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Disasters? or great memories?

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Our troop, among others, is having a hard time 'letting go' and letting the boys do what they are being trained to do - run their own troop.


there were a couple of good articles in scouter magazine in Oct about exactly that - realizing that these boys are growing up and CAN actually do more than we (as parents and leaders) let them. Anybody else see these?


It is my thoery, that despite the temporary pain of mistakes learned the "hard way" - that these Mistakes turn out to be the best lessons learned and the most memorable stories that our boys will be telling future boys around a campfire someday.


What do you think? What are your stories, your boys' or your troops stories of "lessons learned"? what hardships, mistakes and forgotten supplies have you overcome and live to tell the tale?


I'll start with one of mine:


Great Blue Heron GS council, Waukesha, WI. - late 70's


We were on a council wide trip to colorado,for some sight-seeing and colorado river rafting. a group of about 30-40 scouts & leaders from different troops, together for about 2 weeks. We had a rented bus, equipment borrowed from the council, and a packed itinerary. The first night or two we spent in a local church or school and didn't actually camp out until we got 2 - 3 days west. When we finally DID unpack the tents from under the bus - we discovered they had sent us the heavy, old canvas round-up wall tents - with NO POLES & no stakes. And there we were - in a private campground in an area with NO TREES. Only tiny 6' saplings that would be crushed by the weight of these heavy canvas tents. And the forecast called for light rain - and 40 people to get under cover!


So what did we do? well, - we scrambled for any pole, heavy rock, or stick we could find. we borrowed broomsticks and shovels from the campground management to use as tent poles. We attached parts of the tents to the bus, itself, and somehow created one huge tent for all of us to sleep in. The site had a few picnic tables, and we slid a tent around each one, like a pillowcase - and some of the girls slept in these - we also used picnic tables to anchor one end of our "big tent"


The thing looked like "Omar the tentmaker meets a hurricane" - but it kept us dry! and made a story that not one of those girls will ever forget!


a call by one of the adults to the council, and the missing poles were shipped to our next stop - where we were able to set up our tents "normally" for the rest of the trip. But there was nothing that could have pulled that disparate group of girls from different troops together into one team,like facing that obstacle - together.


So what are YOUR stories?




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The Scoutmaster before me was a "do it all" & let the boys fit in. I have changed that thinking to "it's their Troop".


We have gone to many camporees since I took over & the Scouts have done pretty good. When the older Scouts turned 18 & the younger ones took over there were a lot of poor showings at the camporees. Our last on, 2 weeks ago, the Scouts cam in 2nd place overall & 4th in canpsite inspection. They were extatic! And so was I. I praised them up & down for their showing! They did it all themselves & were very proud!


So yes there were some disasters before. Sort of like golf. Hit one good shot & you want to come back & do it again!


Ed Mori


Troop 1

1 Peter 4:10

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First year as Scoutmaster just completed Scout Master Fundamentals and was told the troop was going to Estes Park Colorado for the Summer Camp. I have some expiernce in the mountains I have gone there camping a few times. Told the boy's to make sure they packed warm clothing because even though it was 80's during ths day it will get cold in the evenings. Also told them to bring rain gear some did and some didn't. THe fun part was everyday between 2:00 and 3:00 it would rain our tents were so wet that if you just touched them the water came cascading in from the material. Finally we had to move into a old barn for a coupe of days to let the tents dry out and we slept in the loft.Then we went white water rafting on the Arkanasas River in Colorado and throughly enjoyed it and on the way back we stopped at a natural hot spring and went swimming. It was great and all of us who went still love talking about it.

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While there are many memeories, the most effective and current one involved the west point camporee last may. It was, upon reflection, the best and worst campout ever.

25 feet x 25 feet is exactly that, the boys wanted to practice ahead of time, us adults felt it was a typo. Medals and congratulations to the smart ones the boys for foresite, wet noodles for us adults who got involved.

The cadets where way understaffed, and our troop was one who did not have a guide. the spl and aspl found out about girl scouts and missed the plc, the times where also changed for the sm cracker barrel, so he arrived on time, 1 hour late on the new schedule. Started the next day early, cramped and cold. Us "trained" adults, cold, hungry and tired felt a need to step in and help! (our troop is on the younger side and is only 6 yrs. old) and proceeded to screw it all up. the boys and plc went along. Spl got fed up with the lines and waiting so took a quick poll of the troop and starting splitting them up into patrols, and telling the patrols they would probably only have time to do one, maybe two activities for the day because of the lines. Again, us adults started to interfere when the CC and I stepped back and watched what he was doing. It was at that point that we gathered up (okay, grabbed the other adults and dragged them away kicking and complaining that the boys needed them) and all of us 18 yrs and older went back to camp. The boys did the right thing in spite of the lack of communication from staff (troops fault), the long lines at activity stations (kids hate that) by coming up with a plan, getting input, then the spl making decisions and sending the troop in 4 different directions. 5 if you count the tail between the legs adults skulking back to the campsite, properly chastened.

Well it gets better, Upon entering the campsite the SM is still there, making his entry for the cook off. Looks at us and tells us, again, "I told you to let them go (the boys) and go look around the camp yourselves. They will do or fail on there own. Its scouting and its the military, it is confusing large and in constant flux...you just go with it."

It was that day that the adult leaders of the troop saw the light. The boys had a great time, we had a great time. It started out as the worst outing of the troops history, but the faith of the SM and the courage of the spl taught all of us how it is supposed to be.

Since then the reins have not been loosened, but cut and the adults around these parts provide structure (safety, guidance when needed, lookouts for unsafe environments, etc) and the boys do. And when those reins are tried or an adult is "hovering around their kid" the green bar patrol has the authority to take a strip of paper, tear small cut down it, fold over the wings and then present his paper helicopter to the adults to remind them to stop hovering...heres a toy go play somewhere else.

Oh Yeah, it is easier for us adults, more fun, less work, less ego, etc

and ditto for the kids, if not more fun for them.

So yes out of disasters, which are just learning modules if you think about it, great things happen.

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Ok, here's a story:


We had a new troop, about 19-20 months old, with the highest rank being 1st Class. We were going to a camporee, the second competitive camporee they had ever attended. The camporee was going to be a Pioneering-themed event, with the troop campsite to have a required minimum number of lashed projects.


None of the boys had done much lashing, except the minimum to pass off the requirement for 1st Class.


The first-time SPL wanted to build a tower, and started to tell everyone about his great idea. I took him aside and told him that a tower wasn't required, that other projects would be easier, take less time, etc., and that the tower would count for no more additional points than the easiest lashing project (fire bucket holder). He really wanted to win the camporee, but he REALLY wanted to build that tower. I told him that it would be fine to build the tower, just as long as he knew that, considering the age and experience level in the troop, it would probably take at least 2-3 hours to build it, and take away 4-6 boys from their patrols (taking away needed resources during Sat. morning preparation time). Didn't matter, they still wanted to do it. I said ok, but doubted they could pull it off.


When we go to the camporee, along comes a father pulling a trailer LOADED with wood. Apparently, the boys had gone to his land and cut the logs to appropriate lengths, with the idea that there might not be wood available at the camporee (which turned out to be generally true, especially for the projects they had in mind).


Much to my amazement, and to other troops as well, they pulled it off-- they built their tower, the only one built at that camporee (and yes, it took over 3 hours, with 4-8 boys in constant attendance) as well as their other projects. One patrol even built a camp table with seats; I'd never seen one built before then.


Now, that tower probably wouldn't impress those of you who have built towers to rival Jericho or Babylon, but those boys were immensely proud of their accomplishment. Their experience became the stuff of (boy) legend.


They're still building them at every camporee, eleven years later.

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Several years ago the troop got interested in rappelling and wanted to build a rapelling tower at the yearly Scout Show held in our local shopping mall. As the tower was to be 15 feet tall and capable of suporting scouts rappelling with safety adult up top and boys in line to rappell, the supporting or main legs were good size logs 12 in or better.


These logs were the only ones handled by adults. All other cross beams and supports were handled by scouts either on the floor or hanging suspended in swiss seats while they lashed. At one point I counted 10 boys in swiss seats and 10 to 15 doing other lashings or prep work.


Smashing success, boys from other troops were lined up 20 to 30 deep waiting their turn. All had a good time.


Placed third in show. Got beat out by a hanging bear bag with philmont pictures, and a non interactive first aid display. The boys over the next years built bigger, more complicated show pieces and eventually the Scout Show just gave us a new category award... Best in Show. The boys did it themselves. One of the trademarks of the boys was to have a flag pole leaning out over the show area... about 30 feet out over the show area.


Sadly the Scout Show has been cancelled. Not sure why.



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