. So, I'm wondering if we should pay our Scoutmasters? Trained as wilderness rangers, SM would be their full-time job; they would run 2 or 3 troops to earn fulltime pay? Here is Ms Leller:

    "I just retired from scouting after 15 years as a scout leader, 10 of those as an assistant scoutmaster. I still continue as a backpacking and hiking merit badge counselor.


    Sadly, I've observed similar situations. But I've also seen some well prepared, well taught groups, as well. Back in April, I stopped and talked to a scout group at the Tye River. They were preparing to climb the Priest as part of a training shakedown for the Grand Canyon. They seemed well prepared, their leaders were experienced, and we talked about their plans for gear shakedowns, physical training sessions, and fundraising etc., which would take the better part of a year before their planned trip to the GC. I was impressed. A few hours later, I happened upon another boy scout troop at Harpers Creek shelter. What a mess! They had just hiked in for the day to "play", according to one of the adults with them. There was trash everywhere. I observed a few of them peeing into the creek. They were heaving rocks, cutting saplings for marshmallow sticks, digging holes near the shelter. I had a foot injury and limped into the shelter area on a hot day. The limp was obvious. I looked and smelled like a backpacker. I thought it was pretty obvious that I would want to sit down somewhere, but the shelter was full of lounging adult and their trash and gear. Boys occupied every spot at the picnic table. When I asked one boy to move over a bit, he actually said to me "I was here first." His friends laughed, and a few echoed his comment. Not that it should matter, but I'm a woman, well old enough to be the mother of any of the boys. I was really irritated by the rudeness. I smiled at the boys and said, "Let's run the Scout Law, my friends." Which seemed to attract the attention of one or two of their adult leaders.


    "Running the Scout Law" is a decision-making technique taught to scouts. If they have a question about whether or not to do something, or if they want to evaluate a decision made, they simply run down the Scout Law and ask themselves, "If I do/did this, will it be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent." If they answer NO to any of those points of the Scout Law, then the decision has to be re-worked. In the case of our rude scout who didn't want to give up his seat to a lady/injured hiker, we didn't even get past helpful, let along friendly and courteous. A bit later, I had a private conversation with the scoutmaster. One adult did apologize to me later, saying that he was new to the troop and "had concerns" about the group. The boys did clean up at the end of their stay, and they packed out their trash after I nicely explained to them why it was a bad idea to toss it down the privy.


    The problem with that group, and with most unruly, unprepared scout groups was with the adults. Scouts are boys, so the responsibility will always fall to the adults who volunteer to lead them. Adult leaders should attend BSA training. One thing that is emphasized in training is the "sandwich principle". If you picture a sandwich made with a bun, the top and bottom of the sandwich should always be Qualified Supervision and Discipline, with the main part of the sandwich being Scouting Safety.


    Qualified Supervision and Discipline. And therein lies the problem! It's just darn difficult to find qualified adults willing to volunteer and who have a talent for working with young people.


    It's hard to find good volunteers for anything. Many parents sign their boys up for scouting but don't volunteer to help. Some volunteer, but they aren't qualified. Many times, the boys and the adults have the same level of experience in the woods, which is next to nothing. Some adults are experienced, but they have no talent for dealing with young people. Some are reliving their own days as boy scouts and think they know everything. They may attend training, but they don't actually absorb any information presented to them.


    In my opinion, that's it in a nutshell. It's hard to find good volunteers who are willing to give up so much of their time, who have the skills and experience, the talent to work with rowdy teenage boys, and the patience to deal with their parents who will not back down from their misinformed opinions. (Ok, the parent thing is my own personal weakness. And if you care to read about one of my parent issues, I posted a thread last year about a trip I organized through SNP for 6 boy scouts.) Since there is a shortage of qualified adults who volunteer with the boys, often any warm body is accepted as a leader. These adults don't know enough, they don't go to training enough or at all, they don't learn, they're tired from a long work week, they consider their weekend camping trips with the scouts to be their vacation, etc. etc.


    In short, it's the responsibility of the adults. The BSA offers excellent training, but its effectiveness is hit or miss. In recent years, the BSA has begun tightening up on the training requirements. Some councils are now requiring that ALL adults go to training. That's fine, but at the current time, attendance is all that's required. There is no testing following the training. There are new, stricter requirements for the health and conditioning of leaders. If you plan a 100-mile hike with teenage boys, you better be able to keep up with them! There is also a new requirement that at least one adult in a group doing backcountry activities has to be certified in wilderness first aid. Great! It's improving, but there is a long way to go. There is no scout leader police, per se. No one goes out and checks up on what a troop actually does in the woods. But you and I can always speak up. Pull an adult leader aside and talk to him/her about what's going on. Sometimes the information is received well. Sometimes not. If you want to go further, find out their troop number, council and district. You can always call one of the paid BSA staff people at council offices and talk to them about dangerous situations you've seen. And, if you are so inclined, you can volunteer. That's the best way to help the situation.


    It's not perfect, but scouting does great things for lots of kids. Some troops are fantastic, some should be shut down and hosed out. Like every other mostly-volunteer organization, there just are not enough good people out there who are willing to step up and volunteer. Back in the early days of scouting, there were fewer boys in the program and more adults who had experience in the outdoors. The balance was better. Today, our society is so much more "civilized", and often adults have no more experience in the outdoors than do the boys. It makes me sad, but there are still a lot of great scout troops out there. I hope you run into one of those!"



  2. I am surprised Tanah Keeta did not provide water & ice without asking. Dehydration and heat exhaustion can be serious. I wonder if Dickinson State Park imposed water restrictions on them? Like you said, there are other council camps. Many allow the SM to attend free if the entire troop goes to camp. Tire Kingdom and AT&T Wireless used to donate large chunks of money to this camp.

    Getting the vendors signed for the pizza card is really an adult activity. We look for good pizzarias in a 360 degree circle within two miles of the Wal-Mart or the mall. We try to sign as many as we can so all patrons are "covered". Our cards are printed free. The printer gets to put his ad on the back of the card, plus the honor patrol washes his shop windows monthly and sweeps the parking lot. Each card sold earns 20% for the individual's Scout account. We set up a weekend table in front of Wal-Mart (permission of course) with large poster board signs (Free Pizza), an American flag, and a couple display easels with pix of our Scouts camping, etc. Scouts wear our self-designed Scout tee-shirts.

    Your finances seem confusing. All troops need a troop fund for contingencies. In your case, I would charge $25-35 yearly dues. Additional money would be thru fund-raising. I would let the individual Scout accounts go to zero if it's their desire, with the understanding that fees for weekend camps are then out of their own pockets. Your District has two fundraisers? One has to be the popcorn; what is the other? I would not charge an initiation fee to new Scouts. They'll have enough expenses with uniform, camp gear & pro-rated yearly dues

    merit badge workshops are for the kids, not for the adults--if I'm reading your post correctly. I'm a bit worried that your own adults can counsel 30 merit badges. You're running the risk of being labeled a merit badge mill. In all merit badges with options, we try to strongly suggest the hands-on options for more lasting learning retention. Writing reports is too much like school--copy stuff out of a book, and totally forget it in a couple weeks.

    For rainy days teach your boys how to play euchre. It will stand them in good stead in college. I miss West Palm; I used to live in Lake Worth.

    What community service projects does your troop perform?

  3. We never made much money with spaghetti either -- too much work, and potential customers did not want to eat in a basement (charter org's lunchroom) for their night out.

    First, stop spending money on patrol competition treasure chest rewards. It sends the wrong message anyway. Sell the remaining stuff to your Scouts against individual Scout accounts. Explain the facts of life to the boys. And, what possessed you to buy a Monopoly game? After you pay off the loans, money shld only go for needed camp gear & whatever is absolutely required right then. . Can you contact other troops for the donation of excess gear. Put the word out on Craigslist and Freecycle for the stuff you need.

    Purchase of merit badges & most other patches can be delayed until the Fall Court of Honor. This will give the troop time to digest the summer camp fees. For other camps, each patrol supplies its own food. Do we understand you've applied for camperships for all that need them?

    Limit your fund-raisers to those without (much) cost: have a soda pop can drive, contract to clean a park or fairgrounds, hold a bake sale in front of Wal-Mart, help people clean out their garages & then sell the stuff at a troop yard-sale, work at Pizza Hut & other restaurants for a percentage of the take, car wash in front of the Big Box. Google fundraiser ideas.

    There are only 8 boys in the troop? Can you delay purchasing the software and continue with a manual system? I hope your restaurant cards do OK. Many have a 30 day refund guarantee. Take notes so that next year you can print up your own cards and keep most everything.

    Inform the guys that unless a handle is gotten on troop finances, summer camp will be only one week. Tell them about Rent-a-Scout.

  4. High Adventure is well & good, but now it may be time for higher adventure. They've been to Philmont-have they been north of Glacier? They've been to Northern Tier-have they been to the far north? Yes, this stuff costs money. So, what kind of fund-raising do they do on their own? Have they been taught project management? Are they all EMTs? Do they all have the Hornaday silver medal?

    Camporees are more for the t-2-1 level. As several have mentioned, it's boring for older Scouts; they need something with more scope. Helping the younger Scouts is good if it's not the same stuff over and over. We have our older Scouts design the patrol competitions. We then have them do the competitions themselves as a dry run which provokes much merriment -- videotaped of course. Lots of bragging rights if the patrol you've trained comes in first. A bit harder to do at camporees as "foreign" adults tend to meddle; still doable with enough planning.

    Many have said the size of your troop is too large. Are volunteer leaders plentiful in your area?

  5. Way back when, for our trip way out West, we took the train so we could slowly acclimatize to altitude. We got tickets for one compartment. Everyone else rode the sleeper coach. We carried everything on board, and piled-secured-everything into the comparment -- leaving room for one bed. It worked fine. Haven't been on a train in quite a while, so don't know about nowadays.

  6. instead of a cheap outer duffel, we use a freebie sturdy cardboard box. Put the pack inside the box, add some wadded newspaper, tape or glue the box shut, lash a handling rope around it & off it goes. Forgot to mention we cover any & all printing with brown spray paint before writing our destination address on it. The rope "handle" holds the tags.

  7. why so much CPR? Because any one particular Scout may take only one of the aquatics mb. Even if he takes several, who knows which he'll take first?

    Yes, would be nice if every Scout shows up at camp with current year CPR certificate from Red Cross

  8. was he feeling rushed? You said meeting was about to close; being rushed may stress out a lot of kids interacting with adults in a FORMAL situation.

    Maybe you could encourage him to try for the public speaking m.b.

  9. IMKathy

    with enough lead time, you can sometimes work out a special deal. some of our Scouts wanted to earn farm mechanics. This was a bit difficult as we are located in a metro area. we asked, and camp provided, a counselor for farm mechanics. they worked on the camps trucks, tractors, etc.

    we did make a field trip to a nearby farm implement dealer-also arranged in advance. Our own parents drove our own Scouts to this, so other than checking for sufficient insurance, no big deal.

  10. for Urban Eagle ---> Wilderness Survival M.B.: using your Scouting skills, show how to make a shelter for a homeless person living in the downtown area. You may only use materials found in a typical dumpster. Explain how you would improve the shelter if below freezing temps are predicted. Spend one night in this shelter.

  11. Hey KnotHead:

    "Many of our guys get 20 nights in year 1 (including 6 at summer camp) so 30 total wouldn't be too hard"

    a lot of troops spend half their monthly camps in cabins instead of in tents. For those kids it's much harder if they can't tote up until they reach First. Many camps push staying in their cabins instead of in their tents--so no 6 nite credit there!

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