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Stages of Team Development
A scout leader needs to understand how a team develops so he can effectively direct them and modify his leadership style to guide them.

Typically, a new group gathering to perform a task will evolve from being enthusiastic with a low skill level to being confident with a high skill level. But, as a team evolves, the leader has challenges to lead them through the evolution.

There are four stages of team development that usually occur:

Even teams that reach the Performing stage will revert to earlier stages in reaction to changing circumstances. A new leader may cause Storming or a new project may drop us back to Forming.

In Scouts, these stages of development should be expected after every troop election and whenever a group of scouts is tasked with a project. By including this in your troop leader training and reviewing it when a new team is made, it will help the team progress through the stages quicker and smoother.

Scout On

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Posted: 0:19 10-11-2007 233
Solar Decathlon
Have you thought much about how the up and coming engineers and architects are being taught to work through our highly-discussed energy problems? Sure, we have hybrid automobiles starting to show up and windmills popping up on the prairies, but how mainstream is energy efficiency in the education system?

Well, for at least twenty teams from universities and colleges around the world, energy efficiency is the name of the game. The game is also called the BP Solar Decathlon and this year the event happens Oct. 11-17 in Washington, D.C.

These twenty teams are competing against each other to design, build, and operate completely sustainable individual solar homes. Each entry is judged on 10 criteria including style, innovation and efficiency. They've actually been doing the design and building part already but their houses are being displayed in a solar village for the next week on the National Mall.

The teams this year range from far and wide, including California, Colorado, Kansas, Georgia, Spain, Germany, and Canada.

The Solar Decathlon was initiated by the Department of Energy and first held in 2002. It was then held again in 2005. The first two Solar Decathlons were both won by the University of Colorado Buffalos. Maybe they'll make it a threepeat this year.

The contest is sponsored by BP and is a great showcase for alternate energy possibilities. In not too many years, solar power will no longer be a cool thing to check out - it will be a commodity energy source.
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Posted: 23:56 10-10-2007 232
The Order of the Arrow is putting on a huge service project in cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service in the summer of 2008. It is ArrowCorps5 and will consist of five separate projects on national forest land across the country with about 1,000 participants at each site.

Visit the official ArrowCorps5 site for details about each site and registration information.

The five sites are:

Councils should be in the process of setting up contingents now. There are some forms due in November and deposits due in February. The cost for each project is $250 plus whatever your travel costs may be.

The only way to participate is by going through your council - no individual registrations are accepted. Councils and Lodges were sent information just a couple weeks ago so this may be all new to them.

There are patches available for each project site and you can order them at OA Trading Post even if you are not a participant.

ArrowCorps5 is open for both youth and adult OA members.

View a promotional video:

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Posted: 10:53 10-10-2007 231
Eagle Preview
Our district holds an Eagle Preview each spring and fall. This is a 2 hour meeting for all Life scouts to hear about the process of earning the Eagle rank. The entire list of steps is covered with emphasis placed on the project requirements and advice about how to proceed.

It's amazing how many people attend this event. When you see all the Life scouts together, it makes an impact about how many people are affected by the Scouting program. The age range is also fun to see - a few 13 year olds and a few 17ers, all working toward the same goal.

I think this is a great service that the district offers. It's not very exciting, but it's good information. I'd recommend you check to see if your district or a neighboring district does this and attend if you can. It's a good refresher for adult volunteers, even if you don't have a Life scout in the family.

Scout On
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Posted: 23:04 10-08-2007 230
Halloween Costumes
I noticed a bunch of news stories on Google about Boy Scout troops doing Haunted Houses for fundraising events. Rather than door-to-door selling of popcorn or wreaths, they get the customers to come to them for a big scare - and pay for the priviledge. I thought Goblin Insurance might also be a good fundraiser - folks pay $5.00 and if they get TPed or any other problems on Halloween, the scouts clean up their yard for them the next day.

I'm just looking for halloween costumes for myself when the goblins come by looking for candy. I've always thought it would be fun to get something really scarey, but I'm afraid I might really creep out a little kid and scar him/her for life. So, it's usually something boring.

Our troop is doing a mock first-aid night at the troop meeting just before halloween. That's about as ghoulish as we're getting this year, but I'm looking forward to the few dozen critters that I know will knock on the door.
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Posted: 18:25 10-08-2007 229
SSC - Start, Stop, Continue
In order to evaluate performance and begin to plan new direction, scouts should use Start, Stop, Continue. Other similar evaluation tools are Thorns & Roses, or Highs & Lows. The difference is that those only present the positive and negative reflection of what we've already done. Start, Stop, Continue looks towards the future to take our results and make a new plan.

Start, Stop, Continue should can be used to reflect after any activity, campout, meeting, or event. It's a good way to promote continual improvement in the troop or patrol.

Scout On
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Posted: 10:18 10-07-2007 228
Troop Christmas cards
In a couple months, you'll start seeing all those business christmas cards by the water fountain at work or pinned to the employee bulletin board. They're a nice way for organizations to touch base at the end of the year and thank clients for a year of business.

I think the same is true for troops and packs. The end of the year is a good time to send a card to every family in the troop, the chartered organization representative, maybe the district executive, and others that have helped make the troop's year a success. Including a newsletter of the year's adventures and accomplishments makes the communication more meaningful. You might even mention the coming year's plans and how the program is growing in both offerings and expenses.

Sending cards to other troops and packs in your community wishing them a successful year to come would also be a nice gesture.

Those cards don't just magically appear. Someone has to plan ahead and order them - right about now. The Gallery Collection is a publisher of greeting cards with a wide selection of styles, one of which should suit the scouts in your troop. They are also holding a design contest which could be a way for one scout to help with college.

The contest prize is a $10,000 scholarship for the best designed greeting card. We have a few scouts that are really into computer graphics and I could see one of them having a chance at winning. The contest is open to high school and college students and the criteria are:
1. Overall aesthetic appeal
2. Quality of execution
3. Creativity and Originality
4. Successful incorporation of design elements
5. Appropriateness for use as a greeting card
6. Attractiveness to The Gallery Collection’s corporate and consumer customers
7. Suitability as a design in the Gallery Collection greeting card line

The official rules and entry are available at their web site.
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Posted: 9:48 10-07-2007 227
Troop Leader Training
The new SPL led his Troop Leader Training session last night and today. Last night, just the Patrol Leaders were present to review the 12 month troop schedule and add another 6 months.
In March, the scouts started coming up with themes for their campouts instad of just skiing, climbing, shooting, ... They kept that thought process going this time with no prompting from me! In a year, we'll be doing "Ice Wars", "Winter Survival", and "Nifty 50s" campouts. Nifty 50s is tent camping but we'll go to a drive-in theater for a late show instead of a campfire. Ice Wars is a bunch of competitions like largest snowball, catapult target shooting, fastest hole drilled through the ice, ... and whatever else gets planned.
Surprisingly, the highlight of the night for some scouts was Balloons. I handed each scout a balloon and said the task was to come up with an activity for a patrol to do using just balloons. I figured it would take 10 minutes, but after playing with the ballons for about 50 minutes it was time for bed.

This morning, all the troop leaders joined us for the Training session. Three Life scouts helped present EDGE and other skill instruction sessions. It went very well. Each scout has a couple very good goals for their term which will make a big impact on the troop. We finished with lunch and sent everyone home.

Now, we just need to follow through with the commitments made.

Scout On

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Posted: 16:25 10-06-2007 226
Scout iphone accessories
At our Troop Leader Training this morning, the topic of electronic devices came up again followed by the discussion of allowing them on campouts or not. It was pretty amazing how many of the scouts now have iPhones, iPods (Nano, Shuffle, Touch, Video, Photo, Mini), cellphones, and the like. From 6th graders on up, everyone had some device - in the past it has usually been one or two of the older scouts.

A few of them also mentioned that they had destroyed a device from rain, dropping, or losing it. That's another good reason to leave them at home when camping. But, I found online that there are a lot of iphone accessories and other supplemental gear to help protect these expensive gadgets - everything from cleaning kits to aluminum cases. Maybe some ideas out there for your scout's Christmas.

Scout On
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Posted: 16:09 10-06-2007 225
EDGE - Explain Demonstrate Guide Enable
When teaching is done in our troop, the scouts are always expected to use the EDGE techniques. At every Troop Leader Training session, these skills are covered and the Troop Guides and Instructors are continually reminded of the importance of this process.
We also have guidelines that teaching is done to groups no larger than 8 but preferably smaller, materials are prepared and available before the training, and every session has a short reflection time for feedback.

The EDGE technique is:

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Posted: 11:16 10-05-2007 224
Lock-In Entertainment
Our troop is planning a Lock-in at the church for a Friday night in November. The scouts bring movies and watch them on the TV in the youth room. Unfortunately, with 40 or 50 scouts, a TV doesn't cut it any longer. We need something bigger.

An LCD projector hooked up to a DVD player and sound system would be perfect. We can show huge movies on the gym wall and it's like being in a movie theater. I have an LCD projector in my basement and my sons have had their patrols over to watch movies. But, I don't know if I really want it around the whole troop on the loose since it is quite expensive.

Instead of risking personal equipment, there are companies that rent and ship projectors around the country. For about $140, you can have a projector for the weekend. With 30 scouts, that's just $4.50 each for movies all night long. Actually, it arrives on Thursday and you return it on Monday, so you have access to it for four nights and three days.

If you are thinking about your own home theater like I have or something for troop presentations, then renting is a way to try it and see if it will work out before making a big investment.
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Posted: 10:51 10-05-2007 223
Recall of Cub Immediate Recognition Kit
The plastic "Progress Towards Ranks" piece of the "Immediate Recognition Kit" (Item No. 01804) is being recalled by the manufacturer, Kahoot Products, Inc.
The item may contain lead levels in excess of U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission standards in the paint on the totem badge. This is a voluntary recall and, pending formalization of the recall details, all consumers are urged to remove the Cub Scout Recognition Totem Badge from the child's possession and kept in a safe place where only adults have access. Detailed instructions for returning the product for replacement will be provided by the manufacturer and posted as soon as they are available.

The manufacturer has received no reports of any injuries resulting from the use of the kits, but are urging this action as a precautionary measure.

Please share this information with the other leaders and parents of Cub Scouts. You can read Kahoot's Recall Letter.

Scout On
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Posted: 10:26 10-04-2007 222
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