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gblotter

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Posts posted by gblotter


  1. A dad of a 17 year-old Scout reached out to me for guidance about the Cooking merit badge (which meals count, which meals do not, etc). I'd prefer to deal with the boy - not the parent - for such questions. I'd also prefer the boy receive that guidance from the merit badge counselor - not me, the Scoutmaster. This is a lawnmower parent, so I don't respond to his initial email.

    Then the merit badge counselor chimes in and also asks for my guidance (he is trying to punt a difficult parent situation to me). I then respond and give my opinions, but I direct my  response to the boy (who is copied on the email thread). The dad keeps sending me more emails trying to negotiate an easier outcome for his son. I finally told the dad that I'd prefer to talk to his son because that is a way to ensure the Scout is engaged in the process. Then the dad gets huffy and accuses me of being a Scouting purist who is concerned only with the program and not the boys. I don't understand the reality of busy teens (even though I have three teenage children myself).

    I apologized for offending him and I told him I was withdrawing from the conversation because the merit badge counselor should provide that guidance anyway. Finally an email response comes from the son's email address, but the writing style looked suspiciously like the dad was the actual author. There is no winning with some parents.


  2. 19 hours ago, arronisoutside said:

    Last year on this day, our Troop lost a scout to Suicide.

    What a tough situation. I'm just assuming (hoping) the suicide did not happen during an a Scout outing - correct?

    Our troop went through a suicide years ago (I was Scoutmaster back then, too - first time around).  The troubled boy had been in/out of rehab and counseling. His parents had spent a fortune and tried everything they could think of. It was a very sad outcome. For the funeral, the troop prepared a photo collage of Scouting adventures where he was present and everyone signed their names to it. I was asked to give a prayer at the funeral service.


  3. 1 minute ago, Hawkwin said:

    Was not happy that I did not give them enough time to respond to my emails or that I got the district involved. I apologized for not giving him enough time to respond. I assumed the best intentions for four days but on the fifth day, I gave up and got the district involved. My fault. I will own that.

    It is not your fault. All the CC had to do was shoot you a quick response saying that it would be discussed at the next committee meeting. He is at fault for remaining silent.

    • Upvote 1

  4. 14 minutes ago, Hawkwin said:

    Doesn't fix the lack of response from the CC but unless I take on an active role in the troop, I don't see the need to really interact with them again.

    Even after the SM steps down, you will deal with the CC again as your son approaches Eagle. The CC must review, approve, and sign off (including his physical signature) on both the Eagle Scout Service Project and the Eagle Scout application. Just as now, he can be unresponsive and add more misery if he chooses. You won't be able to avoid interacting with him.

    • Thanks 1

  5. Your SM and CC won't back down. Their errant policy will eventually get fixed, but only through a long and painful process - possibly involving their departure. None of this will happen in time to benefit your son, so it seems clear that he will end up in another troop. The main questions are: Do you want to switch now or later? And do you want to scorch the earth on your way out?

    If me in this situation, I'd get settled on a new troop immediately. Then after your son's BSA membership and Scoutbook record are transferred over, I'd send out an email to every family in the old troop bidding farewell with a brief and polite explanation (including a link to the Scouting Magazine blog). Every family in the troop will recognize your SM in that blog, and your SM will instantly drop down several notches in credibility and respect (but he deserves that). Otherwise, the troop leadership will surely portray your family badly as you depart (heck - they likely will, regardless). At least your viewpoint will be aired and perhaps other silent sufferers will gain courage from your ordeal. That's just me - others might choose to simply depart quietly and be done with it.

    • Upvote 1

  6. 2 minutes ago, Saltface said:

    Otherwise, they would be eating hot dogs and lukewarm chili out of the can.

    I'm ok with that, actually. Nobody will starve with hot dogs and lukewarm chili, and it will hopefully motivate greater effort from them next time. Boy will tolerate lots of things, but bad food is not generally one of them.

    3 minutes ago, Saltface said:

    Are they hiking the entire time or do you backpack to a location and stay for a day? Do they have quality backpacking gear?

    It's not a question of gear. It not a question of too many miles. Even a short backpacking trip (2 miles in, 2 miles out) requires more effort than just driving up to a campsite and unloading your gear from the back of a Suburban.


  7. 2 minutes ago, WisconsinMomma said:

    Gblotter can you baby step your troop into more camping? 

    Our troop goes camping 10 months out of the year - that's not the issue. I'd just like to see more backpacking in the mix, but the boys seem to vote only for car camping destinations. It wouldn't seem right for me to override their choices with backpacking instead. And they are not keen on variety, either - voting to return to the same few popular camping destinations again and again.


  8. 42 minutes ago, cocomax said:

    Sometimes when boys are allowed to "do whatever they want" (within the limits of safety, finances, and remaining in the game of scouting) they can sometime choose the easy,  but boring path, and then complain about how they never get to do anything fun.

    I've seen this happen in menu planning for campouts, for example. The boys will choose the simplest menu items imaginable (cook hotdogs on a stick over an open fire) to minimize effort on their part. I respond to that by organizing over-the-top meals for the Dad Patrol. The boys drool with envy because the Dad Patrol is greedy and we never share food. A playful competitive spirit makes it fun, and we sometimes even taunt the boys about their hotdogs to motivate greater effort next time.

    But what about the scenario where the boys only vote for car camping because backpacking requires too much effort on their part? That is a current concern of mine for our troop.

    • Like 1
    • Upvote 1

  9. 24 minutes ago, cocomax said:

    What do you do when you have a group of boys that have no interest in a patrol method and just want to hang out with their buddies and have fun and just want to leave all the leadership stuff and planning to the adults. . .    even though the adults are coaching and training the boys to lead the program?

    Letting the boys (and the program and the troop) fail as a learning exercise is terribly hard for adults (especially me) to do. Ego and pride and frustration all motivate me to step in when things go wrong. I'm getting better, though. I've learned that if conditions get chaotic enough, the boys themselves will start enforcing their own discipline on each other. However, their chaos threshold is far different than mine. As Scoutmaster, I have to continually remind myself that it is their troop - not my troop.


  10. Vindication from Scouting Magazine.

    https://blog.scoutingmagazine.org/2018/09/12/scoutmasters-availability-conference/

    One would hope that this blog entry definitively answers the question and settles any dispute, but your Scoutmaster seems rather inflexible. I wonder if he will persist with his errant policy. 

    It seems like the folks at Scouting Magazine must have read this entire thread because they crafted their response to this exact scenario.

    • Thanks 3

  11. On 9/8/2018 at 7:44 PM, desertrat77 said:

    I think the patrol method is a vanishing concept.  I can't remember the last time I've seen a troop even attempt to use it.  The patrols are just on paper.  The adults organize everything.

    I can't claim perfection, but our troop definitely attempts to use the Patrol Method.

    This weekend, our troop is doing beach camping at a location voted on by the boys during the annual planning meeting led by the SPL. Adults made the actual campsite reservation because that requires a credit card and coordination with a private business. We are taking three boy patrols on the campout with each patrol doing their own menu planning and cooking. Adults will be cooking/eating separately as the Dad Patrol. The organization of menus and camping equipment assignments has been led by either the Patrol Leader or an individual Scout working on Camping merit badge requirement #4b. During the planning meeting, notes were tracked by our Troop Scribe. We also have a boy organizing the campfire program to satisfy Communications merit badge requirement #8. Our Chaplain Aide (a boy) will lead us in grace for the campout meals. The beach activities will be low-key games chosen and organized by the boys.

    We aren't perfect, but I give our troop  at least a B grade in Patrol Method. Adults do make our camping reservations after the boys vote on the destinations. As Scoutmaster, I send out communication emails to the parents - that doesn't come from the boys. But certainly we are attempting to use the Patrol Method - the adults do not organize everything.

    • Upvote 3

  12. Lawnmower parents are nothing new, but I see this trend kicking into overdrive with our LDS troop.

    After the LDS-exit announcement, I sat down with each Scout to determine his goals before the 12/31/19 deadline. Then we wrote down a plan for him to achieve those goals (Eagle or otherwise). The plan is there, but each boy understands that it is his responsibility to execute on that plan. It is expected that some will make it and some won’t based on individual initiative. When the boys let their plan languish, I’m seeing lawnmower parents step in because they realize the consequences of missing a deadline. It’s a natural reaction, I suppose, and I know it will only get worse as we get closer to 12/31/19.

    The Eagle bulge of 1973/74 will be nothing compared to what happens in 2019, folks.

     


  13. On 7/26/2018 at 12:42 PM, WisconsinMomma said:

    If any of my sons earn Eagle, it will be interesting to see what they want for Court of Honor. I can see my oldest wanting something short, short, short and sweet.  The other two might like the pomp and circumstance.

    I have a Scout in my troop who has mild autism. He is a great Scout but resisted the idea of attaining Eagle until I explained that he didn’t need to have an ECOH if he didn’t want one. I jokingly told him I could just send his badge in the mail. With the pressure removed of being in the public spotlight for an ECOH, he has now caught fire and is marching steadily forward in a very determined fashion. The whole troop loves this Scout with all his fun quirks.

    • Like 1

  14. 35 minutes ago, T2Eagle said:

    Just to clarify, up until and including now, if a patrol of LDS scouts wanted to say go for a five mile hike, they would have had to have two adults with them?

    Yes. In any areas where guidelines differ between church and BSA, we will always go with the church rules.

    Regarding supervision of youth activities, the LDS Safety Recommendations say:

    Supervision
    • The size of the group, the skill level of the participants, and the degree of challenge should be considered when determining the total number of adults needed to supervise the activity. Provide a minimum of two adults for each activity.
    • Encourage use of the buddy system. Pair up youth to help them look out for each other.
    • An individual adult must never be alone with an individual youth or child during an activity or the associated travel.
    • Parents should be encouraged to help with supervision or transportation as needed.

    I will also note that the LDS Safety Recommendations are 4 pages long, and I consider the guidelines to be rather common sense in nature.

    LDS Safety Recommendations: https://www.lds.org/youth/activities/bc/pdfs/ym-activities/PD60004396-safety_eng.pdf?lang=eng

    By comparison, BSA's Guide to Safe Scouting is 116 pages long. Enough said.

    BSA's Guide to Safe Scouting: https://filestore.scouting.org/filestore/pdf/34416.pdf

     

    • Like 1

  15. 15 minutes ago, ParkMan said:

    That's when the new G2SS rule that requires adults at all activities kick in.

    Ah - gotcha. I took the new YPT training when it first came out, but I guess I didn't pay much attention to that point because LDS church rules already require adults at all church youth activities (including LDS Scouting activities).

    Given that Family Scouting is, by definition, all about including the entire family (parents, siblings) in Scouting activities, at least there is some consistency with that trend the new G2SS rules.


  16. 10 hours ago, Chris1 said:

    I know quite a number of girls who will be ticked off if they don't get the same patrol-method, traditional program the boys get.

    During this entire discussion with my father-in-law, I kept reminding him that national leadership was in such a rush to announce a BSA4G program that had not even been defined. This wasn't half-baked - it wasn't even in the oven yet. All they could say about the new program was "trust us, it will be wonderful". Why do it like this? BSA National has acted with an urgent disorganization that speaks of desperation. The fact that they are talking out of both sides of their mouth about Family Scouting and the integration of girls is only further evidence. Even now - 6 months out - confused messages emerge from those involved with these inside conversations. Is the Family Scouting program even the same thing as the Scouts BSA girl program? - I'm not convinced that it is. These bumblers in Irving are making this up as they go along. My father-in-law is only relaying his interpretation of a program that still being formulated (with less than 6 months before rollout). Nothing in this process inspires confidence.

    Please correct me if I'm wrong (and I may well be wrong on this point), but nowhere has BSA National leadership said that the Scouts BSA program will not change in order to integrate girls. They have never said that the traditional Scouting program will be preserved in Scouts BSA. They have only said that the path to Eagle will be the same for boys and girls.

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