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Everything posted by mrkstvns

  1. mrkstvns


    Came across another outdoors-oriented web site that could be a good resource for scouting webmasters and anyone interested in picking up some new tips, tricks and ideas about outdoor adventures. I especially liked the info about wilderness tracking... Alderleaf Wilderness College: https://www.wildernesscollege.com/
  2. You're bringing back memories! That's exactly the way my troop operated when I was a kid --- every patrol kept and maintained its own set of tents, tarps, axe, saw, cookpots, etc. But that's not the way my son's troop operates: they have an equipment building at the chartering church where all the camping equipment is stored. The troop quartermaster figures out what is needed for a given trip and doles it out to patrols on an event-by-event basis. He has outsize responsibility compared to when I was a kid, when it was the patrol QM who shouldered most of the responsibility for gear. The old way seems to tie more strongly to patrol method. (I wonder how most troops do it these days....)
  3. Is Wood Badge a pre-requisite for the course, or can a scouter sign up for the PLC course regardless of prior WB participation?
  4. I'm not sure of the best way to do this, but it's also important that the leaders always keep in mind the need for succession planning. Keep an eye open for scouts who might show good leadership skills and who might be able to step up to a role if needed. Can the ASPLs pinch hit for the SPL? Are there patrol quartermasters who know how to pull all the right troop equipment for a campout if the quartermaster is out sick? Adults need to do this too. Who can step into the scoutmaster's shoes if he keels over from a heart attack tomorrow? Who knows how to do the advancement chair's job? Does everyone in a key position have a known backup? Strong troops will have a strong bench with people who can fill multiple jobs when push comes to shove. Troops that don't cross-train or don't have a succession plan in mind can easily fail in the absence of a key leader.
  5. mrkstvns

    Good morning/New to the Forum.....

    Howdy! Post those questions!
  6. Sometimes, that's exactly what's going on! Take "webmaster", which is an official position of responsibility, but that I've never seen actually done by a youth (there's an adult in our troop who administers the troop website). I wonder how many troops really do have a scout who does that role.... In the case of Historian, there's no adult doing the role....it's just not viewed as important to the troop.
  7. Troops should be aware of their leadership needs and "be prepared" for it. * regular ILST sessions after every election * encourage NYLT participation Personally, I'm not a big fan of having too many "troop requirements" for SPL. I like troops that let boys pick their own leaders, and I like troops that let scouts get a chance to meet a real challenge, whether or not the adults see their "potential".
  8. That raises an interesting point. Some of the positions of "responsibility" really don't involve any responsibility on a practical level and are typically treated by scouts in most troops as mere formalities to get a check-off on their advancement record. In my son's troop, that perfectly describes the roles of Historian, Order of the Arrow Representative, and Outdoor Ethics Guide. Granted, some scouts in some troops someplace in America might have actually done something to fulfill those roles, but in our troop, I have never in the past 5 years seen anyone who held any of those 3 jobs actually take on any meaningful responsibility. Kind of unfair when you think about it. The SPL works hard, attends the vast bulk of troop events, is constantly "on point", and he ends up getting the same amount of credit towards his next rank as the scout who was "Historian", never attended a single campout, and has rarely been seen in uniform at a meeting. Guess that kind of mimics real life though. You have kids, buy them tons of Christmas presents, spend hours wrapping them all, and then some fat guy in a suit gets all the credit.
  9. mrkstvns

    Camp info packet

  10. mrkstvns

    STEM Nova Awards for Cub Scouts

    If it's been more than a year since you last explored the idea of using BSA's STEM-Nova program to build science and technology activities into your pack's program, then you might want to take a fresh look. There have been quite a few updates to the entire STEM-Nova program, including some new awards for Cub Scouts that might not be on your radar. About STEM-Nova The Nova awards inspire curiosity about the sciences that make up our natural world. For Cub Scouts, the awards are intended for Wolf, Bear and Webelos scouts (not Tigers). Requirements Most Nova awards are straightforward for Cub Scouts and can be easily finished as a single-day activity. Award requirements vary, but generally, each award will require: Watching or reading about the sciences that comprise an award. Completing one or more related advantures, depending on grade level. Investigating an aspect of the science. Usually, doing some kind of experiment. Go see it: A field trip is typically part of each Nova award. Changes to the STEM-Nova Program Affecting Cubs When the Nova program was initially rolled out in 2011, it included four awards for Cub Scouts: Science Everywhere, Tech Talk, Swing!, and 1-2-3 Go! (corresponding to the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, respectively). The program continues to evolve and several new Nova awards have been added to the program, particularly in the past year. As of May 2019, there are now 10 Nova awards that Cub Scouts can earn. The newer awards, which many scouters may be unaware of, are: Down and Dirty - introduces Cub Scouts to the Earth sciences disciplines, including geology, weather, and oceanography. Nova Wild - Learn about wildlife, threats to their existence, and ways efforts to conserve wildlife, their habitats, and natural resources on which their lives depend. Out of This World - Explore the vast expanses of space as you learn about planets, galaxies, and the vast potential of space exploration and astronomy. Uncovering the Past - Grab your whip and fedora as you put Indiana Jones to shame, exploring the relics of the past. Learn about Archaeology, Anthropology, and whether or not Jurassic Park is ever likely to become reality. Cub Scouts Can Code - Its an ever-increasingly digital world we live in. Will you be one of the people bypassed by technology, or one of the people who makes it happen? Learn how machine logic works as you investigate how to program devices yourself. Fearful Symmetry - Patterns, balance and meaning, in nature and in human creation. What does it all mean? Can we create it or do we simply observe it? Info about STEM Nova awards for Cub Scouts: https://www.scouting.org/stem-nova-awards/awards/cub-scout/
  11. mrkstvns

    STEM Nova Awards for Cub Scouts

    Yep. A middle school science teacher would make a great Nova counselor. At the Cub level, the goal is really to get the kids exposed to science topics and even a parent with no specific education or experience can make a good Nova counselor. (At the Supernova level, education or expertise in a STEM field is expected). A den leader can easily incorporate Nova into the regular program, and it's at the cub level that Nova has been most embraced. Several years ago, when Nova first rolled out, the pack my son was in had several scouters who were gung ho about the possibilities it offered. Our pack committee chair was a homeschooling mom who loved doing field trips, so she arranged a great 1-day event. The boys watched a 1-hour video about the plight of wolves then everyone jumped in our cars to go to a wolf sanctuary not far from the city. Under the careful watch of sanctuary staff, the boys got to pet a wolf, make plaster casts of wolf tracks, and learn more about the wolves. They earned an activity pin, finished their "Science Everywhere" Nova completely within that one day, plus got an "Akela Award" patch --- the boys still talk about it as one of their most funnest cub scout activities. Just one example of what any pack or den can do...
  12. mrkstvns

    Printing Those Scout Shop Blue Cards

    I know some counselors have rubber stamps with their name, address, phone on them. Some counselors also print info on stickers. Avery makes labels in dozens of sizes and styles. There are templates that can be downloaded for many of these, and they're easy to modify in Word or other apps to handle specific things (like list of requirements done, appropriately spaced for the lines on a blue card). I do like perdidochas' suggestion to let scouts fill in most of it....that works well for me most of the time. The only really bad solution I've experienced is Scoutbook sending me (the MBC) an invite to access some scout's advancement record....especially when he's never even bothered to contact me first to chat about what he's doing. IMHO, Inconvenient and gratuitous use of technology is not a step forward. Seems to me like Scoutbook's developers never actually observed MBCs or real scouts to see how "the process" works in real life...
  13. mrkstvns

    Uniforms for Committee Members

    In past discussions, scouters have talked about trying to match velcro to uniform colors (e.g., khaki or forest green). If color concerns you, a solution might be clear velcro (if you can find it). Here's a link to it from Office Depot: https://www.officedepot.com/a/products/636525/VELCRO-Brand-Clear-Hook-Loop-Fastener/;jsessionid=0000TxLKcAE5z0hiZ9EUOfOwFoH:17h4h7ceo?cm_mmc=PLA-_-Bing-_-Tape_Adhesives-_-636525
  14. First Aid is not a bad choice for first year either, but I don't recommend it for our troop because we have a couple of first-rate First Aid counselors, including one who is a nursing professional and one who is certified as a first aid and CPR instructor. These folks put on an in-troop workshop that's at least twice as long as a typical summer camp's First Aid MB class and it's a heck of a lot more fun to do things in troop with your friends and fellow scouts. First Aid merit badge workshops are often readily available in most communities. It's a badge that is easy for the scouts to earn during the school year, so I don't recommend our boys spend their summer camp time on it when they could be out doing canoeing, archery, horseback riding or some other fun badge that is not always available close to home.
  15. mrkstvns

    Balanced Advancement Timeline Goals

    Exactly right. I'm the ASM in our troop tasked with guiding the PLC in implementing the First Class program. I've been doing it for a few years now. Things changed quite a lot in 2016. Before that, Scout rank was a slam-dunk that could easily be done in the first meeting or two. The 12-month target was realistic. After 2016, it took more work to get past Scout, and most scouts needed closer to 18 months to reach First Class. Scout rank is still mostly easy, but the new scout patrols typically take a few weeks before they figure out their patrol identity (patrol name, yell, emblem, flag). The real stumbing block for Scout rank though seems to be requirement 6. New scouts coming into our troop struggled particularly with the requirement around reading and doing exercises in the the youth safety brochure in front of the scout handbook (most parents didn't doing it and most scouts were bored to tears by it). Requirement 6 also required Cyber Chip. Less than 10% of incoming scouts had a Cyber Chip from their webelos den, and again, parents had no clue how to guide their kids through it, so the troop started doing a Cyber Chip class every 6 months, 1 geared towards grades 6-8 (for new scouts) and one geared towards grades 9+ (more for those who need it for Star or merit badges). In our troop, we make sure that it is always possible for every scout to earn First Class within a year. Most won't, but it is always possible. I work with the SPL and PLC to make sure we have Guides and Instructors who can teach the skills needed for rank advancement and that we have suitable opportunities to do things built into either the weekly meetings or camping trips. We also have certain events scheduled for the new scout patrol outside of regular meetings and campouts: these include a map/compass session with a 5-mile hike, an orienteering afternoon at a nearby park, and an invited speaker (lawyer, politician, etc) to talk about citizenship. From a typical incoming new scout patrol of about 10 youth, we'll have... * 2 scouts who finish First Class within their first year * 4 scouts who finish First Class in 18 months * 1 scout who just likes activities and takes 2-3 years to reach First Class * 2-3 scouts who drop out, even though the troop is hugely active and always has opportunities for scouts to do anything they want in scouting
  16. Those of us in the Sam Houston Area Council have been awaiting this camp's opening for a couple years now. SHAC is the 4th largest council in the U.S., but has not had a single operating summer camp since 2017, when the council closed El Rancho Cima (the original Camp Strake closed in 2014, and construction of the new Strake commenced). The projected opening of the new Camp Strake has been delayed several times (mostly due to wet weather forcing delays in construction plans). Can't wait to camp at the new Strake! Being an avid outdoorsman, I particularly appreciate the site being adjacent to the Sam Houston National Forest --- the camp might only be 2800 acres, but with all that protected forest right next to it (and the Lone Star Hiking Trail passing nearby), it gives scouts a "virtual" camp of more than 150,000 forested acres). Can't wait!!!
  17. I'm the ASM in our troop who guides the "first year" program and every year many of the new scouts and their parents ask for guidance around merit badge selection. It's not a matter of "telling" anyone what to take, it's a matter of helping guide them towards common-sense choices that really will meet the needs of the scout. Those choices are definitely going to vary from troop to troop and camp to camp. Our troop *does* incorporate much of the Tenderfoot -> First Class skills into its regular program, plus we add in activities specifically geared towards the new scout patrol (like a 5-mile hike, an orienteering event, a Totn Chip class, etc.) Because of that, our younger scouts don't really need the "First Class Emphasis" programs at summer camp. My recommendation to first-year scouts and their parents is what most folks here have said: * avoid the "classroom" merit badges and most eagle-required merit badges, but... * take Swimming MB (cools you off during the day, it's fun, and it prepares you down the road for Lifesaving and many of the aquatic activities the troop does) * focus on FUN, consider.... - a waterfront merit badge: Canoeing, Kayaking, Rowing are all fun and good choices for a first-year scout - a shooting sports merit badge: camp is an ideal setting and Archery and Rifle Shooting are ideal for a first-year scout * focus on something unique that isn't readily available in-troop or in our local community. Consider... - Horsemanship MB - a camp craft, perhaps Leatherwork or Wood Carving * don't overschedule: leave some free time each day to try something new or just goof off with friends
  18. mrkstvns

    Scoutmaster annoyed son on camp staff

    Simple. You have a good scoutmaster and are in a troop that provides challenges and opportunities. Be glad you have the opportunity to grow. Make the most of it (and have fun!)
  19. mrkstvns

    Scoutmaster annoyed son on camp staff

    If you embrace the concept of "servant leadership", then doing what you can to get the scouts into a role like camp staff is exactly what you should be doing. Help challenge the scouts to grow and spread their wings and embrace new challenges. As the scouts get older, camp staff is a great option for them (and it sure beats having them bored to death being forced to do yet more merit badges they don't need). Things like OA Trail Crew are another great way to let older scouts leverage what little time they have left in scouting into meaningful leadership and service. One of the great advantages of *NOT* having your older scouts at summer camp is that it provides an opportunity for the the mid-level scout (maybe a 13-year old Star) to be acting SPL for a week and to get a taste of the kinds of leadership responsibilities that go with the SPL job. This situation can be a real win-win for everyone if you let it be.
  20. mrkstvns


    I'm sure those years of submarine experience gave you plenty of fodder for great campfire stories!
  21. mrkstvns

    Scoutmaster annoyed son on camp staff

    Sounds to me like a new Scoutmaster who hasn't earned his experience yet. Most Scoutmasters want to see the boys in their troops mature over the years and grow to take on increasing responsibility. That's exactly what camp staff provides. It's an increased level of responsibility and might well be the first time the scout has been away from home "on his own"....without even the comfort of his friends and scoutmaster to back him up. Most kids will get that when they move on to college, but for the scout working at summer camp, he gets the opportunity to experience it a little earlier. Ignore a scoutmaster who tells you such things. His lack of wisdom will also grow and mature over time...
  22. I was reading a post about Wood Badge and it occurred to me that patrols today are not quite like the patrols of yesteryear. In Wood Badge, traditional animals are used for the patrol name and emblem. Owls, Bears, Eagles, Beavers....these are the things of patrol names for Wood Badge (which allegedly takes its inspiration from B-P, Brownsea, and the earliest days of scouting). When I was a scout, things had changed only slightly. In the 70s, we still had a lot of animal name patrols, but I suspect it's because that was what the scout shop stocked for patches. My first troop mixed up the ages in a patrol, and we had a 17-year old Eagle scout as our patrol leader. He must have been reading Lewis Carroll because he named us the "Jabberwocky" patrol and our emblem was a blank patch. After a year, he aged out, we elected a younger patrol leader, and our first official act as a boy-led patrol was to change our name to the "Undertakers". The good thing was that we kept the blank patch, but got a marker and drew a gravestone with "RIP" on it. Today, as an adult leader in a large troop with 7 patrols, I don't see a single traditional animal name. When animals are used as the mascot, they invariably have an adjective preceding their name. "Toxic Kangaroos", "Nuclear Lobos"....you get the picture. As I browse through the patrol patches on web sites like ClassB, I see two classes of patrol names that seem to dominate (presumably across the scouting world): 1) Mutant Animals, and 2) Whimsical Whatever. Here's a few amusing examples of real patches that are in stock and ready for you to order today: MUTANT ANIMALS: Angry Owl Angry Squirrel Bad Cat Cosmic Cardinal Dab Cat Evil Blue Bunny Flaming Chicken Killer Panda WHIMSICAL WHATEVER: Amish Electrician Bag of Mulch Bozo Chaos Dancing Mummy Flaming Sock Loose Screw Man in Blue Shirt Bitten Donut Cat Herder Dancing Banana Do you miss the innocent animal patrol names of yore? Think Wood Badge should update their patrol for 21st century scouting?
  23. Seven scouts and four adults were traveling home from a camping trip when they were involved in an accident with an 18-wheeler. The scouts' vehicles were completely engulfed in flames, but fortunately, all escaped serious injury. Story... https://www.sun-sentinel.com/sports/miami-heat/fl-sp-boy-scouts-survive-crash-20190624-jvdsrcru4rhy7o5t7fnpklaq3e-story.html
  24. mrkstvns

    Scouts OK in Fiery Crash in Florida

    More about the crash is here... https://wsvn.com/news/local/miami-shores-boy-scout-speaks-out-about-fiery-turnpike-crash-near-orlando/
  25. He's not the first to do it, but a Houston area Eagle scout became the latest to earn every merit badge available to him... https://abc13.com/society/houston-teen-earns-all-138-boy-scout-merit-badges/5358948/ I wonder how often that happens...