Thursday, October 7, 2010

Fresh From Gilwell Field

I hope that most of my readers have had the privilege to attend Wood Badge training, know about the fascinating spirit of Gilwell, and have that beloved song firmly nested in their heart (and deeply ingrained in their brain as well!).

If you've been around here for long, you probably remember this post where I told people to Go To Wood Badge! If not, you may want to read it to catch up to where I'm coming from. Readers Digest Version: I Earned my Eagle Scout as a youth in 1988, and hadn't been very engaged in Scouting until about three years ago when I was challenged to attend Wood Badge in 2007, which I did and was beaded in 2008. Well.. that's the beginning and the end of it, and now I'm neck deep in scouting and more committed to its cause than ever before. If you haven't read the bio to the left, I'm a Scoutmaster, served as our Council's National Scout Jamboree Scoutmaster this year, and was a Troop Guide for the just completed Wood Badge course. (I don't think you ever get "done" with that job. Even once those I'm counseling finish their tickets.)

While Wood Badge is really only six short days (Two Weekends) a testament to the movie clip from 'Remember the Titans' which explains why I had such a phenomenal experience and why it why I have some lingering "Back-To-Gilwell-Sickness"(tm) after the course ended. That quote? "Attitude Reflects Leadership!" See the Must See! Movie recommendations at the end of this post.

If you've played "Win All You Can!" you know how badly that can turn out. If you've ever tried to pull together a team from diverse backgrounds, interests, religions, etc. You know how that can turn out.

So why did our staff gel immediately, and skip from Storming all the way to Performing without hardly a meeting? (See Stages of Team Development here Well, largely because of our Course Director. Our Course Scoutmaster, our Leader. With everything else going on this year, I could not have attempted serving on Staff as a TG without an unwavering belief in his inspired leadership. In fact, when he asked me I told him I'd only do it for him. Any other course director probably would have got an "I'd love to, but just can't this year".

This is a man, who is humble, charitable, selfless and I don't think he can spell EGO if you spot him two letters. He didn't pick staff that he though were cool, or would give him some leverage politically in the council. In fact, at first glance you might have seen some of the staff as a bunch of misfits. But you'd be wrong. I don't think I've ever had the pleasure to associate with a group of people that care more about the spirit of Scouting than served on this course. Add to that the fact that I know the course director didn't just pick names from a hat, but spent some hours on his knees consulting a much higher power in his decisions to make sure the course was powerfully effective. And of course it worked.

I also had the opportunity to spend some time with some other troop guides from my course. Including not only two fellow Antelopes, but one of them is now a man I consider my dearest friend. The man I wouldn't have met if I had not attended Wood Badge. It was fantastic to spend some quality time with him at the course. We don't leave near one another, and have had precious little time to talk over the past three years. That was the icing on the cake for this course for me.

There were many tear-jerking moments at the course. Especially during the Staff dinner near the end of weekend two where we presented gifts to the Course Director and he to us.

I'll have to write a whole other post on some of the things I learned at this course, but I know that I learned more this time than I did the first time through. Especially since I had no scouting position when I attended, and now have almost three years under my belt as Scoutmaster. I still have much to learn, but if I could offer you one tidbit of advice from the course: as Roland Phillips said it best: "The Patrol Method is not ONE method in which Scouting can be carried on. It is the ONLY method!"

And from the founder himself: "One of our methods in the Scout movement for taming a hooligan is to appoint him head of a Patrol. He has all the necessary initiative, the spirit and the magnetism for leadership, and when responsibility is thus put upon him it gives him the outlet he needs for his exuberance of activity, but gives it in a right direction." --Baden-Powell, from the article "Are Our Boys Degenerating?" circa 1918.

All of the challenges I can identify in my troop stem from my still learning to master my Wood Badge training. In fact, there's a story in the curriculum about an impatient Scoutmaster prodding the Scouts to get meals prepared that might have been written while someone observed me the first year of camping with these scouts!

We're still implementing the "Boy Led Troop", but you know what? The more responsibility I give them, and the most I trust them, the more they step up and get it done. Clearly it works. Now if only I can find the time to be organized enough to help them become the leaders they have it within themselves to become.

And remember this: "A Scout smiles and whistles under all circumstances." -Robert Baden-Powell

If you're not happy, you're doing it wrong. I remind myself of this frequently.

Must See Wood Badge/Scouting Leadership Movies:
-October Sky (Special Edition)
-Remember the Titans (Widescreen Edition)
-Mr. Holland's Opus
-Follow Me, Boys!

Monday, August 16, 2010

2010 National Scout Jamboree JSPs to Trade!

Being an adult leader and making sure our scouts were well attended as well as out and about enjoying the Jamboree, my focus wasn't on patch trading, but that doesn't mean I didn't wish I had more time for trading!

As a result I still have some of my patches left to trade, as well as several cool patches I wish I had encountered while at the Jamboree to trade.

Here's my current wish list:

-ILLOWA Council JSPs with the John Deere tractors
-Malibu #566 lodge flap (not Jambo version - just standard issue)
-UT National Parks 2010 Chinese Dragon
-Western LA County (X-Men) Magneto
-National Capital Area Council (Any)
-Chief Seattle Council (Salmon & Whale)
-Bay Area Council (Halo) JSP & OA Flap/Pocket
-Erie Shores Council Pink Panther Ghost (Pink)
-Tall Pine Council (Flintstones - Any)
-Piedmont CA Council (Russel from Up - Any)
-Star Wars Set (2005 Spoof - Any)
-Great Lakes Council - Yellow Camaro
-Denver - Yellow Hummer
-Green Mountain Council (Benn & Jerry's Look)
-Frontierville/Farmville Spoof Set

I have several of my own JSP, as well as some sets and others I'd be willing to trade. Comment with your email address (I won't publish it) if you're interested in trading.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

George Albert Smith Award

Well, we're all back from the 2010 National Scout Jamboree. In one post I can not begin to explain the tremendous experience I had. So allow me to start with one post which garnered some interest among my friends on Twitter when I posted about it during the Jamboree.

To begin with, it may be helpful to explain that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints became the first charter partner with the Boy Scouts of America back in 1913. Scouting is an integral part of the activities we provide our Young Men at church. We term scouting the "activity arm" of the Aaronic Priesthood, which is the program and priesthood responsibility that our young men ages 12-18 participate in within the church. The values taught by scouting are integral to the character building that we believe God himself expects of all of us.

Requirements Brochure Front Cover:

The Church has always supported and had a presence at the National Jamborees, and usually has had a special award or commemorative patch for scouts (members and non-members alike) who attended the Jamboree. This year however, they wanted to present a more valuable spiritual experience for the Scouts and introduce the George Albert Smith award for participants to earn for those willing to go above and beyond - rather than just give them a token award (a free patch was given to all who stopped by the LDS Relationships booth). The requirements of the award were intended to focus Scouts' attention on not just their Duty to God, but also additional opportunities available to them at the Jamboree to strengthen their families and character.

Here is a scan of the requirements brochure. Sorry I didn't have a cleaner image:

The requirements brochure also includes a great principled story entitled "Lesson From A Scouter" which I'll share here:
Story Part I

Story Part II

You can read the other story referenced in the requirements, "Run, Boy, Run!" by clicking here.

Requirements Brochure Back Cover:

Award Front:

Award Back:

I think it's a beautiful award, and is one of the highlights of my Jamboree experience. Not just because of the award, but because of the lessons learned while earning the award including the people I met, and the discussions it prompted with the two scouts in my troop as they fulfilled the requirements to earn it.

You can read some more about my Church's activities at the National Scout Jamboree here.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Wholehearted Duty To God

A coworker and I were recently discussing some challenges he was having with his teenage children; specifically in the sense that they had not inherited his work ethic, motivation, drive, determination to be productive and contribute to the family or society. Furthermore he was concerned with the older son's complete disregard for moral integrity.

This conversation turned to religion - more accurately a faith or belief in God, which governs our behaviors and actions, and how a lack of faith in God reduces the likelihood that a person's "moral compass" is pointing the correct direction. We discussed at length how in today’s society fewer people are going to church regularly, and with each passing generation it is fewer and fewer. I asked him some probing questions during the discussion and found that as a youth he attended church weekly until about age 10 (experts agree many moral lessons are learned by age 2 and that by age 8 decision-making morals have been cemented), and that as a parent he has not taken his children to church. It seems apparent to me that as church attendance declines, moral behavior likewise diminishes.

For this reason I am very glad to be involved in the Scouting program, which I believe to be an inspired program. Many today question the moral foundation of the scouting movement, and whether it really should expect a scout to believe in God, or commit himself to do his duty to God. One only need read about the great Chief of Scouting – Lord Baden Powell - to understand that he believed this was a crucial tenet of Scouting.

Here’s just one example. In 1933 Baden Powell gave an address at a World Jamboree in Budapest, Hungary in which he said, “These aims are to do your duty wholeheartedly to God, to your country, and to your fellow man by carrying out the Scout Law. In that way you will, each one of you, help to bring about God's kingdom upon earth—the reign of peace and goodwill.” (See Full Address Here) Clearly not only did Baden Powell believe in God, but also believed that Scouting was is a means by which Scouts will bring about God’s kingdom on earth through faithfully doing their duty to God, and doing their part to bring about peace and good will.

As we teach scouts to live the scout oath, and do their duty to God and practice reverence, they will learn a greater perspective on life and serving and helping others. Promoting selfless values and the ability to make wise choices based on sound moral principles.