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Plus, the scouts receive twice as many program slots throughout the week - last year, we had a lot of scouts in each program session with a lot of sitting and waiting for their turn.
So, I spent yesterday preparing planning documents for each patrol to start working on at the troop meeting tonight. Each patrol picks the top 10 things they want to do during the week from the camp's program topics. They also decide which merit badges to work on. Scouts going into 8th grade and above also get to choose a few more activities from an additional advanced program. Once all the patrols complete their planning, the SPL and ASPL will figure out the week's program and merit badges.
It's great to pass on as much of the planning to the scouts as possible. I still have the fun of making sure we have enough drivers, how many adult meals are needed each day, tent arrangements for adults, and a hundred other little bits. And, its still two months away! :-)
New scouts earned their Totin' Chips and spent quite a bit of time hacking, sawing, and whittling with their new-found freedom from having their own cards.
After a session of learning and reviewing lashings, everyone worked on a monkey bridge after lunch. Since some of the work required fewer people, a flagpole with tripod was also lashed together by some scouts needing a 'useful camp gadget' for advancement credit.
A very cool Ballista was also constructed and operated completely by scouts. They made the plans, did all the lashings and supplied the man-power. Pretty cool project! This was the first ballista ever constructed by our troop. Now they're talking about an improved version for next year.
The new scouts chose to be known as the Moose Patrol. It was 'Bruce, the Spruce Moose' for awhile, but that didn't last long. All five of them received their Scout badges at the court of honor after having their scoutmaster conferences with me.
Now, they're excited for the troop's Pioneering campout in April where they'll help build a monkey bridge and hopefully a catapult of some kind. They might also earn their Totin' Chip and Firem'n Chit cards that weekend.
Our new PLC had their first meeting this week, planning the meetings for the next month out. They were amazingly on task so we might just be in for a very productive summer!
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Four of our five new scouts have earned their Scout badges already and will be presented at the court of honor on Monday. A super Troop Guide just met with their patrol last night and is helping them with figuring out a patrol name, flag, and yell. So, they are just bursting with energy and getting busy!
I can tell this group of scouts is going to be great fun. As one indication, their Webelos den was a combination of the 'Phat Frogs' and the 'Flaming Arrows' so they became the 'Phat Flaming Frogs' - now that's a good patrol name! I'll let you know what they come up with for their Boy Scout patrol name.
Whatever your pleasure, enjoy this last festive day of winter. Spring starts with the vernal equinox on March 20. You wouldn't know it here though - my son and I just built a 10ft by 7ft by 6ft high pile of snow the past two days in the front yard. After school today his plan is to start digging it out, so we're gonna have fun! Maybe I can talk him into camping out in it tonight.
After our huge growth of 19 scouts last spring, this will be a much different year. We'll have lots of experienced scouts to show them the ropes and we have a couple Troop Guides that will be just great.
Another local troop that got just a handful last year is getting 18 this year so I plan on keeping in touch with their scoutmaster to see how it goes.
We've checked to see why there was a change this year and as far as anyone can tell, one scout from each den decided early to go to a troop and the rest of his den just followed along. That might be a good thing to remember if you are 'competing' with troops for Webelos - get one of them to commit to you early and tell the rest where he's going.
I'm not concerned with getting fewer scouts - its actually good for us, I think. I am sad about the few scouts that chose to leave the troop. Every one of them said the troop was fine, but... too busy doing other things. I wonder what I could have done different to have them still be with us.
We do have one fellow who told me he wants to be a 'part-time scout' and only attend the outings and meetings he can make. I tried to explain that everyone is a part-time scout and it would be just great to have him participate as he can.
This afternoon, I had an open invitation to all troop adults to meet with me and share how the past year went and suggestions for the coming year. Two hours later, we were through most of it! :-) Eight people gave a lot of good input that reinforced some of the things our troop worked on this past year and made me realize we have some key areas to improve.
There were a few really good, really easy changes to suggest to the new SPL being elected next month which should make his meetings go more smoothly. It was encouraging to hear that for the most part we are going the right direction and there is strong support for the program from a good core group. We do need to spread the 'burden' of support to more adults - I guess that is a common thread for most troops.
I will be conducting 'parent training' sessions at March, April, and May troop meetings to give parents opportunities to learn about scouting, our troop, and expectations. They went over fairly well last year.
Three of the biggest things for the troop to work on are:
- how we do merit badges
- holding scouts accountable
- getting experienced scouts to encourage newer scouts
Looks like its going to be a great year - as soon as it gets back over 0 degrees. Brrrrrr.
The plan is to backpack for 5 days in the Cloud Peak Wilderness area in Wyoming in July. It looks like we'll have 5 to 8 scouts and 2 or 3 adults - a good 'first crew' to come back and infect the troop with the excitement of the mountains.
We had a crew go to Philmont last summer, but this trek will take us up to 13,000 feet which is almost 3,000 more than our highest point at Philmont.
July is still a loooooong way away, but the scouts have a list of training sessions for packing, use of stoves, filtering water, high altitude first aid, and waste management. Just tons of opportunities for the more experienced ones to teach and the younger ones to learn. Can you tell I'm excited about this one? :-)
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.
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.
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.
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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.
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