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I attended our Order of the Arrow chapter conclave this weekend. We had about 60 Ordeal candidates that 'enjoyed' their weekend of providing service at a local camp. We all woke up Saturday morning to frost on tents or tarps since it dropped to about 30 degrees overnight.
I really did enjoy my day of cheerful service - I got to run a chainsaw all day, making firewood from downed trees for the camp's 3 lodges. In all, the scouts stacked almost 3 cords of split wood (4x4x8 feet). Other teams put a new metal roof on a lodge, packed the summer's Webelos camp tents away for winter, and pruned trees.
The tree pruning was interesting. Everything below 6 feet was lopped off to retard fires. The hope is that a fast-burning grassfire will rip through and not generate enough heat to ignite the branches higher up. Plus, it allows scouts to walk through the woods and under the trees. Well, it looks a little too manicured to me, but I hope the fire-prevention doesn't ever get tested.
Our troop had 4 scouts and 1 adult added to the order this weekend.
Posted: 16:32 09-16-2007 205
Rocks In My Backpack
Through the Internet, I've had the pleasure of meeting and conversing with a wonderful Scouter living in Colorado named Tom Sholes. Tom has written a book about his life as a Scoutmaster in Wisconsin and then in Colorado over a 40 year career. He sent me a copy of "Rocks In My Backpack" to review and asked me to let him know how I liked it.
I've read other books that people write about their 'stories' just because they enjoy the memories so much they figure other people will like them too. It often doesn't work out that way. But, for my 2 cents, "Rocks In My Backpack" is the most entertaining book about Scouting I've ever read. I could relate so many of Tom's scouts with guys in my own patrol it made me believe that boys will always be boys, generation after generation.
I was so impressed with Tom's writing and all the years he's put in with Scouting that I've decided to promote his book on this site.
If you're looking for a gift for your troop's Scoutmaster, ASMs, Committee Chair, or any voluteer at any level in Scouting, I believe this book would be greatly enjoyed. The summer is winding down and Christmas isn't that far away so please consider supporting a Scouting veteran's efforts and reward your favorite Scouting volunteer with a fun present.- Buy It - > < - Buy It -
Posted: 23:07 09-13-2007 204
Wolf and Bear Arrow Points
I was asked, "Do you need to do all requirements for each Bear elective?"
The very last page in the Bear Scout Handbook is a blank Arrow Point Trail Record where the scout can list the achievements and electives he completes for arrow points. That chart asks for number and letter of the elective.
That means each individual item in an elective counts towards an arrow point and when any 10 items are complete, an arrow point is earned.
For example, a scout may do requirements b, c, and d in the Electricity elective, a, c, d, and f in Aircraft elective, and a, b, and c in Masks elective to earn his gold arrow point. He didn't do all the requirements for any of those electives, just the things that were interesting to him.
Also, requirements in the Achievements that were completed but not used to fulfill the requirements for the achievement can be counted towards arrow points. For example, "The Past is Exciting and Important" achievement has 6 requirements and the scout needs to complete 3 of them for the achievement. If he visits a library, talks to an old-time cub scout, makes a pack scrapbook, traces his family tree, and writes a journal - he can use two of those as arrow point items.
The Wolf arrow point trail is different. Wolf scouts have 12 achievements to complete to earn their Wolf rank. A few of those achievements have optional requirements, but they are not used for arrow points.
There are over a hundred Wolf Electives which count towards arrow points when done by the scout. Just like Bears, each individual item counts, not the entire elective. So, if a Wolf Scout did all the items in "Be An Actor" and "Make It Yourself", that would be 10 items and an arrow point.
Posted: 10:26 09-12-2007 203
Our troop has its hands full of Life Scouts. They are beginning to ask about the Eagle process and what they need to do and when things are due and, and, and ...
Fortunately, we have a great Eagle Advisor in the troop that is happy to help them along the trail. In addition to that, the district offers an 'Eagle Preview' session every spring and fall.
These sessions are open to all Life and Star scouts to learn about the Eagle process and start getting their ducks in a row. They last about 90 minutes and include a lot of good information. I think they mostly scare the bejeebers out of the scouts. :-)
Check with your unit commissioner or district executive to see what guidance is offered for Life Scouts just starting towards Eagle. It might save you a lot of headaches down the road.
Posted: 0:42 09-12-2007 202
Cool gadget for Troop Websites
We have a photo gallery on our troop web site. It's pretty good, with tons of photos, but they are just static photos, one after another. Our Troop Historian is responsible for getting them online and then parents can look at what their scout did over the weekend.
I've been looking for some way to make it more interesting and there is a new tool at Qlip Media
that looks awful promising. It's beta right now, but they have a lot of examples that folks have created.
You can create a running audio stream and import photos to create a slideshow with dialog. Now, that is much more interesting to parents and scouts that couldn't attend than just plain photos. You can even draw on the imported images to point out key parts, like Johnny doing something funny in the background.
These little videos are called Qlippits and they can be emailed or stored on a web page.
Posted: 0:28 09-12-2007 201
Code of Conduct
I was asked today: Is a 'code of conduct' for Cub Scouts like there is for Boy Scouts or does each Pack create its own?
Just like the Boy Scouts have the Scout Oath and Law as their 'code of conduct', the Cub Scouts have the Law of the Pack and the Cub Scout Promise. Those are the only codes needed to describe how scouts act.
There are many techniques that den leaders have employed to help manage the bahavior of scouts. A common one is the 'Den Candle' which burns as long as the den is behaving. When the candle is burned up, the den gets a prize of some kind. These can be useful for promoting expected behavior, but they don't define that behavior.
Scouts know how they should act, but that does not mean they will always act that way. While a Tiger, Wolf, Bear, and Webelos den leader, I was fortunate to have very few behavioral problems. I believe that was because I was blessed with an exceptionally great den of scouts and because they did not have time to get in trouble. I had more activities planned for a meeting than we could possibly do and then had a couple extra games 'just in case' that we never got to. I tried to never have the scouts sitting still for more than 10 minutes - longer than that feels too much like school.
I found that the best way to alter behavior was to simply ask which part of the Law of the Pack the scout was practicing - was it following Akela, helping the Pack go, or giving goodwill? Occasionally, a more in-depth discussion of better ways to practice was necessary was required. The couple of times that didn't work, calling a parent, explaining the situation, and handing the phone to the scout solved the problem.
Sometimes troops or packs write down some guidelines which help define a process, such as how the trailer gets packed or how to air out and store tents. These are useful and unique to that unit. When we start writing down 'behavioral' restrictions, then we've crossed a line that will cause nothing but grief.
Codes of conduct will stifle creativity and foster the need to push against the restrictions and find loopholes and uncharted territory. We'll soon hear, "But, the code of conduct didn't say I COULDN'T do it!" and then we'll have to add that to the list. If we just stick to the Law and Oath, the scouts have a well-defined set of guidelines and room to play.
Posted: 0:12 09-12-2007 200
Sports Training Videos
Here's a great resource I found, especially for Den Leaders putting the Cub Scout Academics and Sports program into their annual scouting program. Check out the instructional guide for sports at playsportstv.com
There's hundreds of short videos demonstrating and teaching skills for football, soccer, baseball, basketball, tennis, and other sports. If you're a den leader trying to learn good ways to present basic skills to your scouts, these can be a nice way for you to pick up some new drills.
There is an emphasis on good sportsmanship and examples of how to help young athletes enjoy the practices and become better team players. That seems to be somewhat lacking in youth teams I've watched in our area recently - the winning can sometimes become more important than the playing.
Besides the videos, there are also blogs by coaches with additional tips and advice. Quite a long list of coaches, too, and the soccer coach's blog had some real positive bits of information about really young players and good sportsmanship.
Hey, you might even want to let your son's football or hocky coach know about the site. Maybe s/he will pick up a couple ideas.
Posted: 23:53 09-11-2007 199
diacetyl - sounds better than C4H6O2, I guess. There's been a suggestion by the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health that diacetyl, when used in artificial butter flavoring, may be hazardous if heated and inhaled over long periods of time.
That artificial butter flavoring is what's used in microwave popcorn, which we heat and then inhale its aroma.
With scouts around the country gearing up to sell microwave popcorn door-to-door, you can expect this concern to come up in your pack or troop. To prepare for that, the BSA has issued a Press Release
letting folks know the Trails End popcorn is safe. That release says that the popcorn suppliers have "voluntarily started
removing diacetyl from their products". Hmmm, 'started' removing it?
So, I checked the Trails' End web site and they have a big link on their home page that takes you to their press release
. It says they have removed diacetyl so everyone can be happy now.
Whew! Now, I can inform the scouts that the popcorn they are selling is diacetyl-free. I don't suppose we can actually call it 'Healthy' though, can we? :-)
Posted: 14:51 09-10-2007 198
Troop Gear Lookout
We bought new tents for the new scouts that joined the troop last spring as well as replacements for some that had worn out.
I bought them online at ScoutDirect.com, and I feel we got a good deal, but I find myself using up more time than I should looking for the very best deal sometimes.
For purchasing troop gear, it's a good idea to check out different stores for good deals to minimize your impact on the troop's resources, but using hours of time to save pennies can be too hard on the Scoutmaster.
Plan ahead for the gear you expect to need in the next year or 18 months. Then, research to find the general prices for the gear. Then, keep your eye out for sales and such as you shop and surf. When a good price shows up, buy what you need and don't worry about possibly having missed the same gear for $.25 less someplace else.
Posted: 14:33 09-10-2007 197
Celebrating the Adventure. Continuing the Journey
The 100th Anniversary of the BSA is still 2.5 years away - in February, 2010. But, planning for the celebration is well underway with a 100 Years of Scouting site
online. There's a nice PDF file of a history timeline
and other promotional literature.
Probably of the most interest to scouts is the Logo Contest
open to all scouts with 5 winning categories - overall, Venturer, Eagle Scout, Boy Scout, and Cub Scout. Everyone that enters receives a patch and certificate and the overall winner goes to San Francisco to help finalize the logo design. Submissions are due by the end of November, 2007.
Posted: 14:34 09-08-2007 196
It is now obvious to practically everyone that climate change
is a real and present danger to our world environment. Some people believe the change in average temperatures is a natural phenomenon, just part of the normal cycles of history. But, most people realize that our carbon fuel use and green house gas emissions are having a drastic and immediate impact on the global environment.
On the Climate Change area of Energy Policy TV
, there is a collection of very interesting videos from recent conferences and climate change events. For example, there are videos of Senator Clinton, Senator Klobucher, and President Bush. There's even a video of Theodore Roosevelt IV with a keynote address at a conference in Florida. He doesn't look much like the 26th president, but I thought it was cool to see a guy whose great-great-grandfather is on Mt. Rushmore.
The videos are long and not the entertaining type you find on YouTube, but there is a lot of good information about the problems and proposed directions to take.
There are many documentaries, movies, and books written and being written on the subject. Finally, governmental and business leaders are putting in efforts to address the issues we face regarding climate change. I believe from what I've learned that by starting right now, today, it will still be well after I and my children are gone from the earth before a successful shift will begin. Much like turning a freighter, it will take many years of effort to notice change in direction.
In the Boy Scouts, I feel we have a good opportunity to promote the needed mental shift in young men that will be business and community leaders in 10 to 30 years. By looking at the topic of climate change and the need for a global community commitment, we can help lay the groundwork for the changes to come as the rest of the community shifts their views.
Posted: 8:34 09-08-2007 195
Last night, we had our first District Roundtable since the summer break. Lots of first-timers showed up since the organizers included a New Leader Essentials class break-out session.
It was good to see some other Scoutmasters and chat about what their troops did over the summer. It sounded like our troop had one of the more 'productive' summers as far as outings go.
We have district level adult training coming up soon and I've been asked to help with the Outdoor Leader Skills again. That will be fun. The plan is to have it during the district Camporee, hoping more adults will attend since they're out camping anyway. We'll hope and see.
Be sure to check your district's training schedule and promote the basic training to your adults. Help them earn that Scouter's Training knot.
Posted: 10:23 09-07-2007 194
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