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Posts posted by scoutergipper

  1. My experience is that the only time we have really serious problems on campouts is when we're forced by circumstances to be "too close" to each other, or all in one large campsite. Separation works.


    However, it can take some real foresight, research and planning in some areas to get the separation between Patrols you need. State campgrounds can work if they are generally large enough and one campsite can house a Patrol under whatever rules they have. You just have to reserve individual sites that are far enough apart. This does create a bit of a security problem, in that you never know who will be camping next to the Patrols.


    I have run into problems getting separation at Scout camps, frankly. In some instances - even if the camp is not full that weekend - the Council has simply flat-out refused to book us into 5 separated campsites.


    This can become an increasing problem if your Troop starts to get larger. Finding good, separated campsites for 3 Patrols (including Adults) is a lot easier task than for 5 or 6 Patrols.


    But the bottom line is it will pay off in numerous ways.

  2. This is the kind of thing I'd never tell the Scouts about, i.e. "Hey, if you guys earn 38 'Outdoor' Merit Badges and half the Troop goes on all the campouts, we'll win an Award!" That way, none of my gung-ho Scouts thinks, "hey, I'll get a few of my fellow gun-hoers together and we'll earn 38 Outdoor badges ourselves!" I just keep good records and look at this stuff on an annual basis. If we qualify, we qualify and it's a nice surprise at the Court of Honor.


    FYI, the boys earned 42 "Outdoor" Merit Badges at Summer Camp alone this year (see: "Summer Camp Merit Badge Mill" threads for more information).

  3. I'll say right now that an "Only Cub Scouts who's parent has signed up to help with at least one event this year will be able to compete in the Pinewood Derby" policy will either get all your events chaired or get you thrown out on your ear.

  4. Boys decide. We have 5 camps we have typically visited, but new ideas are encouraged. As far as I'm concerned, there aren't any limits on what they can choose. In fact we're going somewhere next year we've never gone previously at the recommendation of a transfer Scout who's previous Troop loved it. Objectively, it seems going the same place every year would get boring, but to each his own.

  5. I would much prefer having Summer Camps limited to non-Eagle-required Merit Badges. As with most here, I know for a fact the Scouts are not doing all the work required for these Badges during a one-week Summer Camp.


    Our previous Scoutmaster, whom I admire greatly, once had a Scout come up to him at a campout where I (then just a Scout Parent) happened to be within earshot. The Scout was excitedly telling the Scoutmaster that he had just completed the Orienteering Merit Badge and how much he liked it. The Scoutmaster pulled a map and said, "That's great, Jonny! Orient this map." The kid did not even have any idea where to begin.

  6. Well, that might meet the letter of the policy, but I'd never do it if there were no other people milling around the area. With that reading, you could probably drive a single Scout somewhere because there are no more open, public areas than the roads during rush hour.


    I take the "no one-one-one" pretty literally, as much for my own protection as the Scout's, since they have nothing to fear from me.


  7. Here's another post that got glitched


    I just had this happen last week. Scout wanted a SM conference for Star, but has been an infrequent camper (also due to sports) and really hadn't done anything with his POR even when on campouts. So I just flat-out told him - without giving him my opinion - to take some time and think about whether he had fulfilled the responsibilities of his POR. He came back the next day and said "no" - that he was going to pick up a different POR in the Fall and work at that one. Not helpful in your position, if this kid and his family aren't interested in living the Oath & Law, but it was gratifying to have a kid - especially a young one - "get it."

  8. I'd personally like to see the program move toward more outdoor and more backwoods focus, and I'm trying to encourage my own Troop in that direction. I have encouraged my Patrols - particularly the Leadership group that's clearly capable - to go out on their own sometime. Hikes, camping, whatever you want. Not an "official" Scout event, you understand, just a group of young friends going camping or hiking.


    I completely agree with "Realize you can't teach all first class skills in 6 hours." I had a kid transfer to my Troop who had been on 2 campouts and attended Summer Camp and was two requirements from First Class. Totally ridiculous, and the other Troop almost ruined him as a Scout. I tell my Adults that I want these kids proficient when they get a sign-off - we'll leave the half-assed stuff to others. If I bust an ankle on a hike, I want these Scouts to know how to take care of me.


    I don't much care "how it used to be" or how it was when I was a Scout (although I frequently refer to the campouts I went on that were Patrol Members only - no Adults at all). There's a place for outdoor adventure in the life of every boy. That's what we should be trying to deliver.

  9. We generally discourage Scouts from working with their own parent on Merit Badges. A parent that would want to (and a Scout that's working on 6 Merit Badges at one time for that matter - I'd never authorize that many at once) would raise gigantic red flags for me. This seems to me to diminish the benefit Scouts are expected to gain from the "Adult Association" Method.

  10. "is there truly anything that is purely altruistic?"


    The short answer is "no" - as Stosh notes, doing nice things make him feel good about himself based essentially on how he was raised. In fact, I don't believe it's possible to do anything that isn't done because you "gain" something from doing it. Most of the time, these gains are not tangible or maybe even measurable - you don't get paid or get a dozen eggs in trade. It's a "good feeling" or you just want to.


    We do a lot of small things for our CO, in fact any time they ask in addition to whatever we can think of before they ask. We want to have good relations, they see us as a partner in their mission and vice-versa. Ditto in the larger community - what I believe we get from that is community visibility, an area where I believe Scouting generally is not as strong as it should be. It's easy to think someone you've never met is some kind of ogre. Just as everyone thinks Congress as a whole is a mess, but keeps re-electing their own Congressman, so Scouts is easy to dislike as a faceless institution, less so as "those guys that helped with our Concert in the Park."


    I also encourage our Patrol Leaders to seek out opportunities at food banks, soup kitchens and the like. It's part of the expected ethic.


    In the end, we "get something" out of all these efforts, but we would never make some tangible benefit an expectation for our help.

  11. So the idea behind the "Adult Association" piece of Scouting is for the Scouts to see how lots of different Adults practice leadership, the Oath & Law and etc. In my personal view as an SM, I will not counsel Merit Badges. The Scouts have plenty of chances (probably too many) to see me in "action." Both I and our Boards of Review strongly encourage the Scouts to not come forward with books showing only one or two Adults are signing off on all their Advancement Requirements. I have recently started giving our Scouts a list of 5 potential Merit Badge Counselors which includes only one Adult from the Troop and a bunch of Adults in the District who have signed up for that Merit Badge.


    Now, none of that answers your question - but as far as I know there is absolutely nothing that prevents a Scoutmaster from also serving as a Merit Badge Counselor. I just think it's a bad idea. I'd encourage you to talk with your SM about that aspect going forward, but certainly not to delay getting the Blue Card processed of course.

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  12. I agree. Most "kids" strive to live up to the expectations that are set by Adults. These don't have to be "in your face" expectations or anything, but if the Scouts understand that "the Troop's" expectation is that you're going to stick around regardless of the age you earn Eagle, most Scouts will do that, especially if they've seen other Troop Members do it in the past. One of the most important questions that I ask at Eagle Scoutmaster Conferences is what they plan to do to continue their Scouting career and "give back" to Scouting. If they're 15, that's a much different question than if they're 17 and about to age out.

  13. It's always fun in threads like this to have the dope smokers come on with the "it's no big deal" line. :)


    In my Troop, he's gone. I'd never trust him again and most importantly neither would any Parent in the Troop.

  14. While I wouldn't delay a boy, I have made it pretty clear I don't look favorably on 13- or 14-year old Eagles. We are not about advancement, and I never "push" boys to advance when they aren't interested. They all understand it's up to them. No Scout has ever quit the Troop because of this.


    My personal belief is that good, servant leadership can only come with experience. Scouts of that age simply don't have it, and have a lot to learn about what being a "leader" really means. Maybe one in a thousand is a "born" leader. I would expect the percentage of Scouts who Eagle at 13 or 14 who are still in their Troop at 17 approaches zero.

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  15. In this day and age, it's almost "expected" that you're going to have a website. They make a great marketing tool for your unit. Please be aware of security issues - don't post Scout names along with any pictures, etc. The home page should be publicly available as a marketing device, but everything else should be password protected for members of your unit only.

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