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  1. I haven't posted here in a long time, but... Correlation does not equal causation. An example which is obviously a non-sequitur: 100% of people who contract lung cancer breathed oxygen. Therefore oxygen causes lung cancer. Now, we all know that smoking causes lung cancer right? OK, explain these: My next door neighbor is a tiny lady who has smoked since she was a teenager. She's 88 years old, has more stamina than I do , lives by herself (she's a widow) and is sharp as a tack. The wife of a very good friend died 4-5 years ago from lung cancer at age 49. She never smoked a cigarette in her life. Yes I'm cherry-picking exceptions to prove my rule. Keep reading. The point: There is no smoking gun. One cannot point at one or two specific decisions/dates and state categorically that it/they were the cause of declining membership. Far greater forces are involved, mostly due to demographics (single parent families, over-extended kids and parents, etc.). I would also argue that BSA has become, at least in the public's eyes, a suburban rich kid's pursuit. It's not cheap to have a son in Scouting. BSA hasn't done itself any favors by increasing that cost -- registration, uniform, patches, summer camp, and much much more. Without help, to be an active member of an active troop could cost a family $500-1000/year and more. That cost, as well as yet another time commitment on the part of a parent, has far more influence on membership than any PC decision the BSA makes. [EDIT] The BSA increased it's membership fee from $15 to $24 for the 2014 charter year, IOW in 2013. Which decision had more influence on membership? I'm not arguing that those decisions had zero influence on membership. They did have influence. I know of one troop (made up entirely of home-schooled boys) that switched from BSA to TL a couple of years ago. But to blame a doubling of membership loss on one thing is cherry-picking a decision you don't like and applying it as that smoking gun. You see, boys join Scouting for 2 reasons: to play with fire and sharp pointy things (as a good friend of mine once put it). In other words, PROGRAM. If a Troop, Pack, Crew is not providing program boys vote with their feet. If the BSA is not providing a program that attracts membership the same applies -- PC decisions not withstanding.
  2. I resent that. I really do. You have jumped to a conclusion that isn't supported by the information I gave. At Philmont, since this thread seems to be mostly about that program, I and other adults made one decision per day: where we were setting up our tent(s). And that was after the crew leader told us, "We're setting up camp here." So we found a spot that looked OK and set up. Other than that, we adults were the "added baggage required by National BSA" as you eloquently put it. The boys made the decisions. They decided who was hiking where in the line, what route we would take the next day, which way to turn at an intersection, what meal we were eating, what time to get up in the morning, who was carrying what crew gear (and that included adults), and absolutely everything else. The Crew Leader made the duty roster and ensured it was followed, and on and on and on. These decisions were made organically as well, it wasn't some adult telling them they had to follow a set of militaristic "marching rules". There were only 2 "rules": We stay together as a crew and the naviguesser had to be first or second in line. Other than that, the boys worked it out amongst themselves with maybe a little adjusting from the crew leader (NOT an adult). My exact quote from above is: "My spot for every hike and backpacking trip and canoe trip was at the rear." I didn't say I was always dead last. Sometimes I was second or third from last, which in a 7-8 person crew put me "in the middle", kind of. On float trips I might have been in the middle of a pack of canoes, or 2-3 from the last canoe when we were stretched out over a mile of river, or the last one. You see, I didn't put rules on my Scouts other than the Scout Law and Oath. Oh, and one other, they had to have fun -- rule number one. As for being the "safety officer" I might be a bit guilty but only in this sense: As adults on the program side of a non-Cub unit, our one and only job is to make sure the youth don't hurt or kill themselves. I saw part of that responsibility as making sure the number Scouts arriving home equaled the number that departed. Did I entrust that job to Scouts or other adults? Yes I did -- many times. But ultimately and legally the responsibility and liability falls on the Scoutmaster or trek "leader". Therefore I was always at or near the "rear". What's the saying? "Trust but follow up." Or something similar. I consider that "due diligence". Again, though, it was all very organic. These decisions weren't even necessarily conscious ones. If a canoe or 2 or 3 ended up behind me that was OK, as long as I could look back and see the last one. And I really didn't have to have it in constant vision. If it was around the previous bend from me and out of sight, I knew they'd be showing up presently. If they didn't, I'd slow down a bit, or stop and fish, or something. "OK, here they come. Maybe somebody had to pee." Is all of that "boy-led" enough for you? Because that's how my troop operated elsewhere as well while I was SM. "Regular" campouts and hikes and other weekend trips had "adult baggage" along, but we stayed out of the way unless specifically asked to participate or present a program (which the PLC chose, BTW) that wasn't available otherwise (Climbing comes to mind). If I saw something that concerned me I worked through the SPL or the Crew Leader, or whatever youth was in charge (PL etc.) to deal with it, unless it was a matter of immediate health and safety. Again, is that "boy-led" enough for you? Does it meet your definition? In fact, if I were king here's how Philmont would work: Crew arrives, youth get split from adults, youth go on an expedition, adults go across the road to PTC for training. To be somewhat back OT, in that situation the youth would never be "held back". They could choose to hike 120 miles or 55 miles, they could choose to hike fast or slow, they could choose to do anything they wanted without a pesky adult being in their way, physically or otherwise. Lawyers and insurance will never let that happen, but that's how it really should be. Lastly: So why weren't you #3? Could the leader see you "at a glance"? Did the pace get adjusted for you? Umm. Hmm. If you "lost contact" with the rest of your crew you were not following Philmont protocol, or the rules of safe hiking which every Tenderfoot Scout has to learn. There are just so many things wrong with that situation. Possibly deadly things. And very lastly, where did you end up after falling behind? Yup, in the "safety officer" position. Pot. Kettle. Black.
  3. "I am their leader, therefore I will follow" My spot for every hike and backpacking trip and canoe trip was at the rear. Part of that was because I always had the First Aid kit. If something happens you want the First Aid kit to catch up with the need rather than walking or floating away from it. And you want the same from the leader in charge...
  4. dc, you are correct of course. And perhaps I didn't express myself as well or completely as I should have. Absolutely if the 50-60 year old leader is the only option then make the compromises that must be made. Make the trip happen, do not deny the opportunity. As much as I hate to admit it, I am now one of the "old guys" in my troop There are younger (30s and early 40s) adults in decent to very good shape who would have no trouble handling anything Philmont could throw at them. I have the option of backing out because of them. Other troops and leaders may not have those options.
  5. Although I'm 10 years younger than you Stosh, I'm in the same boat and highly agree with your choice. I did Philmont for my 9th and last time in 2008 at age 48. My troop is gonna apply for a 2015 expedition and I said I'd make sure the planning got done but that I wasn't going on another expedition. Other, younger adults should be going. I didn't have any issues in 2008, in fact I out-hiked a couple of my youth on that trip. Not bragging, just a fact. But here's another fact: the same wouldn't happen at age 55. In 2008, we were on our way up Shaefer's Pass from the north side and had stopped for lunch. All of a sudden several "young guns" from another crew came past us moving pretty quickly. 15 minutes later came their late-50s (+) adults ambling along. Wrong. 15 minutes is as much as a half-mile. What would happen if one of those adults sprained an ankle or fell and hit his head? More importantly perhaps, these adults were holding back their Scouts. They were keeping them from achieving all they could have done at Philmont. How many programs did they miss or had shortened because the adults were 15 minutes or more behind and they had to wait on them? What compromises were made to accommodate the adults' physical limitations, in both the planning and execution of that expedition? When I saw that I resolved then and there not to be that 15-minute-behind adult. Therefore I won't be going to Philmont in 2015 if (big "if") our troop gets a slot. Another thought. Philmont has a wide variety of itineraries ranging in difficulty. Most of those are within the physical reach of most Scouts of the age to attend (barring "Tubby-Timmy" or a "backpack with legs"). The same cannot be said for most 50-60+ year olds, and maybe even most 40+ year olds. Therefore, if one falls in that category, one is limiting the choices of the Scouts -- another reason I'm not going. Full disclosure: I'm very slim, no health issues other than age. I might be able to condition myself for a lower difficulty itinerary but there's no way for one of the gonzo ones I did as a young man. Again -- I'd be limiting my Scouts' choices, and I will not be responsible for "holding them back." And yeah, if we do get a slot and go, I'll really miss not being along. Really, really miss it.
  6. We do both SFF in Nov and the Post Office drive in May.
  7. All the NPS web pages are down as well. You get redirected to Dept. of Interior main page.
  8. Thanks for the link Peregrinator. Since I don't like to rely on just one source for my education (or reeducation in this case) I looked up a few more articles. Of the more recent and more scholarly (sources cited, etc.) articles, this one from last December bubbled to the top: http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/biblical-topics/new-testament/how-december-25-became-christmas/ It kind of updates the article you link.
  9. @qwazse: I believe I have some Scotch heritage, definitely Irish, English, and Welsh. I just might have to try your suggestion. Hmm. There's an Italian restaurant about a mile from here. Must find my armorrrrr and sworrrrrd! (bad attempt at a written brogue...) @NAE: Or set up Christmas Trees/wreaths/other greenery customs. For that matter Christmas Day is at the wrong time of year technically. My understanding is that the Roman Catholic Church decided to celebrate it around the Winter Solstice to accommodate existing "Pagan" traditions in various lands.
  10. I guess I can update (upgrade?) my status to "heathen other"
  11. Yup, somewhat simplistic, but that's pretty much my definition as well. Of course, a good friend who's Catholic calls me a "heathen protestant"
  12. Sog Micro Toolclip (kinda like the Leatherman Micra). There's a funny story about getting that through Heathrow security about 15 years ago. Suffice it to say, I still have it.
  13. And I suppose that being "an American" could mean anyone from the Western Hemisphere (North and South America along with associated islands). Not that that helps DS's Indians, Kiwis, or Brits [EDIT]On a slightly more serious note, the "A" in BSA stands for America. Another requirement states that you must recite the Pledge of Allegiance. That is many units' opening ceremony. DS, do you ask your "foreigners" to pledge allegiance to the flag of the USA? Are they required to know that? As jblake said, "When in Rome". If a Scout born in the USA were to join Scouting in Japan (whatever that organization is named) he would be expected to know or learn their requirements; why shouldn't any member of the BSA -- no matter their birthplace?[/EDIT]
  14. A telling story: My Scoutmaster when I was a lad was in the military. After retirement he joined the professional scouting ranks and became the DE of our district. He was in that position for 10-15 years and retired again. Several years later he approached our troop committee about donating money. It seems he got ticked off at how our council was spending money and wanted to donate whatever amount he had been giving to FOS to the troop. It was enough to fund more than a few camperships. As he stated, "At least I know the money is directly benefiting Scouts." He continued that practice until he died a couple of years ago.
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