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Everything posted by Torchwood

  1. Torchwood

    Does your Troop have dues?

    Our Troop has dues of $50. this used to cover the re-chartering fee for each Scout, including Boys Life. We have kept this the same, even though the fee has gone up. We have a single fundraiser each year, selling wreaths and other holiday greens. The Scouts go door to door and sell, with each Scout expected to hit a $300 minimum. Most go over that, some by a good margin (we had 3 boys top $1000 this year).Some Scouts also opt out entirely. We assess an additional dues payment from those Scouts of $150- approximately what the Troop would net from the minimum of $300. That money is our operating budget for the year, plus whatever fee we require for each trip (mostly food and fuel costs). We do not pay for summer camp outright from that fund, but we are generally able to help families in need come up with tuition for that week.
  2. We just had a District Camporee at the abandoned Medfield State Hospital in Medfield, MA. Parts of the grounds were used in the filming of Shutter Island, and the entire campus was the principal location for the upcoming New Mutants movie. Filming wrapped at the end of September, and we had 8 Troops there on Columbus Day weekend. The caretaker of the property took the whole crowd on a tour of the center of the campus one of the 2 nights we were there. The first trailer just came out, and it was cool to see the buildings, and how they added things, both real and with CGI technology.
  3. Talk to your local Scoutmasters about getting a Webelos Den Chief or two. Having Boy Scouts at your meetings and activities will definitely ramp up the excitement level in your Webelos Scouts. We are looking at a class of 12 Webelos crossing to our Troop in early 2018. We have 2 Den Chiefs- one is a Life Scout that is on his game, the other is a 1st Class Scout who is young enough that the Webelos know him from when he was in their Pack. Between the two of them, they can reach most of the boys in a positive manner. We are also being very proactive with the boys and their families. We are having a local camping trip over Veterans Day weekend (next town over from where the Troop is located). We have invited these 12 boys to come and hang out with us one afternoon. They will have lunch with us (dividing them up among the Patrols), we will run through the requirements for the Scouting Adventure and brush them up on Outdoorsman and Castaway Adventure requirements as well. We have also extended them an invitation, if they have a willing parent, to stay over and camp that night. The few that may take us up on that will have dinner with our Patrols (while their parents eat with the Troop adult leaders), and will be part of our campfire program that evening. We want them to get the flavor of life in the Troop, and we want their parents to see what a boy-led Unit looks like in the field. All of this is to get the entire family comfortable with how Boy Scouts is different than Cub Scouts in so many ways, and nothing shows them those differences more than seeing it with their own eyes.
  4. Torchwood

    What to do

    Has your son been to NYLT? It will help fill his toolbox to deal with all of the issues of Troop leadership. And just a short story: I had a parent speak to me about an older Scout who was being a jerk to her son, who is 3 years younger. Sh was worried about the two of them being together at Jambo, without any of the Troop's adults around. While mulling over a solution, I saw the older Scout sitting near the door at the end of a Troop meeting, waiting for his ride home. I sat down next to him and asked him what was going on with him and the younger Scout. He told me that the younger Scout was being a little disrespectful, and was always clowning around. My response to him: "You mean he is acting like you did at his age?" First his mouth fell open, then he smiled as he figured it all out. From what I heard, the two of them got along better than brothers at Jambo this summer. So, maybe your son needs to think about what would have gotten his attention when he was a younger Scout and move on from there.
  5. Torchwood

    Dealing with Helicopter Parents

    Actually, I am very much in the Scout's corner, and would love to see him earn his Eagle. But, it has to be HIM doing the work, and not the father. My issues with dad are purely based on his pushy behavior regarding his son's advancement and his acting as if his family is above the rules that apply to every other Scout and parent involved in the Troop. The Scout's older brother earned his Eagle just before he turned 18, with a lot of pressure exerted on the Troop by his father. The younger brother was, at the time, completely checked out on being in the Troop. He wasn't around all that much, and when he was present, he was disruptive during Troop meetings, and not all that much help to his Patrol during camping trips that he bothered to show up for. He has done a pretty amazing about face, and he and I have spoken often about the plan that my ASM and I created for him (which he seems thankful for). That being said, he missed all but 5 hours of our last camping trip (he had an athletic event that overlapped most of it). He never checked in with the SPL or any adult when he showed up, and left without any notice either- not even a text message from a parent saying that he had been dropped off/picked up. We were at a District Camporee, and were all watching a movie outdoors adjacent to our campsites. He is late for every Troop meeting due to practice, and often leaves early for a tutor that is apparently only available the night that the Troop meets. I can make all the plans in the world, but if dad is involved, it becomes about what the bare minimum he can do is, or how many phone calls he can make and emails he can write on the Scout's behalf to complete the checklist. The Scout is smart and engaging. I have seen a huge leap in his maturity over recent months, and counter to the younger, pain in the backside version of himself that used to wander into our meeting place, he appears to want to earn Eagle. But every time he fails to show up for a meeting or other Troop event is one step closer to me having the conversation with him that he is getting really low on runway. If he reaches critical mass, I can only imagine what the interaction with dad will be like.
  6. Torchwood

    Dealing with Helicopter Parents

    We have a few helicopters and bulldozers in out Troop. I am pretty up front with them about the fact that this isn't their journey. If they email me, I will generally email the kid and cc the parent. I address most mass emails to the Scouts, not the parents. If a parent asks for Merit Badge info, I tell them point blank that I need to have that conversation with the Scout. If they want to be involved, and we hope that they do, we need them working for the good of the Troop, not just their own kid. I have one dad with a 17 year old Life Scout that is on the edge of being able to earn his Eagle Scout. This guy pushes back on us so hard that I actually created a very specific plan for his kid (he is heavily involved in a specific sport, and I think he has some attention deficit issues, but that has never been explicitly mentioned to me), with attendance goals for meetings and outings that are on the lowest end of what I and our Troop Committee think are appropriate percentages. I really don't like this guy very much. He is the only parent in the Troop who rubs me the wrong way, and I know that he is really putting the spurs to this kid which isn't getting him any ground with me either. I am pretty sure he and I will face off soon, since the Scout isn't quite living up to the expectations that he agreed to. I also have a 6-pack of 11th graders that could, at this point in their Scouting lives, be on the cusp of Eagle. Instead, they shirk responsibilities and are not the role model to the younger boys that I feel they should be. I have had a few conversations with them- sometimes singly, sometimes in a group. I have explained to them that the path to Eagle is not supposed to be easy, and that being an Eagle Scout requires them to be the living embodiment of the Scout Oath and Law. Anything less tarnishes the Rank. Our Troop is in an affluent suburban town, and most of these boys, unfortunately, have had all the advantages simply handed to them, without needing to be responsible to anyone for any of it. Mom and Dad are quick to pull out the checkbook or write the email, but apparently loathe to raise responsible young adults.
  7. Torchwood

    When To Not Be Calm?

    Brian- Have you gone to NYLT? I know that you are close to earning Eagle (as is my 15 year old son, who is also the SPL of our Troop). He spent a week this summer taking the course, and came back with the tools to engage both the younger boys, some of whom sound just like the boys in your OP, as well as the older boys who ordinarily wouldn't generally listen to anyone younger than they are, regardless of who is wearing the SPL patch on their uniform. He has stepped up his game, and is truly committed to improving the Troop program.
  8. I was told that this no longer exists at my local store.
  9. Torchwood

    Alps Mountaineering Scout Direct program gone?

    The Taurus Outfitter tents have bigger (stronger) zippers, and the floor is a heavier urethane coated nylon material that will stand up to the abuse of Scouts throwing their gear around better. They also have aluminum poles instead of fiberglass, and they have 2 doors, which makes it easier for middle of the night trips to the latrine. Each door also has its own vestibule, so there is plenty of covered space for gear outside of the tent. They were designed for companies that outfit groups for camping expeditions, so they would be used by many people over the course of a single camping season, and likely abused by some of the renters. I have a Chaos that I use when tenting alone, and a Taurus 5 Outfitter for family camping. Both have yet to allow a drop of water in them, even through torrential downpours and flooded Camporee fields.
  10. Apparently this decision has wiped the sense of humor from some of the adults in the room...
  11. I promise you that the boys are equally foolish with or without the presence of a girl...
  12. Torchwood

    Should a boy hold two PORs?

    If the Troop in question is operating according to the rules, then the SPL should have selected a different person to replace the newly elected PL as the Scribe. Unless the Troop is so small that other Scouts are also doubling up to cover the required positions.
  13. Torchwood

    Council Pressure

    Just my opinion, but generally I think that FOS barks up the wrong trees. Why on earth would you ask the families that are already supporting Scouting at the Unit level to contribute more to the Council? They should be working like the development arm of any other non-profit, and target businesses. Go for deep pockets, and stop the nickel and dime stuff.
  14. Torchwood

    Should a boy hold two PORs?

    Other than holding elections for SPL and the individual PLs, the other Troop PORs are supposed to be APPOINTED by the SPL. They are not elected positions.
  15. Torchwood

    New Requirement Question

    The SM is asking a simple question. How YOU see YOUR duty to God is how you answer that question. There is no wrong answer, it is just a way to open the topic for discussion.
  16. Torchwood

    Merit Badge Workshop Website?

    Sorry for the soapbox, but I hope that you have noticed that all of the advice you have gotten doesn't mention YOU doing anything. Boy Scout advancement is your Scout's responsibility. If he has questions about how to get help with a Merit Badge, he should be asking his Scoutmaster to help him find a registered Merit Badge Counselor for that topic. Merit Badges have a very specific order: The Scout meets with the Scoutmaster to get a signed blue card and the contact info for MB Counselors for that Merit Badge. The Scout contacts the MB Counselor for an initial meeting to talk about the process for that particular badge. The Scout completes the requirements, checking in with the MB Counselor as needed. The Scout meets with the MB Counselor to show/demonstrate his completed work, and get the blue card signed off. The Scout gets the Scoutmaster's signature on the completed blue card, and gives it to the Advancement chair, who records the info and purchases the Merit Badge, which is handed out as per the traditions of the Scout's Troop.
  17. Torchwood

    How to market for the BSA

    I don't think that all of the measured changes are due to a single cause. The reductions in sex, drinking and drug use are far more likely to be due to better access to healthcare and the millions of dollars spent on PSA campaigns and school programs aimed specifically at those issues. In the upscale community where my Troop is, most kids never need to have a part-time job. Some do delay getting a driver's license, although I am willing to bet that the average family in town would eagerly buy their teenager a car as soon as said license was acquired. We do have quite an issue with helicopter and snowplow parenting. I have some families where we are fighting an uphill battle to get them to even let their Scouts regularly go on camping trips. The time spent with electronic devices is a symptom of that culture in many cases, not the root cause.
  18. There are certainly exceptions to what I said, but the rest of them should be exploring a subject area. The MBC can guide the Scout to find the answers without lecturing...
  19. Just my 2 cents: Your job as a MBC is NOT to "teach" a Merit Badge. If you look at the requirements, very often they say "discuss with your counselor" or "do the following". In none of these cases is there any expectation that the MBC is lecturing to a group of Scouts. The Scouts are supposed to become familiar with the subject matter through things like reading the Merit Badge pamphlet, or looking things up on the Internet. Your job as a MBC is to then make sure that they know the information. Now, you can certainly use the EDGE method for things- a perfect example would be Home Repairs. But lectures and tests should remain in school. As for Troops giving Scouts opportunities to earn Merit Badges, these are supposed to be in addition to the Troop Program, not an integral part of it. If you take a way the Adult Association method by having Scouts work either individually or in twos or threes with trained MBCs, you aren't part of a Boy Scout Troop
  20. Here is my opinion on the subject: I am absolutely in favor of admitting girls into the Scouting program. I think that it will, at least here in MA, have a positive impact on membership. Personally, it would keep me involved in the Troop for at least an additional three years, as my daughter, who is presently in Girl Scouts, would definitely cross over into the BSA if given the opportunity. She is bored to tears with most of the activities in her Troop, and the leadership has made it pretty clear that they are not interested in my help to enhance their outdoor program (which can barely be considered an outdoor program at all). They seem to be of the opinion that having any leaders of the opposite gender isn't empowering to the girls, while I think that anyone taking the time to show them skills that they will have for the rest of their lives is a win. The world isn't single-gendered, and part of learning to be an adult is interacting with other human beings, no matter what ethnicity, religion, or gender identity.
  21. Torchwood


    When I was a youth soccer referee in High School, it was an ACME Thunderer- the one with the metal band that went around your fingers- no lanyard. Now, the Fox 40 is what I usually have clipped to my pack. Not sure what happened to my ACME...
  22. I hope that cows are still getting female names, since a male wouldn't be a cow. I also wish that the HRC would stay away from cutesy names. Hurricane Cynthia is way more intimidating than Hurricane Cindy...
  23. Torchwood

    Troop Tents Pro or Con?

    We have Troop tents- mostly Kelty Gunnisons and some MountainSmith dome tents. My personal tents are ALPS, and I highly recommend their Taurus Outfitter line for Troop tents, even though they are a little heavier than the standard Taurus. I have one of their Chaos tents that I use when tenting alone, and a Taurus for when Mrs. Scoutmaster joins me (which happens more often than not- she is on the Troop Committee and is a Merit Badge Counselor too).
  24. I am not a big fan of cloud anything- but I think part of that is the fact that all of that stuff is blocked at our firewall at work, so I don't use it anyway. The "cloud" is just someone else's computer. That being said, here is a recipe for safe computing for your family: 1. Make sure that you change all of your router settings from what your ISP has as defaults. That means changing your home network name (SSID) and password, and setting an admin name and password for the management console. If you go to a browser, generally the way to access this is to type into the address bar and hit enter. You can add all kinds of other security features, like listing the MAC address of every device that you want to allow on your network, and blocking unknown devices. I also suggest enabling a guest network with its own SSID and password, especially if your house is the local hub for your kids and their friends. I actually have 2 routers in my house- one is from my cable provider and is locked down pretty tight in our basement (mounted near the ceiling). It only connects to a few devices, including a wired switch that feeds our desktop computers and a few other wired devices. The other is on the main floor, and has dual wifi networks for the family, and a guest network as well. 2. Make sure that you have antivirus software on every possible device and keep it up to date. Avoid phishing and other scams by NEVER clicking on links to websites in emails from vendors you do have accounts with (banks, credit card providers, etc). Instead, go the their actual websites and login there. Scammers have gotten really good at spoofing websites (the recent Google scam is a perfect example), so make sure that you are vigilant at looking at the URLs of any site you go to. If it looks suspicious, stay away. 3. I can't stress the use of STRONG passwords enough. Use different passwords for every account, make them complex Letters, caps, numbers and special characters), don't leave them on a post-it stuck to the edge of your monitor. There are differing schools of thought about changing them often. I am of the opinion that if you have a strong, complex password, you don't have to change it. If you have a lot of accounts that you use often, consider using a password manager like KeePass, so that you have a single password to remember, and it can generate long and complex passwords randomly for each website you need to access. Also, if you have accounts that offer 2-Factor Authentication, pleas use it. If you don't know what that is, it is a system where you enter your username and password (these are things that only you know), and then the website sends a text message to your phone with a code that you then enter for final access (the phone is something only you have). I'm sure I will think of more things, but start here.
  25. Colonel- I absolutely agree. I work in a DoD research facility. I absolutely add to the curriculum (not the requirements, as that would be wrong) about things like creating strong passwords, watching for phishing and other scams, the importance of good (and up to date) antivirus software and firewalls, etc.