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About Chippewa29

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  1. There are multiple perspectives for these situations. In general, I am opposed to siblings being on campouts. In cases where either the sibling goes or the campout is cancelled, then let the sibling go and make sure the parent keeps them in line. Otherwise, they can visit, but not stay. During the 90's and early 2000's, my troop was pretty small and we were in the situation where a younger sibling needed to come or the campout didn't happen. It wasn't ideal, but it is what was needed to make things work. Once my troop got bigger and we had multiple adults coming on campouts, we still had some parents who thought it would be fun to bring the younger siblings. When it was one or two and the parents kept their eye on them, it wasn't too bad. However, as time went on, we'd have 3, 4, or more younger siblings running around, interfering with the Scouts activities and even parents complaining we didn't have age-appropriate activities for their kids. A lot of parents were just hanging out and not acting as Scout leaders. Some were even interfering with the troop chain of command. We eventually told people they couldn't bring their kids camping overnight on campouts anymore. Some people were upset, but overall, it was a good move for the troop. Eventually, most of the upset people saw why we did what we did and came to agree with it. On the other hand, think of the younger sibling. In the 90's, we had a younger sibling start attending campouts with him parents and older brothers when he was five. He was never a problem (really good kid). By the time he was nine, he was going on pretty much every campout. When he joined the troop at 11, it was merely a formality, as he had been around for years. However, by the time this Scout was 13, he was getting bored with Scouts and by 14, he was burned out and didn't really want to do the same things he'd been doing since he was five. He managed to stay around until he got his Eagle at 16, but his participation level was really low those last two years. Had he not gone on so many campouts at such a young age, he probably wouldn't have gotten burned out as early as he did.
  2. In my troop, once we built up, we had five patrols of 7-9 Scouts each. When I left two years ago, we had one patrol with 9-12 grade, one patrol with 9th grade, one patrol with 8th grade, one patrol with 7th grade, and one NSP. Instead of a Troop Guide, we would have a 13 or 14 year old Scout act as patrol leader for the NSP for the first year (after which a couple of Scouts from the NSP would have reach First Class and they were ready to lead the patrol). This PL would act like a TG, but we gave him the title of PL as well as the vote like the other patrol leaders. We like have the age-based patrols, as they tended to be closer than when we had mixed age. The only challenge was to get the older guys to interact more with the younger Scouts. When that happened, the same age patrols worked great.
  3. They way my troop was structured, the patrol leaders were responsible planning the program for their patrol (in coordination with the patrol members and advisor). The SPL worked with the patrol leaders to coordinate their activities. The SPL also had an ASPL whose job it was to plan campouts. The SPL also worked with another ASPL to help coordinate the troop staff (Scribe, Historian, Librarian, etc.) The SPL was like the CEO of the troop. He only led other leaders. The patrol leaders ran the program week to week. The troop leaders supported the programs of the patrols.
  4. Several years ago, my troop had three patrols and no one wanted to be SPL. We took it as an opportunity to reinforce the patrol method. The main reason why no one wanted to be SPL was because of the large amount of planning they needed to do for meetings and campouts. The patrol leaders, on the other hand, didn't really do much (everyone wanted to be a patrol leader or ASPL). Since no one wanted to be SPL, we shifted all responsibility to the PL's. It was the best thing that could have happened to the troop and patrols. Each PL planned his weekly meetings and the three coordinated joint activities between them. By the time we elected a SPL a year and a half later, the patrols were much stronger and we had a deeper bench of youth leadership. The SPL now worked with the PL's to coordinate their activities and help them plan as needed. With a troop of only 9/10 Scouts, in reality you only have one patrol. My guess is that on campouts, your Scouts either operate as one patrol or the Scouts in the smaller patrol are working non-stop since there are only three of them. If you have only one patrol, either the patrol leader or senior patrol leader are redundant.
  5. My troop has had some similar issues with certain Scouts who just take a position and don't do anything so they can either wear a patch or get credit for their next rank. We are currently implementing a system we hope will help improve job performance. Each POR has a set of performance objectives based on their responsibilities. Obviously, the SPL description is much different than the historian, librarian,etc. In each objective, they are rated from 1 (poor) to 5 (outstanding). There are very clear descriptions of what it takes to get each rating. Each month, every youth leader is evaluated by their immediate superior youth leader with the guidance of an adult advisor. This way, each month, the Scout in the POR knows how he is doing. During this six month term, the Scouts are getting evaluated and seeing what their score is. Next term, the scores will actually count. If they get below a 2.5 (out of 5) average score for the month, they won't get credit toward advancement. If they get below a 2.5 two months in a row or three times in a six month term, they can be removed from their office and receive no credit at all for any of that term. The evaluations are starting to take hold and helping the Scouts to realize how they are doing each month. The purpose of the evaluations is to help the Scouts realize what they need to do and to help their superiors realize where that Scout needs to be trained and helped to improve. I hope this provides you with some of the answers you are looking for. Good luck.
  6. 1. My troop has two "washing machines" made out of five gallon buckets and plungers. One day, our oldest Scout was goofing around with the younger kids by showing them how the plungers would suck onto their backs and they could get yanked around by them. About fifteen Scouts had a great time playing with those that afternoon. 2. Every year, we do daily tent inspections to make sure the Scouts are keeping their tents clean and organized. The winning tent(s) each day get to go to the trading post on the SM's dime. One day, I told the Scouts that the winning patrol (average score) would get to toss two buckets of water per person on the SM (me). You could have bounced a quarter off the beds of most of those Scouts they were so excited. Of course, the older Scouts (who had barely been passing all week) decided they wanted to soak me and won the competition. Thirty Scouts had the please of watching the older Scouts pour buckets of cold water over me. Since it was quite warm out, I didn't mind one bit.
  7. Here is an interesting article from the Detroit News regarding kids using cell phones when they go to camp in the summer. http://www.detnews.com/article/20110807/METRO/108070314/Cellphones-give-parents-link-to-summer-camp I'd like to hear some thoughts from my fellow Scouters on what they think about this.
  8. My troop now has about 43 Scouts, about 85-90% are active. In the last 2 1/2 years, we've grown from nine Scouts to our current size. We are obviously pretty bottom heavy right now. I've always felt that 40-something was the ideal troop size. While we don't officially have a cut off or limit, we feel that if the troop grows to over fifty Scouts and is going to stay that way, then we will split into two troops. We have a troop in our district that had 80-90 Scouts for years. They would generally have 40-45 on a campout and lose a majority of the new Scouts that joined each year. The SM realized he didn't know who all of the Scouts were in his troop, even after spending a week with them at summer camp. They made a conscious effort to reduce their recruiting (recruit from 3-4 packs instead of 10-12) and worked to find out who was really serious. After doing this for two years, the troop had shrunk to about 55 Scouts, but they were still getting 40-45 on campouts and they were retaining 75-80% off the New Scouts that joined. While some troops may like being huge, my personal belief is that if the Scoutmaster doesn't know every Scout or isn't able to do every SM Conference himself, the troop is too big. Better to have smaller (
  9. A couple of points here: 1. When my troop has Webelos coming to visit, we always have one or two Scouts act as their hosts for the evening. These are usually really friendly Scouts who like the challenge of introducing every guest to every member of the troop. 2. We always make sure the Webelos participate in the troop meetings. What fun is it for the Webelos to come and sit and be quiet? We also make sure they come to a troop meeting where there is going to be activity. Webelos are always more than welcome to come to a COH, or when we do our semi-annual elections, but I tell the WL that if they come that night, their kids will be bored and not have much of a chance to get to know the Scouts in the troop. 3. I always take about 15-20 minutes during the visit (usually when our Scouts are having their patrol meetings) to sit down and meet with the Webelos and their parents. I answer their questions and give them a very realistic view of the troop. In addition to telling them how much fun we have, I tell them about the work they are expected to do and the responsibilities they have. Also, while the Scouts get to plan their own activities and events, they need to realize that since Scouts are doing the planning, things are going to run smooth 100% of the time. Since we've done that the past few years, the number of Scouts joining the troop has increased and they understand what is expected of them when they do come in. The Webelos (parents) that want a merit badge mill usually don't join us. Or, if they don't like the idea of having to take their turn doing dishes or hauling water on a campout, they won't last very long in our troop. Being very open and honest is usually the best way to go. You may wish to call the troop you visited before (the one that ignored the guests) and let them know what happened. Let them know that if they want Webelos to join, they need show that (let them participate, acknowledge them, etc.) If they don't like your ideas, you know they don't want you. Ultimately, most Scouts troops (at least the ones in my area) are about 80% the same. How well a new Scout will integrate into the troop depends on the how well he meshes with the personalities of the Scouts already in the troop. My biggest goal when a Webelo comes to visit is to have him interact with the Scouts in the troop. If they relate well to each other, then the troop is usually a good fit. If they don't relate, then the troop usually not a good fit. I've had parents call me to tell me about their sons that were different than most kids (in one way or another). For example, if I knew your son was coming to the meeting, I would pair him up with one of our more serious Scouts (our Scouts range from super serious to major goofball, with lots of levels in between). As far as the sports go, I always tell the kids to try their best and go out and have fun with it. We had a Scout several years ago that was very serious and always wanted to be the best at everything. He refused to do any sports because he wasn't very good at it. Finally, after a lot of convincing, we got him to have fun with it. He enjoyed it and got to be better friends with his troop mates because he participated instead of just sitting off to the side. Good luck with your search.
  10. When I was sixteen, I got to drive an '82 Vette....Chevette. Basically, a golf cart with doors and windows. With its lightweight V4 engine, I wasn't able to get into too much speed trouble.
  11. As far as our relationships with Cub packs go, we don't do anything really special. We make sure that we offer to help with School Night in September, invite the Webelos to a couple of campouts a year, and try to help out during Pinewood Derby season. What I've discovered over the years is that when we bring in Webelos, we try to get them into interact with our Scouts. If they get along well, we have a great chance of them joining our troop. I also sit down with the parents during the visit to explain how we do things and find out what they are looking for. If they want a babysitting service that will just blow sunshine up their sons' rear ends, then we are the place. However, if they want to make a commitment and have a good environment where their son will have the opportunity to learn and grow, then we are the place for them.
  12. Pioneer- Thanks for the compliment. I've always been someone who had multiple interests I wished to pursue. I knew very early on that my Scouting time was limited and that my priority was to help build up my troop (we had six Scouts when I took over and after crossovers this year, will be just under forty). When I step down as SM eventually, I may take a district level position that won't be as time intensive as being the Scoutmaster of a troop. My decision also was based on a couple of other factors as well. The district and our OA lodge have had very solid leadership for years, so my impact at that level would be minimal. However, my troop was near death and I knew that if I focused my time there and built a good team of leaders, the troop would grow and prosper and have a much stronger affect on other the youth members than working at the district level would. Our COR at the time had been involved in Scouting for years and had a very good analogy for time spent working on Scouting. Everyone loves pie and if you give them a small slice of a good pie, they will want more. Everyone has a certain size they like for their pie and get the most satisfaction out of eating that amount. However, if you have to eat a whole pie, then you'll get sick of it. In my early years as SM, I could have eaten 3/4 of a pie all the time, but I knew I would get sick of it (that is why my predecessor burned out). I am also a big fan of John Maxwell's books on leadership. They are especially good if you work in a non-profit setting like Scouting. From him, I learned the importance of building a strong leadership team and that the true measure of my success as a leader would be how well the organization prospered without my direct involvement. As far as district and council leadership positions go, I thought when I was a Scout that the ultimate experience for an adult would be to wear the silver and/or gold shoulder loops. However, I've come to discover that the best experience is seeing the young men in my charge grow and learn and become quality adults.
  13. I recently celebrated my ten year anniversary of being SM of my troop. I've wondered this question myself for the past few years. Fortunately, my troop is doing very well and is probably stronger than its ever been. I'm having fun with it and we're building up a very good corps of adult leaders. A couple of thoughts on the subject. People are often afraid that if they leave, the unit will perish and all that time and effort they put in will have been wasted. First of all, the guidance and experiences you gave to the youth will have had a very positive impression on their lives. That is never time and effort wasted. Also, if you have been the leader of your unit for more than a few years and they unit can't survive without you, that means you are doing something wrong. A good leader is someone who develops other leaders and prepares the unit to grow and prosper without them. At this point, if I were to leave, my unit might deal with a couple of speed bumps and go through a transition period, but it would continue to provide quality experiences for the young men in the troop. I've never allowed myself to go "all in" with my troop or Scouting. During the first couple of years when we were a very small unit, there were times when things didn't get done because I refused to step in at times. When parents complained that things weren't getting done, I simply asked them what job they wished to take on. They either got more active or stopped complaining. I rebuffed overtures from the council to get active in the OA, serve on the district committee, and become director of our council's NYLT course. My Scouting time has been focused on the troop. This has allowed me to pursue other interests in my life and keep things balanced and in perspective. To really answer the question Eammon posed, I have two answers: 1. When Scouting produces more negative thoughts and energy than positive over a sustained period of time, then it may be time to step back or leave. We all go through rough periods, but when you are really burned out and dread going to every event, you need to look at what you are doing with your life. 2. The other time to leave is when you have something else in your life into which you can pour your energy and talents. While I have been Scoutmaster for ten years, I got married last year for the first time. My wife has been very supportive, but I now don't go to every crossover or make every little troop event. Also, in the next couple of years, when my wife and I start having kids, it will probably be time for me to step back and turn the reigns over to someone else. I will pour that time I spent on Scouting into raising my kids. For an overstressed Scouter, they may need to find another way to fill their time. It may mean taking up a new hobby or finding another organization with which to volunteer. As humans, we need sometimes need fresh starts and changes so we are continuing to learn and grow ourselves.
  14. A couple of comments on the discussion: 1. After seeing numerous Webelos "crossover" and then disappear for whatever reason, the past two years, I have made sure I sat down with every Scout coming into the troop and at least one parent to tell them about the troop, what they can expect, and what we expected of them in return. This minimized the pre-conceived notions they may have had. As part of this, I asked them to make a six month commitment to the meetings and activities. Basically, to treat it like a sports station. I told the parents they if they were just going "try it for a couple meetings", it was the same as having their kid try a couple of baseball practices in late March when the weather is still cold. If they based the baseball season on that, they wouldn't stick with it. I also told them that signing up for the troop and paying to join for a couple of meetings was a waste of their time and money. Make a committment for six months. At the end of that time, if their son didn't like the Scouts, I would help them find another activity to which they felt they could better use their talents. In the past two years since I started doing this, we've had eighteen Webelos cross over to the troop. Sixteen of them are still with us. 2. In regards to giving a kit to the incoming Webelos, it is nice, but I think the incoming Scout and his family need to have some form of investment in this new activity. If they are given their handbook, neckerchief, et. al, instead of having to pay for it, they don't have much of a stake. They pay $100+ for soccer or baseball at the same time. When they come across a time conflict between the two, what do you think they are going to choose, the activity where everything was given to them, or the activity when they've invested their hard earned money. My troop gave the stuff away for a few years and we ran into that situation all the time. Now, the new Scout family pays for the items, but we put together the kit for them so they don't have to go shopping for it or worry about getting the wrong thing.
  15. Very interesting discussion here. I have a couple of points on getting the Eagle Award: 1. Not all Eagles are created equal. Every troop has Eagle Scouts that not only fulfill the requirements, but take in every growth opportunity possible from the Scouting program. There are also those who do the bare minimum to get their Eagle, then are never seen or heard from after their ECOH. In either case, the young man is not a finished product, but the ones who make the most of their Scouting experience are the ones who tend to be more productive adults. 2. Getting the Eagle award takes about two solid years of work. By that, I mean a Scout actively working on advancement every week (whether at troop events or on his own). Very few Scouts have the self discipline or drive to do it when they come in as an 11 year old. A good friend got his Eagle at 13 1/2 and continued to learn in grow in Scouting (Jamboree SPL, Lodge Chief, etc.) His character and the way he conducts his life today are what any Scouter would agree was an ideal Eagle Scout. As for myself, I made it to Life in 16 months, but then got inducted into the OA a month later and became a chapter officer a month after that. I also started middle school (7th grade) at that same time. While I didn't get my Eagle for another five years (about 5 months before 18), I took in everything the Scouting program had to offer. I became very active in the OA, participated in three Jamborees, was SPL of my troop on two different occasions. I simply chose to focus my energies on other aspects of Scouting rather than on my own advancement. Both of us look back very fondly on our Scouting careers and what we learned from them. 3. As far as merit badge counselors go, I do feel a very important experience for the Scouts is to contact and work with Merit Badge Counselors with whom they do not know. I recall the first couple of times I had to call an MBC over the phone and how nervous I was. Reaching out and asking for help from someone like that is a lesson everyone should learn. 4. Ultimately, what a Scout learns from earning his Eagle award is up to him to utilize as he gets older. Hopefully, as Scout leaders, we have made enough of an impact to help him make the most out of it.
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