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Everything posted by gblotter

  1. Minimal Effort Eagle

    The Scout (and his father) have requested a meeting to discuss his POR requirement. We could definitely use a Troop Guide for our New Scout Patrol. I’d be satisfied if he showed up to help at their weekly meetings once a month. And teach them specific skills (not just be a warm body in the room). We’ll see how he responds to that idea.
  2. Questions about "Boy Led" Troop

    Yes - an interesting topic, which I’m sure has been covered in other threads. Our troop selection is predetermined by LDS affiliation (although we could certainly jump ship if desired). My focus has then been to help make my existing troop the best possible. I strive for inclusion, active camping program, good parent engagement, and positive attitude. I’ll admit a preference for smaller troops (30-ish is ideal). Mega troops are not my thing. Struggling troops without critical mass are depressing. I’ve had a variety of experiences, and I’d much rather go camping with 10 boys than 40 boys. I’m glad there’s enough variety in troops to satisfy different preferences.
  3. Questions about "Boy Led" Troop

    Forget what we think. Scouting is having a hard time defining itself right now. The movement is adrift. True - leaders and leadership styles will certainly vary, but so what? Does that really matter? It happens everywhere in life. Do we try to force every Scout to be the same? Should we try to force every Scouter to be the same? The Scouting movement is composed of unique individuals who are different by definition. If we are wise, we use those differences to our advantage. Some Scouters are incredible archers, riflemen, naturalists, or climbers. I know some troops that specialize in backpacking, while others are into fishing, and another builds their own canoes. If homemade canoes are not your thing, it is easy to find another troop with a different focus. Vive le difference! Scouting is not McDonalds. And if that is a problem, find a different troop that better suits your needs and meets your expectations. The best troops will always thrive, and that's a good thing.
  4. Buzzfeed - CSE Surbaugh - Girls - Scouter.com

    Paying homage to a historical label like Girl Guides will likely help traditionalist swallow the pill a bit easier, but our Texas brainiacs don’t have a great track record in this area.
  5. Buzzfeed - CSE Surbaugh - Girls - Scouter.com

    It was a disastrously failed attempt to reinvent Scouting for the modern era. This could never happen again, say by reinventing Scouting to include girls? Nah. From Wikipedia. Outdoors skills de-emphasized In September 1972 the Boy Scouts launched the "Improved Scouting Program," publishing a radically revised handbook with less emphasis on outdoor skills for the three lower ranks. Skill Awards for Hiking, Camping, and Cooking included outdoor skills requirements and were required for Second Class and First Class Scouts. Several outdoor merit badges were removed from the list of those required to become an Eagle Scout; those removed from the list included Camping, Cooking, Nature, Swimming, and Lifesaving. The Scoutcraft information and requirements were replaced by information on drug abuse, family finances, child care and community problems. The use of boy was de-emphasized: the eighth edition of the handbook was titled simply Scout Handbook and the new strategic logo used Scouting/USA. The concept of the personal growth agreement conferences was introduced as a requirement for each rank. Other changes included new colored cloth badges for all ranks and positions and "skill awards", represented by a metal loop worn on the belt, that were awarded instantly at the time they were earned. They supplemented individual rank requirements which along with merit badges were also presented immediately, and recognized later at the court of honor. The merit badge program—previously only available to First Class and above—was opened to all ranks, and merit badges were required for Tenderfoot, Second Class and First Class. The number of required merit badges for Eagle Scout was increased to 24, and Camping merit badge was dropped from the required list. The entry age was changed to 11 or 10-½ if a boy had finished fifth grade. Return to traditional Scouting 1970s-era Scouting/USA branding The changes in the advancement requirements were a disastrous failure for Scouting and membership plummeted. The BSA lured William "Green Bar Bill" Hillcourt out of retirement in 1979 and he spent an entire year writing the 9th Edition of the Boy Scout Handbook. It was a return to the traditional Scouting program after the disastrous membership losses suffered by the 1970s program. From a peak of 6.5 million Scouts in 1972, membership declined to a low of 4.3 million in 1980. The 9th Edition has a great deal in common with prior editions of the handbooks that Hillcourt had helped write. The new edition reproduced entire paragraphs and pictures from the earlier editions. In 1976 the National Boy Scouts discontinued the Improved Scouting Program and introduced "All Out for Scouting", a back-to-basics program developed by Hillcourt. The program was launched with "Brownsea Double-Two", a week-long course for the senior patrol leader who would then introduce the troop-level "Operation Flying Start" to their units. It emphasized teaching and practicing Scout skills, the purposes of Scouting, and the role of the patrol method within the troop program. Many councils ran both Brownsea and Troop Leader Development, but some councils held only one or the other. The number of Eagle required merit badges was reduced back to 21, and Camping was restored to the required list.
  6. Buzzfeed - CSE Surbaugh - Girls - Scouter.com

    Mine too. But I hope no one is nostalgic for that disastrous experiment of the 70s. Can we really not learn from past mistakes?
  7. Questions about "Boy Led" Troop

    Interesting Podcast. That is my first introduction to ScoumasterCG. There is definitely some good content, but nobody will accuse Clarke Green of being too succinct. I suppose his nugget from that 28 minutes is that Scouting should be a discovery that the boys make on their own, avoiding the interference of adults as much as possible. Got it. I don't know anything about Clarke Green. He seems very experienced and has obviously invested a lot in Scouting (his ScoutmasterCG website being only part of it). Many of us are very experienced and we can all learn from each other - I'm fine with that. However, I do tire of the attitude that true Scouting is only experienced by the few who have that secret decoder ring to unlock Bill Hillcourt's secrets of boy leadership. We all stand on the shoulders of giants, but Scouting is not that hard. We sometimes make it harder than it needs to be by endlessly reminding others that in spite of best efforts - nope, you're still not doing it right. Dare I say there is some virtue signaling in all this?
  8. Questions about "Boy Led" Troop

    Gained through a lifetime of experience, accentuated by a terrifying backpacking incident that taught me to not be casual in my approach to safety. Sure, and death teaches some hard lessons too. I draw a clear line when safety is involved. No apologies from me for that. We did sit down and wait for the sprinters to rejoin our group. But that was not contrived - it was just the common sense thing to do. I do believe in teaching moments, but a fake leg injury was not needed in this situation. I have a real-life experience to teach that lesson even more effectively. All of our Scouts know the lost backpacker story - it is legend in our troop. When I tell that story around a campfire, they listen with rapt attention. From that story, they are well-aware of the potential hazards of getting separated and lost. And they know I take these situations seriously. Yet with 13 year-olds, we somehow end up reteaching the same lesson periodically. I'm not sure what Yoda would have to say about that. Nah - that is being overly dramatic. I can't speak for your son, obviously. With my SPL, he was simply reacting in a defensive way after leading other Scouts into a potentially unsafe situation. His error became visible to the other boys when I requested they hike back to rejoin the group. That created embarrassment for him and he was throwing up a screen with the boy leadership comment. This SPL is our most gung-ho Scout. I heap more public praise on him than you can imagine. Believe me - he is not heading to the exit. The discovery happened shortly after. When the sprinter group rushed ahead, they discovered some cool caves that they were excited to share. We spent an extra hour there climbing and exploring every facet without any overlording from me. Discoveries were made, fun was had, lessons were learned, and nobody died. All is well.
  9. Buzzfeed - CSE Surbaugh - Girls - Scouter.com

    Time will tell. I have three daughters. Especially during that age (7-10) they get invited to LOTS lots of all-girl play dates, birthday parties, and other outings. One mom formed a Brownie Troop to put some structure around her daughter's social circle. Joining was a natural thing for my daughter to continue developing those friendships. I can definitely envision the formation of all-girl Cub Scout Packs in a similar fashion. The introduction of boys into the mix would completely disrupt their existing social circle.
  10. Questions about "Boy Led" Troop

    Preparation is a valid point. As I mentioned before, the decision of my sprinters was not premeditated or preapproved. With excess energy, they just took off without a word and without even a map. That is not a situation that defines preparedness, so I requested them to regroup.
  11. Questions about "Boy Led" Troop

    Agree to disagree. Yes, I do believe a 58 year-old Scoutmaster has better judgement about safety than a 13 year-old SPL. Although training is a good idea for everyone (boys and adults), it has more to do with maturity and life experience. The main difference might be that an adult recognizes when he is getting into a trouble situation, whereas a boy does not until things have gone terribly bad. Not every adult, of course - there are some adults who do not have these life experiences to learn from in the first place. There is a difference between caution based on fear, and caution based on the wisdom of experience. Those who do not learn from their mistakes ...
  12. Questions about "Boy Led" Troop

    I will take the time to listen to the podcast after work. I'm sure it must be interesting material. Yep - I get what you are saying about subtle steering. Often that is the most effective method, and most times I am not very good at it. I picture myself more like a benevolent drill sergeant. With our group of sprinters, I realized we needed to regroup when converging on the intersection of five trails. I had no idea which of the five trails the lead group had taken. A flashback to backpacking terror made it an easy decision to request a regroup. As it turned out, they did take the right trail in the first place. Their decision to sprint was not premeditated or preapproved. With excess energy, they just took off without a word and without even a map. Under other circumstances, perhaps I would have been more open to their discovery.
  13. I read so many threads with very experienced Scouters speaking quite negatively about merit badges and rank advancement. There is so much disparaging talk about Eagle mills and merit badge factories. Focusing on merit badges and the trail to Eagle means you are missing the point of Scouting and not having a quality experience. You are only a true Scout if you are in it for the fun. Some have even advocated for eliminating merit badges classes entirely from troop meetings and summer camp schedules. In the minds of some, advancement seems to be at the root of all that is wrong with Scouting because it introduces a corrupt motivation and becomes a distraction from having fun. This talk never ends here on Scouter.com which leads to me ask ... How many folks think that eliminating merit badges and rank advancement from the Scouting program would be a good thing? I'm actually not trolling - I'm asking a serious question.
  14. Questions about "Boy Led" Troop

    We will have to agree to disagree. When it comes to safety, I draw the line in armchair philosophizing about boy leadership. Informing a parent that their son is dead because I didn't want to interfere with boy leadership ... no, I'm not willing to go there. From personal experience, I tell you that these situations can spiral out of control very quickly. Disasters can be averted by modest adjustments (like requesting the SPL to regroup). This is not helicopter parenting - this is the difference between life and death. Sorry for jumping to the nuclear option with examples of dead Scouts, but I have personally lived the terror of a Scout who was lost for multiple days. Fortunately nobody died in our backpacking mishap, but the outcome easily could have tipped against us. I'm just glad our backpacking situation did not end up like Garrett Bardsley. http://archive.sltrib.com/article.php?id=2921219&itype=NGPSID "Garrett disappeared Aug. 20, 2004, on a trip with his father and some Boy Scouts. The group was near Cuberant Lake. Garrett's shoes became wet and his father sent him back to camp, but the boy never made it there. A search began within 40 minutes after he was last seen. Summit County Search and Rescue joined, and after a few days the mission changed from a rescue operation to a recovery. The search was discontinued Aug. 29 without finding a sign of Garrett. The Bardsley family continued searching until winter weather forced them to stop. They kept Garrett's name circulating through the public by founding an organization in his name and starting the Web site http://www.findgarrett.org. They prepared months for the second search. In the second search, the mission was to find remains or some other sign of Garrett the family could use to bring closure. "I think everyone was out here hoping they'd be the ones to find something," said Virginia Roundy, a 54-year-old volunteer from Orem, shortly after her search team returned. Bardsley family members have said the search that concluded Saturday would be the last, large-scale effort to find Garrett's remains, though Kevin Bardsley has left open the possibility he might return here to look."
  15. Questions about "Boy Led" Troop

    Yes - getting lost is definitely a safety issue. Unfortunately many Scouts have died over the years as a result of getting lost in such situations. Years ago, I was on a Scout backpacking trip where part of our group got separated and lost because we were too spread out on the trail. It took multiple days and the help of professional search and rescue experts to reunite everyone. Helicopters and Park Rangers on horseback were enlisted. The story was featured in newspapers and on evening new broadcasts. Believe me - that is not good publicity for Boys Scouts. We were relieved that no lives were lost. Many lessons were learned by all involved (both boys and adults).
  16. Questions about "Boy Led" Troop

    This very well describes how our troop operates. Our troop has an annual planning/calendaring meeting led by the SPL. We are a small troop, so everyone gets to vote. The boys choose our camping destinations with the understanding that dates may shift around based on the availability of campsite reservations. Adult leaders are the ones who take that information and go make the actual campsite reservations. If changes are needed, the boys vote again on a new plan (example: this year the boys voted for snow camping but unfortunately there was no snow). For campouts, the boys always do their own meal planning, equipment assignments, tent assignments, etc. Adult leaders on the campout cook, eat, and tent separately. Under direction of the PL or SPL, the boys also vote on the activities for weekly meetings. Sometimes the agenda is preset (i.e. we will always hold a campout planning meeting right before a weekend campout). Sometimes the boys have voted to work on rank advancement, sometimes to have a merit badge class, sometimes to help with a service project, sometimes to have a game night - there is a lot of variety. Boy leadership should have its limits. On a recent troop hike, our SPL was leading a group of boys in front who were sprinting to the finish. We were getting spread out too far apart on the trail, so I asked him to return and rejoin the rest of the group. It was a safety issue of potentially getting separated and lost. The SPL became indignant, saying "so much for boy leadership". Sometimes adults know best - such is life. I give our troop a "B" grade for boy leadership. We are somewhat hobbled because our troop leadership is quite young (13 year old SPL). Our older Scouts rarely show up or put any real effort into leadership assignments, so it falls to the younger Scouts who have the enthusiasm and commitment. We are doing ok, but I recognize there are definitely things we could do better. It is an evolution, and I can see improvements in our boy leadership over time.
  17. So much wisdom in this statement. During my time as SM, I have worked with two outstanding CCs who understand their responsibilities and take the job seriously. They are invaluable to me and the success of our troop. They lighten my administrative load and back me up when needed. In addition, I will rely on a good CC as a sounding board and honest observer to tell me if I need to shift my approach as SM. My CC is not a rubber stamp for everything I might want to do. With enough mutual trust and respect, the relationship functions a bit like a marriage where they aren’t afraid to tell me both the good and the bad. So important.
  18. I see this too, but mainly in our older Scouts. I'd love to use them as mentors for the younger Scouts, but they never show up for anything. These older boys are distracted with sports/girls/cars/homework and rarely participate in campouts or other Scouting activities. And when they do show up, it is under pressure from parents. They give minimal effort to troop leadership assignments - just lip service, really. In our troop, that is where I see the quality problems surfacing.
  19. I did the same this year. Our merit badge signups for camp are happening right now. There are four merit badge class periods during the day. I suggested each Scout do three merit badges and leave the fourth open as free time. So far everyone (including my own son) has ignored me and signed up for four merit badges. Part of it is that these boys all want to be together in the same classes. Their friendships are tight which is certainly not a bad thing.
  20. I agree that summer camp is a terrible place to offer book study merit badges (Eagle required or otherwise). When I see camp schedules listing Citizenship in the World MB and Communications MB, I think what a waste. Perhaps one exception might be Environmental Science. That merit badge is rather bookish, but earning it at camp seems to be most effective because of ready access to so many resources. I'd hate trying to earn that one at home.
  21. Helping scouts with social anxiety

    Oh, yes - lots of professionals are involved.
  22. Helping scouts with social anxiety

    We have a similar Scout in our troop. He came on one campout last year, but he arrived late and kept to himself most of the time. He declined opportunities to share a tent with others - preferred going solo. He stayed in his tent while everyone else was cooking, eating, having fun. We finally got him out of his tent by telling him we needed his help for a service project. That campout was the last time we saw him at any kind of Scouting function. His parents say they are struggling just to keep him in school, so we shouldn't worry about his Scouting involvement for now. I'm aware of several similar situations of other teens who struggle with debilitating levels of anxiety. The problem is surprisingly pervasive, but many parents stay private about it because they don't want to compound the problems for their child. A very tough situation.
  23. Guide to Advancement

    Our district MBC list is quite long, too. I know some names have been on the MBC list for literally decades, so who knows how involved these folks are at the present time. Many parents sign up as a MBC to help out when their son first joins a troop. I'll bet many would be surprised to learn their name is still on the list so many years later. This happens A LOT in our district/council. I have made exceptions, but I confess to being "that guy" who prefers to work only with my own troop.
  24. Yep - my son has a good buddy who fits this description. They were tent-mates during their first year at summer camp, and they remain good friends now. His friend will never reach Eagle and that is just fine with everyone - nobody is bothered that advancement is not his priority. He still enjoys the campouts and friendships as much as anyone. This friend helped quite a bit with my son's Eagle project and was asked to be a presenter at my son's ECOH. From everything I can tell, both boys are having quality Scouting experiences (although obviously very different in some aspects).