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Recognizing Volunteers
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.

Scout On

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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!

Scout On

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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.

Scout On

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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.

Scout On!

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Posted: 0:10 01-11-2006 45
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