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swilliams

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Everything posted by swilliams

  1. swilliams

    Only six months till girls in Scouts BSA.

    This pretty much sums up where we are, too. Our CO is okay with it, and they charter a few different packs/troops, but we've seen very little interest. My daughter (13) joined an all-girl Venture crew and is happy as a clam. It was started in 2016 by a couple dads who wanted something for their daughters. They decided to keep it all girl, with the thought that the boys already had two troop in towns to choose from. The crew now has girls from at least seven of the surrounding towns - mine is one of them. I think for those who are early to get started, there's a better chance that they'll draw from a larger area than there is the chance that most districts will have multiple troops.
  2. swilliams

    Scoutmaster drowns while rescuing scout (UT)

    What a tragedy. I feel for this troop and its leadership. My younger son's Cub pack just had an overnight trip to the Absecon Lighthouse in NJ. One of the things the lighthouse keeper told us was that the rescue crew when the lighthouse was first built had a saying, "You have to go out, but you don't have to come back", which the Coast Guard still uses. Apparently more of these brave men lost their lives practicing rescues than they did while performing actual rescues. Yes, dangerous. A tragedy happened, now we only hope that lessons will be taken from it.
  3. swilliams

    Another Committee Chair Resignation...

    That's such a difficult situation. I was all ready to step up as CC when our current said she was stepping down. Then she didn't, and the pack is really limping along without strong leadership from either her or the Cubmaster. I tried to find various ways to help, but there's some kind of weird power struggle going on, and the two of them aren't open to any suggestions. One of our best den leaders offered to be Assistant Cubmaster, and was told 'no'. A little while later, that position was taken off the list of open positions, but no one can (or will) say who filled it. In the end, we switched to another pack when it became clear that the COR wasn't going to get involved.
  4. swilliams

    Just curious about background

    This is a big reason for my hope that troops can actually be kept separate. Even when things are equal, it's human nature to see inequality. My husband was laid off last fall, and through the role reversal of him being home with the kids while I'm working over 40 hours a week, we've gotten a pretty good laugh at ourselves and our perceptions of how hard (or not) the other was working. My very first reaction on hearing the news about adding girls was excitement, but that has been tempered quite a bit in the time since. Initial excitement was because I'd seen what a great program scouting is; leadership, teamwork, outdoor skills... who wouldn't want that same thing for their daughters? Then the terrible (imho) way national has handled this, combined with indications that there will actually be changes to the program, has me worried. It's also been discouraging to see the divide that has sprung up even among individuals in our troop. Oh, background. Scouting family. I tried Girl Scouts for a year, but hated every second of it despite our local troop doing a lot of outdoor activities. It was due more to lack of friends in the troop than anything else. Told my own sons that scouting is a family tradition and they have to do it, lol. I stepped in as acting Den Leader for a bit when our actual DL's son got very sick, and did advancement for the pack, as well as various other non-position positions. I'm on the Troop Committee and will be taking over advancement sometime in the next year, as the current Advancement Chair's son will likely be making Eagle. I'm also an adult female for our Crew's activities - something they've struggled with when it comes to outdoor/overnight activities, and will be going with them to Philmont next year. Which brings up a logistical issue for girl troops. There's no escaping the reality that many females have no interest in the relative hardships of many of the things that makes scouting great. I grew up camping and hiking, then later mountain biking and kayaking, so to me it's fun, but there aren't many other moms/females in our Troop or Crew who feel the same way. (Thanks, Dad, for Easter camping weekends and hiding our baskets up in the trees, making us hike for hours through the Utah woods looking for the perfect natural-grown Christmas tree, and taking us with you when you hunted. Even if an early snow did collapse the tent on us while you slept in the camper!)
  5. swilliams

    Sudden Push for Venturing

    We've only been part of our crew for three months now, but here's what I'd like to see, plus something you could suggest for your crews. Advertise, advertise, advertise. Very few families have ever heard of Venturing. When I talked to the mothers of my daughter's two best friends about signing their kids up, they had no idea what Venturing is, and were surprised to find out that the BSA has been running a co-ed program for years. With all the conversation about allowing girls into the Cub and Boy Scouts, this is a great opportunity to let folks know that this isn't the first time girls have had opportunities within the BSA. As to how to advertise... I'm no expert on communications or marketing, but something as simple as getting permission to set up recruiting before high school sports events would at least reach your target audience. Maybe find ways to help the Crew publicize what they've been doing; look into which local media sources would be willing to run stories. In addition to media, here's what our Crew did recently. We have green and yellow Class B's that are nice and bold, and when we're out sometimes people will ask about us based on how the girls are dressed (all girl crew). In addition, we were doing trail work and a trash clean up in an area where there is a lot of passing traffic. Our Crew advisor set up a sign saying something like 'Community Service Courtesy of Crew 28'. A LOT of people were asking what the Crew was. Maybe help your crews get some sort of weather-resistant, portable signage? Lastly, our Crew advisor is an old pro, with sons having gone through Cub and Boy Scouts, so he has a really good idea of how to structure the program in a way that will keep the girls engaged. If your advisors and parents are less experienced, make sure there are plenty of suggestions and examples for them to follow. Some of this material will be available already, but they may not know about it. Until recently, because I'm not our DL, I didn't know there was a Leader Guide available to help structure meetings. In leafing through it, I found one or two good ideas that I'm implementing for our den. I found a couple others online from random sites where DLs and parents have shared their ideas.
  6. swilliams

    National, Religion, Membership, Oath and Law

    My brothers' experience was pretty good, from what they've expressed. Given that I'm 15 years older than the first of my brothers and we were in a different ward when I grew up, though, I remember friends of mine strongly disliking scouts and complaining about it. It was only when I met a boyfriend years later, who'd been involved in a different troop, that I got a good look for myself into what scouting could be when the troop is run well. I debated posting, because I don't want my comments to be taken as being a negative reflection on the church, but it's hard to ignore the fact that there can be some really major differences in experiences if you were in a small ward where the Scoutmaster didn't really like his calling vs. in a troop where all the volunteers (limited though they may be) are there and committed because they want to be. I hope whatever the LDS program becomes, that it will inspire those who lead it.
  7. swilliams

    Trouble With Den Meetings

    Thanks, all. This has been a tough year. Sometimes it's easy to lose sight of what exactly it is we're teaching the scouts by example. Good responses here, that help me remember to try and make sure whatever gets done, is done in a way that you wouldn't be disappointed with, should it be a scout's actions, rather than my own.
  8. swilliams

    Trouble With Den Meetings

    Our den leader's son has been having health issues for quite a while now. I stepped up in January and started planning and hosting den meetings at our house. Note: I'm not formally an assistant den leader, but just wanted to try and help out during a tough time. After a bit, I was able to arrange for meetings at our elementary school, and our den leader said he was ready to take the reins again. During this same time period, we've added four new Webelos scouts, and one 5th grader who is hoping to get his Arrow of Light (our pack doesn't have an AOL den) before crossing over to the troop. In addition, none of our regular boys has earned their Webelos rank yet. The handful of den meetings the DL has arranged have been last-minute and completely ineffective. We needed to get Building a Better World done for the AOL, and the DL showed up with nothing prepared, then told the scouts to go outside and find a 3 foot stick. When we asked him what that was for, he said, "To give them something to do." We had a parent meeting at the pack level a couple weeks ago, and I was 'put in my place' when I told our Cubmaster (whose son is a Webelos scout) that we needed to have a couple more den meetings this year to get everyone where they needed to be. I was told that this was too busy a time of year to have meetings, and it wasn't my place to be running things. Now we have the school for only one more night, and the AOL scout turns 11 in another two weeks. Den leader won't commit to a meeting because his son now has to undergo a surgery, but won't give me the go ahead to hold it, and I don't have the Cubmaster's support. I'm wondering what the protocol is (other than pizzing people off) if I were to let families know that I'm going to be doing x,y.z at our house, and they're welcome to join us? I'm doing a handful of requirements with my son regardless because I won't wait any longer for the last three things he needs to earn his Webelos rank.
  9. swilliams

    Scout BSA Uniform Survey (Girls)

    Wonder what 'Expert Fitter' means. That wasn't a option for a degree in fashion, patternmaking OR merchandising when I was in school. Maybe it is now, and I'm just too damned old, lol. Not sure how I feel about the whole untucked thing. I have to admit, tucking in the shirt and wearing a belt is a pain, but at the same time, untucked just seems wrong - too undisciplined, maybe, as much as I'd rather not do it.
  10. swilliams

    Scout BSA Uniform Survey (Girls)

    I have a background in fashion design and patternmaking. Can I tell you.... there is nothing more aggravating than BSA uniforms - particularly the fit of the pants. Is this my opportunity to rant a little? First, though, I hate that new shirt. It's odd-looking and a side opening on a pocket is not a great idea. I don't like the placket over the buttons. It may look 'cleaner', but it makes fastening and unfastening the buttons harder. The pocket on the pants looks too high, and I'd miss having the depth that the current cargo pockets have. Unlike with other pants, I actually carry things in these pockets - cell phone, knife, wallet, sometimes a piece of trash picked up on the trail; all kind of things. Really not liking the roll-up part of the pants, either. All that does is create a handy spot for dirt and pine needles to collect, and add bulk that could start chafing if you're on a long hike. The Cub Scout pants are cut way too wide for any but the chubbiest of scouts, and at that young an age, most kids are not yet significantly overweight. I've been working in a scout shop for the last three months, and we've only sold two pair of those pants. It hardly seems worth the trouble to produce them. The micro-poly youth and adult pants aren't too terrible, but why is the fit and sizing between those and the canvas pants so far apart? The legs on the canvas pants are also a bit too wide, and look almost like culottes when you try to wear them as shorts. The elastic area of the canvas pants at the waist is a nice touch, though; forgiving without adding bulk. My biggest complaint is the Venturing uniforms. If Venturing is supposed to be for youth beginning at age 14, why, why, why do the uniforms only come in adult sizes?! And HUGE adult sizes at that. I'm 5'7" and weigh somewhere around 125 lbs. (I think, no scale). The XS ladies pants are too big. If I can't wear them, how on earth is my 14 year-old daughter supposed to wear them? My son is in Boy Scouts, not in Venturing, but the men's XS pants come nearly to his armpits, and he's very tall for his age. The shirts are also really big on him.
  11. Not quite sure how it happened, but we're missing one of our 2017 Scout Sunday patches. Anyone have an extra? I don't really have much to trade, but might be able to come up with something cool.
  12. Bugleson is a Tenderfoot, and has been an APL for a month now. He went to the training event, then attended the first PLC. Afterward, in the car going home, he told me he wasn't sure he was supposed to be there. I told him to ask his SPL at the next troop meeting, but for my own curiosity, is this something that varies according to the troop you're in? He wouldn't (or couldn't) tell me exactly what it was that made him think he wasn't supposed to be at the PLC. He did tell me that no one specifically told him he shouldn't be. Ah, eleven year-olds.
  13. Our pack still hasn't had more than one, or maybe two, inquiries from girls. This whole issue is, for now, a moot point for us. I'm following the issue through this forum, though, so that if/when it does come up I'll have seen what has been working for others.
  14. I have a number of issues with that article, lol. It pretty much sounds like Girl Scouts being bitter, more than the magazine not being in on the whole idea. Although, on reflection, maybe they're not, since they published this. This part is funny to me. "Even with Cub Scout dens remaining single-gender, Girl Scouts leaders are not confident the Boy Scouts will be able to offer adequate programming for girls. According to Archibald, BSA has made no public statement that indicates that they intend to alter their programming in any way to serve girls." The whole reason my daughter didn't want to be involved with Girl Scouts was because she didn't like the program. She just joined a Venturing Crew, and is looking forward to following the outdoor-based program offered - something we couldn't find through our local Girl Scouts. Interestingly, there are two crews near us; one co-ed and one all-girl and when she found out there was an all-girl option, she didn't want to even visit the co-ed group.
  15. I never realized how little my son knew about how to have a phone conversation until he was given his first blue card and had to call the MB counselor. We did exactly what you posted above, along with the scenario of what to do if he got voicemail. Now that all of my kids are old enough to be left at home alone, I recently went out and called home for something. My youngest (Bear/almost Webelos) answered the phone. No 'hello' or greeting. I got, "Who is this?" Haha. Hopefully we've fixed the phone manners now. (They're pros at texting, though.) For this reason, I'm happy that our boys have to request a blue card from the advancement chair, and have him fill out the card with the counselor's name and number. One more adult conversation/interaction under the belt.
  16. A little background: I'm just a lowly grunt. Ran our Blue and Gold last year, then took over Advancements at the beginning of this school year. No one stepped up to take over Blue and Gold, so I'm still involved there, though at least I've been able to divide up the work load between myself and some other parents. (I've also been unofficially acting as Assistant Den Leader for Webelos, since the Den Leader's son has been quite ill.) The CC and Cubmaster don't seem to be trying to actively fill committee positions, have no plans for recruiting, have little interest in actually tracking advancements, etc. I'm becoming increasingly frustrated by the lack of leadership. Here's an example of what's going on. Another parent and I are trying to get our scouts' and leaders' information into Scoutbook. (The Cubmaster let our Packmaster subscription run out because "it's too hard and no one uses it". We only have records for one den from the previous year.) I asked our Council for BSA numbers for the leaders, so we could get them entered into Scoutbook, and I found that two of our den leaders didn't turn in an application, but did take Youth Protection, and four other adults turned in applications, but never took YPT so the pack was refunded and the applications are sitting in an 'error file'. At least two of those four adults are active in the pack. That's just one example of many little and not-so-little things. So the question is, how do you all deal with these kind of issues (assuming you're not the CC or Cubmaster)? Part of me says ignore it, it's not my problem, and my son will cross over in a year. The other part worries that if our pack continues to flounder, our older boys won't have anyone to lead when they've reached Star and Life. Maybe I'm making too big a deal about the records or having adults registered and trained properly? I've offered to lend a hand with whatever they might need, but that's gone nowhere. I've found it's usually more effective to say to someone, "I can do _____ for you", but I don't know what, specifically, they might need help with. I don't want to come across as a complainer/critic - I'd rather find a way to help fix things - but not sure what I can do without offending. Any advice is appreciated!
  17. This is for our pack CC, but I agree anyway. My older boy crossed over last year, and I'm one of the more consistent drivers to get scouts to camp, so I think I have a pretty good idea of how the patrol method works. Because our pack only has one AOL/Webelos II scout, we folded him into the Webelos den. Recently, we had him take a look at the different methods of starting a fire, choose one, and use EDGE to teach the rest of the den. I'm very undecided as to whether I'd want this position, but I'm worried that if I don't, we risk getting another half-hearted person in the position and the pack continues to limp along, or lose even more boys. I care enough about offering the scouting experience to these boys that I don't want to see that happen. Another worry of mine is that despite how good my intentions might be, I'm not up to making the changes we need. Still trying to get everyone to agree to a committee leaders meeting. We (I) really need to know what they're thinking, and only our future CM (present one is stepping down next year as her son will cross over) has encouraged me to step up for this.
  18. The CC made an official statement today that she would be stepping down. Maybe I should start a new thread, and I'll definitely search through some older ones, but talk to me about what the best and worst parts of the CC job are, and why you would or wouldn't consider the position, along with what you think are important qualities or qualifications for someone in this position to have.
  19. swilliams

    Why Did You Leave Scouts ?

    I'm still new to this, but this seems pretty spot-on. As our den has grown more disorganized over the two years we've been here, one of the boys has dropped (others come sporadically). His family has said it's because he has swimming, but my daughter is in the same swimming program, so I know you can choose which days of the week you practice. If he were having fun in scouts (Cub), I think the family would be more willing to arrange his swim schedule to make time for the two-ish hours a month we have den meetings. At the Cub level, I agree that the adults are what can make or break the program. Right now, I think our den is too big for the boys to be getting all they could. We have eleven on paper (the swimming scout is still listed, and came to the Pinewood Derby.) We had ten boys at our house last night. We built cardboard box ovens last night - to be used once we get rid of some of this dang snow - and even with two separate groups building two separate ovens, I could see that a couple of the quieter boys sat back and didn't participate. I don't think it was because they didn't want to, there just wasn't enough space for five boys to work on an oven at one time and they got edged out. With ten boys and copious amounts of tinfoil flying around, I had my hands full keeping them working on the boxes instead of making balls and throwing them at each other. Which brings up the fun aspect again. If I had five or six boys instead, I could let them ball up the tinfoil and throw it around for a bit. This one is up to the adults to fix. I texted our regular den leader again this morning, asking him to reconsider his stance on not breaking up the den. Told him if he wanted to keep the original group together, that I'd take the boys who transferred to us from another pack that folded, and the one boy who recently moved in. They're a wild bunch, and my own son would be in the other den, but in the end I want my kid to be happy and not groan when I say it's time for the den meetings.
  20. Welp, the parent who has been helping me get Scoutbook rolling met up with our CC to show it to her. She told him she has no interest in continuing as CC. (As you can see from the original post, that's no surprise.) Might be time to put my money where my mouth is. We'll see if we can get another committee meeting scheduled before the end of the year and see what the other leaders' thoughts are. In the meantime, we're building cardboard box ovens, tying knots with rope (and licorice strings), and planning our three-mile hike. I found a packet of compass games to help teach compass skills, so maybe we'll try that as well.
  21. Attendance at pack meetings is okay. I've found they're a little late for some families (7:30 - 9:00), mine included, but at least they're on Friday nights. Some meetings have received a better response than others - a favorite for a couple years running now is 'Parents vs. Scouts'. We haven't lost too many scouts, but we have lost some. When we moved here 2 1/2 years ago our pack was at about 50 scouts. It's hard to know how many we have now because we have some listed that I know have dropped, and some that are active but never turned in applications. We had 37 scouts who attended Pinewood Derby, so that's some sort of measure. I'm hearing increasing frustration from parents that they don't know what's going on, like upcoming events we'll have outside of pack meetings. We had an overnight at Battleship NJ in January, and there was at least one family that would have liked to have gone, but they didn't hear about it until after the deadline to sign up had passed. It seems we had a couple families that had been left off the email list. Probably because they never turned in applications, but I don't know for sure. I suggested last year that we have a 'new parent' meeting at the beginning of this year, but couldn't get it off the ground. I suggested using a Shutterfly share site, like our troop does, but that was nixed. This is that tricky issue of not stepping on toes again. If the CC and Cubmaster don't want to do it, then it's not likely to happen, and there's a limit to how hard I want to push. I really do like both these ladies, plus, it's kind of a small town. We're all going to be in each others' lives for the forseeable future, and bad blood doesn't help anything or anyone. I can't speak, really, to what other dens are doing. Ours has suffered a bit, but that's because of the illness our den leader's son is going through, and why I stepped in to help. We built birdhouses for the 'Build It' elective last meeting, and the boys really enjoyed it. We're trying to line up a visit to a construction site for this Saturday - hopefully we'll be past this winter storm by then. We actually have a formal Assistant Den Leader, but he's also our Treasurer and works full-time (and then some), so he hasn't been able to offer too much. I'm on the committee for our troop, and we're working on recruiting right now. Maybe I can find a diplomatic way to take some of the tools the troop is using, and get them applied at the pack level. Thinking on this now, recruiting is one area where I could probably say 'I can do X, Y, and Z', so that it's something concrete, rather than 'how can I help'. The CC is aware now, if she wasn't before, of the leaders who haven't done the Youth Protection.
  22. Well, here's one positive thing that has come about from trying to get a system in place for advancements - even if we never use it. A Webelos scout showed up as being registered to our pack, but I had no idea who he was. I called council to see if maybe there was a mistake. There wasn't: he transferred to us from another pack in town that fell apart and didn't recharter. He's been on our roster since December, but no one ever reached out to him. I called and spoke to his mom - he'll be coming to our next den meeting.
  23. swilliams

    Concerns with coed rules, leadership, liability

    I can tell you my son doesn't want girls in the Troop. He's eleven, so his age may play a big part here. I went to pick my daughter up from a Confirmation class and noted that with the exception of three girls sitting in the last pew, all the boys were on one side of the church, and all the girls on the other. I asked my daughter if the teacher made them sit in segregated groups. Nope. We still haven't received any serious inquiries, so all this may end up being a moot point for us - at least for the foreseeable future.
  24. 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.)
  25. 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.
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