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Posts posted by mrkstvns

  1. 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:


  2. 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.

  3. 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

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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?

  7. 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...

  8. 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

  9. 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:


    • Thanks 1

  10. 2 hours ago, elitts said:

    Ugh, that stinks.   I think that the CC keeping his nose out of the day-to-day operations of the troop would probably have been one of my conditions for accepting the role.  My son just got elected SPL and I've been regularly reminding him that "it's his troop" for the next 6 months and if he needs all the adults to leave the room so they can get things done, (whether it's PLC or troop meeting) he's got every right to request that they leave.

    I suggest banning the CC from PLC meetings.

    He/she has no business there anyway.   

    • Upvote 1

  11. 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.

    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.

    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. 

    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?  

    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.

    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... 

    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!

    • Like 1
    • Upvote 1

  12. The International Scout Organization (scout.org) has a membership report that lists numbers of registered scouts in each country with a national scouting organization.  The report (as of December 31, 2016), shows six countries had a scouting organization with more than 1 million registered members.

    1.  Indonesia:  21,599,748

    2. India:  3,647, 843

    3. United States (BSA): 2,536,872

    4. Philippines:  1,934,255

    5. Kenya:  1,312,422

    6. Bangladesh: 1,112,293


    Source Report:
    https://www.scout.org/sites/default/files/library_files/Grand Total Membership with Genders at 31 Dec 2016_0.pdf 

  13. Saw an interesting article about scouts in Hawaii who are cutting Norfolk pine trees in their local scout camp and selling the cut trees for Christmas as a fundraiser to help them earn money towards the 2021 National Jamboree.  Seems that in Hawaii, Norfolk Pine, IS an invasive species, so cutting the trees helps the camp be more environmentally responsible....

    Gotta love a project that delivers multiple benefits!



  14. 10 hours ago, 5thGenTexan said:

    Today was out Christmas Pack Meeting.  I really needed to talk to parents today that still haven't paid fees so we can turn in recharter this week.  I had all the activities for the meeting planned and took the Den Leaders to the side this afternoon and told em they had this today.  I then moseyed around doing what I needed to today.  I kinda liked it.  :)

    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.

    • Upvote 1

  15. 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!

  16. On 12/6/2019 at 2:07 PM, SSScout said:

    Coding?  Enigma? Pigpen cipher? Oh wait...

    WITRAN,  FORTRAN,  COBOL, BASIC, those don't count anymore ?

    Worlds on top of worlds.....

    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

  17. 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?

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