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dkurtenbach

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dkurtenbach last won the day on November 21 2018

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About dkurtenbach

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  1. dkurtenbach

    Methods in Scouting

    Far too often these days, I see troops and adult leaders who are really only conscious of one method: Advancement. Advancement as one of the eight Methods is the concept of youth gaining skill and confidence by overcoming progressively more difficult challenges. But for many, understanding the theoretical underpinnings for the Scouting program set out in the eight Methods is largely unnecessary because all the Methods are represented in specific rank and merit badge requirements and advancement procedures. Advancement is now understood by many to be a single complete, practical checklist for achieving the Scouting outcomes of citizenship, character, and fitness. The problem is that the specific rank requirements, many of which are "one and done," merely offer examples of what the eight Methods seek to teach. Advancement requirements do not provide the complete Scouting education, which only comes through the conscious week-by-week application of those Methods by leaders who understand the big picture.
  2. dkurtenbach

    Girl Scouts Suing the Boy Scouts

    Yeah, GSUSA HQ probably had a conniption. These local Girl Scout folks were doing to Mr. Momoa's intellectual property (as well as that of DC Comics and the movie studio) what the Girl Scouts accuse local Boy Scout folks of doing to Girl Scout intellectual property. And in this case, there was no question that their ploy was successful and the Girl Scouts profited directly from Mr. Momoa's name and image (in his Aquaman role). Check out the discussion on the Facebook page of the Girl Scouts of Colorado. The Council's comment included the following: "This all started as an inside joke with her friends and family. She has sold her supply of 35 boxes or so, and is no longer using the image to sell cookies - though her cookie season is ongoing." Other comments delve into the intellectual property issue, as well as the appropriateness of using an image of a shirtless, well-muscled man to sell Girl Scout cookies.
  3. dkurtenbach

    Candle Lanterns

    If every person in the group brings a candle lantern to put in the center of your ring, and you set some on rocks, cookpots, or whatever is handy so that they are at different heights, you can have a pretty nice "campfire." And you can turn the "gathering" and/or "dispersing" of the candles into opening and/or closing ceremonies - a new tradition for your group.
  4. dkurtenbach

    Girl Scouts Suing the Boy Scouts

    It's really hard to assess strengths and weaknesses of the case at this early stage. In any event, more than 90% of civil cases settle. The only real question here is how long it will take (years, possibly) and how many millions BSA and GSUSA will pay their attorneys before then. GSUSA made its point just by filing its complaint: their organization is still around, still strong, and still fiercely devoted to girls only -- which BSA can never be. There's not much more they can hope to gain from an arcane trademark dispute, so it is just a money drain for them as long as it goes on. "Scouts BSA" will be a fact in one week, so BSA has no incentive to do anything fast, and federal court is a great place to string things out (which also keeps the attorney fees down). So as both a legal and practical matter, the burden is on GSUSA.
  5. dkurtenbach

    Girl Scouts Suing the Boy Scouts

    The BSA motion to dismiss focuses on two of the GSUSA claims: First, the claim that local BSA recruiting efforts that spread confusion and misinformation about girl Scouts / Girl Scouts interfered with Girl Scout recruiting and activities. BSA's motion to dismiss argues that GSUSA failed to identify any specific instance in which interference actually occurred, or in which BSA members acted with malice, dishonesty, or unfair or improper means: "The mere possibility of a lost recruit is not enough." Second, the motion addresses the claim that GSUSA has "common law" (customary and court-made law, as opposed to statutory law) rights to the names "Scout" and "Scouting" in connection with programs for girls. BSA argues that GSUSA is not actually using "Scout" and "Scouting" alone, without "Girl" in front of them, and actual use is required. Further, the motion argues that GSUSA has disclaimed any right to those words because it has issued style guides that prohibit the use of "Scout" and "Scouting" alone without the modifier "Girl" -- GSUSA even stating that BSA has the rights to those words on their own. The motion does not address GSUSA's statutory trademark infringement claims.
  6. dkurtenbach

    Drum Taps

    . . . that they used in their light sabers. I've been wondering why the movie was called "Drum Taps," since there are no drums. Maybe in an earlier script the signalling was to be done with drums, and at some point they decided to switch to the heliograph, but that would not have made a compelling title. Interestingly, the characters were able to see what appeared to be brief random flashes and interpret them in great detail, including the names of the individuals riding into the pass. It was also kind of funny that while the hero, Ken, clearly admires the Boy Scouts, his own knot-tying skills are not particularly good. He surprises and ties up the two outlaw guards of Rocky Pass, and they almost immediately slip out of the rope and ambush Ken.
  7. Of course. Constructive feedback should flow to, from, and within every organizational component and the people and organizations they interact with. It is the only way to get data needed to improve. And sometimes, unusual feedback, or feedback back from an unexpected source, is what sparks improvement when nothing else will. Receiving feedback per se is not a problem for most folks -- we love positive feedback. No one likes feedback that points out mistakes or below-par performance, especially from folks who think they know everything, or aren't getting critiqued in return. That is a reason why mutual or 360 degree feedback is important -- that we know that those giving feedback are also getting feedback. As Scouts, our feedback must be given with the Scout Law in mind. And while we should receive feedback as a gift, it is also true that gifts can vary widely in quality and value; so all feedback should be examined by the one who receives it to pick out what matters and what is actionable, what can be immediately discarded and what should be put on a shelf for consideration later. Yes, Scouting is a jolly game. But it has a serious purpose that can continue to have a major impact on our society. It is up to each of us to decide if that is something we care about more than the temporary sting of the occasional critique.
  8. Then they'll just have to suck it up.
  9. Feedback is a gift, they tell us in Wood Badge. This is about the youth in our programs, and whether they are getting what the Boy Scouts of America has promised them -- what we, as the unit Scouters who signed them up, promised them. With keeping our promise on the line, what unit Scouter would not want to receive objective feedback on the strengths and weaknesses of their unit program? I'm for any system or process that motivates or inspires Scouters to focus on improving the quality of unit programs. How do we fix the failure to properly implement the systems already in place to assist units? If that failure can be fixed, why hasn't it been fixed already? Because (it seems to me) the systems we have in place right now -- like most of the suggestions in this thread -- are variations on, "Gee, maybe we should talk to the leaders who aren't taking training and aren't going to roundtable and aren't trying to implement the program as written." One definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
  10. As of the end of 2017, BSA had: 266 local councils. 99,814 units. 1,245,882 Cub Scouts. 834,142 Boy Scouts and Varsity Scouts. 87,827 Venturers and Sea Scouts. 114,751 Explorers. The mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Scout Law. It's a very simple equation: The more youth who are active in a BSA program, and the longer they are active in a BSA program, the more likely they are to have absorbed the values of the Scout Oath and the Scout Law, and the more successful BSA will be in accomplishing its mission. So how do we get more youth to be active in BSA programs, and how do we get them to stay active in those programs longer? Another simple equation: All recruiting into the Boy Scouts of America is by local units and the adult volunteers and youth in those units. All retention of youth members is by local units. The more units that have high quality programs, the more members we will recruit and the longer those members will stay -- resulting in more youth being "Prepared for Life." Bottom line: The degree to which the Boy Scouts of America is successful in its mission is in direct proportion to how many of its units have high quality programs. If you want the Boy Scouts of America to produce more great citizens who live the values of the Scout Oath and Law, then expanding the number of high quality unit programs is what you have to care about and what you have to convince your fellow volunteers to care about. It all starts in our own units, but it doesn't stop there.
  11. I think the best kind of feedback on program quality (including how the leaders are doing) is objective, meaning: First, there are concrete standards derived from current BSA publications, and it is easy to determine whether they are met or unmet. Second, the assessment is done by experienced but disinterested reviewers. All it takes is widely publicizing the standards, with a year for units to get in shape before the assessments start. The assessment teams could be made up of unit Scouters from other districts. The written report would grade the unit's compliance with the standards, and would be provided to the chartered organization, the unit leaders and unit committee, and the district Key 3. Then the district folks can be the "How can we help your unit" good guys.
  12. dkurtenbach

    Drum Taps

    Just watched the cowboy short movie "Drum Taps," (1933) starring Ken Maynard. It is one of those movies (like those of Roy Rogers) set in present day (as of when it was made), but still involves lots of riding horses, six shooters, and cowboy garb (including gigantic hats). As synopsized on IMDB.com: "Skinner and his gang are grabbing land from the ranchers. When they go after Kerry's ranch Ken stops them. Skinner frames Ken for rustling but the Sheriff is on Ken's side, and with the help of his brother Earl's Boy Scout troop they go after the gang." The Scouts are instrumental in helping round up ranchers for the Sheriff's posse, treating men who have been shot, and posing as the Army when riding with Ken to the rescue of the Sheriff and his men, who have been trapped by Skinner's gang. A key plot point is the use of a heliograph, a signaling device by which sunlight is reflected in flashes from a movable mirror. The outlaw lookouts in Rocky Pass use it to signal the rest of the gang when someone is coming, Ken uses it to signal the Sheriff that the pass is clear for them to come through, and a Scout uses one to signal Ken that they are on the way.
  13. It's not just this. It is almost every aspect of organization and operations, from the chartered organization relationship to district operations right on down to things like the Webelos/Arrow of Light - to - Scout transition. BSA dreams up a model organization and process and then just expects that everyone will do exactly what the model anticipates. Chartered organizations will carefully select leaders; leaders will enthusiastically take training, read all the literature, attend roundtable every month, go to supplemental training like University of Scouting, go to Wood Badge, and conform their behavior to what they have learned; every unit will have a Unit Commissioner with intimate knowledge of the unit and its operations who can influence the leadership. BSA's models are out of touch with reality, and simply don't anticipate inadequate resources, real-life obstacles, and folks acting in their own self-interest.
  14. BSA used to have a manual called Commissioner Helps for Packs, Troops, and Crews, no. 33618. The last version I have was updated in January 2011. It is organized as a number of unit operational elements, with each element having one or more standards to be used by Commissioners in assessing a unit. It also includes a number of suggested actions Commissioners can take to help the unit achieve each standard. The standards for "Top Unit Leader" are: 1. The unit leader is fully trained, is respected by youth and other adults, and has a keen interest in youth. 2. [Troops and Crews] Youth have a major role in leadership. 3. The unit leader has a trained assistant leader for two-deep leadership and shares the leadership responsibilities. 4. [Crews] The crew Advisor is strictly an adviser and coach; Venturers run meetings and activities whenever possible. The listed "Commissioner Actions" are mostly what you would expect (take the leader to training and roundtable, for example), but no. 9 states: "Work closely with the head of the chartered organization to see that leaders are the type of persons you would choose to lead your own children." Useful feedback would be a checklist of specific standards that shows whether the unit is in compliance. The problem, as @SSF has noted, is that BSA isn't doing enough to ensure that units are doing what they are supposed to be doing. BSA doesn't have a mechanism for enforcing quality standards in units. For all of its hand-wringing about membership numbers, BSA seems to ignore the direct relationship between unit quality on the one hand and member recruitment and retention on the other. All recruitment is by local units. All retention is by local units. Membership numbers could be improved substantially if the vast majority of those units met quality standards of the kind found in the Commissioner Helps book.
  15. dkurtenbach

    Patrol Method - Best Practices

    A patrol is a team in the game of Scouting. Nothing more, nothing less. Patrols will have the same experiences as sports teams: they'll win some and lose some, have good performances and poor performances, succumb to failures and overcome failures. The Patrol Method is a special kind of team building process that uses small groups, hands-on learning, concrete tasks, and (most importantly) flexibility in task completion. Small groups (6 to 8 members) make hands-on learning possible and require that each patrol member be given real responsibility in order for the patrol to successfully complete its objectives. Hands-on learning is best for the many physical skills necessary for Scouting, and is much more fun than sitting and listening. Concrete tasks are easy for youth to understand, and are easy to check for degree of success. Flexibility means that within certain boundaries (for example, safety rules, budget, park use rules, schedule, available equipment, etc.), the patrol is free to decide how to accomplish a task or achieve an objective. It is the difference between a football team where the coach sets the game plan, scripts the plays, and specifies where each player is supposed to go on each play, and a football team where the players, as long as they follow the rules, can come up with a game plan and improvise plays in the huddle. In the Patrol Method, successful completion of an outing or activity by a patrol is the secondary goal. The primary goal is the development of skills, problem-solving, responsibility, and teamwork in the patrol members. Each patrol must have (in no particular order): Concrete, specific, measurable objectives, which usually involve organizing and executing successful outings and activities. Rules and requirements the patrol must comply with in doing its work. Room within those rules and requirements to come up with its own plans, approaches, and methods for completing its work. Resources (including advice and expertise) at its disposal for carrying out its objectives. Organization and division of responsibility among patrol members. A process for training and developing each patrol member so that he or she will have the skills necessary. A process for planning its work that includes all patrol members. A process for reviewing and evaluating its performance that includes all patrol members. A patrol identification different from those of other patrols. Its own place to meet separate from other patrols. A reliable method of communication within the patrol. Regular communication among patrol members outside troop meetings. Longevity, so there is a chance for all the other conditions of patrol success to develop. Each patrol member must learn (in no particular order): The patrol's objectives -- what the patrol is trying to accomplish, and why. The rules and guidelines for the game of Scouting generally, and the specific rules and internal guidelines that apply to the patrol's objectives, including patrol organization, procedures, and schedules. The resources (equipment, supplies, materials, advice, expertise, etc.) available to the patrol and to each member of the patrol, and how to access those resources. His/her specific role or responsibility, and the skills and knowledge necessary to carry out that role or responsibility. The roles and responsibilities of each of the other patrol members. That patrol members don't need to be friends, they just need to be teammates. That he or she is just as responsible for attaining the patrol's objectives as any other member. That the patrol's objectives can only be accomplished when all the patrol members work together. That success belongs to the patrol as a whole, and failure belongs to the patrol as a whole. That failure is inevitable, and overcoming failure is necessary in order to succeed. The biggest obstacles to successful implementation of the Patrol Method are: Failure to impress upon troop adult leaders and parents that in training youth through personal experience, we must embrace inefficiency, mistakes, re-starts, and try-agains. "Efficiency" is an adult value that can lead to adults telling patrols and patrol members exactly how to do things (that is, how the adults would do them), adults taking over tasks because patrol members aren't doing it the way the adults would, and adults not letting patrol members do things because they won't do it "right." Failure to provide patrols with what they need. For example, many troops may organize patrols, give the patrols names, elect patrol leaders, and have the patrols meet, but don't actually give them any responsibility because the outings and activities are planned and executed by others or through a different troop process. Or troops may set aside time for patrols to meet, but don't train patrols in what they are supposed to do at patrol meetings. Failure to teach each patrol member what he or she needs to learn. For example, patrols may not assign specific responsibilities in advance of an outing or activity or teach the needed skills in advance, so patrol members don't have the chance to do something meaningful for their patrol at the outing or activity.
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