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Everything posted by gblotter

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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).
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. What you describe is exactly how our New Scout Patrol functions.
  20. 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.
  21. But you can’t have more fun in Scouting if you aren’t even showing up consistently.
  22. Why does anyone assume that a longer journey is a higher-quality journey? In much of my Scouting experience I find that when a Scout slow-walks through the ranks, it is because he is only partially engaged in Scouting and only shows up sporadically. That half-commitment is of course reflected in the speed of his advancement, too. Where in that equation does anyone derive that he is having a higher-quality Scouting journey? I see quite the opposite, in fact.
  23. In our troop, announcements by adult leaders at a COH are redundant because communication between Scoutmaster and parents happens by email list, and our troop calendar is published on Scoutbook. Our troop typically has three COHs per year. The COH at the end of the summer is, of course, the biggest one because of all the advancement earned at summer camps. That particular court of honor went on for almost two hours. It included a report by two Scouts on their Jamboree experience. It included two different slideshows (created by Scouts) of summer activities. It included an OA election which was conducted by Scouts (OA elections require at least 50 percent attendance, so a COH is our best opportunity). And it included lots of advancement and awards being handed out at the end of a busy summer camping season. While having lots of advancement and awards is a good problem, two hours is still a long time to sit in any meeting. Our troop is trying to adopt a pattern of giving out rank patches immediately after the successful completion of a board of review. That has the benefit of immediate recognition and also shortens the court of honor. However, that solution is only possible if you are able to keep a stock of extra rank patches on hand specifically for that purpose.
  24. In the LDS Packs I have seen, there were limited transition activities between Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts. I remember that my son's Webelos Den visited a troop meeting and helped with a troop fundraiser. And of course there was a crossing over ceremony from Webelos to the New Scout Patrol. However, the New Scout Patrol was really his introduction vehicle into Boy Scouts. For my son, the Webelos period was mainly focused on earning his Arrow of Light. I consider myself rather expert in most Boy Scout topics, but I relied on others to guide my son through the Cub Scout program. Even today, much of Cub Scout advancement seems like a confusing mess to me (although I'm sure it makes perfect sense to others who have taken the time to understand the program better).
  25. Sure looks like it to me. I don't think we can even assume these girls are actually enrolled in Cub Scouts. They could very well be child models recruited by a PR agency. That should not surprise anyone - such practices are normal and expected in corporate marketing campaigns.