Monday, November 2, 2009

REVIEW: The Radioactive Boy Scout by Ken Silverstein

Below is my review of The Radioactive Boy Scout by Ken Silverstein.

If you've read it, I'd be curious about your take on the book. I myself (as you'll note in the review) was distracted, frustrated, and infuriated by the author's critical slant demonstrated in the book. I only hope that scouts, scouters, leaders, and adults everywhere can keep a better eye out for youth like David - and try to steer them to help and resources that can help to harness and channel some of that wealth of brilliance he posessed. Sometimes just listening to a youth can make all the difference.

The Review

This book really could have used a warning of a different nature that would have given potential readers a better idea of the axe-grinding, jaded, benighted, unbalanced editorializing perspective of the author. Not only does author Ken Silverstein little to mask his disdain for the Boy Scouts, and the nuclear power program; but he relentlessly mocks and belittles David, his parents, and other adults in his life which likely had little idea or ability how to harness the budding brilliance in David’s science obsessed mind.

To start with, this supposed “true story” of David’s scientific exploits is contained in approximately 1/5 of the books total pages. The remainder of the book contains regurgitated science book details gleaned from the authors half-hearted attempt at relaying background regarding the technology and “danger” of David’s exploits. I certainly won’t minimize the real potential for risk to life and limb that resulted from David’s experiments, but the author’s real premise cares much less about those details than his personal disdain for nuclear science.

Couple that jaded disdain with his unapologetic dislike for the Boy Scouts (as evidenced repeatedly in the author’s disparaging editorialized opinion including some of founder Baden Powell’s personal quotes - which in context are not only morally correct, but are also in-line with the time in which they were written – clearly the author isn’t concerned about context, or how facts relate to a good story), David’s scout leaders and the scouting organization.

The social & psychological implications of the book were not lost on me. In fact, if the author had stayed on topic and off the soap-box this could have been a much more powerful book. Clearly David’s family and community let him down, but how many people in suburbia are equipped to handle an obsessive genius mind like David’s? Ultimately David was aware that much of what he was doing was dangerous, and in the telling demonstrated this through his secrecy and embarrassment over some of the illegal and questionable methods he deployed to obtain materials for his projects.

In summary the author ruins a good story by repeatedly beating his drum of intolerance for the Boy Scouts, and disdain for the nuclear power program, sciences, suburbia, urban sprawl and other liberal pet topics. Rather than cobble together this book, the author would have been better served to contribute additional articles to his newspaper editors.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Young Scout Needs Blood Donors in Colorado

Details are Here regarding the young cub scout Justin Campbell that was camping with his family when he suffered a black-widow spider bite. Upon going to the hospital he was diagnosed with Leukemia. He now needs O Negative blood donors to help fight infection and bolster his immune system to aid in his cancer treatments.

If you're in the Colorado area and can help, please do! If you're not - please visit your own blood donor center, and at a minimum send him an e-card from the website.

Details on how to help, and how to send a card are at the link above.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

R-E-S-P-E-C-T!

Perhaps it's just the warm(er) summer air here in MN these days. Or that school was almost out. But the last couple troop meetings have been disciplinary disasters with the troop basically running amok and not listening to anyone - not me, but especially not the youth troop leaders.

Boys will be boys, but I'm certain they wouldn't attempt this behavior at football practice. No coach would put up with it.

The difference is that I know they need Scouting. Even if they don't. And I can't simply say, "hey, if you don't want to settle down and participate, then don't come." Because some of the boys probably won't come back, and some of them are on the fence about scouting being "uncool" as it is.

I try my best to let the troop be boy-led. That means explaining to the youth leaders what needs to be done, and letting them do it. Even if sometimes that means the scouts waste an hour of the meeting doing 10 minutes worth of business.

I get funny looks from the other two adult leaders sometimes. And sometimes they jump in and with raised voices try to reel in the crazyness. However, I'm personally struggling with how to teach the boys to be respectful of their leaders (youth & adult) as well as the other scouts whose experience they're detracting from.

I don't want to be a bossy commandeering leader. Many of these boys get enough of that at home, school, sports. Many of them come from home lives that are less than idyllic. Most of them didn't actively participate in scouting as cubs, so they missed out on some of the structure and organization of the program.

We've tried the scout sign. I've tried silently waiting for quiet before I talk. I've tried simply explaining what needs to happen and then sitting back to let it happen or fall apart.

Perhaps I'm being too lax here. It is their program, but I know they'd enjoy it more if they behaved better and the program had more structure as a result, and was therefore more productive. However, I've had comments from some of the boys on more than one occasion that I'm the perfect Scoutmaster because I lead, and teach them, but don't boss them around. So I think deep down they get the difference, and appreciate the freedom I give them. But am I too lenient? I don't want to start forcing their parents to come if they're misbehaving, but I can.

I know it's not just the boys this age - because my 12 scouts in our local troop are 20 times more undisciplined than the whole National Jamboree Troop of 32 I'm leading as well. So it can't just be their age, and it can't just be me.

How do you let the boys lead the program, without destroying it. How do you teach respect, when they have no experience with it. Example doesn't appear to be enough.

How do you deal with discipline, and behavior in your troop?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Boys At Risk!

I don't know if you've seen This Brochure but it speaks volumes about the problems facing our young men today, and the benefits that a well run scouting program can offer them to overcome these challenges.

Recent Studies Indicate boys today are at risk.

They are:
33% More likely than girls to drop out of high school.
200% More likely than girls to be diagnosed with learning disabilities.
24% Less likely to enter or graduate from college than in 1970.
30% More likely to use cocaine than high school girls.
200% More likely to commit suicide between ages 5-14 than girls.

Men who were Scouts are more likely than those who have never been Scouts to:
• Graduate from high school (91% vs. 87%).
• Graduate from college (35% vs. 19%).
• Earn higher annual household incomes ($80,000 vs. $61,000).
• Value family relationships highly (81% vs. 72%).
• Have lifelong friendships (89% vs. 74%).
• Believe helping others should come before one’s own self-interest (92% vs. 83%).

Now, why is it that the vocal minority wants to condemn scouting? Why is it that more people don't support Scouting as volunteers or via FOS?

I can only hope more people will take notice of the struggles of young men in this country, and the world, and will notice that Scouting already offers opportunities and programs to help them overcome these challenges.

Study Sources:
“The Trouble with Boys.” Newsweek. 30 Jan. 2006.
Harris Interactive. Values of Scouts: A Study of Ethics
and Character. May 2005.

Standing Up For The Young Men of This Country!

Recently Rebecca Hagelin posted this opinion piece at PatriotPost.us regarding the Boy Scouts.

Her opening paragraph speaks volumes:
Despite the negative images of males that the pop culture shoves down our throats, the hearts and souls of America's boys are begging for positive direction. They naturally delight in "guy" stuff like rugged camping and "cowboys" when they are young because they truly want to be protectors - to be the good guys. Anyone who has ever been around a five-year-old boy knows that he desires to be a super-hero who saves damsels, children and the elderly from evil. But as guys age they are constantly pounded by images of lazy or sexually predatory images instead of courageous, genteel protectors - and some grow confused. Radical feminism doesn't help - many teen boys even wonder if they are supposed to be polite anymore. Too many have opened the door for what they thought was a young lady, for instance, only to be screamed at by a suddenly vicious and angry female. Why would they want to take that risk again?


Isn't that why many of us defend scouting, and sacrifice so much of our personal time and resources to run the program and help encourage young men to grow into responsible adults, citizens, fathers, and contributing members of society?

In addition to more adults willing to support the program by volunteering their time, what Scouting also needs are more advocates like Rebecca explaining to the people in this country and the world that the values of Boy Scouting are not old and outdated, but rather fundamental to the success of our nation and defense of our very liberty.

Please take a moment to read Rebecca's article and if you agree, then please take the time to E-mail Rebecca Hagelin and thank her for supporting scouting.

I hope many of her readers get the message, and many more will begin to support scouting and that a resurgence of support will revitalize the program and its values.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Campout Report: The 2:30AM Wake-up Call

I'll warn you now, this one is going to ramble a little...

One of the advantages of living in the country is having your own campsite in the back yard. We have 5 acres, 4+ is fairly wooded, with river-front, and a nice bluff to climb and all the firewood a scout could want. I even have a small cave in the bluff they can hike to and explore. I do try to use the site sparingly because I don't want the scouts to be too bored with the location, but it's a good place to camp for our first camp of the season as we go through the tents and gear before heading anywhere further from "home". I call it "Scoutmaster's Farm Camp" and this was Farm Camp III!

We held a two night camp this last weekend, starting Thursday evening because our scouts were on spring break over Easter weekend. Top that off with uncharacteristically warm & dry weather for April and it made for fantastic outing weather. Not too cold, weeds, nettles and trees not overgrown yet, no mud, it was great!

I strung up my invisible flagpole, had new staves & holders for the patrol flags, and had the scouts build a nice generous fire-ring. My ASM/Troop Committee Chair brought his chain-saw and cut some fallen/falling trees down and into bench length logs for us to use around the fire ring.

Patrols set up their tents together, and then commenced to have dinner. Food preparation/clean-up is one area that our troop really struggles with. A Lot. Camp started at 7pm Thursday, but they were just finishing dinner clean up at about 11:30pm.. Friday breakfast preparations started at about 6:30am, but clean up wasn't done until almost 11am.

We had a lot of fun activities planned that we just didn't get to because a lot of time was spend avoiding the chores. But the SPL knew the schedule, and knew what needed to be done, so I sat in my chair by the fire like a dutiful SM and watched, offering periodic advice and guidance where necessary.

Around midnight it was finally time for bed, but a couple scouts wanted to stay up and talk around the fire. That was fine, buddy system intact, scouts calm and responsible, so I went to bed and listened for awhile.

Then the fun began. First I realized that at 36, I'm too old to sleep on the ground with just a foam pad. It's time to get a mattress or something. I still have a major kink in my back that's making me walk crooked..

Then about 2:30am I awake to the (very loud) voice of a scout, sounding teary, yelling at his Mom on the phone that he wants to go home - now! He says he's cold, and doesn't want to sleep in the cold tent on the ground. I sit up and open my tent fly, and he's standing in the woods, in his nice warm coveralls, with his gear all packed beside him. I call him over and ask what's going on. He reitterates that he wants to leave. No encouragement or coaxing can convince him otherwise so I put on my shoes and head out with him to meet his Mom with his gear. He said he was cold and couldn't sleep, but from the look of it he never even pulled out his sleeping bag.

He was one of the scouts that stayed up around the fire. Chances are when everyone turned in and went right to sleep (about 1:30am I'm told) he decided he wanted to go home and was either homesick or lonely and just didn't want to stay. His Mom and didn't know what more to say than I did, but convinced him to come back in the morning on her way to work. Which is good since he's the cook for one of the patrols and is working on his 1st Class cooking requirements!

He came back in the morning, but again that evening he said his parents were going to come get him because they were going to town to go out to eat and do some shopping and he needed to go with them. Curse cell phones, and being close enough to home that make such mutiny feasible. Time to revisit the rules with scouts and parents because I'm not sure anyone would have told me he was leaving if I hadn't had my heightened scouty-sense firing on all cylinders and heard him on the phone. That would have caused quite the problem in the morning to have misplaced a scout..

We had a pretty good outing otherwise. Took the scouts to a state park and ran an Orienteering course, scouts did some fishing in the river, plenty of hiking/wood gathering, recruited a new scout, reminded another that he likes scouting (he said this was the second best campout ever), covered Toten'chit for the new recruit and refresher for those that needed it, and for one scout to complete his Paul Bunyan requirements as well. We had a lost cell phone, scouts talking in their sleep, and my ASM lost his day planner somewhere. Fortunately the phone and the planner turned up, and nothing major was injured, broken, or otherwise remiss.

Time for another campout next weekend.. are we ready?

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Chicken Or The Egg? Scout Or the Troop/Pack?

I'm sure the ebb and flow of registered scouts in a given Council isn't a new dilemma, or unknown to most councils. But I wanted to write today about the challenges I'm seeing in our district, and what I view as some "lack of direction" issues that are contributing to the challenges of operating a scouting program; at least in my area.

First, I realize that everyone is busy. Everyone is being pulled a million different directions, including our kids, so it is reasonable to think that some adults simply don't think they have time for scouting.

Second, running a scouting program is a full time job. There are a lot of meetings, a lot of training, and simply a lot to do if you don't have a lot of adult support.

That said, do you start a Pack or a Troop with a minimum number of registered Scouts? (5 required) or do you wait until you have enough interested adults and youth to make a viable program?

Furthermore, what is your council doing in areas where there are many units struggling to stay operational?

In our District, our troop just started back up due to sheer determination after being dormant for two years. We don't have an operating Pack to feed our Troop, but for two months a group has been trying to start up a new Pack without much enthusiasm from boys or parents. A neighboring town (we'll call Town H) has a Troop with just one scout, and a Pack with few active Scouts. Another neighboring town (we'll call Town L) has a Pack, but no Troop.

At last month's roundtable I asked the Cubmaster of Town L what they were doing with their crossover scouts. They really hadn't considered it and don't have a Troop to feed them into. I said I'd be more than happy to come talk to the Pack and parents about our Troop and enroll them in our troop if they desired to keep them in scouting.

A couple weeks after that, the Cubmaster of Town H contacted me because his son is crossing over in May and the Scoutmaster in Town H said to call me because their Troop is folding. Of course we're thrilled to have him - but there are complications.

At roundtable this month, when I talked to our District Executive, he said he had been tasked to both try and start up a new Troop in Town L, as well as help Town H do some recruiting to save their troop.

So the question is.. Which comes first, the Scout or the Troop/Pack?

My thinking is that there should be a good program to draw in the Scouts, but you can't start a new unit without a charter, and you can't have a charter without a minimum number of scouts and leaders.

So wouldn't it make more sense to leverage an existing unit, and grow it with the intent to split it? Rather than start from scratch? What parent wants their son to join a cub Pack with 5 kids, aged 5 to 10. (meaning 2 Tigers, one Wolf, one Bear, one Webelos) when there isn't a cohesive program even running? But this seems to be the tact of our council.

While researching a project, I was able to review an archive file at work that included many scouting artifacts from our founder's involvement in scouting, including national boards, and Silver Buffalo etc. In that file I found a map of the council showing the districts that existed back in the 50s-60s. Today our council has 3 districts. It used to have 12.

If I had a vote, which I don't, I'd recommend consolidating some units, re-district in geographic boundaries that make sense, and work on strengthening the program vs. simply growing numbers of scouts.

I don't know if the BSA executives get bonuses for retention and growth like the Girl Scouts do, but it sure feels that way when they're more concerned with numbers of scouts than quality of the program.

We have a pretty strong troop for now, but if we don't get an infusion of leadership and new scouts soon we will start fading again and I don't foresee a way to keep the troop from shutting down again. And here we have cubs that want to go into scouting, and deserve to go into a functional troop, and yet they're going to likely end up going into a newly formed troop if at all simply to keep numbers of units up. Moreover, of our 12 scouts only two have parents involved with the Troop, and one on the committee. The others don't participate, and can't be coaxed to participate.

Sorry for the downer/negative post, but it's been a little frustrating to be working hard to provide a program, and to see boys falling away from scouting on either side because the program is failing them. And to see parents that know scouting is important, but no interest in helping run the program.

What are you doing to bolster scouting in your area?

Friday, March 27, 2009

The First PLC

It doesn't matter how trained you are, or how many times you've watched those idyllic videos with the SPL running PLC and troop meetings like a pro; until your own troop "gets it", it's a bit painful to experience.

Despite being a trained leader, having attended NYLT as a youth, and Wood Badge for the 21st Century, I've never been in a troop - even as a youth - where the SPL ran the troop, or PLC was held. A bit of a sad commentary on the programs I was in I guess, but the more I read and study the program and get the vision of scouting, I know it needs to be done this way. So I'm going to do all I can to make sure it does.

Last night was our first go at PLC. Parents of SPL/PLs were notified and confirmed scouts could attend. SPL and PLs were notified of the meeting time and reminded of what they need to bring. I had planned this first PLC to be an orientation to how the meeting should run, and from here out it's the SPL's meeting.

Well.. The SPL showed up over 30 minutes late. He wasn't particularly engaged, and wasn't taking notes - even as we covered the troop meeting agenda which followed immediately after PLC.

Troop meeting was shaky, but ours are often a bit unruly due to some behavior/discipline problems. But the SPL was in charge, and it was his meeting with just some gentle guidance and support.

The good news is the PLs, which are some of the younger scouts actually, seem to be catching the vision and I have hope that with practice and training they'll understand how the program should run and when they are elected SPL one day, they'll understand how to run the program.

I know it doesn't happen overnight, and I won't let the program flop, but I do want the scouts to take ownership and fill their appointed roles in the troop. It's not just their duty, but it's their program; and they will enjoy it and benefit SO much more if they are running the program.

If we're building tomorrow's leaders, we have to let them lead.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Service Stars

I posed this question to people in Twitter, but the format isn't very conducive to discussion or details so I felt a post here was in order.

How do you wear your Service Stars?

You see, despite 15 years in scouting, I've never been in a unit that really used them and I'd like to start rewarding the boys and leaders by recognizing their tenure in scouting. I think it's one more way to help someone receive recognition for their contribution to scouting; but is an important way to keep track of a person's scouting history. Scouting record keeping is kind of like keeping a journal and as I'm looking back through my history, I'm wishing I'd kept better records of my personal scouting career; and that our troop had a better history.

I'm clear on how they're worn If a medal or embroidered knot is worn, service stars are worn 3/8 inch above the medal or knot - centered on the pocket below the World Scouting Crest) and the colors (Gold backs for Cubs, Green for Boy Scouts, Brown for Varsity, Red for Explorers, Blue backs for Leaders). What I'm undecided about is how to divide up my scouting tenure and what pins/colors to wear.

The insignia guide says:
Service stars may be worn by all youth and adult members who have at least one year of tenure with the Boy Scouts of America. The stars are worn with the appropriate color background for the phase of Scouting in which the service was rendered. If an individual's primary registration is in one phase of Scouting and later in another, separate stars with the appropriate background and numerals may be worn simultaneously. Or, leaders may combine youth and adult tenure into one or two stars with blue background.


So which years of service are they recommending you combine and how? If using two stars, I presume one is for youth and one is for adult? But both are blue background?

Dividing up my almost 15 years in scouting I would have:
  • 4 years in Cubs (Gold)

  • 6 years in Boy Scouts (Green)

  • 2 years in Varsity (Brown)

  • 3 years as Adult Leader (Blue)


  • So I'm leaning towards just keeping them separate, and going with all 4 stars. But wondered what other Scouters do.

    Tuesday, March 17, 2009

    Wasabi, & Chili, & Lime - Oh My! Part II

    Ok, as of today the long awaited new products are available online!


  • Trail's End® Chili Lime Almonds (40oz) $49 ($34.50 returned to local scouting)


  • Trail's End® Wasabi Soy Almonds (40oz) $49 ($34.50 returned to local scouting)


  • Trail's End® Yogurt-Covered Pretzels (50oz) $45 ($31.50 returned to local Scouting)



  • I was pretty disappointed that they don't have smaller packages at a better price point. It's good more $$ stays local, but hopefully people aren't too turned off by the very expensive bag of almonds considering they've not tried them before. Would have been good to offer a large bag and small bag option.

    Anyway, it's about the scouts right? And it's for a good cause!

    So here is *yet another* shameless plug for my son who is earning his way to the 2010 Centennial National Jamboree, summer camp with the troop, and NYLT, and your chance to check out the new product line! Just visit Http://www.OrderPopcorn.com and input his unique code to shop: TEVP899 Then you can try out these bold new products and show your support for scouting!

    Friday, March 13, 2009

    Scouts & Snakes

    How do you increase your Troop Meeting attendance from 10 scouts and two leaders to nearly 60 people, including a visiting Troop, and a visiting Pack in just one meeting? Invite this guy!!

    Click For Photo


    I'll warn you now - I cover multiple topics in this entry:
    1) Troop Meetings/Program Features
    2) How Merit Badges should be earned
    3) A Scoutmaster's Job
    4) A Boy Led Troop

    This month our program feature is the Reptile & Amphibian Study Merit Badge* so I arranged for a guest from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to come discuss the Timber Rattlesnake population in our area - which frankly you wouldn't expect SE Minnesota to have Rattlesnakes, but right in our area we do because of the rocky bluffs. The population has been in decline due to bounty hunting and fire prevention which led to growth of trees on the bluffs which diminishes the habitat of these snakes.

    The DNR guest also brought a Milk Snake, a Fox Snake, and a Bull Snake which she passed around the audience during her presentation. As you might imagine many of the scouts LOVED this and thrilled to be playing with the snakes for the evening.

    While the "harmless" snakes were making their way around the audience, she took out the Timber Rattlesnake and had him on the floor. Timber Rattlesnakes are very docile to begin with, but clearly this one has been handled in programs like this for a few years and never once coiled, rattled, or really even moved much outside of the area she put it down.

    This was a great meeting, and we were thrilled to have people from the community, and other scouts from the surrounding area come to join us. We also had several scouting aged kids that came with parents as a result of our advertising campaign to the schools and community events calendars etc. Even if we get one additional young man interested in scouting as a result of this event, then it is all worth it.

    Our SPL struggles a bit keeping control of the troop, he's pretty soft spoken and frankly would rather join in their rambunctious activities than get the work done, but we're making progress. Our Flag Ceremonies are coming along, and are a marked improvement from a few months ago.

    Considering our scouts only have one year of real scouting under their belt, they're making good progress and learning. It underscores the importance of starting Scouts out as Cub Scouts and helping instill in them the Scouting values, culture, and behaviors/decorum from the time they're young. Starting out at age 13-16 is a tough adjustment. I'll have to write about our atypical troop experience in another entry sometime.

    We'll definitely need to organize more of these types of events, and broaden our reach. I wish I could find the quote, but Baden Powell said something like "The Scoutmaster doesn't have to be good at the scouting skills, but he'll be a good role model and will be connected to the community and will bring people to the troop to help teach these skills" - that's a very rough paraphrase, or at least the message of reassurance I took away from the quote when I read it.

    As Scoutmaster I don't have to be an expert at these skills, or know everything, or be able to teach everything. I just have to figure out what interests the boys have, and bring the experts to them. I'm recommitted to stepping up my efforts to do just that.

    Yours in Scouting,

    Latter-day Scout

    *FYI I believe in earning Merit Badges the way the Merit Badge books say they should be done, with the boys taking the initiative to work on the requirements etc. We don't do the requirements at troop meetings. We just cover program features that teach skills from the Merit Badge, or introduce them to the topic. It's on the scout's shoulders to study, prepare, complete the Merit Badge.

    Tuesday, March 10, 2009

    Rules for Dating a Scoutmaster's Daughter

    Adapted from a post by fellow scouter and blogger Scoutmaster Steve as prompted by this great shirt we've seen on www.Cafepress.com/ScouterStuff:




    Rules for Dating a Scoutmaster's Daughter:
    1. You may only date Boy Scouts that have achieved Eagle Scout rank.
    2. You and your date must wear your scout uniforms at all times during the date.
    3. If someone pulls into the the driveway and honks, it better be UPS and not your date, as he will not be picking you up if he does so.
    4. All activities on a date must count towards badge work, be acceptable under the Scout Law.
    5. The only food on the date will be Girl Scout Cookies or ScoutPopcorn and your date must agree to purchase a minimum of one case.
    6. At least 2 members of your troop/crew or your leader must accompany you on a date as a chaperon. We practice 2-deep leadership, and the buddy system always!
    7. There will be no Friendship squeezes, and the only thing you will do with your hands is give the scout hand sign and handclasp.
    8. The only music you will listen to will be scout campfire songs.
    9. The word "s'more" will not be spoken on the date.
    10. You may only swap "Something With A Pin or a Patch"
    11. On your honor you will only go to a nursing home, church or homeless shelter to perform service on your date.
    12. As a Scoutmaster I can tie 100 kinds of knots, build a roaring fire that can consume anything, and dig a latrine at least 6 feet deep.I can hike 20 miles in a driving rain with an 75 pound backpack.I am very familiar with knives and guns. Please be home even earlier than you promise and don't test my resolve to "Be Prepared" to protect my daughter.

    Saturday, March 7, 2009

    Wasabi, & Chili, & Lime - Oh My!

    In case you haven't heard yet, the Boy Scout spring Popcorn fundraiser is kicking off this month, along with a huge online sales campaign.

    The BSA is also introducing a new product line, available exclusively online - and I'll admit, I'm pretty excited to try it!

    Available online starting March 15th you'll be able to order:
    -Chili Lime Almonds
    -Wasabi Soy Almonds
    -Yogurt-Covered Pretzels

    I'll admit I've been a dissenter of the whole Boy Scout popcorn idea, but I buy it and sell it to support Scouting. The Popcorn is pricey, and well - it's popcorn. But these new products may just offer some alternatives to the non-popcorn supporters and encourage online sales which from a fundraising standpoint is fantastic because you don't have to collect money, or deliver product! It ships right to your door!

    So here's another shameless plug for my son who is earning his way to the 2010 Centennial National Jamboree, and your chance to check out the new product line! Just visit Http://www.OrderPopcorn.com after March 15th and input his unique code to shop: TEVP899 Then you can try out these bold new products and show your support for scouting!

    Happy Scouting & remember to support the Boy Scouts in your area when they come around selling popcorn.

    Thursday, March 5, 2009

    To Tweet or Not to Tweet?

    As the next generation continues to acclimate to the age of the Internet and harness its power, there is a steady stream of new tools, new products, new websites, new blogs that just might be the next big thing. They also just might be another distraction taking us further from those things that really are most important.

    So where's the happy medium? And how do we find harmony between the Outdoor Program of the Boy Scouts of America, and our increasingly computer savvy young men in the Scouting programs?

    There are pages that could be written on that subject, but today I wanted to address social-networking sites specifically and discuss some of their benefits and potential pitfalls.

    The new powerhouse on the block appears to be Twitter, but there are other useful networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn to take advantage of as well. Each of them are really quite different, and I'll discuss some of those strengths as well. The fact that the Boy Scouts of America has taken note of these tools and now has links to their profiles on these social sites from their home page and online store lends further credibility to the grassroots online scouting movement.

    Here's some basic information and tips about each of them (in alphabetical order) and how I use them for Scouting:

    Facebook:

    Facebook is really about connecting with friends and family. It allows you to create different security groups to control access to the content you publish, and easily network and connect with peers anywhere from High School, to the office, college alumni associations, and special interest groups.

    I've encountered a few people in other social network sites that I have "friended" on Facebook, but primarily use it for people that I have met in real life.

    LinkedIn:

    LinkedIn is very similar to FaceBook, but is directed to more professional networking where you can post your profile similar to a resume, get professional endorsements, interact with various professional and corporate associations.

    I've found LinkedIn to be a bit more helpful than FaceBook for scouting networking and have even found groups for Wood Badge Alumni, and even my own Wood Badge Patrol, the Good 'Ol Antelope!

    Similar to FaceBook, LinkedIn is more about networking with people you know, and meeting new people with similar interests.

    Twitter:

    Now Twitter. I'll admit I wasn't an early adopter, but I'm certainly a convert! I have staked claims on various parts of the Internet and have blogged at Blogspot, LiveJournal, and several others. I have a Plurk.com account, but admit I rarely use it. Twitter on the other hand is my latest tap into the Internet pipe of information - especially for all things scouting.

    In just a few weeks I've garnered over 500 followers, and more importantly located more than 1,500+ people that in most cases have something to do with scouting. And that's just with this identity. I actually maintain a second - admittedly less beloved account - for random information and politics. With that much chatter - how can one possibly keep up? I'll admit it's not easy, and I certainly don't claim to have it down. But with tools like Twhirl and TweetDeck you can sort and classify this barrage of information and extract out the information you want.

    For the most part I only read messages that are directed to me (using the "@" symbol like: @latterday_scout in Twitter-speak), Direct messages, and messages using the key words BSA or Scout. This allows me to sort through thousands of messages very quickly and dig out just that content I'm looking for, as well as share (or Retweet! in the vernacular) the content I think my followers and friends will find useful.

    When it comes to scouting, Twitter is by far the most useful online tool I've found for networking, making scouting friends, and learning more about scouting. In a very short amount of time I've found new friends, picked up fundraising and program tips, been pointed to useful scouting resources I was previously unaware of, and ultimately had exposed to me a wealth of scouting news that is beneficial to me, and the scouts I lead.

    Twitter also lets me share my experience and insight, and update more people when I create new blog entries and the like. It's also growing into a place where my Troop can collaborate and go for quick up to date information and I've already created an account for my Troop so we have our name reserved when we mature our communications plans to that point.

    There are certainly downsides to Twitter, like those who disparage scouting, or the spammers, marketers, and porn stars that follow everyone they can to gain credibility. But like any beautiful garden it just takes some careful pruning and once you've started building your Twitter network - you'll find it a powerful resource for scouting or your hobby/platform of choice!

    Feel free to comment with any useful Twitter resources, questions, or other social net-scouting subjects. I hope this is useful to you!

    Yours in Scouting Service,

    Latter-day Scout
    Twitter Button from twitbuttons.com

    Some Additional Twitter Resources
    Twitter "follow me" badges:
    Search "Hashtags" # and see what's happening in specific communities or subjects on Twitter. Also does trending of hot topics
    Search Twitter for keywords or subjects:
    Twitter Grader Grades your Twitter identity and helps you find the "twitter elite"
    Nearbytweets lets you find tweeters in your local area and search by topic!

    Tuesday, March 3, 2009

    A Scout Is Friendly.

    A Scout is a friend to all. He is a brother to other Scouts. He seeks to understand others. He respects those with ideas and customs other than his own.
    -Scout Law

    I have plans to write a series of blog entries here, detailing each of the principles of the Scout Oath and Law. However an online conversation tonight, where once again core Boy Scout values were called into question, prompted me to review this one tonight briefly.

    Some would have society believe that the Boy Scouts are a discriminatory, bigoted, intolerant organization. The points of the Scout Law, if applied to daily life, prove otherwise.

    Boy Scouts embrace all people, regardless of religion, faith, sexual orientation, ability, race, or creed. However, this does not mean that all can be Boy Scouts. Membership in the Boy Scouts must have some basic requirements for membership. Among these requirements are a faith in God, and a willingness to lead a morally clean life.

    This last point is the cause of much contention, and many say it is exclusively about keeping those with same-gender attraction out of the Boy Scouts. When in reality, it is so much more. It includes being clean in thought and deed. Clean language, proscribing profanity, pornography, premarital sex to outline just a few points.

    But this does not mean that Boy Scouts discriminate against those choosing not to adhere to those basic membership requirements. To the contrary. We embrace all people who are friends to Scouts. We serve them in the community, we partner with them in service and myriad activities. It just means they cannot be Boy Scouts.

    I'll be writing more on this subject in the future, because there is much more to be said. But for now, the Scout Law says enough to those that will look at the scouts with understanding, rather than with prejudice of their own, "A Scout is a friend to all".

    Monday, February 23, 2009

    Go To Wood Badge

    I wasn't involved in scouting outside of helping with my sons Webelos Den in 2007 when my church leader challenged all other church leaders and leaders working in our young men's program to go to Wood Badge. Our congregation didn't even have any boys involved in Scouting at that time. They were of scouting age, but the troop in our town had gone dormant due to lack of leadership.

    I was reluctant, but felt impressed to heed the challenge from my leaders - and to steal from Robert Frost, "that has made all the difference". I'm now up to my eyeballs in scouting again, and have caught the vision of why scouting is so important to the success of young men in my church, and in the community. Now that I'm a church leader and have immediate stewardship for the Young Men - not just in my congregation, but my congregation's boundaries, I find my activity in scouting to be a major missionary tool not just for young men, but in the community. And leaders have to attend that training to catch that vision.

    . INSTEAD OF WORRYING ABOUT ONE PERSON FROM A WARD AND TWO PERSONS FROM A STAKE ATTENDING WOOD BADGE -- WHY DON’T WE JUST COMMIT TO GET EVERY LEADER TRAINED, INCLUDING FAST START, YOUTH PROTECTION, BASIC TRAINING AND WOOD BADGE IMMEDIATELY AFTER THEY ARE CALLED. Once a priesthood leader makes that type of an investment in the training of a leader, he will be less likely to release him after 6 months of faithful service -- but will leave him in long enough to have a positive effect in the life of a boy. - Dahlquist


    In my church I believe we sometimes miss some of power of the scouting program when we isolate ourselves from activities and opportunities in the district and council. While I think an religion specific Wood Badge session (being contemplated by some scouters in my church) would be a powerful experience, I think it would short-change not only the brethren involved, but also those the might interact with at a council sponsored course for all attendees.

    As one leader mentioned, we still held our Sunday church services at camp - but more importantly I met a fellow-scouter that has become a life-long friend and I never would have met him had I not been at Wood Badge.

    Working my ticket, and earning my beads was just the foundation to this new journey I'm on in scouting. When I feel like I'm in too deep, and feel like maybe I need to step back and focus on other things, I am strongly reminded that this is where I need to be right now, so I keep digging. When I went to Wood Badge, I never thought I'd be a Scoutmaster, or "worse" leading the Council's Jamboree Troop to the National Jamboree. But the experiences, contacts, and opportunities have been staggering.

    We have powerful opportunities to share our talents and influence the lives of others in the scouting program, and I'd like to encourage brethren in scouting callings in their church to engage with their district and council in any way possible so that they can see the power of scouting work for their young men, and those they meet. This starts with getting as much training as possible, but also includes attending district camporees, roundtables, dinners, committees and any other activities we can help support.

    I'd also suggest that we need to do a better job of engaging volunteer scouters even if their calling isn't to serve with the Young Men in our church. I "fell away" from scouting after I turned 18 because I never had a calling to work with the Young Men in our church. This is one place we can improve in the church because you don't have to be in a "calling" to serve on the troop committee, or as a MB counselor, or an Assistant Scoutmaster etc. It requires a different mindset - but opportunities to support scouting should be encouraged.

    I don't consider myself a great scouter, and much of the scouting program doesn't appeal to me personally (Skits, rambunctious activities) but if I am one thing, that is converted to inspired nature of the scouting program. So I'll evangelize it at any opportunity I get.

    Thanks for listening to my Scouting-Impassioned Rambling,

    Thursday, February 12, 2009

    Don't Mock the Scouts

    Wouldn't it be great if everyone lived the Scout Law? But too many people mock scouts and scouters because they don't understand it. Some good points in this article below by David Bly:

    Boy Scout movement is nothing to sneer at
    David Bly, Editor, Desert Valley Times

    There’s a tendency among certain smug and thoughtless people to sneer at the Boy Scouts movement, to make fun of its old-fashioned ideals and straight-laced goals.

    “He’s such a Boy Scout,” someone will say disparagingly of a person whose conduct exceeds normal expectations.

    Jokes are made about such Scouting stereotypes as helping little old ladies across the street and doing a good turn every day.

    It’s typical behavior for people of weak character and low standards to belittle those who aim at something higher —it’s far easier to pull someone down than it is to pull yourself up.

    That doesn’t meaning the Scouting movement or Scouting organizations are infallible or beyond criticism, but on the whole, the world would be much better off if more kids followed scouting ideals.

    When have we needed the
    ideals of Scouting more than now, in this age of entitlement, self-gratification, greed, apathy and low standards?

    When Robert Baden-Powell founded the Boy Scouts movements in the early 1900s, it was his aim “is to develop among boys a power of sympathizing with others, and a spirit of self-sacrifice and patriotism.”

    Baden-Powell envisioned a standard of exemplary conduct that included respect for all, without regard to class distinction.

    “Everything on two legs that calls itself a boy has God in him,” he wrote, “although he may — through the artificial environment of modern civilization — be the most errant little thief, liar, and filth-monger unhung. Our job is to give him a chance.”

    He was a little ahead of his time. The Fourth Scout Law was a powerful challenge to the racism and British snobbery of the time: “A Scout is a friend to all, and a brother to every other Scout, no matter to what country, class or creed, the other may belong.”

    That such a clear standard of equality and tolerance has sometimes been followed imperfectly does not negate the ideal.

    And we need it now more than ever. It won’t solve every problem in the world — and it should not be forced to jump onto every crusade for social change — but how much better off we would be if more of our youth were involved in Scouting.

    It’s been half a century since I was a Boy Scout, and I wasn’t a particularly successful Scout (I don’t think I even finished all the First Class requirements), but much of what I learned is still with me.

    When I leave for work, I check to see my fingernails are clean, that I’m carrying a clean handkerchief, and that my hair (what is left of it) is combed, the very things we were checked for when we stood at attention in the horseshow for inspection.

    We learned the ideals of being honest and truthful, kind and considerate, respectful of people and the environment. We were taught the values of service and loyalty.

    If anyone wants to sneer at those ideals, it says more of the sneer than it does the ideals.

    “A Scout is clean in thought, word and deed” is something we followed with varying degrees of success, but we knew it to be a worthy ideal.

    To me, the main focus of Scouting was camping and hiking, of learning outdoor skills.

    Danged if I can even remember what a sheepshank or sheet bend look like, but I still know how to tie a bowline, a square knot, a clove hitch and a half-hitch — because they have been useful to me over the years.

    When I’m hiking, I still remember to look frequently where I’ve been so I’ll recognize the way back. The landscape can look quite different when you’re going the other direction.

    We learned the directions of the compass, and how to determine them by the position of the sun and stars. I can still do that
    . . . most of the time.

    There has even been an occasion or two when I was mildly lost, and remembered the general rule that following the downward slope usually leads to a stream, and taking a downstream direction will eventually lead to a road or town. I’ve never had to test that one on a grand scale, but I’d love the opportunity.

    I learned how to build a fire and cook on it, and learned something of living off the land. My love for the outdoors was magnified by my experience in Scouts.

    Statistics can be manipulated to prove almost any point but, while numbers vary, studies have shown a powerful correlation between involvement in scouting and success in life. Youths involved in Scouting have a much lower rate of juvenile delinquency.

    It doesn’t take a social scientist with a truckload of doctorates to determine that being honest, clean, considerate, self-reliant and kind makes a better person, one who has confidence in his or her abilities, one who has learned that doing the right thing is always the right choice.

    I’ve had a few tangles with the officialdom of Scouting — like any large organization, it has its empire-builders, power-mongers and bureaucratic tangles, but those are weaknesses of human nature, not flaws in the ideals.

    February is National Scouting Month, and I’ve already had a couple of pleasant encounters with Scouts. I witnessed some of the crazy fun of the Pinewood Derby, and I spent an hour working with a group of Scouts on their Communications merit badge. It’s good to see Scouting at work.

    From time to time, we receive announcements of those who achieve the rank of Eagle Scout, and outlines of the service projects they performed. I know those are youths who, because of Scouting, will stand above the crowd throughout their lives.

    We can’t all be Eagle Scouts, but we can all use Scouting ideals in our lives.

    Give it a try: Be kind, be clean, be honest, be self-reliant, do good deeds daily. You’ll be the better for it.

    Friday, February 6, 2009

    Leadership

    H/T TheScoutmasterMinute.

    Example of Leadership




    As I am a student of leadership, always wanting to know more and constantly on the look out for examples of good leadership, we have recently been handed a great example.


    Last month Captain Chesley Sullenberger landed a fully loaded airplane on the Hudson river.
    Now some may say, well he was the pilot on a plane that crashed... no this guy was a leader. Yesterday the audio of the event was released to the public. I listened to it over and over.... and over. To hear the Captain, you know this Pilot is a hero.
    Now , I hate to throw the term Hero around. It seems anyone that wears a uniform or has endured a trip through the TSA line at the airport is a Hero now a days.
    But Captain Sullenberger showed leadership. He was cool under pressure. He was clear in his thought and understood the situation and the consequences of his actions. He did not think of himself, he thought of the 155 passengers sitting behind him, he thought of the million dollar aircraft that he was lining up to land.
    If we are looking for modern day hero's... Captain Sullenberger fits the bill. If we are looking for a leader, look to his example. If you are looking for an example of the values and virtue of a leader. Cpt. Sullenberger.
    There are 4 leadership traits common to all good leaders. Courage, Candor, Competence, and Character. I am sure that you can find those four in our Captain.
    In fact in an interview yesterday he told the story of his library book which was in his baggage. In all of this, landing a plane in a river, saving the lives of all the passengers and crew, and ensuring the safe rescue, Captain Sullenberger took the time to call the library and offer to replace the book.

    We can learn a lot from leaders like this. A role model of good leadership, grace under pressure, yeah.. a hero.
    Listen to the audio here.

    Leadership Vs. Management

    This is especially meaningful now..

    H/T: JohnScout

    Through the years, many things have been said about leadership but few have put it as precisely and as accurately as Waite Phillips, donor of Philmont Scout Ranch, when he said:

    The boss drives his men;
    the leader coaches them.

    The boss inspires fear;
    the leader inspires enthusiasm.

    The boss says “I”;
    the leader says “We.”

    The boss assigns tasks;
    the leader sets the pace.

    The boss says “Get here on time!”;
    the leader gets there ahead of time.

    The boss fixes blame for the breakdown;
    the leader fixes the breakdown.

    The boss knows how it’s done;
    the leader shows how.

    The boss makes work a drudgery;
    the leader makes it a game.

    The boss says “Go!”;
    the leader says “Let’s go!”

    The world needs leaders,
    but nobody wants a boss.

    Online Training

    "Every Boy Deserves A Trained Leader"

    Any chance you've not heard that before? Not only do the boys deserve a trained leader, but we as leaders deserve and need to be trained in order to be effective, provide a properly run program, and keep scouting fun & safe for everyone!

    To help, the BSA has several training resources online to make it simple to be trained in several key areas. Some of this training is mandatory to be a volunteer - even as a parent - and attend scouting activities.

    For instance, every adult/parent that works or helps with scouts needs to take Youth Protection Training right away! This training has crucial information for not just protecting scouts, but protecting leaders and adult volunteers. There's really no excuse to not have every parent of your scouts go through this training. You can also print out your certificate of completion.

    Other topics available online include:
    ScoutParents Unit Coordinator Fast Start
    Unit Commissioner Fast Start
    Youth Protection Training
    Safe Swim Defense
    Safety Afloat
    Staffing the District Committee
    Weather Hazards
    Fast Start: Venturing
    Youth Protection Training - Venturing Version
    Fast Start: Cubmaster Take Course
    Fast Start: Tiger Cub Den Leaders
    Fast Start: Webelos Den Leaders
    Fast Start: Wolf/Bear Cub Scout Den Leaders
    Pack Committee Fast Start

    Poke around and explore these new resources. And if you have time, why not take them all?? The more training we have as scout leaders, the better we are for our scouts, and for the scouting movement.

    Online Tour Permits

    You can now file BSA tour permits online! Check with your local council to make sure they're set up to receive them.

    Go to http://www.scouting.org, and click the "MyScouting" link at the top.
    Create a login if you've not used MyScouting before

    If you don't see the "Tour Permits" link on the left column, enable them by:

    Clicking on profile -> Modify profile -> Check radio button for tour permits and save settings.

    1) You can save and maintain drivers/vehicles/insurance info and select from them for future permits
    2) emails confirmation to you
    3) Sends directly to council
    4) Requires training records of adult leaders
    5) Indicates tour permits need to be filed two weeks prior to event

    You need a MyScouting account for online training and other great scouting resources anyway, go sign up today!

    Good luck!

    Tuesday, February 3, 2009

    Troop Dues

    What does you troop do, for Troop Dues? Our troop has been fortunate to get by with fundraising, but I hear many troops charge monthly dues in order to offer a more robust program.

    I'm curious what your troop does, and why?

    Friday, January 30, 2009

    Mike Rowe on Becoming An Eagle Scout

    Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs Pens a letter of encouragement to scout losing steam. From here.


    Kelby,

    Your Dad asked me to drop you a line and say something inspirational that might persuade you to dig down deep and find the determination to make the rank of Eagle Scout. It's a reasonable request, from a father who obviously wants to see his son succeed. But here’s the thing - The Eagle Award is not really meant for people who need to be dragged across the finish line. It’s meant for a select few, and I have no idea if you have the guts to see it through.

    Statistically, I suspect you do not. Only one out of a hundred Scouts make Eagle, so if you fail, there will be lots of other people with whom you can share excuses. Quitting now might disappoint your Dad, but I doubt that he or anyone else will be overly surprised. Anytime 99 out of 100 people do the same thing, it’s not exactly a shock.

    I’m not trying to be cute with a bunch of reverse psychology. When I was 15, there was nothing that anyone could have said to me that would have inspired me to do something I didn't want to do, especially a stranger with a TV show. So I’m not going to assume you’re any different, or pretend that I have some influence or insight that you haven’t already heard from a dozen other people who actually know and care about you. I’ll just tell you straight up, that doing something extraordinary can be very lonely, and most people simply aren’t cut out for it. Being an Eagle Scout requires you to be different than most everyone around you, and being different is really, really hard. That’s why the award is called “an accomplishment.”

    Personally, and for whatever it’s worth, the best decisions I've made in my own life, are those decisions that put me on the outside of being cool. Singing in the Opera, working in home shopping, staring in the school play when the entire football team laughed at me, and especially earning my Eagle, were all choices that required sacrifice, hard work, and delayed gratification. I have no idea if you possess those qualities, or even envy them. But I can tell you for certain, that NOT getting your Eagle, will be one of the easiest things you’ve ever done.

    Anyway, I have no idea if you would prefer an easy life of predictability and mediocrity, or if have the passion to follow the road less traveled. Only you get to decide that.

    Good Luck,
    Mike


    Now for the (ta dah!) Major Announcement: Mike has written the attached letter and will personalize and sign it for any Eagle Scout out there who requests it. All you have to do is mail a self-addressed, stamped envelope to: Eagle Scout Letter, Pilgrim Films and Television, 6180 Laurel Canyon Blvd., #350, No. Hollywood, CA 91606. Please allow 12+ weeks for Mike to fill it out, sign it and get it in the mail to you. And folks - this is an offer, a nice thing, a volunteer deal Mike wants to do for you - please don't complain if it takes a while to get to you, OK? It'll get handled as quickly as possible.

    Letter HERE in Mike's Forums.

    Court of Honor Last Night

    Last night we held another Court of Honor, our troop's second since starting back up in February 2008. (long story).

    4 of our scouts have now advanced to First Class, including one of the youngest scouts in the troop who is not yet 12. They were also awarded several merit badges from our last MB Fair, and those being worked on themselves.

    We had a good turn out with several committee members, parents, and the pastor from the charter organization. We also had our DE in attendance to observe our Friends of Scouting Campaign kick off.

    I'm very proud of the progress these boys are making - and after some parents seeing the progress being made by some boys and not others, they appear more motivated to help out and help their boys tow the line!

    It takes a lot of parent involvement for a scout to succeed.

    Our Troop

    So I wanted to share a little blurb about the composition of our troop:

    1) Chartered by United Methodist Church
    2) Troop Committee Chair is LDS
    3) Scoutmaster is LDS
    4) 3 Scouts are LDS, 6 are Lutheran, 3 are Catholic.

    Get Off My Honor: The Assault on the Boy Scouts of America

    Amazing book by Hans Zeiger. Must read for all people involved in Boy Scouts, and citizens of the US in general..




    Product Description
    Hans Zeiger may represent the hope for the future. He is not the typical postmodern young twenty something. You don't see his type portrayed on The Real World on MTV. But he isn't alone. He is part of a movement that is alive and well-and thriving.

    Nineteen-year-old Hans is a Boy Scout. More specifically, he is an Eagle Scout. And he is tired of the attack on the Boy Scouts by those who would like to see it assimilated into the politically correct culture that dominates many of our nation's institutions. Get Off My Honor! analyzes a half-century of events leading up to the present struggle for the soul of the Boy Scouts. Hans shows how those who wish to destroy the scouts are attacking it for what it represents at its core-Christian values. With biting commentary, Zeiger paints a picture in which the Boy Scouts have been spat upon and cursed by its critics. Groups as diverse as the United Way, ecumenical church denominations, unions, educational and medical organiztions, judges, members of the Clinton administration, and left-wing activists have labeled the Boy Scouts as bigots and homophobes. Hans Zeiger is ready to let the world know the truth about scouting and the truth behind those who wish to destroy it.