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Posts posted by mrkstvns

  1. This morning, I read an article about a New Jersey troop that's suffered dwindling numbers.  They blame their problem on "scouts getting Eagle".

    Hmmm.  Methinks they haven't done enough self-examination.

    Getting scouts to Eagle doesn't cause the implosion of a troop.  Poor recruiting does.

    The New Jersey troop's story should be a warning to scouters that they need to be aware that there are a lot of factors that can make scouts choose not to join a particular troop....and few prospective scouts would cite "successfully helping scouts earn Eagle" as one of the reasons.

    In my opinion, the troop needs to...

    * focus on building relationships with Cub Scout packs so Webelos will want to bridge into a troop
      - invite Webelos to meetings and activities
      - have leaders attend Roundtables to meet leaders from Cub Scout units
      - participate in events like Webelos Weekend
    * promote the unit within the charter organization
      - are parishioners/members invited to visit troop meetings?
      - does the unit participate in charter org events?  (church picnic, Sunday socials, etc.
    * raise visitibility of unit in the community
      - blurbs in community papers
      - offer service to community groups / HOAs, etc.
    * make sure leaders are not complacent about membership
       (sometimes, even if you build it, they will not come....if not invited, encouraged, welcomed)

    Here's the story about the NJ troop:

  2. 19 hours ago, David CO said:

    Looking down the road, I think it is almost inevitable that, sometime soon, merit badges will be entirely taught (not counseled) by council employees, in a classroom-like setting (just like school).  Safe and efficient, standards-based, and totally boring.  

    I wish I could call that a stupid statement. I wish I could jump up and down in rage. I wish there was no way that such a thing would be allowed to happen.

    Sadly though, I shake my head and worry that you just might be right... 

    • Upvote 1

  3. On 1/15/2020 at 4:49 PM, MikeS72 said:

    Should not make any difference, although it does come with poles.  The 2lb weight is if you use the included poles.  Using trek poles instead knocks the weight down to 1lb 15 oz.

    Hmm.  That doesn't sound like much of a weight saving.  Yeah, 2 pounds is pretty light, but what's the advantage of "trek poles" if I'm only going to save a measely 1 ounce? (Last I checked, the difference between 2lb and 1lb 15 oz was exactly 1 ounce...


  4. I was disappointed when I looked in to Scoutbook and checked to see if I showed up as MBC for certain badges.  

    I do....but somehow, Scoutbook says I'm "willing to work with any scout in my district".

    That's no really correct.

    On the MBC registration form, I actually checked the box saying I would work with ANY scout. 

    To me, "any"  means "any".  As in, scouts in other districts, scouts in other councils, scouts who are male, scouts who are female, scouts who are christian, scouts who are buddhist, scouts who are gay, scouts who have disabilities, even scouts who are downright ugly.....ANY scout. 

    I'm a scouter because I believe in helping youth grow: I'd have to be a pretty big dirtbag if I said "No" to any scout who asked for my help...

    • Downvote 1

  5. 34 minutes ago, Treflienne said:

    Paper towels are a problem.  The kids go through a lot rapidly.  And then you have the garbage piling up, and, worse, blowing away.

    They are, indeed. Wasteful and messy.

    From the perspective of effectiveness in getting hands dry and germ-free, they are not to be beat --- except maybe by shaking hands dry, which can be a problem outdoors in winter where some days, some places (outside Texas), you might shake your hands frozen before they get dry. 😉 

  6. I used to think that "Scouting Professional" would be a dream job:  get paid to do things with scouts and go to camporees, summer camps, and other fun things?  Awesome!

    As I read some of the discussions in these forums, it doesn't sound so good.  Folks talk about...
    * low salaries
    * long hours
    * boring jobs (meetings, budgeting, marketing with little real hands-on "scouting")

    In the past, I've been switched off by "Commissioner College" that was nothing of the sort....just really boring topics.  Now I see a couple of legit university programs being offered that look like they might be fun, but that seem to focus a whole lot more on boring managerial content than on the real meat of what makes scouting (or any outdoor adventure) fun in the first place. For example:
    * Scouting degree program offered by WVU
    * Adventure Recreation Management degree program

    IMHO, volunteering in scouting is probably a heck of a lot more satisfying than doing it for the money.

  7. Christmas tree projects seem to have more ways to potentially benefit conservation and help scouts in myriad ways:  1) raise funds, 2) earn Eagle rank, and 3) earn Hornaday awards.

    I've posted her about some of these ways before, including a favorite approach of mine, re-building sand dunes to combat beach erosion.

    Now, I see an article about a California scout whose Christmas tree recycling project is being used as a way to provide habitat for juvenile fish:


  8. On 1/26/2018 at 1:01 PM, SSScout said:

    Well, Bugler is a PoR in everything save Eagle, I think that's right.  Ask him , if he would serve.   Bugling Merit Badge is fairly simple for a brass player.  One more roundel on the sash, eh?

    Fairly simple, eh?

    My son was a troop bugler for a while and the only calls he ever played were "Taps" and "Reveille".  I'll bet 90%+ of scouts have never heard any of those other myriad calls required by the merit badge.  (I never have either).  I think there's a reason why Bugling is the least earned merit badge in scouting, and esoteric calls is that reason. 

    Note: that isn't a criticism of Bugling merit badge. Quite the opposite.  It's good that there are still some merit badges that can't be earned by simply being present in a classroom for an insignificant classroom activity. When something requires effort, it has value to the scout.

  9. I like Treflienne's suggestions.  Hand sanitizer is a quick way around the problem, but it really isn't a substitute for actual washing with soap and water. Washing in a trickle of water, followed by the hand sanitizer can be a good approach. Even if the camp turns off water spigots in the winter, cubs usually car camp and tossing in a couple extra water jugs so you have water for hand washing seems like prudent planning.

    I would also add 2 points:
    * provide a way to dry hands, towels are environmentally friendly, but paper towels are more effective at reducing bacteria
    * consider temperatures: water freezes, wet towels can freeze, wet hands get cold fast, sanitizers sap body heat faster than water

  10. 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.

  11. 1 hour ago, elitts said:

    I strongly suspect that has to do with the increased cost of registration.  I know that when registration jumped up to $33 per scout, many of the troops in our area started purging the rolls of scouts who were inactive.  Where the year before the discussion was "These 7 scouts are still registered but we haven't seen them in 8-9 months, lets keep them on and hope they come back" that year it changed to "These 7 scouts haven't been seen in 8-9 months, lets go ahead and drop them, they can always re-register".

    I don't think it was really that the burden of the extra $9/yr was a problem, it was just the instigation of the discussion about whether it was really worth it to spend $200-$300 to save a little time on re-registering the 1 or 2 out of 7 scouts that actually came back for some reason.

    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.

  12. 2 hours ago, Eagledad said:

    Wow, that is a very interesting article. 

    I have a question, However, in the last paragraph, the author states we can do ""We do our children a great disservice when we send them negative messages about their emerging sexuality. Instead, we need to guide them into healthy patterns of sexual behavior that will serve them for the rest of their lives."

    What are the negative messages? Healthy patterns of sexual behavior? If religious youth are less likely to indulge in porn, what are their patterns?

    Seems like the article created more questions than information given. 


    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?

  13. 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:

    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...

  14. On 12/4/2019 at 10:40 AM, DavidLeeLambert said:

    I wouldn't think that a boy who got his badges only at merit-badge fairs, or only at camp, had been in a quality program; but if the alternative was 21 badges with the same counselor for all 21 of them, I wouldn't think he had been in a quality program either. If the organizers and participants have the right intentions, I think a "fair"/"blitz"/"university" can be a great way to progress a lot of scouts in advancement, have fun, and meet new people.

    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...


    • Upvote 3

  15. 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:


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