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Beavah

Modern Communication

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Yah, so da previous thread got me thinkin' about how behind-the-times a lot of us old fogies are with respect to communication. I get a laugh thinkin' I remember semaphore and signal flags. :)

 

So I'm interested in learnin' about any units out there who are doin' things with more modern communications methods. What have you done? What have you learned? How's it worked? Even "What would you like to try?"

 

SMS messaging, Twitter feeds, email lists, automated phonecalls, troop web forums, Facebook/MySpace stuff, Yahoo groups, iCal and RSS feeds, satellite phones, podcasts, photos-from-da-field-by-phone, Flickr groups, or three dozen other things I don't know about yet!

 

Would especially like to hear from da young folks and scouts out there! How do you usually communicate with your friends?

 

Beavah

 

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I ain't young but heck I got an opinion!

 

There are thousands of ways to communicate these days. The best thing to do is set up more than one, let the Scouts & parents know what they are & explain they are responsible for reading the information. You will never find one best way to handle this.

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Working with 2 Sea Scout Ships in the district, it is interesting to see how differently they communicate. One texts all the time, both the youth and leaders. Constantly, in fact. In the other, the skipper refuses to participate with unit texting (he does communicate all day with his job via his "crack-berry," as he calls it, both emailing and texting). He insists on phone calls to communicate ship business.

 

I have not joined the texting revolution, yet. I am due a (double) upgrade on my cell phone (6+ years old now), which is not a text-friendly machine. I can do it now, it just isn't convenient to do, but when I get the next one, I will consider texting with the SPL and other leaders as needed. But it will be a tool in our box, and I do not expect it to replace our phone tree, which, in spite of technology, I am working to revive. Isn't a phone tree still a part of the Emergency Preparedness MB?

 

I have a question for the group. For those of you who use email as a means of passing information, reminders and such, at what level are the emails being sent out?

PLs? Scribe? SPL? Committee? ASM? SM?

 

And how many of you leaders text with your scouts as a means of keeping in touch? (or vice versa, how many of you scouts text with your leaders?)

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This is a little off topic, but not really. Our last outing was a survival wilderness campout on some private property. The boys had to use a combination of map and compass and GPS to find their patrol's survival sites and then their food. This was land that none of the boys were familiar with and there were only cattle trails and no roads. Each patrol leader was allowed to carry their cell phone in order to contact the adults back at the base site in case of an emergency or if any scout decided to back out. We did have good cell reception at the location and most walkie talkies would have been out of range. The boys had a blast and no one "freaked out" and needed to come back into base camp.

 

We do have email lists set up for the whole troop, just the adults and each patrol as well as a top notch website. The boys also have their phone call chain from the SPL to the ASPL's to the PL's and on down. Unofficially, one of our adults created a facebook group and there is probably a third of the troop (boys and adults) on facebook. The call chain often ends up being a text chain.

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Mail lists for entire troop, each patrol, PLC, ASMs, then temporary ones for each high adventure crew. Each scout and parent has an email forwarder so everyone just needs to remember bobby@troopdomain.org no matter which gmail, hotmail, freemail, ... service Bobby moves to next week. That has saved a lot of headache.

 

The SPL, scribe, and SM send meeting notes, newsletters, and one-way communication through email often. But, I'm constantly reminding folks that if you really want a reply, the fone or face work lots better.

 

We've had a website with blog areas for each patrol to keep an historic log of their activities. Really sounds like a neat idea, but hasn't been used much.

 

We're now using www.TroopKit.com for a lot of troop management and it has lots of automated reminder email and online outing reservations.

 

One new-tech communication device I'd really recommend you check out is the Spot Messenger at findmespot.com for your camping trips. Lets parents back home know right where you are and that everything is ok - and it is one-way, unlike a bothersome cellphone.

 

 

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I function as the webmaster for our troop. I keep our calendar in iCal and broadcast it to the web via MobileMe. This calendar is linked to the troop website, and it's available for parents and kids to view online or subscribe to. There aren't enough specifics on the calendar to warrant password-protecting it, but that could be done if necessary.

 

In reality, only one or two families EVER look at the website or the online calendar. But it's no trouble for me to keep it going. Our technophobic Scoutmaster hands out lists of upcoming events every once in a while, and I put it into iCal for personal use; broadcasting it to the web happens automatically. I keep thinking that someday we'll have more people who look at the web.

 

The only boys in our troop who are on Facebook, as far as I know, are my two sons and the JASM. We have one ASM who has a Facebook account but he won't share the info and won't give anybody his email address. I'm not sure I understand what the point of Facebook and email are if you insist on keeping them secret even from adults you've been working with for 8+ years, but he's entitled to his privacy I suppose.

 

We do publish a troop roster every once in a while which includes phone numbers and email addresses. Occasionally one of the boys in the troop will use email instead of phone to get the word out about something-or-other.

 

So... that's where we are as a troop: just barely coming out of the dark ages.

 

-Liz

 

 

 

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We have a Troop website with the annual calendar and monthly meeting updates. It is updated regularly, but I think folks only visit to see when new pictures have been posted. Parents visit more than the Scouts. I know this because when the guys are talking about an upcoming campout, I often hear "when is the campout?" Every now and then I send an email to parents and scouts reminding them of the calendar on the website and the monthly meeting notes. Still, there are a few that never check and always seem surprised that a campout is a week away or the every year email I get from a couple of parents asking what week we are attending summer camp.

 

Email reminders of things are sent to the parents and to those Scouts that have their own email address. A couple of our guys set up a Facebook page for the Troop, but it doesn't get much activity.

 

Email is my preferred method of communication. I do not carry a cell phone and it's not likely I ever will. Heck, I don't even make calls from my home phone. Unfortunately, most of our parents rely on their cell phones for all communications. They all know early on that email and the website are the only methods I use for reminders, other than face-to-face at meetings. Still, every month I get the same comments from a few parents - oh, I didn't know we had to pay dues (every year at recharter), when is the money due for summer camp, or the campout is THIS weekend?, etc.

 

I rely on the PLC to take care of communications among themselves and they seem to do a good job.

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I am no longer with the Troop...but still am on the active e-mail list. Well because of one thing or another the Troop has gone to using one onf the "Groups" on the e-mail...you have to be approved by the orginator...or admainistrator of the group. It's very private...know one from the outside will get it or can read it unless approved. Kinda of an open forum...like this...really a good way to ask questions...pass on picutres...share information...you should check it out.

 

edited by Eagle Foot

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So I'm interested in learnin' about any units out there who are doin' things with more modern communications methods. What have you done? What have you learned? How's it worked? Even "What would you like to try?"

 

________________________________________________

I'm a modern technology gal/scout mom and I prefer the email method. I am the Troop Treasurer, taking over as CC and a big volunteer in our group. I prefer to send parents reminders when bigger events are coming up. I got a HUGE hand slap from the SM last month when I did this and he asked me not to email families anymore. It's up to the boys to relay messages to their families and the families to read their newsletters (which come out every 2 months). I still email but I delete the SM's email. You would not believe how much scout attendance and parent involvement have improved! I get that it's up to the boys to relay messages and be responsible - but if the parents never find out about the info - how can they become involved as well? So for the time being - it's my little secret.

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awilson - remember a Scout is Trustworthy. I believe that holds true for Scouters as well. As a Scoutmaster I have to say it would certainly bother me if I asked a parent not to do something and they did it anyway as his/her little secret.

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Oh...My...Word!

 

Awilson, if you are about to be the Committe Chair, you can not, must not go behind the back of your Scoutmaster. You two are partners in delivering the promise to the youth. His job is the Program. Your job is the Support.

 

I ask the two of you to sit down and have several friendly cups of coffee together. You two need to be on a common grid of Vision and Goals... what you see the Troop looking like in a couple years and the big ticket milestones on the trail. Then, you also have to figure out a little more detail of how you're both going to get there.

 

It does read to me that one goal of yours is improving:

Scoutfamily communication

Scoutmasterfamily communication

Committeefamily communication

 

May I offer a win-win? Would your Scoutmaster be willing to charge your Troop Scribe to create a bi-weekly newsletter. Leverage the Treasurer, Secretary, and Advancement Coordinator for adult inputs (in other words, they are accountable to the Scribe to deliver from the Committee content, the SPL, QM, and Patrol Leaders for yout inputs, and the Scoutmaster can have a word or two as he needs to.

 

Your Scoutmaster has been upfront with you!

 

Please, do not undercut him by going behind his back.

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We use yahoo groups:

1. Weekly emails with multiple topics such as * Money for Camporee is due Monday; * The COH is in 4 weeks; * Sportsman's warehouse has a good deal on sleeping bags; * Annual dues are due; etc.

2. Yahoo groups has a nice calendar that we use

3. You can post pdf files on yahoo such as permission slips; The MB schedule for summer camp; troop roster; etc.

 

We have a shutterfly password protected account where people load pictures from meetings, campouts, etc.

 

We use calling post (5 cents a call I think) for big reminders like money for summer camp is due Monday! We don't use calling post all that much.

 

Those are our 3 main tools.

 

 

 

(This message has been edited by knot head)

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In light of these last few posts, let me expound upon my earlier questions a little bit. Who send sends out these emails? And to whom are they send? If it is about money (ex, camp fees), is it sent by the Treasurer, Scribe, CommitteeChairor Scoutmaster? If it is a reminder about a campout, does it originate with the SPL,Scoutmaster,Camping Coordinator (Troop Committee) or PLs? Does every scout have email? Are the adults included also?

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I'll try to answer...

 

>>In light of these last few posts, let me expound upon my earlier questions a little bit. [1] Who send sends out these emails? [2] And to whom are they send? [3] If it is about money (ex, camp fees), is it sent by the Treasurer, Scribe, Committee Chair or Scoutmaster? [4] If it is a reminder about a campout, does it originate with the SPL, Scoutmaster, Camping Coordinator (Troop Committee) or PLs? [5] Does every scout have email? [6] Are the adults included also?

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There are three communication paths. The first is from the SM to the SPL to the PLs to the youth members. The second is between the SM and the CC. The third from the CC to the committe members and parents.

 

Usually, the communication between the SM, CC, and committee members is pretty good no matter what method is used.

 

Usually, announcements in the troop meeting are the best way to get a message to the boys--if they show up.

 

However, you can engrave a message in a granite tablet, throw it through the parents' living room window and it will miraculously land in a black hole under the coffee table never to be heard from again.

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