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Chaplain Aide - a Real Leader
Sometimes I think it's unfortunate that Reverent comes at the end of the Scout Law. It seems to be set at a lower priority than the other eleven points and scouts may give it less emphasis. The troop's Chaplain Aide is a leadership position specifically meant to ensure that reverence is part of the scouting experience and should be held by a scout that has demonstrated a personal spiritual awareness.

Chaplain Aide may become one of those free ride leadership positions in a troop that does not have duties defined for each job. To prevent that, and to keep the role meaningful, our troop has come up with these tasks for the Chaplain Aide:

The Chaplain Aide meets with the Assistant Senior Patrol Leader at least every 2 months to report on his progress towards his goals. This ensures he is fulfilling his duties and will receive rank advancement credit. The Chaplain Aide also has an adult mentor that he can go to with ideas and for advice. The mentor is a consistent resource from term to term and s/he knows what the last few chaplain aides have done and can help with ideas for improvement.
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Posted: 17:26 12-03-2007 271
Download BSA Advancement Videos
I've had quite a few people ask me if the BSA Rank Advancement Videos were available to download just once instead of watching them online. The video files are really big (some are over 10MB) and don't work too well for folks with slow Internet connections.

Trying to be helpful, I've created a Video Download page that lists all the videos with instructions to download them to your computer for offline viewing.

Scout On
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Posted: 15:48 12-02-2007 270
Librarian - a Real Leader
Does your troop have a library? What's in it? Does anyone use it?

We've got a library that contains at least one of every merit badge pamphlet. Each year, when pamphlets are updated, the troop Librarian is tasked with purchasing the new pamphlets and archiving previous versions. The library is actually a couple of big cardboard boxes and moves to the Librarian's home with each election.
We also have other resources in the library - books about knots, pioneering, mountain first aid, troop program resources, whittling, winter camping, games, and much more. There's Patrol Leader handbooks, Chaplain books, and songbooks. Unfortunately, these resources were very seldom used and scouts seemed never able to come up with new activities.

In the past two years, the role of Librarian has evolved with an emphasis on getting the library resources used more and providing the Librarian with more opportunities to demonstrate leadership. The two main changes to the Librarian's duties are maintaining an online library page and promoting the library. Here are all the duties that make this troop position one of leadership:

The Librarian meets with the Assistant Senior Patrol Leader at least every 2 months to report on his progress towards his goals. This ensures he is fulfilling his duties and will receive rank advancement credit. The Librarian also has an adult mentor that he can go to with ideas and for advice. The mentor is a consistent resource from term to term and s/he knows what the last few librarians have done and can help with ideas for improvement.

Scout On
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Posted: 9:41 12-01-2007 269
Historian - a Real Leader
The troop position of Historian is often left unfilled in smaller troops and thought of as a 'bogus' position in many other troops. Scouts that take on the Historian job may find that they have nothing to do for 6 months except put a newspaper clipping or two in an old scrapbook. It doesn't have to be that way. Every troop leadership position can and should have real leadership responsibilities.

Leadership doesn't need to be demonstrated in a charismatic, up-in-front, "Follow Me!" manner. There is a whole lot of leadership that can happen behind the scenes or in quiet, supportive roles. And, opportunities to get in front of the troop should be added to every leadership role.

To ensure the Historian job is a real leadership position, our troop has included the following responsibilities in the list of duties.

The Historian meets with the Assistant Senior Patrol Leader at least every 2 months to report on his progress towards his goals. This ensures he is fulfilling his duties and will receive rank advancement credit. The Historian also has an adult mentor that he can go to with ideas and for advice.

Our troop web site is becoming a key method of communication and that is why it is included in these duties. All troop leaders have access to create and maintain content. The web site makes access to information easier and faster for everyone.

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Posted: 17:16 11-29-2007 268
Favorite Games
Now that the weather has dipped into single digits - Brrrr - I thought you might be able to use some indoor game ideas. These are some of the favorite games of our scouts for troop meetings that still get some action going.

Don't let your troop meetings get stagnant during the winter. Make sure evey meeting has some action for scouts to look forward to.

Scout On
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Posted: 10:47 11-28-2007 267
I'm Stuffed
After eating, sitting, and visiting relatives for two days stright, I'm stuffed!
Each family has its own traditions - some watch football, some hunt deer, some always go to Grandma's, etcetera. I guess our family's tradition is to eat - we don't do much else for the weekend. I actually cut back on my meals for three days before Thanksgiving in hopes of reaching Monday without a big gain on the scale. There's still some turkey left to make sandwiches for the drive home tomorrow, but all the pumpkin and pecan pie got finished today.
I guess it's a good think to set aside a couple days to relax and reminisce with the extended family. We don't get to visit with everyone very often. It seems kind of gluttonous with all the food that gets laid out, but it is a celebration of thanks for life and the opportunities we have in this country. And, I for one am thankful for my situation and place. I've been fortunate to have few family, social, or professional hardships and this past year has been especially smooth.
It will be back to the normal life on Monday, but for now I just heard it's time for dinner - again.

And to think we do it all over again just one month from now, but with presents too!

Scout On
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Posted: 19:16 11-24-2007 266
Centennial Quality Unit Award
At the end of October, units could start claiming their Centennial Quality Unit goals for 2007. This is the first year when this new CQU award replaced the normal Quality Unit award.

The six requirements for the award raised quite a stir this year around here. Lots of confusion and questions about just what was needed to actually earn the award, especially compared to the fairly simple requirements for past QU awards.
New RequirementsOld Requirements
  1. Have ___ percent of direct contact leaders complete Basic Leader Training for their position, including Youth Protection Training.
  2. Retain ______ percent of our members, recruit ______ new youth, and recharter on time.
  3. Recruit ______ new adults
    to be active.
  4. Have a minimum of 60 percent of youth advance in rank for Cub Scouting and
    Boy Scouting or earn Venturing recognition awards, or improve by 10 percent over last year.
  5. At least 70 percent of youth have an outdoor experience or one activity per month, or improve the percentage over last year.
  6. Conduct annual program planning and provide the financial resources to deliver a quality program.
(Complete 1st four requirements and any two more.)
  1. Scoutmaster completes Boy Scout Leader Fast Start Training and Basic Leader Training for Scoutmasters.
  2. One or more Assistant Scoutmasters registered, trained, and active. One registered adult is assigned responsibility for Youth Protection training.
  3. Conduct six highlight activities and attend a BSA long-term camp.
  4. Complete charter renewal before current charter expires.
  5. Conduct an annual program planning conference, publish an annual troop program calendar, and present it to parents at a family activity.
  6. Conduct a service project annually, preferably for the chartered organization or the community. The project will be reported on the web site.
  7. 60 percent or more of youth advance a rank, or have a 10 percent increase in total rank advancement over a year ago.
  8. A Boysí Life subscription will go into the homes of all youth, or have a 10 percent increase over a year ago.
  9. Renew charter with an equal or greater number of youth registered over a year ago.
  10. Conduct Troop Junior Leader Training as outlined in the Scoutmaster Handbook and hold monthly patrol leadersí council meetings.

The past QU requirements were all pre-set. With the CQU, each unit sets its own goals for the first 3 requirements. Some units may low-ball to ensure the award while others may challenge themselves and miss the goals.
The curious thing is looking forward to 2008 and the changes in the requirements. Individual units will get to set their own percentages for requirements #4 and #5 - effectively letting each unit decide what is needed to earn the award. See this 2007-2008 comparison.

Scout On
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Posted: 12:09 11-21-2007 265
New Rank Requirements
The National Youth Protection Committee recommended additions to Boy Scout rank requirements that were approved and will become effective January 1, 2008. These changes will emphasize the importance of Youth Protection training.

Tenderfoot Rank
Revised requirement 9:
Explain the importance of the buddy system as it relates to your personal safety on outings and in your neighborhood. Describe what a bully is and how you should respond to one.

Second Class Rank
New requirement 8b:
Explain the three Rís of personal safety and protection.

First Class Rank
New requirement 12:
Describe the three things you should avoid doing related to use of the Internet. Describe a cyberbully and how you should respond to one.

The changes will be represented in the 2008 Boy Scout Requirements book and the revised ninth printing of the 11th edition of the Boy Scout Handbook.

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Posted: 0:49 11-21-2007 263
Progress Towards Rank Remedy
As you may remember, the Cub Scout Immediate Recognition Kit has been recalled this fall due to high lead content in the paint.

Scouts or parents that have one of these items can return it to a Scout Shop starting on December 1, 2007 and receive a replacement. The new replacement items will have an imprinted diamond shape on the back so you can tell they are new.

Also, when someone returns an old one, they can enter to win one of three BMX bikes from Kahoot - as kind of an "Oops, sorry" contest. The bike winners will be drawn on April 1, 2008.

See Kahoot News for details.

Scout On
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Posted: 14:17 11-19-2007 262
Merit Badge Video
The BSA has put out a video overview of the merit badge program. You can view it online - Merit Badge Primer Video

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Posted: 12:41 11-19-2007 261
Eagle Scout Ceremony
The troop celebrate another Eagle Scout today. This one finished his requirements just a few weeks before his 18th birthday, so it was close. He hovered at Life for over 3 years but finally completed the tasks.

The Court of Honor ceremony went very well. Check out the script at this page - the interrupting scouts worked out well and added a little intrigue to the event. The best part was having his little brother and sister put on his Eagle neckerchief. The worst part was having the Scoutmaster talk too much. :-)

The Eagle did a great job of encouraging all the younger scouts to set goals, persevere, and not wait too long. Whenever an experienced scout can prod other scouts along in their advancement, that's a good thing.

Scout On
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Posted: 23:08 11-18-2007 259
Popcorn - Behind the Scenes
Trails' End Popcorn is the staple funding for many packs/troops, districts, and councils around the country. There's a good chance the scouts in your unit sell popcorn. Some love doing it while others hate the whole thing. From the average scout's, parent's, or even scoutmaster's point of view, the popcorn just magically appears at someone's house and they go pick up the items they sold.

Today, I had the enlightening opportunity to discover that the popcorn does not magically appear at that person's house. Actual people spend many actual hours of actual hard work getting it ready!

Our District Executive put out a request for folks to help sort popcorn. Since I was free today, I said, "Sure!" I didn't know that I was the only one that had that reply.

All the orders for a district are combined into one huge order from Trails' End. Popcorn is delivered on pallets in cases. Many pallets with hundreds of cases! All wrapped in plastic and waiting to be broken down and re-assembled into piles for each specific troop.

Our D.E. gave me one troop's order and told me to gather all the items 'over there'. I searched for Cheese Lovers and Three-way Tin Chocolate Lovers and Microwave Kettle Corn. After lots of searching through pallets, I finally had the lay of the land and the next order was easier.

You may not know this, but on every item and every case there is a symbol - a moon, circle, triangle, sun, or something else. You should look on your items. We had our own special language. We didn't say we needed 7 2.5 Pound Popcorn Tins - we said we needed 7 Triangles. I didn't even know what was in most of the cases for half the day. :-)

After 3 hours of picking and packing, the troops began to arrive for pickups. Then, we moved the orders to a loading bay and they checked off that we had the correct number of triangles, circles, and clovers (sometimes called 'clubs'). I was impressed - we only had a couple mix-ups and they were fixed.

So, when you get your popcorn, remember that someone put in a whole lot of work just to get those items to you so your scouting adventures could happen. Next year, consider volunteering to help sort your district's popcorn - it really was an interesting day. And, try the 'stars' - they're very good!

Scout On
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Posted: 22:12 11-16-2007 258
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