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About DonM

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  1. I wanted to chime in my agreement with Chief Decorah as I didn't want my earlier comment to be seen as putting down Northern Tier generally. Three to a canoe is definitely a good idea for the reasons he gave. We found it to be critical paddling into a 20+ mph head wind. In addition to other first aid issues, NT provides radios with each crew, instructions for establishing contact in remote areas, and constant monitoring of the radios. If you go with an outside group, find out how they handle emergency communication. Also, the scouts like working toward the Triple Crown - Northern Tier, Sea Base, and Philmont. Despite the minor issues we had, I would still do Northern Tier again.
  2. Thank Brent. Great article. Having done Northern Tier and swamp canoeing with scouts, they are both wonderful and totally different. I couldn't say which I (or the scouts) liked more. Probably NT because of the physical challenge as the article suggests. I think the main thing is to try not to go in expecting anything, but instead just experience what happens. To Voyageur's excellent list, I might add: - The probability of a bear visiting at night is inversely proportional to the height of your bear bag. Don
  3. We just took 3 crews to Northern Tier at the Sommers Base this Auguset. It was a fantastic experience for all involved. Even though we could only do a 6 day trip, we all had a great time. It was physically challenging, beautiful, and a growth experience for the boys. The scouts who went gain confidence and really bonded. They are the troop leaders this year. That said, the trip had some limitations. You need to make sure everyone, scouts and adults, are in excellent shape or you won't have much fun. We went at the end of they year (second week of August) and, while the bugs were not a serious problem, two of our three guides from the base were clearly exhausted and didn't add much to the trip. The base seemed a little disorganized - maybe it was just our guides - so the leaders had to be on their toes asking questions. The show at the end of the trip was wonderful, though, and the training before was excellent. They information provided before the trip did a good job of letting you know what to pack and what to expect. I will definitely be back with another crew in a year or two, but I might try one of the more remote bases next time. It will be much easier to plan having done it once. As for using other outfitters, I think that would be fine and some in our troop have done that. However, the scout base seemed to really have the issues of safety under control and that is important with scouts that age. They knew how to handle scouts and provided appropriate activities as well as the opportunity to earn badges. We'll go with Northern Tier in the future I expect. Don
  4. DonM


    The replies to this thread to address this issue with the scouts and parents have been excellent. Don't forget to document everything you do during this process, though. Having gone through this a couple of times, I found it important to keep a trail of what had been done. Make sure any meeting involving a scout that might eventually result in a suspension or removal are documented in a follow-up email to the parents and CC. Describe what occurred and what steps were taken, and keep a file on the scout. This serves not only to make it clear what has already been done if the parents or scout question a punishment, but it also gives you something to pass on to the next SM so they aren't starting from scratch. If the scout turns things around, you can throw the file away. Don
  5. This week in my community, we've learned that a local Eagle Scout was killed and 4 other local teenagers have been arrested, charged with his murder. The story I've copied below describes the situation surrounding the death of Matt Silliman as we know it now. This is an unbelievable tragedy, not just for his family but for all the families involved. My heartfelt sympathy goes out to them. When I went to my first scout training class, they told us that all teenage boys will join 'gangs', peers who will influence them more than their parents. They might be good 'gangs' or they might be bad. Scouting gives us a chance to help them become connected to a positive group of friends. It appears that Matt hooked up with another group with this sad result. Please remember all of them in your prayers, give your kids a hug, then take a look over your teenager's shoulder to see who they're chatting with online. Don ------------------------------------ Teen victim suffered storms in life Raleigh News And Observer, 12/5/2008 Mandy Locke and Thomasi McDonald, Staff Writers RALEIGH -- This fall, life bore down on Matt Silliman. There was the on-again-off-again love affair with his girlfriend. His dad didn't like his new style: dyed hair and gothlike clothes. Since he turned 18 in August, he had set out to find the mother who gave him up for adoption when she was a teenager, said Taylor Cross, a friend from Apex High School. "All of this was just stacking up," Cross said. Matthew Josiah Silliman, 18-year-old Eagle Scout, was found dead Wednesday in a mobile home used for storage in the rural community of New Hill, in southwestern Wake County. Four teens, friends from western Wake County, have been charged with his killing. In late September, Silliman posted on his Facebook page a vulgar and desperate message, then suggested he would kill himself. Two days later, he was in a psychiatric ward at Holly Hill Hospital in Raleigh, according to Cross and Silliman's Facebook postings. So, when Silliman disappeared the night before Thanksgiving, friends assumed he had run away. His parents called police, concerned that their son had vanished without his medication. They told friends from church that he'd probably gone camping, said his Scout troopmaster, Bart Vashaw. No one thought Silliman, who thrived outdoors, could be in danger. "He was the kind of kid you could imagine dropping off anywhere and he'd find his way home," said Brian Blum, a Boy Scout leader. "He was that confident in the woods." Thursday, a medical examiner studied Silliman's body for clues about how he met his death. Wake County Sheriff's investigators concluded it was murder the day before and arrested four suspects: Drew Logan Shaw, 16; Ryan Patrick Hare, 18; Allegra Rose Dahlquist, 17; and Aadil Shahid Khan, 17. The teens, split among two high schools in western Wake County, were a tight group brought together by courtships and middle-school friendships. One by one, the teens faced a Wake County District Court judge Thursday afternoon and heard just how deep their troubles are. Judge Jennifer Knox told them they were too young to be executed for the crime but could spend the rest of their days behind bars. Their relatives wiggled in the courtroom's hard benches, pressing tissues against their noses as they tried to catch the eye of their teenagers. Dahlquist stood 5 foot 2, her jail-issued jumpsuit swallowing her thin frame, surrounded by grown-ups using words such as "bond" and "indigent." Each remained silent, nodding to indicate he or she had or needed an attorney. Judge Knox sent all of them back to jail without bond and warned them to not say a word to one another. Two of the suspects' families have already hired high-profile lawyers. Joseph Cheshire, who represents Dahlquist, said Thursday that it's too soon to know what happened, but that the tragedy of this case is touching many. Raleigh lawyer Douglas Kingsbery, who is representing Khan, said the teen is "terribly sorry" for Silliman's family. According to arrest warrants, deputies believe the suspects killed Silliman on Nov. 30, four days after his parents reported him missing. Deputies haven't said what they believe happened in the days between or how Silliman died. On Wednesday, Wake County Sheriff's investigators pulled Silliman's body from a deserted double-wide mobile home. The trailer belonged to Dahlquist's mother. Neighbor Dickie Miller said he would see Dahlquist and a collection of teenage boys roam the property from time to time, playing paintball and knocking out windows in an abandoned car. The group didn't do drugs, friends said. Only one, Hare, had been in trouble with police. In March, Hare was arrested on charges of firing a paintball gun at a school bus. On Thursday, Silliman's murder brought the parents of the teens face to face, several for the first time. In the lobby of the jail after their children faced a judge, they shook hands, embraced and exchanged phone numbers. The dynamic among their children -- who led, who followed -- was not as clear. The families brushed past reporters, declining to comment. Friends cannot imagine Silliman could have been killed and his four friends blamed for it. "Never in a million years can any of us imagine them doing anything like this to him," Cross said. "They were friends." Silliman and his friends tended to dress in goth-style clothes -- black from head to toe. Billy Schenck, 18, of Apex, a friend of Shaw's, came to court Thursday to support him. He said the group was often misunderstood because of their fashion. "We're not a gang. We're not violent," said Schenck. For Silliman, the goth image was a new phase. He was a longtime Boy Scout before aging out of the program this fall. He's spent Sundays with his family at Peace Presbyterian Church in Cary. Until this year, Silliman's hair was cropped tight against his scalp. This summer, Silliman came to a troop meeting with his hair dyed bright red, Vashaw said. Silliman's father, Ben, a professor at N.C. State University, had urged his son to call his troopmaster before attending to make sure his hair would be OK. Vashaw remembers laughing and telling Silliman to get to the meeting. "Matt was just the kind of kid who liked to experiment and try new things," Vashaw. Silliman was a serious Scout. This summer, he began teaching younger Scouts how to light a campfire and cook outside, Blum said. And he worked as a counselor at Camp Millstone, a 4-H camp. Ben Silliman works for the Department of 4-H Youth Development at N.C. State. This fall, it was Matt Silliman who need help. Silliman emerged from Holly Hill in October with some prescriptions and a new explanation for his depression. Cross said Silliman told her that doctors thought he might be bipolar. In the weeks that followed, Silliman's Facebook wall bore traces of his emotions. On Oct. 21, he wrote: "Matt is numb....just numb and all I can say is its for the best." Ten days later: "Matt is now filled with the hope and joy of something new." Nov. 7, less than three weeks before he disappeared: "Matt keeps spiralling down."
  6. Thanks for the great suggestions. I really believe the WB scouters did come back with the best of intentions. After reading your posts, I think there are a couple of problems that occur. One is that the WB trainee may not understand the issues in the troop - their history and how they are being addressed - as well as they could before setting the ticket. Some of our WBers have only been in the troop a year and might not be aware what can impact the program (scout age distribution, for example). It seems like there needs to be a discussion with the candidate before training, but at the same time, I wouldn't want to discourage change where the unit has gotten into a rut. The other point is that, while I believe the WB program does encourage the team player approach, the individuals push themselves hard to get those beads. I've seen (and experienced) very upset leaders when their WB tickets had any sort of holdups, especially as time drew short. I really appreciate the suggestion a couple of you made that, as Neil said, if you don't get your bead, you still have the benefit of the training. On a side point, I've heard the WB candidates say they were supposed to do something for district or council for one of their tickets, but I don't know that for a fact. I think I'll talk to some of the WB scouters about my concerns directly, because I really would like to receive this training. Thanks
  7. I'd like to do Woodbadge training but it seems to ruin leaders who go through it. Some of the most active adults in our troop will head off to Woodbadge training, and the cycle seems inevitable. They come back very motivated explaining all the things we can change to make the troop work properly. Then they start working on tickets that have been written seemingly without regard to the priorities of the PLC, SM or committee. They set up training, classes, procedures, forms, campouts and projects that draw adult and youth resources without regard to any other plans, resources or schedules. As their time to complete the tickets get close, they get this harried, overwhelmed look. We see less and less of them with the boys as they try to complete their 5 'Eagle projects'. Finally, after they complete their training, we see little of them in the troop as they drift to district or council activities. I like these leaders and respect what they've done for this training. I'd really like to go to Woodbadge as I've enjoyed all the Scout training I've received. But until I see evidence it builds leaders who can work with the troop, the PLC, the SM and the committee instead of imposing their plans and goals on them, I'm inclined to pass on this opportunity. Has anyone else run into this problem? Have you WB scouters got any advice or suggestions?
  8. The list doesn't seem like it's unreasonable, but the reference book listing with page number is too much. That part is turning an outdoor activity into a research project. Don
  9. It sounds like it should be a fun trip, and two nights is good for a first backpack trip. Just be prepared about the important stuff so the trip isn't miserable or dangerous: - Water is important. Bring about 2 liters per person per day (unless you've got a filter or tablets). Really - you don't want to be short or dring from a stream. You're going to have to boil for about 2 minutes, and the fuel probably makes this not worth it. - Pack as light as you can. It's easy to bring too much food and extra clothes. Get a backpack stove and dehydrated meals (or make your own - lots on the web about that). No cans. Solid meat, cheese and fruit can get pretty heavy on the hills. - Do bring a (topo) map and compass and make sure you know how to use them. It's easy to get lost. Also bring matches where they can stay dry and a small first aid kit (include mole skin for your blisters). - Don't push it too far. Accidents happen when you're tired. A shorter trip can be just as much fun and it's easier to get out if you have a problem. Good luck. Think about trying a shorter, less difficult trip first to get used to what you need and what you don't. Have fun. Stay safe. Don
  10. I agree with the other suggestions, especially the training. In addition, if you can get one other adult trained along with you (esp. the SM), get going on monthly campouts. Start with local overnighters close to home - nothing complicated. But this is where the scouts have fun and really get a chance to work on planning (meals, schedules) and leadership. Good luck.
  11. The best recruiting program for Webelos I''ve seen has involved Boy Scouts offering instruction and hands-on training for Webelos activity badges. The Boy Scouts can man a series of booths training different aspects of a single badge and the Webelos rotate between them. The Webelos really like to work with boys just a little older than them, and the Webelos parents get a chance to see how Boy Scouts works. This gives the troop adult leaders a chance to talk to the Webelos parents, as well. And the Webelos den leader appreciates someone else doing the work. If this is part of the den''s work on that badge, the den members are strongly motivated to attend. While the Boy Scouts should prepare their training and material, it is important for the adults to ensure the level is appropriate for the Webelos and the scouts are prepared for working with the younger Webelos. Don
  12. Last year I had two new scouts join that couldn't stand each other after years in the same den. As I only had 8 scouts joining, I put them in the same patrol over one of the scout's (and his mother's) objections. I assumed they would learn to get along. Stupid - stupid - stupid. They both had a bad year until one of them dropped out. I won't make that mistake again. DonM
  13. As a parent of a high functioning autistic scout and SM in a troop that has one or two others, I've seen variations of this fairly often. First, it's very easy to be unsure about the diagnosis of high functioning autism as a parent. Even when the doctors and tests confirm it, "autism" is a scary word. It is hard for a parent to accept and very hard to share with others. I'd accept the father's word on this. However, I strongly agree that the adult leadership should work with the other scouts - especially those in his patrol and the scout leadership. You don't need to share the diagnosis. They probably know this scout is difficult and different. I've had good luck explaining, one-on-one, to other scouts that the autistic scout has trouble figuring out how to act and what others think of him. They can usually give examples. I then explain that, rather than assume he can read their expression or tone, they need talk to him. I tell them to pull him aside and quietly tell him that he is acting wrong and how he should be acting. This should be done calmly and without anger. Amazingly, every scout I've had this discussion with has started doing this. The autistic scouts respond well because they really do want to fit in but don't know how. It reduces conflict when everyone has another way to handle the problem. As for the inappropriate behaviour of the autistic scout, I don't think bullying should be accepted either to him or by him. We don't do any favors to a high functioning autistic by accepting anti-social behavior. I agree with holding up advancement if this is ongoing behavior, then work closely with him and other scouts to stop it in the future. Finally, as for not earning other requirements, that's in the past and shouldn't be a factor now. However, this would be a great Scout to have involved in training younger scouts in earlier requirements, with oversight by an ASM to ensure he is still current on the skills involved and behaves appropriately in training. DonM
  14. - Organization The leader needs to be organized in his planning to properly understand the people and tasks he is involved with. He needs to be organized in his thinking to communicate effectively, and he needs to be organized in his own life to have time to be available for leadership. Of course, this is in addition to the others. There isn't just one quality of leadership. DonM
  15. It sounds like it could be a good Eagle project. The key question, as raised by your CC, is leadership. The Eagle project is all about leadership - the Boy Scout planning a service project, coordinating others to prepare for the project, organizing funding and materials, and leading others in the successful completion of the project. He doesn't do the work. he leads others in getting it done. Your post mentions things he would do. It should be more about how he would lead a team of Scouts and adults in setting up and manning booths and planting trees. I suspect if he makes this the focus, he will receive a better reception. Good luck to him. Don M
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