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Posts posted by diogenes

  1. Scouts can't be in two different troops at the same time. We ran into that problem recently trying to train up a troop for another LDS branch. They were ready to stand alone, and thought they had been for a few months when they found out they were denied because someone in the scout office thought they were trtying to "poach" boys from my branch's unit. We got it fixed, but it was frustrating.


    You've gotten sound advice from others, so I'll just add my agreement. Work with the boys and their parents and church leaders, but in the end it is still a non LDS unit so you should aim for what works best for all the scouts. This can be a chance for all the boys to learn about each others' faiths. Sadly, I know of some LDS scouts who could use just this kind of experience.

  2. We just did one for a Weblos from our pack. We've been combining award ceremonies for the pack and troop so the can help support each other, so this seemed a "normal" ceremony. The older Scouts had built a bridge in the cultural halll where we meet, and we had the Cubs and Scouts sit on different sides. After focusing on the Scouts and their awards, we slipped into the AOL/bridging ceremony by making a big deal about not having enough scouts. The SM crossed the bridge to the Cub side and asked Akela. The Weblos was told that AoL was not earned lightly, and he would be tested. Akela and other leaders spoke for him that he was ready, and the Weblos was challenged. Just when he thought he was done (he got the AoL), he had to face challenges as he crossed the bridge to Scouting. Every step of the way he was blocked and chellenegd by a Scout, telling the SM that the Weblos could not cross because he was missing something (uniform items). This allowed Scout leaders (boys and adults) to give him his Scout uniform one piece at a time, and advance one step at a time, until he crossed the bridge and was welcomed by all the Scouts. It was not Shakespeare by any means, but the Weblos definitely took the challenges serious and felt like he had accomplished something significant by the end and felt like he belonged. He had a big grin that only a true Scout could have.


    This helped us do two things:

    1. Avoid making the Aol feel like a kiddie award (I played up the significance, especially with the knot for adults, and as the only AoL adult present I was the one making the fuss about challenging the boy)

    2. The older boys were able to welcome him without resorting to their weird ideas of hazing.


  3. Our Scout Executive is LDS, and we have some LDS members on the committee. We even have an LDS ranger at BTSR now.


    Buffalo Trail Council is large georgraphically. Rough guess is that we have maybe a dozen LDS Boy Scout units in the whole council. Maybe half a dozen Varisty/Venturing.


    I don't know how much further we'll get on accommodations for LDS units regarding check-in times. We're perfectly willing to leave our start points at oh-dark thirty (I've done it other councils that were far less spread out), but I think the issue is more of having district and council leadership on site to help process the check-ins.


    The more we discuss the issue in committee meetings, the more it sounds like a combination of money/loyalty concerns on the scout side and overly cautious legal interpretation on the church side. I figure the best we can do now is ride it out, observe the results, the take the issue back to our church leadership and revisit the issue.


    For example, I know our Young Women have changed their week-long camp from the summer to a 3 day event during Spring Break. I don't know how their going to do their full program in just 3 days. The year I helped out, there barely managed to do it all in 4 & 1/2 days (they last 1/2 day due to travel distances).


    I also know the church leadership is concerned about our young men not getting enough of the spiritual side of things (the main reason we wanted to do our own camp this year).


    I'm still working within my church leadership to help look at this in a less drastic (strictly legal) light. We can probably use the outcome of the YW camp to help because the YW don't have the "let's just use a council camp and get it over with" option that the boys do, and their annual week of camp is an integral part of their program.


    Maybe I'll get more help on the council. I just had a long chat with our new DE who is trying to revitalize our district and start doing things like district committee, etc. She's not a local, so she's not beholden to local politics and attitudes.

  4. John:

    Our Eagle candidate has hit the snag of a dead home computer trapping the draft of his packet. He was delaying the process a bit for family reasons which have come to pass, but is now kinda stuck. With the Inauguration Day looming, he might get motivated to be creative and/or hard working in getting his packet finished.


    Back on the main subject, yes, the Sabbath is a key issue. The local council camps have a provision to allow you to check in Monday AM instead of Sunday PM, but you have to have been at the camp at least once in the previous 2 years. Another issue is program. We'd like to integrate more of our religious aspects into the camp program that we simply couldn't do at a council camp.


    For this year, we're going to a different camp in council. It is a split program between two camps, on half at Hughes Aquatic Base and the rest at the COPES course nearby. We'll work out the Sabbath details as we get closer. We're doing this because the decision to stay in Texas and comply with the law has been made for us by our church district level leadership. We're staying in council due to logistics: cost, distance, and availability of leaders. The boys also weighed in and they sound excited about this option, especially considering last year's which can be described politely as a "learning experience".


    I think we'll push for doing our own camp next year, either in Texas or New Mexico. I'm keeping notes on the input I'm receiving here and from other sources, and will combine it with our experiences at HAB/COPES this summer to report on recommendations for next year. I'll also watch to see what happens with our Young Womens' camp, as they are more affected by this than we are on the Scout/Young Men side as we have the council camps to fall back on, while our YW program is purely internal. I'll watch to see how well we can meet our religious programming needs at council camp this summer, and if the Scouting side is better than what we had last year (we had boys not show up to camp but get reported as completing merit badges, and the boys that were there reported that they didn't do some of the requirements but were told by the instructors that they were "waived").


    Sorry, I think I rambled a bit there, but it lead back to our original reason for wantng to do our own camp: council camp didn't meet our needs, which in all fairness we can't expect a council camp to do in some aspects. We're capable of doing our own internally next year while still complying with G2SS, SSD, and range control. We could have done it this year except the leader spearheading the plan got assigned out of area for 8 months by the Border Patrol which cut his involvement level down to Committee Meetings.


    On the legal side, the Texas AG at the moment is a mess, as is painfully obvious with what they've done to the government agency where I work and other state agencies. He either flips a coin or licks his finger to test the political winds before he gives an answer that vaguely relates to the legal question asked in the first place.


    Anyway, thanks for all the advice, everyone, it really does help me and the rest of my troop leaders make our case towards a more reasonable response to the law that allows us to do our programs the way we need them to be done.

  5. I've not been a TG, but in other classroom environments I've found that white print on a blue background works great for PP slides.


    And John is right... don't read the friggin' things to us. PP should enhance your presentation, not *be* the presentation. Most people fail to do this properly and, especiqally at Wood Badge, end up with an audience of ZZZZZZZ or people frustrated that you're wasting their time and insulting their intelligence. If your job consists of pressing the clicker and reading the slide, you know you have a poor presentation.


    Also, same concept as PP, but don't read the handouts either. If you want to print out the notes from PP, hand them out after you're done. It's better if people write their own notes, because they learn more ofit that way. The print out can be used to supplement any parts they may have missed.

  6. Another update:


    The Alpine patrol has split off and they are up and running gonzo. They have Cubs going as well.


    The Pecos side is going to be split off when we recharter in the next week or so. They've had more than enough time to get things running and they haven't. Not our problem anymore. We'll keep the one lone scout on our rolls and fold him into our older patrol. He's been coming pretty regular the past few weeks since he's hitching a ride with a church leader that comes out our way every week to handle clerk duties.


    Side note: we're going to charter a Varsity team for the older boys. They'll essentially function as a "Varsity Patrol" within the troop, but the boys are excited and we even have a few less active boys get excited about the idea as well.


    I've also managed to blend in a bit of the "standard" patrol method with our 11 year olds. I got permission to keep them together as a group since most of them turn 12 within a few months of each other and they were all recruited by the current PL (about to turn 12). 3 of the 4 are non-LDS and they're all going gang-busters wanting to learn things (tonight is "how to camp in subfreezing west Texas weather" as well as "what happens when you make food assignments to someone who said he probably wouldn't be able to make teh trip?"). They're about to move up with the older boys. The youngest (a non-LDS currently the APL) will remain behind for a while and form a new patrol with a Weblos about to cross over. We're recommending that he become the new PL.

  7. I'd ask the scouts not attending, or only minimally attending, summer camp why they aren't participating. JObs, school, etc are one thing, but if they are skipping out because they're not getting anything out of it, then something should be done to help them if possible (or help them help themselves). It sounds like the majority seem happy enough with the routine, but the others guys might be able provide some input to freshen things up a bit. I'm a little leary of always doing something the same way just because "we've always done it that way." If it meets the needs of the scouts, ok. Can it be improved? Is there a better option? It shouldn't hurt to re-evaluate your program every once in a while just to see if everything is still great or if you've slipped to just okey dokey (pending a drop to meh, then ugh, then disbandment).

  8. Seems we have wandered way off the two original points.


    1. LDS involvement in Scouts. Seems to have been answered pretty well by others. I've never heard of Venturing for Young Women (probably to avoid mixing the unit with the Priests' Qurorum Venturing Crew), but that may be a local leader decision.


    2. Prop 8. A very heated subject. My in-laws have told me about how ugly the "Vote No" crowd has been. I'm going to take a guess that the person got upset because they were surprised and maybe caught flatfooted by your intention to vote "No" because they probably assumed your involvement with Scouts put you in the "Yes" camp. Should they have responded as they did? Probably not, but I'll refer back to how heated Prop 8 has been and consider it at the low end of the scale versus the other things I've heard going on from the "No" camp.


    Hopefully we can go back to being fairly civilized with each other once the final election votes and all are completed and made official. I'm already dealing with the whole Obama thing. What a mess.

  9. I'll work the logic from the reverse angle here:


    If only Scout parents can be leaders, then:


    Childless couples (for medical reasons or whatnot) are left out, even though they would have the extra time to help. Forget about the old teacher's line of "I have hundreds of kids... my students".


    Forget single people, young or old. They might as well just go party with their free time instead of giving back to the community / Scouts.


    People with only girls (I'm in that category so far). I guess they have to go try to overcome the GS creepy man rule.


    People with young children (I'm here too). I guess we don't want leaders young enough to keep up with the Scouts when they want to do the 50 miler and stuff the old school way.


    Retired people. You know the ones with the time, resources, and experience to really help the program. Maybe not spry enough to keep up the the 50 milers anymore, but could sure tell you tons of lessons learned teh hard way and save you the grief.


    Get rid of the JASM. Or the ASM who recently Eagled and aged out of the youth side but still has time to lead and motivate other Scouts. Oh, and having the skills fresh in his mind so he can teach the others isn't needed either.




    Need I go on....



    As others have said, the only requirement should be people motivated to help advance Scouting while following BSA and Charter Org rules. Parents often have the immediate motivation, but you need a constant foundation to keep the unit alive and functioning on a steady basis regardless of which Scouts come and go.


    Personally, I get a little concerned with the idea of key players (SM, COR, CC, advancement committee) being parents because of the temptation for conflict of interest, but good leaders can overcome this without too much fuss. Right now, all of the listed positions except CC (me) are parents. I have another committeee member who stayed on even though all of her sons have completed and aged out. All my leaders love Scouting and we're still small so we don't have any problems with conflicts of interest. We're also all on the same page regarding what we expect of the boys (we're all neo-old school) so there are no doubts about the sons advancing unless they've earned it.


    Guess you'll just have to put me in this new-fangled creepy pile, then. In the meantime I'll keep an eye out for the real predators since I'm trained for that from my job working with the state's worst juveniles.



  10. Thanks Beavah.


    We've decided that we'll follow the law as best we can. We considered going to New Mexico, especially as some of our leaders have private property out that way, but in the end it was decided we would be setting a poor example for the youth (Scouts and our young women) by avoiding the law like that, at least until we've made an effort to comply and/or correct the situation. I'll certainly take up the issue with out legislators. Civic responsibility and all. Perhaps I can nudge some of my scouts to use this for their Citizenship MBs and they can learn something as well.

  11. My troop was planning to do our own summer camp this year in conjunction with the other LDS troops in our church district.


    A question to the Council regarding OA tap outs came back with a missive about the LDS church discouraging units from doing their own camps. The Chief Executive is LDS and does a good job bridging the gap between regular Scouts and LDS units, but when we got a copy of the e-mail we were a bit torqued off and inclined to ignore it and continue with our plans.


    Then we get a letter from our church legal affairs unit regarding the above act. The short version being that any group that has an activity lasting 4 consecutive days (a day is 4 hours or more), including travel, involving 5+ youth, must file an application with the state, including a $750 fee and requiring training and backgrounds checks for all leaders. Failure to comply would result in $1000 fines. We thought that perhaps our Scout Executive had access to this letter, so we refocused our energy on our response to this legal issue.


    I looked up the act online to see what the fuss was about and found out it has been on the books since 1989!




    My wife's initial reaction was that it would go away as soon as the Baptists fussed about it restricting their Vacation Bible Schools. It sounded logical to me until I looked up the act and saw that it's been around for almost 20 years.


    Has anyone else heard of this? Has this impacted your operations any? Or is this another classic Texas Legislature sneak attack to get money?


    I'm all for safety, especially since LDS units as a whole have a bad track record we're trying to overcome. But this seems a bit silly, and the cynic in me thinks this was pushed by the professional camp people including *gasp* possibly our own Scout executives.

  12. We're a small troop and we pretty much do like Liz describes: we aim for at least quarterly, but we'll do them "as needed" if we need more. Most of the CoH we do are simple no-frills types. We do one or two upscale CoH a year, usually after summer camps are over or if we have a CoH with a lot of and/or very important awards earned. I guess you could say we resemble the pack meeting comment because we've started to combine our CoH with our Pack Meeting because of our small numbers. It also helps everyone to see the continuity of Scouting: the Cubs can see what the big boys do, and the Scouts can support the Cubs. This has so far served to help strengthen both units, and is also "thrifty" in that the scouts are all from the same families and the leaders are mostly the same for bot cubs and older scouts.

  13. Another update and responses for John-in-KC (and others):


    eolesen: we're definately being thrifty. So far we've managed to keep staff BORs with our own committee members. The quality control aspect is a little wonky because the same committee members are mostly doing double duty on the ground as de facto ASMs.


    John-in-KC: PORs & representative democracy: yeah, I can see how that is a show-stopper (I feel that way myself sometimes), but it is one of things that LDS units do differently because we use patrols and troops a bit differently. Patrols are to overlay the priesthood quorum, with the quorum president usally the PL or SPL. Assistants are also usually presidency members (quorum leadership is a calling). Other troop positions are by election, but with our size, the boys usually just call dibs on the jobs they'd like and then they divy them up, with some doing double duty (I have a PL who plays trumpet and enjoys having the bugler POR, for example).


    I've had plenty of headaches trying to make this viable, especially when the quorum president wasn't all that great at Scouting nor to keen on changing that status. We're still working with them from both church and Scout angles, though, and some progress is being made. I did manage to get the leadership situation worked out, but it took a while.


    I recently found myself responsible for an 11 year-olds' patrol. This is effectively a new Scout patrol except there are very tight rules on when they can mix with the older boys and the number of campouts they can do. 3 of the 4 boys are non-LDS, so the leadership thing is tricky. I did manage to get permission for the boys to stay together even though a few have turned 12, because they're turning 12 in rapid succession and it would be best if they were able to bond as a patrol and move up as a patrol. I was able to get the rule bent because they were within a few months of each other, and because our 12-13 year old patrol (Deacon's quorum) currently is one boy and he's not exactly what you would call active or motivated.


    The local community troop seems to have folded over the summer, and there were whispers that it had disbanded. That's partly how I picked up the 11 y/o patrol; the oldest of the group is LDS but was with the other troop because we were having trouble getting a separate Scout leader for the 11 y/o patrol. He was there for almost a year but didn't receive any advancements mainly due to the problems the troop leaders were having outside of Scouts, so he switched over to us (which was the original understanding between his parents and the community troop). Yeah, his parents caught some fuss over the matter, especially since he is our Scoutmaster. I stuck with the gentle diplomacy approach and now we have 4 in this patrol. It seems like my biggest job is balancing the church's guidlines and requirements for Scouting with "regular" Scouting expectations all while considering the logistics of west Texas. If the community troop manages to reboot, I'll have no problem with the non-LDS boys choosing to go back if that is what they prefer. Although I doubt we'll ever merge the two troops in town, I think we'll have forged closer ties and do more cooperative activities.


    The quorum/class=patrol thing is probably what is going on with your local cub. It isn't as critical for classes to stay together as it is for qurorums, but I can see where the leadership pressure would come in. FWIW, I Cubbed in the Trans-Atlantic Council with the pack on base instead of the church unit because the church unit was about 45 minutes away, whereas I could walk to the one on base. When we moved stateside, I was able to attend the church unit because distance wasn't an issue. I enjoyed both units, and consider myself blessed to have had the opportunity to see Scouting from both sides. It's part of what helps me now with regards to working with non-LDS Scouts and units.


    It looks like we're ready to spin off our Alpine Patrol. The Pecos patrol is pretty much non-functional because they're entire youth program is lacking leadership (oilfield and football are the main culprits), and they're beyond my authority to do anything about it ecclesiastically. We're willing to let their one remaining scout join us, and have even worked out an arrangement for rides (I live halfway between Pecos and Monahans) but we haven't seen him since summer camp other than at regional church activities.



  14. I figured out the intention of the game early in. I realized that due to the actions of other patrols, we weren't going to achieve the best outcome, so I decided to help drive home the point of the game by doing a controlled push for what one of the staffers discribed as "the worst score ever". It really knocked the lesson home for everyone, though my patrol did have to do a bit of fence mending afterwards. Even that was a good lesson, as it helped everyone understand how the boys feelings can be hurt easily, especially when fatigue is involved.


    I think the game works best if you let people discover the lesson on their own instead of telling them the point ahead of time.

  15. Reporting back and answering some questions:


    First, the questions.


    Yes, LDS units can have non-LDS scouters (and scouts) involved, so long as they understand and accept some of specific things we do and don' do with our units (no Sunday camping unless special permission granted, no Monday night activities so as to not interfere with family night, no smoking, coffee, tea, etc at unit activities.). In fact, half of our scouts in one end of the troop aren't LDS and we're glad to have them along to help make the program big/fun enough to be more than just a smattering of lone scouts. Personally, I'd like to see non-LDS scouters happen more often if for no other reason than to help break down the "us and them" perception that happens a lot.


    In each of the locations where my troop is spread out, there is maybe one other unit and they are also struggling on membership. Ideally we should combine, but we run into a few issues such as local pride, scheduling, and good old fashioned not everybody thinks highly of LDS people (not complaining, just stating a reality out here in the Bible Belt; unfortunately I imagine it's the other way around in some heavy LDS areas). So far we get along fairly well and have standing offers to piggy back with each other for campouts and activities, but I don't see a merger any time soon.



    Regarding the BoRs:

    We did them piecemeal from June to August (our last was this last Wednesday). This gave some time for the boys to finish up requirements that didn't/couldn't get done at camp. It also allowed a few scouts who didn't make it to camp from our newer end of the unit to have a chance to work up to Tenderfoot.


    Coordinating the times and locations took some effort on all ends, but we made things happen. The responses from the scouts sounded about the same we would have received in person. I think it helped that most of the members of the BoR (myself included) have already met the scouts and spent time with them at camp and other activities.


    We've scheduled our Court of Honor for next week, at a location central to all 3 ends of the unit. Each patrol has assigned responsibilities (we're helping the SPL grow into his job, especially with the unique situation) and will receive as many ranks and awards as they were able to earn.


    Our next few Committee Meetings are going to focus on plans for spinning off the separate patrols as stand alone troops, with the intention of breaking off when my end recharters in December. In the meantime, we'll continue providing the training and support needed for each set of patrols. Part of that process will include training committee members at each end who will become the adult troop leaders after the split, and in the meantime can assist with BoRs as needed (one member of my committee travels to the other locations as part of his other church responsibilities, and is doing a good chunk of the face to face coordinating).


    If it looks like we need to stay all "scattered from heaven to breakfast" for a while longer then we'll look for ways to make the BoRs more traditional. I'm pretty sure that we'll be ready to make the spin-offs, as we received training at summer camp from our general church leader in Salt Lake responsible for Young Men (and Scouting) that individual churt units are to have their own Scout units unless it is absolutely necessary to combine, and then it should only be as long as needed to train up to split. The trick is convincing the church leaders in the individual units that they do have a responsibility to call leaders for their units. From what I've seen it's more of an obstinancy issue than a lack of availability. We're running pretty lean on my end; no reason why they can't do the same on theirs, especially since they can get the minimum needed direct from the people already called to take care of this age group.


    PS, yes my scouts did include "Scattered From Heaven To Breakfast" on the troop flag they made at camp :)

  16. Thanks for the info as well. I just received a report that one of my scouts and my SM were involved in some whitewater rescues on a family trip and we were trying to figure out the process as well. This thread just saved me a bunch of time! Here's hoping that these young men get the recognition they deserve.

  17. We didn't go so far as to kick the Scout from camp, but we did have a few serious discussions during and after camp with some boys who decided to blow off their merit badges.


    Part of the reason was because they were blowing off the classes to just "hang around" (read: cause trouble).


    Part of the reason was we only had 2 leaders, thus we couldn't keep an eye on the ditchers while also keeping an eye out for the others (we had a lot of novice scouts, we were at BTSR during a very hot week of June, and we needed to keep an eye out for heat injuries).


    A significant reason was because the ditchers were at camp through the personal financial generosity of our District President (senior church leader) and my partner and I couldn't stomach the boys wasting $300 each to "just hang out".


    A few of the got their act together by the end of the week and were even enjoying themselves. The others had phone conversations with their parents (and got blistered ears for their whining) and a follow up talking to from the SM when he arrived near the end of the week. We haven't seen one since then, but he was trying to quit from day one and only stayed the week because his mom made him be a man about it (he's almost 14) and keep his end of the commitment he made (he'd participate fully in camp if our District President paid his way). He also had to stay simply because his parents couldn't afford to come get him from camp. Its sad that we may have lost him, but I don't think we had much of a chance with him to start with.


    Fast forward a bit. We're getting our final BoRs ready for our CoH next week, and some will get the extra learning lesson of watching other receive awards and ranks while they end up "just hanging out" in the audience aside from participating in skits and flag ceremonies.


    On the flip side we did have some really motivated boys who came away with about a dozen MBs and some progress towards ranks, as well as helping motivate the troop to earn assorted awards for service projects and Polar Bear swim.

  18. Thanks for the input. I was planning to just do a 3 way call on my cell phone (I have way more minutes than I use, so no problem there). I'll look into using the videoconference stuff from local schools/governments if the current troop situation continues beyond the end of our current charter year (December). Our budget is pretty much wiped out now for a variety of reasons, so we wouldn't be able to do much of anything beyond free or cash on the barrel until next year. Maybe I can drop it as a suggestion for the church leaders to install in the meetinghouses to save traveling for the district leader meetings, with the side benefit that the Scouts and other programs in the church district could also use them for similar reasons.


    Scattered/spread out from Heaven to breakfast? Sounds like a new motto for our troop. It definately describes us. Do you mind if we adopt it on our troop flag at summer camp?

  19. Can a Board of Review be conducted by teleconference? I know face to face with the scouts is the norm, but I'm not exactly in a "normal" situation.


    I have a (LDS) troop scattered out all over west Texas. Our troop is based in Monahans, but we have patrols in Pecos and Alpine because those two branches of the church are just now starting up their troops and our church district wanted our troop to provide most of the leadership until they can get their own and up to speed to stand alone.


    It kinda works on paper, but the logistics side is crazy. Pecos is about an hour's drive from Monahans, and Alpine is two hour's drive away (yes, in Texas we measure distance by time, not miles).


    Between the three branches/patrols, we're taking 10 or so boys to Summer Camp, at least 8 of whom are new and have been signed up for Trail to Eagle. Meaning we'll need to Boards of Review for all these boys to do a troop level Court of Honor at the most central location (our Fort Stockton branch of the church, which ironically currently does not have any youth) shortly after camp. All but one of our committee members are in the Monahans area (we have about 4-5 active committee members at the moment), so driving at least 3 members to the other locations is really not an attractive option.


    So back to the original question: if we hold our Board of Review in one location and interview the youths from the other locations over the phone, will that suffice? Each location has an ASM assigned to help facilitate the calls.

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