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Merit Badge Updates
There were about 28 merit badges updated the past year and the new requirements are in the 2006 Boy Scout Requirements booklet. I've made new merit badge worksheets on the site for all these badges which I hope are helpful for at least a few scouts out there.
I just picked up the 'Troop Leadership Training' 3-ring binder package of pages that is document #34306A at the Scout Shop. I was expecting the replacement for the Junior Leader Training materials, but there's nothing in it except a quick intro and a bunch of pages of wallet cards with position descriptions to hand out to the scouts. I'm really hoping I missed the real materials someplace or else I'm really disappointed. I'll have to search around to see what other folks have found out about this new leadership training.
Posted: 23:55 02-10-2006 51
Sunday, Feb. 5 is Scout Sunday - an opportunity to recognize scouts in your congregation.
|Good information about Scout Sunday can be found at this BSA Official Page.|
Scout Sunday is designated by BSA as the Sunday that falls before Feb. 8 (Scouting Anniversary Day) but each congregation can celebrate on a more convenient Sunday if necessary.
I hope you have an opportunity to wear your uniform to church tomorrow. If your congregation does not currently have a Scout Sunday program, it would be a good idea for you to discuss it with your pastor and see if something can be arranged for next year.
Having scouts usher, greet, or read is a good experience for the scouts and for the congregation.
Posted: 12:46 02-04-2006 50
Hey, there's a new merit badge for 2006. Composite Materials is now available. This is another high tech career merit badge. To find out a bit about composite materials, you can google it and see there are about 2 million hits - ouch! Or, the page at this Australian site
has some good info.
Also, a bunch of the existing merit badges have had requirement changes in the past year. Scouts and merit badge counselors should check the requirements before forging ahead with what they always did in the past. (I'm working on updating the worksheets here now)
Finally, there's a new requirement for First Class rank advancement...
#11: Tell someone who is eligible to join Boy Scouts, or an inactive Boy Scout, about your troop's activities. Invite him to a troop outing, activity, service project or meeting. Tell him how to join, or encourage the inactive Boy Scout to become active.
If scouts have not earned their First Class rank by June 30, they will be required to include this new task.
The new requirement fits well with what I've been 'preaching' to scouts for the last couple years. We can't take Webelos for granted - they may not advance on to our troop. A first year scout needs to invite a friend that hasn't been in cub scouts to join his patrol. It is a perfect time for a new boy to get involved because it is all new for the cub scouts moving on also.
I also see this requirement as another opportunity for older scouts to teach effective communication skills and better understanding of the joining process for everyone.
Posted: 11:57 02-01-2006 49
Our district had its volunteer appreciation dinner last night. It's kinda weird to be eating real food with these guys instead of half-cooked or over-cooked stuff in a pot. But, for the most part, everyone had nice manners. This was a time for awards to be given out to those people that put in exceptional amounts of time and effort the past year to keep the scouting program alive and strong.
I think it's a really good idea to take a minute and tell the people that volunteer 'Thank You' occasionally. Volunteers are seldom helping out because they want the praise, but too often they get taken for granted. Whether its Sunday School teachers, scout leaders, hospital visitors, soup kitchen help, or whatever, letting them know they are appreciated is nice.
I'm having the adult volunteers of our troop over for pizza and a movie next month to say 'Thanks'. Of course, I'm also going to include a discussion of the highs and lows of the past year, but nothing's free. :-) Maybe we'll watch 'Follow Me, Boys' since I've not seen that old film yet.
Hey, if you happen to be reading this and volunteer your time to scouting or some other helpful organization, let me say THANKS!
and keep up the good work.
Posted: 14:07 01-27-2006 48
Council Specific Awards
Tonight I'll be attending a local pack meeting with 6 boy scouts from our troop. They will be presented with the Summit Award. The 'What?' award, you ask.
Our Summit Award is earned by scouts that have received their Arrow of Light, earned 3 additional activity badges, and attended an extra troop function as a Webelos scout. They then need to join a troop, do 3 hours of service, earn the Scout badge, and participate in a troop outing.
This award is then presented to the scout at a pack meeting of his old pack so the cub scouts can see how one of their own has moved on to boy scouts and is having a great time. It is helpful in encouraging Webelos to keep active.
This Summit Award is specific to our council. I found that there are at least 3 other councils with different Summit Awards, all with different requirements and goals. These council-level awards can make things confusing for folks, especially when you look at a uniform that has weird patches you've never seen before in places you didn't know they could be. :-) Sometimes, that is due to misplacement of patches and other times it is due to councils deciding to issue their own patches.
I think its a good opening for conversation when you notice a new patch on someone's uniform. Finding out what they did to receive it can get the ball rolling.
Now, I hope I survive this cafeteria full of wild cub scouts tonight. It's been 8 months since I've been in the wild with them!
Posted: 9:22 01-19-2006 47
One of my nephews has joined Tiger Scouts this year. The experience so far has been less than encouraging from the parents' point of view. It seems that the scouts are allowed to run wild with very little learning or growing going on.
I hear from quite a few people that send me email here making similar comments - that the cub scout program (and mostly tiger cubs) is just a madhouse with no direction or goals. I assure them that it is not supposed to be that way.
The program in the Tiger Handbook has specific activities for scouts to do, not just have boys run around and play the whole time. The den leaders should set behavior expectations right at the start of the year with the buy-in of the parents and scouts and then stand by those expectations.
An adult is required to attend every Tiger meeting and activity for every tiger scout that attends. This is so the tiger has some fun time with the adult and so the adult can keep the tiger in line and on track. The den leader should not be expected to play the role of parent.
A den leader needs to have the leadership skills to talk with a parent if a tiger scout is disrupting the den's activities. There should always be a goal for every activity, game, meeting that scouts do. Scouting is a game with a purpose and it's important that the adults know the purpose but the scouts don't need to know it. The scouts should just think they are playing and having fun - they'll learn as they do the activities in the handbook.
One of the really great things I've discovered from being part of the entire scouting program from Tiger to Eagle is 'Continuity'. The small tasks that tiger scouts do build into larger, more complex tasks for Life and Eagle scouts. For example, Tigers take a hike with their den, Wolfs plan a walk, Bears plan an outdoor family day, Webelos participate in a den campout, Tenderfeet camp out 1 time, 2nd Class camp out 5 times and plan some meals, 1st Class camp out 10 times, planning and supervising meals. The tasks build from year to year and are age-appropriate with more being expected as a boy matures in age and skills. The same sort of progression is in the program for first aid, leadership, citizenship, swimming, knots, camping, and other scout skills.
When folks plop down into a Tiger den, they usually are not aware that it is the first small step that is part of a 12 year program helping their little boy become a well-rounded man. They also are sometimes not aware that no program can be successful without support, love, and guidance from the scout's family. I believe those two points should be emphasized at the start of each scouting year by the den leader, cubmaster and scoutmaster.
Posted: 12:40 01-15-2006 46
New Year - New Adventure
First troop meeting of the year last night. Wow, 35 scouts in one room - where did I put those earplugs? The troop instructors presented sessions on winter first aid, including hypothermia and frostbite.
Our first campout of the year is in 2 weeks - building snow huts up north by Lake Mille Lacs. To prepare, another instructor demonstrated how to wrap a sleeping bag into a snow cocoon to keep it dry. Then he explained how to build a quinzee hut. He did a real good job.
We have two years of scouts that have never been on this outing since we got snowed out last year - blizzard the day we were to go. So, lots of excitement and plenty of anxious moms asking questions ( What if it caves in? How will they stay warm? Are you outside ALL day? ... )
This is my favorite outing of the year, mostly because we're blessed with a natural setting that much of the country does not enjoy, being able to build these structures. And if the temperature drops below 0 degrees fahrenheit, our local council has a "Zero Hero" patch that the scouts can earn if they stay out all night. It got down to 3 degrees last time so it's been 3 years since anyone got this in our troop.
Posted: 0:10 01-11-2006 45
That's pretty much it - Merry Christmas!
I received some nice gifts from my family today. Some compression bags from Granite Gear
and a pretty funny waterproof toiletpaper holder/bag
from Sea to Summit. I expect it will probably wind up being a very useful item next summer, but the idea of it is funny.
Last summer at Philmont, our maps got pretty wet so the waterproof map case
my brother gave me is a great tool!
We now have a few days to visit, eat, and enjoy ourselves before returning to the normal schedules.
I hope you have a happy, restful time this Christmas.
Posted: 12:10 12-25-2005 44
Court of Honor
Everyone survived the skiing. Two brothers forgot their skis in their parents' van when they were dropped off so their dad got to drive up to the ski area on Saturday. That was lucky for my son since the dad also took his helmet which had been forgotten. :-)
The stand-in SPL did a great job as I figured he would. Some boys just 'get it' easily and understand what it means to lead as does this one. He knows what is needed, does what he can, sees when he needs help, and asks for support. And, he is rubbing off on to other scouts in his patrol.
Our quarterly Court of Honor was held last night. This is typically a smaller ceremony and we had 2 First Class, 1 Star, and 1 Life scouts receive their patches. Sometimes we have 5 or more scouts all receiving the same rank and it makes it much less personal. I really enjoyed having time to concentrate on the achievements of a single scout at a time and I think the ceremony was more meaningful.
Each of these scouts had taken longer than 'normal' to reach these ranks so it was great to have them accomplish this.
We also had an Eagle earn his Bronze Eagle Palm. He has been an Eagle for awhile but his ceremony was delayed and will be finally happening this Saturday. He's a great scout - very giving and supportive of others. And, his dad has been a huge asset to the troop for the past few years. Now, we have a few months to work on replacements for both his dad's role and his leadership.
So, these Courts of Honor are fun but also show that scouts move on and new scouts need to keep coming in to fill the void and make the troop their own.
Posted: 16:49 12-13-2005 41
Missing an Outing
Well, there are some jokes around about how you can tell if you are spending too much time scouting. Tomorrow, the troop is going skiing for the weekend and I am not going because there are enough adults to drive already signed up. I feel just awful about missing an outing with the guys! Sure wish I was going!
I believe that the minimum required adults should go on an outing so that the chances of it truely being 'boy-led' are increased. Since I'm not really needed, I'll be staying home. There are a handful of new parents that have not done camping with us all summer that have signed up, so its important to get them into the program. I know it would be good for me to be there to show them the ropes, but I've already let the old goats that are going know I want them to teach the new guys.
My youngest son will be going on this skiing trip. That's actually a really good thing because he'll have an opportunity to lead his patrol without the scoutmaster dad around, and I'm sure he'll do just great. He tends to be my shadow on outings since this is his first year. I suppose in a year or so I'll never see him and miss him hanging around terribley, but that's a good thing to experience over time.
Anyway, on this outing both the SPL and ASPL will be absent so the patrol leader of the patrol that is organizing the outing has volunteered to be acting SPL for the weekend. What a great experience for him! At the Patrol Leader meeting this Monday, he took on the duties and is ready to give it a shot. Since this is just his 2nd year in Boys Scouts, it would be great to see - wish I was going! The biggest challenge will be to make sure the older scouts show him the respect and support he deserves for accepting the role. I've let the adults that are going know I would like them to keep an eye out and remind scouts as needed.
We've had reallly cold temps for the past week and the news says it should snow lightly all day on Saturday so it should be just a super time - wish I was going!
Now, I just have to figure out what to do at home all weekend while I'm waiting for Sunday to finally arrive so my son can tell me about his adventure.
Scout On! wish I was going.
Posted: 23:37 12-08-2005 40
A dozen scouts and 5 adults from the troop played bingo last night. Not a typical 'scout' outing was it?
But, we played at a senior assisted care facility along with about a dozen elderly residents. It was great to have 11 year olds interacting with 91 year olds for a couple hours. One of the Methods of Boy Scouts is 'Adult Association' because boys need contact with adults they can emulate. They really got to experience that last night.
One resident was deaf so a scout wrote down the numbers called out so this person could participate. That was very encouraging to watch and you could see the scout understanding that his job was important.
I got to meet a man that had been a boy scout during the Great Depression. He told about how he could not afford a uniform and how he attained First Class, but then had to drop out to work. He asked the scouts what merit badges they were working on and what ranks they were.
Another man said he was an adult leader of a troop about 40 years ago. There were around 20 scouts in the troop but he was pretty quiet and did not share much else.
I believe it was a good experience for the scouts to meet these men and understand that scouting has a life long impact. Someday, they will be grandpas and great-grandpas telling stories of their scouting adventures to little kids.
It was also a good evening to bring some companionship to a few of our neighbors, especially in this time before Christmas.
Posted: 12:26 12-07-2005 39
So, the troop now has a schedule for 18 months. Lots of exciting places to go, things to do, and skills to learn. Now comes the hard part.
How do you get 25 or 30 boys to a location 100 or more miles from home and back again for the weekend? Well, of course we need adults that will drive. And will use their vehicle. And have insurance. And will give up a weekend at home for a weekend in the woods. That all tends to whittle down the adults willing to support the troop.
Some people have to work on weekends. Others have commitments to teach Sunday School, fix the house, or watch younger kids. And still others need to run errands, walk the dog, or get their hair cut. Some people can always come up with something that prevents them from going on a campint trip without really admitting they just don't want to do it. It's much more efficient to be told that someone can not, does not, and will not camp - then I can spend time encouraging others instead.
In our troop, we are very fortunate to have a few highly active adults that recognize the value in participating in the outdoors program of Boy Scouts. These 4 or 5 adults attend about 80% of all our outings and have been invaluable in making the program happen, along with occasional participation from other adults. They are the nails that really build an adventurous and exciting year for the scouts out of all the events the scouts have planned.
I'm worried that some of the nails will get bent as they are used over and over. Unfortunately, we don't have a hardware store to easily buy more when needed. We have to start from scratch like the Blacksmithing at Philmont Scout Ranch. While we were there this summer, a staff member sat on a fence and it broke. He went into the shop and, starting with a rod of iron, crafted a big ol' nail and pounded it into the fence - good as new!
Every year, I get a few new iron rods delivered. Some of them fire right up and become strong nails in just a couple months - others sit in the fire for years and never do become a useful tool. I'm really hoping for some good iron this spring since it looks like a few old nails are wearing out.
Posted: 18:23 12-06-2005 38
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