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The Latin Scot

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Posts posted by The Latin Scot

  1. That's how they were when I was a kid, and how I had envisioned it. That's why we have a second flag for "field use" that's smaller, lighter, and attaches to the end of a long pole. I will get a picture of that one when I can today, now that I know how to work pictures here. :-)

  2. Finally! I figured out how to post pictures here; this is our den flag, as you can see. The design process was a battle of who's doing what of course, but I showed them a book of medieval banners and flags, and they chose the shape and colors they liked, and what they wanted on the front, along with its dimensions. Then my father sewed it up and embroidered it for them while the boys constructed a pole out of PVC pipes and copper paint. On the back, though you can't see them in this picture, are the jumbo patches for Webelos rank and the Arrow of Light, which we found at the Scout Store. Once the main ensign was completed, each boys had to make his own streamer to go along one side with no adult interference, and these are hung on the flag's right. On its left, which you can't see on this picture, are dozens of doodles they have earned at day camp and as a den, along with their ribbons for the Summertime Pack Award, the National Den Award, JTE, and all that good stuff. 


    The flag is now really something, but its unwieldy for activities, so we made a simpler version of it, somewhat like the long streamers knights would carry on the end of a lance, and this is attached to our Den Hiking Staff. That way our ceremonial flag can be kept in pristine condition while we still have an emblem to take on our many adventures. :cool:  



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  3. Actually, cold weather is not the main impetus for the change. The primary reason is that many chartered organizations do not permit camping for boys as young as cub scouts, and so this gives them a better, more clearly established option for completing the adventure without having to resort to camping with boys they feel are too young. Hence the name change as well - from Camper to Outdoorsman. Since a large percentage of the Cub Scout program is chartered through organizations who go with this option anyway, it makes sense to provide a new name and new options to complete this important adventure.


    In general, however, I think that the new program changes make the whole thing far too easy. I will be ignoring most of the changes with my Webelos den since I found that not only could they complete their Webelos and Arrow of Light ranks within the year I have with them, but they have even found time to complete 3-4 elective adventures in addition after the ranks have been earned. It's all in how the leaders organize their time and work with the families, not how "hard" the requirements are to complete.


    Maybe that's just the over-achiever in me, lol.

  4. Wow, I am shocked to read about a Scoutmaster pulling a stunt like this. Sadly, it's not the first time I have heard of such a move.


    First off: if a Scoutmaster tries to strip a boy of his rank (which is utterly beyond his prerogative), the boy can and should refuse to allow the demotion.


    I was part of a rather pathetic troop in my days as a Boy Scout; the leaders were incompetent, the boys all troubled, and with the exception of my brother and I, nobody cared much for the program, nor understood how it worked. Well, when I was almost 12 and after a particularly grueling camp out that had to miss, one leader was especially mad at the way things were going with the younger group of scouts (which happened to by my age group), and decided that all the boys in the New Scout Patrol would be pulled back one rank.


    I had not been on that camp out, and my behavior had never been anything less than exemplary, so when I was told at the weekly meeting that my rank was being pulled along with the rest of the boys in my patrol, I simply refused. The leader tried to explain that he knew I wasn't guilty of any misconduct, but that the boys needed to be taught a lesson, and that he would even make it extra-easy for me to re-achieve the rank since I had a solid history of being obedient. Still, I refused. I explained that official BSA policy did not allow for such an action (my mother taught me well), and that I would not be turning over any rank, merit badge, or award of any kind to the Scoutmaster, because he did not have the authority to take them.


    In my case, the Scoutmaster relented; it helped that I had a perfect record of behavior that he really couldn't speak against. But the principle is the same. If your son has earned a rank in the BSA program, the Scoutmaster cannot strip him of it. Teach this to your son and instruct him very clearly that he is completely within his rights to refuse such an order; this is a boy-run program, and he needs to know that he has this privilege - in this case, the right to refuse an order given without authority. It might appear obstinate, but sometimes, the boys aren't the only ones who need to be taught a lesson. As long as he is remains polite and calm about it, he should be able to maintain the upperhand in this unfortunate battle.

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  5. I am an LDS leader, and it is important for you to know that the Bishop CANNOT require your son to earn the religious emblem in order to progress towards his Eagle. The official BSA-LDS Manual entitled "Scouting Handbook" does not permit such a restriction, and you need to make sure the Bishop knows that before proceeding. I am sure his intentions are good, but good intentions go oft awry, and his creating such a limitation could end up driving people away from the flock rather than leading them into it. 


    Here is the link to the Scouting Handbook as used by the church. Read it and make sure you know it so that you can approach your Bishop about possibly lifting his imposition on the boys:



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  6. I think that stars are simply a nice, utilitarian way of showing service, not a way of showing off. I use them to show my Cub Scouts my own history of experience, but not to display my efforts to others beyond them. So, I have starts for my years in Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, and Varsity Scouts ... but I didn't count the years between finishing high school and starting as a Den Leader, because I wasn't a registered leader, so why would I pretend to have more experience when I do by counting all those years I did nothing?


    Just the other week, I received my 1-year service star for being a leader, and I finally got to put a blue-backed star on my uniform. That makes me just as happy as putting on a 20-year start would have, since it's symbolic to me of my first year being where I should be - registered, involved, and active. That's what matters most, not the number that goes with it.

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  7. I didn't even know what a veteran unit was until we started work on the Looking Back Looking Forward adventure in our Webelos Den a few months ago. Come to find out our unit is more than 50 years old (55 next year)! Well, it took a bit of doing fitting it between the council patch and the numerals, what with the position and trained patches already crammed in below - being a smaller guy, the sleeve of my shirt was BARELY long enough to fit that little thing in there - but I fit it in somehow and it has turned out to be a great way to get the boys interested in our unit's history. I say, if your unit has existed since 1945, and if you have kept the same unit number the whole time, you might as well wear it!

  8. Both very fair comments that I needed to hear, and I am thankful to you both for helping me to understand his confusion and opposition. I hope I was clear enough to him about my belief that the uniform is one of the most powerful tools we have in Scouting for promoting our ideals and values. When I discussed it with the class, I didn't mean for it to be regarded as an "alternative" to the uniform - it was BALOO training after all, and the discussion stemmed from a Scouter asking whether or not Cub Scouts had to be in uniform all the time at every single activity. The gentleman's response was that the uniform "wasn't that important anyway," so they needn't worry about it. Being a staunch supporter of full and proper uniforming, but wanting to offer an acceptable BSA solution other than "uniforms don't matter anyway," I brought up the neckerchiefs.


    I was careful though to be as polite as possible of course; I do realize that when boys who are Wolf Scouts today are in college, I will be middle-aged myself, and I hope then I will remember this experience when some kid tries to help ME understand a policy change that I have a difficult time accepting myself, lol. Thank you both for your insights and perspective. I always appreciate it.  :-)

  9. First of all: it's nice to see so many fellow teachers here! It's funny how that old idiom about "those that can..." gets perpetuated, but there are sadly many teachers out there who seem to prove it right. I can't tell you how many of my fellow preschool teachers just don't know how to work with children. It was the same when I taught high school; heck, there are university professors who prove it right. But I think this would be how I fix the idiom:


    Those who can, should.

    Those who teach, do.

    Those who can't, will try to anyway.


    Now, back to the topic at hand. I went to BALOO training last weekend (at least it should have been a training, but that's a topic for another thread) and it seems I put the old gentleman "teaching" the course into conniptions because I told the class at one point about the BSA's new neckerchief policy, and for one reason or another, he did NOT like it. In fact he openly told the class not to listen to what I was saying because it was "wrong and badly sourced". Meanwhile, I (like any obnoxious young person) pulled out my phone and in a few seconds pulled up this webpage:




    I then pulled up the official BSA Guide to Awards and insignia and showed them the actual statement. Well, the other leaders in the room were convinced and many were actually quite happy to hear it - for low-income areas, it's refreshing to know that you can get a few neckerchiefs and still be identified as Scouts. When my boys and I are on outdoor adventures I make sure they have their neckerchiefs on, and we have a "neckerchief minute" at every meeting where we bring up a different use for the neckerchief each week - it's funny when I have a Scout make up some ludicrous but still viable way to use them!


    Anyway, this guy did not like my evidence, nor the very idea of it. It went against "the very principles of the uniform," he said. Well, I had my little victory (thanks technology!), but I was shocked at how hostile he was to the whole thing! I tried to be very gracious about the matter, but still, it was an eye-opener for me about how desperately some Scouters will cling to false traditions even when the proper protocol is right in front of them.

  10. That's great! But sadly I am not in fact Mr. Herrholz; I was actually just quoting his words, but I suppose I didn't make that clear enough in that post. My apologies! I am just a young scouter from Southern California. But John Herrhoz, whomever he is, deserves credit indeed - the story is a wonderful teaching resource and I think he has a good sense of how to make Scouting meaningful and relevant. Hopefully someday I can enjoy the honorable level of credentials you and he share!

  11. I LOVE those big neckers! My father made our troop a big batch of them when I was a Scout but I didn't appreciate them much at the time; now I need to find a plaid that matches the official Webelos neckerchief so that I can enjoy the luxuries of the real deal while still matching my Webelos Scouts in their uniforms. :-)

  12. Well, I have to say, the Order really came through for me the other week. 


    I had sent a flurry of e-mails trying to reach to OA to see if they would perform an Arrow of Light and bridging ceremony for the boys in my Den who had all earned the AofL together, and I was worried they wouldn't pull through. But a few days before, they contacted me and said they would come, and from then on were wonderful about communicating to me what they had planned, what they needed, and what they would present.


    The night of the ceremony, they were there on time, they were exceptionally well-prepared, and the two Arrowmen who performed the ceremony were FANTASTIC. They had their legends memorized, they were dressed magnificently, they had a really ingenious fake fire that in the dim-lighting really set the mood, and the overall presentation was PERFECT. My boys felt extra-special (we haven't had anything like this in years), the parents were impressed, and they even stayed late to pose for pictures with whomever wanted them. They gave information to the Scouters about future ceremonies, and the whole thing was perfect as I could ever have hoped. Now my boys are anxious to be inducted into the Order when they are old enough, and the fact that I am and Arrowman (the only one in my pack) is suddenly a respected and admired part of my scouting resume.


    So ... wow. This has certainly improved their image in my eyes and heart. As soon as my scheduling allows, I think I will start getting more involved in OofA events in my area so that when my boys are old enough to be members, I can be ready to be involved with them!

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  13. I think so much of what makes an adventure really just depends on letting the boys go their own way and being excited about what they find. I took my three Webelos on a geocaching adventure for their Camper adventure requirement. All I did was hand them a device and showed them how it worked, and then followed them as we walked through the park in our neighborhood to find it. 


    We live in ultra-suburban Orange County, CA, but there is a lot of space here to wander, and most boys don't realize how much wildlife is right here in our own backyards. As we wandered around the park, I pointed out the various birds in the neighborhood by their calls, a few animal tracks and what they meant, and the different kinds of trees that grow in the area. Nothing fancy, but stuff that most people probably pass by. We spent maybe three hours outside looking for the geocache around trees and rocks and the little bridge by the creek, but never found it.


    Well, as we walked home, the boys were asking questions about everything - what kind of bird is that calling? What kind of flower is that? Could deer live in this area? How come the possums don't get eaten by dogs? Luckily I knew enough woodcraft to answer all their questions, but what things I didn't know, they were excited to study and learn about at the library the next day (which I was sure to plan as a follow-up activity). They didn't care that we couldn't find the geocache - they were just thrilled to have a better understanding of the world they lived in and to explore their neighborhood with new eyes. It was an adventure for them - they had fun, they learned new things, and their world, even just their neighborhood, was suddenly a little bigger and a little more exciting. All I did was follow them around, point out the cool stuff, and answer their questions as best I could.


    As one boy told me, "I lived by this park for years and I never knew there was anything interesting here! Now I wanna (sic) come every day at different times and see what else I can find!"


    That to me is what an adventure should be.  :cool:

  14. I just feel bad that people look at school like it's a bad thing. I adored school as a child, and most of my boys like it as well. This would have been far more engaging for me than the endless, and pointless camp outs where we went out into the woods and did nothing. My mind felt like it was atrophying on those outings. If I had had the chance to go to something like this when I was a Scout, I would have been thrilled. 


    Not all boys crave constant activity and high adventure; I never did. But I did love learning in controlled, comfortable environments. Today's boys are used to being indoors; in their information generation they succeed better at receiving information this way than we think. Should it replace camporees and patrol events? Goodness no; they need to get out and play too. Of course. But one or two of these a year can be a huge benefit to boys that don't always have the opportunity to earn badges that might interest them but that require resources or connections they don't have. 


    Every Scout is different. Just as some thrive in the outdoors competing with other patrols and pioneering in the wild, others thrive in a classroom with information and interaction with professionals in various vocations. The key is balance. Scouting's ideals and purpose can remain the same as they always have while still leaving room for adaptation to new needs and goals amongst the young men of this generation. One or two events like these, supplemented by the natural, healthy stream of outdoor adventures and camporee-type experiences, only go towards producing better yields of well-balanced Scouts who can become better men AND advance through the ranks. Advancement can't be allowed to be perceived as bad, nor can school, nor can any of these things. They can all support and promote each other, if we will just let them. 

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  15. Well, I am curious to see how our Pack Meeting goes on Thursday. I finally got a hold of our local OA chapter and they are going to come and do the Arrow of Light Ceremony AND the bridging ceremony for my Den's boys, and I am interested in seeing what they come up with. I was frustrated about their communication issues (which have been going on for months now), but now that they have been keeping in touch about the ceremony and explained what I can expect, I am reserving judgement until they get a chance to prove themselves this week. 


    To be honest, I was never sure of the OA's purpose or nature as a Scout. I was inducted as a naïve 14-year-old back in 1997, went through the Ordeal - and never heard anything more from my chapter after that. Pretty sad. For years I actually thought the sash was just some special award, and had no idea it was an organization unto itself. This seems to have been an issue ever since then. I am now in the very same chapter and lodge that I was first brought into as a kid, and they haven't improved their communication much since then from what I can tell.


    BUT: we will see - if they put on a good ceremony for my boys this week, it will certainly go far towards improving their image in my eyes. I am all about giving things another shot, and I think that when it is well-run and well-organized, the Order of the Arrow can be one of the better parts of the Scouting experience. I just hope that by the time my Webelos are old enough to be a part of it, they will have improved their organization and program.

  16. I found it! The more I read it the more I love it, and I will practice this for a few days so that my Webelos can get the full meaning of these powerful ideas. Especially with one boy crossing over this week and getting his new Boy Scout neckerchief, this is wonderful, timely stuff here. I quote in full:


    "My first Scoutmaster taught the importance of the Scout Oath and Law using the Neckerchief. He would hold the open neckerchief in his hands and remind the young scouts of what was the last item of clothing they put on when they were getting dressed for the meeting: the neckerchief. He said that it was no coincidence that the neckerchief had 3 sides, just like the three parts of the Scout oath. He would run a side through his fingers and say "On my honor, I will do my best to do my duty to God ..." The first and longest side is to remind you of your long standing duty to God. This whole side is hidden from view, just as your faith is deep inside you. But without that faith, there is no strength for the rest.


    Holding on to the neckerchief by the point, he would run the next side through his fingers and say "To help other people at all times ..." This shorter side is to remind you of your duty to help others. Remember, it is some of this duty that shows to others, just like a part of this side of your neckerchief shows. So do your duty to others well so that people might see the good works you do in the name of Scouting.


    The last side also shows. He would say "To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight." This last side is your duty to your self. This shows to others as well. They will know that by seeing your uniform; you are a young man who is physically fit, has a strong moral foundation, and who is not apt to fall into the temptations of drugs and alcohol.


    He would then say that this was a means by which we could remember the Scout Oath, every time we got dressed in uniform. He also gave us a means by which to remember the Scout Law. While wrapping the neckerchief up for wear, he said to wrap it tight in small twists, 12 in fact, and to repeat the 12 points of the Scout Law as you did so. Then as you placed your neckerchief around your neck for wear, the elements of the Scout Oath and Law were with you.


    They were in fact part of you.


    I hope my rambling remembrances of Mr. Clinton Cooper Troop 6 Nashua, N.H. from 1969 can be used by some. It is a memory that I have used through out my scouting career and have shared with Scouts and Scouters.


    John Herrholz, Massabesic District Commissioner

    Daniel Webster Council, New Hampshire"


    I love this teaching tool. There is so much that can be illustrated with this simple garment. I could add that doing our duty to our Country can be considered as fitting into all of these three; we obey God by honoring this nation He helped establish, we help others by preserving and participating in our great democracy, and we preserve our own honor by defending and upholding the ideals of the Constitution. I might incorporate that into the folds of the neckerchief. I might also add that the two ends that hang from the neck can remind us of Truth and Knowledge, like the two stars on the Scouting emblem. And so much more!


    I think if I break it up over a few weeks I should have my inspirational minutes covered till Christmas! Tee hee

  17. Thanks MattR, I suppose I should have noted that yes, at our pack meetings we always have an audience AND a speaker, so it always goes on the left - at our meetings. Thanks for noting that important clause. And thanks to everybody; I knew I would get the help I needed here!


    Quazse, you asked where our pack flag was. Funny thing is, I have asked that since I was made the Webelos leader almost a year ago. It seems the closest thing we have is a flag more than 20 years old that has our correct pack number on it, but bears a name for our chartered organization that was actually dropped around that same time when our organizations boundaries changed. So until I can convince the committee to spend the money on a new one, all we have is the U.S. Flag and our den flag. 


    I love the idea of all the dens coming up with their flags too ... but again, mine is the only den that has one so far. We only just found somebody to be a Wolves leader and a Bears leader, and there is a lot of catching up for them to do. I doubt den flags are even on their radar yet since they still haven't even bought their uniforms yet. As for the other pack that we do our pack meetings with (our numbers are small so we combine with them for all pack events), they don't have any flags whatsoever, and don't seem to want any either (it was a leader from that pack that asked me not to do it).


    SO, I think I will bring my den flag up with the national flag, but have it then sit with the boys in the audience for the duration of the meeting. That way they still have their flag on display but no parents or leaders will feel bothered by it. Since all the boys in my den are receiving the Arrow of Light at this meeting, I want to make sure their den's emblem is made as prominent as I can. 

  18. Hey fellow scouters! I have a question that has been vexing me all night, and I need some help gathering information so I can gain a clearer understanding of BSA guidelines regarding flag ceremonies.


    As I have related in other threads, I have worked hard to save my struggling Cub Pack by encouraging them to build Den identity and unity amongst the boys. In my own Den, the boys have worked really hard to create a wonderful Den flag, and they are proud of it, as am I. They rally to it, they care for it, and they really do see it as a symbol of their achievements and successes.


    For the past few months, the flag has been displayed at our pack meetings, always with proper respect to our nation's flag being held paramount, and I stress over and over the proper treatment of the American flag during the flag ceremonies. Our flag is displayed to the audience's left as it should be, and it is kept on a pole that is intentionally quite a bit shorter than that of the U.S. ensign. But despite this, I was recently asked not to have our flag displayed, as it would be "disrespectful" to the American flag, and that it should only be used in our private den meetings. 


    Next month we are in charge of the flag ceremony, and my Webelos have been working extra hard to master their steps so that the flags cross in front of the audience, American flag passing in front (of course) and then being posted to the audience's left, or the flag's own right, as per official protocol. But now I have another den leader feeling that it is inappropriate for our den flag to be a part of that ceremony. I am willing to change my plans if it means following official protocol, and I am willing to change my views with sufficient evidence, but I thought it was perfectly appropriate to include the den flag as long as we followed the correct procedures during the ceremony itself. I was even told by one leader that since we are a den, and not a patrol, we could not consider the den flag being used.


    I don't think a single parent in our audience will notice if it's right or wrong since frankly, having a flag ceremony done correctly in the first place will be a new experience for them. But it's important to me to do it right so that my boys learn correct procedures now before they become Boy Scouts. Can anybody help me find the official BSA stance on den/patrol flags being used in flag ceremonies? Can I include ours with a clear conscience, or should I quickly correct our course before we unwittingly break U.S. code? Thanks.

  19. All I know is that when I tried to renew my membership with the OA, it took me no less than 6 MONTHS of e-mails and phone calls and pushing and shoving just to find somebody to accept my dues. I was trying to give them money, and it took me 6 months?! And now I have been submitting one request after another for an OA Arrow of Light Ceremony to be done at a future pack meeting, which they advertise with bells and whistles on their webpage, to no avail. 


    I have great respect for the purpose, history, and traditions of the OA. I have been an Arrowman for almost 20 years. But I am sadly frustrated by the slothfulness of my local chapter; I pray we are an exception still and not yet the general rule.

  20. If a little example like rolling the neckerchief becomes symbolism, then I can see how it could become a little too arcane for comfort, especially for Cub Scouts. But I do think it is wise teaching to make connections between ideas and the more tangible world around them. I like the idea of using the neckerchief as a tool to help them comprehend concepts such as duty and honor. Those can be hard for young boys to conceptualize, but they respond to concrete examples that draw what they see toward what they can then understand.


    I did a simplified version of it with my Webelos Scouts when I first started as Den Leader, and a mother recently related to me that I have one boy who, bless his heart, washes and irons his neckerchief all by himself every week so that it will fold neatly and fit nicely around his neck every week. He asked me to go over the folding a few times with him just so he could watch how I do it, and his mom tells me he now folds it carefully before putting it on every week, and then folds it nicely when he puts it away after the meeting. I did the same thing when I was a Scout his age. It's a small behavior, but it shows me that he really thinks about what it all means, and what Scouting is meant to do for him. All of my boys in fact fold them neatly now, and they really take pride in how nice they look and how many people compliment them. They look unified, but what's more, they feel unified. It's absolutely heartwarming to see the Scouting program guiding these boys to grow into good, kind, and strong men.

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