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Everything posted by gblotter

  1. Guide to Advancement

    It's really interesting that the online MBC training does not get advertised at all by our council - only the in-person training. I can only assume they want to introduce a gatekeeper function with the in-person training. I know from other situations that our council is generally focused on trying to improve the quality of merit badge counseling, so perhaps their emphasis on in-person training is part of that.
  2. Guide to Advancement

    Our council is quite lacking in online training opportunities (so ironic given that we live in the heart of Silicon Valley). I only see the monthly in-person MBC training offered in the regular council advertisements. Regardless, the MBC listing for our council is extensive (more than 100 pages long).
  3. Analyzing external vs internal motivations is interesting (and complex). I get what you are saying, but I try to reconcile that with my son's experience earning the Railroading merit badge. He took that class only because it was offered at a Merit Badge Midway. It was definitely externally driven. He had no prior interest in trains, but he gained an interest because of the excellent merit badge instructor. He's glad he didn't miss out on that experience, even though he never would have gone down that path from a purely internal motivation. Yes - he has had plenty of externally driven merit badge classes that bored him beyond belief (Chemistry, Digital Technology, Energy, Electricity, Geology, Nuclear Science, Traffic Safety). He stays involved in these classroom merit badges partly because he keeps hoping for more diamonds like Railroading. I let him know when merit badge opportunities surface, but it is entirely his decision to enroll (sometimes he does not). This weekend my son completed two new merit badges (Medicine and Photography) at yet another Merit Badge Midway. He spent 3 hours in pre-reqs for the Medicine MB helping with a blood drive last month. He spent 8 hours in pre-reqs for the Photography MB preparing a portfolio of various photos. No pencil whipping involved. The Medicine MB was extremely boring (as expected), the Photography MB was not too bad. It was his choice to pursue both and he did the required work for both. His horizons were broadened and he doesn't regret the experience, so where is the foul? The bad-mouthing here on Scouter.com about Eagle mills and merit badge factories and pencil whipping gets extreme. I do sincerely wonder if some would rather have advancement eliminated from Scouting altogether. Sure - there are bad apples, but it is certainly not the rule for the Scouting experience of my son. He is now an Eagle Scout with 53 merit badges. Even at this stage, he chooses to keep pursuing more merit badges because advancement still matters to him (and it always has from the beginning). Remove the motivation of advancement, and his longevity in Scouting would probably wane (something like the example of Venturing's dwindling numbers where there is little focus on advancement). I find it annoying as heck that some here would characterize my son as not having a quality Scouting experience because of his focus on advancement. In addition to all his merit badges, he also has 52 nights of camping and 93 miles of hiking/backpacking (thanks Scoutbook for these stats). This spring he will participate in OA Ordeal. He has attended five BSA summer camps plus National Jamboree. This summer he will attend two more BSA summer camps. For 2019, and he is looking at attending a BSA High Adventure Base or maybe working on staff at a BSA summer camp. This boy drinks Scouting from a fire hose. Just because he has a lot of advancement under his belt does not mean my son is missing out on the fun of Scouting. He would laugh at that idea. I started this thread to solicit feedback, but also to make a point. Quite frankly, the endless negativity on Scouter.com over the topic of advancement gets really tiring. Painting with such a broad brush rarely captures individual experiences with any accuracy. That is my point. @blw2 Your comments are reasoned and thoughtful. There are other negative nellies in other threads who triggered my rant above - nothing personal directed at you.
  4. Guide to Advancement

    In our council, a monthly in-person training class is offered to become a new merit badge counselor. At the conclusion of that class, attendees are given the paperwork to be added to the MB counselor list. That seems to work as a gatekeeper process. Unless you are transferring in as an experienced Scouter, I don’t know how else you would get added to the list (in our council).
  5. Perhaps not surprisingly, my son's favorite merit badges have been ... Horsemanship, Small Boat Sailing, Motorboating. And surprisingly ... Railroading. His instructor for Railroading was a train buff who sets up a huge train display in his front year every Christmas season. My son has no particular interest in trains, but the instructor's expertise and enthusiasm made the merit badge interesting.
  6. Sadly, there are some Scouting leaders who just don’t get it. They shirk training opportunities and just wing it. They take shortcuts and follow the path of least resistance. Why do they behave this way? Maybe they were assigned a job they never really wanted in the first place. Maybe they are inexperienced and operating in ignorance. Maybe they are following the bad example of others and assume this is how it works. Or maybe they are overburdened, lazy, or just don’t care. After these bad leaders are installed and bad patterns are established, making changes can be slow and difficult. Sometimes you just need to wait out the clock until they are released and move along. It can be especially maddening to watch from the sidelines if you really care about Scouting. @SummerFun - I feel your frustration, and I have been there. When I took over as Scoutmaster, it was to rescue a troop in rapid decline under just such a Scout leader. His last official act was to sign off his own son on three rank advancements that were never actually earned. Then he continued to sign off his son on merit badges until I put a stop to that. The best advice I can give is to make changes from the inside as a helpful supporter and involved parent rather than an outside critic. Volunteer for assignments when you see a need. By making yourself a vital component of the program, you also position yourself to effect change. Gentle persuasion and humor usually work better than a full frontal assault. Don’t adopt the image of a rigid Scouting fanatic because then you’ll just be pushed aside and ignored. Ultimately, none of your efforts may succeed. In a worst-case scenario, perhaps explore joining another troop (but I understand all the complexities of going that route). We live in an imperfect world - have courage.
  7. Many BSA summer camps (ours included) have a high adventure program specifically targeted at older scouts who are not interested in earning merit badges. Very tempting activities like climbing, mountain biking, sailing, water skiing, etc. Minimum age 14 to participate.
  8. Camp Meriwether seems to be operating under the assumption that LDS troops are the only ones who care about a single-gender camping experience. Make a few accommodations for the LDS units, and everyone else will be fine with co-ed camping. It will be interesting to see how that assumption plays out in their summer camp enrollments.
  9. Same here. The older boys are too distracted with other pursuits (sports, cars, girls, homework). If they are too busy for Scouting, then I am too busy for them. I’d rather spend my time working with the younger boys who have a real desire and enthusiasm for Scouting.
  10. 2017 Report to the Nation-Membership

    I don't know. Are there statistics on this? Not in our council, at least. Our council has three camp properties, and one sits mostly unused (even during the summer months). But nothing has gone up for sale (yet).
  11. Camp Meriwether in Oregon has already published their plan for the 2019 camping season. See https://www.cpcbsa.org/meriwether Out of 8 weeks, only two will be set aside as "Boys Only". It seems to me they have it backwards - perhaps only two weeks should be open to girls. The tail is wagging the dog.
  12. 2017 Report to the Nation-Membership

    Surbaugh has bet the farm. Following the trend of co-ed Scouting in Canada, camp properties may be going up for sale.
  13. 2017 Report to the Nation-Membership

    Many of the LDS Venturing registrations reverted back to Troop registrations, so that puts the Boy Scouts number in perspective.
  14. EBOR question

    Previous threads here have sufficiently mocked the tool usage matrix. BSA lawyers will always prevail when there is exposure to liability. It is what it is.
  15. EBOR question

    I have done two terms as Scoutmaster (10+ years). I only became aware of the BSA tool usage matrix last year (and quite by chance). Flog me too, I guess.
  16. EBOR question

    It sounds like the EBOR handled it well. I have sympathy for Scouts and Scoutmasters trying to understand and comply. Coaching rather than censure seems like the right thing to do in that situation.
  17. EBOR question

    This is all about legal exposure and liability. Without adult supervision at Eagle projects, the heads of BSA lawyers would explode. The tool usage matrix shows how BSA has painted itself into a corner. The boys are supposed to be in charge, but the boys are not allowed to operate the tools. Strange contortions happen to satisfy these conflicting requirements.
  18. Eagle Project Unsigned

    I have encountered the same, but it is more than a paperwork problem. Some of these 17 year-old candidates have been inactive in Scouting for several years and are just coming back for some last minute cramming to get their Eagle. Their cramming approach is reflected in all they do (missing approvals and signatures, rushed project, incomplete paperwork, shoddy uniform, etc). There is nothing of quality. I call them "deathbed Eagles", and I'm definitely not a fan.
  19. Eagle Project Unsigned

    We had a similar situation in our district. The lack of signature/approval from the district was not noticed until the Eagle Scout application was submitted. The District Advancement Chair was understandably quite peeved. Lots of blame to go around. They decided to hold a special EBOR with 5 reviewers instead of the normal 3 (I know of this because I sat on that EBOR). The grilling was quite intense, but he ultimately passed.
  20. Selection of Adult candidates

    I was not involved in OA as a Scout, and I am just now becoming familiar with OA as a Scoutmaster. Our troop recently conducted our first OA election with four candidates elected. I am also qualified with the required camping nights, but the lodge representatives said I did not need to be included on the ballot. Just to become more knowledgeable about OA, I feel like I (or some other adult leader in our troop) should go through the ordeal and become involved if I am sending off some of my Scouts. For lack of information, I am a bit apprehensive. Blind are leading the blind right now when it comes to OA.
  21. Old Uniform Display

    I was motivated by the Scout slogan. He was not offended in any way to receive my phone call - it's just that he is apparently not the sentimental type when it comes to Boy Scout patches.
  22. Old Uniform Display

    I recently saw a very nice framed display of Boy Scout patches for sale on eBay (including Eagle Scout rank and palms). I could tell that this boy was very active in Scouting in a Los Angeles troop during the 1990s. However, I felt sad that this collection was up for sale because my own Boy Scout patch collection is a treasure to me. Did the original owner die? Was his patch collection somehow lost or stolen? The framed collection happened to have an engraved plate with the name of the Scout. With some help from Google, I tracked him down - now working as an attorney in Massachusetts. I felt an obligation to notify him that his patch collection was for sale on eBay in case he wanted to reclaim it. I reached him by phone only to learn that he had intentionally given up his patch collection during an estate sale after his parents died. He had no idea who was selling it on eBay and he had no interest in getting it back. Obviously, some folks are not so sentimental about such things.
  23. What you describe is exactly how our New Scout Patrol functions.
  24. One strength of LDS Scouting is that crossover is 100%, and retention in Boy Scouts up through age 14 is also near 100%. There are other obvious drawbacks in LDS Scouting - especially for boys age 14-17.
  25. But you can’t have more fun in Scouting if you aren’t even showing up consistently.