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Posts posted by mrkstvns

  1. I know this thread is kind of crusty and musty, but I had a thought about how to approach the question of which Cyber Chip level is "right" for what kind of scout.  This is my opinion, not scripture, and it's based on having taught the Cyber Chip to scouts as a group activity several times over several years. 

    In general, I think the decision becomes more clear when you look at the program overall. There is an obvious progression in what's being taught at each grade/age level and there are differences in the language used in the requirements that kind of clues you in to what ages should be using which level.  

    The Grades 4-5 program (roughly ages 8-10), focuses on a couple of concepts that are useful for youngsters to understand:
    * passwords
    * trust ("trusted adults")
    Note the language used in requirements for this module: "den", "pack".....and more importantly, the content is conceptually basic. 

    The Grades 6-8 program (roughly ages 11-14), focuses on different concepts, and is flexible enough to accommodate some adaptation if the instructor/scouts/parents choose):
    * trust (extends this to identifying imposters, "Friends or Fakes")
    * appropriate use
    Note language changes to "patrol", "unit leader", etc., these concepts are more suited to ANY new scout in a BSA unit, regardless of whether they are still in 5th grade or not

    The Grades 9-12 program (roughly ages 15-18) introduces challenges more likely to be faced by teenagers with their own devices --- regardless of age. Topics include:
    * reputation (via, "Real Life Stories" --- look at requirement 4)
    * social media (take a look at requirement 3)
    * expectation of privacy
    Note again that different, more complex, risks are being discussed.

    Regardless of whether you could meet the letter of the requirements by letting a scout who repeated 5th grade continue satisfying the Cyber Chip requirements by repeating the same material he did as a cub is not really relevant.  If you are a scouter who believes in "servant leadership", you'll do what's best for the scout, and that's not necessarily letting him skate on a technicality by just doing the same thing over again. Hopefully, you're the kind of scouter who will mix it up a bit, and challenge the scout to grow....hopefully you'll have had him do the Grade 6-8 material for Scout rank and maybe even do the Grade 9-12 program for Star rank.  Not because you couldn't skate on by using the same Cyber Chip materials the kid did as Cub, but because that would be boring old hat that's not useful to building a genuine awareness that cyber security is a complex subject and there are a lot of risks we should be aware of as we grow up and become more active on more platforms.

    I say let the kid grow and don't keep him forever at the level of a 4th grader. That's no "service" to the scout.


    BTW:  I did a previous post here that discusses some more ideas around Cyber Chip.  You may find it useful...


  2. I love being a scouter, and one of the activities I most enjoy is being a merit badge counselor for subjects that I truly care about....especially Communications (which I regard as the single most important life skill for someone aspiring to a leadership role of any kind).

    In every class, we've written "letters to the editor" as part of requirement 7a. 

    Normally, that's the end of it.  After counseling more than 100 scouts on this MB, I can't recall hearing that the boys' letters actually got published --- or even got read by anybody outside the class. 

    Now, I have an example to point to of an MB class that wrote a group letter to a newspaper, which actually published it on their website....cool!



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  3. 13 hours ago, MattR said:

    And think about it. We walk into an area with 3' of pristine snow and create tracks and caves and tent slots all over the place. There's no way we can leave it the way it was.

    Nor should you even worry about doing so.  That would be missing the point (rely on the "authority of the resource").

    LNT practitioners generally regard snow as a "durable surface".

    Build those snow shelters! Stomp down a tent platform for the night!  It's all good because the next snowfall is going to cover up your traces and when things thaw out, not a trace remains.

    The only reason to worry about knocking down snow structures is to minimize the aesthetic changes, purely as a courtesy to anyone else who might be passing through. 

    • Thanks 1

  4. 22 hours ago, TAHAWK said:

    Snow shelters are "human impact" that reduces the experience for others.  Otherwise, Spring solves that problem - stacked up H²O - nicely where there is Spring weather.

    I would hope that most scouts on a winter camping trip would dismantle their snow shelters when breaking camp.  Isn't this SOP for your guys?

  5. 3 hours ago, dkurtenbach said:

    BSA's Soccer and Scouting initiative has been around for a while.  The idea was to use soccer to introduce Scouting into the Hispanic community.  


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  6. 10 minutes ago, dkurtenbach said:

    The problem with the Soccer and Scouting idea, in my view, is the notion that you can make Scouting more appealing by watering it down and making it look like something it isn't.  I'd put STEM Scouting in that same category.  Soccer is great, and maybe BSA should get into the soccer business, but don't call it Scouting.  STEM is great, and BSA has gotten into the STEM business, but don't call it Scouting.  

    Some STEM is okay....but it needs to avoid conflicts with the core outdoor program. Nothing wrong with a kid being interested in science and going for a Chemistry merit badge and a NOVA award...

    Things go wonky when you take it too far. Like BSA did with the stupid "STEM Scout" program.   (Or like *MANY* organizations do by watering down their STEM focus by stacking art on top of it and making it "STEAM" --- talk about a sure-fire way to guarantee that your program will be a failure!)


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  7. 43 minutes ago, SSScout said:

    Here in the NCAC, White Oak District,  MBCounselors must be registered with the District MBDean, who lists them with the Council.  Council has taken to checking MBC names and dates on Eagle Applications before the Scout may proceed to the Eagle BoR . There has been gnashing of teeth, to be Biblical,  about this.  


    IMHO, the NCAC practice you describe is an excellent demonstration of PITIFUL servant leadership. 

    If the scouters in Council were GOOD leaders, they'd be checking "downstream" --- looking at the blue cards or electronic advancement records *WHEN THE SCOUT EARNS AN AWARD AND THE TROOP BUYS THE BADGE FOR HIM*.  That way the scout has an opportunity to correct himself, and the troop can discover their sloppy advancement processes in time to nip future problems in the bud so they don't end up with a years-long procession of non-compliant sign-offs.

    Waiting until an Eagle BOR to verify that the person signing a blue card is actually a registered MBC is simply unacceptable. Sad.

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  8. 30 minutes ago, Jackdaws said:

    ... The only real 2 outdoor badges he worked on was the rifle and archery.   These 2 seem to be badges that seem like summer camp would be the best place to accomplish them, thus his disappointment of the lack of requirements marked as completed.  So unless he finds another opportunity during this year, he will have to repeat those again at next years summer camp in order to earn them.

    There might be ways to get partials done on those anyway. 

    • Our local council has a "Shooting Sports Fulfillment Weekend" where they open up the ranges at a nearby camp and provide certified instructors to help the boys --- any scout from any unit is welcome to come. 
    • The council also provides NRA and USA Archery instructor training periodically for adult scouters. We have several adults in our troop who have taken those classes and are now registered as MBCs. They provide qualified instruction for the troop as a group, but also work with individual scouts to complete merit badge requirements. 
    • The troop regularly has a "Shooting" campout at a council-run camp where we either use our own trained scouters, or arrange with council to have an RSO provided to us. Your troop might be able to do that too...depends on your council.
    • ...and of course, the scout can ask the Scoutmaster or use Scoutbook to find a local counselor willing to work with him individually (the classic method of earning merit badges)

    Our scouts thus have multiple avenues open to them to finish any shooting sports merit badges.  Check with your local council ---- I would not be surprised if there are more opportunities in your area than you might realize.

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  9. I heard that Rainbow Council is thinking about rolling out a program that combines soccer with scouting in the same unit. Instead of scout uniforms, kids wear soccer uniforms. Instead of learning first aid, they learn to roll around on the ground moaning like prima donas.  Here's the story:

    Since Rainbow Council is clearly on the cutting edge of combinatorial youth activities, here are some more ideas for them:

    • Combine karate classes with scouting: kids don't need to chop wood to build fires, they can karate chop those logs!  And if woods tools really ARE called for, they can always use a samurai sword in place of a hatchet (but only if the scout has a Totn Chip).
    • Combine scouting with marching bands.  A bugler playing taps is sooooo "OK Boomer"....let's have 50 kids play reveille with booming bass drums and a few slide trombones!
    • Modern parents like to make up sorry excuses for not going outdoors, pretending that it's the kids who want to stay inside. So let's combine scouting with therapy sessions!  Yeah!  We'll sit around in a circle, holding hands, spouting all kinds of PC BS about feelings and our own personal self worth while doing absolutely nothing of any value to anybody in society.  Then we'll have a big group hug instead of a flag ceremony.  What fun!
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  10. Autistic scouts face a number of challenges as they progress through BSA's advancement program. For a scout who is unable to express himself verbally, some of the Eagle badges are particularly difficult because the scout must find ways to communicate without words. How does a non-verbal scout ever manage to earn Communication merit badge if they can not stand up and give a 5-minute speech, or emcee a Court of Honor?  Well, here's a story about one young man with non-verbal autism who found ways to overcome any challenge the Eagle rank could throw his way...


  11. 15 hours ago, mashmaster said:

    In my times at camp, we would get a report on the evening of the night before the last day at camp and they had the counselors available to discuss what is in the report.  If we had any questions, we could talk with them about discrepancies.  

    Not a great solution, but it helped.  I would have preferred to see it daily so I could talk to the scouts throughout the week. 

    Better than no feedback, but no....not great.

    The problem is that the report goes to the scoutmaster, who has 20 or 30 scouts in his care. He scans through the report, and hopefully, big problems like a scout only getting one requirement signed off, will jump out at him so he can raise a question.  But there's a lot of socuts in a unit....and most of 'em are trying to earn 4 or more badges during the week....so there will still be problems that fall through the cracks.

    As TAHAWK says, in many camps, the "counselors" are actually scouts and the camp or council just "cheat" by pretending that a counselor back in the city is "supervising" the camp merit badge classes. Of course they aren't, which is why camps really need to get rid of all the BAD quality classes in their program. One camp my son's troop went to boasted they offered "over 60 merit badges".  Sad...they would be a better camp if they would just do 20 outdoor-focused badges really WELL. 

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  12. 7 hours ago, 5thGenTexan said:

    I was looking over the 20 questions tonight.  HA HA HA.  Nevermind.  Woodbadge is obviously designed for individuals who have high self worth and are optimists.  I'd just like some additional training.. not a way to further beat myself up.

    The great thing about scouting is that it's a very rich program, full of opportunities for people of diverse interests.

    If Wood Badge isn't the kind of training you want, maybe Powder Horn will be more up your alley.  Or maybe take an NRA class and become a shooting sports guru....or one of the American Canoe Association (ACA) instructor classes ---- there's never enough adults in the troop who really know how to teach paddle sports!  I've heard that BSA is rolling out an Angler Instructor certification class....maybe that would be of more interest. 

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  13. Stick to your guns, you've got it right!

    If the scout does not complete everything with the camp's counselor, then he needs to find another Merit Badge Counselor to complete the requirements.

    The only people authorized to sign off on Merit Badge requirements  are those who register with District/Council as a Merit Badge Counselor - position 42 (MBC is not a unit position) and counselors need to be approved for each badge they will counsel. Some badges require specific training --- for example, Rifle Shooting MBCs must have NRA Instructor training, Archer MBCs must have USAArchery instructor training, Scuba MBCs must have PADI instructor training, etc. 

    If your Life scout argues about it, just point him to BSA's Guide to Advancement. The rule is clear. 

  14. 1 hour ago, DuctTape said:

    There are a few species of moss (I do not know the names) which make fantastic TP. It is like using a wet-wipe. One species in particular my paddling partner and I call "the clean get-a-way"  (from the  commercial). This allows us to not have to burn used TP in areas which require it.

    Very interesting.

    I've always sought out the leaves of sycamore trees because they have a soft, velvety feel. Sycamore leaves are like Charmin Ultra compared to the rougher, thinner leaves of other trees. 

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  15. 21 minutes ago, Cambridgeskip said:

    To add to the last one, Neil Armstrong actually took his scout world badge with him to the moon! If memory serves it is on display at world HQ in Geneva.

    You're the only person to bring up the last point, which I think is the best testament of all as to the value of Scouting:   out of the 12 Apollo astronauts who walked on the moon, only *ONE* was never a scout.

  16. 1 hour ago, DuctTape said:

    The "smearing" or "frosting" technique shows a complete understanding of the principles when used appropriately. And a complete misunderstanding when not. I do not include it in my basic LNT instruction as it is suitable only in environments where those new to backcountry camping are not (or should not) be venturing yet. 


    LNT is not "rules". It's about making the right call because you UNDERSTAND the environment around you. The guidelines are starting points for discussion about what to do in different situations. 

    One of the 7 LNT guidelines is "Dispose of waste properly".  That means different things at different times in different places: The challenge is to have appropriate discussions so we think about what we're doing and why it's "right" or "wrong".  You are completely correct that some techniques (like "smearing") are best left until an appropriate situation arises and the participants are of an appropriate skill and experience level.

  17. 7 minutes ago, Saltface said:

    Usually, I bring wet wipes for this purpose. This link got me wondering if packing a peri-bottle or travel bidet would be able to replace toilet paper entirely. They don't weigh much and you obviously don't need to use filtered water. Has anyone tried it?

    Eliminating the TP entirely sounds like a GREAT idea....if your goal is to build up crusty skid marks in your underwear!

  18. On 11/18/2019 at 9:15 AM, mrkstvns said:

    Another Boy Scout troop in Minnesota also had their trailer stolen.  Their trailer was also unmarked...


    Police recovered the troop's trailer and arrested the culprit.

    While their camping gear was AWOL, the troop improvised by having a "cardboard" campout theme to try and understand the plight of the homeless. (I guess this is a case of when life hands you lemons, you make lemonade.)  

    The article says....

    "I'm trying to make a shelter for me to sleep in," Gabriel said. The plan for Saturday night for Gabriel and troop 254 was to throw a cardboard camping trip to raise awareness for the homeless population.

    The boys wrestled against the wind with their cardboard boxes to build shelter while collecting food donations for the needy. It was a lesson learned the hard way, much like the one they learned a few weeks ago when their trailer was stolen.