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Everything posted by bsaggcmom

  1. @NJScouter I think you have hit the nail on the head. I have lots of experience with the BSA, GSUSA, Girl Guides of Canada and a little less experience with Scouts Canada. The BSA is the only program that I've been involved in for over 12 years that is 'family friendly/heavy family involvement'. Before everyone flips out let me explain. GSUSA, GGC and SC all encourage families to be active in the programs but they want the scouts to grow and develop without the parents present every moment of the time. All 3 organizations encourage the parent to drop off the scout at the meeting room, leave while the meeting is going on and come back at the designated time to pick their scout up. Parents aren't normally in attendance for unit meetings and on site activities. When it comes to camping and field trips the same method applies. Parents may be invited to camp or go on a field trip with the group if extra adults are needed for ratios or transportation, but the scout doesn't go to camp/field trip with a parent in tow. Scouts learn independence from a very early age (first grade). Scouts in these programs even go to summer residence camps of 3-7+ days in length without parents and depending on the association without unit leaders too. Leadership in these programs (especially GGC and SC) also tend not to be parents of current scouts either. Parents are free to observe anytime they want but it is highly discouraged. Drop and go. BSA wants Mommy/Daddy/other adult with each scout for Lions and Tigers. Most packs want the parent around through Webelos. Then it is culture shock when the scout reaches the troop level that parents aren't truly 'welcome' anymore. On top of the burn out we all talk about on these forums this culture shock IMHO is a main driver in the drop out rate between AoL and first year troop. I had 12 scouts from Tiger to AoL. Only 3 stuck with the program after AoL. 4 scouts were only children and their parents weren't keen on letting their darlings out of their sight. One actually told another parent and myself that since we had more than 1 child that we had a spare kid if something happened to our boys. They didn't have a spare so they were going to protect him at all costs and not let him out of their sight for a few more years. Lost touch with those families after that. The scouting program doesn't function well with adults present in too large a number. Kids can't grow and become confident in their abilities when adults hover. The BSA for all its fussing that helicopter parents aren't what is appropriate sure does push that to happen when they insist on parental attendance at meetings/events/camps. Girls in the BSA isn't what we all need to be afraid of. Too many parents that don't understand the program and don't know how to let go is our real issue. The BSA has made a leap to be like the rest of the WOSM, but how long till they adopt policies that will actually help scouting improve? It sounds harsh but we need to ditch more of the adult attendance/interaction at activities. Let the scouts work the program with just enough adults to meet ratios, get the rest out. No unit should be registering more adults than kids. Adults need to be trained and parents need to keep their distance. My only fear with girls coming into the program is more parents that want to meddle with scouting.
  2. bsaggcmom

    When To Not Be Calm?

    Brian, you have complained about the younger scouts in a few threads now. One thing you must realize is that there is a HUGE maturity difference between you being 16 years old and the rest of the scouts being 11-14 years old. I work in a high school environment most of the time. This year's crop of freshman (and I've talked to colleagues across the country) is particularly immature compared to previous years. It may not be that your scouts don't care about representing your troop in a good fashion, they may just not have the skills to attend to a task for more than a very short time. One friend of mine said she can't get through a 30 minute freshman science lecture without having to redirect the class. This is a first for her in 30 years of teaching. In my troop we had several scouts that didn't want any part of scouting, let alone camping. They were there and kept there by parents that wanted fast-track Eagle scouts. The parents were the helicopter crossed with lawnmower type parents. We had a hostile split in the early summer and all the uninterested scouts went to the newly formed troop. We were left with only 6 boys, but they were the ones that want to be scouts. 3 of them are younger scouts that used to be pulled into mischief by the uninterested group. Since the split we have had nothing but good productive meetings and outings. IF your scouts are there because THEY WANT to be there you can and will get through to them with time. IF they want no part of scouting but are being forced there for whatever reason they will most likely never come around. Understanding why your scouts are there is a key to handling them. Some boys will never behave no matter what you try. Have you tried giving the inattentive ones a specific job to do as part of a project? Giving them ownership of a small part may make them step up as you wish. You stated they they were supposed to watching and learning to tie the lashings. Were they getting a chance to do it, think EDGE method, or just watching? If they were actually doing then maybe they weren't being instructed well or shown what shoddy workmanship could cause. IF they were just watching then boredom probably set in, it only takes about 5-15 minutes for that to happen. Keep up your good work. You are in a tough spot. In the future, I'd probably layout a detailed plan of attack for a project like a catapult build. I'd make sure everyone involved understands the expectations of the project well before the event. I've been in scouting of all sorts for many years, frequently SPLs will tell the troop that they will build an 'x' at a camporee for points. But they don't tell the scouts what's involved in that build. Sometimes it's because they themselves don't know, or they assume (you know what they say about assuming) the troop knows what's involved. most times what is involved isn't what the scouts think it will be, they usually vastly under estimate the project. Listing full expectations before the event will make sure everyone know what will go on and they can make an educated decision about attending the event. Just a few thoughts. Good Luck.
  3. bsaggcmom

    Where to start with a sewing machine for badges

    I have a simple, basic Singer machine. I have sewn on over 150 Girl Scout patches (2 active high seniors vests needed to be updated for an international jamboree) and 2 full new BSA shirts with in the last couple of months. Some tricks I have found. 1. Use a needle designed for denim/jeans/heavy duty. These needles tend to be stouter than a normal needle and stand up well to the demand of patches and badges. I broke 4 needles before my quilter Mom told me about jean needles. 2. I found that I wasn't very good at all the crazy angles of fun patches so I use the clear/invisible thread on the top side of badge/patch. That way if I miss a turn or veer off course a bit it doesn't show or shows very little than with colored threads. Also, this technique saves you having to match a zillion thread colors. Use a colored or white thread in the bobbin so that you can see to remove a patch if it doesn't turn out the way you want it to. 3. Get a machine that has a 'free arm'. That means part of the base of the machine comes off, makes it easier to maneuver the garment or material in all the weird ways needed to sew on patches/badges. 4. Set your machine up where you have lots of table clearance around it. By this I mean, a table like an empty dining room table. Shirts take lots of spinning around to sew on insignia. Working in tight spaces equals frustration. 5. Take your time. Expect to rip things off a few times when you start. I also found it easier to sew individual number together than to sew them one after the other. 6. Finally, pin everything in place, don't try to free sew a project. For somethings like the bling ring around the world crest I found it easier to sew the crest then the ring. I also found it was easier to use scotch tape to hold some things in place then peel the tape away when done. I did this when sewing numbers together and sewing the bling ring around the world crest. Pins can sometimes distort the shape of the patch. Good luck, happy sewing.
  4. bsaggcmom

    Alps Mountaineering Scout Direct program gone?

    I love my Taurus 4 tent. 2 vestibules, 2 doors, I can kneel but not stand in it. It has stayed bone dry in monsoon rains and stood up to sustained winds of 30 mph and gusts of 45 mph. Only complaint, I need a floor saver under it in the areas I camp in (rocky ground). I never worried about that with my old tent that had a tarp type material floor .
  5. bsaggcmom

    Inquiries for Girls

    Why would the program have to be watered down for girls to take part? What would you water down? I wouldn't water down anything. 20 nights of camping for camping merit badge, same swim requirements, same hiking requirements. Personal fitness requirements are individually based, do your pre-test, do your interim tests, do a post test, improve from where you started. What do you fear will be watered down? The girls that want in don't want watered down scouts they want scouts as it is now. Almost nothing needs to change for girls to come aboard. Most units in my area have coed adult leadership anyway. Are you afraid a girl or woman will out camp/out knot/out scout a boy or man and make them feel inadequate? I've said several times on different threads here that my girls out do any of the 3 troop of boys that I've been in the outdoors. The girls backpack, camp more as a troop, hike more and generally recreate more outdoors than the boys troops I've been involved in. Oh, and they are more girl run too. Just like Hawkwin's daughter's troop.
  6. bsaggcmom

    Inquiries for Girls

    The niches I eluded to are girls only/boys only. Inside and crafty/outside and camping, cookies/popcorn, etc. As far as a 100+ year old group changing their programs to meet the wants of others, many groups have done so already. Prime example is Campfire, they went coed to meet the needs/desires of their members. It is actually very easy to change. The hard part is getting buy in from the people already involved. Adapting to change is the hard part. As far as Explorers and Venturing they start at 14 years old. By that point in their lives girls have already latched on tho the activities they are more than likely going to pursue through high school. And on top of that, they have probably tried a GSUSA program, not liked it and tossed it aside. Depending on their experience they may never give any scouting program a second chance. And what's worse, when they're parents they may not consider a scouting program for their children. If it wasn't something Mom or Dad did as a kid its likely it won't be something their kids do. I have dozens of extended family in laws, none of them scouted, so they never thought of it for their kids. Easily in my family alone, there are 60 boys and 20 girls that will never be scouts in either program because their parents didn't scout. If a girl had a bad experience she is less likely to suggest/let her daughter be a girl scout. It works the same way for boy scouts too. If we (collective we, as in any youth program) want to maintain and grow programs in the future we need to service what we have now and encourage growth now. Growth may mean going to non traditional members - girls in a boy's program, luring in ethnic groups that normally part of the program, etc. Birth rates are falling, couples are waiting longer to have children, 2 working parents in a family, more single parent families are all working against youth programs. If a family can't drop and go (sports teams with coaches as babysitters) or have all family needs met in 1 meeting then we will lose more youth. My family has been blessed that we could afford for me to work part time and shuttle the kids to their separate activities. Some times the daughter's activity won out over the son's one on the same night and time. Other times he won out. It was a massive balancing act. My husband worked overtime or off shifts to facilitate the family activities financially. This meant he wasn't available to shuttle or participate. I know many families where the kids can't do an activity because the family can't arrange transportation. The funds may be there but travel isn't. Don't underestimate the 1 stop shopping concept that is being proposed by the BSA. My GSUSA troop lost a pair of sisters that rode with us when my daughter aged out and I retired from leadership. I found other opportunities closer to home to volunteer in and have now been able to pick up a third part time job to help pay for her college now that I'm not running her around. Son now has a license and car and drives himself to most of his activities so even more time for me to pursue my volunteer interests and work opportunities. Next year its 2 in college. As I said above, adapt and change or die off.
  7. bsaggcmom

    Inquiries for Girls

    @@SSF Not all girls want to have tea parties and play with dolls. Some want to be outside to camp, cook and get muddy. There's nothing wrong with that. I wanted to be an astronaut as a young girl, I grew up watching moon landing and then the space shuttle missions. Watched the first moon landing live as a very small girl, watched Columbia blow up live as a freshman college student. My favorite outfit as a 7-9 year old was my NASA flight suit I got as a gift while visiting the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. I had Barbies, a sewing machine of my own and dresses too. Used all of them. But I liked to be outside searching for wild flowers and bugs. So your comments sting a bit. My daughter (just aged out of scouting) played with dolls, had tea parties, did lots of arts and crafts, danced and figure skated growing up. She loves to be outside and play in the mud, shoot things and play with fire and knives too. Girl scouts in our immediate area didn't fulfill her needs or wants. We drove 25 miles 1 way every week for 7 years to find a GS troop that meet her needs. The troop has been around for 15 years providing the outdoor side of scouting that so many girls want. At times we had 50 girls in the troop. Many driving from quite a distance. So yes GSUSA can fulfill a girl's wants and needs if the parents can support the travel. The problem with GSUSA is how it is organized, and the local leadership. Many threads on this site discuss closed GSUSA troops where a leader won't take a girl if she doesn't have the right color hair, go to the right school/church, isn't BBFs with leader's daughter, etc, etc, etc. Also,if the individual troop leadership doesn't do mud, bugs, tent camping neither do the girls in the troop. If you have a arts and crafts leader your troop is arts and crafts. GSUSA also makes it very hard for a leader to take her girls camping, they must take several "classes" to be certified to do it. Heck, you can't start a fire without having taken a class. BSA provides a program that many girls want to be a part of. They aren't weirdos, they aren't tomboys, they are regular girls that want to be involved in the outdoors and want to grow their skills. They want opportunities like the boys. We tell our daughters that they can be anything they want to be - president, doctors, lawyers, teachers, scientists, etc. But then some stubborn old school folks stand up and say you can't be this or that cuz you're a girl. That just makes them and their parents push even harder. Everyone says demand change from the GSUSA. Yah, okay. If it was that easy we wouldn't have girls trying to join Boy Scouts. GSUSA only cares about it's appearance in the public eye of giving girls "empowerment" and their cookie empire. Girls,parents and some leaders have pushed for years for more outdoor opportunities. The response has been incredibly slow and anemic. One other issue with GSUSA is there is really no program at all. There are badges to earn, Bronze/Silver and Gold Awards, but no program. You don't have to do follow a regimented list of requirements to get Gold. Just do some wishy-washy, touchy-feely, useless Journeys and a project(if you can get through the top secret paperwork) and boom you have Gold. There is no way a Gold award GS is on the same level as an Eagle Scout. I have both a boy and a girl. GSUSA requires no skill development to advance, no leadership development in at the troop level (heck they gasp if you have a PLC type structure), there is no program to deliver. Some people just want a little structure in their lives. Some need it, some thrive on it, doesn't matter what gender you are. The BSA has a niche in the world that should be available to all that wish to utilize it. The GSUSA has a different niche, as do 4-H, AHG, and Campfire, Y Adventure Guides and the multitude of other youth programs. In this day and age gender shouldn't be an issue. We aren't living in Victorian England or the Puritan USA of the past. It's time to take a twist on Charles Darwin, change and adapt or die off. I'd much rather see the BSA adapt and change than die off.
  8. We lived the same hassle with GS until we found a multi age troop 30 miles from our house when my daughter entered 6th grade (Cadettes). Things were so bad around our area we went to Canada and joined Girl Guides for 10 years. We are blessed to be in border city and the Canadian units were a mere 10 miles away (plus border crossing time). My daughter liked the GGC program so much that we would go there even after she joined the GSUSA troop that she just aged out of. In a lot of ways she had the best of 2 programs. Down side was double the cookies to sell, Canada sets the number you have to sell or give them money equal to that amount. I don't know what I'd have done with her if we couldn't have gone to Canada. We were the wrong school, wrong address, wrong everything in our area. The adults in charge, troop/district/council levels, made no bones about it, we were the wrong everything. We found the GS troop we finally got into through a BS friend whose daughter was in it. This GS troop has been going for over 20 years and never refused a girl that I know of. Head leader's oldest daughter just had her first child and is 31. Youngest daughter is now 25. And the leader is showing no signs of closing the troop or retiring. But she has a strong support system of other adults. The troop runs more like a BSA troop than a GSUSA troop. We have a treasurer, advancement chair, membership/communications chair, and we all work with the girls in different capacities. I agree GSUSA numbers would skyrocket if they followed a BSA model of membership for troops. But then the Moms would be able to exclude the kid from the wrong school, wrong street, wrong color, wrong whatever. Heaven forbid they let their daughters experience the real world. BSA doesn't have the concession on helicopter moms.
  9. bsaggcmom

    Part C medical form and genitalia

    Sadly many youth don't see a doctor on a regular basis. I've been an allied health care provider for 25 years, not a doctor. I work with young adults on a daily basis. I find it scary, sad, and in some ways disgraceful that some of my college freshmen have no regular doctor or dentist and have never had a proper physical or dental exam. I had one incoming college freshman this school year that had NEVER been to a dentist, 18 years old and no dental visits ever!! Others have only ever seen the walk in clinic for pre sports physicals for $25 and the emergency room for illnesses and injuries. Doc in the box physicals miss so much its scary. They don't screen for hernias, scoliosis, testicular masses (young men in the boy scout age range to college age have one of the highest rates of testicular cancer), muscle imbalances, urine samples for diabetes and neuro problems. Basically, if you walk in under your own power and have a pulse and are breathing you get the sign off you wish. That's exactly what they are designed for but it doesn't make them right. While health insurance is expensive there are many programs that insure youth get coverage and services they need. The health forms from the BSA, high school sports, other camps are written to help health care providers by giving them guidance as to areas to check. When an OB/Gyn does a troop of boy scouts physicals because he/she has a kid in the troop they're really not helping out that much, IMHO. They are extending the problem. Just because someone has a DO, MD, PA, or RN after their name it doesn't make them the right person to provide the service. I'd be concerned if a psychiatrist offered to sign off my troops' physicals. Sure he/she is a an MD or DO but when was the last time they listened to a heartbeat, felt an abdomen, med school maybe? Scout son was found to have a heart murmur at his camp physical a couple of years ago, luckily it turned out to be nothing major. It was found by his regular doctor and hadn't been there in the past. Who would a doc in the box or someone else that he'd never seen before know if it was a new thing or not. Having had a couple of athletes over the last 25 nearly die of heart problems on the field I am a little sensitive to this subject. To sum it up, the forms ask for checks that should be done not ignored, to make sure the scout is healthy enough to partake and no new underlying conditions have occurred since their full physical. Pre-camp/sports physicals can and do play a vital role in the health care of young people. They shouldn't be brushed off as an pain in the butt that most parents, leaders/coaches, and providers consider them to be.
  10. In my council most of the camps are 2-5 hours away from the main population centers. Local metroparks, state parks and private campgrounds that are scout friendly are closer. Would love to use the council camps more but who wants to arrive at camp at midnight or later on Friday night and have to leave by 9 on Sunday morning to make it home at a decent time. They're nice properties for the most part just too far away for a weekend camp.
  11. bsaggcmom

    Family Camping vs Parent/Son

    In my council parent & son activities are district/council run. No siblings, no tag a longs, only one adult per child. Limits are due to space and to allow the greatest number of scouts to participate. Family camp can be unit/district/council run. Usually unit run. The entire family can come, mom, the sisters, big/little brothers, etc. Once even had a set of grandparents come out. Depending on location activities at both can be very similar - shooting sports, fishing, hiking, games.
  12. bsaggcmom

    Catholic Diocese boots out GS

    As GSMOM73 said, GSUSA doesn't have CO's like BSA. Leaders sign the agreement with the GS council and the troop is off and running. If the Catholic Church doesn't want to endorse GSUSA anymore the GS troops there just have a harder time recruiting and have lost a meeting space. GS troops aren't dependent on CO's to give them meeting space they have to find their own place to meet. My GS troop meets at a church, we pay a weekly rental fees that the girls fund through yearly dues to the unit. Some units meet in leaders homes, public meeting rooms in local libraries or if they are lucky they are allowed to use a room at a school. If Catholic parents in KC want their daughters to be a GS then they can do so. It just won't be at their local Catholic school/church anymore. Maybe not as convenient as it used to be, but still available. I see it as a loss for the church as a whole. No more little service projects to help the parish, no more Scout Sunday masses that include all scouts, and less exposure for the church in the general population's eyes. Not every girl in a troop at a Catholic facility is Catholic. Those girls and their families are lost as potential converts to the Catholic church. Gone are the little donations from such families because they aren't there anymore. My family routinely donates a few dollars, a few cans of foods or a little bit of time to the church that our GS troop meets at. It isn't our church, isn't in our town. no connections except the GS troop meets there. We do it because it benefits the facility that is kind enough to rent us some space. It a round about way we see it as benefiting our GS troop. Nice to them, nice to us thing. The Catholic church in KC is about to ruin this type of relationship. So sad.
  13. bsaggcmom

    Lack of MB opportunities

    Jeanvaljean welcome. I'm going to guess that you are in Michigan somewhere due your comment about going to Cranbrook. If you are part of the GLFSC section of Michigan Crossroads Council then your Scoutmaster should have a merit badge counselor list for your district. Lists were sent by the district advancement chairs to the unit leaders (Scoutmasters, Coach for Varsity Scouts, Crew Advisors and Sea Scout Skippers) at the beginning of this school year. Data was encrypted to ensure that only the unit leaders with the correct code could access the list, some crap about MBC privacy was given as the reason. It has made accessing the list a pain in the butt. Unit leaders were told that couldn't print the list and were to keep it stored as a file on their computers. In my unit one must ask the unit leader for a list of counselor names and hope he remembers to email you that list when he gets home from a unit meeting. It reality it usually takes and email or text or 2 to get the names you want. And even the most recent, secure list is not fully updated and accurate. I know there are people listed on it the quit scouting 3 years ago. They are polite when called by a misdirected Scout, but they are finding it annoying at the same time. Others have given you the general process of how your sons are to go about getting blue cards and continue on the path to earning a badge. So I won't belabor that point. The one thing I have found is that many of the listed counselors only work with their own troop, and the variety of MBCs available to Scouts has dropped greatly in this area over the last few years. If your boys are looking for some of the less commonly earned badges they may not be able to find a MBC at all. Good Luck!
  14. As others have said your son has plenty of time. Let's do a little number crunching to put things in perspective. Based on your son being 11 years old now he has about 7 years to complete his Eagle journey. He needs (currently) 21 merit badges, that's only 3 a year for the minimum. There are 7 ranks from start to end: Scout; Tenderfoot; Second Class; First Class; Star; Life; Eagle. Again that'd be 1 rank a year. But he can work on items in Scout, TF, SC, and FC all at the same time, so very possible to get more than 1 rank a year some years, it just happens. Some of the required badges have time requirements, usually 90 days of doing something. That's a 3 month commitment to working out daily, tracking your income/expenses or doing chores around the house. If he continues as an athlete then his fitness tracking is a breeze. Household chores probably are too. That leaves financial tracking not too hard either. Camping merit badge requires 20 nights of tent camping. If he fulfills his FC rank requirement of 5 campouts, he'll more than likely already have 10 nights, 5 two night trips. Add in the 6 nights allowable from 1 summer camp, boom at 16. He'd only NEED to camp 2 more weekends to have enough nights. Exceptionally doable in 1-2 years, in some troops if the dates work out it can be done in 1 year. Cooking merit badge has a few requirements that can pose a problem or 2 if not active outdoors or the troop doesn't camp a lot. But nothing that can't be overcome. Only other time requirements have been mentioned already, time in position. About 17 months, but they don't have to fall consecutively, 1 month for TF, 4 for Star, 6 each for Life and Eagle. So when you look a Eagle by the numbers achieving it is extremely possible. In fact, I can't understand why every scout doesn't achieve it other than a desire not to. And I really don't understand the 17 year old, 11 month and 23 day old Life scout that still needs 4 Eagle required badges and project taking a week off of school to finish it all in his last week. We have one in our troop doing that right now. Just tell your son that slow and steady wins the race. Work a little extra in an off season or school break time, don't stress in the middle of a season. Use his time wisely, read a merit badge book instead of playing video games or watching TV for 30 minutes a week and badges can be had in a short period of time. The journey is his to pick. GOOD LUCK!!
  15. bsaggcmom

    Boys have more fun.

    Spring break is just finishing up in my neck of the woods. My GS troop spent it backpacking a section of the AT trail in North Carolina/Tennessee. The BSA troop did nothing. Couldn't even get a few boys out to help on a couple of Eagle Projects during the week. Girls trekked through rain, sleet, snow, then high temps and lots of mud. Boys didn't do much that I know of. A couple went on family vacations, rest were on their rumps. So I'd say my girls had more fun and bragging rights too. BTW - 2 out of 3 of the adults on the AT were Dads hiking with their daughters. For one Dad this was his second doing an AT section with the same troop. My troop has no issue with Dads helping out. EMT hubby and lifeguard son have taught first aid and water safety to the girls. Hubby of head leader (a card carrying lifetime GS member) has taught woodworking, knots and fire building among other things to the girls. IMHO, GSUSA doesn't have issues with men, but they'd rather women be the lead. My council even has a guy as one of its employees, in a position similar to a DE in the BSA system. But it has been noted that I don't have a 'normal' GSUSA troop either.
  16. bsaggcmom

    Canada Girl Guides restricting scout unit travel to USA

    @@RememberSchiff As a very frequent border crosser and having family members that cross daily here are a few tips/guidelines for your trip. 1. Make sure you have notarized travel documents for each Scout you are bringing with you across the border. These include a permission to travel abroad with a list of specific adults on specific dates. Permission to obtain emergency medical care for each member (youth and adult) while in Canada if needed. Create a travel packet for each member. A gallon Ziploc bag that contains notarized forms, passport/border cards/enhanced state ID/original raised seal birth certificate, troop permission slip, and a copy of the member's health form. 2. Packets accompany the members and are held by the driver of each vehicle. Driver hands the packets to Canadian/US customs agent at the border. Identification document on top, notarized permission to travel abroad form next, then notarized emergency health and regular health forms round out the bundle. Driver's packet is first. Organize packets by front seat, middle row and back row of the vehicle, driver to passenger sides. This is how we have done it for 25 years with our Girl Scout troop when we travel to Canada each Mother's Day weekend for a big camporee near London Ontario. Never had a problem crossing either way. 3. All phones/electronics turned off and stowed at the time of crossing. No sunglasses or hats on. If your driver wears prescription glasses have them switch temporarily to indoor glasses from their sunglasses. Border agents don't like sunglasses. Or they can take the glasses off for discussion with the agent. 4. No cameras at either border or near the border area. NO PICTURES OF BORDER AGENTS OR SURROUNDINGS. 5. Keep all vehicles in the same lane and together so that everyone deals with the same agent. Trailer comes through last. Designate a meeting spot after clearing customs. DO NOT gather the convoy on border crossing property. That way you will be close if there is a problem but not interfering with traffic flow. Everyone should be organized the same way going on to the border zone property too. 6. Parents and their kids should be in the same vehicles at the time of border crossings. As should siblings. You can regroup before entering or after exiting the border zone if siblings don't want to travel together. NEVER, EVER REGROUP IN THE BORDER ZONE. 7. NO WEAPONS, MACE, PEPPER SPRAY, NOTHING BIGGER THAN A POCKET KNIFE in vehicles or on person. CANADA DOESN'T DO GUNS!!!!!! Make sure all guns and ammunition are left at home. You will go to jail and they will seize your vehicle forever if you bring a gun in. Larger cooking knives need to be secured in a patrol box in a trailer or trunk. Pocket knives put away pockets or backpacks. 8. Proper current identification for everyone. Passports, passport cards (obtained just like a regular passport with the same forms and processes, only good for land crossing to US/Canada/Mexico), enhanced state ID (similar process to getting passport but done at your state DMV office, not available in all states). Our group and several school groups here also use raised seal/original birth certificates for youth under 18. There has always been an exemption for organized youth groups traveling between Canada/US to travel on birth certificates. Anyone over 18 has to have a passport/passport card/enhanced state ID. Check guidelines before travel. 9. Turn off data usage and roaming services for mobile devices unless the device has an international usage plan. It isn't uncommon for people to rack up hundreds if not thousands of dollars of roaming/international usage charges. A quick text can cost $5 or an email check can cost $25 or more if you don't have an international plan. My daughter tallied up $550 in 2 days because her phone didn't connect properly to the hotel wifi. Phone company was good about it, but they didn't have to be. Just turn the devices off. One leader can get a temporary international plan for a month and roll the cost of that into trip costs. We are doing that when the girls go to England in August. Hope this helps. I have been crossing the border for over 50 years, and 7 years with Girl Scouts and never had a major problem. A few crabby agents here and there, only 2-3 vehicle searches. Searches were because my vehicle matched a vehicle of interest (Amber alert type things). Follow the Scout law and you shouldn't have a problem. Courteous, kind, obedient, friendly, cheerful and most of all Be Preapred. Nothing worse than rifling for documents at the agents shack. Have a great trip.
  17. bsaggcmom

    Boys "Eagle Out" of troop

    Yup I've heard of Eagling out. Trying to keep son from doing it. Darling son will be 17 in a couple of months, he got his Eagle just before his 15th birthday as a high school freshman. He is the troop's only Eagle. He has stuck around his troop and earned 6 palms with enough badges for 1 more. It has been a struggle to keep him and 2 other HS juniors and 2 HS seniors engaged in the program we have or should I say don't have at this time. The seniors and 1 of the juniors are Eagle bound, 2 should make it one probably not. When son joined his current troop as an incoming freshman it was about to fold with only 3 paper scouts on the rolls. We joined and so did 20 others, we're down to about 13 active scouts and a couple more on paper only. We've lost 6 scouts in the past year due to our lack of program. We are boy led and the PLC has not planned anything that the older boys are interested in. When the PLC actually plans a meeting it is based on the advancement of the younger scouts or a merit badge the younger guys want to do. In most cases the badges are ones the older guys have and the teaching that needs to be done is by one of the middle guys needing to teach for rank advancement. The older guys have no real place in the troop, not PLC presence, and no need to be there. No older boys are not allowed to be on the PLC because they have their time in for rank and others need it. Currently we have 11 boys between FC and Life. All need PoRs, so if you are Life and have your 6 months in your out of a PoR. Weekend camps are based on the middle school calendar no consideration for the high schooolers. Last camp was weekend before finals at the HS. So keeping older boys especially Eagles engaged here is tough, really tough. Son loves scouts, but his main reason for hanging around is to be on camp staff at a local cub resident camp. The troop goes to a merit badge mill summer camp (kids get 6-9 badges in a week), so no desire to go there again. Did it once, and that was enough. He went to NYLT but isn't allowed to demonstrate the skills he learned since he isn't on the PLC. The age gap is starting to effect our troop. 5 juniors/seniors (seniors age out in 6 weeks) and 10-12 middle schoolers or lower. No common ground, no common focus. Don't now how much longer son will stay around. He hasn't Eagled and run, but he's lacing up the sneakers. I really feel we need to make scouts from grades 5-8 and Venturing from grades 9-12. 17 year olds have nothing in common with a not yet 11 year old. With limited leadership opportunities and program options, like our troop, it is no wonder boys Eagle and run.
  18. bsaggcmom

    The big question

    EBoRs aren't about telling a bunch of old guys what they want to hear. Its about answering their questions honestly and articulately. Being able to stand up for your point of view and respecting theirs. If you can't say for certain that you'd get back involved when you have kids of your own or when you are done with college and have a stable life then you should be able to back up your point of view with reasons. I'd rather hear that a young man wants to include his wife in the choice, or that he was forced into scouts by his parents and really didn't enjoy it. I'd accept that career and family needs will play a role in the decision as to whether he returns/stays with scouts. What I don't want to hear a line of horse hockey to 'please' me. We are supposed to be fostering the ability to think for one's self and support your thoughts in the program. Not teaching them to BS (and I don't mean boy scouts) their way through things. If that's the skills they've received in the program shame on the leadership of their units. My son learned how to talk to and with adults from scouting. He learned to justify his opinions and how to ask questions. To the point that as a beginning high school junior, he wowed 2 college admissions advisors with his maturity and composure. Part way through their chat one of them asked if he was an Eagle Scout, she said she could tell by the way he handled himself. If EBoR members want to be 'pleased' by answers then they need seriously reconsider why they are willing to sit on an Ebor. I sit there to find out how the program is going in my area. To find out what makes a good program and maybe swipe and idea or two. I'm there to make the boys think about what they've done to date and what they are going to do with their lives to come.
  19. bsaggcmom

    The big question

    When son had his EBoR he was asked how he'd give back to Scouts - stay in troop till aging out and if he had a son would he come back at that time to help out. Reviewers went out of their way to tell him they weren't expecting him to balance college and scouting, but thought involvement in later life would be good. They also asked him lots of questions about the PoRs he held and how they demonstrated leadership in the troop. Nothing about uniform wear in public.
  20. As a CPR/AED instructor for over 2 decades, the sad reality is that an AED alone without rapid EMS response and high quality immediate medical follow up is pretty much useless. People that suffer from cardiac arrest may be revived with an AED but they don't tend to survive without proper medical care. There are a very tiny percentage folks that have arrhythmias that an AED can convert and they will be OK, but those folks are few and far between and usually as Richard B says awaiting an implant. Most people that suffer from cardiac arrest have underlying heart and vascular disease that must be addressed quickly to insure survival. Proper medical screening before activities and discussions with medical providers before activities is a more prudent and cost effective management of cardiac arrest risk reduction. That is in part why BSA requires yearly health form updates for all long term campers. It should also be mandatory for all "high adventure" troop level activities too. But enforcement would be an issue. GSUSA requires a medical provider signed health form for all activities occurring more than 4 hours from home, all activities where medical assistance is more than an hour away, and all international travel. We actually have to turn in copies of the signed health forms in order to get their equivalent of a tour permit and insurance. IMHO, anyone with such a high risk of cardiac arrest that the unit is considering taking an AED with them to the back country shouldn't be going on that outing. While cardiac arrest can happen to anyone, at any time and anywhere, the risks can be mitigated of that happening. Proper training, proper medical pre-event evaluation, proper trip planning and execution. Not everyone (youth or adult) is qualified for every outing -be it physically, psychologically, financially. Have we lost all common sense? If you get winded and dizzy climbing the steps at home, do you really belong on a 5 day backpack trip in the Colorado Rockies? I don't need to workout, just bring an AED and all will be OK. Final thoughts, AEDs are effective medical devices that are PART of a cardiac chain of survival. Quick effective CPR, early AED use, rapid EMS response and proper high quality medical follow up. Take away a link and the chain will fall apart. If you want to invest in an AED, get one for your meeting place and have it accessible to all that use the building. Invest in one for your favorite camping area, again available at all times for those that us the area. Remember that pads are only good for 2 years and replacements can be $100+. Batteries are only good for 5 years. If the AED is exposed to elements (stored outside in a box) it will require pad and battery updates more often. The units by law require a monthly maintenance log be kept and you must have a medical overseer for your unit (usually set up through your fire department). Training is needed to use one, although they are pretty much idiot proof.
  21. I am a BSA leader and a GSUSA leader. I've been in BSA units that average 70 scouts per year with 45-50 active and ones that average 10 scouts, 5-8 active. My GSUSA unit has averaged 36 girls each year. Our biggest year we were 55, smallest 28 girls. We are a Cadette/Senior/Ambassador troop. We have NEVER turned a girl away. We have limited some activities to first come, first served due to rides/event space/ticket availability. We tell our parents Moms and Dads that they are expected to help out. If they don't help we don't go anywhere and won't do much. We are a week to week core leadership team of 4. We run a girl led troop, they decide everything and run it themselves. As adults we are there for permission, finances, transportation and technical support. I have never been involved with a BSA troop that is this boy led, and I'm on my fourth troop. I've been hoping to find what my daughter has had for my son. If the girls ideas aren't fulfilled it because they haven't followed through. No rescues. We have only said no to one activity that the girls picked out to do, an overnight at a theater after a Broadway style show on the other side of the state. It was going to be $150 per person for ticket and overnighter before transportation. Our GSUSA troop runs more like a BSA troop as far as the adults are concerned. We have one head leader (Scoutmaster), several assistant leaders that head up finances (treasurer), advancement, communications/news letters, trip/outing planners. 3 of our adults don't even have girls left in the troop. The unit has been around for 20 years. Started when the Scoutmaster-like head leader's first daughter was becoming a Cadette. Her youngest is now 30. With increased numbers comes the ability to more things and a greater variety of things. We backpack at spring break, travel to Canada each Mother's day for an international camporee, travel to England every 4 years for a different camporee. We cabin camp at least twice a year and tent 2-4 times more. Do 2-4 service projects, attend council events and plan 3-6 outings a year on our own. When we are on the small size we don't do nearly as much. Numbers at a blessing and a curse too. But it sure beats sitting around staring at each other because you can't get a minimum number of bodies to get a group discount or make an event feasible. Ask your parents for help. You are not a low cost babysitter. If they won't step up in some fashion, each and every family each year dissolve the troop and move your daughter to a troop that'd like your help and form a leadership team. One of my pet peeves with GSUSA is troops come and go faster than I change my tennis shoes out in my area. And they are closed groups here too, only girls from this grade at this school that my daughter likes. IMHO that is not scouting it's a play group. My reaction would be take the girl and all her friends that want to come too, but they have to bring willing and helping adults. No adults no girls same for current girls. All for one and on for all. Every family CAN help some how, some way. USE IT, EMBRACE IT (emphasis).
  22. bsaggcmom

    Camp Ransburg and Firecrafters

    My troop is kicking around the idea of going to Camp Ransburg in Indiana next summer. The youth in charge of the research like the class offerings and dining hall idea but haven't really researched other topics. We have no troops near us to ask about this camp so I'm coming to you all. In one of the Micosay threads Ransburg was mentioned as having Firecrafters program. A spin off of Micosay, I believe. My question, does Ransburg push the program and favor Firecrafters members like Bartle does Micosay? The scouts going to this camp will all be younger boys, 5-10 new crossovers and 3-6 second/third years. Our couple of older boys will be attending a high adventure trip instead of regular summer camp. The adults are concerned about the possibility of isolation of our boys if the Firecrafters is highly pushed and favored at camp. We'll have our hands full enough with a bunch of beginners, we don't want to add problems that already occur at camp when you have a bunch of young guys there. At the very least we want to know the what we are in for and be able to prepare the boys before we get there. Also, is the camp walkable for little guys? Is the instruction traditionally good or more on the merit badge mill end of things? Anything we need to know or should add to the modest research that's already been done before we let the boys vote? This camp will be 5-6 hours from home if that adds to your thoughts. The other camp we are considering is Camp Gerber in Michigan, it's 3 hours away from home. It was put on the back burner due 1 episode of foodborne illness last year. Because 1 session had a issue, the SPL and a couple of adults don't want to consider it now. I told them that anywhere can have a bad food day, a camp, a school, a cruise ship and so on. We can't base the choice on it might happen again, because it could happen anywhere. Any thoughts form those that have been to Gerber would be welcome too. Thanks everyone. We appreciate the help.
  23. bsaggcmom

    Do we really need summer camps?

    Growing up in Canada there were very few scout/guide camps and they didn't offer programs like the BSA or GSUSA run for their scouts here. If we used a scout owned camp the unit provided the adults and the program. It was awesome. We canoed, cooked, hiked and generally had a blast as kids. We went to national parks, provincial parks and conservation areas. Some were better equipped than the scout camps (showers and flush toilets). Me feeling is that scout camps have a place, but that they should be on a provisional basis across the board. If parents wish to send their scout to summer camp do it. But if you want troop bonding then the troop needs to plan and execute the summer camping experience. I have been to 6 different BSA summer camps over the years and not one fosters troop/patrol bonding. Each scout has his own program and is seldom with his troopmates. Even evening programs foster individuality. Merit badge can come from other sources. My girl scout troop plans and executes a summer program each year and once every 4 years we go to the West Sussex Jamboree (hey Skip you going next year)in England. Our summer camps have been a blast. We have backpacked, gone to a Midwestern city and done the tourist thing, vegged at the side of a great lake for a week, whitewater rafted and rock climbed. The girls research everything, plan it all and arrange the campsites. They make the shopping lists, and do all the cooking. The adults make reservations, drive, aid in shopping, and generally are available to assist when asked. We have a great week too, some of us partake in the activities planned, some just veg with a good book. Very few of my girls go to council provisional camps. They're expensive and bland compared to troop adventures. On the other hand just about every boy goes to council summer camp and adults have to go too. I don't know any troops in my area that even attempt to plan their own adventures. I get the feeling its frowned upon by the BSA. I guess my feeling is we need scout camps to be a resource, trained staff members that can teach/monitor activities that can't be done at home. They don't need to be scout schools with set class periods, pre-reqs and report cards (blue cards). Imagine a camp where scouts get up in the morning on their (the troop's) timeframe, make and clean up breakfast, the scouts pick an activity or 2 for the day and head off for some fun in the sun. Back for dinner and troop time around a campfire or an evening swim at the lake.No stress, no classes, kids being kids and playing and having fun. Oh, but we can't have that happen, BSA would have a fit. No merit badges, no progress towards Eagle, no badge sales income. How anit-scouting could I get ;-)
  24. bsaggcmom

    BSA requirements are out of hand

    If the amount of discuss, describe, and explain elements were decreased in MBs then 2 things would have to happen. Scouts would actually have to do a series of skills and MBCs would actually have to test the scout on those skills. End result would be no more/greatly reduced merit badge fairs, and greatly decreased summer camp class sizes. This would slow the rush to Eagle and is not what the BSA wants. One can lecture and hold discussions with dozens of scouts at once. Hard to supervise dozens of cooks at once.
  25. bsaggcmom

    MB Completion Day?

    A couple of the camps in our statewide mega council are hosting events like this. Scouts pay for a weekend of camp and complete just about any partial they earned at a summer camp or elsewhere. The waterfront and ranges will be staffed by the area directors from the camps with staff from all the council staffs that wish to volunteer. About $25 for the weekend of provo camping with food included.