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Everything posted by gblotter

  1. Our troop is engaged in summer camp planning right now. During the discussions, I alerted the boys that next summer they will be joined by girls at summer camp. Several boys then asked that we organize our own summer camp instead and completely avoid BSA summer camps. Those discussions are still ongoing. The concept of co-ed summer camp is proving to be a big deal for both boys and parents. With so few girl troops anticipated, perhaps the real question should be why so many summer camp weeks are being designated as co-ed.
  2. The boys who are ok with BSA's girl decision will stick around. The boys who are not ok with BSA's girl decision will leave the movement. Either way, BSA will end up with a membership pool who is happy with this new model of co-ed Scouting. Whether the enrollment of new girls will outpace the drain of disaffected boys is a complete unknown at this early date. I'd let about five years elapse so the dust can settle on the LDS exit before declaring girls in BSA to be a success. Even though I am quite ignorant about the Cub program in general, I don't doubt that girls in Cub Scouting will yield a net increase in overall membership. My comments about relate specifically to Boy Scouting.
  3. Attending a council-sponsored event to earn merit badges is somehow cheating? Interesting interpretation. Are merit badge classes at BSA Scout camps also cheating?
  4. These are the AdvanceCamp examples I had in my head. Second Class requirement #4: Identify or show evidence of at least 10 kinds of wild animals (such as birds, mammals, reptiles, fish, or mollusks) found in your local area or camping location. AdvanceCamp had recruited someone from a local natural history museum who brought with him museum display cases of taxidermied animals which are present in the local environment. It was super impressive - no way our troop could come close to reproducing that. First Class requirement #5a: Identify or show evidence of at least 10 kinds of native plants found in your local area or campsite location. AdvanceCamp had recruited a botanist who provided samples and detailed descriptions of local plant life. It is hard to match the expertise of a trained botanist. Their presentations were fascinating, and I don't consider our boys shortchanged in any way because they learned from true experts.
  5. That is how our troop typically approaches merit badge colleges - we'll advertise the event and let Scouts sign up individually if they want. However, for AdvanceCamp they require troops to sign up as a group. Individual registrations are not allowed. Because we had a group of 15 interested in attending, it morphed into a troop activity even though that wasn't our original intention.
  6. Congratulations on being superior. Sure - I always take away tips and tricks whenever I can.
  7. We are a small troop of just 30 Scouts. I think we do a great job with the limited resources available to us, but our talent pool reflects the size of our troop. Taking advantage of a much larger talent pool at AdvanceCamp gave us exposure to some expertise we simply don't have in-house. Sure - we can always "wing it" if needed, but it's inspiring to learn from true experts in the subject matter.
  8. AdvanceCamp was yesterday, so I'm reporting back on the experience. The quality of merit badge classes varied widely. Some were very well-organized. For example, the Emergency Preparedness merit badge had boys moving between different stations to learn and demonstrate skills. The Trail-to-First-Class program was excellent, too, with many stations staffed by skilled volunteers (including older Scouts instructing younger Scouts). Those experiences were better than anything we could generate at the troop level - raves and praise all around. By contrast, Citizenship in the World merit badge felt like a merit badge mill of the worst kind with six separate classes running in parallel. The classroom setting was a huge hall - so noisy that it was difficult to share and hear comments. I can't endorse that kind of learning environment at all.
  9. No doubt there will be many more mergers/consolidations after the LDS exit next year. My own council is at risk with just three districts (already too small by some estimations). After the LDS exit, that will likely drop to two districts. But size isn't everything - somehow, the tiny Piedmont California Council manages to survive and thrive.
  10. The magazine in question is Scouting Magazine - not Boys Life.
  11. This is basically how our troop operates. I conduct the SMC and then signal the CC to schedule the BOR as soon possible. The SMC and BOR will frequently happen back-to-back on the same day, and they always happen withing a week of the Scout making the request. Our troop holds a COH three times a year. We set and publicize a cutoff date before each COH. It has proven to be an effective incentive for the boys to finish off lingering rank requirements and partial merit badges. We automatically assume that a few SMCs and BORs will be held on the cutoff day for that reason. @Hawkwin I don't remember you mentioning the size of your troop. We have a smaller troop of 30 Scouts which makes flexible scheduling easier. I know of several mega troops (130+ Scouts) in our area. I have no doubt they run high-quality Scouting programs, but I can't imagine operating in that kind of environment. So much personal attention would be lost, and you end up with subcommittees generating long, legalistic policy documents like the one you describe. Different strokes for different folks, but I'd be finding a new - and possibly smaller - troop (as I've said before). I love that quote. What a contrast to the SM for @Hawkwin
  12. I have no knowledge about what may or may not be happening with Personal Progress or Activity Days. It does seem that the Church is generally moving away from awards as a motivation and more towards personal development. The key phrase I remember is that activity programs will be focused on meeting needs, not satisfying requirements.
  13. Obviously, I do not speak for the Church. I speak only for myself as an LDS Scoutmaster when I refer to my uneasiness and discord with BSA's leftward lurches. "I have felt increasing discord ..." "My uneasiness grows ..."
  14. After reading through the proposed policies, I literally groaned. I never realized that some troops are run like this with such a heavy hand. I was wrong to compare things to a SCOTUS confirmation hearing - instead it sounds more like an IRS audit. If that policy doc is reflective of how your troop operates, I would spend no further efforts at reform. I’d be moving my BSA membership to a different troop immediately. Rigid governance docs like this are just so foreign to my Scouting experience. Where is the fun? Where is the adventure? Are the boys involved in any of this? The problems of this troop obviously extend far beyond just a SM conference. Ugh times 3.
  15. Ours is a multi-generational LDS Scouting family with three generations of Eagle Scouts and two generations of Scoutmasters. In spite of my dedication to Scouting, I have felt increasing discord each time BSA takes a left turn. My uneasiness grows with each new announcement from Irving. Our missions are diverging: The BSA program is changing to seek greater approval and acceptance from the world; the church youth program is changing to seek greater approval and acceptance from God. So be it - each organization should have control over its own destiny. The more details I learn about the replacement LDS youth activity program, the more confidence I have that separating from BSA is the right decision. There will be better alignment with church standards. There will greater consistency in the experience of all youth (boys and girls, US and non-US). There will be better utilization of limited resources (Scouting has always been very resource intensive). There will be less focus on badges and awards, more focus on personal development (spiritual, social, physical, intellectual). As a reference point, this is the LDS youth program that replaced Varsity Scouts and Venturing: https://www.lds.org/youth/ymactivities?lang=eng (you will notice many activity components familiar to Scouting). I would expect something similar to replace the Boy Scout program. The future is bright.
  16. While I firmly oppose BSA's girl decision, I strongly support kindness and sensitivity in personal interactions. Even though their Cub Scout Pack is at fault for breaking fundamental rules about mixed-gender Dens, a kind approach is still merited as the situation gets resolved. A Scout is friendly, courteous, and kind, and nobody should be made to feel like an outcast. First, I'd explain in the friendliest way possible to the girl and her parents that we are excited for her interest in Scouting. Then I'd also explain in the friendliest way possible that because we are a boy-only troop, we are not structured with the right organization and leadership to provide her the Scouting experience that BSA has designed for girls (providing as many or as few supporting details as they like). Finally, I'd offer assistance to help her find a girl-only troop or a linked troop in the area that *is* structured with the right organization and leadership to provide her that great Scouting experience (with an explanation about the rollout beginning in February 2019). If these good-faith gestures made in friendliness are rejected, it would seem clear to me that this girl and her family are not looking for a solution - they are looking for a fight.
  17. I'm sorry - a situation like this is certainly ego-bruising. Hopefully, it can be viewed as a learning experience too. Regarding the screaming episode with the other parent, we can all lose our cool (particularly when defensive instincts about our own children kick in). Sometimes loud shouting becomes more than just an expression of frustration and disagreement - sometimes it can create real fear and intimidation. I'd guessing the committee is reacting to the latter. I'm embarrassed whenever I lose control of my temper. I instantly regret it and quickly find a way to apologize. Even if I consider myself mostly blameless, fence-mending gestures help me feel better about my involvement in the matter. In my personal interactions, I tend to be a pleaser and a peacemaker - that's just how I roll (curious how that doesn't always translate to my online interactions, however - haha). I don't see how an appeal can force a SM to work with an ASM. Perhaps it is just bad chemistry between you two, or perhaps there are more concrete issues behind it. Either way, I don't think it changes the outcome - you must step aside. I'd send a note to the CC and the SM expressing appreciation for your experiences working with the troop and be gracious as you exit. You don't want a poisoned environment if your son intends to remain in the troop (assuming that's the plan).
  18. The common misconception is that BSA is an altruistic organization composed of selfless volunteers with the mission of building boys into men of character. The reality is that BSA is a corporation driven by corporate motives. Money - not altruism - drives BSA, just like any corporation. While many BSA volunteers may indeed be selfless, BSA corporate leaders largely ignore and dismiss the opinions of front-line volunteers in decision-making.
  19. My Scoutmaster Conferences have mostly focused on point #2. These other points are great - thanks for the ideas.
  20. @Hawkwin I am so sorry. In many forum threads, we talk about the game of Scouting and how Scouting dies when the fun is lost. Is there any more effective way to drain fun from the experience than what you and your son are going through? Waiting another 1-2 months to adopt recommendations from a subcommittee - really?!? For crying out loud, this is a 15-minute Scoutmaster Conference - not a SCOTUS confirmation hearing!
  21. @HelpfulTracks Reading through the last few pages of comments in this thread, perhaps you can better understand now why I'm not sticking around. My son has had a phenomenal classic Scouting experience (Eagle Scout, 66 merit badges, 9 palms, OA, 5 summer camps, Jamboree, 60+ nights of camping, 150+ miles of hiking). I've been grateful to go along for the ride as Scoutmaster. But in so many ways, it feels like he and his Scouting buddies caught the last train out of the station. The comments in this thread only confirm that what lies ahead for BSA is something very different. BSA is bleeding membership, so I suppose change is inevitable. BSA now wants to appeal to a new kind of Scout and a new kind of Scouter with a new kind of family Scouting program. This gender-neutral, Euro-version of Scouting may be the future, but it is not for me.
  22. We are starting to repeat topics in this thread. Refer back several pages to We are in the midst of a boy crisis. That crisis is not represented in the halls of Parliament because boys are not in Parliament! The masses are in denial about this crisis - or they simply don't care. If the same statistics applied to girls, only then would they care.
  23. So now that boys are the segment of society that is falling behind, how bad must it get before we get some recognition of their unique needs? How far ahead must girls be before boys become deserving of specialized attention and tailored programs?
  24. So if these differences between boys and girls are just a bunch of lies, why then do we see mountains of programs tailored specifically for the needs of girls? Programs promoting girls in STEM, programs promoting girls in leadership, programs promoting girls in academics, programs promoting girls in athletics, - programs promoting girls in every way imaginable. Why all those programs if boys and girls are the same? But to assert that boys also need their own individualized programs - well, that's just a bunch of lies.
  25. Can you provide a list of Scout activities he has participated in during the four months between First Class and Star? That information may help us provide better advice.
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