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The Latin Scot

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Posts posted by The Latin Scot

  1. 2 hours ago, swilliams said:

    Someone at Council pointed out to me last week that there are some religions that don't allow girls to wear pants.  I hadn't thought about that.  Still, it would have been nice to see some of the girls in the pants.  Of course, at the same time, the Cub Scout pants are so ill-fitting that I don't know anyone who wants them!  My boys always just wore blue shorts or jeans.  On the socks... my boys love their scout socks and want to wear them even when they're not in uniform.

    Everybody knows that the official socks are the plushiest, most delightful socks in the world, and that it's the ONE part of the uniform that's worth every penny of the cost. And this from a Californian who prefers to wear sandals whenever humanly possible!

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  2. Our pack has simplified the PWD as much as humanly possible, and it has turned out GREAT for us. Here are some of the changes we made that have made things easier AND much more fun:

    1. We don't have a 1st, 2nd or 3rd - instead, every boy received a participation medal, but then there are extra medals that encourage effort and success of all kinds. Our categories are Fastest Car, Slowest Car (what we call the "Marathon Winner"), Most Creative Car, Scout's Choice Award (the boys all vote on this one), and two other awards that change from year to year. This way, some cars are given prizes based on performance, others by specially chosen judges for effort put into them, and of course a car that the boys themselves get to choose as their favorite. Everybody gets a prize, but there is still the incentive to work hard for whichever award catches a boy's interest. 

    2. We have totally eliminated all electronics from our PWD. We simply bring in three "Celebrity Judges" (usually from our CO leadership, which is nice to get them involved), and their final choice for each round is considered ABSOLUTELY FINAL. We make this expressly clear beforehand. And after each race they have only 60 seconds to decide who won that round (I have a Den Chief with a timer sitting right by them). This way we don't waste time deliberating over the winner, and we move through each round very quickly.

    3. Our track has 4 lanes, so for each round of 4 cars, we have them race 4 times. We know that sometimes the speed of the car depends on which lane it runs on, so by running each set of 4 cars 4 times, switching lanes each time, we get the best idea which car from that set is the fastest. We go through the whole Pack by simply starting them all off in brackets of 4, and then racing the fastest cars from each group in sets of 4 in a simple process of elimination that eventually brings us to the final 4, out of which the Fastest Car is declared. We ALSO take the slowest cars from each set, and race them in rounds to determine who is our slowest, "Marathon Winner" (the only stipulation for these is that it has to make it all the way to the finish line to count - many of our boys consider this category even more desirable than the Fastest Car!).

    4. Before the races even begin, we have a short talk about sportsmanship - with the parents! I like to talk about all the worst parents I have seen at these events, exaggerating their antics and then, of course, letting them know that naturally I know THEY would NEVER act so childishly, and that SURELY our parents will be good sports and not contest the decisions made, since of course that would be RIDICULOUS and a TERRIBLE example to our judges (sure it's passive-aggressive, but they get the point).

    Hopefully some of these ideas will help make your next PWD a better event for you. Until then take advantage of the lessons your Scout can learn from this kind of an experience, and don't let it get you down!

  3. These are interesting demographics! I know that here in Orange County CA, Den Leaders are overwhelmingly female. I do new Den Leader trainings for the council all over the County, and generally there are 25-40 new den leaders at each event, held every quarter or so. And I am usually one of the only men in the room. Looking at my roster from a training I did in October (conveniently at hand right at the moment!), there are 27 names listed, and 23 of them are women. Male Den Leaders here are simply uncommon, though they are certainly sought after. And I being a young single male with no kids of my own, I am regarded as a valued but extraordinarily atypical commodity by my district. :laugh:

  4. I think the question parents need to consider is - why are their boys in Scouts at all? If they are in it to build character, become good husbands and fathers, and take active, positive roles in their communities, then advancement will reflect that and the effort, time and personal expenses will all be worth it. But if we don't have a clear vision of the end goals, what good is all the work we put into it?

    Considering these things, I don't believe the tired old adage about "the journey mattering more than the destination." Quite the opposite. Sure, you should get the most out of the journey as you can, but what does the journey matter if you don't know where you're going? For example, advancement is a compass that points the boys learning experiences in a productive direction. It allows them to make measurable goals that they can plan, follow through with, and accomplish through hard-work and careful record-keeping, all vital life skills. By using advancement as a way to plot specific goals - destinations, really - you allow the boys to see clearly their own progress and recognize their diligent effort. That's the whole point of the advancement program.  But if you are advancing just to advance and collect badges, what will you get when there is no more rank to achieve? To that end I say the journey won't matter at all if it doesn't lead you someplace better than where you were before.

    It's just like in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, when Alice finds herself at a crossroads splitting off into two paths. While she ponders her choices, the Cheshire Cat appears, of whom Alice asks, “Which path shall I follow?” The Cat replies, “That depends where you want to go. If you do not know where you want to go, it doesn’t matter which path you take.”

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  5. I think the motto of the Cub Scouts is still an essential element for any Boy Scout, or adult for that matter - DO YOUR BEST.

    No true Scout will accept anything less than his very best effort in all things, whether it's advancement, personal effort, individual integrity, or whatever. Mediocrity is never acceptable to the boy with Scouting in his heart. As leaders we model that ideal in the expectations we have for the young men we work with, and in the expectations we have for ourselves.

    Requiring 50% attendance at OA elections is a reflection of that principle. The purpose of the OA is to recognize Scouts who perpetually do their best and are willing to participate in a program that extends their opportunities to do good by offering extra service outings and camp experiences. But to successfully determine the Scouts that merit that kind of opportunity, there must be a viable portion of the Troop present who can accurately determine who those people are - the broader the demographic of voters, the more accurate the results will be. 50% is actually quite a low standard when you consider the point of the election. We want to know who the Troop really thinks is ready for the experiences the OA has to offer, so by requiring a large percentage of Troop members to be present, you are getting a better idea of just who those people really should be.

  6. 8 hours ago, ParkMan said:

    What I've been seeing is a much bigger divide between packs & troops that there should be.  The WDL are definitely part of the pack culture and leadership group.  I think it's just hard for them to think Boy Scout because they are so surrounded by Cub Scout culture.

    What I've proposed is that we have troop leaders who were once WDL teach the WDL training course in person.  Teach the material from the persepctive they now hold being an ASM.  Hasn't happened yet, but someday :)

    When I offer Den Leader Training courses for new Cub leaders in my council, that's actually a large part of what I try to convey. As a Webelos Den Leader, I think it's important to be aware of the local Boy Scout program so that I can sufficiently prepare my boys, not only for the program, but for the leaders and Troops up to which they will be advancing.

    My den feeds in to the Troop sponsored by our shared CO, so I always make it a point to attend their committee meetings and to know the SM and his assistants personally. That way I can give them information about the boys moving up soon, any special needs, et cetera, and I in turn can prepare my boys for the program and group they will be entering and the leaders with whom they will be working. I view the WDL as a bridging character between the world of Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts, so I try to be deeply invested in both programs so that I can provide the best Webelos program I can now, while making sure my boys move up to a solid Boy Scout program later.

    I don't have any kids of my own - I am not even married yet - so I don't know if I will ever be asked to serve as a leader in the Boy Scout Troop. But any Webelos Leader worth his salt will have Boy Scout preparation foremost in his mind as he prepares his activities and works with the boys under his care. This is the last year they get to enjoy to Cub program, so it should be geared towards the transition they are going to face when they move on to the boy-led programs coming up. My personal barometer of success as a Webelos Leader is this - any boy who fails to earn the rank of Scout within his first month in the Boy Scout program isn't entirely to blame. That responsibility lies with me - if I really do my job, they should have it done within the first week or two. When I first started, there were one or two boys who took a long while before making it to Scout. I took that to heart and made the necessary changes to my program and my leadership style. Since then (fingers crossed) none of my boys have taken longer than three weeks to get it done.

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  7. If the Webelos leaders have been doing their job, you can cut another month off of that time frame - the requirements for the Scouting Adventure adventure are almost identical to those for Scout rank, so ideally they should be able to pass off that rank after their first meeting. That's always my goal with my Webelos Scouts; I prep them in the weeks leading up to their advancement to Boy Scouts so that they are prepared to meet with their Scoutmaster and pass things off at that first Patrol gathering. But it does take careful planning on the Webelos leaders' part, and close coordination with the Troop leadership as well. 

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  8. Okay, that makes more sense. And I apologize for the long diatribe; I just had an instance a few days ago trying to deal with a neighboring pack that asked me to come do a training and I arrived to find their program was WAY WAY OFF, so I am a little skittish when I hear about using the Patrol Method for little kids lately, lol. 

    And I have never heard of a "sit upon," but it sounds ridiculous, albeit cute. Don't we have enough to do without wasting time making fluffy chairs? I am totally with you on that one, haha. 

  9. When you say "acting as patrols," do you mean in regards to camping only, or through the whole program in general?

    I will be frank - as a Webelos leader and an child educator I am not in favor of this idea. The patrol method is, specifically, allowing the boys to manage their own affairs, and leaving them to their own devices when it comes to activities, cooking, etc. Boys of Cub Scout age are too young for this practice to work. There is solid educational, pedagogical support for the leaders guiding activities for boys this young. They need to have solid, positive modeling for how activities are supposed to work in the first place, and they don't have the self-discipline, knowledge or skills they need at this age to do that on their own. As a Child Development Specialist, I would intervene immediately if I knew a Pack near me was attempting to fully implement the patrol method.

    The Webelos program is where preparation for the Patrol Method begins - they practice it for a month, and then spend time talking about it and how it succeeds (or fails) based on their experience. They do NOT implement it fully; the purpose of the adventure is to prepare them for Boy Scouts by giving them a sample of what the program will be like - it is not the program itself, nor should it be. Jump-starting the Boy Scout program by pushing it in Webelos is not age-appropriate, nor is it wise - the programs are different for a reason, and the boys are being short-changed out of the wonderful Webelos program that is in place by skipping forward to the Boy Scout methods without giving them the full Webelos/Arrow of Light experience. 

    What surprises me is that the scaffolding of skills and knowledge clearly delineated from rank to rank seems to be largely ignored by this move. Each Cub rank's adventure are specifically designed to gradually move boys towards Patrol practices, but by setting the example through attentive adult leadership appropriate to their ages. Tigers especially need hands-on support from their leaders and parents, not just to get things done safely and correctly, but emotionally as well - remember, these are still children, and they deserve to be treated as such. Once they are old enough for Boy Scouts, you can loosen the tether on them more safely.

    Now, as far as cooking and setting up at camp activities - sure, let them help out, and PLEASE make them a part of the fun. But DON'T expect them to be self-sufficient at this age, and don't treat them like patrols. The Den System is designed for boys this age - don't move them up before they are ready, don't cheat them out of the Cub Program by skipping ahead, and let them be children with loving, involved leaders who help and guide them so that, when they are finally old enough for Boy Scouts, they are truly prepared for the program.


    *** Despite all this, a nice dining fly set-up is always nice, and looks great at festivals and events. 

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  10. Do I count as a Millennial if I was born in '83? :laugh:

    I dunno, as a teacher I have to keep a sharp eye on my e-mails in case parents or administration has notifications that I need to be aware of - if I take longer than a day to reply to a message, there is always a dang good reason for it. So maybe that disqualifies me from being part of that generation, lol.

  11. Huh. I have never had a designated "snack time," and I haven't had a single comment made about it in the 2+ years I've been the Webelos Den Leader. 

    Sure, every now and then I may have extra cookies that I share with them, or extra holiday candy or whatever, but it's never a regular thing, and if anything it makes the boys more eager to work for them whenever treats do somehow materialize. But nobody has ever asked about it, and I don't think it's something I would ever really consider, at least not for boy the age I'm working with. Besides we're usually up and doing so much that there just wouldn't be a convenient moment for them to stop and munch on snacks during meetings.  :laugh:


  12. Wow I thought this was a joke at first ... As a den leader, I would be appalled if I wasn't invited into the monthly committee meetings. In fact all parents, den leaders, and interested parties expected to be at our committee meetings, and we have a great program going. But I would hesitate to be part of any program where the den leaders, the very core of the Cub Program, are not welcome. 

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  13. I agree with the plaque idea; in fact the Scout Store offers a number of examples that would be perfect, appropriate gifts. Have it engraved with a lovely message and relevant information regarding his tenure, and it would be just the thing. 

    Regardless of whether it's entirely appropriate or not, I feel a gift card is the gift that says you don't know me. A nice plaque or even a statuette is a dignified memento he can put among his personal effects in a place of honor. I would go with that if possible.

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