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BSA Centennial Coin - I Got Mine!
Just like waiting to get tickets for the big game, I was sitting here on my computer in line at 11:00am Central time for the USMint.gov to open the doors to the BSA commemorative coin vaults.

Right at 11:00am, the site came to a screeching stand-still. The "Add to Cart" button just started my little hourglass spinning and it just sat there. Then, I could get no pages to show up.
I can only assume that the other million BSA volunteers were all doing the same thing. :-)

But now, 24 minutes later, I got my Proof coins ordered! Those are the most expensive $1 dollars I've ever had. Well, I don't have them yet - I can only wait until they get delivered to see how they look.

With only 350,000 being minted, you should order yours today. I expect they won't last long. And, if they should run out before you get a chance to buy one, drop me a line - maybe we can work something out $$$$$$$$$$ :-)

It looks like you can also purchase the coins through ScoutStuff.org - the process is easier, but the shipping is higher.

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Posted: 10:25 03-23-2010 490
The Scout conference
Just as the scouts learn outdoor skills, leadership skills, and life skills as they experience the adventure of scouting, Scoutmasters keep learning as they spend time in their "job".
Attrition has always been one of my personal concerns and each year I try to improve the troop's retention ratio. This year, I'm applying quite a bit of effort to the Scout conference - where a new scout earns his Scout badge.

Similar to the first step of a thousand mile journey, the Scout conference confirms that the scout is a member of the troop and part of the gang and starts him on his scouting trail. He's demonstrated that he is sincere in his interest to participate and follow the direction set by the Oath and Law. He's prepared to give it his best.

The new group of scouts that crossed over this past month all met on Monday. The newly elected SPL had chosen three Troop Guides. At the meeting, each Troop Guide stood in front and called out the names of the scouts in his patrol. Each group went outside and spent the next half hour playing "get to know you" games and talking about scouting. Guess what the scoutmaster did - chatted with the parents!

Since the scouts are doing such a great job of getting the new scouts moving ahead, I'm not needed much. By training the Troop Guides beforehand, they're ready to lead the guys. My time comes when the scouts set up a scoutmaster conference with me. We use TroopKit.com for our scheduling so new families get up and running pretty quick.

This past week, I've had eighteen Scout conferences, but ten of those were on last weekend's campout. The new guys are waaaay excited for the Court of Honor on Monday because that is when they will receive their patch, troop neckerchief and slide, troop numerals, and a special gift that's a surprise for now.

I did my best to welcome the guys to the troop, answer their questions, and listen to what they were hoping to experience in scouting. By the way, every one I asked has a Wii game system. :-)

By making sure the scouts and their parents know the door is open and a phone call is welcome, a scoutmaster sets the direction for open communication, caring, and community. The Scout conference sets the tone for that scouting family's experience in the troop, so it's a very important 20 minutes.

Scout On
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Posted: 23:36 03-19-2010 489
Even More Historic Merit Badges
Do you recall the post at Scouting Magazine that got everyone excited about the Historic Merit Badge program? Carpentry, Signaling, Tracking, and Pathfinding merit badges are being resurrected for 2010 only as a part of the centennial celebration - a great idea!

It's been a little more than two months since that post. In that time, the actual merit badge patches have become available at scout shops, scouts have become excited about participating and lost that enthusiasm, and I've yet to find anything official about the program. In our council, applications for merit badge counselors for those badges are not being accepted yet.

Today Scouting Magazine has posted an update, basically saying "any day now!" Sorry, but my skeptic side is showing today. See the post at Scouting magazine.

But, hey, I guess those badges are even more historic now than they were two months ago! There ya go.

Scout On
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Posted: 14:57 03-17-2010 488
Spring has Sprung
Wahoo! We're going camping tomorrow!

There's still almost a foot of snow in most places, but the continual rain and above freezing temps the past few days have melted to grass in some places. That's spring as far as I'm concerned.

And, just now, I heard my first thunderclap of the year - at 8:30am on March 11 - that's got to be a record! That certainly means SPRING has arrived. Keep in mind, this is Minnesota, and March has historically been our snowiest month of the year. So, maybe I'm pushing things a bit - less than 3 weeks ago we had our Klondike Derby.

The scouts planned this campout to be GeoCaching and it will be the first outing for some of our newly crossed-over scouts. Should be a soggy, wonderful time.

Scout On
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Posted: 8:28 03-11-2010 487
Does Eagle Matter?
A couple guys at Baylor are getting almost $1,000,000 to find out. In two years, we'll hear if Scouting makes a difference in mens' lives and if Eagle Scout rank matters or not. Sounds like a fun job!

Read More

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Posted: 12:16 03-04-2010 486
Life EDGE Requirement
I've been thinking about it, and I have a concern with this new requirement #6 for Life rank:

I love the idea of having higher-ranked scouts teaching lower ones and of using EDGE as a standard method of teaching. The interaction of scouts and the extra opportunity for younger advancement is great.

One of the listed skills that can be taught, for example, is Second Class #1-a:

So, the Star Scout gets a compass and a map and a Tenderfoot scout that has not yet learned this skill. He then explains the skill to be taught, demonstrates the skill, guides the Tenderfoot through the skill, and finally ensures the Tenderfoot is enabled to perform the skill all on his own.

Throughout this teaching, the scoutmaster should be watching that the EDGE method is being used. When the teaching is complete, the Tenderfoot would then demonstrate the skill to the scoutmaster to show he has learned it well enough.

Here's my concern ...
The scoutmaster should sign off on the Tenderfoot's advancement requirement since it was done to his satisfaction. Then, the scoutmaster signs off on the Life requirement, unless EDGE was not used or the Tenderfoot did not learn the skill.

This seems to push the "Learn It, Show It, Forget It" problem we're working to get past. In this scenario, the Tenderfoot may have seen a map and compass for the first time, parroted what the Star scout did, and got it signed off. In a day, or an hour, he may not remember how to orient a map.

The adults and Star, Life, and Eagle scouts in our troop teach skills to lower-ranked scouts. They often use EDGE. They sign off on T-2-1 scout skill requirements. But, they don't teach a skill and sign off at the same time. If a scout wants a 'demonstrate' advancement requirement signed off, instructing has been done earlier. The scout walks up, demonstrates, gets the sign off.

This new Life requirement seems to promote the teaching and signing off at the same time, which I've found to lessen retention. I'm still trying to work out the best way to handle this new requirement without adding to it, nor weakening the skill level of the scouts.

The best way I've come up with is interpreting "so that he is prepared to pass those requirements". Since it doesn't say "so that he passes those requirements", the scoutmaster might observe that the teaching was done and it appears that the Tenderfoot knows the skill good enough to get it signed off. But, he may not sign off right then, waiting for the Tenderfoot to demonstrate the skill at a later time. Letting the Tenderfoot know this is just a training time for him rather than a sign-off time might set expectations correctly.

Any constructive suggestions out there?

Scout On
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Posted: 12:01 03-04-2010 485
High Adventure Training
Philmont and Northern Tier require Wilderness First Aid certification in each crew. The American Red Cross has offered a course for this certification for a few years, developed by an ARC chapter in North Carolina. This spring, an entirely new, national ARC course titled Wilderness and Remote First Aid takes its place.

This new course has been developed in cooperation with the BSA and is based on our Wilderness First Aid Curriculum and Doctrine Guidelines - I bet you didn't know we had that, huh?

There's a flyer about the course Here.

It's 16 hours, like the previous course, but it should be less expensive, have more hands-on, and use consistent ARC materials. A few key differences about this new training:

This training is not JUST for Philmont and Northern Tier - every troop and pack should have people prepared to handle emergencies wherever they are. If it will take more than 20-30 minutes for an ambulance to reach you, these skills can be life-saving.

I'm really looking forward to presenting this new training to help keep Scouting safe!

Scout On
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Posted: 9:26 02-26-2010 484
Thwarted Good Deed
Driving to church with the family this morning with an uncharacteristic amount of extra time to get there.
A couple blocks ahead, in the right turn lane onto the freeway from the 4-lane road we are on, there's an SUV sitting there with its emergency blinkers going, blocking access to the freeway.

I say, "Hey, should we see if they need help?" (with my hopes high of maybe getting to do a real good turn today).
Both wife and son say, "Sure!", so I pull up beside them on their left and ask my wife to roll down her window so we can ask what we can do. I notice there are two carseats with children in them in the back seat.

Just as we get beside the driver's window, he pulls forward and makes the right turn onto the freeway and off he goes - and the driver still talking on his cellphone!

I had to say a couple extra prayers of forgiveness for some of the thoughts I had toward the guy. :-) I guess he didn't have his Tech Chip yet.

Scout On
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Posted: 11:48 02-21-2010 483
2010 Advancement Aids
I'm not really an advocate of pushing fast advancement on new scouts, but it's important to have opportunities for advancement available so those that participate are not held back from moving ahead. Not much worse than a scout not getting to forge ahead when he's chomping at the bit.

To help the Troop Guides and Instructors, there are a few documents and aids available. These aids give a structure to the advancement program and provide guidance to the scouts leading the new guys.

The New Scout Schedule has been updated with 2010 requirements.

The Advancement Tracking Sheet has been updated also.

Scout On
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Posted: 14:45 02-14-2010 482
New Troop Guide guide
I've just finished updating the program guide our troop's Troop Guides use to help new scouts reach First Class. I added Leave No Trace and Water Safety, as well as an emphasis on EDGE. I also updated for the 2010 requirement changes.

With a big swarm of scouts joining this month, the Troop Guides have a big job ahead of them. Scouts in our troop don't typically reach First Class on the schedule presented in this guide, but it provides some structure for the Troop Guides to use for success.

You can download Troop Guide PDF if it might help your troop.

Scout On
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Posted: 16:34 02-13-2010 481
Fire-free Eagles
While redoing our Troop Guide guide with the 2010 advancement requirements, I noticed the Second Class cooking requirement (3g) no longer says "over an open fire". The Second Class rank does have a requirement (3f) to build a fire, but the fire does not need to be actually lit.

With those changes, it appears there can be an Eagle Scout that has never started a single fire. None of the rank advancements or eagle-required merit badges require that a fire be lit.

I understand the changes are because of fire bans in arid states, but somebody tell me I'm missing it someplace.

Scout On
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Posted: 15:04 02-12-2010 480
Scout Sunday
Tomorrow is Scout Sunday - the first Sunday before February 8. This is a great opportunity to recognize the 'reverent' point of scouting. Our troop is serving at the church where we've met for the past 12 years. Scouts won't have any role in the service but will be helping with refreshments, coffee, and such after the service.

If you need any last minute ideas for the Scout Sunday that you were asked to participate in and waited until the last minute to prepare, check out scouting.org page for ideas.

This Scout Sunday will be our last at this location. As our troop has steadily grown, we've run out of room here and are moving to a new location on March 1.

Scout On
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Posted: 14:36 02-06-2010 479
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