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Posts posted by Hedgehog

  1. At a meeting of the Den my son is Den Chief for, the Den Leader asked him is he knew how to tie a sheepshank.  He promptly said "of course" and tied a sheet bend.


    There is an ongoing issue about whether a bowline is pronounced "bo lynne" "bo line" or "bow line."  A knot by anyother name is tied as sweetly.

  2. The District guys started asking about it at Eagle Board of Reviews.  In response, the boys stated reciting at the opening after the Oath and Law.  I think they still have their signs up and I don't see anything inappropriate with that.  


    Also, knowing it is part of the Camping merit badge, but I'm not sure when it became a requriement.

  3. I'm sure that BSA would become a much better babysitter if we accepted both boys and girls.  


    We would certainly attract a lot more families who would like to make use of an inexpensive babysitting service that is available to serve the entire family.  


    This is what is happening to YMCA.  The Y is losing their core mission and replacing it with more family friendly activities and services.  


    I wonder how many scout associations are seeing an uptick in their numbers simply because they are becoming better babysitters?


    I am not surprised to hear that they have a waiting list for lack of volunteers.  I wouldn't want to donate my time to be a free babysitter to families, many of whom may have little real interest in the program.


    I think you misunderstand how the BSA programs actually operate.


    For most of our Pack's Cub Scout Den functions, the parents are present.  The Dens are divided by grade and so if you have multiple kids, they typically do not meet at the same time.  The only exception is Webelos where the parent's generally start attending less because the Den is tranistioning to the Boy Scout boy-led model.  For Pack activities, the parents are typically there also.  On outings, parents are required (unless they give permission to another parent to be responsible for their kids).  At the Boy Scout and Venturing level, parents can drop off their kids and leave but we have no lack of volunteers.  Just look at the numbers of ASMs and Committee Members that people are reporting here:  http://scouter.com/index.php/topic/28668-how-big-is-your-committeetroop/


    For those of us who see Cub Scouts as a way to engage children with learning and adventure, see Boy Scouts as a way to teach independence and leadership and see Venturing as an opportunity for youth to lead their own adventures, using the term babysitting is insulting.  


  4. So my experience comes from 5 years of Cub Scouts, 4 years of Boy Scouts and 4 months of Venturing.  Our Cub Scout Pack had the boys only at the Den meetings, but the pack meetings and campouts were very family oriented.  Our Pinewood Derby had a separate race for siblings (eihter too young or too old).  In Boy Scouts, I saw the benefits of having 11 to 13 year old boys be in an environment with older boys that gave them a comfortable space to be awkward "tweens."  Now, I see young men and women in a Venturing Crew operating at an amazing level of youth-led.  The young women who join the Crew don't want Boy Scouts, they don't want Eagle, they want ADVENTURE.  Everyone of them has done or is in Girl Scouts.  One just got Gold another just got Silver.  Four out of six have brothers that have been or are in Boy Scouts.  What is interesting is the young men who have joined the Crew.  Two are active Boy Scouts.  One is a Boy Scout who didn't like how his unit was run (not boy-led) but still wanted adventure, two are boys who love camping and the outdoors but that had never joined Boy Scouts (they were brought to Venturing by their friends).  We have another 2 young women interested plus one who is waiting to turn 14 to join as well as several current Boy Scouts who would love the opportunity to go camping more.  The Crew also is planning to start helping out at Cub Scout events as a long term recruiting tool just because that is where they will get to meet the upcoming Boy Scouts AND their sisters.


    Based on where we are with our Crew in less than five months, if we want to add girls and increase membership, Venturing is the way to go.  Out of our Crew of 11, only 2 are current BSA.  AND, nobody left the Cub Scouts or the Troop because we started a Venturing Crew.

  5. I was under the impression that any boy that met rank/age requirements had an opportunity to run for a position.  This does not seem to be the case and in fact, could exclude boys from the chance depending on their popularity in the troop.  



    Only the PL and my son are qualified to lead based on the requirements. 


    I guess I don't understand the reason patrols are set in stone and other boys don't have an opportunity to lead even though they have the qualifications but might have more competition in their patrols.  Also, re-organizing patrols to be more even seems logical to me but that's not my concern here. 


    What is the point in having a QM that never goes on campouts or a ASPL that has a job and can never make it to meetings?  We've had that problem, so again, it seems logical to have boys that want the position and are "hungry" for it.


    The BSA doesn't have any age / rank requirements for any position.  Those are imposed by the Troop, typically the SM because the SM thinks that those requirements exclude people who are not qualified.  Any requirement that is a proxy for ability to lead really shouldn't exist.  The criteria should be the scouts ability to lead despite any arbitrary requirement.


    The popularity issue shouldn't exist.  If the SPL's role is defined as making sure the Troop succeeds through supporting the PLs and the troop-wide PORs such as Quartermaster, Troop Guide and Instructors, then the SPL will find the best people for those roles.  In our Troop, the people who fill those roles end up being the most qualified but not necessarily popular scouts.  Our SPLs know that and tend to appoint people who will do the job because the SPLs success depends on the Troop's success and the Troop's success depends on the success of those PORs.


    As a general sentiment, the more the adults develop rules, guidelines, qualifications, forms, etc. the further we get away from the BSA's requirements.


    Same with OA.  Why is this not voted on or if it is voted on, seems to be just a formality


    For OA, there are set requirements - First Class Rank, 15 nights camping in prior 2 years, scoutmaster recommendation and vote by Troop.  In our Troop, we ask those scouts who are interested to submit their names.  We won't nominate anyone who isn't interested.


    There have been few instances where we have withheld the Scoutmaster's approval.  Those are typically for young scouts who just meet the camping requirements but where we think they need another year to mature.  We've found that if we approve those scouts and put them on the ballot, they typically don't get voted in.

    • Upvote 1
  6. We purchased authentic Indian arrows (or so the website said) and the parents painted them using various stripes for various ranks and achivements.  For example, a broad orange stripe for Tiger, a yellow stripe for Wolves, a blue stripe for Bear, red stripes for Webelos 1 and green for Webelos 2.  Thin silver and gold stripes for arrow points, purple for World Conservation, a stripe for each of the Webelos awards earned, etc.  It was a fun activity for a group of parents who got to be friends over the five years of Cub Scouts.

    • Upvote 1
  7. Leadership isn't what happens when things are going well.  Leadership is what happens when things don't go as planned.  What you saw was scouts stepping up and leading.  That was a direct result of you giving them permission to lead.

  8. We've gotten the adults to camp anc cook separately from the scouts on both the Troop and Crew outings.  The adult leaders have bonded much like a patrol and we tend to work together seamlessly.  We also informally teach each other skills, show each other gear and generally learn from each other.  It takes the new parents a little getting used to camping away from the scouts, but they find that they enjoy themselves.  Honestly, I think the best part is just being able to relax with a bunch of friends.

  9. This:


    Billy Scout asks SM for SMC before the meeting starts.  The Scoutmaster will hold the SMC during the meeting (no reason for the Scoutmaster not to do so, he's not running the meeting, the SPL is).


    Once the SMC is completed, the Scoutmaster informs the Advancement Chair that a BOR for Billy Scout is needed at the next Troop meeting and the Advancement Chair arranges for the BOR to be there.  the BOR is done during the meeting (may as well, the committee members are running the meeting, the SPL is - they have plenty of time during the meeting to do so).


    Why doesn't the Scout ask the Advancement Chair of the BOR?  Because it's not his responsibility - the Scoutmaster is the bridge between the Scouts and the Commitee - and the Scoutmaster asking verifies to the AC that the lad is ready for the BOR.


    And this:


    If there are three MCs and a quarter of an hour to spare, they will drop everything and have the board on the spot. (What else are they going to do? The boys are running the meeting.) Lacking that, the CC will will make sure adults are available next meeting.


    My troop growing up, the committee met on one meeting night every month. Reviews would start after the meeting. Boys would wait downstairs and go upstairs when called. Then SM would give his report and the meeting would be closed. I remember because my dad was an MC, so I sat downstairs after the troop meeting waiting for them to finish.



    We always seem to have the CC and two or three committee members at each meeting.  There also are some Dads that that aren't registered that sit in when needed.  It is only a major production if the adults make it one.

  10. At some point, our sons and daughters have to make adult decisions and learn to react to those decisions with outward virtuous actions . I once met a teacher who preached to his parent friends over and over that we have to put our kids in as many decision making situations that we can so they they will practice and developed into decision making experts by they time they are adults. That is exactly what the Scouting program is about and why I am so passionate about it. But Scouting can't do it all, our community is supposed to guide our young people as well.



    This is the most important post to read in the whole thread.  I find that the Scouting even can change the adults' behavior.  I've forgotten how many times I've had to e-mail parents and tell them that their son should be the one responding or corresponding with me and how many times parents try to give me money or permission slips and I tell them to give it to their son to handle. 

  11. It is often very effective, and of great use.  That's why we use it.



    By the time the zero tolerance policy is used, it has already failed in its purpose.  The poliies were designed to deter behavior, if someone does not heed the deterence an engages in the prohibited behavior (by inadvertance, accident or intentional act -- which it is doesn't matter for zero tolerance) then the policy has failed.


    Discretion, on the other hand, allows for the same deterence -- knowing there will be a consequence -- but also allows for recognition of the wrong, the ability to redress the wrong and an opportunity to prove that you have learned from the mistake.  

  12. @@David CO, I agree that drug use is inconsistent with the values of scouting -- physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.  I doubt any of us disagree with you on that.  However, the question is how do you react to finding drug use by a scout?  A zero tolerance policy (i.e. one infraction however minor and you are out of the unit for good) is great for the unit or sponsoring organization because it releives the unit of the problem and provides a seemingly clear conscience -- we did what the rules say we do and what we told you we would do.  But what about the scout?  I believe that every scout needs scouting for a different reason.  If staying in scouting gives the scout encouragement to truly live by the scout law, then I think that is our job as leaders to be helpful.  That doesn't mean condoning the activity or permitting the activity on campouts - but inviting the scout to participate is they are obedient and follow the rules.


    @@MattR did the right thing balancing sticking by Scouting's principles and leaving the door open if the boy wanted to change.  Zero tolerance policies remove judgment and discretion and remove the chance for the boy to change course.

    • Upvote 3
  13. So in our Chapter, the boys who are active are going to go around to the Troops and run the elections.  A step up from adults coming in and running them.  The Chapter meeting next month is bowling - my son already has it on my calendar.  We have a day of service at a community park in December that sounds like a lot of fun and our banquet in February.  The Lodge has a ceremonies team and just started a drum team.,  The level of youth leardership is great.  My son thinks that OA is one of the best parts of scouting.

    • Upvote 1
  14. This weekend was the Crew's first overnight camping trip.  The crew did a 10 mile bike ride in September.  In October, we did a shakedown hike for a planned AT backpacking trip.  Unfortunately, the trip had to be cancelled because several of crew members who panned to go couldn't make it for valid reasons (severe cold, death of relative, injury on a 50 mile bike ride the weekend before, etc.) and the weather looked awful (40s and raining all weekend).


    So our November trip was going to our council camp and doing the COPE course.  We only had 5 out of the 9 crew members but it was great.  The first morning was a little bit of chaos because they woke up late and weren't working together to get breakfast ready.  They ended being around 20 minutes late for the start.  A good lesson that the adults will not step in to wake up the venturers or to tell them how to do things.  


    The COPE course got them working together as a team and really taught some good lessons -- listen to everyone / speak up if you have an idea, the adults will not tell you what to do and will let them fail, you suceed when you work together, best to plan, evaluate and then execute.  It was interesting to see when our Crew of 5 got paired with another larger combined Crew / Troop for the last activity that our Crew's leaders just took charge.  One of the things I said at our meetings and on the COPE course seems to have stuck because I heard one of the Ventures saiy it to the group.... "In Venturing, you all are leaders."


     As they moved to the High Cope (ropes) course, it was amazing to see their scout spirit.  Our president went first up one of the courses but there was a younger scout going at the same time.  Our President was to the top of the first element in seconds but she came back down to help the other scout up -- almost lifting up some rungs and letting him use her knee to get up others all while encouraging him.  My son did something similar when the person he was climbing with couldn't make the last rung.  The Crew members were the only group that didn't have people standing around -- when they weren't on the course they were belaying.  


    When they got back to camp, they worked as a team to get firewood, get water, cook dinner, make a fire and wash dishes.  Although there was a little issue with the fire taking too long to start (how many Venturers does it take to start a fire?) while the other two were stuck doing all the dishes, they managed to handle the situation pretty well.  You could tell that by the end of the night, they had bonded as a crew.  They were all asleep by 9:30.


    Sunday morning was clear and sunny and the Great Master of All Scouts was smiling on the Crew.  They woke up, had hot chocolate and coffee sitting at a picnic table.  Two of them cooked the sausage while the other three packed their gear and then the other tree cooked the french toast while the other two packed the gear.  They ate breakfast sitting together at the table (wait, scouts actually can do that ?)), set a record for doing dishes (12 minutes) and were packed up and read to go.  The whole crew went together to get the campmaster to inspect the camp.


    In our After Action Review, they talked about what went wrong on Saturday morning and with the dishes on Saturday night and how thing went right on Sunday.  The best comment was, "I wish the rest of the Crew was here, we really learned a lot this weekend."  


    Looking forward to December's trip.

    • Upvote 1
  15. Nothing Taboo at all.  As a Boy Scout my son is very involved in the Order of the Arrow (a scouting service organization) in our council, is applying to staff the National Youth Leadership Training program (where youth teach youth to lead)  in one council to the north of us and applying to serve on summer camp staff for another council to the north of us.  Our Troop does weekend camping in camps across the area in various councils - more than 10 councils in three years.


    As @@frankpalazzi said, some councils give preference to their own units or scouts, but there is no prohibition.

  16. At one point the Troop's rule was any scout first class and above could sign off on the ST21 requirements.  I'm not sure if that is still the rule.  Currently, we encourage scouts to have requirements signed off by their PL, APL or the Troop Guide assigned to the patrol.  We like the person to be someone who saw them fulfill the requirement or taught them.  The SPL and ASPLs can sign off but rarely do.  For the Star, Life and Eagle ranks, the SM signs off based on a discussion with the scout (how did you meet this requirement) and a review of the advancement records (which merit badges have been earned).  At all ranks, the SM signs off on the service requirements based on a discussion with the scout who should be tracking that in the back of their book.

  17. I see good fire-building as a collection of maxims:


    • You need six things to a fire: ignition source, tinder kindling, fuel, oxygen and patience.
    • If a piece of wood is wet on the outside, it is dry on the inside.
    • Never use a piece of wood that doesn't break with a snap -- if it bends it won't burn.
    • Look for wood that is smaller than your wrist that you can break easily
    • Look for wood that is off the ground (i.e. branch that fell against another tree)
    • If the ground is wet, build the fire off the ground (lay some wood on the ground and put the tinder on top of the wood)
    • Leaves and needles are for making smoke, not fire

    Our guys typically carry cotton balls with petroleum jelly (very helpful in rain and snow) but also know how to use wood shavings to start a fire.  We teach them to build a fire starting small and adding wood as the fire grows stronger.  Once we get a teepee fire going - starting with smaller sticks and putting larger sticks on top of it, they build a log cabin fire around it.

    • Upvote 1
  18. Eagle90:


    I haven't found battery operated lanterns that use rechargable batteries that are suitable for base camping (I like that better than "car camping" or "stop and plop camping").  Our troop has gone to using the refillable propane tanks with stands.  We are planning on purchasing smaller propane tanks here: https://www.lowes.com/pd/Worthington-Pro-Grade-4-25-lb-Propane-Tank/3089591to replace the larger 20 pound tanks.  We also use the tanks and stand pipes for cooking.  That way, we aren't throwing away 4 to 6 of the Coleman fuel tanks for each campout.





    I have a good headlamp that has a regular and red light setting.  The red light is great for night hiking because it doesn't cause your pupils to contract allowing your eyes to see outside of where the beam shines.  A scout can hang this in their tent to shine light.  It doesn't have to be super expensive (around 25 is a good price).   I also carry a cheap small LED flashlight like this: https://www.lowes.com/pd/Lux-Pro-90-Lumens-LED-Handheld-Battery-Flashlight/50333207.  As others have said, think dual use -- get something they can use for base camping and for backcountry adventures where they have to carry their own gear.  I've had other lanterns -- a candle lantern and a Black Diamond Apollo and they aren't that good.  I have to admit, the Luci lanterns look neat -- I may have to get one and try it out.  I can't help myself... I'm a major gear-head.


    Just a thought -- if your son doesn't have a flint and steel, get him one.  The new guys in our Troop love to use them with a cotton ball and petroleum jelly to start a fire. Also, if he doesn't have a good pocket knife get him just a knife (no multitools) with a locking blade.  I love the Ontario RAT 2 folding knives - they are a little bit smaller but a really cool knife for scouts crossing over. http://www.ridgeknifeshop.com/search.php?pg=1&stext=rat+folder&sprice=&stype=&scat=&sman=13

    • Upvote 1
  19. Ours is $24 per scout and $1 insurance.  Council supports itself with popcorn, fundraisers, summer camp, camporees, scout shop and FOS.  


    The claim that the Fair Labor Standards Act caused the issue is spurious at best.  All they need to do is take the current weekly salary (say, divide it by the number of hours spent a week, including time and a half for overtime, and then translate it into an annual salary.  So if someone is making $30,000 per year working 50 hours a week, the salary could be set at $10 an hour.  $10 x 40 hours = $400 plus $10 x 15 (10 hours overtime at time and a half) = $150 for a total of a $550 week.  Annualized, that is $33,800.  If you set the hourly wage to $9 an hour, then it is pretty close to $30,000.


    then once a month there's a camp, usually we're asking $20 a head for grub


    then next month another $20 grub fee


    We charge $15 a person for food for a weekend. That typically includes a Friday night snack (how about hot pretzels in a Dutch oven or Jiffy Pop over a campfire or s'mores?), Saturday Breakfast (Eggs, Bacon, Biscuits), Saturday Lunch (sandwiches or hot dogs cooked in a cast iron skillet), Saturday Dinner (italian sausages, chuck steaks, chili, baked chicken, hamburgers or meatballs  served with Dutch oven pasta), Saturday Dessert (dump cakes, s'mores, Dutch Oven brownies) and Sunday Breakfast (pancakes or French toast with sausages).  The adults eat even better with fresh brewed coffee, fresh baked biscuits and entree's such as Italian Braised Short Ribs over Polenta, Roast Beef with Mashed Potatoes, Baby Back Ribs with Cornbread or Grilled Strip Steaks with Baked Sweet Potatoes.  For $15, that is a coffee and danish at Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts and a burger and fries at McDonalds.  I'd say even $20 for a weekend is a bargain.

  20. We've done a bunch of 3 day, 20 milers on the AT in New Jersey.  Our Troop has talked about doing a section down in Shenandoah National Park.  My son and I have talked about doing the 100 Mile Wilderness the summer after his senior year in high school as the capstone to our Boy Scout careers.  Best adventure yet was doing the section from High Point, NJ to Sunrise Mountain, NJ with my son (just the two of us) over a three day weekend in November two years ago.  We still need to go from High Point to the NY line so I can claim to have done the entire AT... in New Jersey.

  21. Interesting change in MB requirements.  


    The requirements for the MB remain the same.  The boys still need to demonstrate the requirements to the Merit Badge Counselor.  But rather than having the MCB "teach" the boys, we are having ohter boys do the teaching.  The requirements don't say how the boy is supposed to learn the skills.  In my opinion, the best way to master skills is to teach it.  The other option is to have the MBC run the meeting for a month and do the teaching... that wouldn't be very boy-led, would it?  I think that the experience of the SPL coordinating with the PLs to have each patrol teach part of the merit badge skills to the rest of the troop is an excellent leadership opportunity for all the folks involved.  We looked at the idea and asked, "what is the least amount of adult involvement?"  The answer is having adults as MBCs sign off on requirements when met to the satisfaction of the adults.


    What always seems to be missing in the discussions about merit badges is the expertise of the counselor. Before I get jumped all over, what I am referring to is the processes which ignore this expertise and use mbc as testers only. Merit badges are an amazing combination of methods, adult association and advancement. When processes ignore the adult association method the boys lose out on an amazing opportunity. The method of adult association and the opportunity for boy to learn ditectly from an expert is the reason why merit badges are separated from skills listed in rank advancement. Many current practices are viewing merit badeges as the same/similar. They are fundamentally different.



    Like anything else, there is a balance.  Having an adult who is an expert stand in front of the room and teach the skills to a group of scouts and then sign off on a merit badge for everyone in the room isn't the right way to do it.  Having the boy complete a worksheet and submit it to the MBC who checks the boxes on the blue card isn't the way either.  The process needs to be a joint effort between the adult and the scout, where the adult guides the scout in their own learning by working with the scout AFTER the scout has attempted to understand the material by discussing, demonstrating, testing and providing futher guidance regarding what the scout needs to do.  It is an individual endevor guided by an adult who has the responsibility to ensure that the scout properly learns the material.

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