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Posts posted by gblotter

  1. Regarding retention ...

    In our LDS troop of 30 Scouts, I know of only 2 boys who plan to continue on with a different troop. So I agree with the opinion that less than 10 percent will stick with Scouting beyond 2019.


    Regarding lower standards ...

    We all see the BSA program evolving with the goal of accommodation, but should we blame individual Scouts for that?

    When one of our Scouts was recently visiting a prospective new troop, the legitimacy of his rank advancements and merit badges was questioned (he inferred because of his LDS affiliation). Even I admit that this boy is hyper-focused on rapid advancement (a self-driven motivation - not push from parents or adult leaders). But when he attends two summer camps and every merit badge class that pops up on the council calendar, I can't fault him for his drive and determination. Another example: In addition to attending our own troop campouts, he attends campouts of neighboring troops (on his own initiative) to accumulate camping nights more quickly. Some call that cutting corners, but he is simply responding to the program as defined by BSA National, and opportunities served up to him by our local district/council (which is not dominated by LDS troops, FWIW).

    Seizing opportunities that others pass by is a character trait that will take him far in Scouting, education, career, and life.

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  2. The San Francisco Bay Area Council offers an excellent hiking program (with very cool progressive patches to go along with it). Our troop completed all six hikes over the course of about 18 months.

    More info: http://www.sfbac.org/programs/hiking


    The purpose of the RIM OF THE BAY patch program is to encourage hiking and to bring into the lives of our Scouts a "mountain top" experience. There are six Mountains that surround our area that you hike up. When you finish the first mountain you get a patch and a "rocker" with the name of the mountain. Rockers are awarded for each additional hike completed. All of these trips can be accomplished in a single day. There are camping sites at or near most if your plans include an overnight camp experience. For Boy Scouts,this activity can contribute to the Tenderfoot Rank, the Backpacking, Camping, and Hiking Merit Badges; and Forester, Geologist, Outdoorsman, and Traveler for Webelos. These hikes are not approved for Cub Scout use.
    Secure (where available) the park folder which shows trails and also gives a short history of the area. For example, the Mt. Diablo folder states, "From here, you can see parts of 35 of California's 58 counties -- the view is unsurpassed except by that from 19,000-foot Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa." The park folder also includes natural history and a listing of mammals, reptiles, and plant life. Try to make your trip a "hike with a purpose" other than the earning of the patch.

    Please instruct your Scouts on the need to observe and obey the regulations that are in effect in National, State, and Regional Parks. On some trips you will be given the courtesy of passing across private property. Please repay these people's trust by keeping the area free of litter, respecting their property, and leaving the gates as you find them. Clean up and pack out any litter you may come upon. Perpetuate the good turn ideal. You will probably eat your lunch at or near the summit; be sure all bags, cans, etc., are packed out with you.

    Where it is necessary to cross highways, have your Scouts line up along the side of the road and when clear and upon signal, have the entire line cross at one time. Avoid stragglers or having individuals or small groups crossing at intervals.

    If everyone helps keep the record of Scouts' use a superior one, this will be a happy and satisfactory experience, and it remains that way for all Scouts who follow.

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  3. Last night we held our final troop meeting for 2018. Ours is an LDS troop that will go out of existence one year from now. We used last night's troop meeting to motivate by highlighting the Scouting journey that lies ahead in 2019, both in terms of rank advancement and outdoor adventures. We anticipate up to 14 new Eagle Scouts in 2019 (in a normal year, it's just 3 or 4). We compared our 2019 troop activity calendar to a rock band's farewell tour schedule. We will be revisiting many favorite camping destinations from past years. As we moved month-to-month through the calendar, their excitement escalated to cheering as each new campout was revealed. Next summer we will attend two premier BSA summer camps, plus a backpacking trip. We unanimously agreed that our troop will go out with a bang - not a whimper. We will not just finish the race, but we will do it in style.

    How's that for some positivity?

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  4. On 12/16/2018 at 3:41 PM, ParkMan said:

    In my current troop we are chartered to a very strong local church in a pretty religious part of the country.  We have a very active Chartered Organization Representative who is very active in the church.  In our troop, religion is really only manifested by the occasional prayer before meals and the offering of the religious emblems program by some interested adults.  The troop has members from all kinds of faiths around town.  We don't focus on the faith component, but do let prospective members know the BSA rules on faith.  The four packs that feed our troop all appear to operate much the same way. 

    We've never consciously tried to tone down faith - it's just the way it's been.  I think it reflects more about our community than our troop.  Despite being in the US southeast where religion is an important part of life, people don't really seem to bring it to Scouting.

    From my casual observation, this description seems to accurately reflect what I generally encounter across Scouting. The topic of Duty to God is routinely raised during our Eagle Scout Boards of Review (at least the ones I attend). The responses from most Scouts are unusually brief and sometimes even uncomfortable. Some adult Scouters bristle that such a personal topic would be raised at all. Without doubt, there are some units that do a great job with integrating Duty To God in their Scouting programs, but even in those cases folks hesitate to engage in any meaningful discussion. I find this to be a very sad reflection on Scouting and our society at large.

    The founder was certainly not hushed in his intent.

    “There is no religious side to the Movement. The whole of it is based on religion, that is, on the realization and service of God.” Lord Robert Baden-Powell, November 1920

  5. 4 minutes ago, mashmaster said:

    I believe it is a trust from the Phillips family and not owned by BSA.  The money for running it comes from endowments.  I know that Sea Star Base Galveston is set up the same way.  I don't know about the others, but those two I know were started by someone who was mega-rich and wanted to give back in a way that protects the property.

    I have no idea about such things, but I hope your description about independent trust ownership is true.

    If accurate, that means Philmont and Sea Base would not appear on the BSA's financial disclosures as owned assets (although The Summit apparently is listed), correct?

    I defer to smarter brains on such topics.

  6. 1 hour ago, Eagledad said:

    I disagree that program varies widely.

    I report only what I see around me in our district.

    Our moderate troop of 30 Scouts goes camping 10 times a year and we attended two different summer camps. In addition to our active outdoor program, we have a vigorous advancement program with four new Eagle Scouts during 2018.

    Next door is a struggling troop with barely enough boys to maintain their charter. They meet only sporadically. They took only four boys to summer camp. Aside from summer camp, they went camping only once in the past year. Only one Scout in that troop advanced in rank during 2018.

    Also nearby is a megatroop of 130+ Scouts. They go camping multiple times a month, they send contingents to BSA High Adventure Bases annually, and they generate new Eagle Scout candidates on a monthly basis. While they are a visible community presence and attract hoards of new recruits, Scouting on that scale is beyond my experience and comprehension.

    That is the reasoning for my assertion that consistency of the Scouting program varies widely at the unit level.

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  7. 1 hour ago, dkurtenbach said:

    we wouldn't be losing anything that could hamper the delivery of great unit Scouting programs, even if Councils went away too.

    Even with the bloat cascading down from national, regional, council, and district professionals, the consistency of Scouting programs at the unit level varies widely. Among these forum threads are many stories of renegade units with errant leaders who defiantly ignore rules they don't like, or arrogantly add their own hurdles, or casually cancel quality by rubber-stamping requirements.

    Delivery of a quality Scouting experience happens at the unit level, and it has always hinged on the dedication of volunteers. In too many instances, great Scouting happens in spite of - not because of - the influence of national, regional, council, and district professionals. I can't say I'll miss them.

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  8. 3 hours ago, mashmaster said:

    It was us and Saudi Arabia that were boys only.

    I can’t decide if that comment is more stupid or offensive.

    Are you too stupid to recognize that Scouting has been available to girls in America for more than 100 years? It’s called Girl Scouts USA.

    Or is your intent to deliberately insult the GSUSA organization by somehow pretending they are not “real” Scouts?

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  9. So long as the original approvers still remember you coming to them for their signatures, I don't see why anyone would have a problem signing again after hearing your explanation. Examine past emails, text messages, etc for the exact dates when you had them sign your original paperwork. That may be helpful in refreshing their memories, if needed.

  10. Although a longtime Scouter, I joined this forum only last year, motivated by my concerns about the decision to admit girls into all aspects of BSA's programs. From the beginning, I have repeated in post after post that this girl decision reeked of desperation (specifically financial desperation). Why else would BSA National rush to ram through such a divisive decision? Why else would BSA National bungle so badly the premature announcement of a girl program that had not even been defined yet? (When announced, BSA's girl program was not half-baked - it wasn't even in the oven.) All they could say was "trust us - it will be wonderful".

    I had predicted some sort of financial reorganization/bankruptcy was inevitable due to declining membership numbers and the huge debts incurred for construction of The Summit. However, I did not anticipate that liabilities over past sexual abuse claims would factor in so heavily. That element was not on my radar screen.

    Although perhaps not the deciding factor, I have no doubt that BSA's precarious financial situation was also deliberated by LDS church leadership when deciding to end their century-long partnership.

    With the stink of financial collapse in the air, combined with renewed visibility of past sexual abuse claims, BSA enrollments will go into freefall, forcing the unthinkable. Liquidation of properties like The Summit and Philmont is possible because BSA National doesn't have many other assets. Locally-owned council camps are not directly at risk, except that there will be fewer and fewer Scouts to make use of them.

    BSA's desperation in their decision-making was in plain view for all to see. As part of a longtime Scouting family with three generations of Eagle Scouts, I am beyond sad to be right in my pessimism. I can only hope that my worst fears will somehow not be realized.

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  11. 17 hours ago, gblotter said:

    Every Scout in our troop is offered a practice board of review in advance of the actual event.

    Our troop *offers* a practice board of review, but we certainly do not *require* it. Indeed, a few of our oldest Eagle Scout candidates have chosen to decline a practice EBOR without further mention.

  12. Religion and belief and faith were not murky areas for the founder.

    “There is no religious side to the Movement. The whole of it is based on religion, that is, on the realization and service of God.” Lord Robert Baden-Powell, November 1920

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  13. On 11/24/2018 at 12:24 PM, The Latin Scot said:

    Our district advancement chair just issued a VERY strongly worded mandate to our units specifying that "under no circumstances are units or committees to conduct preliminary or 'practice' Boards of Review. The final Board of Review is the ONLY Board of Review, as stated in the Boy Scout Handbook and in accordance with the Guide to Advancement, and this is to be conducted only after all other requirements have been met. This does NOT include a 'trial run.' with another group of leaders. There is no need nor authorization for units, chartered organizations, or unit committees to schedule or demand a precursory Board of Review with an Eagle Scout Candidate."

    Your District Advancement Chair's mandate is complete rubbish and I would be more than happy to tell him/her so.

    Every Scout in our troop is offered a practice board of review in advance of the actual event. I will direct an icy stare at anyone who suggests that this is somehow cheating. Quite the opposite - this is living the Scout motto to "Be Prepared". In fact, I am rather amazed that a boy who is asking to be awarded Scouting's highest honor would not make such preparations.

    A few years back I found myself unemployed after a layoff. Prior to each new job interview, I would thoroughly research everything I could about the new company, their products and services, their leadership team, the company history, and their financials. In addition, I would read website reviews written by employees who actually work there. I wanted to go into my job interview as prepared as possible. I wanted to be over-prepared. I wanted my level of preparation to distinguish me from their other job candidates. I wanted them to understand that I don't just "wing it". In my opinion, such preparation is a valuable life skill that extends far beyond an EBOR, and it is the exact opposite of cheating. Cheating is what desperate people resort to when they are NOT prepared.

    Now, before anyone else reminds me, I fully realize and agree that an EBOR is NOT a job interview and it is not an inquisition. It is far too late in the game for a practice board of review to teach a Scout anything new. Rather, a practice board of review will help calm any nervousness, it will instill confidence, and it will teach a valuable life skill that will hopefully benefit him long after his EBOR is forgotten.

    Others are entitled to hold a different opinion.

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  14. On 10/28/2018 at 4:42 PM, Hawkwin said:

    He also didn't want to have to sacrifice soccer tournaments in order to get promoted.

    I am a dedicated Scoutmaster who comes from multi-generational Scouting family. I share my Scouting enthusiasm with everyone around me because it is genuinely felt, and also because Scout Spirit is contagious. Along with my enthusiasm, I also explicitly explain my acceptance that not every family approaches Scouting with my same level of vigor - and that's ok. Troop meetings and weekend campouts will not always be prioritized first when choosing between competing activities - and that's ok. Sometimes other things in life are more important than Scouting - and that's ok.

    Last night, I held a Scoutmaster conference and signed off an Eagle Scout application for a VERY busy Scout in our troop. He sings in a prestigious boys choir, he plays elite-level soccer, he swims competitively, and he excels scholastically. In spite of many scheduling conflicts over the years, he has somehow made the required sacrifices to also become an Eagle Scout with three palms. I frankly don't know how he manages it all, but I hold him up as an example of a boy who takes an "and" approach to living life. Nobody should be forced to choose between Scouting OR soccer. Enough flexibility and alternatives should exist that Scouting AND soccer should be a viable option for anyone with the desire for both.

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  15. According to this webpage, The Summit is included in the list of BSA High Adventure Bases.


    However, when I examine the website and materials available for The Summit,  ( http://www.summitbsa.org/ )I see no mention at all of WFA as a requirement for units who attend their programs.

    To be more specific, is WFA a requirement only for Philmont, Northern Tier, and Florida Sea Base?

  16. @BillFan90 My answer to you might depend on what is your family situation. Specifically, do you have a son in the troop? 

    I have been a Scoutmaster twice.

    During my first tour of duty as Scoutmaster (7 years), we were a new-married couple without children. My wife's resentment of the time demands was understandably an issue. She was left at home alone on many campout weekends, and much of my vacation time allotment from work was spent on Scouting adventures and summer camps. While I treasured these Scouting experiences, my prioritization was at times unfair. I vacated the Scoutmaster position about the time our first child was born.

    My second tour of duty as Scoutmaster (3 years and counting) began when our son turned 11 years old and entered the program. My wife and I are unified in our parenting goals. This time around, she supported my investments in time and accepted the tradeoffs because we both realized this was benefitting our son in important ways. Our son has had a phenomenal classic Scouting experience and has established wonderful friendships. He is now an Eagle Scout with 70 merit badges, OA, Jamboree, etc. But as his involvement in Scouting winds down, so will mine.

    Do either of these experiences resemble your own family situation?


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  17. 21 hours ago, packsaddle said:

    Gblotter, I am aware that 'overall membership' is and has been a concern for 'top brass' in this organization for quite a while. But at the unit level, I am not sure why overall membership should be a great concern. It seems like at that level, the well-being of the unit and its members and families should be the top priority. Sort of an 'all Scouting is local' approach.

    No disagreement at all that the well-being troop members and their families should be the top priority for unit leaders. Absolutely true.

    However, lower overall BSA membership is (or should be) a concern for folks at all levels of Scouting (including individual units). When money is tight, facilities are not maintained, staffing is cut, training is shortchanged, and money pressures start forcing decisions to be made for the wrong motivations (i.e. not for the good of the boys and the program, but for the survival of BSA the corporation).

    In our little corner of BSA, I'm seeing this everywhere I go. Our heroic district staff is stretched so ridiculously thin that I keep wondering how long they can continue in this mode. Our council owns three camp properties but one sits almost completely idle (even during the busy summer camping season). Enough council funds exist to maintain only one camp property so all three are all in a state of slow decay. Paid, trained, professional camp directors have been eliminated, with their jobs now filled by seasonal volunteer replacements. The resulting lack of continuity in camp leadership leads to all sorts of cascading problems with camp staff recruitment and retention. And camp staff problems naturally result in declining camp program quality. When troops notice the poor condition of our camps and programs, they quite logically start looking elsewhere at summer camp options which only worsens the revenue problem for our council. Many more examples could be cited.

    Such problems do not remain hidden indefinitely. If quality drops enough, people take notice (and not just us Scouting enthusiasts who hang out on Scouter.com). Once the stink of a failure takes hold, people flee to other higher-quality alternatives. After that happens, it is nearly impossible to ever get them back. Without being too dramatic, I worry that Scouting is getting close to that tipping point (the LDS exit is what initially spawned such thoughts in my head). Our troop was strong in tradition and attended the same in-council camp every year for 30+ years. Then we started noticing a different camp director each year. We started overhearing grumbling and dissatisfaction from camp staff. Each year there was a "new and improved" camp program that was in reality getting worse with fewer offerings. Each year, we noticed fewer troops and Scouts in attendance at that camp. Finally things got bad enough for our troop to start investigating other summer camp options and we discovered a whole new world of possibilities. We never looked back and there is little chance we will ever return to our old council camp. A loyal customer has been permanently lost. I apply the same analogy to the loyal multi-generational Scouting families who are being alienated by BSA's recent decisions. Once lost, these Scouting loyalists will be gone forever as they move on and devote their time and energy to other worthy pursuits. I very seriously doubt the number of new girls joining BSA will come close to replacing the membership losses resulting from this alienation. Thus, the original problem of declining BSA membership will be compounded rather than fixed, hastening even more desperate decisions. It's all so very sad for me to watch.

    I hope you can see how declining overall BSA membership creates problems for all levels of Scouting (even at the unit level). Declining membership results in less money which results in constrained resources which results in degraded quality of the Scouting experience for everyone (even if an individual troop happens to be large in numbers and well-funded). Not to be insulting, but the phrase "All Scouting is Local" is frequently deployed to dismiss hard problems and bad decisions that folks just don't want to think about or deal with.

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  18. 2 hours ago, shortridge said:

    - Boys are more important than you

    - Boys have the power to exclude you

    - You have to take the leftovers and castoffs

    Are those Scoutlike values and messages?

    So I'll just assume you also ascribe those negative traits to GSUSA which excludes boys at every level. How very unScoutlike of them, right? Or does your door of condemnation swing only one way (against boys)?

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  19. 29 minutes ago, shortridge said:

    Do you mind pointing out where?

    I was anticipating your question. The camp I had in mind is Camp Baldwin in the Cascade Pacific Council. However, I just revisited their website so I could send you a screenshot and discovered that they have reversed course. No girl-only weeks at Camp Baldwin after all, so I retract my claim.

  20. 1 hour ago, shortridge said:

    Does such a thing exist, or are you stuffing a man full of straw?

    Yes, there are girl-only weeks currently on the 2019 calendar at some BSA camps. What bigots those people must be.

  21. 1 hour ago, shortridge said:

    Because girls aren’t second-class citizens, and boys don’t get priority.

    So if a girl-only troop gravitates to a girl-only week at a BSA camp, I supposed that means those girls consider boys to be second class citizens, right?

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