Every six months, it happens - the current troop leaders are ready for a break and a few scouts are sure they can do a better job running the show. And, so we have Troop Elections
Actually, only the Senior Patrol Leader is elected by the scouts and he then is responsible for selecting his leadership staff of Assistant Sr. Patrol Leader, scribe, librarian, historian, bugler, chaplain aide, OA rep, instructors, troop guides, and den chiefs. Each patrol also elects their own Patrol Leader. This is a lot like our national elections - we elect the president and he appoints his cabinet.
We're fortunate to have a great scout as SPL and his election platform was more fun
so he has some key promises to fulfill this winter.
Now that he has selected his leadership staff, he and the ASPL are busy training them. I've spent an hour with him explaining his job, what is expected, and setting goals, and now he is passing that down the line.
Our next big joint effort will be our annual Planning Conference and Youth Leadership Training course next month. The SPL and Scoutmaster share the leading of these events and I'm excited to see what great new ideas these guys dream up.
On our troop outing this weekend, we toured Root River Hardwoods
sawmill where they logged hardwoods (oak, cherry, walnut, maple, hackberry, ..) and turned them into rough boards. Then, we toured their shop where they turned dried, rough boards into molding and finished boards.
After these tours in the morning, we made lunch at camp and then went on a cave tour in Mystery Cave
After the tour, we stopped at Pine Tree Apple Orchard
to learn how apples are harvested, graded, packed, and sold.
It was a very busy day with a great introduction to 3 different industries - agriculture, tourism, and lumbering. Unfortunately, no scouts in the troop are taking the Farm Mechanics, Forestry, Geology, or Woodworking merit badges. We did not take advantage of a good opportunity because we did not plan ahead far enough.
Looking ahead, the troop has scheduled a shooting sports outing next month. I've discussed the availability of the Rifle Shooting merit badge with the patrol organizing the outing in the hopes they will use its requirements as part of their agenda and tell the troop that it is available.
More importantly, I've made it part of my agenda to always check what merit badge or other award might be applicable to any outing the troop plans. And, then make sure the scouts organizing the event are aware of the opportunity for advancement well ahead of their event.
I really enjoy the times I get to sit one-on-one with a scout for a scoutmaster conference and try to see his view of the troop and scouting. In our troop, we have 59 scouts and 20 of them are new so it is a challenge finding time on outings and at troop meetings to talk with many of them. The scoutmaster conferences are very important to keep in touch with those scouts that don't attend some events.
I have a few goals in a conference with scouts that have not achieved First Class rank yet. I try to find out how their scouting experience is going their first few months. Are they having experiences they expected? Have they done things they were surprised to be doing? What skills have they learned to do? I mostly just ask prompting questions and then listen to their thoughts.
I also like to hear what they do besides scouting. Since I only get to interact with them at specific times, there's a lot more they do that I don't know about. Remembering who does what can be a challenge so I try to keep notes.
Finally, I believe its important to share with them what I feel is important in scouting. I simply share that in today's world we really need people willing to lead, help, and care for others, and to have the skills to help when needed. Also, I tell them to keep their eyes on the older scouts and try to figure out what makes a good scout. At every conference, I ask them if they've figured out any more of the puzzle. It's sometimes enlightening to hear from a scout that has really been taking this to heart and searching for an answer.
This week my problems and challenges seem pretty insignificant in comparison to the hardships in the southern states after hurricane Katrina. Sending prayers and donations is a great help but being an active bunch of scouts like we are, we felt the need to do more.
Fortunately for us, a wonderful local television station Fox 9 Hurricane Relief Drive
organized a relief drive and put out the request for volunteers. I got the notice at our Roundtable meeting last night (good thing I attended!) and sent email out to all the patrol leaders about the need. I left it up to them to organize their patrols and do a Good Turn as they saw fit.
At noon today I got a call at work from my son (Tenderfoot rank) saying his patrol would be participating today from 1 to 5 and I was needed to drive. What a good excuse to get out of the office! I zipped home, got on my scout t-shirt, and we were off on an adventure.
It's now 6 hours later and after 4 hours of unloading bottled water, diapers, food, and supplies from cars pulling up, then stacking everything onto pallets and loading it onto semi trucks, I feel great! We filled 2 semis that are now on the highway heading south - I'm told its about a 20 hour haul from Minnesota to Louisiana. I figure we loaded 75,000 bottles of water so that should help someone a bit.
I sure wish we hadn't needed to do this, but I'm proud of the troop for stepping up and its a lot better than sitting and watching the news.
We have more patrols pitching in throughout the weekend and help is needed as long as the cars keep driving up.