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cchoat

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cchoat last won the day on October 15 2016

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About cchoat

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    District Commissioner
  • Birthday 06/01/1962

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    Male
  • Location
    Louisiana
  • Occupation
    Military Pay Supervisor
  1. As a Scoutmaster, two trained and qualified ASM's I have, but what my troop really needs is a Troop Committee. There is a lot of behind the scenes stuff that really needs to be spread out, to avoid burnout. I need people to do the back office stuff (Advancement Chair, Transportation Chair, Activity Chair, treasurer, etc.) so that we can concentrate on our jobs. A national campaign advertising not only for youth, but for adults is an excellent idea, that can only aid us in recruiting leaders. Training is a problem we can overcome. But without the adult volunteers, all the training in the world will be taking place in an empty classroom.
  2. Who's got these Boy Scout Movies?

    Just added a copy of "Mr. Scoutmaster" staring Clifton Webb to my collection along side "Follow Me Boys"... Next addition will be "Moonlight Kingdom" Not boy scouts, but a good movie that we showed during a staff workup weekend for a Wood Badge course I staffed.
  3. Dealing with Helicopter Parents

    I as Scoutmaster, hold a mandatory "Welcome to scouting" meeting for all new parents when their sons cross over from Webelos, and sit one on one with parents whose sons join during the year. The purpose of this meeting is to explain how a troop is run differently than a Cub Pack, and that as Scoutmaster, I am the official "Air Traffic Control Operator" and that all "Helicopters" are grounded, no exceptions. Parents seem to understand this when presented with context, why we do things this way. I keep parents who wish to stay for the meeting separated from the scouts, and remind them that they are not to interfere with the meeting, unless they witness a serious health or safety issue. It works. Those parents who feel uncomfortable are given the name and number of the troop down the road. Of course, they don't tolerate helicopters either....
  4. Merit Badge Class . My Thoughts

    I have been using this very issue as part of my thesis for my Doctorate in Commissioner Sciences. Promoting the “out†in Scouting. Council Camps and Merit Badges. Have we forgot we’re outdoors? Clive S. Choat District Commissioner, Thunderbird District, Calcasieu Area Council DRAFT Copy for Comment Executive Summery This thesis will look at the merit badge process, how it is being applied at council camps, and what we can do to both enhance the merit badge process, and the outdoor camp experience. Some of the things that I am proposing is the elimination of "teaching" merit badges that can be worked in a classroom setting (such as the three citizenship merit badges, family life, emergency preparedness...) and concentrate more on those things that a camp environment can offer (swimming, camping, sailing, rowing, canoeing, wilderness survival, pioneering...). I will also suggest ways that local councils through their districts can recruit and train merit badge councilors, thus delivering the promise of the Scouting program. This thesis does not intend to bash these council run camps, because we are aware that they are trying to provide the best program they can, given their limited budgets and resources. It is our hope that it will help better serve or Scouts and point the way to possible solutions. Table of Contents Defining the Issue The Merit Badge Program Restoring the Merit Badge Process in a Council Suggestions for Improving the Camp Experience Conclusion Bibliography Defining the Issue Summer camp—Summer camp is what many Scouts enjoy most. Camp programs provide numerous opportunities for Scouts to earn merit badges along their advancement trail. Resident camp includes at least five nights and six days of fun outdoor activities. ― The Boy Scout Outdoor Program, BSA Website It’s well known that the outdoor adventure is the promise made to boys when they join Scouting. As leaders, it is our responsibility to ensure that our Scouts get the type of program that that stirs their imagination and interests. It is in the outdoor environment that our scouts have the opportunity to obtain skills that will allow them to become more self-reliant. It is here they can explore activities such as hiking, canoeing, sailing, pioneering as well as complete challenges they may have thought to be beyond their ability. But is this the program we are giving them? As a Commissioner, have you ever had a Scout leader come up to you and question the validity of a scout’s merit badge progress report from a summer or winter camp? Or a parent complaining that their Scout didn’t get all the badges he signed up for? It’s become normal for Scouts (and their parents) to measure success by how many merit badges they (or their son) earn, and are vocal if the scout comes back with partial completions or no badges at all. Given the cost of the camp, parents expect something tangible in return, else they feel that they have not got their monies worth. Some camps therefore, have over the years cultivated a reputation (whether deserved or not) of being “easyâ€, with requirements and completions. Thus the ability to earn merit badges have become one of the primary reason why many Scout leaders choose one camp over another. A quick look at how the average council run summer/winter camp advertises itself based on how many different merit badges it offers, but not on the quality of its instruction or staff, or other programs that allow the scout to experience the outdoors. To meet these promises, many of these camps rely primarily on either youth staff members under the age of eighteen, or those adult unit leaders, attending camp with their troops and hastily recruited to teach a merit badge that they not only were not expecting to do or prepared for, but quite often not even familiar with the merit badge requirements or field. So although the promised “number of badges offered†is high, the quality of instruction is highly questionable. During my research on this topic, I asked for comments on the Scouter IPS Community, a forum set up for Scout leaders to discuss various topics relating to Scouting. One comment struck me hard. “I am not paying $500 for my son to have a personal vacation. Right or wrong, I expect some kind of return on my investment. I would assume that many parents feel the same way and have not been told how merit badges work so that leads to disappointment and frustration.†(The $500 dollar price tag included transportation costs) So is the message we are sending about what the purpose of camp is wrong? The Merit Badge Program As Commissioners, let’s ask ourselves these questions. Do merit badges exist simply for the purpose of providing scouts the opportunity to learn skills? Is correctly utilizing the merit badge program important to a scout’s advancement? Can a large group of scouts really earn Eagle required merit badges in a classroom environment in three or four 50 minute sessions? Do Scouts benefit if they simply show up, do nothing and are awarded the badge? What merit badges should and should not be offered at council run summer and winter camps? Before we explore each of these questions, let’s remember that as Commissioners, we are the guardians of the Scouting program. As such, one of our responsibilities is that we are charged to see that the program is being delivered as directed by the guidelines and policies set forth by the national headquarters. One of the keys to this program is Guide to Advancement which defines the merit badge program. “Earning merit badges should be Scout initiated, Scout researched, and Scout learned. It should be hands-on and interactive, and should not be modeled after a typical school classroom setting. Instead, it is meant to be an active program so enticing to young men that they will want to take responsibility for their own full participation.†― 7.0.3.0. The Process of Counseling The merit badge process was designed to give scouts the opportunity to get out into the community and meet with adults who in turn could mentor them on topics of interest to the boy. It is designed to give the Scout the confidence achieved through overcoming obstacles, improve their social skills and develop self-reliance. It allows the scout to explore fields of study and interest outside of the school classroom. The process starts with the scout showing an interest in a merit badge subject and discussing this with his Scoutmaster or designated assistant. The Scout is connected to a counselor, who has registered with the BSA and has demonstrated knowledges and experience in the field the badge covers. The merit badge counselor acts as a coach, assisting the Scout in completing the requirements to earn the badge. While merit badge counselors are permitted to guide and instruct a Scout on the subject matter, the Scout must do the work himself. When one counselor works directly with one Scout and his buddy, or with a very small group, personal coaching and guidance can be achieved. This why the recommended best practice as stated in the national guidelines is the small-scale approach for merit badge instruction and requirement fulfillment. Large group instruction, while perhaps efficient, doesn’t provide the desired results when it comes to both learning and positive adult association that the merit badge program intends. This is why it is important that districts and councils should focus on providing trained, qualified merit badge counselors for as many subjects as possible, and made available to the Scouts. Sadly, many scouts, instead of getting blue cards from their scoutmasters and seeking out merit badge councilors, are earning all or the bulk of their badges in a council sponsored camp environment. In doing so, we have allowed the merit badge process, and in turn, the advancement process to be watered down, and have turned our summer and winter camps into factories, with the main goal to have the boys earn as many merit badges as possible. This has led to a detrition of the merit badge program as quantity of badges offered takes priority over quality of instruction, and detracts from the outdoor experience. “In Boy Scouting, advancement requirements must be passed as written. If, for example, a requirement uses words like "show," "demonstrate," or "discuss," then that is what Scouts must do. Filling out a worksheet, for example, would not suffice. “ ― 4.2.0.1 Scouting Ranks and Advancement Age Requirements Camp Directors will point out that 7.0.3.2 in the Guide to Advancement allows group Instruction. And while it may be true that BSA deems it to be acceptable, and that under certain circumstances even appropriate that merit badges be taught in group settings, every Scout in attendance must “actually and personally†have completed the requirements, as spelled out by the merit badge. If the requirement states that the Scout must “show,†“demonstrate,†or “discuss,†then every Scout must do that. The Guide goes even further, clearly stating that “It is unacceptable to award badges on the basis of sitting in classrooms watching demonstrations, or remaining silent during discussions.†(The Merit Badge Program, BSA National Website, 2017) And yet we find in many council camps, groups of 20 or more Scouts are taking Eagle required merit badges such as Citizenship in the Community, Nation or World. The expectation that badges such as these can be completed and earned in a group that large over a short period of time (3 to 4 fifty minute classes) is stretching the bounds of possibility, considering the fact that if conducted to standard, of the eight requirements, each scout would have to “discuss†four requirements, “explain†one, “show†one and “tell†two. Yet somehow, scouts are returning home with completed Citizenship in the Nation merit badges. Adjustments, compromises and exceptions have had to have been made to allow every Scout to “complete†the requirements to earn the badge. Add to this mix, one counselor (who may or may not be underage, or inexperienced in the subject) can be found running several classes each day, and there is no way to know if a Scout actually actively participated, or just showed up. National guidelines clearly spell out that “The same qualifications and rules for merit badge counselors apply to council summer camp merit badge programs. All merit badge counselors must be at least 18 years of age. Camp staff members under age 18 may assist with instruction but cannot serve in the role of the merit badge counselor.†(The Merit Badge Program, BSA National Website). This means that those staffers serving as merit badge counselors must be registered in Scouting, and both knowledgeable and qualified in the subject that they are hired to instruct to sign off on merit badges. It puts the onus on the Camp Director to certify that these standards are met, and that all badges were earned in compliance with the Guide to Advancement. However, the Camp Director is limited by many factors, the most pressing of these is money. In order to keep costs within the limited budget set forth by the council, the Director is limited to just how many staffers he or she can hire, and how much they can offer to pay them. Coupled with a need to offer as many merit badges as possible, this means that hiring an all adult staff, qualified in the various badges offered is an unobtainable goal. Instead, the pot is spread by hiring youth members, and assigning them as merit badge councilors for several different badges. In addition, pleas are made for the adult leaders attending camp with their units to assist by teaching merit badge classes that the director could not fill. Restoring the Merit Badge Process in a Council So how do we fix these issues? I suggest a two pronged approach to this issue. First, restore the credibility of the merit badge program by requiring that Scouts complete the requirements as written, and second review the merit badges that a camp should be offering, tailoring them to accentuate the facilities the camp can offer, and in turn, returning them to providing a great outdoor experience. To restore the credibility of the merit badge program, we must first look to recruit qualified merit badge councilors. While this may be the responsibility of the District or council advancement committees, (who are, by their nature, charged with the recruiting and training sufficient counselors in order to meet their unit’s needs) we as Commissioners must always be on the lookout for individuals that can serve. An already present resource in the councils are their registered adult leaders. Scoutmasters and assistant scoutmasters should be encouraged to sign up as merit badge counselors, taking on one to three badges of subjects that they are both qualified and comfortable. Unit Commissioners should work with the Scoutmasters to identify other unit level leaders and parents, who might also be interested to serve. From both of these sources, a master list should then be compiled for Scoutmasters to refer to when a Scout is ready to pursue a merit badge. District and Council Commissioners can network with those who belong to the same civic groups as they do, such as the American Legion, the Lion’s Club, Shriners, PTA, etc. By doing so, we can gather names of people who may be qualified to serve, and pass them along to the advancement committee for follow-up. In addition, we can help ensure that these individuals are fully supported by conducting both Youth Protection and the Merit Badge Counselor training. Suggestions for Improving the Camp Experience Camp. The word as defined by Webster’s is “a place usually in the country for recreation or instruction often during the summer, a program offering access to recreational or educational facilities for a limited period of time, such as a resort offering boating and hiking campsâ€. For the purpose of this paper, I will be breaking out the three types of camps currently run by the BSA, these being High Adventure, Traditional and Combination, but will concentrate on the Traditional. At the pinnacle of Scouting’s camps lies the High Adventure Camp. (HAC) These camps offer specialized, unique scouting opportunities such as back country backpacking expeditions, sailing and scuba diving, wilderness canoe excursions, Philmont Scout Reservation, Florida National High Adventure Sea Base, Northern Tier and the Summit Scout Reserve are the best known of these, with Swamp Base in Louisiana and Sea Scout Base-Galveston two local examples. A combination camp offers scout units the choice of either the traditional camp experience, or a specialized program. One such example of this would be the Sid Richardson Reservation, run by the Longhorn Council in Texas. This camp offers attending Scouts the choice to either participate in a traditional summer camp experience (earning merit badges) or in a series of high adventure activities that do not lead to merit badges, where the Scouts immerse themselves in various historical periods where the can experience life as a Texas Ranger, Civil War soldier, UFO hunter, and other fun activities. This brings us to the Traditional Camp experience. When one thinks about the traditional view of a Boy Scout summer camp, the mind congers an image of a woody place with hiking, canoeing, and campfires. But today, many of our council camps have changed this view with a greater emphasis on offering as many merit badges as possible. This is largely to counter a trend in decreasing enrollment in summer camps, due to competition from other council camps as well as non-scouting venues. But you say, “Don’t the Scouts want to earn merit badges?†Yes, in a sense they do, and because of this, the camp has become almost an extension of school. Instead of taking time to just relax and enjoy nature, our scouts are regimented into a schedule of six to eight periods of instruction of fifty minutes each with 10 minutes to move from class to class. Many of the badges offered are neither nature or outdoors related at all, and are all but impossible to complete in the allotted time, and the subjects being taught could have just as easily been done at the Scouts normal meeting places or in his community. While some camps take time off from this schedule to offer inter-camp activities, these are usually poorly attended by the units, as the boys tend to use this “free time†to do the things that they really want to do. So what is a cash strapped Camp Director to do? First, take stock of what your camp has to really offer a Scout, in order to get the most out of his outdoor experience. The Scout is your customer. Your job is to give the customer good service and value for his money. A summer camp environment should allow the Scout to learn new outdoor skills in a safe and nurturing environment. What merit badges can you offer that a Scout that fits your camp environment? With the facilities you have? What special activities can you offer that will set your camp apart and make scouts want to return year after year? Is it more important to offer fewer Scouts a great experience, or cram in as many Scouts as possible, with multiple meal times and packed classes to maximize profit? If you can offer fun, you will get return business. If you’re going to offer merit badges, limit them to those badges with connections to the outdoors. Remember this rule, if they can earn it at home, then why are they coming to your camp? Take the time to ensure that your councilors are trained in the subjects that they will be instructing. If the trainer doesn’t know what he or she is teaching, the Scout’s will quickly see through the bluster and take advantage of the trainer’s weakness. Nothing is more frustrating than feeling as if you’re wasting your time. Keep the class size small. This is especially true for those classes being led by youth staffers, who should already have experience managing a patrol size element, but will be overwhelmed with a large group. If a class proves to be popular, offer multiple classes at the same time with separate instructors, instead of adding more Scouts to the class. The key is that Scouts learn better in small groups. Schedule classes in the morning, and offer open sessions in the afternoon, where scouts can practice the skills they learned. It is one thing to have a formal class in rowing, let them check out a boat and row on their own. Encourage patrols to organize a hike, work on a gateway for their campsite. Instead of a dining hall prepared dinner, set up an open charcoal pit and allow the Scouts to make their own tin foil dinner one night, or issue them a grub box and have them prepare their meal in their campsite. Offer activities for the adult leaders. Don’t look at them as extra staffers to plug your staffing holes, but as customers as well. This is where your Camp Commissioner (CC) comes in. He or she is the go to person that these leaders will approach if any issues come up, freeing up the Camp director to take care of other activities. The CC should be responsible to provide activities to keep these individuals occupied, such as training opportunities and fun activities throughout the day. One of the best ways is for the CC to have a Scoutmaster Merit Badge program, where the unit leaders participate in various activities such as judges for contests, helpers at the ranges, cooking skills demonstrations, training participation, etc. The key to remember is that although the Scouts may run their units, the Scout leaders have the ability to sway these camp decisions. A comfortable Leader lounge with coffee or lemonade, where they can go and relax, is an inexpensive addition that should not be overlooked. Or, why offer merit badges at all? Instead, have all areas open for the Scouts to explore as they please. This can be done at the individual level, but a better suggestion would be to keep it at the patrol level. As the troops Patrol Leader Conference (PLC) normally decides where a troop is going to camp, let’s work on the assumption that the troop will all attend the same camp. Before arriving at camp, the patrols will have already been given a list of available activities to plan out what they would like to do. Each patrol within the troop would pick and choose from the activities offered to build their own program. This can be done electronically using the internet so that the Program Director can gauge interests and if necessary reassign staffers in advance to meet demand. In addition to the SPL, Patrol Leaders will attend a daily camp wide PLC, where patrol leaders will be informed of additional activities that have become available ( if say a patrol cancels an advanced planed attendance), or changes to the program due to weather related issues. If not already done electronically in advance, the Program Director would have sign-up rosters for popular classes (such as the rifle range, or waterfront activities to avoid overcrowding) available for patrol leaders to sign up for each morning. In this way a New Boy Patrol would concentrate on Scout thru First Class outdoor requirements that they have not yet completed, as well as mix in some other fun activities, while the venturing patrol can spend its week doing nothing but water related activities. With an open program, Scouts would have the freedom to explore many different activities, rather than four or five merit badges. How would this look? Instead of teaching the Cooking MB class, the staff can offer to do patrol sessions on various types of cooking, (Dutch oven, backpacking, propane stove, etc.) at their campsite, allowing the Scouts to prepare their own meals during the scheduled breakfast, lunch or dinner hours. The waterfront area can offer sessions on Kayaking, Rowing, Sailing or Canoeing, with patrols first signing up for an instructional period, then being allowed to practice what they have learned during open boating periods. The Patrol can sign up for a pioneering class. The Scouts will arrive at the Pioneering site, and with the tools and materials at hand, receive instruction on a building a tower, camp chair or monkey bridge. Then during free time, they can return to their campsites and build a gateway or other camp gadgets that they have just learned, reinforcing the lesson taught. Instead of a structured Nature merit badge class, a staffer can take the patrol on an observation hike, pointing out the various flora and wildlife found in the camp along the way, or have a conservation project, where patrols can stop by, work for an hour (or more if they desire) then move on to something else. Scouts may not earn completed badges, the idea here is that Scouts are enjoying the outdoors, not sitting in classes. They are completing those parts of a merit badge that cannot be done in the non-outdoor environment as they go along. Once back at home, the Patrol can work together to complete the badge. This will require that the camp Director, and his or her Program Director will have to work to ensure that their staff is able to deliver this type of program. It will also require a fundamental shift in the idea that a successful camp is one where Scouts earn many merit badges.
  5. According to my Council Exec, this issue was pushed by the National Volunteer Committee. Never heard of them. Who are they, how are they selected and do they really represent the average volunteer. Those are my questions...
  6. The same went on in my council. My CSE received a blast e-mail from national to all councils AFTER the public announcement (But not before the phone calls from concerned Scouters and the press)
  7. IMOHO, After reading posts here and on other boards, comments on news sites and Facebook, I have noticed that there are several major issues with this upcoming change that have upset many Scouters about allowing girls into the Boy Scouts. 1. Volunteers were not consulted. Yesterday, I was on Facebook commenting on this change when my Council Exec popped up. His comment was that he found out about this change was from a group e-mail sent to all CSE's from national after the press announcement was made. He went on to say that this change was driven by the National Volunteer Committee. Does anyone know who these folks are, and how they are appointed? What is sad is that it was not promoted by National for all to take, and it's results, and so doubt now casts a shadow as to whether or not the sampled group was cherry picked to produce the results wanted. Now a quick search of this website will show that this change was long time coming, and that a survey was available (as well as a link) so it wasn't the change, but the timing that surprised and upset a lot of individuals. 2. Change without a set plan is not going to be easy to swallow, as it's hard to prepare for. While a plan is sort of in place for separate dens in Cub Scouts, there is at the moment no plan once the girl leaves Cub Scouts, other than a vague "Separate Program". The reality on the ground is that many units are already short staffed, and the Cub Scout plan of gender separate dens will require a duplication of effort, if a Pack decides to allow girls in. This will lead to either the Pack not choosing to participate, or covertly blending the sexes in single dens. Maybe this is the plan all along, this way it's a feat accompli once the girls reach the troops. 3. This is the third time since 2013 that National, in an attempt to placate outside forces, has made significant changes in the membership, all along stating that this will increase membership and sponsors will return. So far, this has only plugged the drain, but not grown the numbers. Past changes have resulted in a loss of Chartered organizations and units, as well as the growth of alternate programs for boys. This has caused many members to worry what's going to be changed or dropped next to avoid a lawsuit or bad press? 4. All this has led to a general feeling that National has lost touch with it's volunteers, or doesn't care about the people that actually make the program work. many Scouters have invested a lot of time and money in a program that they believe in, only to see it shifting away from its core mission. Professionals are paid to support the volunteers, but the level of trust that is suppose to be in place is eroded when the professionals at national seem to think very little about the leaders at the tip of the spear. This isn't what a lot of old time Scouters signed up for, and since they are the backbone of the program, they need to be heard. If they buy in, this could work, but if they vote with their feet, we will have a lot of wholes to fill. And don't count on "new" parents stepping up. It hasn't happened yet based on the past changes. (Trail Life anyone?) Background. I am approaching almost 50 years in scouting as both a youth and an adult, have served in numerous councils in volunteer leadership positions around the world while on active duty with the Army, and am currently in a deep south, deep red state. I hold a Masters Degree in Organizational Leadership, which is all about managing change. So while I am not afraid of change, I understand the dynamics of those that are, and will not belittle or dismiss their concerns, and neither should anyone else. When the final product for girls comes out, will as a District Commissioner, and a Scoutmaster, do my best to make it successful. Hopefully this time, national will consult all the volunteers for positive suggestions to make this work. It's easier to buy into change if you have a voice in it. Every Scout deserves a trained leader in order to succeed and thrive in Scouting, and since girls are allowed to join, this will apply to them as well.
  8. While the handwriting for this decision has been on the wall for the longest time, I can't see how they are going to run a "Separate" program for the older girls. It's a truism that we are already short of volunteers to staff existing units, but to add a whole new structure? This will be the rub. I am not against this idea, but in my neck of the woods, Venturing hasn't taken off, in fact, there are no units in my district, and only three that I know of in the council. So the question will be, where will these "Girl" Cub Scouts go when they're ready to cross over in 2019? I just wish that the complete plan of what will happen in 2019 would have been in place before announcing this decision.
  9. Secret ingredient noncompetition

    Tabasco Sauce. If it can make an MRE palatable, it's got to be good. I carry a small bottle on a belt pouch. (Keep a few back up bottles in the trailer, the scouts are always "borrowing" mine.)
  10. No districts or roundtables

    I guess it all depends on the size of the council, and the strengths of the individual districts therein. In my neck of the woods, the council is small enough that running individual district activities (camp-o-rees, adult training, cub camping opportunities, etc) are better run by the council, in order to get a critical mass of scouts and scouters to make it happen. The districts here each do roundtables, and EBORs, supply Unit Commissioners and provide direct support for new units.
  11. I have two ASM's, one is a medical doctor, the other a nurse. They attend all activities in the woods. I believe that trumps WFA.
  12. I strongly agree with Cambridgeskip on this one. Unless it is to catch the immediate attention of a scout or Scouts to prevent a Health and Safety issue from occurring, there is no reason for any adult to yell or "bark" at a Scout. Praise in public, critic in private is how issues should be handled. if the ASM had a problem with attendance, then he should have addressed it with the SPL. Instead the ASM made a fool of himself, as he already knew why several Scouts were not at the service project, but ranted anyways. if the SPL volunteered his troop for this project, and it was completed, then why is the ASM getting into the SPL's lane? Has this ASM taken position specific training? This is a teachable moment. The SM needs too take the ASM aside and explain what he did wrong in this case.
  13. Who's running the show?

    Putting on my Scoutmaster hat..... I guess I am an old timer... I believe in giving my Scouts a safe place to fail, and grow from it. In our troop, unless the issue is health or safety related, the adult leaders stay out of the way and let the scouts get on with the business of running the troop. They run the meetings, make the annual plans, present the plan to me so that I can pull out the "adult" portion (Driving, deposits etc., in other words, those things that require an adult to handle.) When camping, the adults plan their own menus, camp away from the boys (but close enough to keep an ear out for trouble) and let them have at it. Do they sometimes fail? Yes. Do the adults take over and fix everything? Not on your life. These become teachable moments for the Scoutmaster and the SPL. I will discuss options with the SPL, help him discover himself what went wrong, then he takes it back to his leadership team and they decide how to overcome the obstacle. I had another scoutmaster (who runs a tight ship) visit and watch the organized chaos before the beginning one of my troop's meetings. He asked me when I was going to start, and I told him that wasn't my call. At 6PM, without a word from any adult, the SPL assembled the troop, and one of the patrols formally opened the meeting. The scouts broke into patrols and began the nights activity, which was planning for the upcoming camping trip. after a while, the troop gathered to learn a Scout skill from the Troop instructor, and the SPL led the inter patrol activity. At the end of the meeting, I was invited to give a quick "Scoutmaster minute" and the meeting was closed, the area cleaned and the boys left. All this happened without any adult lifting a finger, or giving any instructions. Needless to say, my visitor was amazed at what he had witnessed. It doesn't happen overnight, but I believe in the saying, "Train em right, trust (but verify) that they do it right, then get out of the way!"
  14. Raingutter Regatta Rules

    A quick Google search of "Raingutter Regatta Rules" brings up the experiences of several different Packs and Districts. Check with your District/Council to see if they have a set of rules they use when they conduct District/Council Raingutter Regattas, if they do, you want your winners to be in compliance so they can compete at that level. Otherwise read through the different units and put together a set of rules that meets the needs of your Pack. Whatever you decide, be sure to put the rules out first to the Pack Committee for their buy in. It will help when you post it out to the parents and Cubs.
  15. I agree with BLW2. While there is no BSA national policy outright banning them, many of the camps I have attended have there own rules in place. Also, many communities have laws in place limiting the length of blades. I would check with your local council to see what they have to say on the matter. If they say yes, make sure the Scouts are trained and know that its not a toy.
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