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BAJ last won the day on March 25

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  1. Having gone through both recently, this is an absolutely true statement. There was some discussion of the need to stand back and the need to let scouts fail/failure as a teacher, but that was a small part among a large swath of other material. One person in my WB class mentioned that they’d taken back the lesson and in the weeks between weekend 1 and 2 gone from being a mostly adult led troop to a youth led one, because the amount of information provided, so that is evidence of “success” for extreme cases. But I really think @ynot hits the crux of it: Failure of the scouts to successfully build a fire on a beautiful summer evening for the campfire is different from failure to build that exact same fire, on that exact same day on a polar bear campout. Failure of a scout to bring enough clothes on a early spring outing is different than that same scout not doing so on a winter campout — which coupled with failure to build that same fire becomes an even bigger issue. The food issues are another — the scout who forgot to bring the cookies that his/her patrol requested in menu planning is one thing but failure to do things in a food safe way, or forgetting the food allergies of the quiet scout (who maybe mentioned it once and thought they had been heard) is different. There is also a line somewhere between Type A scouts being Type A scouts and Type B scouts being Type B where “overbearing” starts to look indistinguishable from bullying, and the consequences for a patrol or even troop could get much more serious... and so there is a responsibility to act there too, though no clarity where the line should be between “”let the kids continue to argue about the rules of kickball, perhaps with a reminder that A Scout is Friendly” and intervention. The last line above hit home for me “They either overcompensate and take it all over or they are gleefully and completely hands off.” In some cases the same thing is a safety issue where adult leaders should take over which in others they should let the scouts get wet and cold and miserable and come home from that campout talking about how much wet and cold and miserable taught them. But it is easy to default to one end of the spectrum: “everything is a safety issue, so we must intervene” or “We are Scout led, and so one of the scouts should really think to call 911 at this point, since we have three with First Aid MB and two working on E. Prep right now.” The experienced folks will say “it depends.” That “your experience will tell you how to thread the needle.” Which is fundamentally the correct answer and also completely unhelpful to new leaders. And telling them that they would do a better job if they were experienced Scouters with a capital S instead of newly entered leaders doesn’t help either. So the real challenge is how to “teach” that — or at least give them some tangible examples to model like @ParkMan cited above — but I expect that would be difficult since it would require a BSA risk person and legal counsel to approve a training where the syllabus lays out “how cold is too cold for a scout to get” before an adult makes a fire for safety rather than letting them continue building a log cabin fire entirely out of all the matchsticks they’ve used in their attempt to get their own started.
  2. Does anyone have any inside insight into what this means? I have a Scout who is a couple weeks away from starting to plan her Eagle project, which she wanted to be Hornaday eligible as well.
  3. Sure was in my experience. I took the online scoutmaster position specific training quickly (since I was coming back to Scouting from a long absence) and there were parts of it that were the worst virtual training I had ever experienced. Our leadership in our troop still jokes about the module on the structure of a troop committee meeting. Long time scouter suggested I do the in person if I had the time because the person teaching it was awesome. I did and am really glad I did. Definitely validates that in person can be much much better than the online “(not really) equivalent.” With respect to the recruiting for Woodbadge, there wasn’t much in my council that I experienced. A couple people mentioned I might like it, particularly since I’d gotten position specific trained quickly. I remembered that my SM from years ago wore WB beads and I’d never had much of an idea what they were for, but it seemed fitting for me to do it now that I was in a similar role...
  4. Prepping food individually is definitely an option (@Treflienne mentioned their troop is doing that in my thread about my project, and some other troops in my area are doing it as well) though it is logistically complicated. Agree on “just add hot water” options, though there would still be a need to make sure one person was doing the pouring to avoid everyone touching the same pouring container getting their own water. Our troop definitely settled on the foil meals option early. We didn’t do it scout by scout bringing theirs from home since we still wanted to try to do something as much like patrol cooking as we could. But the foil pack approach limits risk of cross contamination since once it has been in the fire for a while it is well sterilized, and then the only person touching it between cooking and eating can be the scout who is consuming it. For something that has cold ingredients (eg a scout in our troop did burritos with cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, etc.), the scout cook prepped the cold ingredient packs beforehand in reusable plastic containers. Each scout in the patrol got a prepped foil pack with the hot ingredients that went into the fire, and then assembled their own burrito with their cooked hot ingredients and their personal pack. Did the same thing for s’mores — assembled in a reusable plastic container 4 marshmallows, graham crackers and a chocolate bar, and each scout got one afterwards. For the lunch (which in our case was a trail lunch associated with the 15 mile bike ride for camping MB), the scout took sandwich orders and prepped everyone made to order lunches. An equivalent for breakfast was the “assemble your own zip-lock bag omelet” were all the ingredients they wanted go into a ziplock with egg mixture and get cooked in boiling water. Then they come out with tongs that essentially disinfected in the boiling water and go straight to the scout consuming them. Though there are a lot of simple prepackaged stuff that could work for breakfasts. That “pre portioning” actually worked much better than the next campout where the next scout cook didn’t do as much prep. Even though initially there was decent adherence to the one cook handing things out to limit contact, that broke down relatively quickly when there was an open bag of marshmallows sitting there. I have on my list doing some more prospecting around scout and outdoor cookbooks for more recipes and cooking options that are COVID friendly... but I am guessing the basic theme is things that can be pre-portioned before cooking (and there is a practical way to do individual cooking under camping conditions) and other options where contact can be minimized. The next best option down for risk reduction seems like it is what is in most of the checklists for restarting scouting — having a cook that does good infection control while cooking (masked, gloves, attentive to minimizing the potential for respiratory droplets) and serves up individual portions that scouts pick up one at a time to not have a cluster of people gathering around the food others will eat.
  5. I am so sorry that it wasn’t a good experience for you. I feel bad now for the cheerleading that I did before you headed out. While I wasn’t always having fun and did periodically roll my eyes at portions of the proceedings, I did find the overall experience a positive one (though having gone through both weekends now, I felt like I got more out of Weekend 1 than Weekend 2). It also sounds like I had the benefit both of a patrol that clicked (to the point that some of them were rolling their eyes at the same time I was) and also a much better staffed/run effort. Our troop guide was extremely good, such that I felt like I got a lot out of the small group discussions — and we did do the introductions and getting to know each other stuff very early. And our food was great too, in spite of some of the restrictions that were put on the proceedings as part of COVID management. Having just gone through the process myself, I would respectfully push back on this view, largely because I think that treating something like Woodbadge as a survival of the fittest exercise isn’t in the interest of the BSA. The sample of people who go to Woodbadge is a group of people who are interested enough in Scouting to spend a nontrivial amount of money and time doing something to try to enable themselves to be better contributors to BSA. Complex factors in all of their lives go them to that state, but also to a willingness to invest in BSA. And so creating a process that “weeds out” a measurable percentage of them and risks them leaving not just feeling bad about the experience but potentially disenchanted with the whole organization seems like a poor outcome for BSA. It also isn’t entirely fair to put this on individuals who might have “gone against their instincts” to participate. Having just gone through the decision process to participate myself, my suspicion is that no one really knows what to expect since it isn’t like there is complete transparency about what you are “getting into” (yes, there are some syllabi that have been posted on line, but there are also lots of people who say not to look at them, to go into the experience without expectation, etc.). It also makes sense that it is hard to clearly describe to people what it is, since (as others have said in this thread) it is somewhat of a mix of things trying to be many things to many different audiences simultaneously. Woodbadge also includes some elements that are designed to rub participants the wrong way — e.g., the point of some of the “competitive” exercises wasn’t what my patrol mates and I thought at the time, and so we got rather exasperated during the process at some points. Using that sort of thing as a teaching tool increases the burden on the staff and troop guides a lot... since the benefit of those sorts of exercises is bringing that experience back to a lesson where the exasperation becomes appreciation for how well the activity taught something that would have otherwise been difficult to communicate. If the “after portion” can’t bring it around to that point and the exercise just leaves everyone ticked off, then it’s done more harm than good. (In my view, some of the exercises at WB did that better than others). So I wouldn’t settle for an explanation that someone who left WB disenchanted or unhappy to this level wasn’t good enough or shouldn’t have been there in the first place, even acknowledging that not every activity can ever please everyone. Unless there are a lot of troops and packs with a serious surplus of engaged adult volunteers out there that I am not aware of, I don’t think I would settle for a program that is supposed to strengthen, energize and then cement enthusiastic volunteers to the organization for the minimum of the next 18 months instead resulting in giving people a hard shove away from BSA...
  6. As part of my Wood Badge ticket, I am trying to build some resources to help troops continue Scout-led activities while still managing COVID-19 risk in a way that works for them and their participating families. The first is a resource on reducing COVID-19 infection risk in camping (I will post my query about the second in a few days to cut the length of this post). What I am building is a menu of different ways to minimize infection risk during camping activities, starting from the guidance provided by National (mainly the Restarting Scouting Checklist) but providing many more options to further reduce the chance of transmission. The intent of the menu — intended particularly for units whose COs have not been comfortable with them resuming outdoor programming or where there are significant numbers of families who are uncomfortable with the risk — is to help these units build a risk reduction approach that will work for them and let them resume programming. My starting point has been as exhaustive a review as possible of all the Council, individual Council camp, troop/unit, and other Scouting program resources and guidelines that I have been able to collect (many of which have a variety of other approaches to further reduce risk beyond the National-level guidelines). I have also done a handful of interviews with units who have developed their own risk reduction approaches. What I am looking for from the collective wisdom here is any insights from your units’ experience camping during COVID conditions about approaches I should include in the menu and the practicality of approaches you have tried (since any strategy will only actually reduce risk if the Scouts both can and are willing to implement it) any pointers to particularly good resources I should review or units I should reach out to that might have approaches I should include in the final product If your inputs are of interest to a broader audience and you are comfortable posting them publicly that is great. If not, feel free to private message me and we can connect by email. My intent is to share the eventual product broadly (I will post here if that is permissible) but if you are interested in the product feel free to message as well so I can add you to my distribution list.
  7. Two of my five patrol mates had something similar to hold a good chunk of their gear. :) If you’d been in my patrol you’d have fit right in and I would have been the outlier with my avalanche of separate totes, backpacks, tent, etc. etc. etc.
  8. If they didn’t laugh at me.... you’re probably good. Our SPL actually told us not to worry about over packing, since they wanted us to sleep as comfortable as possible so we’d absorb the sessions. Have fun. I hope you get great patrol mates... they were really what made the experience fun for me.
  9. I had A very similar reaction to some of them before my course a few weeks ago. I just went to my backpack (just got back from Weekend 2 yesterday) and pulled out my now rumpled version... rumpled because it never left the backpack either in Weekend 1 or 2 and so it was sort of crunched down at the bottom. Looking at what I wrote my “answers” to some of them were just a few bullet points. And I had a real problem answering some of them. For example, thinking about the question about a leader who had significantly affected my life, many of the “leaders” I have had weren’t very good and some of them significantly affected my life... negatively. I remember sitting there going “If we discuss this at the course, I am going to really really bad being the guy who talks about how terrible person X was and why their leadership was a bad thing” ... so I sort of picked the most positive example I could find and wrote a half-hearted couple of bullets about him. But we never had a discussion that referred to the questionnaire at all, and the fact that I had thought that thru — why some of those leaders weren’t good — actually was useful since it sort of brought me into the mindset. I had some of the issues with some of the strengths questions too. One of the ones I listed was “follow thru... I finish what I start and say I will get done.” Seemed pretty lame as something to list as a leadership strength when I had in my head “leadership Strengths” with a capital S like “Inspiration” or “Vision,” but ... even though you will spend (a significant amount) time at the course talking about those sorts of things... having come out the other side and talked to a number of the other participants and thought again about other leaders I know, “Follow Thru” seems like a pretty good thing and might deserve capital letters too. So having experienced the whole course package at this point, I would say that the 20 questions aren’t about the answers but about the answering. We didn’t ever reference them in the actual course, but it was a useful exercise for me to think through some of the topics and issues, and it was actually some of the questions that I had the hardest time answering — and looking at my answers now, I don’t think where I ended up on them was all that great — that were most useful to have thought about.
  10. I actually thought the Inaugural Class concept was an elegant way to defuse the potential for a subset of the new female scouts (of which my daughter was one [Edit: though she was advancement focused she isn’t going to be in the inaugural class]) racing against one another to be the Eagle with the earliest BOR date and therefore the recognized as the very first female Eagle Scout. There are not that many opportunities in life to be the first of something, and for some people that possibility would be very.... motivating. As has been discussed in other posts, possibly for some parents who really really wanted their daughter to be that trailblazer... that high stakes motivation could create some very non-scoutlike incentives. The class concept took away the possibility of a single “winner” of that race by having a range of dates where everyone would be treated as part of that “group of trailblazers.” Personally, I thought it was a pretty deft way to actually reduce a pressure that could have reinforced some of the very things folks here on the forum lament about how there is too great a focus on accumulation of badges and less on the rest of what makes the program beneficial to the youth.
  11. I agree — I did some event photography over the years semi officially and the key is what Parkman said about being “purposeful and dignified.” As I got better equipment, I generally went to longer/telephoto lenses to record ceremonies so I could still get good photos from the periphery of the event to limit how intrusive I was being as much as I could, but the key is how your behavior and body language convey that you are recording the event and the participants versus the now caricature of the cell-camera wielding parent blocking everyone’s view to get a snapshot of junior...
  12. I really like this idea. But I would have that pool of funds focused on defraying costs of participation, rather than stipends. The active volunteers could choose to apply them to their scout’s costs — or, if they had the means — to have them defray the costs of others. Could be a model that both provided incentive for volunteering (a good outcome) and/or an alternative stream of support to allow scouts from more socio-economically challenged backgrounds to participate in what we have been observing is becoming an increasingly expensive activity.
  13. Since this discussion picking up again reprompted my interest, I did a little Googling. On the BSA licensing page (http://licensingbsa.org/trademarks/) they do list “Boy Scout uniform, insignia and emblems” on the list of example BSA trademarks, suggesting some level of trademark interest in the look of the uniform. In the brand identify guide (https://filestore.scouting.org/filestore/pdf/310-0231.pdf), they do flag specific hues as defined parts of the BSA branding (and helpfully put “Scouting” in front of each of them... e.g., Scouting Tan and even Scouting BSA Olive.). Not saying they should file a counter suit, but it would be nice if this could be used by skillful legal counsel to reduce the credibility of the suit against BSA that alleges potential brand confusion based on the relative placement of the words “Scout” and “Girl.” I am not a lawyer, but it would seem that if the relative placement of those two words could create confusion, the relative placement of the hues “Tan” and “Olive” in a very similar looking, potentially trademark-protected scouting uniform design could as well. Two wrongs may not make a right, but perhaps “two oppositely directed brand confusions might unmake a legal suit?” One fewer creditor couldn’t hurt in the proceedings...
  14. For a female scout who joined right at the beginning (February 2019), the timing is possible. The ranks with “time in grade” require 14 months, plus the time required to attain First Class. Since the beginning of February 2019 there have been approx. 19 months. So, assuming completion of First Class in 5 months, the timing is possible for an very advancement-focused scout. Particularly if the scout involved joined at an older age, and so was motivated by the deadline of aging out (setting aside the potential for extensions), it doesn’t surprise me that there are scouts who have either completed Eagle at this point or are near completion — even with the limitations of COVID on program in some areas. While there can be a legit discussion (and has been other places on the site) about speed to Eagle, etc. and whether the scout gets everything they could or should from the scouting program with that fast progress/focus on advancement, I can’t say I am disappointed with BSA and female scouts in BSA getting what I assume will be some positive national-level press and attention.
  15. This is an interesting point — having just gone through the revised curriculum, I mostly agree with you, though the program did have some elements that I think attempted to do this. There wasn’t that much explaining of the patrol method in great detail, but some of the activities did try to get the ideas across. And I think part of the issue is time constraints — I’ve only done Weekend 1 at this point, but there was a lot in there and not a lot of extra time. Thinking about this, I am struggling a little with how I would change things. I get the patrol method, even though I was less of a free range kid than some here (and was also a scout that was advancement-focused even when I was a kid, no parental pressure required. They do exist.). But it seems like there isn’t a ton to “explain” (admittedly simplifying some here to avoid too much typing) — the scouts are a group, they need to work together to solve problems and make decisions, their youth leaders need to (learn how to) facilitate that process and get the group to function together, rinse and repeat, and leaders need to butt out and let the scouts try, as needed fail, rinse and repeat. The problem is truly communicating that to adults who don’t intuitively see the issue with being more involved, solving the kids problems for them so they have “fun,” etc. I had the advantage of a really good trainer in my SM-specific training which I did in person rather than online... which I think helped a lot. I have no idea how one would successfully communicate these ideas in web videos and PowerPoint slides. To really “teach” that at something like the patrol method at WB what it almost needs a difficult task that the group of adults involved has truly never done before (since a group of scouts together is doing a lot of things they haven’t done before) and the troop guide doing what a good scout leader would do as they figure it out — asking questions that help the group think it through, standing back and resisting the urge to “help” etc. And then, once done, a discussion with the WB patrol about why they did things that way, how that had affected how the patrol approached the problem, etc. The challenge is — given at least my WB class had people with vastly different experiences and scouting tenures, what that “difficult task” would be. It may be that we will get something more like this on Weekend 2, so perhaps I am speaking too soon. For the scouts, I could definitely see an element of rank requirements for planning and executing tasks or little projects as a patrol — where at the lower ranks the requirement is describing how the group approached the problem and the role the scout played, and at the higher ranks it is about how the scout contributed to guiding others or (for the PL) leading the effort. Scouts in positions of responsibility could fulfill similar requirements to draw on members of their patrol to help execute tasks, where there could be more explicit thinking about how the small team worked together. This would be a different flavor for requirements — now they are essentially individual tasks/activities (though some must be done in the group/patrol context like “cook for your patrol on a campout”) the framing is still very individual. We do a little of this in SM conferences — where one of the topics we always cover is how the patrol is working, the role of the scouts in different activities the patrol has done, etc. So, even without explicit requirements, there is at least that venue as a way to reinforce the patrol method and patrol functioning.
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