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The Latin Scot

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Everything posted by The Latin Scot

  1. The Latin Scot

    Troop mascots

    My Webelos Den is officially named "Ye Merry Archers" (although in the modern vernacular they are too often called The Merry Archers by other leaders, which is incorrect, but I digress). Our patches and flag have embroidered onto them an archer who is very obviously Robin Hood, but while I certainly do use his stories and legends often in our meetings, he is not our "official" mascot - we keep it just generic enough so that the boys can imagine themselves as being one of his Merry Men, making the stories and morals therein more generally applicable. As they grow older, they will eventually join the Savage Viking Patrol as new Scouts, and then eventually the Knights of Light. Again, while these patrols do have characters on their materials, they don't have specific names or identities. I like for my boys to view themselves as mascots, representing all the best in Scouting to our community and to the world. The various emblems of Archer, Viking and Knight merely give them historical peoples to which they can relate their Scouting experiences.
  2. The Latin Scot

    NATIONAL POLICY: AOL and Crossover Ceremonies

    Actually, my boys never earn their Arrow of Light and cross over on the same night. Since mine is a year-round program unrelated to the school year, boys enter my den on their 10th birthday, and move on to Boy Scouts on their 11th. The crossing over is thus always at the last pack meeting before their 11th birthday - but most of my boys have earned their Arrow of Light long before that, usually about 8 or 9 months after they join our group. So I've always needed separate ceremonies for the AofL and the crossing over into Boy Scouts, and they are going on all year instead of being all clumped together at once. The sad thing is I appreciated being able to get the OA involved in some of the ceremonies to give us some variety now and then. Now with these imposed scripts I won't have a legitimate reason to invite them any more.
  3. The Latin Scot

    NATIONAL POLICY: AOL and Crossover Ceremonies

    As a Webelos leasder myself, I am sorry the opportunity to have the OA members come all decked out in their full regalia. That was always special. As for the two scripts ... The Cubs Crossover Ceremony script is just ... it's just so bad! The lines are so poorly written, so stale and forced, that no boy - no matter how superb an actor - will be able to deliver them naturally. Either they'll ham it up to the point of mocking the whole thing in one extended joke or they will clam up to the extent of 10 - 15 mintues worth of excruciating monotone line reading. To make sure I wasn't just being overly cynical, I asked my dad, who is a rather venerable career stage actor, to read through the script and tell me what he thought. He read over it, and after a long pause only told me "please don't ever ask me to read this kind of inane drivel again." However, being the curious/obnoxious middle child, I pressed him for at least a little more critiquing. He then essentially told me that whatever backwards amateur thought that this script would make for a decent ceremony was either seriously delusional in regards to his work, or that he must be harboring an intense desire to make any boys forced to deliver it look like complete and total idiots. And mind you, at any other time my father is desperately trying to find opportunities to get boys to sing more, but in the context of this "ceremony," the musical number (ahem! yes, it has one) is just torturously over-reaching. Surprisingly, however, I think the Arrow of Light Ceremony is quite nice. It's concise, simply, and dignified in a manner appropriate to the age. It's a rathar marked contrast to the train-wreck that is the Crossover; it's simply a nice ceremony that presents the award itself and the values it represents. No stage-hams forcing some ridiculous dialogue, trying to convince us that the pretend adventures they are scripted to talk about really happened - and gee wililkers weren't they exciting? Mind you, it's not quite so nice that I would ever really use it, but I appreciate its sincere tone and simple brevity. In the end though, if these are indeed the only scripts OA presenters will be allowed to use in the future, then I'm afraid I will not be inviting them to join our services again. Not through any fault of the willing participants, but because I simply don't want these artificial, poorly conceived ceremony scripts to be a part of my Webelos ceremonies. My boys deserve better. The OA deserves better. But for now, this is what we've got, and so as a Webelos leader, I have choices to make.
  4. The Latin Scot

    Cub Scout Outdoor Award

    I hold to the idea that if an activity is done outside, it's an 'outdoor activity,' and if it's some kind of athletic event, it's an 'outdoor sporting event.' Why try and complicate it? So yes, absolutely, any activity they play at Cub Camp can count towards this requirement. If they play, even for a few minutes, they did it. Simple and easy! I feel the reason it seems vague is to make sure people don't get too hung up over what does or doesn't "count," and focus more on getting the boys to be active outdoors. Especially in the summertime when it stays light longer into the evening, I make sure at least a few den meetings every month are done outdoors. The whole point of the award is to help get dens and packs outside. We had our Raingutter Regatta out in the Church parking lot last night, and it was lovely - parents and families sat out on the lawn, the boys got to play in the water after the races were completed - everybody had a good time. As for conservation projects, planting things is always fun, especially quick-growing fruits or vegetables that they can enjoy in simple meals on camp-outs later in the year. Bird- or bat-houses can make for wonderful observation activities in the future, and collecting goods to recycle can involved the entire community. The key to anything is simplicity. We want the boys to learn that conservation is something anybody can do easily at home, so the more intimate the project, the deeper the lesson can sink in.
  5. The Latin Scot

    Where's the new stuff?

    I have noticed a bit of reluctance on the part of the BSA to come forward with the fact that these changes are even happening. I even sent a few e-mails to Bryan Wendell (from the Bryan On Scouting blog) suggesting he publish a post discussing the new materials; I figured something about it would have been mentioned officially ages ago - and yet not a word of it has come out yet, and the thread I started on the forums there remains silent. From the information I have been able to piece together, however, the changes to the program materials are going to be "rolling changes," meaning the new items will not become available until all the old stock is sold through. The books appear to be an exception, as naturally families and leaders need the published materials in order to comply with the latest advancement standards, but everything else will simply have to wait until all the previous stuff is gone. How long that will take is anybody's guess. I suggest just going with what they have for now; it could be quite a long time before all the old stuff sells through.
  6. The Latin Scot

    New den leader

    Go ahead and wear them! Venturing awards are ABSOLUTELY acceptable on the tan uniform, since Venturing is after all an official program of the BSA. And you worked hard for them, so you should talk to your boys about what you did to earn the awards and the wonderful experiences you had in Scouting! Wear them to honor your achievements. Square knots are only as pretentious as the person wearing them. Just keep to the officially recommended limit of 9 knots (three rows of three) and you'll never come off as pretentious. Go beyond that, and well, it's likely that you legitimately are already.
  7. The Latin Scot

    Stephen Covey

    Covey's books are widely regarded as some of the best "self-help" literature in the market, and they continue to be something of a gold standard for the genre to this day. They are worth reading, though it is absolutely true that much of what he teaches comes from basic LDS beliefs on work and leadership. He has been a featured speaker at multiple BSA National Leadership Conferences, so he knows the program well, whether or not he himself is an Eagle Scout.
  8. The Latin Scot

    Committee Meetings

    Wow. No Committee Chair should have so much power that he/she can shut down a meeting whenever they please. My suggestion - ignore her, and have the meeting anyway. Tell her your sorry she won't be able to make it, but that the meeting needs to happen anyway, and we'll be sure to let you know what you missed. She has NO POWER TO STOP YOU - except for the power you give her by your consent, however reluctant. So now: you need to have a plan for the future to prevent this kind of high-handed power-grab from happening in the first place. In our committee, we hold our meetings at the same day, place and time every month. The second Tuesday of every month at 8:30 in the evening is Cub Committee Meeting. Period. If our Committee Chair can't make it (and mine often can't), then we just move along without him. In that case the Cubmaster may lead the meeting, or even one of us Den Leaders if both are absent (again, both often are). What's important is not who is at the meetings as much as what is done - as long as the program is being carried out well, activities are being planned and business is being taken care of responsibly, it really doesn't matter if everybody can make it to one month's meeting and some people can't make it to the next - it's just about keeping a steady momentum and being consistent in our progress. That's the best way to protect the boys' Cub Scouting experience, and it makes Scouting more important than its Scouters. It's about as egalitarian a pattern as you could find; every member has just as much say on any issue as another, be they a committee chair, a parent, den leader or cubmaster. In a committee culture where everybody feels free to voice their opinions with respect to and from the other members, and where no decisions are made until there is common consent, it's difficult if not impossible for any one leader to have too much control. And no leader should ever be allowed to have too much control.
  9. The Latin Scot

    Son is at YMCA camp this week.

    At the Scout Camp to which our Troop is going next week, all merit badge classes are in the morning until 12, followed by lunch, and then afternoons are strictly maintained as "free time." Troops can plan their own activities or adventures, or not plan anything at all. On Friday they have a bunch of troop competitions, but even those are optional. They have horse riding, a lake and pool, shooting ranges, multiple trails - it sounds fantastic (even if it is in the San Bernadino Mountains, which I personally have never found especially lovely). And every night after dinner is different - some nights they have Camp-wide campfires planned by staff, some nights the Troops all contribute to the program, and on others they are free to do whatever they wish. Anyway, it sounds like the way a Scout Camp should be - a mix of advancement opportunities, but in a very restricted format, followed by an almost mandated chunk of free time when the boys will be all but compelled to unwind and explore. If I were to organize the schedule at a Scout Camp, that's a model I would look into closely.
  10. The Latin Scot

    Thinking I am Going to Step Down

    First of all, you look here - STOP THINKING ABOUT WHAT OTHERS THINK. You are not there for yourself - you are there for your son. So you have a track record that embarasses you. Well, and I mean this lovingly - get over it! Your son wants you there - your son needs you there. So what if you haven't been able to give 100% in the past? There are many parents, MANY, who won't give 20 or even 10%! I have parents that I have to drag to Blue and Gold, for pete's sake! You want to be involved. That is worth gold as a parent. Even if it's only in the smallest capacity, you want to do the right thing, and that is praiseworthy. So do it! I can't imagine who on Earth would be so petty, so infantile, as to label somebody a "quitter" simply because they need to lighten their load, but remember this - the people who mind don't matter, and the people who matter don't mind. Stop thinking about what others think. You have a job to do, the job of a parent. You don't have to add on extra positions and responsibilities to do that right. So you can't go to camp! Big deal! As a Den Leader, I just finished our annual week of Summer Day Camp two weeks ago. And guess what? My assistant, who is a great guy and a fantastic help in our den, wasn't able to attend a single day of it because of work. And that was fine! Other people stepped in. That's what the team of committees and parents is for! And many other parents weren't able to attend either, for various reasons. As long as your child is in the care of people you trust, it's okay. You cannot beat yourself up over something like this when, put into perspective, there are far more important things to consider. And your well-being is one of them. By the way, there is NOTHING wrong with not liking camping! Open secret - I actually HATE camping! Always have, always will. The dirt, the allergens, the dust and pollen and lack of hot water and showers and clean facilities and soft clean places to sit and read, plus I just CANNOT ever sleep in the outdoors - far too quiet, no quiet hum of traffic to get me to sleep ... I am a city boy through and through. But an Eagle Scout, mind you! So who's to say it has to stop me from being a great leader? I can still navigate my path by sun or stars, identify fish, bird and berry by sight or sound, find and prepare food and shelter in emergencies, signal for help in the wilderness and live off the land in a pinch, all while leaving minimal impact on the environment - plus I can teach all those skills to my Scouts. I don't let my distaste for being outdoors impede what's most important, which is the cultivation of all those skills in the boys under my care. If every now and then I have to endure a weekend of discomfort to do that, it's well worth it to me. But I don't feel ashamed about hating it; in fact it's a running joke amongst the entire Pack that the Webelos Den Leader hates camping - yet is darn good at it. Like I tell my Webelos Scouts - we often have to do things we don't like, but what makes the difference is that we know what to do when we find ourselves in unlikeable circumstances. If it's within our power to change the circumstances, great, do that. But if not, do what you need to so that your emotional, physical, and spiritual health are protected as best as they can be. What other people may (or may not) think of you in so doing is utterly, totally irrelevant.
  11. The Latin Scot

    Identifying a Mystery Patch

  12. The Latin Scot

    Identifying a Mystery Patch

    Does the back of the patch have any special markings? I would imagine it comes from Spain; the colors, symbols, and use of Cervantes' themes and imagery almost certainly indicate it originates from there. The World Scouting emblem is placed in a 50, so perhaps it is related to Spain's 50th anniversary of Scouting, or another 50th anniversary event in Spain's Scouting history. At least with those clues you have a start; you could start googling information of that kind and see what you can dig up.
  13. The Latin Scot

    Adult going to residential summer camp

    So, I have taught preschool for many years, and since mine was a federal Head Start program, we had federal inspectors and Child Development Specialists come to our classrooms often. I was told, on many occassions, that my working in preschool was becoming more and more an anomaly. It seemed that at the federal level, they are seeing sharp declines in the numbers of men teaching young children. One inspector told me "you are one brave man to be teaching preschool these days." And I have many more guidelines and protocols than female teachers do. Among other things, when working for a federally funded preschool program: - I cannot change diapers - I cannot accompany children to the bathroom nor help them clean up if they need it - I cannot help a child change their clothing after an accident - I cannot clean up a child's lap if they spill food on themselves at meals - I cannot help children zip their flies, button their pants, or even pull their pants up if they are falling to the ground - Children cannot sit on my lap - I cannot hug children - I cannot pick up a child except in cases of extreme emergency - I cannot touch a child below the shoulders without extreme cause, and even then, it is discouraged for me to have any physical contact with children Female teachers are allowed, even encouraged, to do ALL of these things. Fortunately for me, I have had exceptionally high ratings in my classroom, to the point that I was once asked to speak on the difficulties of being a male teacher at the annual conference of the National Association for the Education of Young People a few years back in Washington D.C. Being successful as a young male educator who works with young children is FAR more difficult in today's climate than it has ever been. Much of what I discussed was obviously how it is possible to gain the trust of families, show genuine affection and love for little children AND STILL stay within the safety of established educational parameters and protocols, but much was also a Q. and A. about challenges I have faces and trends I have seen. Mind you, my session had most of the men in attendance present, and it was still hardly a tithe of the entire conference population. And talking with these few male preschool teachers from around the country, it became overwhelmingly clear that, when committed and cautious to the utmost, a young man can have an incredibly powerful influence for good in the lives of young people - BUT ALSO THAT IT IS HARD to establish oneself enough to gain the trust and respect of one's community. There was even a state representative present, and he mentioned how difficult it is protect male teachers in today's society. Is it worth it? Of course. I love my career, I love Scouting, I love children, and I love being with my little friends who teach me so much and help me in so many ways. But In order for me to continue enjoying these blessings throughout my life, I must ALWAYS be vigilant in ways many people don't even consider. I have to watch my hands, my actions, my tone, my words, my body language, everything I do at all times - it only takes one misunderstanding from one alarmist parent to put an end to a career in child development forever.
  14. The Latin Scot

    Adult going to residential summer camp

    I don't wanna be a pariah.
  15. The Latin Scot

    Badge Magic is THE DEVIL!!!

    Yes, I tried Goo Gone ... 3 times over. It got a lot of the gunk and residue out, but I notice it leaves its own stain that is just as hard to remove, without removing the dark marks which the Black Magic left in the first place. Sigh ..... thank you the suggestion though; it's much appreciated.
  16. The Latin Scot

    Adult going to residential summer camp

    I think that guest gets around a lot these days. I feel I have been trained by just such a person many, many times.
  17. The Latin Scot

    Adult going to residential summer camp

    You are correct in that we are called - we don't volunteer for assignments, we are given them, and expected to accept them based on faith. That said, while there are certainly many leaders who have no children in the unit, generally because they are not old enough or they are grown, calling young single adults to such positions is uncommon since, first of all, many attend congregations made up entirely of students or other young single adults, and second of all, the often transient lifestyles of young people often means that leaders are hesitant to put them in positions such as Scouting that require time, training, and tenure in order to be really effective in their callings. The fact that I attend a normal family congregation and am relatively settled depsite being pretty young and very unattached is not unusual per se, but neither is it common. In my Ward (which is what we call our local congregations), I am extremely well-known - I grew up here, in fact, so many people have known me since I was knee-high to a grasshopper and think it's great that I am now working with the next generation. HOWEVER - at Camporee, Roundtable, Scout-O-Rama, Scouting For Food, and other broader Scouting events, even at Pack Meetings where we are combined with other dens outside my Ward - I am an unknown quantity, as it were. So when people ask the question "which kid is yours?" I have to be diplomatic in how I respond. I have have encountered some rather skeptical, even cynical, leaders and parents in the past, but over the past while I have made enough of a mark in the District and in the Council that most people either know me or recognize me, so that's been nice. But working with parents and children for a living, I can say the climate is often not agreeable these days towards men who want to work with children - married or not, as @David CO notes. One treads with caution sometimes.
  18. The Latin Scot

    New YPT: How to get people trained

    I actually got myself certified to conduct in-person trainings myself at the Cub Scout level, so now I am qualified to teach leader specific training for Den Leaders, Cubmasters, and all committee positions (Chair, Pack Trainer, et cetera). During each training pass around a roll of everybody who is there, and then I submit that list to my local District Executive and District Commissioner over Training. They enter it in and bam - the training is listed as complete. Getting certified to do these wasn't hard either. I simply approached the DE and DC and explained that I am an educator who wanted to have a larger role in the Scouting community through training, and they got me cleared to conduct them whenever I wish. It makes things SO MUCH EASIER when I can invite new leaders to my home to get them trained instead of waiting/hoping they will eventually get it done on their own time online. In my experience, that rarely happens.
  19. The Latin Scot

    Adult going to residential summer camp

    I've always kind of wondered about these scenarios since, frankly, I am an odd duck in the Scouting community. I am not married and have no children, but I am a Den Leader over the Pack's largest Den, I am the most active member of our Cub Committee, and I am at all activities - Day Camp, Scout-O-Rama, et cetera, - as a youngish single guy with no actual relation to any of the boys I work with. It would be far too easy to assume that as a professional educator and child development specialist, I could go about my Scouting business without raising too many eyebrows, but I have to be careful since, in today's climate, every action I take and every comment I make could be taken the wrong way by some parent who doesn't know my background or training. I have to bear in mind that these parents are trusting their children with me, a single man, sometimes for hours at a time. So I am meticulous in ensuring that I ALWAYS have my assistant or another parent near me at all times, and I have trained my boys to know that I cannot be in a room alone with them EVER. So much so that they often use it to taunt me; I arrive early to Den Meetings to set up, and if a boy shows up and I am the only adult in the room, he WILL yell at me to get out until another grown up is present. They then have free access to whatever treats are in my bag, or they may play with my hat if I forget to grab it, or whatever mischief they feel like getting into at the time - but at least they know to protect themselves, and I know that I am protecting myself from any potentially awkward or untoward situations. Total transparency has long been one of my most valuable shields against misperceptions. Today's society makes it incredibly difficult for men to make a difference in the lives of young people. But as long as you take the right precautions, it can be done.
  20. The Latin Scot

    Scouting Rediscovered

    Ah, gotcha. Yeah, I am kind of surprised they got me back into the movement, seeing as I am still unmarried and have no children of my own. I suppose the fact that I am very involved in my Church's congregation, and the fact that I work with children professionally, meant that getting me would make some sense, but yeah, I can see how there would be some distance right after getting married AND going to school. He has some remarkable insights though, and the right perspective on what makes Scouting work. I hope he gets back into the program when the time is right for him and his family!
  21. The Latin Scot

    potentially the stupidest GTSS rule?

    Uh oh. Time to confess ... At Day Camp the other week there were literally DOZENS of wagons; parents and leaders were encouraged to bring them to carry water bottles, backpacks, et cetera. But in my ignorance, I ... I let the boys pull the wagon for me! Had I but known the DANGER they were in, I never would have allowed it, but they asked so nicely and were trying so hard to be helpful that I ... I ... I LET THEM DO IT! The shame! The recklessness of my foolish decisions! My choices could have left that campground littered with little Cub Scout bodies! What was I thinking?!?!? Anyways, I thought I would come clean to all of you. I had no idea this was a BSA policy, but now that I know, well, things are going to be different. No crushed little Cubbies on my watch, that's for sure! There. That should have vented about a month's worth of sarcasm from me. Anyway this policy is ridiculous. Is there anything boys CAN do anymore?
  22. The Latin Scot

    OA member as youth

    I guess I figure anything that happened before 2000 is 'way back' for me, LOL. I was only 13 or 14 at the time, so it seems forever ago now. But if I had a nickle for every time a seasoned Scouter called me a young whippersnapper, I could retire early!
  23. The Latin Scot

    Uniforms and saluting the flag

    I am sure there is some thread in here started back when I was in Scouts, but I figured I would start a fresh one so that I can get the input of the currect membership. With the 4th of July fast approaching, I figure this is a timely subject in any case. I was at our Cub Day Camp closing ceremonies last week, and they had a lovely flag retiring ceremony at the end which I found rather lovely. All the camp staff traded in their camp t-shirt for "full" uniforms (which I will address in a moment), and they conducted a solemn retiring ceremony while also handing out a number of awards and some recognition for parents and leaders. Well, a number of the uniforms paraded in front of us were embarrassingly, if not defiantly incorrect. There were medals and ribbons and sashes and ornamentation to a degree of ostentation and attention-grabbing I hadn't thought possible before. These people go to my district table, and I never this this kind of panoply there, so my hope is that they were simply trying to be silly for the last day of Day Camp (I really hope that was the goal). As we were saluting the flag in the embers, however, one of my Scouts asked me a few questions that rather stumped me. I pose them before you all for your thoughts. For the sake of internet privacy, I will say this Scout addressed me as Brother Latin-Scot. Scout: "Brother Latin-Scot, don't you have to wear the complete uniform to be considered 'in uniform?'" Me: "Yes, that's correct." Scout: "So, most of these leaders wouldn't officially be 'in uniform,' would they?" Me: "Not properly, no." Scout: "So then since they aren't officially in uniform, shouldn't they have to put their right hands over their hearts? You know, like they say 'those not in uniform place your right hand over your heart?' Isn't it incorrect for them to salute since they aren't really in uniform?" Me: "Um. Er ....... ?" After some hesitation, I suggested to him that I would need to find a more definitive answer before stating anything catagorically, but that, personally, I feel that those who aren't fully in uniform should indeed place their hands over their hearts - but also that it was important not to allow propriety to interfere with patriotism, and that it is something people should be taught at appropriate times and places, without resorting to correcting them in public during such a ceremony. But since he and I knew better, it would be our duty to model correct behavior and teach it to others whenever we could. Any other thoughts on this while as I study the matter more fully?
  24. The Latin Scot

    OA member as youth

    I went through this exact process just under two years ago. I went through the Ordeal as a kid way back in '97, but never had any contact with the OA after that. So when I approached my chapter to get my membership caught up, all they asked for were my dues for the year and the date of my Ordeal ceremony. Fast-forward two years now and I am a brand-new Brotherhood member with all kinds of new duties in the lodge. Hopefully the process is as quick for you as it was for me!
  25. Our Pack will be answering all the letters you sent us at our Pack Meeting tonight, and you will get our responses tomorrow morning (well, California morning at any rate). Thank you so much for reaching out to us!