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


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, 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?