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About swilliams

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    Troop Advancement , Troop Committee, Crew Associate Advisor

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    Central NJ

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  1. I'm working on the hiking merit badge with one son. It was started with a group of scouts from the troop, but can't be finished together at this point. That's going okay, and we (I was in as a second adult and advancement chair, much to my son's dismay, lol) just finished up a Zoom meeting with the counselor for all the boys that began the badge. That was okay, with only six scouts and the counselor. But the same son also started an online merit badge class with Central Florida Council... My impressions of that are varied. This particular one is Sustainability, and son needs a couple Eagle-required badges. I wanted to watch along with him to see what kind of content they offered and whether this would be an effective way to host 'meetings'. So, on the one hand, it's great they're stepping up and offering something for scouts. On the other, sitting through almost two hours, as well-prepped as it was, with a PowerPoint presentation and videos, wasn't fun or exciting or even very engaging. I started getting the 'do I have to watch this' after only fifteen minutes, and he still has three two-hour sessions to go, plus the 30 day family portion of the merit badge. I don't see this being any kind of long-term solution. Or even more than a one week novelty. Online classes and meetings, imho, are not going to be enough to keep scouts scouting. I'm just hoping most families don't drop by the wayside before this is all behind us.
  2. No way! I just got "Milf Man Love to Fart Funny Novelty sweatshirt". 🤣 What have you all done??!! Edit: also shoes, web builders, and mountain biking water bottles, so I feel a little better now.
  3. Our schools are closed now. Because our Troop meets at the school, we’re automatically canceled. Our committee meeting was canceled as well, so I’m anticipating a lot of email upcoming. Our Crew held our last leaders’ meeting last night. We have tentative plans for a day trip at the end of March - replacing a cabin camping trip. We’ll reevaluate the week before. The church where our monthly meeting is held closes tomorrow, but we already canceled the meeting for next week. It will be a tougher call going forward, imho, to cancel bigger scout events at both local and regional levels. My youngest was/is really looking forward to his first year at Sabattis for summer camp.
  4. If we’re all stuck at home, maybe an online group merit badge session on Medicine? 😄
  5. We are one of the towns who have a case now. Our schools are closed today for cleaning, so that means our troop meeting is canceled. I was thinking of starting a thread talking about suggestions for continuing the program while trying to deal with this. New topic, or post here?
  6. My own son is First Class, and there are two others the same rank, one Star, and 2 Tenderfoot. (The Tenderfoot scouts joined late, so they’re in 9th grade already.)These scouts all wanted to work on this together, so only the two Tenderfoot need any of the hikes as part of rank advancement. Our Troop keeps track of hiking miles. So if we do a camping trip out on the Appalachian Trail, we count the camping nights, but also keep a log of how many miles hiked. In any case, it sounds like it can be added to their hiking totals, since it’s ‘under the auspices’. I have to say, though, I have GOT to find a couple of our younger ASMs to do the 20 mile with the boys. My poor ancient knees don’t like hiking much anymore, no matter how much my brain wants to do it.
  7. A group of scouts from our troop have been working on the hiking merit badge, and one of the moms had a question I don’t know the answer to. I tried a search, but wasn’t pulling up quite what I was looking for. Our troop uses Troopmaster for advancement as well as keeping records of activities. One of the activity types that we keep a record of is hiking. Do the miles hiked for the merit badge get recorded as a hiking activity? Is it up to each troop to decide? Could use something me guidance here.
  8. If this proposal were brought before our committee, we would almost certainly ask the scout to add to the scope of the project. The amount of work to be done doesn't have to be X number of hours, but if a project is too small, how much leadership and organization is being done by the Eagle candidate? We have a scout who just finished a project similar to this. He enlarged a deer exclosure (area to keep deer out, so that native species could flourish) and raised the surrounding fencing by a couple feet. Because the fencing is plastic mesh attached to metal poles, we felt that by itself wouldn't have been enough. The scout also constructed a new gate to restrict vehicular access, and planted more native trees and grasses in the exclosure. The addition of the gate also made it clear that the beneficiary (parks department) was gaining something new from the project, rather than just having a re-do of an existing (albeit not-quite-functioning) area. Is this in a public area? Would it be beneficial to add a kiosk or other type of structure that tells guests what the purpose of the log pile is? Maybe a bench for sitting to observe what's going on in the area? In my very limited experience, it seems like adding either an instructional component or something that is useful to either the general public or the group who benefits, removes any worries that the project won't be approved. Might be important if the scout doesn't have time for a lot of back and forth with the council before he turns 18.
  9. One other idea for Liz is to have someone in your Troop volunteer with the pack as well. I used to do all the graphic art for the pack and make take home ‘gifts’ for the PW Derby. I’ve offered to continue doing this - albeit to a lesser degree - even though my boys are done with Cubs. This year I helped their new advancement chair make derby car stands out of inexpensive Home Depot materials. I came up with the design, her husband cut the materials, she assembled much of it, then she and the Cubmaster came over and we had some vino while staining the stands and attaching a label. It didn’t take more than two-ish hours of time, I got to hang with some other scout moms, and hopefully build a relationship with the newer parents of the pack. One problem for our troop is that the cub numbers are dwindling, so we have to come up with ways to reach outside of the scouting family. We do a lot of what PackMan suggests, and it works, but we still need to do more. Or learn to live with 30 scouts in the Troop rather than 60.
  10. An update, of sorts. The Scoutmaster gave me back the blue cards last week. The scout will need to re-do all of them. At that point (last Tuesday), the SM still hadn't had a conversation with the scout. He said he would talk to the scout at this past weekend's camping trip, so I hope that actually happened. I'm a little concerned that so much time has passed, with no conversation, from when the scout first turned in the cards. If the SM didn't speak to the scout yesterday/Saturday, I'll ask that the SM let me talk to him at our weekly meeting tomorrow. I'll admit to being cowardly when it comes to having to address this with the scout, but he needs to be given the time to re-do the merit badges, and it's been a month now.
  11. Can't speak to a non-mummy bag, though I will say that as much as I hated the mummy bag at first, after many a camping trip it's no longer an issue. I have four sleeping pads, because I'm picky and still haven't found the one I love most of all. First one is a Thermo-rest inflatable. It's the warmest, but it's bulky and it isn't self-inflating, and takes a while to get it blown up. It also isn't quite thick enough for me. As a side-sleeper and female, it lets my hip bones hit the ground, so I end up tossing around all through the night. This is the pad I take for cabin camping where we'll have cots or bunks and where I don't have to carry it very far. Next I bought one of the egg-crate, accordion fold foam pads. Very light, but still bulky. It's not hard to strap it under the backpack, though. It does an okay job of keeping the shoulder and hip from too much contact with the ground, but it's not great. I've given this one to my son, who is younger and made of rubber. Bought a second on for son #2, and this same pad is the one nearly all our youth camp with. Third, I tried an inflatable mattress pad from ALPS Mountaineering. You inflate it by pressing on a foam pillow with a one-way air valve at the head of the pad. This one is nice and thick, doesn't require you to actually blow into it, and is slightly smaller than a two-liter bottle, but there's no R-value because of the air between you and the sleeping surface. My biggest complaint, though, and what keeps me from ever using this one, is that it's too narrow. Every time I rolled over, I rolled off, and with the little bit of extra height/thickness, that wasn't pleasant. Last up I bought a Klymet Static V, in XL. At 5'7" I didn't need the extra length, but it's also wider than the others - 26 or 27" wide, rather than 23". That extra means even if I roll over, I'm still on the pad. I was worried about it at first because it isn't solid, but has openings in the mat - kind of an X or open V pattern - and I thought it might let parts of my body hit the ground, but it hasn't been a problem at all. It packs down to slightly larger than a typical soda can and is super light. As with the other air pad, there's no R-value to speak of, but this is my go-to for all summer camping and backpacking trips. Also, because of the open pattern, it takes less air to blow it up.
  12. Hotdog roast is one I hadn't come up with - thanks! The nearest girls' troop here also pulls from multiple towns. At a recent BOR in our town's troop (boys), one of the committee members mentioned that it's a shame our town doesn't have a troop for girls. Well, the town that has the troop had everything organized and ready to go prior to the official start date for girls. They had a CO, CC, and SM. They had already done recruiting. We didn't. The reason for bringing this up is that I think being first goes a long way and applies to several situations. As it applies to recruiting, be first. (In addition to other good suggestions made here.) While any recruiting is helpful, if your troop is doing something fun and original, it may draw more interest than if you're second to hold an event or are doing something similar to what's already been done. Part of the reason I logged on this time was to run an idea for recruiting past all you fine folks, so I hope Liz doesn't mind my piggy-backing off hers. Here's what I want to do, and where I'm struggling with implementation. One of the biggest things I've run across when trying to recruit in person is "my kid is too busy with ___". I want to highlight some of our scouts who manage other interests and still find time for scouting. Some examples: one of our scouts just became a National Honor Society member, he holds a regular job after school, and is an active scout planning his Eagle project; one plays varsity football and soccer (and has letters in both as a Junior), is a straight A student, and is an active scout - currently our Quartermaster; yet another has won championships in chess and robotics, plays bass guitar, and just made First Class. One way I plan on relaying this will be at our outdoor recruiting event. I'm planning on having scout-shaped cut-outs that have these highlights written on them at each station. But... they don't get seen by anyone who isn't at the event. I've asked for other ideas from our committee, but got what basically amounts to a shrug in response. One idea (which still needs to be run by the committee) is to utilize our town's FaceBook page. On Mondays, businesses are allowed to advertise. I'd imagine they would let me write a recruiting post, and with no names attached, I'm hopeful that the parents/committee would be okay with it. Anyone else have suggestions?
  13. I gave the blue cards to the Scoutmaster last night. Will let you know how he decides to handle this/approach the scout. On another note, our young-ish and very eager MC for the next COH is driving me up the wall, lol. I told him Friday morning that I would send an advancement report later that afternoon so he could start working on the program. He emailed a half-hour later telling me I "must have forgotten" to send the report "in the rush of things".
  14. Of course he is. I do think this has shown that it would be a good idea to have the SPL go over blue card procedures at an upcoming meeting. In addition to this issue, I had a heck of a time trying to get one of the young scouts to understand it. I didn’t have a print-out of the most recent MB Counselor list with me (had come straight from work), and couldn’t get the document to load on my phone. He couldn’t understand why I wasn’t going to forward the list to him. He wondered aloud why, if scouts were supposed to be responsible, he couldn’t have the list for himself, lol.
  15. Couldn't decide between a 'like' or a 'laugh' here. There are a couple things going on here. On some, the previous person approved/wrote a counselor, on some it was me who gave the counselor name. On those cards, the new counselor was written over the top. On a few, they were issued for summer camp, so no counselor was written in when they were given.
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