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Dan Williamson

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  1. Dan Williamson

    Improving Webelos to Scout Transition

    Bob White, Thanks. We have a good feeder Pack...same number in fact and same charter organization. This past year we strenghtened relationships with the pack so all is good. I had skulled through a lot of what you recommended but had not thought of the Parent guide part. Good idea. Thanks again.
  2. Dan Williamson

    Improving Webelos to Scout Transition

    Bob White, What is your recommended method for handling the Scout Badge requirements for a cohort of Webelos coming to the troop? If they had a good Webelos II den and a quality experience to earn Arrow of Light they should have accomplished most of the requirements for the Scout Badge. Do you do a "check ride" and present them with their Scout Badge the first night they arrive? I can see advantages in that. Or is there another better way. It certainly doesn't need to be strung out but I want to get it right.
  3. kwc57, Nothing personal with Dutch and I apoligize for sounding like I was attacking him personally. I do not like the notion of quitting if all is not square or advising someone to do so. I tend to meet issues head on and upfront. If I was snubbed I would have been 'in-your-face" obnoxious about being heard. I will not tolerate being ignored. When I see something that I know is not right I tend to confront the person doing the wrong and put them on notice. So in his case I would have put the SM and Advancement chair on notice to fix the problem, given them a reasonable time to fix it, then take it higher if not corrected. Wins me a lot of friends and influences a lot of enemies but I dislike seeing boys set up for failure because of poor leadership. I also dislike the notion that says things like merit badges should NEVER be done in meetings. What if the boy leadership and the troop at large requests an occasional block of instruction on a particular merit badge. NEVER is a long time. And don't speak from one side of the mouth saying a unit is boy led and in the next breath say we NEVER teach merit badges at a troop meeting...(even if the boys request it?). They are not asking to sanction the burning down of the scout hut to earn their Firem Chip. Illogical thoughts these....I can't connect the dots. I also, obviously, have a problem with the "Eagle ain't important" notion or ever how you want to phrase it...or rank at all isn't important. How about, therefore, the quest for Eagle or any other rank? Is that important? Sounds like part of PERSONAL GROWTH to me. The world outside Boy Scouts thinks Eagle is important. Have you seen a college application lately? How about an Army ROTC scholarship($17,00 value)application? Nearly as much space is devoted to Boy Scout accomplishments on the applications I dealt with as all other extracurricular activities combined. Now why is that? Because the boy has already shown the college or Army, by virtue of accomplishment, that he can set a goal and see it through to fruition over an extended period of time. He gutted it out and didn't quit. Sounds good to me. If you tell the boys in your troop about the applications do you think they can connect the dots? I have found out that they are not stupid, just short. There seems to be some angst over advancement as part of the program. Like it's a bad thing. Like getting merit badges is a bad thing. Say that they are important and you will be labeled as an "Eagle Factory" proponent in a New York minute. And of course you, obviously, have lowered the standards of the badges. Giving them away you are. (Line up boys. This week I'm giving you the Citizenship in the Nation merit badge because you learned the Pledge of Allegince.) Not part of a total program, but a bad thing. Other more esoteric things seem to be MORE important...not balanced with advancement but MORE important. I hear it all the time and it's getting old...(of course they'll come back and say "That's not what I said or meant"). Advancement is one of the eight methods of Scouting, and with the possible exception of uniforms, draws the most fire on this forum. Why I ask? What's wrong with a balanced program. I don't believe the eight methods are prioritized with one being more important than the others. So why does a troop that wants it's boys to advance draw so much attention? I haven't figured it out yet. Probably NEVER will. So. I'll start over. Dutch, I apoligize for any comments I made that you perceived as an attack on you personally and seek your forgiveness. My advice to you is this. DON'T QUIT THAT TROOP. Get in there and help fix it. Step up to the plate and do a Reggie Jackson (one of the great moments in baseball). Get all the training you can get including Woodbadge, commissioner university, whatever, figure out what right looks like and fix it. Do the right thing not the easy thing. The other boys need guys like you also. Don't leave them stranded. It might take you a while but stay the course. Don't give up...and never let 'em see you sweat.
  4. Yea Dutch do what you want. But I'll stick to my guns too. Go find a troop that doesn't require anything from you personally. Don't volunteer to be the next Scoutmaster and fix the problems and don't volunteer to be the advancement chair on the committee. Lots of work there. Lots of troops out there that meet your criteria. Let me describe "Generic Troop" and it's leaders. They don't really want your help or ideas because they have been doing things the same way since Napolean was a road guard and don't want you mucking around in their empire and upsetting their delicate ego balance. So you have a way out. They are in this scouting thing for their own gratification and glory not the boys. You will probably find that Scoutmaster Generic only made it to 1st Class when he was a scout and has lots of reasons for not making Eagle. He can quote chapter and verse on stuff that sounds real official about the program but when you peel the onion back he has no program. The first indicator is that he will say the Troop X is certainly not an "Eagle Factory" and Troop X is "boy run". He probably picked up those notions from hanging around others at the local camporee (that are just like him...birds of a feather...) and from the wonderful basic training he got. (The only leadership traing he has ever attended and he has actually never led anyone himself...he just talks about it). He is proud of the one kid that made Eagle last year and that he's not associated with an "Eagle Factory"...but don't ask about the 90% that got away. You see, Dutch, he doesn't really understand what motivates kids and having a program that produces Eagles as a result of a good program is really hard work for him. Too hard. You see deep down he resents the fact that he didn't make it and it really galls him that others do. And since he has no clue what right looks like he maintains a program like the one that caused him to personally fail...in a Freudian way that he doesn't understand. The "boy run" part means that the SPL does the opening and closing but the kid hasn't a seed of knowledge about planning for example. Scoutmaster Generic can usually be found at the back of the scout hut talking with the other adults during the meetings and doesn't really like to give guidance to the boys except in a pontificating way. He has a "comfort zone" and is not going to step outside that zone. When boys do ask him questions, seeking guidance and help, he will usually answer their question with a question. He wears a big leather scout belt and may or may not wear lots of adult knots on his uniform depending on his point of view.(Some wear lots of knots to show their personal standing in the organization and the other may not wear what he has legitimately earned because he'll say, "I'm not in this for me" or he doesn't want to be counted with the "Eagle Factory" crowd. The notion of lifelong learning and setting an example by achievement is lost on him). Probably has a campaign hat that is trotted out for official occasions. He probably doesn't wear a neckerchief and the boys don't either. He frequently bad mouths the District and it's committee but hasn't volunteered to help fix anything. His idea of junior leader traing is to send the boys to the council run classes...he doesn't actually teach leadership in the troop because it's hard to do right. He'll probably say that Troop X has XX boys are registered (makes him look good you see) but when you look around only 30% actually attend meetings and go on outings. Troop X goes on outings but not every month, especially if the weather is not clear, blue and 72, and they go to the same place alot(comfort zone). I guess they don't actually do anything on the camping trips because, gee, it may be perceived that they are actually accomplishing advancement tasks if they went on a hike or cooked their own food. (Oh...Scoutmaster X doesn't actually go on hikes anyway cause he is too something...fat, bad knee, gotta guard the camp). Can't go canoeing because there may be an advancement task hidden in there somewhere and gotta avoid that "Eagle Factory' moniker. Can't go fishing because, oops, some sneaky person made have made that an advancement task. Bike riding is probably out too. Don't bring a compass guys...some new wave thinker may actually want to pull it out and teach you to read it. And since the boys didn't think of doing any advancement tasks for the campout then it's not going to happen. (Please forget that Scoutmaster Generic gave no guidance to the Patrol Leader Council and has no goals). SAD, SAD, SAD. When the boys break down for the patrol part of the meetings he really has no idea what they are discussing because heaven forbid that he or other adults sit in to teach and guide...it's a "boy run" troop you see. So in the end Scoutmaster Generic can talk about Scouting Ideals (Promise, Law, Motto etc), uses the Patrol Method when it's convenient, is disdainful of a viable Advancement Program ("Eagle Factory" syndrome), has a weak Outdoor Program, THINKS he's a great Adult Role Model but doesn't really get it, pays lip service to Leadership Development since he really hasn't a notion of what it's about (although he knows it's hard), Personal Growth kinda falls off the plate at this point and Scout Uniform well we'll wear the pieces we like. The eight methods of Scouting are not realy followed and the boys LOSE.
  5. kwc57, We are very much boy led. But Boy Led doesn't mean no guidance, no help, no suggestions, no goals. Our schedule is fungible and very much influenced by the boys. In fact if we were just pushing one could make Eagle even faster than we lay out. I guess it depends on one's view point. We have some kids that really advance quickly at a pace they set for themselves. We have some that don't advance rapidly at all because they are not consistent participants. But the average kid who attends meetings, camp, outings, etc. can make Eagle. Most of our boys LIKE to succeed, advance, learn and get rewarded for it. I will have to turn this back to you and ask...If you don't have goals then what are you doing? If you don't know where you are going then any road will take you there. If your program is not at once exciting and liberally sprinkled with the skills the boy like to learn, advancing all the while, then what are you doing? We design our campouts with skills in mind and make it fun. Why go on an outing as a Scout and not try to learn something new...and get credit for it? Further...Advancement is one of the eight methods of Scouting so...silly me...I thought we were trying to put advancement in the program...correct me if I'm wrong. My experience is that troops that don't have active advancement programs have lazy adults and the boys suffer. The troop that I took over last year had gone for a full year without advancing one boy one rank, there was no committee and only two adults in unifoem. 6 boys out of 22 registered were coming to meetings on a weekly basis. It was a shambles. Now 19 of 22 show up on a regular basis, 13 get promoted to 1st Class tonight, and two get promoted to Life. We have a full committee, and 5 dads in uniform. At the Fall Camporee in November the troop won a blue ribbon for it's campsite which was 100% designed, laid out, erected and cleaned by the boys...led by the Senior Patrol Leader. They are still beaming about that. And so am I. Yes I take credit for being the "engine of change" and fixing the mess I inherited and I'm not as humble in this as I should, be but we really strive to do things right and deliver a great program. Most of all...the boys are proud of their troop.
  6. Dutch, Another viewpoint if I may....Some of what you say sounds like what goes on in our council/district but with huge exceptions. The biggest being standards. We insure that all boys actually do the work and we keep track of the paperwork. We have a merit badge coordinator in the troop to whom the boys go if they want to complete a merit badge. They get a blue card, a workbook and a counselor assigned...and we try to keep them buddied up so we don't get into any one-on-one counseling. Recors are kept with a file for each boy. I don't see anything wrong with this. When we go to "merit badge university" sessions we (SM,ASMs) personally monitor the instruction and if we find it is not up to the merit badge book standard we bring it to the attention of the folks running the university then and there....don't wait. As far as parental involvement we, along with many other troops, insist that parents be involved. BSA doesn't stand for Baby Sitters of America. We insist that parents become merit badge counselors or uniformed leaders or committee members or special event coordinators, etc., and that everyone participate in the fund raisers so that when we spend money on a boy for an activity there is a sense of equity. All of us are busy but if everyone does a little the burden is lessened for the few. We also have goals. Our goal is for a boy to make 1st Class in one year and Eagle in 4. We have sessions for the more academic Eagle required merit badges during troop meetings but still require work at home and counselors. We encourage the boys to take merit badges at summer camp that require facilities and instructors that that the troop doesn't have such as swimming, lifesaving, etc. I see nothing wrong with all of this either. If the troop has a viable, exciting program, the Scout attends meetings, campouts and summer camp our goals are easily attainable. We have laid it out on a calendar and can prove it. Nearly everything you do in Scouting can be counted for an advancement requirement. You just have to know what they are and keep records. Tonight we promote 13 boys to 1st Class who followed our program for the last year. They are happy and proud of their accomplishments and so am I.
  7. Dan Williamson

    Communicating w/o screaming, whistles, smoke signals

    Buffalo2, You are lucky. In 1985 at the Staff College and 1993 at the War College we had to do this the old fashioned way. In fact, some of these books about B-P I have only been able to find in these very extensive military libraries....but go to pinetreeweb.com and you can read most of them on-line. Some are by B-P himself and others, The Great Boer War by Arthur Conan Doyle (famous as the creator of Sherlock Holmes) and the short piece in Great Contemporaries by Winston Churchill are pretty good as starters. He was a man of the Victorian Era, very popular in England during his lifetime and a very innovative soldier. Hope this helps. Dan Williamson
  8. Dan Williamson

    Communicating w/o screaming, whistles, smoke signals

    Old Grey Eagle, Since I am a retired Army officer, Command and General Staff College graduate, War College graduate and closet military historian I have been forced, forced mind you, to read and study Baden-Powell's exploits in South Africa...before he invented Boy Scouts (actually I picked him as a subject for further research). They are a great example of the innovative use of all available assets to accomplish a task. He was ahead of his time and a master in his use of deception, camoflage and down right sneaky tricks to keep his enemy guessing and off balance while surviving a seige against an overwhelming force. Not only would he have used radios, GPS, fish finders, cell phones, palm pilots, microwave ovens, light sabers, transporter beams, photon torpedoes, vegamatics, ginsu knives, the all powerful thermos bottle or anything else he could have gotten his hands on at the time...he would have figured out a way to use them that no body else had...and used them to stay alive, win and overcome. It is a great story and I recommend a little bit of research into his life in the military...which was his chosen profession and first love. I believe that you will find, as I have, that some of the stuff people talk about on theses pages is beyond silly when you fully understand B-P, what he was grounded in, how he thought and what was important to him.
  9. Dan Williamson

    Military Type Equipment

    The subject of military equipment...not BDUs...I am insisting that the parents in our troop go to the local Army/Navy and check out military surplus pistol belts, canteens, covers and harnesses, mosquito nets, etc. for our Scouts for summer camp. The equipment is far superior to the junk they typically buy at the Scout Store or Wally World and will not self destruct after one day of "boy testing". Since women have been around the military for quite a while you can get sizes that fit an 11-15 year old boy. I insist in the summer, since I am responsible for them, that boys ALWAYS carry water when we are on an outing and wear a bush hat (wide brim, well ventilated) to protect from sun/heat related injuries. I found in my albeit limited 26 years in the Army that only military equipment lasts in the range of affordability.
  10. LauraT7, There are plenty of positions that count for leadership time that have not been mentioned here. Troop Guide is an honored position in our troop, third in line of succession and only appointed by the Scoutmaster from among the best. OA Representative is a good one. You can have as many Instructors as you want...an example of how to use them is to make them an expert in one task like knots or compass or fire starting and use them to impart knowledge. Librarian, scribe, historian and quartermaster are useful if you use them correctly, give them specific duties and projects and check their work. We have a year round junior leader training program. What we do is have three regular troop meetings a month for all scouts and reserve the 4th meeting for JLT, Patrol Leaders Council (Green Bar), Instructor/Troop Guide training and planning....works great.
  11. Dan Williamson

    Don't ask, I'll tell...

    I'm with ASM7. This is all sickening. Most of the posters are relativists. Meaning....truth is left up to an individuals interpretation. Being gay may be a choice but it is the wrong choice. Nature says so...the Bible says so and no sugar coating or relativism will make the truth of that go away. I have a word for Mr. TJ...QUIT! When and if the BSA allows gays I will stand up and do the right thing...I'll QUIT!
  12. Dan Williamson

    An Opportunity Lost

    Probably too late to reply to this thread but I've been busy. There's a war on you know. AND I admit to not reading every response in detail....but here's my two cents. I played lots of sports in school year round, had homework, but NEVER missed a Scout meeting because of sports and NEVER missed a Scout outing and NEVER came to Scouts without my uniform, sometimes changing at the Scout Hut, because I understood that the standard was to be in uniform. What's different now??...not much. Except when you peel the onion back on the sports stuff the kids are not on a school team but in some sort of league that practices unususlly long hours and always has games on Saturday. Sometimes that league play is in addition to the school teams and the kid is playing because the PARENTS think he is the next Tiger Woods of soccer and there is a scholarship at the end. Easier to get a scholarship because you made Eagle not on your athletic prowress. Other times Johnny is playing in a county rec league because he was cut from the school team. It's that self esteem thing I guess. Oft times Johnny would be better off just doing scouts. I have long discussions with parents over this. It seems it's Scouting that always gets second billing to sports teams. Seldom do you ever hear of a kid missing a game to come to a Scout event. I have never advised parents to make a choice between scouting and sports but to seek a balance. The boys just flat aren't going to keep up with their peers in Scouting if they don't attend meetings and work on advancement. That might not bother some parents but it bothers the kids. You can see it on their faces at courts of honor if they fall way behind. And as for uniforms...it's the standard. If you don't wear your Scout uniform to soccer games then don't wear your Soccer uniform to scout meetings.
  13. Dan Williamson

    Is Wood Badge over as we know it?

    OOps...My last was for Bob White...Thanks for yesterday's 2:50 PM advice. Dan Williamson
  14. Dan Williamson

    Is Wood Badge over as we know it?

    Thanks for the advice in your posting of 2:50 pm yesterday. But a piece of it points to my frustration. I didn't even know that there was such a thing as a Patrol Leader and Senior Patrol Leader Handbook and that they were good resources until AFTER my training when I stumbled onto them.
  15. Dan Williamson

    General thoughts

    I'm with you. The kids who seem to do the best have parents who "get it"...meaning involved with their kid. Sadly there are some good boys who get no attention at home. Dad seems to ignore them...would rather play golf. Mom has to get her aerobic workout in. (Have a high handicap, stay fat and raise your kid is my motto) They never come to any Scout stuff. My concern is that we will lose these guys when they get older unless we have a program that is so "cool" they can't refuse it. I am bound and determined to have such a program. Bob White tells me there isn't much in the BSA Rules/bylaws that are useful. I have been kinda frustrated in my journey as a Scoutmaster but will admit that my situation is probably odd(go to "Is Woodbadge over as we know it" thread to read). I do however hold to my believe that the initial training I received could be tweaked a bit. Advancement...I have read a lot about advancement on this site and some people treat it like a bad word. Not only do I agree with OGE...Why would you not want to provide the opportunity fo every boy to make First Class?...but I'll hang it out further...Why would you not want to provide the opportunity(this being the operative word) for every boy to achieve Eagle? Advancement is one of the 7 methods of Scouting. All of our Eagles credit someone with "pushing" them when the going got tough. If you have ever done anything really hard it is sometimes helpful to be "pushed". Eagle is attainable by all boys willing to stick with the program. Do you know why Eagle is such a big deal on some college applications and things like ROTC scholarships? Because it's a "gut check". The boy had the perserverance to set a long term goal and follow it to completion. That's much of what getting through college is...not brains, just "gutting it out". Kinda like the 5 mile hike for 2nd Class we did this weekend. Put one foot in front of the other for about three hours and you'll accomplish the task.