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Everything posted by Hedgehog

  1. Hedgehog

    What are scout summer camps in the USA like?

    Have you ever seen the movie "Friday the 13th"? That's our summer camp. Except it really isn't called Camp Crystal Lake. The camp is on the edge of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area and a mile and a half off the Appalachian Trail. Some of our guys have backpacked into camp the last three years (going in around 18 miles down from the North, canoeing on the Delaware and then hiking in around 10 miles and coming up 21 miles from the South). The camp is in the woods and has a lake for swimming and boating. Each Troop has its own campsite. We sleep in platform canvas tents with army-style cots. We supply our own sleeping bags and bug nets. There is an open air dining hall that cooks amazing food. The boys are kept pretty busy with six merit badge periods but most of them take 5 merit badges and keep a free period in the afternoon for boating or shooting practice. Some take 4 merit badges and an extra free period to goof off. There is an opening campfire on Sunday, a new camper campfire on Monday, an OA campfire on Wednesday and a closing campfire on Friday. There are Troop activities such as shooting, boating, swimming, frisbee, etc. on Tuesday and Thursday nights. There are camp-wide games on Wednesday afternoon and a build-it competition (where each Troop builds an object related to that year's theme and sees how the built object competes in a competition) on Thursday. We have morning and evening flag ceremonies both for each Troop in our campsite and camp wide.
  2. Our sequence is SPL and PL elections are in June. SM and ASM meet with SPL and ASPLs (and a couple of other scouts) in August to plan leadership training campout. Leadership training campout is weekend before first scout meeting. As part of that campout the plan the montly themes for the years meetings and begin the process of thinking about outings. Our first two outings are already planned, so they plan the rest of the year at the September and October PLC meetings (which gives them time to do research and meet with the boys in their patrols). When they have decided the outdoor program, the SM presents it to the Committee and everyone nods and smiles and then the Committee moves on to the next topic. Thinking about making a couple of changes this year. Maybe sending out an e-mail encouraging the boys to think about outings and do research before we have the leadership campout - that way we can have a list of options they can take to their patrols for input in September. The other change would be that one of the boy leaders such as the SPL, ASPLs, PLs or TG takes the lead for each outing.
  3. If necessary, how about a polite, "I think the boys would have more enthusiasm about the program if they had a some input in planning it." Or maybe the meeting is just the adults planning for adult things -- Mr. Hedgehog will be our new SM at the end of the year; Mrs. Rabbit will be stepping down as treasurer in September and we need a replacement; We would like to welcome Mr. Chipmonk and Mr. as new ASMs and let them know when the council training will be. Oh, we also need a new popcorn chair after Mr. Squirrell ate all of the carmel corn last year. We can hope, right? Better yet, ask questions about what the adults can do for the Troop to become more boy-led or talk about setting up a leadership training program for the boys to help them to lead.
  4. Hedgehog

    Chaplain's aid prayer policy

    That view is not very reverent or respectful to others religions and I'm pretty sure that type of comment is what Pope Francis was addressing when he said: I faced the opposite type of ignorance when I went to college when some evangelical Christians asserted that Catholics werent Christians. If someone believes that Christ is the Son of God, they are a Christian.
  5. Hedgehog

    To file disputed EBOR or not

    I think this is the way to go.
  6. Hedgehog

    Earning Merit Badges before rank of "Scout"?

    A scout can work on Merit Badges at anytime according to the guide to advancement: The Scout, the Blue Card, and the Unit Leader A few merit badges have certain restrictions, but otherwise any registered Boy Scout, Varsity Scout, or quali ed Venturer or Sea Scout may work on any of them at any time. The Guide to Advancement says that you are not permitted to add requirements to advancement: No council, committee, district, unit, or individual has the authority to add to, or subtract from, advancement requirements. and that it is the Scout's decision when to start a merit badge: It is then the Scout’s decision whether or not to proceed with the merit badge. If the boy thinks that they are ready to pursue a merit badge, once they are registered as a Boy Scout, they should be permitted to work on it.
  7. Hedgehog

    Adults At It Again

    I think you answered your own question. Good luck tonight. You might need to bring donuts to go along with the coffee.
  8. Hedgehog

    Why is eight so great ...

    Because eight is the maximum number of names you can remember to figure out who is missing when you count seven boys as being present. That is the difference with servant leadership. A servant leader's job is to encourage 100% of the people to do 150% of the work. Suceeding as a team is more important than just suceeding. In many of those 20% situations, the remaining 80% of the people want to make a contribution but they either: 1) don't know how they can contribute (lack of the leader coordinating skills with tasks); 2) they tune out because of the leader just giving orders ("you do what I say"); or 3) they are edged out because the 20% do everything based on wanting it "done right" leaving them nothing to do. The first problem is a lack of leadership - a leader needs to know capabilities of his patrol. The second problem is a failure due to using authoratarian leadership where the focus is on telling people what to do rather than working together to complete a task. The third failure is what I call DIY leadership - which isn't leadership at all. Servant leadership is more difficult than the other types of "leadership." If you look at adult-led troops you see all three situations which essentially suck the initiative out of the scouts.
  9. Hedgehog

    Adults At It Again

    There is a lot to be said for encouraging them to think outside the box. Even more to be said for reminding them there really isn't a box. Our incoming SPL and one of the ASPLs were over my house the other night because they had questions about the NYLT program my son attended in June because they were going in August. After they were done talking to my son, I told them that they should use what they learn to transform the Troop and that if they had any ideas how to change things in the Troop that I would back them up. We then talked about the leadership campout. I mentioned an idea my son, one of his buddies and I came up with to watch Monte Python and the Holy Grail on the campout. Their eyes lit up. I told them that we could do other fun things on the campout including water baloon fights, rock climbing, etc. because I want it to be fun not just a bunch of lectures. They started smiling. We talked about ideas for the first two campouts for the next year - the first being a canoing trip across a lake to camp on an island and the second being a beach campout. Then the SPL asked, can we do that trip where we did the hike across the boulder fields and up the rock faces? I turned to him and said "I'm not in charge, you guys are. Whatever the PLC wants to do, I will work with you guys to make it happen." I think they got it. I think they understood that if they imagine it, the Troop can do it.
  10. It is interesting. Our Troop has electons on an annual basis. I see some value in that because the boys grow over the course of the year. However, I see the value of what Stosh is saying too. Our Troop elects PLs on a Troop basis and then the SM assigns people to the patrols. I suspect the results would be different if each patrol elected their own leaders. I do see the prestige or resume factor in the Troop-wide elections. I also see the popularity factor in those elections. I can understand how the process would be substantially different if the patrols would make their own selections when they wanted to. My son has talked about the leadership for his in-the-process-of-forming venturing crew. He said, we can all sit down and decide who does what. After a while we can change positions so everyone gets a chance to lead and so everyone shares the workload. This is coming from someone who understands that servant leadership isn't all ordering people to do things but working hard to support the people you lead. A servant-leader doesnt seek the position for their own benefit, but so that they can help the organization advance. If you think of it that way, who needs term limits?
  11. Hedgehog

    The Senior Patrol Leader is in charge.

    As part of our leadership training this year, I was going to do something different when we go over the BSA organizational chart. I was going to set it up as a human organization chart with the people filling in posiitons and having rope between who reported to whom. I was then going to tell them that it was backwards and that they needed to turn around. The SPL is responsible to support the PLs and the PLs are responsible to support their patrols. When you turn around that way, you realize who is supposed to have your back. I think your biases might be influencing your reading of that phrase. If someone is in charge, that can be management or leadership. I've been in charge of a lot of things in my life, some of them involved leadership and others did not. I think the patrol method works because a smaller group is easier to lead. I see this in my Troop. The first part of our weekly meeting is run by the SPL and ASPL as a Troop, the second part of the meeting is patrol breakouts where the main thing they do is plan for their week of conducting the Troop activity, the third part of the meeting is one of the patrols running a Troop activity and the closing of the meeting is done as a Troop. Our outdoor program is still planned as a Troop. We have ad-hoc patrols on outings which typically have done little more than cooking together. We're slowly moving toward stronger patrols at our meetings and the boys functioning more as patrols during outings. Still have a long way to go. When parents visit, I tend to emphasize what I call the "beautiful chaos" that is boy-led. I explain to the parents that it would be a lot more structured if the adults ran thing, but that the boys think it is more fun for them to run things and they learn a lot more. I thinks that most parents like the idea of a program that encourages their son to become self-sufficient. It is a PR issue and we have to treat it that way. I see the SPLs role as the coordinator in chief. They exist because there are multiple patrols. Some things are done at a Troop level and others at the patrol level. The SPL is "in charge" of those things done at the Troop Level. Our Troop does service projects at the Troop level. Those are announced and coordinated by the SPL. On a campout we've done orienteering by Patrols. The SPL coordinates where and when the patrols start (sometimes they start in waves, sometimes they do a staggered start) and the PLs work with their patrols to teach the skills and to navigate the course. As I"ve mentioned before, our Troop needs to start having more things done as patrols rather than the troop and that will affect the role of the SPL.
  12. Hedgehog

    Scouting Builds Leaders And Doers

    If I had any influence at Irving... let's just say there would be a lot of suggestions.
  13. Hedgehog

    Adults At It Again

    Now you just have to come up with an urgent project that the adult-led faction needs to handle durng the meeting to keep them occupied - like getting all of the black off the Dutch Ovens.
  14. Hedgehog

    The Language we use

    @@Stosh - no offense taken. As Gordon Sumner sings, "Poets, priests and politicians have words to thank for their positions." As a lawyer, I freqently labor over the best way to express something. Although my point was about how we (scouters) explain the program to others effects their perception of the program, your comments ("one's comments"?) are well taken. My writing tends to mirror the way I speak -- even more so on a forum where I view the written posts as a discussion. As result, using the word "you" reflects how I talk. I tend to use the word "you" when empowering or encouraging someone ("you can do it)". I tend to use a more removed pronoun such as "one" or "everyone" when I'm preaching or correcting ("everyone should have taken training). And yes, I do sometimes use "you" to single someone out ("you need to stop that!"). As a lawyer, I've always been bothered by attorneys that refer to "my client" (e.g. "my client's position is that....") and tend to use pronouns such as "we" instead ("we have shown that the correct interpretation is...). The use of the word "we" gives the impression that "we" are in this together.
  15. Hedgehog

    Adults At It Again

    Ours has a retreat at the beginning of the year for training and planning (this year we've up it to a weekend campout) and meets the first week of every month for 45 minutes prior to the Troop meeting. It really isn't a hassle to arrive for a meeting a little early. I think this is critical. The PLC needs to plan the meetings, otherwise.... yep, you know where this is going... the adults will.
  16. Hedgehog

    Eagle board of review?

    In reading this topic, I can't help but think of how, as a lawyer, we prepare people to have their depositions taken. A deposition is where the other side gets to ask questions and the witness has to answer those question. Our preparation goes through what to expect (the introduction the other side uses, what we can object to, the fact that is is being recorded) and how to answer questions (Rule #1 - tell the truth). We also walk them through a "mock" deposition which is designed to be more difficult than the actual deposition will be. At an Eagle SM conference, we explain to them that the EBOR is just like the BoRs they have done before except that our CO Rep and someone from District will be there. We explain that the role the person from District takes varies from an observer who asks a couple of questions to someone who tries to run the EBOR. We explain the order of things (parents, SM, scout) and explain that like the other BORs it isn't a test and it is highly unlikely they will have any problems because we believe they are truly an Eagle Scout. We then ask a lot of questions as part of the Eagle SM conference -- far more questions than will be asked at the EBOR. The questions are designed to have them reflect on what they have done to make it to Eagle, what they will do in the future as an Eagle and what it means to be an Eagle. At the end, we tell them that the questions will be similar and that if they answer them they way they did in the Eagle SM conference they will be fine.
  17. Hedgehog

    Adults At It Again

    One thing that I've found is that the language we use both reflects our perspective and informs our actions. So some suggestions: The subtle differences in language are part of the paradim shift. A gentle correction to someone else's language (or even correcting your own in front of them) is a gentle reminder of the way the program works. I know what you mean and how you are operating, but being aware of what we say helps keep other in line. So when the SM says "you're in charge of the meeting and get the SPL on board" your response is "I will. I'll talk to the SPL and tell him he is in charge and be there if he needs any assistance." Rather than telling the SPL that "this is what we are going to do" ask the SPL "what do you think we should do?" Also, can you start doing an ASM's minute at the end of every meeting? That is a great way to talk to the adults in the guise of talking to the youth. I'm sure the adults in the Troop would think it is a good idea (hey, an adult stepping up and teaching the kids). You first one could be on failure with the theme being how we learn from failures but that the biggest failure is not trying. The second one could be on learning by doing. The thrid one being on leadership. What is the role of the PLC in the troop? When I joined our Troop, the Committee planned the outdoor program. Ugh. With the new SM's approval we started asking the PLC about their ideas. Three years later, we are having one member of the PLC do the research and planning for each activity. In other areas, having the PLC decide something pre-empted the adults from stepping in. Also, it sometimes helps to have the boy-led faction adults take charge of activities (like you are at the next meeting) and then turn control over to the boys. With our outdoor program, the adults used to announce the outings and collect the permission slips, etc. When I took over the program, I had the SPL make the announcement. After a while, the SPL collected the permission slips. Because it was my "job" in the eyes of the adults, no other adult would step in to take authority away from the boys because that would be stepping on my toes. Along the same lines, having an agreed upon command communication structure in place helps. I know, this sounds very adult led, but it actually acts as a defense against adult interference. Communication issues go from scouts, to PLs to SPL to SM (or ASM in charge) OR from ASM to SM (or ASM in charge) to SPL to PL to scouts in patrols. That is, the SM (or ASM in charge) is the only one who talks to a boy and that boy is the SPL. This has help me maintain boy-led in the outdoors because it prevents the ASMs and other adults from interfering. ???? Solid state drive? Also, I can't include the top Google result when I type in "SA." I need some help on the acronyms.
  18. Hedgehog

    Son and Friends Starting a New Venturing Crew

    Thank all of your for your suggestions. My comments in red below:
  19. Hedgehog

    Son and Friends Starting a New Venturing Crew

    See responses in red.
  20. Hedgehog

    Son and Friends Starting a New Venturing Crew

    I've ordered the book (along with the Venturing Guides and some other stuff a ScoutStuff. Thanks for the recommendation.
  21. Hedgehog

    "Boy Scouts thrive after lifting of gay ban."

    Meant to give you a +1 but hit the wrong button. Serves me right for trying to use my phone. At some point trying to appeal to everyone causes loosing the ability to appeal to anyone. BSA should be focused on citizenship, educutation and leadership in the outdoors. One of my favorite questions I've heard asked at an Eagle BOR is what citizenship and camping, hiking and backpacking have in common.
  22. Hedgehog

    Adults At It Again

    This is the problem. How does a patrol counselor differ from a patrol leader? It is an invitation to interfere. This is one of my pet issues with our Troop. The adults sitting in on the patrol meetings get too involved because they feel it is necessary to get the right result (I've been in that situation) not recognizing that as @@Stosh says the right result is the ones the boys come up with. Get a big banner for your next meeting that says "Never do Anything a Boy Can Do for Themselves - And That is Pretty Much Everything."
  23. Hedgehog

    Son and Friends Starting a New Venturing Crew

    Thanks for the tips. I explained what I think the difference between an advisor and a Scoutmaster is to my son last night. A Scoutmaster may initiate a discussion with a youth leader but an advisor waits for the youth to ask them. My son and I watched the Venturing Youth Orientation video. It was awful because it spent most of the time discussing paperwork and procedures. It seems some well meaning person at National developed 20 pages of forms to help a crew figure out its activities. The meetings as described sound absolutely tedious. It also seemed to have the officers doing the planning where it would seem that the whole crew should be involved. Son asked me, "do we have to do it that way?". My response was, "No. The crew decides what works for them." We won't be using that video for recruiting or training. At this point the crew is all 14 year olds. I tend to have a good relationship with the boys in the Troop - even staying up till 1:30 in the morning playing chess on the last night of camp. I've learned that relationship is based on respect going both ways. I've also seen how my relationship with the scouts changes as they get older. I suspect the relationships in Venturing is the same. Once things get started, I'll work with the committee on finding that female advisor who will do the serious backpacking treks. For now, I think my wife will be able to do the basic treks where we camp at established sites with latrines. I had already shown my son the ceremony and he had ideas of how to change it. He liked parts of it because it reminded him of OA. I suspect the crew will do more research and make their own ceremony. I like the idea of having them fill out their own applications. I'm also planning in having them make the presentation to the CO and fill out the paperwork for the charter. Next step is for my son and I to read the Advisor and Venturer guidebooks. I told my son that the goal is to figure out the possibilities of what they can do in Venturing. In the meantime, most of the future crew is going to see a play tonight that one of them is performing in. I think they have the Group Identity thing going already.
  24. Hedgehog

    Adults At It Again

    You will not suceed by merely coaching the boys because an interfering adult will always take charge over a well prepared boy. I think that it is time for the adults to sit down at a table and reach a common vision. Start the discussion by asking if we want the troop to be boy-led. Hopefully there is some agreement. Then use this chart and ask where everyone thinks your troop is on the continuum: http://scoutmastercg.com/ladder-of-youth-leadership-infographic/ From what you said, probably between a 5 and a 6. Recognize that everyone is trying to make the Troop succeed but acknowledge that everyone's efforts are counteracting everyone else's efforts. Get a commitment to make the troop more boy-led. Then ask what the adults can do to make the troop more boy-led. The key here is, as your signature says, to train them, trust them and let them lead. Work with Gunship to develop a leader training program for the boys. I"m working on one currently and would be glad to share when it is done. This puts Gunship in a beautiful dilema - if adults have to intervene then it is a result of his failure to train them. It allows him to focus his energy on training and gives him a stake in having the boys suceed. It also addresses what appears to be his concern that the boys won't do it right. If the boys are trained and know what they are doing, there is no need for the adults to interfere. The second step is to trust them. This may need some work. There is nothing wrong with the SPL and PLs sitting down well before a meeting and talking to the adults about their plans and the adults helping them fine tune the plans. This gives the boys guidance and help in developing the planning skill and gives adults like Gunship a sense that the boys are prepared. This process bulds up trust. Finally, the group has to agree to tolerate a little chaos and some failures because order can only come out of chaos and learning often best comes from failures. Also, that can be addressed in after action reviews. My analogy is that you have a rookie football team. The adults are the coaches on the sidelines. The Quarterback (SPL) is allowed to work with the coach ahead of the game, talk to the coach during the game and review the films after the game. However, the coach can't go in and play quarterback. In the beginning, the coach will call the plays. Then, as the team matures, the coach and the QB discuss what plays to call. Eventually, the QB will call the plays. Finally, have everyone make a commitment to work with the others to see where they can be more boy-led. It really helps if all the adults keep the others honest. Often adults in favor of boy-led feel they can make exceptions (I"m really pushing boy-led but in this instance I really had to say something because I really know what I'm doing). A simple "maybe you could have asked the PL what his solution would be before suggesting yours" works.
  25. Hedgehog

    "Boy Scouts thrive after lifting of gay ban."

    What benefit do you get from refering to the unit as "Boy Scouts"? What parts of the the BSA program do you find essential to your school's youth group? Wouldn't you have more freedom to craft a youth program without the guidelines and restrictions imposed by the BSA? Our church youth group is not affiliated with the BSA and it very much thrives. Why not just call your youth program the "[Name of School] Outdoor Adventure Program?"