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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. swilliams

    First Class 1a - Troop Activities

    Thanks. The question came up because we have one scout who is very anxious to rank up (which is a separate issue the SM will tackle). When he was talking to me about advancing, I let him know that he still needed a bunch of troop activities. Everything he's done lately has been a service project, which is awesome in that he's doing a lot of service, but he hasn't been on a single camping trip since last year's summer camp. Of course, this means he hasn't fulfilled the camping/tenting portion - unless he's counting every night as an activity, haha. But it raised questions for me, the SM and the CC as to what other things we might consider. We'll bring it up at our next committee meeting. I thought I'd put this out there and see what others do; maybe be able to present some new ideas or reinforce what we're currently doing. Strangers on the internet, yes, but at least scouts. To that point, your mention of a class reminds me that we did a flight simulator day at a local airport in February, and that event isn't showing up on any of the scouts' records. That, imho, should definitely be a troop activity. Secondarily, I'll need to check and see how the person who enters attendance is marking things in Troopmaster. Since the software automatically generates completion of this requirement, there's got to be some distinction that must be made so that the software isn't counting regular meetings.
  2. I'm sure this has been asked before, but a quick search didn't turn up quite what I was looking for. Does BSA have any guidelines as for what constitutes "Troop Activity"? Obviously they spell out the requirement that the activity can't be a regular troop and patrol meetings. If there aren't any real rules, what does your troop consider an activity? In the thread about girls advancing quickly, one forum member posted a list of activities his troop as done since the beginning of the year, so that's helpful. It included some service projects. Our troop does service where the project is arranged by the service chair. Individual scouts who need help with their Eagle projects set up their own times and hours. Does your troop include Eagle project service as an activity? Any help is appreciated.
  3. swilliams

    Webelos AOL & Crossover

    Our pack meetings had about the same number each meeting - which was probably about 2/3 of the total membership. By having the crossing over at the same time as the Blue and Gold, it's the one time that we had near-total attendance because it was a special occasion. Parents (and scouts) tend to be so busy that having a single afternoon makes it a little easier on the schedule. One big difference between meetings and the crossing over/B&G - and this will vary with each pack as well - is that a lot of our parents let the younger Cubs run wild during the meetings, and our CubMaster pretty much lets it happen. The only time I've ever seen them fairly attentive, as a group, was when we did the mystery-solving skits. (Adults dress up as different characters and present a scenario where a crime has been committed, and the scouts have to try and figure out 'who done it'.) At a specific, more formal ceremony, the parents do a better job of keeping the Lions and Tigers in check, so it automatically feels more special; more reverent.
  4. swilliams

    Troopmaster Help Needed

    Thanks. That would be the CC. LOL, so much for not bothering him. At least by now he should be somewhat rested.
  5. swilliams

    Troopmaster Help Needed

    No problem with these directions up until the "Add New" part. There's no tab on the right - or either side, for that matter.
  6. swilliams

    Troopmaster Help Needed

    Our Committee Chair is our Troopmaster guru, and while I'm sure he could answer my question, our troop just came back from hiking the AT in less-than-perfect weather and with a 5:00am wake up time this morning. I don't want to bother him. What I need to do is probably very, very simple, but I can't figure it out, and I can't even find an answer with Google (or DuckDuckGo). All I need to do is add a new scout. His application has been processed by council, and I've updated our roster in the council's Internet Advancement, which gives me his BSA number. I don't see anything in either Troopmaster or the council site that would allow me to sync, and nothing in Troopmaster that allows me to manually input a new scout. If any of you out there knows how to do this, or if you have a good online resource for Troopmaster, it would be much appreciated. Would love to get this done in my very limited free minutes this morning.
  7. swilliams

    Great Examples of Girl Troop Successes

    I missed the part about trying to get to Tenderfoot before camp when I first read this. This is the one thing that troubles me about the new girl troops. Understandably, there's a desire to be in that first Eagle group, but rushing through shortchanges the experience. I'm not saying your troop is doing that, mind you. My comment is coming from my own shortcomings. It's tempting to want to see my own sons make rank quickly, and I'm a little too focused on advancement sometimes, since that's my job with the troop. Many times, as I watch the scouts in our group, I have to remember that a huge part of what they're doing when they seem to be aimlessly wandering around or horsing around and not paying attention, is enjoying themselves and learning about each other in the process. After all, if they're not having fun while scouting, they're not going to keep doing it. Plus, the older scouts who stick around for meetings and activities even after they've reached Eagle (or are really close) seem to enjoy the outings even more than some of the younger ones do. I'm sure I'll look back on my boys' experience and wonder how time flew by so quickly.
  8. swilliams

    When Do Girl Topics Move to Open Discussion?

    Human nature, I suppose, but it's frustrating. The schools in our district have a "Friday Folder": an email blast sent out to all parents with information about upcoming school and community events. I wanted to put a flyer for our town's Troop, plus the Venture Crew and girls' Troop - which are in a different town - in one of the Friday Folders to let parents know about the opportunities that are out there. The school district said yes, but our DE said no. The reason given was because the DE wanted to explore the possibility of adding a girls' Troop in our town. Well, that's nice, but that doesn't help the girls who are looking for a troop right now. Word of mouth has spread, though, and four girls from our town have already joined the troop in the neighboring town. I think it will be a while before the whole 'girls in scouting' becomes a regular topic. I told one of the dads in my youngest son's den about the girls troop, and he said, "We don't go for that kind of thing around here." I guess I should say 'former den'. He's crossed over and gets to join his brother in the troop!!
  9. Well, this thread has put a bit of a damper on my feelings about having posted a link to a girls' troop taking 2nd place at Klondike. I'm hoping it was a true win. I do know the older scouts were practicing for the event even before the troop was fully formed. I think they were worried about having a poor showing, and that can be quite a motivator. They were competing in the 11-13 year old group, so it's not like they were up against senior scouts and still came away with a second-place win. I see how there is certainly a lot of hype right now, and see how it can be viewed in a slightly negative light, but it should also be seen as the positive tool that it is for creating interest for girls who may be on the fence about joining. One can only guess that this will all have died down in another year.
  10. swilliams

    Great Examples of Girl Troop Successes

    This is our nearest troop. Our Venture Crew (all girl) shares a CO and meeting location, so on the one night a month the crew meets and the scouts are there, we tend to peek our heads in and see what's up. The troop is continuing to have girls sign up, with a reported two additional in March. I think they're over 20 now, but would have to double-check on that. In any case, they sure put 100% effort into the Klondike, with a few of the older scouts training ahead of time, even though the charter wasn't official yet. https://rennamedia.com/new-bsa-troop-280-places-high-in-regional-race/
  11. Similar matter here. I had a scout contact me because his MB counselor hasn't been getting back to him. We just found out the MB counselor is sick - terminally ill. The counselor has the blue card, and none of us is comfortable with attempting to get the counselor to return it, given the circumstances. I figured I'd just issue a new blue card to the scout and have him contact a new counselor. I'm sure the scout would rather get the original back, but sometimes things happen, so maybe a good lesson in being flexible? I would hope that the new MB counselor would take the scout's word as to what he'd already done, but do you think a head's up to the new counselor would be appropriate? Wait for the scout to contact him and see what transpires? I took over advancement for the troop a while back, but am new to this part, having only issued a single blue card so far.
  12. I'm glad you posted this. The bolded is that part that bothered me. To be fair, perhaps it's how the article presented the information.
  13. I should probably say that I didn't peel bark from the standing trees, but took it from downed ones. Unlike pine and some other trees where the bark crumbles as the tree decomposes, these left nice little tubes that were easily separated from the rest of the trunk. Maybe the oils preserve the bark? Which leads me to also wonder whether any species you find where the trunk is decomposing but the bark is relatively intact, would be good fire-starters with similar properties. (My daughter says I'm spending way too much time thinking about bark.)
  14. I'm not sure if I'd use "unfriendly", but totally see what you mean. It's almost like the church leaders are trying to tell non-LDS people what to do with their own troops. Of course, when it concerns church buildings, membership data, etc. it's understandable, but this seems to cross that line a bit, and I'm having a hard time articulating why, exactly, it's bothering me. It's encouraging to see, from those comments in the original link, that there are a number of families who've joined community troops and have found the programs to be engaging for their scouts. It's understandably a hard thing to admit that when Scoutmasters are called, rather than being volunteers, that scouting can suffer as a result. Getting ward members to step out of their comfort zones can lead to great personal growth, but it can also let down a significant number of youth. I have no idea what the answer is, but wish LDS the best of luck with their new program. (Not being sarcastic or flippant here.)
  15. Our Crew Advisor has two daughters in Venturing, and has a son who is an Eagle, so he's full of wisdom. In addition to typical scouting things, I picked up the following from him. If you're wanting some coffee in the morning (yes, please) and take it with milk and sugar, yet have none available, you can add a packet of hot chocolate. Makes it both sweet, and more creamy. Doesn't taste the same, but makes the coffee palatable (even enjoyable) for those of us who are too weak to drink it black. I also had a great opportunity this weekend to try out something one of our ASMs had told me about at our last Troop meeting. He was talking about fire-building, and mentioned that birch bark has oils in it that makes it burn nicely even when things are damp. He claimed that you can dunk white birch bark in water for a bit, shake it off, and still get it to burn. So... we were hiking with our girls' Venture Crew yesterday, and our navigator got us "lost" not once, but twice. On our first detour, I'd noticed a downed black birch. The ground was soaked from both snow-melt and a heavy rain Friday night, so the bark was damp. The girls were starting to grumble a little, and there was some dispute over whether to turn back and retrace our path, or continue on and try to loop around the lake. Luckily, the majority of girls voted to try and push forward, and around a bend in the lake I found a small stand of four white birch. They're not easy to find in north-central NJ, so I was pretty excited. By this point, they were all curious as to what I was doing, so I repeated what the ASM had told me. We were all a little skeptical, lol. I have to say, it worked exactly like he'd said. Some of the girls were less than impressed because our Crew Advisor has spoiled them by keeping some dry pieces of pine in his car. (He's in some kind of construction or maintenance field.) The don't have enough of an appreciation for how hard it can be to light a fire without dry kindling. I'm going to suggest that for our next campout he "forget" to bring the dry bits, lol. We'll see if that makes them a bit happier to scour the woods for birch bark. Have any tips of your own to share?