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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. Found a few things while browsing old threads, but could use some specific tips for recruiting. I recently agreed to take on recruiting, as we haven’t had much luck in finding another adult to step into a formal recruiting position. Here’s a little info about what’s up in our troop. We had previously drawn from two towns, but the neighboring town has been able to get its own troop up and running, and they seem to be doing well. As a result, we won’t see any new scouts from that town. In addition, the packs in town have been going through some pretty major changes, and have seen their numbers drop to half of what they were when my family first moved here four years ago. This is also cutting down on the troop’s numbers, since we’ve had fewer cross over - three this year, and only one the previous year. One last drop in our numbers will happen in the next year, as 11 of our current 44 scouts age out. We held an open house last year, but despite advertising with flyers and on our town’s community forum, we only had two boys show up. We’ll have our invitational camping trip coming up, which is usually AOL scouts and maybe one other boy who is a friend of a scout in the troop. We’ll also be at out town’s Winter Walk a week from Saturday, making Smacos (s’mores in a flour tortilla) for attendees. We have signs showing some pictures of our high-adventure trips and other info that we’ll put up. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far for us to try. Ive gotten permission to put an electronic ‘flyer’ in the schools’ Friday Folder email that goes out to all parents. I’ve asked the SM, and he’s agreed, to request that our younger scouts try to get the ‘Invite a Friend’ requirement done sooner than later, so that if a boy does want to join he’s not too far behind what his friends are working on. I’m currently working with one of the Packs to either have them visit the troop as a group, or have a group of our scouts visit the troop. The scouts will come up with ideas as to what to do at their next PLC meeting. (The second pack only has scouts up to Wolf, so less of a priority right now.) Other ideas? Thoughts on what I’ve proposed so far? Any help is appreciated.
  2. swilliams

    Scouting in Blighted Communities

    There are a number of members here who have offered help and asked for clarification from you, despite what some of us saw as a rather offensive opening. There’s a lot to learn here - if you were really looking for help.
  3. swilliams

    Discussing LDS beliefs in relation to Scouting

    Half glad you opened this, and half not, because now there’s an opening to let others in on actual church teachings. And there’s the possibility that I’ll be admonished for this post, but I’ll put it here anyway. I’m also a Mormon, and there’s a very good reason - besides being married to a Catholic - that I choose to not be an active member. I appreciate your views, but you don’t get to dictate what Mormon doctrine means to anyone but yourself. Did you have to sit in seminary every year and watch that hideous movie about how many cows a woman is worth? Did you ever have leaders teach the lesson of how pre-marital sex makes women the equivalent of ABC gum, rather than just telling us it’s a sin? Don’t presume to tell me what the church thinks about women Does it honor them? Yes, but only in what the church believes is their role. Take a look at the new ‘oaths’ for young men and young women, and tell me with a straight face that females have the same encouragement as males outside of their familial roles. The boys statement starts “I am a beloved son of God, and he has a work for me to do.” For girls “I am a beloved daughter of heavenly parents, with a divine nature and eternal destiny”. How can you look at that and not see that girls and women are pigeonholed. Their entire destiny is to marry and have kids; that is their “work”. As this relates to scouting, that the LDS Church wasn’t happy about the inclusion of gays, but that adding girls sent them over the edge... it has re-opened every insecurity and wound that I thought had long been scarred over. Yes, I’m angry, and yes, I’m riled up, and since you opened this can of worms I will absolutely speak up on the topic even if it’s critical of the church’s decisions. You don’t get to tell me that I’m misinformed when I lived it.
  4. swilliams

    Did BSA "Abandon" LDS?

    It's possible to respect what they're doing but still feel a bit hurt by their statement or diminished by how the program was presented. I've done my best to refrain from what would be considered attack, while still expressing what recent events have meant to me, personally, particularly given some of the teachings I was raised with - and which are not appropriate to go into here. In any case, it's less about how they are running their program, and more about the presentation. I wish they would have given different examples of what young women can accomplish. I am thrilled that the young women's camp will still be running. Absolutely the best part of the young women's program for me during the time I was growing up. I still have my YWMIA certificate somewhere.
  5. swilliams

    Did BSA "Abandon" LDS?

    I’ve been stewing on this statement about the BSA leaving the Church for a while now. Churches/religions exist to guide us in being closer to God. By extension, deserved or not, they have an inherent moral authority. Having a church leader say the BSA left them is essentially saying BSA stepped away from morality. With the high-profile acceptance of gay males and then females into the program, the implication becomes that allowing these youth to participate in scouting is immoral. Is it any wonder this subject gets heated? It was an unfortunate statement that I don’t think was really meant the way it sounded, but from a female perspective it was somewhat hurtful nonetheless. Add to that the examples of the new program shown in the video, and it has me struggling to stay positive. ‘Here, young women, we’ll show you a quorum (a word loaded with power and authority even outside the Church) of boys that are going out to do something new to most of them. You worship with your family and bake a cake.’ Good grief, it’s almost like saying ‘go make me a sammich’.
  6. swilliams

    Did BSA "Abandon" LDS?

    I added the non-practicing Mormon part to my post because I DO understand the doctrine. I love the LDS Church, and am very grateful I was raised the way I was. I fell in love with and married a Catholic though, and have taken a couple steps back, which gave me a slightly different perspective. I also understand the need to feel like one has to defend the Church - there is plenty of misunderstanding and hostility out there, but Mormons tend to see any criticism as hostility, when it just isn't there. As to the claim that the Boy Scout program was not a priesthood program, you're right, in that Baden Powell never set it up that way. I have four brothers, though, and can tell you from first hand experience that in our wards, scouting absolutely WAS being used that way. You may not see it, since your ward(s) may not have utilized the program that way, but it did happen. There is nothing in scouting that one can point to as not being a suitable method for learning for girls/young women. Yes, of course the sexes are different, but scouting principles are human principles. We're seeing the patrol method work beautifully in girl troops, and girls becoming good leaders. They're learning outdoor skills with no trouble at all. With girls having their own troops, your statement above doesn't really apply. Girls are learning together in a group just as they do at camp. In any case, this whole argument is because of the gentle disparaging from Church leaders. Making it mild doesn't excuse that it shouldn't have been said in the first place.
  7. swilliams

    Did BSA "Abandon" LDS?

    The LDS Church has revised it's stand on same sex couples being apostates. They've also said that they understand that being gay isn't a choice, and that if a member is gay, that as long as they are not sexually active (with someone of the same sex, of course), that they can be members of the church. So... I'm a bit puzzled as to why BSA's acceptance of gay leaders and youth was seen as 'not standing on principle', and why it was an issue for the Church. If it wasn't the acceptance of gays, then was it the acceptance of girls? We're to believe the Church doesn't see women as inferior. The Church also hosts several events where all youth are invited. So perhaps it wasn't the inclusion of girls after all. Or was it? The main issue, it seems to me, is that the Church was viewing the BSA as part of a priesthood program. Since women don't hold the priesthood, I can see why the addition of girls would cause a problem, but I also see it as problematic that the Church leaders are saying the BSA abandoned them. The BSA program was never set up to be the activities arm of the priesthood. Just my $.02 as a (non-practicing) Mormon.
  8. swilliams

    10 Interesting Factoids About Scouting History

    You've just found the solution to the BSA's woes, lol. In all seriousness, though, I've been pushing for our middle school to allow the troops in town to reach out to all potential scouts through either the 'Friday Folder' emails or the PTO. There's also something called 'Enrichment Day', and while it's technically for exploring types of jobs, if they'll let the color guard of the high school take a slot, I don't see why not scouts.
  9. swilliams

    Scouting in Blighted Communities

    Okay, on reflection, my post about not willingly working with the OP wasn't very scout-like. Rural has it own set of strengths, you need to look for those. My neighbor showed me how to gut a deer (Wilderness Survival?). His nephew - yes, many of the people in the town are related - showed me how to make an excellent jerky and mix meats for hot dogs (Cooking?). This summer/fall, we joined a friend in harvesting her garden and canning (Gardening). How to develop leaders? The point here is that regardless of where in the world you are, there are going to be folks who can have a positive impact on a scout. It's up to you to find those strengths in people and outwardly recognize them. Catch more flies with honey, yes?
  10. swilliams

    Scouting in Blighted Communities

    A bit? Sorry, but as someone who lives part of the year in a very rural area which, if one were being nasty, could be described that way, I would not voluntarily choose to work with someone who had such disdain for those he/she was purportedly trying to help. Seriously, OP, you need to do a LOT of self-reflection before trying to lead anyone.
  11. swilliams

    LDS Youth Program for 2020

    I only got through 12 minutes before stopping (had to get my daughter from swim practice). As soon as I heard “home-based, church-supported”, I cringed a little. Everyone will start with the best of intentions, but without a more concrete structure or plan I don’t see busy families creating something that will last longer than a few months at most. Granted, there may be more laid out that I didn’t get to, but if that first twelve minutes is really all there is to it, I don’t see how it’s that much different than what a lot of us do with our kids on a regular day-to-day basis.
  12. swilliams

    Parent Reaction to Fee Increase

    Troop stayed at $100. Many of our parents don't care to be involved beyond coming to a COH and dropping their kid off for meetings and camping trips, so most of them have no idea that National raised their fees. We're looking at a spring fundraiser to offset the increase, but nothing is set at this point. Crew stayed at $125 for current members, and is $150 for new members. We only have one new member who hasn't been involved in the past. Other new members are sisters of existing crew members, so they were aware that the crew charges a bit more - mostly to offset the more high-adventure-type outings and to try and purchase our own supplies, rather than share with the Troop that's chartered by the same CO. (Here's a good chuckle. We were in the attic of the church rounding up gear for a backpacking/canoeing trip, and the Troop has index cards tied to the drawstrings on the tent bags. They say things like "missing 2 tent pegs" and "rain fly missing", but one merely says "Stinks". Haha. No wonder the girls want their own gear.)
  13. swilliams

    What are the BSA priorities??

    Had to laugh at this, particularly since our Venture crew girls were giving me the stink eye as I had them collect more and more dry grasses. They were using a striker, and still barely managed to get the twigs going before the grass ran out. As leaders, just like scouts, we learn best from watching others who are more experienced. Anything I might manage to do well is something I picked up from other scouters. That makes it tough for those who don't have the advantage of having a strong unit with experienced leaders or those who weren't scouts themselves. For units that aren't getting outside or who aren't as youth-led as they could be, it would be great if they could learn from watching others. I would love to see some combined outings, similar to having different troops at summer camp, but not huge gatherings like jamborees. That's something unit leaders might be able to accomplish. National isn't going to pay us any attention, but our DE's should, and they could help make that happen.
  14. swilliams

    Informal Observations on LDS Scouts

    I was seriously surprised that a troop is trying to be formed in my parents’ town. My initial thought was much more aligned with what others have posted above. With what my mom was saying, I got the impression that even with a robust church program, there were still enough families that want their kid to potentially earn Eagle, that it was worth the effort. (Of course, that brings up the issue of earning rank v. experiencing scouting, but that’s another topic, to some degree.)
  15. Background... I was raised in a long-standing Mormon household. As in, I have a great grandfather's journal about living in Illinois during the Mormon persecution, another grandfather who was part of the Mormon Battalion, and other ancestors who travelled with the handcarts from NY to UT. I was talking to my mom recently. My parents live in a very tiny town smack in the middle of Utah, with a population that's 99.5% Mormon. (My guesstimate. Point is, very little religious diversity.) Mom is on the city council. She said they're looking into who could be a CO for a BSA troop because there are more than a few scouts who won't be able to make Eagle in time to beat the LDS withdrawal, and others who are going to be 'new' scouts who had brothers or cousins who earned Eagle and want the same thing. When the church first announced it was going to start its own program, I had thought this would be the case, but I just wasn't hearing anything from any of my relatives. Or anyone else for that matter. I decided I had it completely wrong, and LDS youth were going away for good. Now that things are wrapping up for the LDS scouts, I'm seeing what I thought I would be seeing last year. Families who value scouting and still want their sons involved. Of course, it still remains to be seen what percentage of LDS families end up sticking with scouting, but if that tiny, very Mormon, population in Utah is an indication of what other towns are thinking, my theory (guess, wild estimate?) would be that we'll see 1/4 to 1/3 of the LDS scouts return and/or join up.