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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. 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.
  2. swilliams

    Completed Blue Cards? Maybe, maybe not.

    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.
  3. swilliams

    Sleeping Bag and Pad

    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.
  4. 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?
  5. swilliams

    Completed Blue Cards? Maybe, maybe not.

    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".
  6. swilliams

    Completed Blue Cards? Maybe, maybe not.

    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.
  7. swilliams

    Completed Blue Cards? Maybe, maybe not.

    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.
  8. swilliams

    Completed Blue Cards? Maybe, maybe not.

    Your first bullet point - yes he handed me the unit copy and his copy. Our troop usually returns the scout portion along with the MB patch at a COH. Second - yes the counselor signed both portions. Third and fourth bullets - the blue cards that were issued by my predecessor are signed on the unit section, and on the applicant's record. The ones I issued to the scout are signed on the unit portion, but not the applicant part. No one ever told me how this was supposed to be done, so I've been signing the applicant's record part upon completion of the MB. In this case, the scout handed the blue cards to me at the end of a troop meeting, so we didn't discuss anything, and it wasn't until the following morning that I had a chance to look at them closely. This person hasn't been registered to the council associated with his address for the past three years, and even when he was, he wasn't a MB counselor for them. Unless he was registered somewhere else in November of last year, it sounds like he's not a MB counselor at all.
  9. swilliams

    Completed Blue Cards? Maybe, maybe not.

    To the point about the signatures, all the blue cards have a unit leader signature on the front, whether mine or my predecessor’s. The counselor signatures are done. The final unit leader signature would either be myself or our current SM, and neither of us has signed at this point, given the concerns we have. In our unit, since we have a fair number of scouts, the blue cards are issued by the SM’s appointee - me - and typically I’m the one who goes over the cards with the scout when they’re completed, though on occasion the SM goes over them and gives them to me to enter and purchase the corresponding badges. The troop, following guidelines, discourages having MB counselors who are family members, but I did hear back from our CC and he says he and the old advancement person had given approval to the scout to use family for “a couple” merit badges. CC and I agree that at a minimum, the scout needs to request a new blue card for cooking; the card where the original subject was crossed out and cooking written in. While waiting to hear from the CC, I called the council for the town listed on the counselor’s address line. They do not have this person listed as a MB counselor for any MB, and he’s not currently registered with that council. Spoke to the SM last night, and our first step will be to simply ask the scout which council the counselor is registered with. I’ll also let him know that he’ll need a new blue card for the cooking. There’s a counselor near him who is very responsive, so hopefully we can resolve that one quickly. So here’s one more question. In re-reading the guide to advancement, I was paying close attention to the part about not retesting the scout or having the scout prove that they did the work. I would think that questioning the counselor’s eligibility doesn’t fall into that category, but if it’s determined the signatory of the card is not a counselor, where does that leave the unit and the scout in terms of the retesting?
  10. swilliams

    Completed Blue Cards? Maybe, maybe not.

    As far as verifying some of the requirements, he is active in the troop and I'm sure has done a lot of the requirements through participation. I'll see what I can find out. Still troubles me that almost nothing was signed off prior to November.
  11. swilliams

    Completed Blue Cards? Maybe, maybe not.

    I don't know, as the town where this person lives is about an hour from us and is in a different council. To be clear, it wasn't his dad that signed them, but the someone with the same last name. The blue cards date back to 2016, but only two of them have any partials recorded on other dates. They're all marked the same day in November of last year for completion. Six of the nine are for Eagle required merit badges. I haven't heard back from our CC. I'm leaning toward just emailing the scout and his dad and asking them about it, but I don't even know what to say. "Excuse me, but are these fake news?" LOL. Seriously, though, this seems very shady. If the scout says (as I expect he might) that they're all legit, then what? Should I find out which council it is and call first? Ugh.
  12. I very much dislike it when I feel the need to question a scout or parent, but sometimes it happens. This one is a biggie, and I've reached out to our CC, but wanted to get some other opinions - opinions and advice from those who don't know the scout. Last night at our troop meeting, a Life scout handed me a stack of completed blue cards. I sat down this morning to get them entered, and after recording two of them, realized that they all (9 of them) had been signed by someone with the same last name as the scout, on the same day. In one case, the original subject of the blue card had been crossed out and Cooking written in its place. Thoughts? If this is something that should be questioned (and in my mind it should), how do you approach the scout? Oh, one more part of this is that dad is an ASM, so maybe he knows something I don't, since I'm new-ish to troop-level scouting? Or maybe not.
  13. What is "Tatoo"? Do you have sheet music? Bugleson (or maybe we should just refer to him as Scoutson, now that he's not really bugling anymore) felt that Taps was too melancholy. Maybe our new bugler could use it as a replacement.
  14. swilliams


    My recurring nightmare is that my husband will make me use the chainsaw. I can, but I hate it and it scares me.
  15. No, sadly. He stopped as soon as his six months was up - a year and a half ago. He played at one of the Camporees with much encouragement (force? lol) from me, but he never really got comfortable playing in front of people. He still loves band, where he's one of three dozen kids up there performing, and trombone is still his instrument of choice, but he will pick up the trumpet from time to time just to mess around. I don't think he could hit that high G now. Use it, or lose it.