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About Jeff1974

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  1. Afternoon Scouters. Our Troop of 35 Scouts is now looking at returning to actual camping, after our March/April/May regular camping trips and July Scout summer camp and high adventure trips were cancelled. Our council has issued recommendations that the maximum number of participants on a camping trip be limited ten persons, including adult leaders. We are also contemplating that Scouts will tent alone, or, in the event of campsite size limitations or # of available tents, with a parent who is on the trip. Driving to and from the location is also proving to be an issue, as social distancing cannot be maintained in a vehicle. We are further looking at the use of masks when distancing outside may not be feasible, such as during a campfire at the end of an evening. While I recognize that there may be no right answer, and each state's and council's rules may vary, I am curious how other troops are approaching a return to camping. I believe the Troop managed has managed quite well the last few months, with virtual meetings, remote learning, zoom BORS and a socially distanced combined Court of Honor and Eagle Court of Honor. However, the core of this program is getting Scouts outside camping and utilizing the patrol method. I genuinely worry about keeping Scouts interested in the program if we cannot get them back to camping.
  2. My council, NEIC in the north shore of Illinois, will issue its decision by 5/15. Frankly, I see no means of safely running camp or high adventure. Our Parent Committee has already determined we are not sending kids. Cautiously optimistic for troop based trips in late summer.
  3. Our Troop Committee met this past weekend. While our council's camp, or Summit Bechtel Experience, have made any definitive announcement, as a Troop we will not be supporting summer camp or high adventure this summer. We have yet to contact parents who had, pre Covid-19, expressed interest. As an adult leader that was to attend both of these trips, I simply have no comfort level in being responsible for a group of scouts 500-800 miles away from their homes, to destinations with medical facilities that are subpar from those in our own community. We all assume a heavy responsibility on these trips under normal circumstances, but absent a vaccine, it is not something I, or other leaders, wish to undertake at this time. While I tend to think the risk to a healthy scout is low, many of our adult leaders have aging parents with imuno-compromised situations. Another factor was allowing adult leaders more flexibility to planning alternative summer trips for their own families, in an attempt to salvage some of the summer. We will continue with our online troop meetings, which are being very well attended, encourage Scouts to continue to work together via facetime, identify safe community service projects and plan for next year. If conditions allow, we may feel more comfortable in scheduling a summer trip or two within 2-3 hours of our community, but that will be driven by state guidelines and parental comfort. I really do feel for these Scouts. My own kids had 4 weeks of overnight camp (non-BSA), and my son was to follow that with Scout camp (and his OA induction), plus a Troop high adventure trip. Be well all.
  4. I agree online meetings and remote learning are no replacement, but I believe they are providing some semblance of normalcy, and as many troop parents have said, reducing mindless screen time. We ran a PLC meeting on a conference line two weeks ago. Small group and somewhat manageable, for kids who have never participated in a conference call! We are trying our first 30 minute zoom Troop meeting on Monday, to introduce elections, next year's calendar, and to give brief speaking roles to some Scouts who are: (i) working on Scout/Tenderfoot with parents (and videotaping the oath, the law, knots) or older scouts who need EDGE teaching for advancement via facetime; (ii) scouts pursuing online Florida Council classes or (iii) independent MB study with local counselors. I think it will encourage others to use the time purposely. Tonight I introduced a Scout to a virtual Eagle Board of Review via zoom. A first for every participant, but certainly one of the brighter moments I've had in the past few weeks. Stay safe all.
  5. I have had a few ask Scouts ask about service hours, and conservation projects. Every state has different shelter in place restrictions and each Troop operates in varying population densities. Here, people are out walking their dogs at distance and the forest preserves are open. Our Troop has done buckthorn clearing at a county forest preserve in our village with a cabin used by the cub scouts and girl scouts, and a subject of many recent eagle projects the past year. If you can take a walk in the woods alone, I was thinking a parent and scout, at an arranged time, so as not to overlap with any other interested scouts, might clear buckthorn in the woods, or move previously cleared buckthorn to a fire pit for later use, for an hour. The nonprofit that owns the cabin, which is obviously now closed, was supportive.
  6. Our Troop camped this past weekend just north of the IL/WI border, with some snow/ice on the ground and low temperatures in the evening around 24 degrees. We had a great troop meeting in advance with the scouts leading a discussion on cold weather gear and camping tips. All had a good time and most were well prepared. You can discuss cold weather gear at a troop meeting multiples times, but for a few scouts it takes a trip in the 20s with snow and ice on the ground for the suggestion that they wear boots and not gym shoes to actually sink in. We will have a post-trip discussion/rose buds thorns at tonight's troop meeting. Filling the naglene bottles with boiling water at the end of the night and putting them in the bottom of sleeping bags worked quite well, except for the scouts that brought insulating Swell bottles and didn't understand why they were not conveying any heat. Again, good lesson learned. The Scouts made a ton of beef stew with a few dutch ovens on Friday night. We have been increasing our use of dutch ovens over the past 2 years and the Scouts appreciated how they kept their meal warm as they returned for seconds and thirds while enjoying a cold night around the campfire. Jeff
  7. If my Troop is able to make it back to Summit and I can attend, frankly the last thing I would want to be doing is sitting in a classroom doing a wood badge program. I would prefer to be with my son and his troop taking advantage of their fantastic outdoor offerings. Just my $0.02.
  8. On late Friday evening, a severe storm hit Camp Makajawan in Pearson, Wisconsin. No serious injuries to the hundreds of scouts and staff present, who reached shelter before the storm hit. The physical damage, however, was significant. I am told the winds exceeded 100 mph. Hundreds, if not thousands of trees, are down or damaged, with buildings and roads impacted. Kudos to the North East Illinois Council and camp staff for implementing its severe weather plan and keeping scouts and staff safe. As a result of the storm, the camp is closed for the remainder of the summer. Our Troop was set to leave on Sunday for the week. On Saturday, we found another camp within driving distance run by a neighboring council, the Pathway to Adventure Council. Our Troop arrived yesterday at Camp Napowan in Wild Rose, Wisconsin, and I am told the staff could not be more accommodating to us or the many other Scouts whose planned changed so quickly. Many other camps in the area did a good turn and have accommodated Troops whose camp plans were impacted. Grateful for (i) a camp that kept its Scouts and staff safe, and (ii) another camp that will ensure our Troop will enjoy the week of Scout Camp they have been so looking forward to these past few weeks. YIS, Jeff
  9. Last year, as a new ASM, I inherited a prior Troop policy that allowed smart phones at camp. It was a real problem all week. Scouts watching movies of questionable content and language; Scouts huddled around the only available plug to charge their phones. It was equally disruptive for those scouts who didn't have or didn't bring their phones. After camp, and as the new SM, we instituted a new policy which banned phones in troop meetings and on campouts (except for drives of greater than 3 hours, after which they get locked away in the car). Our trips over the past year were much improved by the absence of the distraction. Interested to see the new policy in action in July.
  10. As a Scoutmaster and an attorney practicing commercial litigation, these are risks I have considered. I too confirmed my umbrella liability covered the activity. In most negligence cases, the biggest issue is determining whether a defendant violated the standard of care (driving too fast for the conditions, running a soccer practice in dangerous weather conditions, maintaining property, etc.) There can be a lot of gray area in defining the standard of care for those examples. The standard of care is the care and attention a reasonable person would exercise under similar circumstances. Within the context of Scouting, however, I think a good case can be made the standard of care is far clearer: the BSA rules and guidelines. Ignorance, or disregard of those guidelines, whether it is YPT, ensuring trained leaders for specific trips (first aid, water-related activities) could be the basis for a negligence claim. I cannot say I give much thought to my potential liability while I am out on trips with our Troop. My primary focus is on providing a safe scouting environment for our Troop, which is a byproduct of understanding the guidelines, having trained adult leaders who are similarly committed to understanding and abiding by those rules and making sure Scouts are at least cognizant of those risks in advance. I feel an obligation to make sure that everyone on an outing, whether my son or those Scouts I am entrusted with on a trip, have the benefit of trained leaders who try to adhere to established policies and guidelines Fortunately, the guidelines and training support both safe scouting and the satisfaction of the standard of care we owe to all scouts and leaders. At the same time, we undertake activities that have risk, which cannot be completely eliminated. I find that strict adherence to the guidelines, even when it makes you a kill joy in the eyes of your troop, is a far preferable policy. I took over a Troop that was rather lax in many respects, particularly as to the older Troop members. Two weeks ago, I had to reason with an older Scout that his hammock, hung a good 6-8 feet off the ground, over a rather steep, rocky ravine, instead of the flat campsite available to him, might not be a good idea. As a parent, I intuitively have concerns that is not a good idea, but being able to refer to the BSA rules on a take it or leave it basis (either: lower the hammock, sleep in a tent or arrange for a lift home) helped diffuse the issue. Several of the posts above referenced dehydration, and far lesser instances of it than the tragic death of a Scout on a hike. Similar to posts above, this is a constant issue for our Troop, despite our warnings on every trip, and instructions to hydrate on breaks. Many of them do not get that their water intake needs to vary with their activity levels, and that they might need more water when outside for 2 days than they drink on an ordinary day involving a school bus, a day in an air conditioned school, and then home to sit in front of a video game for several hours.
  11. Good afternoon, I am trying to help our Second Class scouts complete First Class 4a , a one mile orienteering course. I have identified a few clubs that put on such programs, but there are some distance from us. Myself and another leader are discussing whether such a course could be laid out using a gps and compass, which the Scouts could then recreate. If anyone could point me to any resources on this subject, it would be much appreciated. Thank you.
  12. Almost immediately after becoming a scoutmaster a year ago, I started getting suggestions to do wood badge training. This was even before I had taken the introduction to outdoor leadership skills program, which is an actual requirement, and which I found to be very valuable. I have respectfully declined WB training to date but have had a few discussions with Council reps about the nature and purpose of the training. The responses I have received have not caused me to elevate this program as a priority, particularly in light of the time commitment on top of actual scouting time spent at weekly troop meetings, a monthly parent meeting and a monthly camp out or service project.
  13. We recently had 5 new scouts cross over. One included a single parent who asked if she could go on the first overnighter, and bring a younger sibling along. We welcomed her to join the trip, but explained the differences she should expect on the campout, in contrast to cub scouts. At the same time, we told her the younger sibling would not likely find the activities interesting, and that his presence might detract from the event, but would be more than welcome at our annual family campout. She agreed, and made other arrangements for the younger sibling. I see the bigger issue being new parents, whether a mother or a father, understanding they are not present to be a mom or dad to their own scout, but to give their children room and to allow them to function within the patrol/troop. That is an issue with some of our older scouts as well, who too often run to dad (ASM) to ask a question, instead of their PL or SPL before running to mom or dad troop leader. Communicating expectations at the onset goes along way.
  14. No intention on my part to rekindle an argument about the merits of girls in Scouts BSA. I find the numbers of initial signups very encouraging. As a Scoutmaster (with less than a year on the job) of my son's Troop, and the father of a 2d grader girl in Brownies/Girl Scouts, I am supportive of both Scouts BSA and the Girl Scouts. If the numbers are there to form a troop, and adequate parent volunteers exist, go for it and more power to you. What I find troubling is the continued pushing from our council on this issue. We are a small, but growing troop that is making the transition to a boy-led troop. The ranks of our parent volunteers are not deep. When myself and a few new ASMs stepped in, whether the troop should be folded into a neighboring troop was on the table. We elected to push forward and move towards a boy-led troop. Difficult, but rewarding, and working. Our small community also has a rather vibrant Girl Scout program, with a lot of overlap between scouting families. Our committee discussed the issue, and owing to a lack of capacity from parents, the absence of any expressed interest from girls in the community, and respect for the existing GS organization in town, elected not to actively recruit the formation of girl troop. If a quorum of girls comes forward with interest, with appropriate SM/ASM support, we would not turn them away from linking the Troop or sharing the parent committee between the Troops. We just are not actively recruiting girls to join Boy Scouts. I had a discussion with our district rep about the issue, only to have a council rep follow up. I have had to justify that decision on a repeated basis. The continued pushback is growing tiresome. I feel as if the agenda being pushed ignores there is no one size fits all answer for existing troops, the troop committees and the COs. Thanks for allowing me to vent.
  15. Good afternoon, As a new Scoutmaster, many of my scoutmaster minutes have revolved around the Scout law. For a Scout is honest, I asked the Troop to provide their own working definitions, so as to delve a little beyond "a scout tells the truth," and then told a story of personal experience about how a dishonest individual lost trust, credibility and had a hard time keeping all of the false statements consistent. This allowed for a personal lesson to be offered, without casting aspersions at any Troop member, or for other members in the Troop to start thinking that one among them had engaged in that conduct. Best of luck!
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