I'm sure you've noticed that Google
often has special graphics in their site banner for various holidays and dates. Take a loog at them HERE
- they're pretty cool.
Anyway, there is a petition to get Google to recognize Robert Baden-Powell's birthday with a custom graphic. If you'd like to sign the petition, go to http://www.petitiononline.com/glogobp/petition.html
and add your name. Or, just take a look at all the countries represented in the signatures. There's over 44,000 as of today, and another handful signed while I was writing this message to you. :-)
These are my thoughts on advancements after reaching First Class that I share with scouts in our troop.
So no one is surprised at what I expect from scouts advancing through the Star, Life, and Eagle ranks, I have made a list of Eagle Characteristics. These are qualities of character that I believe indicate a scout is closing in on the Eagle rank:
- Aware of self
- Aware of others
- Aware of surroundings
- Recognizes what is needed
- Seeks to help
- Leads through example
- Supports younger scouts, does not reprimand
- Teaches, does not tease
- Guides, does not direct
- Instructs, does not insult
- Demonstrates Enthusiasm
- Puts Group goals ahead of personal requirements
- Has mastered extensive breadth of skills and knowledge
- Has earned respect of others
- Is self-directed and motivated
Advancing from Star to Life to Eagle ranks is not as simple as completing some merit badges, tracking a few hours at a service project, and holding a troop leadership position.
The written requirements for these ranks are purposefully vague in your Scout Handbook. For example, 'Be active', 'Demonstrate Scout spirit', and 'Serve actively' are difficult to quantify, as opposed to 'Earn 6 merit badges' which is obviously completed or not.
As Scoutmaster, I need to evaluate your growth towards the ideals of scouting. I look at how you have grown in your years with the troop and mostly how you have demonstrated scout spirit in the troop. In your scoutmaster conference, I let you know if you have demonstrated what I feel are the required characteristics of a scout your rank or if you need to demonstrate more growth in specific areas. When I sign off for your scoutmaster conference in your handbook, you then need to go through the same thing again with your Board of Review. Those adults involved in the troop are also monitoring your progress and considering your readiness to advance.
Our goals are not to prevent a scout from advancing. Nor do we want to surprise any scout that expects to advance in rank. That is why I have constantly requested that all scouts talk with me at least every 6 months – that is at least
, which means more often is even better. I want you to know where you stand in my eyes at all times.
If you are not involved in many troop activities and you do not chat with me, then my efforts are spent on those scouts that are obviously active and involved. You choose how much effort you want to put into scouting and advancement and you receive back a proportionate share.
How do YOU demonstrate trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent?
Tonight, I get to go on a weekend retreat with the youth from our church rather than with Scouts. It's a nice change from tents to bunkbeds with real mattresses, but it also lets me see what kids outside of scouting are like.
I don't know if the scouts get better because of the Scout program or if the type of boys that join scouts are just 'good', but I see a noticable difference in the levels of self-control, leadership, empathy, and looking out for other people between scouts and non-scouts. This is in a church group where I'd also expect to see these qualities in the boys. I suppose its even more pronounced in a place like school or the mall where all types of kids can be found.
Of course, there are superstars and oddballs in any group, but in general I'm very pleased by what I see in the scouts - both those in our troop and other troops that attend our church.
BSA is asking for input to the 12th edition of the Scout Handbook. If you've had problems with the binder glue dissolving (like me) or wished there would be more information about rabid animals or winter camping, here's your chance to speak up.
Go to Handbook Survey
and tell them what can be improved.
We are in the Midwest region and this week is our slot to enter the Philmont lottery, hoping for a crew spot in summer of 2008. Last year, our troop only made it onto a waiting list for 2007, so I'm hoping our luck is better this year.
But, from what Philmont staff have told me, it really will be luck that determines our fate. Just because we did not get a crew in 2007, our chances for 2008 are not increased. If this is actually how the Philmont lottery works, then it is possible for a troop to put in for a crew spot every year and never ever get to experience Philmont. I find it hard to believe that such a step backward from the previous system could be in place, but I suppose its possible.
Come January, when we find out our fate, then I'll have bigger concerns if we don't get a spot two years in a row and I'll push harder for a change in the process. But, until then, we rolls the dice and takes our chances - as they say. :-)
Good luck to all you troops playing the Philmont lottery this year. I hope we see you on the trails in 2008. We have enough scouts interested to send 2 crews, just need adults to go too.