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Posts posted by gblotter

  1. 23 minutes ago, RememberSchiff said:

    For them, games trump advancement and to no surprise games are the last 20-30 minutes of our troop meeting. Save the best for last.

    Last year our troop went through a wave where they wanted to play lots of games. They voted for it so that is what we did. Interesting though, after several weeks the votes started to shift away from games because they accurately noticed that other important areas were being ignored. Now they self-regulate to have games only once a month or so. I was rather proud of them in how they arrived at this balance.

  2. 3 minutes ago, Tampa Turtle said:

    But the first time I have ever seen this many months of sitting around (actually canceling outdoor activities to sit around). In working with youth led I certainly am willing to be proved wrong but with so many scouts moving down the road to another troop it is killing me.

    From your description, the problem seems to be the lack of a robust outdoor program - not the focus on advancement. In our troop, we seem to find room for a balanced mix of both.

  3. 1 minute ago, RememberSchiff said:

    In a typical month, we spend two troop meetings where patrols are getting ready ( they are not efficient but they are doing the work) for an upcoming outing, another meeting checking equipment, another on the month theme...add in Philmont/summer camp presentations, fundraiser this and that, community service planning for month, Eagle project help sign-up, ... Where would they find the time in a 90min meeting for a merit badge class?

    We do all those things in our weekly meetings. Sometimes campout preparations, sometimes advancement, sometimes a fundraiser, sometimes helping with an Eagle project, sometimes games. There is a huge amount of variety, and the schedule is always different based on need. Given how our troop operates, I don't see this as an either/or situation.

  4. 1 minute ago, Tampa Turtle said:

    Only one actual camping trip this year...typically we would be on #5

    Well that is definitely a regrettable sign of dysfunction. I am happy to report that our troop goes camping monthly (except for November and December because of the holidays).


    2 minutes ago, Tampa Turtle said:

    And did you note that I mentioned attendance has dropped in half?

    I would guess that the lack of an outdoor program is at fault for the drop in attendance more than a focus on advancement. I can only speak for our troop, but there definitely should be room for both.


    4 minutes ago, Tampa Turtle said:

    I guess your position is if the boys voted to turn themselves into an Eagle Mill you would be OK with that.

    It is hard for me to envision an Eagle mill that goes camping only once a year because so many requirements are focused on outdoor experiences. Something doesn't add up here.

  5. 37 minutes ago, Tampa Turtle said:

    The boys in charge really just want to fast track advancement. But camping, not so much. I really think it was a coup orchestrated by the parents.

    @Tampa Turtle Just curious ... why do you think that only parents care about advancement? In my troop, many of our boys are very focused on advancement, and I see nothing wrong in that. The march toward Eagle Scout is an important motivation that keeps them engaged in Scouting (in addition to the camping and adventures and skills). On campouts and other Scouting activities, they are proactive in seeking opportunities to satisfy various requirements. Frankly, I find their initiative admirable. Yes - they have the support of their parents, but I assure you these boys don't look at advancement begrudgingly.

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  6. 4 minutes ago, Tampa Turtle said:

    If speaking on a Scouter forum in support of the traditional program of camping, patrol work, and actually learning scout skills by doing is denigration by all means tie me to the stake and light the fire.

    Perhaps where we disagree is that I believe working on advancement and merit badges (in addition to camping, patrols, and skills) is also a valid part of a traditional Scouting program ... especially if the boys are voting for that.

  7. 59 minutes ago, Tampa Turtle said:

    The latest push is by accomplish driven Scouts who feel like playing a game at a meeting or showing up and not getting an advancement or merit badge ticked off is a waste of time.

    And what exactly is wrong with that? The boys are communicating what is important to them. Is there something "unScout-like" about working on advancement and merit badges during their meetings?


    1 hour ago, Tampa Turtle said:

    So we have boring, boring, boring meetings with speaker after speaker relating to merit badges.

    If the boys are voting for it, apparently they don't think it is a boring waste of time. Are you saying the program should be more adult-driven so that the adults won't get bored at the meetings?


    59 minutes ago, Tampa Turtle said:

    ... since it is youth led and was their idea the Scoutmaster is letting them pilot this flaming zeppelin right into the ground.

    You seem to disapprove of the Scoutmaster's decision. Do you think he should overrule the desire of his Scouts to work on merit badges during their meetings?


    1 hour ago, Tampa Turtle said:

    When it turns into a class every scout meeting the Troop goes downhill fast.

    In my experience, a troop goes downhill fast when it ignores what the boys want to do. They lose interest when they think the adult leaders are overruling their decisions.


    49 minutes ago, Tampa Turtle said:

    we might as well give them chicken diners and make it a Rotary meeting! ... Painful to watch.

    It is also painful to watch an adult leader denigrate the choices made in a boy-led Scouting program because they don't conform to his particular vision.


    @Tampa Turtle I apologize if my comments come across as harsh. Because this forum focuses so much on having a boy-led Scouting program, I just think it is important to respect their decisions if they are voting for merit badge classes.

    The Scouts in our troop have also voted to occasionally use meetings for Eagle-required merit badge classes (3 or 4 merit badges per year). If advancement is important to them, why would I overrule their choice?

    My observation is that when we hold merit badge classes, attendance is always high. When we have other game activities, no-shows are frequent. Frankly, when there is a mountain of homework waiting for them, playing a game at a troop meeting is indeed sometimes a waste of time when evaluating competing priorities.

    As an aside, I spent some time researching an amazing new camping destination here in California perched on cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Reviewers claim it is one of the most scenic campsites in the world, and reservations are snatched up within seconds. In spite of my enthusiasm, that destination did not garner enough votes from the boys to make the cut in 2018 so I had to shrug it off. Instead, we are going camping to some other destinations that will earn them segments in a progressive patch program, because that is what is important to them. In a boy-led Scouting program, sometimes we adult Scouters don't always get what we want. This is as it should be.

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  8. We let the boys vote on whether they want weekly meetings to sometimes take the form of merit badge classes. They voted that we should *sometimes* focus on the Eagle-required merit badges. They had no interest in spending weekly meetings working on non-required merit badges (even if the merit badges are so called “easy ones” that could be knocked of relatively quickly). So that is what we do. Over the course of a year, we might tackle 3 or 4 Eagle-required merit badges during weekly meetings.

  9. Of all the Eagle-required merit badges, the Cooking merit badge is considered to be the hardest by most our troop members. Frequently, it is the last one earned before Eagle.

    I think the twins said it correctly ... food must be edible - not perfect - to get the badge.

    Rarely do campfire meals cooked by a 13 year-old rise to the standard of fine dining. I view it more along the lines of survival cooking. That is why I'm glad our adult leaders cook and eat separately from the boys.


    18 hours ago, CalicoPenn said:

    We've had a whole thread on here that pretty much boiled down to Cooking Merit Badge isn't very good at teaching cooking.  And it isn't - its not supposed to be some all encompassing course in cooking. 


    The First Aid merit badge does not generate proficient EMTs - it teaches basic, rudimentary, fundamental, introductory first aid skills.

    The Cooking merit badge does not generate gourmet chefs - it teaches basic, rudimentary, fundamental, introductory cooking skills.

  10. 1 hour ago, Stosh said:

    He just might be the catalyst to make it happen for the older scouts to stay interested.  Just make sure he has the opportunity to be a strong enough leader to retain the boys around him.

    He certainly won’t be able to make those changes all by himself, but his peer group among the younger Scouts are following his example.

    Together, I can see them establishing a different (better) precedent for Scouting among old boys as they age up in the program.

  11. 2 hours ago, Stosh said:

    I was at summer camp many moons ago where there was a troop nearby that the boys just all sat around doing "nothing".  It got my curiosity up and I stopped in to chat around their perpetual campfire.  What I found out was all the boys were 17 - 18 years of age, all Eagles, this was their last summer camp before heading in every different direction for college, they had done it all, and they decided to come to summer camp and just do nothing for a change.  They ate at the mess hall and went back to camp and jaw-jacked the whole week away.  What a great way to end out their Scouting careers.

    I guess you had to be there to appreciate the beauty of what you describe. Your story makes me think of my own older Scouts - sitting around, unengaged, and “jaw-jacking” while everyone else around them is doing real Scouting.

  12. 40 minutes ago, Stosh said:

     Do you merge patrols when the numbers drop for an event?  I never did that.  If only 2 of the boys out of 8 show up and don't have as much fun, THEY will let their buddies know about it and encourage attendance.  Otherwise if they constantly merge the necessity of that goes away.

    No. Our last campout was attended by two Scouts from the older patrol. They camped and ate together and were fine with being a patrol of two.


    42 minutes ago, Stosh said:

    The older boys should be allowed to form their own patrol and distance themselves from the "silliness".  Is that option being offered?

    Yes - they have their own patrol but they don't have the motivation or availability to meet or do separate activities. These are typical high school students with busy lives, cars, sports, homework, girlfriends, etc. Scouting rarely makes the cut in their list of priorities. In 2017, they did only one activity as a separate patrol, while a few of them joined in the troop activities/campouts with the younger Scouts. Meanwhile, the younger Scouts are lapping their older brothers in the troop with advancement.


    46 minutes ago, Stosh said:

    This is what a Troop Guide is supposed to do.

    Agreed. Great position for an older Scout - if he would show up. We previously had an older Scout TG (his 11 year old brother was in the patrol), but he the TG never showed up (not once) despite promises that he wanted the POR.


    55 minutes ago, Stosh said:

    Why aren't the older boys doing their own thing in their own patrol.

    There is a "too cool for school" attitude among a few of these older Scouts and it spreads to the others. I have refocused my attention on the younger Scouts who have genuine interest and desire to engage in Scouting. My hope is to raise up a new generation of Scouts who will enter the older patrol with the motivation to provide real mentoring and real leadership. Using our present 13 year old SPL as an example, I think we are well-positioned to do just that. He is quite critical about what goes on the in older Patrol and wants to change things from within when he has the opportunity.

  13. @Stosh

    I get your points. Our model is not perfect, and I admit we have room for improvement. Maybe one day we will reach the kind of boy leadership you describe. Over the last year, I have stepped back a lot and just let them go at it (and sometimes fail). Our SPL will even give me a nasty stare if I start hovering. Our boys have a ton of fun together and really like each other - sometimes a bit too much, which then descends into unproductive silliness. I believe that is one reason why the older Scouts keep their distance from troop campouts and other activities where the younger Scouts are present. I'm curious how other troops deal with the silliness factor, because it is a big issue with our younger Scouts.

    Regarding boy leadership, a typical troop meeting has a joint opening program with flag/oath/law and and announcements. This is directed by the SPL. Then the patrols break off for their own activities (directed by the PL). In the case of the new Scout patrol, the ASM is mostly running the show although they do have a PL. The older patrol is usually a no-show entirely. We have never held a PLC.

    The SPL also acts as a coordinator. For a campout, the SPL will contact the PLs to determine attendance headcount and coordinate other logistics. Menu planning and other campout preparations will happen at the patrol level led by the PLs (many times it is just one patrol anyway).

    Our big limitation is that our older Scouts don't usually show up to anything, so they can't be relied on for leadership and mentoring of the younger Scouts. We finally had to put a stop to absentee senior Scouts in the SPL position because it wasn't working for obvious reasons. Our current SPL is only 13 years old. It's a lot to ask of a 13 year old, but he really is our best Scout. He is on fire with Scouting but still learning leadership skills (so am I).

  14. Here are examples from our troop during the past year. All of these conservation projects were suggested/requested by the land owners, and most happened during camping trips.

    1. Cleaning out a plugged drain culvert that was causing trail erosion from the diverted runoff.

    2. Picking up broken glass (lots of it) from a trail that is frequented by both humans and animals.

    3. Channeling runoff water away from a trail that was becoming a mud pit.

    4. Piling up dead wood for a controlled burn to reduce forest fire hazard.

    5. Removing non-native plant species that were choking out the native plants.


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  15. We are a small troop of 25 Scouts divided into 3 patrols by age. The youngest patrol focuses on Trail to First Class during the first year (new Scouts). The middle patrol is where intensive Scouting happens - many activities and lots of advancement. The older patrol is composed largely of inactive Scouts (a few of them making progress toward Eagle).

    Our SPL carries the responsibility for most of the boy leadership, and the Patrol Leaders basically function as ASPLs. While this works ok for us, I’m open to improvements.

    To be clear ... I’m not complaining about having a smaller troop because we do some really incredible things with our numbers. The intimacy of a smaller troop also yields some tight friendships. But I recognize we are limited in how true we can be to the Patrol Method, and so I’m always on the lookout for possible ways to do this better (thus my interest in this thread). In a troop with our numbers, sometimes the the goal of “Boy Leadership” seems more relevant and doable than the goal of implementing the “Patrol Method” in every aspect. Perhaps that is heresy to some here, but I have to pragmatic about this.

  16. On 1/11/2018 at 12:09 PM, NJCubScouter said:

    There is a regular member of this forum who has identified himself as the head of health and safety for the BSA.  Whether he brings ideas mentioned in this forum to the people at National who are responsible for that area, I don't know.

    I should mention that I see the hands of BSA legal department all over the Eagle workbook. I have no doubt that BSA lawyers have contributed much to make the workbook cumbersome, and for that reason improvements are unlikely.

    • Upvote 1

  17. On 1/10/2018 at 9:29 AM, Back Pack said:

    The only issue is that bsa does not require sign off in the plan so many guys I know wrote them after their project. What good is that. 

    I agree that this happens a lot. The plan section of the workbook is actually optional (but strongly suggested). You can’t be flunked on your Eagle BOR for using a different planning method.

    When sitting on EBORs, there is limited time to read the submitted materials so we typically focus on the proposal and the final report only.

    In my view, the main purpose of the plan section is to force the Scout to think through the details of executing his proposal. I recognize  that the plan section is cumbersome and clumsy. I have no problem at all if a Scout chooses a different format for his plan.

  18. On 1/11/2018 at 8:47 AM, Back Pack said:

    The biggest issue with Eagle is the paperwork. ... It’s when you hit the project and the workbook that your eyes glaze over. None of my friends got through it without adult assistance of some kind.

    You speak the truth. I have witnessed the same thing with many Eagle candidates. The process can stall for many months because the boy is so intimidated/bored/repelled by the paper blockade. Personally, I don't think some adult assistance with paperwork is unmerited.

    This is how I have approached it as an Eagle mentor when I sense a mental logjam over paperwork. I will simply volunteer to sit down at the computer with the Scout and act as his scribe. I am doing nothing more than typing out his words as he verbally answers the questions in the workbook. Relieving him of typing duties frees up his mind to think about how to best answer the questions, and when he sees his responses written down he can offer further edits. Sometimes I will ask things like "Does that fully answer the question?" or "Is there anything else you want to add?". I would only consider scribe work cheating if I begin to answer the questions for him, but they are his words that I type. For whatever reason, that collaborative effort seems to yield wonderful results when the process has been stuck for months over paperwork angst.

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  19. I saw the movie earlier this week. I find the recent Star Wars changes less odious than that repugnant Jar Jar Binks, but I’ll confess a secret joy in watching Laura Dern get blown up. The BSA membership changes are far more offensive, mainly because I care much more about Scouting than Luke Skywalker.

    The best response to unwelcome changes is to vote with your dollars and with your feet. My financial support for Friends of Scouting has ceased, and 2018 will be my final year as a registered Scouter. That’s the beauty and power of a free market system. However, I will probably still pay 12 bucks to see the next Star Wars feminist fable (in the hope they’ll somehow concoct a plot twist to resurrect Laura Dern just to blow her up yet again).

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  20. On 12/21/2017 at 2:17 PM, Eagle94-A1 said:

    I've told the Tale of Two Eagles often enough on this website that I don't think I need to repeat it.

    I think I understand different perspectives from sitting on Eagle BORs for many years.

    While some highlight the maturity and experience of an Eagle Scout candidate who presents himself at 17 years and 11 months and 29 days, I find myself fighting back negative thoughts. Sometimes he doesn't even own a Scout shirt that fits him anymore, and his most recent patches are from attending summer camp in 2014. Asking a simple question like "when was the last time you went camping with your troop?" reveals that he went inactive years ago and only returned for some last-minute cramming to finish his Eagle. Occasionally he even admits his motivation is to list Eagle Scout on his college applications. I honestly scratch my head and wonder why others praise his procrastination as something we like to see in BSA.

    I contrast that with a recent 14 year-old Eagle Scout from our troop. He is on fire with Scouting and hasn't missed a campout in two years. He attended his Eagle Scout BOR wearing 42 merit badges on his sash. Contrary to dropping out of Scouting after earning Eagle, he is now pursuing OA membership and has plans to attend two different BSA summer camps in 2018. He leads by example and has motivated other Scouts by showing what is possible when you "strike while the iron is hot". I know some will reflexively dismiss him simply because of his age, but to me he epitomizes a dedicated Scout who has made Eagle a priority over other endeavors. (BTW: One of his biased reviewers spent 20 minutes trying to rattle him by aggressively quizzing him on the symbolic elements of the First Class badge, fleur-de-lis, etc - as if that would be somehow be a basis for denying him Eagle. It was embarrassing and the other reviewers were perplexed by the entire line of questioning.)

    We all have our biases, and I don't expect to change any minds on this topic. I will simply say that I take much more pleasure in reviewing an enthusiastic 14 year-old who is overflowing with Scout spirit as opposed a nonchalant 18 year-old who barely managed to limp across the finish line.

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  21. On 12/14/2017 at 7:02 PM, Oldscout448 said:

    The last issue led with  such a blatant propaganda piece just gushing about how great the addition of girls would be, I tossed it without reading past page two.

    With recent changes, BSA is clearing trying to appeal to appeal to new kinds of families, new kinds of Scouts, and new kinds of Scouters. This new Scouting is not for me.


    On 12/14/2017 at 7:02 PM, Oldscout448 said:

    I'm signed up for 2018, but that will be it for me.  I'm glad that I spent 30 plus of the last 50 years in BSA.

    Eagle, Vigil, Philmont, Eagle Dad twice. Sat around a thousand campfires with good friends. Its been a wonderful trail to hike.

    @Oldscout448 I think you are I are roughly the same age. I am Eagle, Eagle dad, and Scoutmaster for 9+ years. And it seems you and I will both be exiting Scouting after 2018 - one last triumphant hurrah. I will make room for the changes BSA seems determined to ram through.


    On 12/14/2017 at 7:02 PM, Oldscout448 said:

    Not that I'm going to leave the woods, but scouting is taking a sharp left turn, and I'm going straight on ahead.

    I did not walk away from Scouting - I have stayed the same. Rather Scouting has walked away from me. I'm sad but not bitter.

  22. 3 hours ago, Hawkwin said:

    Wow, Scouting Magazine compared to the newspaper of the Communist party of Russia? Tell us how you really feel about BSA National. :dry:

    You are correct - my comment was too harsh. Scouting Magazine continues to offer quite a number of valuable articles. My Pravda comment was a reaction to the happy-face presented in the magazine about the decision to admit girls. (i.e. "we don't know what it will look like, but rest assured it will be awesome".) It all seemed part of the coordinated manipulations from BSA National to ram through this change via a disingenuous process that I found disrespectful and even insulting to seasoned Scouters. My perspective has obviously soured and I now view BSA National leadership as untrustworthy stewards of something I have held dear.

    • Like 3

  23. 2 minutes ago, mattsid said:

    In our unit (we call them Wards) I'm a Varsity Scout Coach for the next 23 days after that my responsibility for the boys and for their progress towards Eagle and learning important skills doesn't go away.  On January 1st I change to a Assistant Scoutmaster (half of the training is already done, waiting for the next OLS class to open to finalize everything) and my boys will now work together in a patrol under the troop instead of in a Varsity Team.

    Hi Matt,

    I have several questions for you.

    In our stake, none of the wards ever registered a separate Team or Crew. Boys 11-17 are registered in the Troop with age-segregated patrols. So the May announcement was really no big deal for us because we were already doing it that way. In other stakes where Teams/Crews did exist, our council did a mass-migration of registrations from Team/Crew into the Troop. This happened back in August and we were told that the timing was under the direction of BSA National. Did that same mass-migration happen in your council?

    In my experience, even wards with Teams and Crews did not really implement the Varsity and Venturing programs as defined. They were really just doing Boy Scouting for older boys with a high-adventure twist. Because you seem to be a dedicated Scouter, I'll ask it was any different in your ward. Did you actually implement Varsity Scouting as it was defined with the separate awards program of Varsity Letter and Pins, etc? Did your ward also implement Venturing correctly with its separate awards program? If you did, then are a rare bird and my hat is off to you.

    BTW: I assume you are in SVMBC? I am next door in PacSky.



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