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Everything posted by swilliams

  1. It looks like Scoutbook Lite is the database, and Scoutbook is a more comprehensive tool for your Troop or Pack to do things like send out email, keep a calendar, etc., as well as enter your records. (Someone please correct that if I'm wrong, since I've not used either. This is just what the info out there points to.)
  2. We're no longer licensed to use Packmaster, and only the Arrow of Light den leader (who was also the advancement chair) entered anything last year. No going back to it, which is why I created Excel sheets that duplicate the individual history report. I've been taking those reports and manually entering the achievements into Internet Advancement, so that there's some kind of record for the boys. One of our den leaders hasn't submitted anything at all this year, but just went out and bought all the belt loops and Wolf ranks and handed them out to his boys. When I told him the ranks are usually done at Blue and Gold he said, "Blue and Gold is stupid." Sometimes it's tempting to throw the towel in. We're slowly pulling things together, though.
  3. I took over as Advancement Chair last fall. Our Cubmaster had declared Packmaster too difficult to use, and moved us to a site called Scoutlander. For months now, the advancement page has said 'in pilot, contact us if you'd like to use this feature'. The Cubmaster says she has tried to do this, but hasn't received a response. As a result, I've had nothing other than Internet Advancement and an Excel spreadsheet I created to work from. For who-knows-what reason, we'd never heard of Scoutbook until about a week ago, and we had no idea that this was going to replace Internet Advancement. (This forum is SO helpful. Glad I found it, and that there are others here who can share their knowledge.) I sat down this morning to take a closer look at Scoutbook, but we haven't signed up. I've been reading some dismal reviews, but it looks like there's not going to be any getting around it, if I'm interpreting correctly. Is there a thread on this forum about the details of using Scoutbook? This new chair position has me having the old recurring nightmares about showing up for a presentation completely unprepared, lol.
  4. Hi Summerfun. I realize your post is slightly older, but wanted to add my two cents on the matter of the cultural and religious 'defined path'. As a non-practicing Mormon, I totally get this. Keep your chin up. Even though it's tough to face the disapproval you might get from some members, the example you'll set for your son and others by being strong and doing the right thing will outweigh bucking the cultural tide - particularly over time. If there are non-LDS troops nearby, I'd take your son for a visit and let him see what he thinks. Given the differences in the program, he may like it better.
  5. Sunday Morning segment on the BSA

    I would also think trying to retain youth once they reach the age of 18 would be tough. Too many go away to college or university, and even if they're still living in the area where the crew is established, school commitments may keep young adults from being able to really participate fully. Still, we're going to give it a go for my daughter.
  6. Sunday Morning segment on the BSA

    Venturing could use some serious PR. I'd never heard of it until last year, so out of curiosity, I asked around a bit. Of the 7 or 8 parents in our neighborhood with daughters my youngest son's age (9), only one of them thought they knew what it was. None of them could tell me which town(s) have crews near us. My almost 14 year old daughter does want high adventure, and will be joining Venturers in the fall.
  7. Sunday Morning segment on the BSA

    I was told they come longer (like the unhemmed pants), and you have to make them the length you want. I haven't seen them in person, though.
  8. My posts are guilty of going off-track. In my post about hosting the camping and backpacking meetings for adults, though, we're not trying to force the parents to become outdoorsy. We're trying to give them the option to see what it entails, in a way that's specifically geared for someone without much experience. It's up to them if they choose to do it, and I did express doubts about how many parents would show up. For some people, you can talk and explain and show pictures all you want, but they'll never really 'get' it without experiencing it. For others, it will be enough for them to see the results of what the outdoor program has done for their scouts. My boys started in scouting because my grandpa, dad and brothers were all scouts. To be honest, there were times in Cub Scouts that I wondered what the big deal was. Now that my older boy is in Boy Scouts, in a Troop that is not only very active and very service-oriented, but that camps every month and does a host of other outdoor activities, and after camping with them a couple times, I 'get' it. The first time I camped with them it wasn't because I really wanted to. It was because my boy is so very introverted that I was worried about how he was going to interact (or not) with a group of boys he didn't really know. I've camped with them a second time now, and plan on going whenever they're short of drivers or adults. There's nothing like seeing in person the way the Patrol Method functions when these boys are setting up camp, cooking, cleaning, planning hikes, etc. I'm more than willing to trade two miserable nights' sleep and latrines for these boys to be able to do what they do, after seeing how important it is. Others aren't ever going to do this. I doubt they're going to avoid the unit over it, though it might be worth asking whether they feel like they're being unduly pressured.
  9. Sunday Morning segment on the BSA

    Someone at Council pointed out to me last week that there are some religions that don't allow girls to wear pants. I hadn't thought about that. Still, it would have been nice to see some of the girls in the pants. Of course, at the same time, the Cub Scout pants are so ill-fitting that I don't know anyone who wants them! My boys always just wore blue shorts or jeans. On the socks... my boys love their scout socks and want to wear them even when they're not in uniform.
  10. Thanks for this. Having just taken over as Webelos/Arrow of Light Den Leader (we only have one AOL boy and no leader for him, and our regular den leader's son has been in and out of the hospital), things like this are good to know. I've done my YPT, but haven't looked at the den leader training yet. For this first couple weeks I've just been duplicating what my older son's den leader did with the boys, and have been focused on making sure the AOL boy can earn his rank before crossing over. My older son joined the Troop at the end of April last year. He and the other new boys were all advanced to Scout at the Court of Honor in September, and most (I think all but three) just advanced to Tenderfoot at the beginning of this month. One of those who didn't was also the only boy who didn't go to camp over the summer. As someone mentioned above, we're struggling with the physical fitness requirements right now. He's in between fall and spring sports, and has Health this quarter, rather than Phys Ed. Our Troop generally does advancements only at three Court of Honors, one fall, one winter and one spring. There are exceptions, but given that's the way it's usually done, most of our boys will rank up from Tenderfoot to Second Class at the fall COH - roughly 17 months after crossing over/joining. For those who go to camp, they might make First Class. Our Troop doesn't seem to be in any hurry to get the boys to Eagle. We have one 15 year old working on his project now, but most who reach Eagle are doing so at 17.
  11. Boy Scout trapped 200ft inside PA cave RESCUED

    Our older boys went spelunking in PA last fall. I stayed behind with the younger boys, who visited Indian Echo caves, but when the others came back with the few pictures they were able to get in the dark, it gave me a little claustrophobia. I'm glad this boy is okay!
  12. Our Scoutmaster, who builds fires with the stick and string and sleeps outdoors on every single trip, claims he was never outdoorsy. I didn't know him when he was Cubmaster, but he (a Brit) says he was influenced by Bear Grylls, and he started getting really into survival stuff when he became Scoutmaster. At the same time, he keeps baking us treacle tarts in the cardboard oven, lol.
  13. Our Troop is going to be holding "Camping for Dummies" and "Backpacking for Dummies", specifically for adults, during our regular Troop meeting times. We'll see how many parents we have attend. I think it's a good idea for those who might be interested but aren't sure what equipment they need, or what we do on our trips, but I have my doubts as to how many will show. I'll report back mid-March.
  14. Scouting is doomed

    Poor leadership. While Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts are distinctly different, I've watched our Pack going downhill pretty steadily in the last two years - since we've had a new CC and Cubmaster. Den Leaders aren't trained and have no idea what they're doing. Wolf den is already wearing their ranks, even though we haven't had our Blue and Gold, and the Den Leader never gave me a single advancement report. That by itself isn't catastrophic, but is a good illustration of how we're not giving the support needed to our leaders and they, in turn, aren't likely to be giving the boys all they could to make the program successful. At the same time, our Troop is soaring. Nine Eagle scouts last year, (eleven the year before) and you'd better believe they earned it. It means something to them due to how hard they had to work for it, and because our Troop doesn't hand them out like candy. Scouts are well aware of what their responsibilities are for the positions they hold. They've learned to evaluate their mistakes and recognize things done well. Scoutmaster does an excellent job of balancing 'boy led' with enough support to let them be successful. I'm hopeful that our next Scoutmaster will be able to do the same. Bugleson (my own son: that name is forever attached to him now!) told me the other day he might be in trouble at school. Fortunately I didn't flip out on him. Come to find out, he'd decided to join jazz band and, on his own, got signed up, printed out the music he needed, and arranged his schedule. His mistake was that he forgot to inform a teacher he was to be meeting with, so she didn't know where he was. He's in sixth grade, and I can say with certainty this isn't something he'd have attempted to do on his own without Boy Scouts having given him confidence in being more self-reliant.
  15. Quick update. The MB counselor loved Bugleson's composition. Most of the calls were signed off, with four remaining; Officer's Call, Recall, Fire Call, and Call to Quarters (that lower 'C'). So... one more week should do it. This has been a very tough badge. Thanks again to all for your tips and suggestions.
  16. My son is our Troop's bugler, and has been asked to play at the upcoming Court of Honor. Because our troop doesn't usually have a bugler, none of us is an expert on which calls are best played at which times. Although my son has memorized the description of when calls are used (in preparation for his merit badge) some aren't so obvious when placed in a scouting application, rather than military. Our thinking, from internet searches and the description of calls, is that perhaps To the Color would work well, played before the Color Guard posts the flags. If anyone could give additional insight or make other recommendations, it would be appreciated!
  17. Adding Girls to Pack

    Thanks for posting that link. That's our Council. When one of our ASM's said our council was an early adopter, I thought it sounded weird. The link makes it clear that each Pack can apply to be an early adopter. Makes much more sense! We've not seen anywhere near enough interest from girls for our pack to apply. We'll have another Webelos boy as of Friday, though, and his older brother is coming to our Troop meeting tonight to check it out.
  18. Adding Girls to Pack

    Following. One of our Troop ASMs told me last night that our "council" is an early adopter. His use of the word. As of now, I'm not aware of any girls that have asked to join our Pack. (I have boys who are Webelos and Tenderfoot, and a daughter who will be joining Venturers in the fall.) As I'm not involved at the council level, I'm not sure what level of interest they've received or what their plans are, but will keep an eye on this should it arise for us. One of our biggest Pack issues is in not having an adequate number of adults who want to be leaders. It was a huge struggle to get a Tiger den leader this year, so they got a very late start, and we only found a replacement for our Bear leader (who quit last year) two months ago. It will be interesting to see if 1) we get an interest from girls and 2) if so, how many of their parents care enough to pitch in.
  19. This has been a challenge for Bugleson () because he's a trombone player first. He wasn't used to the small mouthpiece, and it has taken him a good six months to get to the point where he can hit that high G with any consistency. Thank you, SSScout, for the recommendations. He ended up playing 'To the Color' for the Court of Honor. He stumbled once, but he's played enough times in public now that he knows to just keep going. He didn't feel comfortable enough with some of the other calls to play them at this venue, but he'll get there. Although he's allowed to use the sheet music when we meet with the MB counselor, I've noticed that the ones he's practiced a lot he can play from memory. There's a YouTube video (isn't there one for everything these days?) that we've been using, too. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xYEddDubgt0 We bought a used Holton trumpet, and Bugleson was doing what this guy does, with the first and third valves held down, but his MB counselor wanted him to use a real bugle. We've borrowed one for now, but might consider getting our own. He hasn't composed his call yet, and has about five more of the required calls to finish up, but it looks like he should have the merit badge in a couple more weeks. Our Troop was really excited to hear he had to compose something. They want him to come up with an official Troop 368 call and bring the bugle to summer camp. Having them excited about it has made him less worried about his playing and making mistakes. This has, by far, been the hardest of the merit badges for him (though he's only done four others and one partial at this point), but it seems to be well worth it.
  20. Our Scoutmaster always has hot coffee ready for the adults at the time of the wake-up call. That always makes me more willing to go camping. As mentioned by others, at our last Court of Honor, there was a slide show of some of the camping trips the boys had been on, and it really did have parents saying how fun it looked.
  21. Where to start with a sewing machine for badges

    bsaggcmom and WonderBoy pretty much covered it. I'm just here to second Janome as a good choice of machine. My old machine was a $2,000 Janome that had all the bells and whistles. I used it nearly every day for almost 20 years (fashion background). It finally died, and Janome didn't make the replacement part for it anymore. I decided against a top of the line machine for my next purchase, and bought a very basic Janome. Love it every bit as much as the first one. I'd look at the 2206 as a starter machine. For the patches with a stitched edge - like most council patches or POR patches - I use a straight stitch just inside the threads on the patch. For the patches with a fabric edge - like our troop number patches - I use a zig-zag stitch that covers the edge of the patch. The backing on the patches will usually keep the fabric from fraying, but I like the added protection of the zig-zag, particularly if you wash the uniform a lot.
  22. Just because you didn't hear it, doesn't mean it wasn't there. I never said anything to any of our leaders until this week, either, despite wishing my daughter could have the experiences her brothers will with Boy Scouts. She couldn't, so what was the point? Sure, we could have made noise about it and complained that it wasn't fair, but it's like my gruff old Command Master Chief dad used to say (repeatedly), "Life's not fair. Move on." My involvement with scouts right now is limited to awards chairperson for Cub Scouts, though I've volunteered to help with Venturers next year when my daughter joins, and to head up this transition at the Boy Scout level, and that help has been accepted. Last year it was Blue and Gold chair. Still, I get how tiring it is. (I also run the concession stand for Police Athletic League football for our town, and am on two committees at our elementary school.) What I don't get is walking away. Even if you're adamantly against this decision, do the boys you've worked with not still deserve your time and experience? (Not you, specifically, but all the leaders I've heard over the last few days who say they're going to walk.) The entire reason I wanted my daughter to have the same experiences is because I see how much the boys in scouting have benefitted from it. It's not in anyone's interest to let that be lost. I'll be doing my best to help our troop continue to provide the same amazing opportunities they always have.
  23. We have the same situation - packs HAD been defined by which school you attended, but we've been taking boys from the two other schools since their numbers were too low to support a pack. Now having one of the other packs trying to get on it's feet again, this is worth looking into. I don't know their Pack Master beyond having worked together to round up unwanted Derby cars, and don't know who their committee chair is, but our own Pack Master does and they have a decent relationship. Meeting with our CC and Scout Master tomorrow night, though we don't really have any concrete info for Boy Scouts, so it's very preliminary. They've invited a representative from our charter. I'll report back- if there's actually anything to report!
  24. This next year will be an interesting one for us, not only because of (potentially) having girls join. I say potentially because we have not yet had anyone approach us. What has happened in the last two years was that the two other packs in town have seen their numbers diminish to the point that both packs have been folded into ours. Just last week, one of the pack masters who had lost boys, but still had their charter, posted that they were hosting an open house to try and recruit and get their pack functioning again. Talk about being spread thin! Our former pack was based in Manhattan near Columbia College. It was tiny, and was pretty effectively run by only two people. They were the pack master, and the assistant pack master. The assistant pack master had a son who would sometimes come in and help with meetings. While, of course, this is far from the ideal, it worked. Rather than have pack meetings and den meetings, they held a general meeting every Tuesday. They would start off with an activity - usually a game of some sort in the gym. (Meetings were held in a church basement.) Then we'd have "den" meetings, which consisted of sitting the various dens at folding tables to work on a requirement. One adult took two tables, and they relied on a parent to fill in (usually my husband or I). In the three years we were there, we only had a single official den leader. Because of the small number of boys, it was actually possible to direct two groups of boys at a time. The pack master did her best to have the dens work on requirements where, if one needed more hands-on, the other could work more independently. We were a pretty rag-tag bunch. Many boys either didn't own, or didn't wear the uniform (despite trying to pass down uniforms). They didn't have, or didn't bring their books. They mostly managed to show up on time. We did very few camping trips because parents couldn't afford them, though we did manage to get enough parent help to camp Fire Island once. The big exception was Blue and Gold, which was pot-luck. For whatever reason, they were happy to cook.