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Scouter Matt

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Everything posted by Scouter Matt

  1. I wonder to what degree part of the issue is lack of familiarity with the local terrain and weather, and thus with the likely hazards? The only time in my life I have ever given any thought to flash flood risk while setting camp was at Philmont, I have never once camped anywhere else that I had to give the matter any significant thought. In the types of terrain I otherwise camped in, and the weather patterns of those areas, it simply wasn't ever an issue anywhere else. I suspect quite a few troops and crews at Philmont are similarly unfamiliar with selecting campsites in topography wit
  2. Probably equally important is a plan to maintain and care for what you acquire, and part of that is buying equipment that is sustainable in a boy operated environment. Also, keep in mind that the fundamental unit of scouting is the PATROL. Plan your equipment on the basis of patrol sized groups camping, cooking, hiking, etc. together. If I were equipping a new troop, I would at least want to explore the options for patrol size tent-age for heavy camping, but that would require different tents for packing. There was a troop here locally that bought great new gear on the basis of what th
  3. Unless something has changed, national isn't very up to speed on the health of its councils. Why? Well, it is at least in part because failing council's always want to paint a rosy picture in the hopes they can turn thing around without being merged. In one case I am very familiar with, a council had gotten itself into very serious financial trouble, and region was blissfully unaware until the IRS informed the council that immediate payment on back due taxes (the council's finances had been so dire it had been taking out social security and payroll taxes and then not sending them to the
  4. This is going to become increasingly common because the IRS is becoming increasingly tight with how it looks at non-profit organization finances. The IRS has finally realized that the taxpayer ID numbers of non-profit organizations were being grossly abused to avoid payment of taxes on all sorts of unrelated matters. If your unit funds are not subject to the same financial controls, oversight, and procedures as those of the chartering organiation, then you may be entering into "danger Will Robinson" territory should the IRS ever decide to come looking. The potential consequences for t
  5. Krampus: That is a heck of a lot of nice electronics. I suspect if I added up the value of all of my personal electronics plus all of my camping gear it would be less than the cost for all of that. There are some of us out here that our cars are only worth a bit more than that (perhaps less if it really came down to finding a buyer). A good multi-band two-way radio and the correct training and licenses would probably be my next backcountry safety investment, if I were going to make one, though it would have been more useful before the rise of encrypted digital radios in emergency
  6. Those might make both nice training kits, and also nice prizes for competitions. I have always had remarkably poor success with dryer lint. The stuff seems to suck up moisture from the air incredibly quickly. Also, synthetic or wool fibers in the mix don't start well at all it seems. Note the final episode of the last season of "Survivor" for examples of how NOT to start a fire with flint and steel (while a million dollar prize is on the line). I still suspect that scene was scripted, but in any case it shows remarkably poor technique. Another thing to note, if you teach people how
  7. On the physical side, girls tend to hit the major growth spurts around 11, boys around 13, so that has some serious implications about age appropriate activities regarding physical aspects. The cognitive side of adolescent development is quite a bit more complex, but again the girls tend to be a couple years ahead of the boys in certain aspects. The emotional/psychological/social development however is the side that gets the least attention and actually probably makes the most difference. Here again the girls are out ahead of the boys, and in fact are ahead even as early as the toddler sta
  8. There is huge diversity in STEM, that is for certain. Even the science inclined tend to have particular fields they like, and others they despise (I abhorred biology).
  9. Sorry, not intending to swerve into an Issues and Politics debate, just making an observation. Now, all that being said, since it looks like STEM Scouts is going to be a thing: How best to make such a program work? What elements of the traditional program can be adapted? What needs to be created from scratch? What can be borrowed from other organizations? How is such a program staffed? I suppose those questions are part of what the pilot programs are trying to sort out, but so far there isn't a terrible lot of information since it is still largely an experimental program. Havin
  10. We really don't have to worry about this going very far. Why? Equipment and facilities. Most schools are not going to be interested in turning over their lab facilities for an outside group to use. That equipment is expensive and easy to break. It is also potentially dangerous (even lethal) in untrained hands. From the point of view of the school there is nothing gained by opening the door to STEM Scouts. You are better off forming a science club of your own, which will require zero membership fees and zero additional insurance, and to which you can assign a faculty member as the advis
  11. Which came first, the Trainer or the Train the Trainer class? If you have to be a Trained Trainer to teach Train the Trainer, how did anyone ever get Trained? If you don't have to be a Trained Trainer to teach Train the Trainer, why do you need it to teach anything else?
  12. Unless they had another option ready to deploy, they more or less had to stick with BSA for at least another year or so. There is tremendous amount of instutiional inertia and investment behind the BSA/LDS arrangement. To overcome that momentum and change directions really wasn't an option on a few months notice. I wouldn't be surprised if in a few years there is some global LDS youth program, with BSA program being an optional extra program here in the US. That would put the LDS more in line with most other chartering organizations, and also ensure that if BSA makes some future change the
  13. The pay scale does seem to be unreasonably top heavy. Compare that to the highest ranking generals/admirals in the military whose pay tops out around $250k and may be responsible for organizations with employees numbering into the hundreds of thousands, serving 300 million "customers". Also, the BSA personnel and professional advancement system is completely insulated from outside competition other than at the entry-level. Internal politics is the main driver over who reaches those highest levels, it is very often difficult to quantify the impact of any executive in the organization, lots
  14. Were I to be in charge... I would have some sort of short training required of every volunteer every year. Focus on the things like two-deep leadership, no one on one contact, all the basic provisions, available in person or online. Have a youth protection management training be required, with more in depth detail, more background and theory, more on what to do if an incident occurs. This training could also be a train the trainer for the simpler training. Require this of the primary unit leader and all YPT trainers. Maybe require one person per outing to have it. Require it of camp st
  15. I am in favor of this. I don't know how popular it will be with the boys, but it is still a good idea. Maybe we can finally end the schizophrenia about the "field uniform" being both an outdoor/active wear item and also a dress/formal item. Comfortable active wear "activity uniforms" with neckerchief for most uses. Full uniform for flag ceremonies, courts of honor, boards of review, and more formal usages. Now, I just need to find some neckerchiefs suitable for wear on the trail or out in the sun, while still looking scout like.
  16. I don't know about anyone else, but I am not worried about gay people role-modeling kids into being gay. What I would be concerned about, is people role-modeling immorality and influencing kids to disregard sexual ethics and morals, or role-modeling a contrary sexual ethic. If someone is openly living as actively gay, that for most people would count as role-modeling immorality. The problem isn't turning kids gay. The problem is giving kids an example that is, on its face, less virtuous. Not only is it less than virtuous, it is counter-virtuous, because it is not merely a failing to live u
  17. I have some misgivings about the choice of the bishop, but I would certainly never publish them in the National Catholic Reporter. It won't convince anyone, because the readership of NCR already assumes that whatever decisions a bishop makes will be wrong, after all, they are perpetuating the oppressive patriarchy. The NCR is on record in favor of gay marriage, in favor of women priests/bishops/cardinals/popes, and it waffles on abortion. So, not exactly the voice of the faithful. More the voice of dissent. On the other hand, it really must be asked: has BSA in fact now taken a position co
  18. Cards and games are always a good idea to have around. You never know when you are going to be hunkered down somewhere and need something for filler. There are some glow in the dark or even LED illuminated Frisbee and other things like that. No reason you can't have improvised disc golf (just designate a tree as the target). If you happen to have a good, safe place to play night time games of ultimate Frisbee can be... interesting... Night time land navigation is certainly a special challenge. Night hikes are also possible. Winter often gets very clear skies, so stargazing or astro
  19. Everyone around here keeps asking for something in the area of a $5 item. That is about the price where people will just buy without really thinking about it around here. Popcorn should be (and witness big box stores, CAN BE) a very cheep item by volume. The Troop/Crew in this area that does the best with popcorn, they do something very different: They set up a booth at a local festival, make their own kettle corn, and sell it by the bag full. It is great stuff, reasonably priced, and they sell a ton of it. Making fun of the latest goofiness from Trail's End and Campmaster seems
  20. So, BSA is in favor of individual Scout accounts, but there may be some potential issues with the IRS, depending on interpretation. Reading between the lines, it sounds like if the majority of the funds went into the Troop general account, but some portion was used as an incentive credited towards Scouts individually for their Scouting activities you would be in the clear. Probably.
  21. So your council requires all of the family night visitors at camp to be YPT trained? Do they check the cards at the gate?
  22. I have had this happen on an Eagle Board of Review. We asked the candidate if he planned to stay involved in Scouts. He told us what he thought we wanted to hear, that yes he would. We found out shortly after he really only was in Scouts due to parental pressure and was getting out after he had the Eagle in hand. I have since quit asking about future scouting involvement, candidates will tell you they plan to stay involved even during college, hope to have kids in the program, etc., and then as soon as the Court of Honor is over they aren't seen ever again. It is a rare thing to find a
  23. Anyone know what to do if your account has completely disappeared? I used to have an account (actually two) on myscouting, but last time I tried to log in it claimed that my username is not in the database and that there is no account associated with my email address. (I have emails still in my email account that proves that I once had such an account.)
  24. On the other hand, BSA can revoke a charter and invoke the "give us all your money" clause at any time it wishes per the Rules and Regulations. Someone should game this out a bit farther with a team of law school students and figure out who the money actually belongs to. When some local unit folded after having already raised money for camp that year, their approach was to go ahead and pay the camp fees just like they would have. So the soon to fold troop just went ahead and registered the boys for camp according to where the receiving troop was going and paid the fees. Then the boys trans
  25. The trouble is, BSA has been a very slowly sinking ship for most of the last several decades. The recent changes may have accelerated that sinking, but the trend line was downwards in any case. I don't think anyone honestly believes the recent changes will save the organization, nor totally kill it. So, that brings up the question, is the BSA getting smaller year on year, indefinitely, an acceptable thing? Can BSA's decline be reversed? Should it be? What strategies might be able to turn things around? Would it still be Scouting after those strategies were implemented?
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