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SMMatthew

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Everything posted by SMMatthew

  1. I am working to put together a Scouts Own service and would like to include a responsive reading of religious texts corresponding with the 12 points of the Scout Law. There is an example of one here: http://www.scouting.org/scoutsource/Media/Relationships/ascoutisreverent/ss04.aspx and there are two examples here: http://www.macscouter.com/scoutsown/Readings.asp However I am looking for a version (or versions) that includes texts from a wider variety of religious sources, not just the Judeo-Christian Bible. I've seen such versions before, but sadly didn't keep the programs from those services and my Googling isn't turning anything up. I'd like to have a version that uses quotes from the Holy Bible (Christian), the Torah (Jewish), the Quran (Islamic), the Book of Mormon (LDS), the Vedas (Hindu), the Tripitaka (Buddhist), Native American prayers, sacred texts, etc. to show the commonalty of the values of the Scout Law throughout the various religions and provide a representation of a wider range of religions. Any help in finding, or creating, a many-faiths Scout Law responsive reading would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
  2. There are several requirements on the trail to First Class that reference doing things on a “campout.†But what exactly counts as a “campoutâ€Â? Obviously spending the night sleeping in a tent you have helped pitch is camping (such as for Tenderfoot requirement 2) . Sleeping out under the stars on a ground cloth or a hammock is (in my opinion) camping. Summer camp in canvas wall tents is certainly camping. My interpretation is the event has to be overnight (so day trips into the wilderness don’t count as a “campoutâ€Â) and it has to have an outdoors element (so staying in a hotel or your house doesn't count). But what about “cabin campingâ€Â, staying in an Adirondack-style lean-to, staying in dormitory-style housing, staying in an RV, or any other indoor overnight Scouting activities that aren't under the stars or under canvas. A few examples…. First Class requirement 4e states: “On one campout, serve as your patrol’s cook.†Would serving as cook for your patrol on a winter ski cabin weekend count? It’s not technically camping in the traditional sense (you’re indoors with running water, electricity and heat); but you’re doing the cooking and planning which is the spirit of the requirement. Does it count? Or does it not count because it’s not technically “on a campout.†Another example,Second Class requirement 3g states: “On one campout, plan and cook one hot breakfast or lunch.†What if you plan and cook a hot breakfast and/or lunch but it’s not on an overnight trip? You carry a portable backpacking-style stove and cook a hot meal on a day-hike; it’s not technically a campout but it’s the same meal you would have cooked otherwise (you just don’t go and sleep in a tent at the end of the day). And one final example, Second Class requirement 3a states: “Since joining, have participated in five separate troop/patrol activities, two of which included camping overnight.†Does an overnighter in the church rec center count as “camping overnightâ€Â? Does staying in the bunks at a Naval base count? Does a winter cabin weekend count? Does a trip to Seabase and staying in their dorms count? Or does it have to be an outdoor tent-and-sky camping overnighter. What’s the line between “campout†and just “Scouting overnightâ€Â? I have been unable to find any definition in any of the official BSA literature I have. And it’s odd that the BSA would use such a specific word but not really give any guidance on their interpretation of it. Why didn’t they simply say “On a troop outing†or “on a troop/patrol overnight†… saying “campout†is more specific and they picked that word for a reason… but what was it? What was their intent? What counts? What’s the BSA’s definition of “campout†here?
  3. SMMatthew

    What Constitutes a "Campout"?

    I just found in the BSA's "Journey to Excellence" FAQs (http://www.scouting.org/filestore/mission/JTE_FAQs-Unit.pdf) that "lock-ins" and other indoor overnights count as short-term camping for JTE purposes... so perhaps they do count as "campouts" for advancement purposes too.
  4. SMMatthew

    What Constitutes a "Campout"?

    So a Scout who serves as his patrol's cook on a rustic winter cabin weekend (planning the menu, doing the food shopping, tending the fire, prepping the food, cooking the meals outside over the fire, leading grace, and doing clean-up...for breakfast, lunch and dinner) does not get credit for First Class requirement #4e (which specifies "on a campout") because he slept in a cabin that night rather than in a tent?
  5. Ok I think there are two separate (but related) issues here: (1) What should a Scout with a POR do... and (2) What must a Scout with a POR do to get credit for advancement? Every Position of Responsibility (whether it be Quartermaster, Webmaster, Historian, Bugler, Chaplin's Aide, OA Representative, Patrol Leader, or Senior Patrol Leader) has measurable metrics -- specific duties, responsibilities and expectations. There are job descriptions and specific tasks that should be done by a Scout with a specific badge on his sleeve. Are the Dutch Ovens ready for the campout? Is the troop website up-to-date? Are there photos from recent troop events? Was there a bugle call at morning colors? Did someone give a blessing before we ate lunch? Is information about OA events getting to troop members? Is there a patrol duty roster for the campout? Is there a plan for next week's troop meeting? Did you attend and participate in the PLC meetings? etc, etc, etc.... These metrics should be monitored and Scouts should be guided towards upholding and fulfilling all their responsibilities while they wear that patch on their sleeve. And if a Scout truly isn't cutting it (such as a Scribe who takes horrible minutes... or a quartermaster who forgets half the troop gear on every campout) or if he isn't active in his role (such as a Patrol Leader who never attends a single campout or PLC... or an OA Rep who never shows up to OA or troop meetings), then he should be removed from the position (although not without some due process and counseling first). But remember that the requirement for advancement simply says "serve actively"... not "serve perfectly." So a Scout should not "fail" holding a position of responsibility because he fell short of perfection or didn't complete 100% of his responsibilities to the 100% satisfaction of the Scoutmaster. A Scout who is falling short or is not performing to the expected standards should be mentored, guided and worked with to correct the problems. If they can't be corrected, then he should be removed from the position. But either a Scout was an active Patrol Leader for 6 months or he wasn't... you don't get to decide if he was "an effective Patrol Leader" or "a good Patrol Leader" and use that to decide if you'll count the time or not. A Scoutmaster should never say: "Look, I know you've been an active Quartermaster for the past 6 months, and have helped get our gear ready for every campout... but the Dutch ovens haven't been cleaned perfectly every time and your inventory sheets are a little sloppy. Plus there was that one campout where we ran out of trash bags. So, I'm sorry, but those months won't count for your Star rank. Come back in 4 months after holding another position." Nor should he say: "Hey, I know you were our SPL for 6 months, but the troop meetings were kind of chaotic and you didn't show much leadership by planning and running the meetings all by yourself... plus you don't even know any of the names of the newer Scouts... so we can't count those months that you were SPL for Life rank." You can't retroactively negate time served if they were active in their role. If they aren't good, remove them from being QM or SPL...don't just decide not count that time because they weren't the ideal QM or SPL. If the Webmaster is maintaining the troop website (getting the job done) you can't necessarily remove him... but you can still encourage him to engage with others and take on more leadership in his role. Every Position of Responsibility has the potential for a Scout to develop and demonstrate leadership. Some (such as SPL) are more natural and essential to getting the job done than others (such as Scribe or Librarian). But every Scout, in every POR, should be encouraged to take on leadership in their roles. However you can't "fail" the requirement of holding a Position of Responsibility for advancement simply because you don't show leadership (whether it be Quartermaster, Webmaster, or even Patrol Leader or Senior Patrol Leader). All PORs (including Webmaster and Quartermaster) should be encouraged and guided to show leadership in completing their tasks... but you can't necessarily "fail" them if they don't.
  6. I'll agree that you shouldn't "fail" a Scout on an advancement requirement for failing to show leadership when the rank requirement only asks that a Scout serves actively in a position of responsibility (it doesn't say "show leadership while serving" or even "effectively serve" or "serve well"... it just says "serve actively"). So if a Quartermaster is active and always makes sure the Dutch ovens are always clean and keeps detailed inventories of the troop gear (even if he's not involving any other people in completing the tasks), he gets credit for serving (but along the way you should be encouraging and striving for "leadership" not just "get-it-done-ness"...as you should be with all Scouts at all times). And even an active Quartermaster may not have 100% of the Dutch ovens clean 100% of the time, but that doesn't mean he "fails" the requirement of holding a position of responsibility either. But as long as he is putting forth an effort and is active in the job (i.e. not just wearing a patch on his sleeve for 4 months and doing nothing else... or failing to complete the tasks required so much that you remove him from the position before the end of the term) then he is fulfilling the requirement... they should be guided along the way to be more effective and better performing... but they should not be measured at the end of a term of active service and then either "passed" or "failed" for the time completed. EIther he was Quartermaster for 4-months or he wasn't...it's not "he was only a so-so Quartermaster so those months don't count." Likewise with Historian, Webmaster, Librarian, and even Patrol Leader or SPL... as long as the Scout is active in their job (even if they are not 100% effective) they get credit (now it's hard to be actively completing the responsibilities of SPL and not be showing leadership... but there are some "one-man-shows" out there that try). But you should be guiding, mentoring and directing the Scouts along the way...not waiting until the end of a term of service to simply "pass" them or "fail" them after the fact for showing (or not showing) adequate leadership or properly getting enough of the job done.
  7. For most positions of responsibility -- from Quartermaster and Scribe all the way up to SPL and Scoutmaster -- you can have individuals who are truly leaders... and you can also have individuals who are simply good managers or task-masters doing the job. I know there are plenty of examples out there of troops run by Scoutmasters and/or SPLs who are "one-man-shows" and complete all the tasks to put on a "good-looking" program while not giving any actual leadership to anyone. Likewise, you can have Quartermasters, Webmasters, and Historians who are just "task-completers"... or you can have individuals who step up and bring real leadership to their role and the troop. ​A Troop Webmaster (to return to that example) can simply manage the troop's online communications (posting pre-written blurbs written by the SM or SPL; pushing out information given to him by others and working diligently to get the job done)... or he can lead the troop's online communications (engaging with others to develop amd improve communication methods and online social experiences; pulling information and ideas from others and working with others to get the job done). It all depends on the limitations, expectations, guidance, and direction you give him. So yes, if the Webmaster goes online, posts a photo to get everyone's attention and then copy-and-pastes an announcement from the SPL about an upcoming campout he is not giving leadership... he's performing a task (sharing an announcement). Likewise if the SPL stands in front of the troop, puts up the sign up to get everyone's attention and then reads an announcement off a flyer about an upcoming campout he's not really giving leadership either... he's just performing a task (sharing an announcement). But just as a SPL can take on leadership to promote an upcoming event at a troop meeting and to the individual patrols and members in a troop, so can a webmaster take leadership to promote events to the troop. It all depends on if the webmaster is simply managing the troop's online presence, or if he's leading it. A Troop Historian who is simply a "lone-wolf" and a "photo-album-maker" and a "one-man-show" is not a leader (he is a task-completer) - he is simply managing the collection and storage of photos and data. But a Troop Historian who engages with others and leads a team to document, share and celebrate the troop's accomplishments is a leader (maybe he assigns a different Scout from each patrol the task of being "patrol photographer" for each outing and works with them to capture moments from each event; maybe he organizes everyone to get a big group photo on each campout; maybe he works with the troop Scribe and Webmaster to document and share the troop's accomplishments in creative ways to engage Scouts/Scouters/parents/friends/neighbors in seeing what the troop has done; maybe he works with other Scouts to develop and share creative presentations at a Court of Honors about the big trips that the troop went on; maybe he reaches out and helps a soon-to-be Eagle Scout gather relevant pictures from his Scouting career to share at his Eagle Court of Honor; etc.) He can simply manage the documenting of troop history, or he can lead the effort. If a troop quartermaster is just a troop supply "go-fer" (running to get and prep Dutch ovens when you call on him) and a troop documenter (counting and reporting the number of good tents you have on hand)... that's not leadership. That's being a gear manager. But a good Troop quartermaster shouldn't just be managing the equipment, they should be leading the Scouts in using and maintaining it too. He should be leading the patrol quartermasters in their job (just as the SPL leads the PLs); he should be listening and responding to the needs of individual Scouts and patrols; he should be coordinating with others and communicating the supply needs and resources available for particular events and outings; he should be organizing and leading gear inventory and cleaning days or efforts with others (not doing it single-handedly); he should be educating others on using and caring for troop gear; he should be making recommendations to the PLC on equipment purchases, policies or practices; etc.) He should be a leader. A quartermaster who takes all the tents home at the end of a campout (or comes to the troop supply room before a troop meeting) and airs out any wet tents, repairs any rips or broken poles, cleans out the tents and logs their condition is not a leader, he is a servant and a task-completer. But a quartermaster who educates the troop on good tent care and recruits, organizes and leads a group of Scouts in drying, repairing, repacking and inspecting all the tents on a Sunday afternoon or one night before a troop meeting, is showing leadership. Likewise a Life Scout who builds a beautiful garden at a school all by himself has not completed an Eagle project (which is a leadership project)... the Scout needs to show leadership and led others in building the garden (building a garden and completing the task is not the goal... exercising leadership is). Same with a "Position of Responsibility" vs. a "Leadership Positions". A good Quartermaster shouldn't be measured on how clean the Dutch ovens are... he should be measured on his leadership (having clean Dutch ovens and simply completing the task single-handedly is not the goal... exercising leadership is). So yes, simply building a website and publishing announcements is not leadership, nor is taking pictures and putting them in a book, nor is it recording attendance and taking meeting minutes, nor is it cleaning Dutch Ovens and counting spatulas, nor is creating a menu and cooking breakfast, nor is giving a presentation on the rules of Totin' Chip, nor is saying grace before a meal or a prayer before a Court of Honor... those are simply responsibilities (tasks) of certain jobs. But when overseeing a good Webmaster, Historian, Scribe, Quartermaster, Patrol Leader, Troop Guide, Chaplin's Aide, or whomever, you should shouldn't be focused simply on task-completion...you should be encouraging them to demonstrate leadership in completing their responsibilities. They should be taking on leadership to complete their tasks and they'll be 1,000-times more effective than if they just managed the job and completed the tasks all by themselves.
  8. I think we can all agree that leadership is a responsibility, and so all Positions of Leadership (SPL, PL, ect.) are also certainly Positions of Responsibility. But do all Positions of Responsibility require leadership? Well I think it depends on your definition of "leadership." To me a leader is somebody who organizes a group of people to achieve a common goal. There are face-to-face leaders -- the ones who directly manage, guide and direct other people. The SPL and PLs are these types of leaders. They lead meetings, they directly interact with and manage other members, they direct and led events and activities, they build social relationships, and often will act as a spokesman or a figurehead for the group, etc. But there are other types of leaders -- administrative or "behind the scenes" leaders -- the ones who may not directly manage other people, but they are still providing leadership to organize and manage a group. I disagree! Yes, a webmaster can do all his "work" at 11PM while sitting alone in his bedroom... but he's not doing it with no one else around. He's got the whole troop (Scouts and parents) and even the larger community as an audience. A webmaster may not be leading the troop in a face-to-face manner but a good webmaster is certainly leading the troop (from his bedroom at 11PM). Sending out a reminder that permission slips are due next week and effectively communicating that to all the members of the troop... that's leadership. Sharing the troop's latest accomplishments on social media and thus building community awareness and raising Scout spirit... that's leadership. Coming up with a fun and effective way to get Scouts excited for summer camp, engage members, communicate plans, and maybe even recruiting new members... that's leadership. Coordinating information from the PLC (working with the Scribe and SPL and PLs and others) to get information for the website... that's leadership. Working with the historian and others to get pictures, quotes and other content... that's leadership. Developing creative ideas and solving problems... leadership. A Scout simply pressing "upload" to a file that someone else created or doing copy-and-paste data-entry... that isn't really leadership. A Scout posting an announcement to a Facebook page that has zero followers or adding photos to a website that no one in the troop ever looks at is not really providing leadership either. Nor is it what a good webmaster should be doing. A Webmaster who develops, creates and posts website and social media updates that communicate the plans for upcoming event is providing essential guidance and leadership to the members in his troop. A Scout can sit in his bedroom and create beautiful and detailed photo albums of pictures from every troop outing and event with no one else around (and keep them all on a bookshelf in his bedroom with any other eyes seeing them). That does not make his a good Historian. A good troop Historian should be sharing what he does (make a slideshow to show at the next court of honor; create displays and presentations to share and promote the troop's accomplishments), and he should be engaging others (collecting pictures, conducting interviews, ect.). A Scribe that sits in the corner of the PLC meeting, writes everything down and then hands the paper to the SPL at the end of the meeting is not a leader... they're a stenographer. But a Scribe can be a leader if he keeps and shares minutes, co-ordinates information with patrol Scribes, engages with members to track attendance/advancement/financial records, collects and organizes paperwork, creates and develops forms and announcements, works with the Webmaster and Historian on communication efforts and with the Librarian and Quartermaster on record keeping.
  9. SMMatthew

    Best place to buy Patrol emblems

    Our troop has had great success working with the Moritz Embroidery Works to have fully custom (and BSA-approved) patrol patches made for some of our more "unique" patrol names. http://moritzscouting.blogspot.com/2014/09/custom-patrol-patches.html http://bsa.moritzembroidery.com
  10. Have an adult filling the role is not the solution. Check out the Youth Leader Organizational Chart and the unit position descriptions in the Patrol Leader Handbook (or the Senior Patrol Leader Handbook). If you don't have a QM (or if you don't have an active QM or if the QM drops the ball), the responsibilities and duties of the QM should fall onto the ASPL (and then the SPL) and/or the individual patrol QMs to pick up. If you don't have a Scribe present at a PLC meeting, an adult shouldn't jump in to take notes... have another youth do it (even if it means the SPL has to take the minutes)! It might not be seen as a disaster by teenage boys to not have official minutes from a single PLC meeting, but try a campout without a QM... either the SPL will have to take on the job (which I'm sure will put presure on him to recruit someone) or the patrol QMs will be left hanging (maybe one of them will step up)...but I'm sure a volunteer will surface when they see how important the role is to the troop. If no one want to cook breakfast on a campout because it's "too much work," don't have an adult do the cooking... let the Scouts get hungry... someone will step up. First, take a moment, step back, and see if your expectations are reasonable. Don't get too idealistic here, be practical and realistic. Perhaps you are asking "too much" of a teenage boy (especially if these kids have other commitments taking up their time/attention, or are working on merit badges or Eagle projects, or have transportation limitations, etc.). I've seen troops that expect so much from the QM (especially in terms of additional time commitments prepping for and cleaning up from each outing... and then demand so much more on the outings themselves) that most Scouts wouldn't have the extra 4-hours a week the troop expects from a youth QM to do everything (inventory, supply shopping, cleaning, and gear organizing)...and no one would want the job because you don't get to have fun on the outings (you're manning the supply tent all weekend while everyone else toasts s'mores and plays games). So make sure you're not asking "too much." Honestly, the job of a troop QM should not be that hard (especially if you're using the patrol method and have a good Quartermaster Corps. of individual patrol QMs)...and it shouldn't require a rocket scientist to do or be a job that forces a kid to drop out of school just to be able to cover all his added quartermaster responsibilities. So first make sure it is not "too much work." Secondly it's all about perception (and right now it seems like the Scouts perceive the job is being overly demanding and requiring a lot of work). Have the SPL come forward and communicate what is actually needed from a QM and what is actually expected. If they all think it's "too much work," show them that it's not that hard or difficult or complicated. Sell it! This is the SPL's (and the ASPL's) job - to build the team that leads the troop and makes the program happen. You can't always force someone to step up (and even if you do just appoint someone to the role, without their buy-in or true consent, they will be unsuccessful in the rule), You've got to sell, sell, sell! Maybe you have to make it a 6-month term instead of 12-months. Maybe you spread the load around (have the patrol QMs pick up some duties... or have the SPL or ASPL help with certain administrative tasks usually put on the QM... or while the QM does the quarterly gear inventory, have the Scribe there to help him record it). I sat in the corner of a patrol meeting once where 7 teenage boys awkwardly sat in silence staring at each other because no one wanted to be Patrol Leader. No one wanted to run. They all declined nominations. They all claimed they were "too busy" or it was "too much work." The SPL came in and he didn't force anyone to take the job (and he certainly didn't appoint an adult to do it)...he just laid out what was required of the PL, and explained why the patrol needed a leader and what that leader actually does (and how fun it is). After some discussion of how "easy" it really is, the patrol found a willing leader... and he was great at the job... and in the next election 4 Scouts accepted nominations (and that PL became SPL).
  11. SMMatthew

    Patrols for the Millennials

    The troop I serve operates with 5-6 patrols of 7-8 Scouts each. It's rare that we get 100% attendance from any one patrol at an event. So sometimes (ok, most times) a patrol has to function with only 5 or 6 (or even 3 or 4) of its members present. Scout are being pulling in 101 different directions these days with other commitments (school, sports, band, family, religion, etc.). While some Scouts are more active than others, I don't think we have a Scout on our roster that has a 100% attendance record for all troop functions... however no one has a 0% (or even below a 50%) attendance record either. We try to juggle all the calendars (if we have a lot of Scouts in the high school band, we'll try to not to plan a big event that conflicts with that schedule... but with only 4 weekends a month and with all the activities of Scouts from 6+ schools and 30+ families, it's impossible to avoid every conflict). Several times - especially when there is a school event that might pull the Scouts from a single age group (such as a school dance or the SATs or a big football game) - we've seen patrols of just two Scouts (which the boys often enjoy because it's easier to co-ordinate things when it's just you and your buddy rather than having a big group of 8 to wrangle). The only time we'll ever "break" the patrols is if we have a patrol of one (the "buddy system" is important after all) -- if we have a solo-patroller then that lone Scout will be "adopted" as a guest by another patrol for the event. It's very rare that this happens (I think we've done it twice). If we notice that a certain patrol is routinely low on attendance (and it's the same 2-3 Scouts every time), we'll work with the patrol leader (through the SPL and PLC) to help the problem -- either address the attendance issues of his fellow members and work to get them to start attending more regularly (find out why they're not coming and work on solutions to fix)... or if the Patrol really doesn't like running as a 3-man patrol, then they've got to go out a recruit new members to join up! In some cases, as there is attrition (and Scouts start to age-out. drop-out, or disappear), we may reconfigure patrols... we try to keep the patrols intact as much as possible (but each year after re-chartering, we make sure the patrols are still fairly balanced and populated... if any change is made, often it's that the older Scout patrols will merge).
  12. SMMatthew

    STEM Scout pilot program

    While technically true, do we know of any Scouts from the '70s who earned the rank of Eagle and never spent a night in a tent?
  13. SMMatthew

    STEM Scout pilot program

    Firstly, I disagree with you that the outdoor program has been systematically de-emphasized from the Boy Scout program. The outdoors is still a strong part of the Boy Scout program. Sure, some troops out there may be missing the mark and running merit badge mills in a church basement rather than going camping or hiking (troops like this even existed in the 1970s when I was a youth). But on a national-level the outdoors is still a central and strong part of Boy Scout program (heck, it's still one of the 8 methods of the Boy Scout program, isn't it?). But how does the outdoors being emphasized (or de-emphasized) in the Boy Scout program have anything to do with the STEM Scout program? Complaining that STEM Scouts spend all their time in a lab and don't go camping is like complaining that Sea Scouts spend all their time on a boat and don't go hiking in the mountains. Different programs have different aims and methods. Boy Scouts camp; STEM Scouts might not. The outdoors is a central method of the Boy Scout program... however it is not an aim of the Boy Scout program nor is it even a method of the overall BSA organization. So, you are probably correct here. The new STEM Scouts program is most likely a way to get boys and adults with no interest in camping and the outdoors to join the BSA. And what's wrong with that? ​The mission of the BSA is (and I quote) "to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Scout Law." Nowhere in the BSA's mission statement (or even the aims/goals of any of its programs) is anything about developing outdoorsmen or getting kids to go camping. As Baden-Powell said: "A fisherman does not bait his hook with food he likes. He uses food the fish likes. So with boys." It sounds like you want to the BSA's mission statement to be something like "to prepare young people who like the outdoors to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetime by developing camping skills and instilling the values of the Scout Oath and Law." Well I hate to break it to you, but that's not what the BSA is striving for (never has been)... their mission is: "to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Scout Law" I think STEM Scouts fits into that mission (just as Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Venturing, Sea Scouts, Varsity Scouts, and Explorers do). If you think that Boy Scouts don't get out and go camping enough, that's a separate debate... but I don't see how what Boy Scouts do (or don't do) has any bearing on the merit or value of a completely separate STEM Scout program.
  14. SMMatthew

    STEM Scout pilot program

    That's a pretty cynical and pessimistic view of the BSA's motives. Perhaps STEM Scouts is a way to provide a program that builds character, citizenship and fitness to youth who are not interested in the outdoors. Teaching camping skills, going hiking, knot-tying, and other outdoor skills are not the aim or objective of the BSA; an outdoor program is just one of the 8 methods of the Boy Scout program but it is not the end-goal...and an outdoor program is not one of the methods of the STEM Scout program (nor is it a method of the Cub Scout program, the Venturing program, or other BSA programs). The BSA has three specific objectives: character development, citizenship training, and personal fitness. The STEM Scouts program attempts to reach those goals through different methods than the Boy Scout program.
  15. SMMatthew

    STEM Scout pilot program

    A few years back my council went on a big Venturing kick. The program was newer and not very big or popular in the council. So they hired a professional to focus solely on Venturing; there were tons of meetings and committees formed; troops were coerced into creating crews and getting the "older boy" patrols and ASMs to populate them, they existed mainly on paper and only did one or two activities before slowly slipping back into the troops and dying out after a few months; the council and districts orchestrated all sorts of special Venturing events (many of which were called off at the last minute due to low registration); they re-outfitting their camp for Venturing (buying pistols for shooting sports, expanding the female shower house to be equal to the boys showers in size, and investing in other Venturing-only program supplies)... they even dedicated an entire week of their summer camp program to be "Venturing-only" (that week of summer camp had more camp staff on the payroll than campers participating in the program). Thousands of man-hours were invested... and about 30% of the council's program budget was spent on Venturing -- a program that, at the time, served less than 4% of the council's total membership. It was a misstep. Big time! Meanwhile, Cub Scouts (which constituted more than 65% of the council's membership) was getting less than 20% of the council's financial support and less than half of the professional staff's attention (there was no dedicated Cub Scout program professionals, but we had a Venturing one? DE's were split between both Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts and almost all Cub Scout programs were pushed off onto volunteers with little support from the council). So I agree with you somewhat. If a council goes "all in" on STEM Scouts and starts investing in STEM weekends, and building a robotics lab and science center at their camp, and hires a full-time STEM professional when they only have 2 (or less) STEM Scout unit... well that's the council making poor decisions and the Scout Executive and the Council Executive Board should have their priorities (and heads) examined. However if a council along the coast has 500 registered and active Sea Scouts, well maybe a special Sea Scout camporee or regatta, or event is in order... but if you only have 1 ship, maybe not. Same with STEM. Don't hire a STEM professional, until you have the STEM programs and participants to support the position. Start small, start slow... baby steps. Ease into it, don't just jump in and end up in over your head. Don't disproportionately focus on a program and put the burden of supporting that program onto the backs of other programs that are also in need of the council's support and attention.
  16. SMMatthew

    STEM Scout pilot program

    So are you saying the BSA shouldn't maintain a separate "Sea Scouts" program because they already have sailing and aquatics-based merit badges and opportunities in Boy Scouts? Should the BSA scrap the separate "Varsity Scouts" program because they already have sports-based merit badges and high adventure options available through the Boy Scouts? And what's the point of maintaining a separate "Explorers" program when we already have career exploration opportunities through the Boy Scout merit badge program? I don't see the harm in having STEM Scouts (or "Farm Scouts" or "Business Scouts" or "Sea Scouts" or "Air Scouts" or "Drama Scouts" or whatever) in addition to traditional Scouting. I'll agree with you there. As I said above, STEM Scouts should be in addition to traditional Boy Scouts (not in place of it or to the detriment of it). If a council can't balance it's programs and they start to neglect key programs or disproportionately support others, then that's a problem. And shame on the Scout Executive for not prioritizing and seeing the "big picture" when it comes to managing people/time/money/resources. But if a council is able to adequately support Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts and Venturing and Sea Scouts and Varsity Scouts and Explorers and the Order of the Arrow and summer camps and day camps and also balance STEM Scouts in there too, why stop them?
  17. SMMatthew

    STEM Scout pilot program

    Maybe I was unclear. I do not think Boy Scouts is a career prep program... although career and hobby exploration through the merit badge program has been a part of Scouting for quite some time. The Boy Scout program is not a career prep program, that's why Explorers exists as a separate venture. Explorers focus on career-based activities; although Boy Scouts can have some career exploration through the merit badge program. And the Boy Scout program is not a math & science club, that's why STEM Scouts exists as a separate venture. STEM Scouts focus on science and technology activities; although Boy Scouts can have some STEM exploration through the merit badge program.
  18. SMMatthew

    The Invisible Scout

    Again, I'm not ashamed to be a Scout nor do I see the program as "broken" by any means... but going around upsetting people on the street is not a worthwhile use of my time or energy. Our district had a recruitment table at a "back to school" fair hosted by a local elementary school last year. We were hoping to find some families interest in joining Cub Scouting. But only two types of people came up to the table: (1) people who were already in Scouting and just stopped by to say "hi" to some familiar faces, and (2) people who came up and politely listened to our sales pitch but then questioned the "hypocrisy" of the BSA's policies or voiced concern over supporting an organization that discriminates, and there were even a few who came to simply criticize or berated us for promoting hate or bigotry. We didn't get a single new recruit (not even a "maybe" or "we'll think about it")... 200+ families were there but it was a total waste of a Tuesday evening. The BSA has yet to provide any "talking points" or support to help volunteers in the trenches combat the frequently asked questions on the issue (I still don't know how to defend the policy or the organization when people ask certain questions). Over 90% of the conversations that I have with non-Scouts about Scouting are negative... they aren't Scouts because they haven't been invited or been handed a flyer, or received the right sales pitch... they aren't Scouts because they don't want to associate their family with the BSA. Again, it may just be the area that I'm in and other communities and parts of the country may react differently.
  19. SMMatthew

    STEM Scout pilot program

    If you feel the STEM initiates (with the introduction of such merit badges as Programming, Robotics, Multimedia, Digital Technology, etc.) are "just more hoops to jump through" and that their inclusion in the program is an unnecessary burden on "busy Scouters" then how do you feel about all the farming initiatives (with merit badges such as Farm Mechanics, Animal Science, Plant Science, Gardening, Veterinary Medicine, etc.) or the business skills initiatives (with merit badges such as American Business, American Labor, Salesmanship, Entrepreneurship, etc.) or the transportation initiatives (with merit badges such as Aviation, Railroading, Truck Transportation)? Are they all existing "hoops to jump through"? Are they just busywork added by industries with their own agendas to promote and have unnecessarily overloaded Scouters? I don't see how making the program more well-rounded and more up-to-date is a bad thing! How is having a Programming merit badge or a robotics summer camp any more of a misstep then having a Dentistry merit badge or a search & rescue summer camp? I also disagree that STEM Scouts is totally adult driven. I know plenty of youth that would be interested in joining a youth organization that spends it's time building robots; designing, and creating websites or video games; exploring environmental sustainability issues and competing in science fairs; producing digital multi-media content; using and developing trade skills (such as welding or mechanics); etc... There are probably just as many (if not possibly more) youth that would be interested in that program as there are kids interested in a youth organization that focuses on camping, hiking, canoeing, rock climbing, fire building, and knot-tying. I will admit that "STEM" is a bit of a "buzzword" these days. It is occasionally slapped on things as a marketing ploy or a way to seem "current" without being backed by any real or worthwhile content (having a "science day" where you mix baking soda and vinegar in a paper-mache diorama may look cool but it does not teach much about geologic processes or how volcanoes work). But the STEM initiates being introduced to the BSA aren't just fluff - they are worthwhile, include real skills, and kids enjoy them. BSA had STEM programs long before STEM was even an antonym (with merit badges such as Electronics, Computers, Space Exploration, Chemistry, Nuclear Science, Surveying, etc.). They're just branding and focusing it now. Science and technology are growing fields of interest for youth, and are life skills that they need to have, and careers that they should be encouraged to explore. I think it's great that BSA isn't just staying stuck on 1910 methods and are offering programs and exploring methods to deliver their aims in a way that is connected to skills and subjects that are relevant in the 21st century.
  20. SMMatthew

    STEM Scout pilot program

    The newer STEM initiatives in Boy Scout and Cub Scout programs (the STEM/NOVA Awards, new merit badges such as Robotics, Programming, Digital Technology, Geocaching, etc.) are, in my opinion, welcomed additions that help keep the program current (as long as they don't totally replace the outdoor skills part of the program). It would be a repeat of the "Improved Scouting Program" of the 1970s if they totally dropped Camping merit badge in favor of a Mathematics merit badge; or if a council put all their focus on building computer labs rather than maintaining camp sites. But that's not happening - the outdoor skills part is still the foundation of the Scouting program (and "outdoor program" is still one of the key methods of Boy Scouts). However STEM Scouts is a completely separate program from Boy Scouts (and Cub Scouts)... which I think is great! I heard Wayne Brock (Chief Scout) talk about the pilot programs last year and it sounds exciting. There are many ways to reach the aims of Scouting (i.e. building character, citizenship and fitness) besides just teaching kids how to pitch a tent, tie a knot, go on a hike, and cook over a fire. Some kids (and some parents) just aren't interested in those things. Just as Varsity Scouts uses sports, and Sea Scouts uses nautical skills, and Explorers use career exploration, and even Venturing Crews don't have to run a camping-based program... STEM Scouts uses science and technology to reach the goals of building character, citizenship and fitness (and also teaches other important career and life skills along the way). Instead of lashing sticks together with rope, why not build a robot? Instead of woodworking and basketry, why not designing and building a website? Instead of fire building and Dutch oven cooking, why not chemistry experiments? How are these bad things (especially when the alternative is the kid sits at home and gets no Scouting experience)? Now if STEM Scouts replaces traditional Boy Scouts all together, I could see outcry (it would be the BSA taking the "outing out of Scouting" again). But having a separate program in addition to traditional Scouting can't be anything but good (more youth reached, more options... Scouts could even double-dip and camp with a Boy Scout troop and do computer programming with STEM Scout lab). No one complains that an EMS or Fire & Rescue Explorer Post that doesn't go camping is bad because they've taken the "outing out of Scouting." I don't see how a STEM Scout unit that builds robots is bad (as long as they include Asimov's 3 rules for robotics in their programming).
  21. SMMatthew

    memorization requirements ?

    Very few badges require written reports. There are some merit badges that do -- such as Environmental Science that specifically states "write a 100-word report" on an endangered species or Archaeology that states "write a brief report" about the results of an experiment. But most merit badge requirements do not require any writing...and certainly few that require reports be written. There are the straight-forward "doing" and "demonstrating" requirements the obviously can't be completed with writing (such as performing a skill, completing a task, making something, attending an event, etc.) These include things such as showing a specific swimming stroke, capsizing and rescuing a canoe, building and launching a model rocket, weaving a basket, attending a town meeting, giving a speech, catching a fish, taking a hike, etc. You cannot do these via writing (writing how to catch a fish is not the same as catching one; and writing about a fictional night camping is not the same as actually camping out)... and requiring an additional written report explaining or recapping what was done (when the requirements require no such thing) is just adding an additional and unnecessary requirement to earning the badge. However there are many merit badge requirements that start with words such as "explain", "describe", "list", "define", and "discuss." Sadly there are many merit badge councilors out there that want Scouts to do these thing in writing. While you certainly can "define" and "list" things in writing (and preparing written notes can help a Scout collect and organize his thoughts prior to sitting down with a councilor), you can also do these things orally. You can orally list the rules of safe hiking; you can orally explain how to treat dehydration; and you can orally define what an ecosystem is. No need to take pen to paper or type out long prose for these things. Only accepting these things in writing is wrong... and having a Scout write a report rather than having a discussion (especially when it says "discuss") is certainly missing the mark. If a merit badge councilor insists that a Scout writes his explanations rather than accepting oral explanations they are misinterpreting, misrepresenting and distorting what the BSA actually requires. The requirements are written the way they are for a reason...and very few specifically require a Scout take pen to paper. You can see the BSA's official stance and reasoning against merit badge worksheets and workbooks here: http://blog.scoutingmagazine.org/2015/01/13/merit-badge-worksheets/
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