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Day 20: Scout Buddies
100 days of scouting Day 20: Attended the last Blue Gold of the season and watched a pair of scouts welcome our last new scout into the troop.

Had the first scoutmaster conference with a new scout all eager to get going. He completed the Joining requirements and is anxious to get his Scout badge and neckerchief.

The past couple years, we've tried something we called "Scout Buddies". The SPL passes a sheet of paper with the names of the new scouts around to the older scouts during their patrol time at a troop meeting. Scouts write their name next to one of the new scouts. The hope is that the older scout or two will make a specific, meaningful effort to make that new scout feel welcome and part of the troop, without telling the scout what's going on.
I don't like doing this because it artificially forces behavior which I'd hope would happen anyway. It can also give an older scout the idea that he 'just' needs to deal with one scout and not be friendly to the rest.
I do like it because I believe it has really improved our retention rate and has caused more interaction from the older to younger scouts in this age-stratified troop.

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Posted: 8:18 02-28-2011 581
Day 19: SPL & ASPL
100 days of scouting Day 19: The new SPL and I met with his ASPL to start his training. We talked about the guys making up their leadership team, our visions for the next 6 months, including due dates when assigning tasks, ways to make troop meetings interesting, and the importance of communication.

We planned the agenda for the Troop Leader Training session which they will be running next month. We discussed how they'll get the patrols started brainstorming outing ideas for their Troop Planning session. And, we considered ways to help improve patrol spirit.

We have an interesting SPL & ASPL combination this term. The ASPL is three years older than the SPL. We talked about that and I feel they both understand that his experience is a great resource that a smart SPL would use as often as possible.

It's shaping up to be a very interesting six months - possibly the last six months for the troop in its present form. That means these guys will have extra work in helping to coordinate the division of the troop, if that winds up happening.

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Posted: 0:25 02-27-2011 580
Day 18: Scheduling
100 days of scouting Day 18: Spent time setting up CPR and Wilderness First Aid training for troops getting ready for Philmont this summer. I've got 4 sessions scheduled now and possibly 1 or 2 more in the works.

Also worked out a plan to have the troop campout, district Outdoor Leader Skills training, and OA ceremony all at the same location - makes my life much easier that weekend. :-) Now, if it just all works out.

And made time to watch a movie with my wife. "It Could Happen to You" - a romantic comedy with Nicholas Cage on NetFlix, based on a true story. I liked it, so I thought I'd find out a bit more about the 'true story'. The woman that got half said in an interview, "Except for the part about us winning, it's totally fiction." So, I guess "based on a true story" can mean pretty much anything. I still need to see Scout Camp and see how true to life that one is. :-)

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Posted: 9:13 02-26-2011 579
Day 17: No Paperwork
100 days of scouting Day 17: A larger troop means more paperwork, whether it be pulp-based or electronic. More rank advancements, more merit badges, more awards, more logistics, ... and all that takes paperwork of some kind. Honestly, the paperwork is the real boring part of scouting to me and that's why I've got us doing as much of it electronically as possible.

Day 17 was a terrific scouting day! Two Tenderfoots came over after school and consumed two hours with me showing off their woods tools, firebuilding, backpacking stove, and first aid skills. Their skill levels, and confidence levels, were quite different but they both demonstrated as required. They found it gets difficult to light a match with numb fingers and water dripping out of your nose when it's 20 degrees.
Best part about it was that the paperwork consisted of me just signing my name a handful of times - I can handle that!

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Posted: 8:17 02-25-2011 578
Day 16
100 days of scouting Day 16: Had a fun scoutmaster conference with a Tenderfoot candidate. Great scout moving along a bit slower than he had planned, but appears to be getting a lot out of scouting.

Gave a patrol leader some advice on planning next month's campout on Troop Kit. He had the whole thing pretty much done on his own already and just needed confirmation.

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Posted: 23:25 02-23-2011 577
Day 15: OA Participation
100 days of scouting Day 15: Attended second Webelos cross-over this evening. Two scouts from our troop did the Order of the Arrow's Arrow of Light ceremony. This was the first time for one and 2nd time for the other. After this ceremony, they had to zip across town to a 2nd one for another pack.
It's great for me to see because I've been coaxing guys to take on this role for awhile now. My hope is they will get other scouts in the troop excited about having their own ceremony team and cover the Blue Golds for all five packs in our community each year.
Historically, the OA hasn't been very strong in our troop. Scouts tend to see it as getting a cool sash rather than the beginning of another level of service and growth. I and a few others have gone on to Brotherhood, but most pay their dues, get the pocket flap and sash, and that's it. Doing these ceremonies is a step in the right direction.

A scout completed his Eagle board of review tonight. Whoop-whoop!

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Posted: 22:19 02-22-2011 576
Day 14
100 days of scouting Day 14: Had a scoutmaster conference with the scout that had to cancel yesterday. Just in time for him to also have his board of review this evening.

I met with the two high school-aged patrols this evening to discuss their general leadership in the troop - and have rootbeer floats.

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Posted: 23:17 02-21-2011 575
Day 13
100 days of scouting Day 13: We got blasted by snow all day, so a scoutmaster conference got cancelled in the evening.

It was pretty much a "day off" from scouting and everything. I guess that's ok once in awhile.

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Posted: 9:25 02-21-2011 574
Day 12: Klondike
100 days of scouting Day 12: The troop held it's Klondike Derby today at a local elementary school. The Duct Tape patrol scheduled, planned, and ran the event - they did a great job!

Each patrol built their own sled out of absolutely anything they wanted over the past month. At the end of the day, the sleds raced over a course that was about 1/4 mile. Fortunately, our warm weather than then big cool-down yesterday made for well-packed snow and scouts could run on top instead of through it.
There were also sprint races and most of the day was filled with stations. A compass scavenger hunt, winter first aid, boot hocky, scout law race, and building a snowblock house.

Just a great, fun day to be out scouting.

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Posted: 22:38 02-19-2011 573
Day 11: First Cross-over
100 days of scouting Day 11: Attended the first of three Blue Golds this evening. We had one older scout (8th grade) and four young guys there to welcome two new scouts. It was great to see this older scout that has never really had much leadership experience step up and organize the younger ones. I think he's going to have a great year.

Another scout from our troop participated in his first Arrow of Light ceremony with the Order of the Arrow. He was pretty nervous but did a terrific job. The ceremony was quick and looked good from the audience's view.

I also met with the new SPL for an hour, starting his training. He still needs to get a few more guys to fill out his leadership team, but he's chomping at the bit to get moving. So, I covered some basic job duties and gave him a handful of tasks to work on - getting his meetings scheduled and preparing for the Troop Leader Training session.

It's interesting how every six months the whole feel of the troop changes when that new SPL takes over. Sometimes the meetings are chop/chop/chop and go home, while other times they are fun and rambling offtrack half the time. Merging the styles and skills of the SPL with his ASPL and the PLs is an important task for the scoutmaster to get done early on. It's a challenge to figure out the right amount of guidance that will help the SPL take charge but not alienate his peers or let chaos reign.

I'm really looking forward to this term and how things will unfold. I expect we have probably the most enthusiastic SPL in history - kind of like a pony running and bucking in the field but not getting anywhere yet. :-) Directing that energy will be fun.

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Posted: 22:53 02-18-2011 572
Day 10: Conferences
100 days of scouting Day 10: Two scoutmaster conferences for First Class and one for Life today. A Tenderfoot showed me how to handle knife, axe, and saw and even got a fire going with one match in the cold wind - good job! I think his mom was impressed. :-)

A Second Class scout needing the 'constitutional rights and obligations' requirement for First Class set up a time and place for his uncle, the attorney, to talk with anyone in the troop that needed to do it. Nine scouts took advantage of the opportunity tonight and it was an interesting discussion to listen in on.

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Posted: 22:22 02-17-2011 571
Day 9: Troop History
100 days of scouting Day 9: I spent three hours researching our troop's history today. Did you know that your council probably has records of all the youth and adult members in your troop since you were chartered? I didn't expect it would be so easy to access them, but it was. Well, our council was easy to work with anyway, but we were only chartered in 1982, not 1910 like some of you guys.

So, they had paper copies of what are termed "Expire Rosters" - those registrations that will expire soon if not renewed - listing all youth and adult names. If a name is on the 2009 roster but not 2010, you see that he dropped from the troop sometime in the 2009-2010 year. For a troop that has not kept up its own history very well, these rosters can be very helpful.

I wrote down all the names for each year and brought them home. Then, I typed them into a Word document. Now, I can pass them on to the new Troop Historian and see what he decides to do with them.

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Posted: 9:10 02-17-2011 570
Day 8
100 days of scouting Day 8: Contacted the last den leaders about Webelos cross-overs. Finally have the 'firm' numbers and commitments. The SPL has asked for volunteers to attend the cross-over ceremonies and welcome the new scouts. There's a couple scouts assigned to each of the three ceremonies, so we're ready there.

Printed out the information sheets we give to new scouts - youth app, adult app, welcome letter, survival guide, year's schedule, everything to get them up and running quickly.

Went through the scout handbooks of a couple transfer scouts and entered the data into Troopmaster. Now, there's a fun way to spend 1/2 hour of your life. :-)

Finally, hooked up a couple more instructors for the district's Intro to Leadership Skills training this spring.

I'm curious what you do when welcoming a new scout to your troop.

We used to have scouts welcome him at his cross-over by replacing the neckerchief and blue shoulder loops with the troop's custom neckerchief, slide, and green loops. Then, he'd be given troop numerals, scout handbook, binder of information, and pointed over to me so I could welcome him and his parents too.
We've had some scouts never show up after that, so it has changed.
Now, they don't get the custom neckerchief, slide, and troop numerals at cross-over. At the first troop meeting after they complete their "Joining" requirements, the troop does a simple ceremony where these items are presented by the SPL and the new scout is a 'member'.

That saves on lost items and gives incentive to get moving on advancement. It also makes the cross-over faster and less confusing and introduces each new scout once again to the troop later on. The new scout gets his scout handbook right away which he needs to get started, and the green loops show he's a boy scout.

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Posted: 21:30 02-15-2011 569
Day 7
100 days of scouting Day 7: Our troop is considering dividing into two troops. We've discussed it for the past year and are now in the decision-making stages since I've announced I'll be done as scoutmaster in the fall. We have two excellent scoutmaster candidates lined up, facilities in which to meet, about 70 families to divide, and 8 months to get it done. It's an exciting time.

This afternoon, I chatted with one of the scoutmaster candidates to start sharing all my information, files, tasks, and 'stuff'. I chatted with the other one last week.

We had a troop committee meeting specifically for parents to discuss the split, followed immediately by a troop meeting. The scouts elected a new SPL to start on April 1 for a 6-month term. Now, I get to start training him and helping him choose his leadership team and schedule Troop Leader Training.

We also had Order of the Arrow elections. The scouts in this troop have historically been very stingy with these elections. They proved that again last night by electing only 1 scout out of 14 eligible candidates. I did not hear the introduction to the voting so I'm not sure how the stage was set, but I need to ask about it.

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Posted: 8:31 02-15-2011 568
Don't You Dare Forget
100 days of scouting Day 6: I spent most of my afternoon in a district annual planning meeting, representing Training. It wasn't much fun really, but important work to figure out when we'll have Camporee, Klondike, Pinewood Derby, Scoutmaster and Cubmaster training, Outdoor Leader Skills, OA events, Eagle Previews, and the dozens of other things that go on each year.

Oh, and I baked cookies to take to the meeting and took a bag of wooden neckerchief slide blanks from Whittler Bob so everyone there could take one home to carve.

Tomorrow night, I've got troop meetings. Yes, I know it's Valentine's Day - that's why I brought flowers home today! And, I was pretty darn proud of myself too.

So, don't you dare forget your Valentine tomorrow!

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Posted: 21:54 02-13-2011 567
Ever Notice?
Did you ever notice how much a BSA troop flag looks like a Campbell's soup label? Why's that? Coincidence or conspiracy? Hmmmm, I wonder.

Another thing that's interesting. Look closely at those little gold stars around the bottom of the soup can label. They aren't really stars - they are fleur-de-lis. Another BSA/Campbell's connection. Hmmmmm, I wonder.

Finally, one other point to ponder. The diameter of the top of a Campbell's soup can is precisely the same as the height of a scout rank patch. A scout can clean a soup can and store all his previous rank patches in it forever! Hmmmmm, I wonder.

100 days of scouting Day 5: Set up two scoutmaster conferences, had a nice chat with an ASM, informed one emailer that the 'Popcorn Kernel' patch was not an official BSA position and another that Bugling and Music are still separate merit badges.

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Posted: 18:00 02-12-2011 566
Day 4
100 days of scouting Contacted Webelos den leaders about scouts crossing-over this month and to see if anyone would benefit from a rah-rah chat about Boy Scouting.

Emailed some other scoutmasters about training scheduled this spring.

And, voted for Garr for the American Spirit Award over at Boys' Life.

Now it's Friday evening and time to get away from this internet for awhile. :-)

If any other scouting bloggers want to use the numerals, they are at[xx].jpg - replace [xx] with 01, 02, 03, ..., 98, 99

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Posted: 18:27 02-11-2011 565
Day 3
100 days of scouting Day 3: Wrote two letters of recommendation for Eagle scouts for scholarships. Our council has an Eagle scholarship as does NESA and other organizations. This is one instance where achieving that rank does pay off.

If any other scouting bloggers want to use the numerals, they are at[xx].jpg - replace [xx] with 01, 02, 03, ..., 98, 99

I received my Leave No Trace membership packet in the mail today from I keep my membership up since I present their workshops and training sessions. The package included a cool member's t-shirt but I gave that to my son and said he could count it as his birthday present. I don't think it will work.

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Posted: 17:07 02-10-2011 564
Day 1 & 2
I'm starting a day late, but "100 Days of Scouting" wagon's moving slow enough I figure I can climb on.

100 days of scouting Day 1: Had two scoutmaster conferences in the afternoon. One was with a neighbor Webelos scout fulfilling his Arrow of Light requirements and thinking of joining our troop. In the evening, I visited another Webelos scout for his Arrow of Light and then chatted with a Webelos den about Boy Scouts.
Man, LOTS of enthusiasm in those 10 year olds! :-) We have 5 packs in the area and they all have scouts joining different troops.

100 days of scouting Day 2: Spent an hour with a Tenderfoot scout watching him carry, sharpen, and use a knife, axe, and saw. Then, he built a fire and demonstrated a backpacking stove. All the time, we also had his scoutmaster conference so he just needs to get his Board of Review for 2nd Class.
I'm also working on a letter of recommendation for an Eagle Scout applying for scholarships. Really easy to write this one for such a great scout!

If any other scouting bloggers want to use the numerals, they are at[xx].jpg - replace [xx] with 01, 02, 03, ..., 98, 99

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Posted: 23:03 02-09-2011 563
Reaching Eagle
Eagle Rank
It's often the goal of a scout (and/or his parents) that he "get his Eagle". That's the way I most often hear it phrased - "getting" his Eagle. Earning, achieving, and completing aren't used much - it's "getting". When it comes up in conversation, I usually offer my view of advancement as, "a method we use to help scouts reach goals, but not a goal itself." I think that fits with the BSA program pretty well. I don't push scouts very much on advancement, but the troop has a program that provides opportunity to advance quickly.

Advancement is the most visible way we have in scouting to measure a scout's progress. It provides tangible recognition for achieving standard requirements. It allows peers to compare themselves. It requires effort and results. But, since advancement is a method and not a goal (or Aim), it really does not amount to success. A scout can be a model of a fit citizen of high character and never advance past First Class. It's important to keep that in mind when encouraging scouts to advance in rank.

But, since "getting" Eagle is on the minds of many people, I made a simple chart for a scout (and his parents) to see how he is progressing through ranks toward that goal of his. The 'Optimal Path' gets a scout to Eagle in time for him to give back to the troop with no pressure of advancing for a couple years. The 'Slow Progress' area means he's going to need to step it up to make it. I think 'Eagle Out of Reach' probably needs no explanation. A scout can check on progress at a glance and alter his plan as he feels is needed. Click the image to see a larger view.

The majority of scouts in our troop experience advancement fairly close to the orange line with a couple bumping against the green line. Motivated boys could join a troop at the end of their 9th grade year and earn Eagle rank. If they start after their 16th birthday, there's not much chance of progressing through all the ranks in time.

I think it would be a fun experience to have a 15 year old boy join the troop and earnestly go for his Eagle. Have you ever had that happen? Did he make it?

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Posted: 17:03 02-01-2011 562
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