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Everything posted by mrkstvns

  1. mrkstvns

    January Pack Meeting Ideas

    Cold weather might be a good motivator for one of those myriad "sleep over" events, like a Night at the Museum (if your local museum offers such things). In our area, there are multiple opportunities, including a zoo sleepover, a sleepover on a de-commissioned aircraft carrier, etc.
  2. I looked at the Insignia Guidelines, but the only thing that jumps out at me as belonging under a right pocket is a Recruiter strip. Are there other types of patches that belong there? What would they be? I ask because I saw a picture of a scout working on a service project and he had a very complex set of patches with multiple rings placed under his right pocket. I hadn't seen that done before and had no idea what kind of patches they were. Thoughts? Pointers to "official" uniform practices?
  3. In 1988, Tipper Gore made waves when she published her book, "Raising PG Kids in an X-Rated Society". Her argument was that with porn and violence and bad role models increasingly easy to come by, that parents needed to remain ever more vigilant and that government should help families in their struggle to raise decent kids. I can only imagine what Tipper thinks of today's society where kids can get access to porn on any smart phone. Few sites require more than a mouse click on an "I am over 18" button in order to download images and videos that would have been scandalous just a few short years ago. "Psychology Today" recently ran an article discussing this problem and its impact on parenting today. How CAN a parent place reasonable controls on what a child can and cannot access? Is it even possible today to keep porn out of the hands of kids? What should parents do? Here's the article: https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/talking-apes/201912/adolescence-in-the-age-internet-porn BTW: Anybody else recognize themselves in the story about discovering nuggets of porn treasure in a Boy Scout paper drive?? Oh, for the innocence of the 1970s...
  4. There's a document out on scouting.org that seems to discourage many of the common practices that enable merit badge events (like fairs, universities, etc.) and that also seems to discourage bad practices that are very common in almost all merit badge summer camps and winter camps. I wonder if this will indicate a trend away from the current merit badge mills that prevail across the country... The document is "Merit Badge Group Instruction Guide" and is available here: https://filestore.scouting.org/filestore/pdf/512-066_WEB.pdf Some interesting points that appear there... "Group instruction should be focused on those scenarios where the benefits are compelling" "The focus must on the quality of the Scout's counseling experience, and not on the number of Scouts who can take a class or complete a badge." "Simply taking notes, completing a workbook, or listening during a group instruction session does not constitute completing a requirement" "For many badges---perhaps even most of them---partial completion is not only acceptable but expected from a merit badge event." "most classes should be small" "Group tasks do not fulfill requirements..." "...completing a worksheet does not constitute completing a requirement." Thoughts?
  5. mrkstvns

    Girl Scout Cookie Coffee

    Dunkin Donuts will begin selling Girl Scout Cookie coffees beginning January 1. Flavors will include Thin Mints and Cocunut Caramel. Info: https://news.dunkindonuts.com/news/dunkin-brings-back-beloved-girl-scout-cookieTM-inspired-coffee-flavors-coconut-caramel-and-thin-mintsR
  6. Do or do not, there is no try. - Yoda Are expectations lower for Girl Scouts than Boy Scouts? Could they be better motivated to excel with a few small tweaks to their oath and law? One writer thinks that because the Boy Scouts use language like "I will" while the Girl Scouts use language like "I will try" that we're collectively implying that we don't really expect Girl Scouts to succeed, but hey! trying is good too. Here's the story: https://www.nj.com/opinion/2019/12/why-is-it-that-boy-scouts-will-but-girl-scouts-try-change-the-promise-please-opinion.html
  7. You may be right, in which case we should be bracing ourselves for another steep drop off in membership, given the size of this year's cost hike.
  8. mrkstvns

    Protecting kids from pervasive porn

    By its very nature, anything that is "porn" is generally lumped into that category of "negative messages", especially since we're told that it's bad because it objectifies women. Porn is usually about instant gratification. I suppose the "healthy patterns" would be the traditional, family-focused marriage in which we're talking only about a lifelong, loving commitment between a man and a woman. Of course, the LGBTQERILX community will argue that point too, so I doubt we'll ever find common ground in defining "negative" vs. "positive". What is a parent supposed to do?
  9. I wonder if it would be a nice gift or a lame idea to give a scout a trip to a High Adventure camp...
  10. Parents don't always "get it" when it comes to buying Christmas gifts. Mom and Dad seem stuck on this idea that clothing makes good Christmas gifts. Kids of all ages know that's a sure sign of geezing. Clothing is a TERRIBLE gift!! Good gifts are things you don't NEED, but rather things you WANT. Toys are great gifts! Sweaters are lame gifts. Scouting age kids would rather have outdoor gear than boring school clothes wrapped up in colorful paper to disguise their lame-itude. Good gift ideas for the scout... Backpack:($150 to $300) Chances are that your scout already has a backpack. If he's 13 or 14 years old, it might be time to move him up to a larger pack that's lighter in weight and more durable than what he's got right now. After all, he's probably got his eye on some of those summertime High Adventure trips, and the old basic 40L pack isn't quite going to cut the salami when you get out on those 12-day Philmont treks. A good 65L pack will probably run you at least $150, but shop the sales, and read the advice on the Equipment Reviews & Discussion forum here. Tent ($100 to $300) A young scout may be happy using a troop tent and sleeping with the guys in his patrol, but as a kid gets into his teens, he might be looking for more adventure and wanting to do more backpacking. A nice, lightweight 1-man or 2-man tent could be a perfect fit under your tree this year! Mountain Bike ($100 to $1000) Rugged kids like rugged bikes. Bikes they can ride in the woods. Bikes they can ride through muddy creeks. Bikes they can ride up and down hills. Backpacking Stove ($50 to $100) A nice stocking stuffer item might be a very compact, lightweight, single burner backpacking stove. REI sells the MSR PocketRocket for $44. If you backpack in dense woodlands, a small woodburner might make more sense for you. A small Solo woodburner sells for about $70. Kayak ($300 to $1000) What kid doesn't like getting out on the rivers and lakes for a fun day of paddling? As the kids get a bit older, they like taking their game up a notch and being the master of their own vessel. A kayak is perfect for them! Snowshoes ($80 to $300) Live in a cold weather climate? A great outdoor activity when snow and ice cover the ground is to strap on a pair of snowshoes and trek through the woods like Jack London might have done. Snowshoes today though are nothing like the string and bent wood frames of bygone eras. Today, they are as high tech as any other piece of sporting equipment: composite fiber frames, metal ice grips, synthetic fiber straps. Great for younger scouts too! A snowshoe trek would be a fun weekend trip for Cubs or Webelos. What do y'all think? Got some better ideas for Christmas gifts for our scouts? Pass on the tips!
  11. Quite right. There are definitely some advantages to doing the "fair/blitz/midway/university/weekend"....and as long as the event is well organized and MBCs are encouraged to put on a quality class, then the scouts can benefit greatly by being exposed to something they might otherwise not be able to do. A few things that I think could improve MB events: more time: Some MB events have classes as short as 2 hours. Aside from Fingerprinting, no MB can be adequately covered in 2 hours. 6 hours (or perhaps longer) woiuld be good as the "standard" time for a MB class. more "DO" less "LISTEN": Classes where the MBC talks the whole time are inappropriate. They bore the scouts and ignore the requirements (which usually say that the SCOUT should "explain" or "describe", not the MBC). Try to make things hands-on as much as possible. When scouts have to "explain" or "describe", try to have them do it while doing something relevant. get out of classrooms: go do the class in an appropriate setting. For Chemistry, do EVERYTHING in a lab. For Canoeing, do EVERYTHING in a canoe, on the water. Etc., etc. The good MBC will TRY to find places and ways to make the subject exciting and relevant. Scouts spend all week in a classroom. They don't need to be bored on Saturday by sitting in class again...
  12. It's really astounding to me how long a wikipedia article can be without really saying anything useful or enlightening.
  13. Eagle may be scouting's highest rank, but there are awards that are FAR rarer and more prestigious. The oldest of these is the Silver Hornaday medal. In many years, the number of these awarded nation-wide is in the single digits. Many scouts find their Eagle project to be a daunting challenge. Imagine having to do at least FOUR projects of equal or greater complexity, all of them focused on different areas of conservation....and requiring approval by national. Well, that's the kind of effort a highly motivated scout must have to earn a Silver Hornaday. My heart soared today at the news that a scout in West Texas achieved this very difficult and prestigious award. (The first time in 108 years that anyone in his council has earned one.) I am so proud of him. https://www.conchovalleyhomepage.com/news/news-connection/texas-boy-scout-awarded-highest-conservation-medal/1911775258
  14. mrkstvns

    Wow! FAR beyond mere Eagle...

    Arguably the most prestigious award in scouting, only about 10 scouts per year manage to earn a Hornaday silver medal. Here's a story about a scout who, this year, earned "an Olympic medal bestowed by the Earth". Huge kudos for his initiative and social responsibility....a real role model! https://billerica.wickedlocal.com/news/20191216/making-history-billerica-teen-earns-prestigious-boy-scout-medal
  15. A Boy Scout in the UK drew the unwanted attention of local police investigating online weapons purchases. The scout had ordered 3 "flick knives" from a Chinese web site, all too happy to ship to the UK. Story: https://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/scout-illegal-knives-police-trafford-17350475
  16. mrkstvns

    Med forms updated

    I keep hoping they'll revise it so that A and B fit on 1 single piece of paper (front/back). It would make it easier for troops to maintain their set of forms and it would be half us much paper for camps.
  17. mrkstvns

    Meritbadge.info closing

    I'm disappointed to hear of the loss of any resource my fellow scouters find useful. I've never known about events there though, and when asked about online merit badge classes, I just mention Scoutmaster Bucky.
  18. It's the time of year when Webelos often complete their Arrow of Light and are ready to bridge over to a Boy Scout troop. But WHICH troop? That's the question. Every year, 10-year old scouts (and their parents) try to answer that question. For some, the answer comes easily and naturally. For others, anguish ensues as it seems like such a hard decision to make. Here are a few ideas for things that I would consider if I were a parent advising a 10-year old as to what kind of troop will best fit his (or her) personality, and personal goals. 1. WHERE DOES THE SCOUT WANT TO GO? When you visited troops in your area, some were probably friendlier, or more fun than others. Those might be good troops to consider. Fellow Webelos from the scout's pack might have already decided....so where will the scout's friends go? If the pack and troop have a formal or informal "feeder pack" mentality, that might help make the decision easier, but it is always up to the individual scout to decide: no Webelo scout is required to go to a specific troop just because the Cubmaster and Scoutmaster are friends. 2. WHICH TROOP DRESSES MOST LIKE SCOUTS? Uniform is one of the classic "methods" of scouting, and while it is absolutely true that the appearance of an individual scout at a given time is no guarantee of his personal character or performance of a scout, it is definitely true that a unit with a tradition of adhering to uniform guidelines and encouraging scouts to wear a full uniform is a sign of a quality unit. A good scout leader is a role model, and the role models take their role seriously, modeling good behavior, regardless of whims of fancy. If the adult scouters model good uniforming standards, they probably embrace the entire scout program well and know how to model scouting values, leadership, and personal integrity. A scout unit full of haphazard uniforming does not model the full scouting program. Leaders who can't be bothered to wear a correct uniform might not be the kind of role models your son deserves. 3. WHICH TROOP HAS THE MOST ENTHUSIASTIC SCOUTS? It's one thing for the adults to talk up their troop, putting appropriate spin on things....but youth tend to shoot straighter and to sometimes be brutally direct. What do the SCOUTS have to say about the troop? About the adult leaders? About the number of activities and variety of outdoor trips? 4. WHICH TROOP GIVES SCOUTS THE BEST OPPORTUNITIES? Be wary of troops that don't camp at least 10 times per year, don't send a contingent to summer camp, and don't have crews going to High Adventure camps. If the troop cancels campouts more than about once every 5 years, if they don't participate in camporees, or if they only schedule "family campouts" in nearby areas, then they aren't a troop that is likely to provide enough opportunities for a scout to advance at a normal rate and to just plain have fun and grow to his or her potential. Take a look at their track record: do they have a photo gallery with at least 10 campouts this past year? Keep in mind that some ranks require a certain number of nights camping. If the troop rarely camps, it will take a painfully long time to ever move up. Meanwhile, the Webelos who joined better troops will be rolling right along... Does the troop go above and beyond the minimums? Do they do really cool trips? Activities in addition to camping? Those might be the most fun troops to be in. 5. DOES THE TROOP REACH OUT? Some troops are lazy. They just assume that Webelos will want to join them. Their scoutmaster doesn't reach out to the cubmaster. They don't participate in Cur or Webelos activities. They don't provide Den Chiefs to packs. They don't invite webelos to their meetings or campouts. They don't even bother to have adults attend roundtables. Then they wonder why Webelos go to other troops... 6. SIZE MATTERS. The size of a troop affects the kind of program they can deliver and it will affect how a new scout is likely to advance. Both big and small have advantages, and both can be "perfect" if the parents are engaged, the troop fully embraces the complete scouting program, and a young scout embraces the troop's strong points. Small troops definitely provide better potential for scouts to succeed in positions of responsibility. Big troops definitely provide better potential for a large number of activities and deeper involvment in the full scouting program. ---------- There you go folks, 6 aspects of prospective troop that you might want to look at. Prioritize them as you see fit. Ponder their importance. Find a great troop for your son!
  19. I suggest banning the CC from PLC meetings. He/she has no business there anyway.
  20. mrkstvns

    Tried Something New

    Yep, the more you delegate, the more you can get done! Just curious: what's your role in the pack? I think packs work best just like troops do....the Cubmaster works with the boys, the CC and his/her committee take care of back-office stuff like chasing down parents for recharter fees and paperwork.
  21. The importance of coding skills can not be overestimated in a world where AI, robotics, and big data dominate conversations about the future of work and whether traditional career paths are likely to become obsolete as technology advances accelerate. BSA has some relevant merit badges in these subjects (obviously "Programming", but also "Digital Technology" and "Robotics"), and has some new Nova awards (like "Hello World", "Cub Scouts Can Code", and "Execute") that can be earned by scouts at all levels. For these awards, scouts need to learn the basics of machine logic and how to implement algorithms in 1 or more programming languages. Schools don't usually teach programming skills in adequate depth for today's world, and BSA might be well positioned to fill the gap for those scouts who are curious about a career path that is likely to remain viable in decades to come. Scouters who might not have parents with appropriate skills in coding can sometimes leverage events held at local colleges or companies. I read an interesting article about how Capitol Area Council was leveraging a local event from the "Hour of Code" initiative to encourage their scouts to learn a bit about coding. These events are held throughout the country, so Scoutmasters, Merit Badge Counselors and Nova Counselors could do similar initiatives in a lot of areas. Here's the story: https://www.kvue.com/article/tech/scouts-hour-of-code/269-388972df-0ae2-4321-a669-79228a424b0d
  22. You're showing your grey hairs there, Grandpa. Today, programming skills are more vital than ever. While those languages you named are still around in time-tested legacy code, today's languages focus on small devices and big data. Everything is optimized for a world where data and resources are remote (or more often, unknown, out there in the nebulous "cloud"). Languages like Java or .Net enable many web-based applications, languages like Python are common for interpreted scripting, and languages like R are the choice for many data analytics jobs. We used to introduce kids to basic programming concepts with languages like BASIC, but today, it's more likely they'll use some kind of visual editor to create code with Scratch, Blockly or some other instruction-oriented language. To those of you interested in things like this, the "HOUR OF CODE" events are happening this week (Dec 9-15). Find out more at hourofcode.com
  23. Do any of y'all do any kind of marketing of your unit during Scout Sabbath activities? (Scout Sabbath / Scout Sunday is the weekend of February 7/8 in 2020 ) Seems to me like it would be a natural opportunity for a little outreach within the CO. Let folks see what their unit does and invite kids who aren't in the program to come on out and see what it's all about. I don't think any kind of intrusive effort would be appropriate, but maybe just have some flyers on a table near the front door....or a small contingent outside the church before or after services to greet parishioners and answer questions (and handout flyers). I think the flyers should clearly tell people their kids are INVITED to come visit a meeting and join the troop. I'd like to call out the importance of specifically making sure that scouts and adults in the troop present a welcoming demeanor and INVITE the kids and parents to the troop (in a survey done by Toastmasters International, the number one reason that prospects said they didn't join a local club is because NOBODY ASKED THEM TO. Such a simple thing, yet too often overlooked. I think this happens in troops too. We get boys coming to visit, but do our boys tell the visiting boys that they WANT them to join? Do the adults hobnob with visiting parents and specifically TELL the visitors they would be welcome in the troop, and how to apply?) Anyway, back to Scout Sabbath.....do you leverage the event as a way to recruit members of your church or temple community? Any tips or tricks to make it work effectively but with an overriding reverence towards the faith?
  24. When narwhal tusks are outlawed, only outlaws will have narwhal tusks.
  25. This past weekend was BSA's annual Jamboree on the Air (JOTA). Did any of y'all participate? Story about this year's JOTA: https://www.ksby.com/news/local-news/northern-slo-county-boy-scouts-connect-with-scouts-overseas-via-radio-for-jota-joti-jamboree