Archive for the ‘Advancement’ Category


Remember my last post? I went shopping at the local Scout Shop and bought several closeout items, some for actual use, and some for the collection. I left one item out of that article, the one that was rolled up in the tube. It was something I thought the troop could find useful. In fact, it was something the troop has not used for several years, but as the advancement coordinator I thought it night be time to use one again. What is it? It is a troop advancement chart with the current requirements listed.

When I was in the Scout Shop I stopped at the advancement chart rack to see if the B.S.A. had come out with a new chart yet. I found a few of the old advancement charts, a lot of Cub Scouting charts, and a few posters, but not a current advancement requirement chart. So I asked Jenny, who was working the at the store, if one was available. She told me there was and we walked back to the rack. I felt like a fool when she showed me the new chart hanging on the wall above the rack. I never even noticed it when I was looking. My eyes were on the advancement rack’s contents, not the wall.

She looked through the rack for the new advancement chart. She did not find one. Well, now I felt a little better. She checked the computer and it said they had three of them. She went to the back room and found them. The chart is not small. It measures 36″ wide by 23″ high. It will not fit on the old chart’s piece of hardboard. I was quite happy with the price which was only $2.49.

I wish I had a larger picture to show you. I guess you will just have to go to the nearest Scout Shop and see it for yourself.

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    scout_ranksI have recently accepted the position of advancement coordinator for Melrose Boy Scout Troop 68, so I have been checking out the 2013 Committee Guidebook to see what my new responsibilities will be, and how much work I have gotten myself into. Let’s take a look.

    1) Encourage Scouts to advance in rank.

    This one should be easy enough. I was a scoutmaster for thirty years. I was always encouraging the Scout to advance. Now I will do it while wearing a different title.

    2) Work with the troop scribe to maintain all advancement records.

    This will be an interesting challenge since our troop has never asked this of the Boy Scout who holds the position of Troop Scribe. Do any of you readers have any suggestions that have worked well in your troop?

    3) Arrange quarterly board of reviews and courts of honor.

    This is an easy one. Our troop already does board of reviews as needed during committee meetings, once a month. Quarterly courts of honor have been a part of our yearly program since the early 1980’s.

    4) Develop and maintain a merit badge counselor list.

    This one is going to require some work. Our council is in the process of updating its counselor list so that will help a little. I think my goal needs to be finding more local counselors. We only have a few within Melrose. I will start with the parents of the Boy Scouts, and then try to find more outside of the troop. I think it would be great to find a local counselor for at least each of the Eagle Rank required merit badges.

    5) Make a prompt report on the correct form to the council service center when a troop board of review is held. Secure badges and certificates.

    We already do this quite well on the committee. This duty should not be a problem.

    6) Work with the troop librarian to build and maintain a troop library of merit badge pamphlets and other advancement literature.

    The troop librarian already has a small collection of merit badge pamphlets but it may be time to go through it with him and see if the books are outdated and need replacement, along with what other pamphlets may be needed.

    7) Report to the troop committee at each meeting.

    When I was the scoutmaster I made regular advancement reports at each committee meeting. The current scoutmaster does the same thing. I guess the main goal here would be to check in with him each month, at least once if not more, to catch up on the latest advancement completed and possible needs. Is there a way to help him achieve more advancement?

    One thing not listed as a responsibility but something encouraged by the committee guidebook is to check out internet advancement. Our troop has never used it. As a scoutmaster I could not use it because, at the time, it was not compatible with the Macintosh computer I use at home. No one on the committee back then was interested in taking on that responsibility. I understand that today it should work on a Macintosh computer so I shall have to check it out sometime. Until then we will continue to use the Troop Advancement Report form and turn it into the council office when we pick up the awards.

    Are there any other things your troop advancement coordinator does?

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      committee org chartShortly after I retired as the scoutmaster of Troop 68 a few years ago I became the troop committee treasurer. It did not take me long to realize that I did not care to hold that position. It was not that it took a lot of work. It was just that I did not enjoy it. Even when I was a scoutmaster I tried to stay away from the financial stuff of the troop. Now here I was smack in the middle of it.

      During last week’s troop committee meeting I was pleasantly surprised to find out another committee member was willing to take over the role of treasurer. He wanted to take on more responsibility within the troop but due to his schedule he was not able to make many of the meetings or outings. He thought this role would be a good fit for him. He and I will be getting together later this week to discuss the accounts and responsibilities of the position.

      Of course, this leaves me open to take on a different position on the committee, one that I have wanted to do for the last couple of years – the advancement coordinator. I think it is kind of ironic that this position has been offered to me right at the time the new Boy Scout advancement requirements take affect. I pretty much knew the old requirements by heart. I guess I better start reading that new handbook I just purchased.

      Our troop has never really had an active advancement coordinator. We did have someone who was going to do it a few years ago but he retired from the committee shortly after accepting the position. To tell the truth, as I look over the advancement coordinator’s responsibilities, I think I did many of them when I was the scoutmaster. Maybe, as I take on this role, I can lighten the load of the current scoutmaster.

      The main reason I accepted this new position was to work with the boys on their advancement requirements once again. It was one of my favorite things I did as the scoutmaster. Now, I realize this is mainly the scoutmaster’s job, but name one scoutmaster would does not like a little extra help. I would help out a couple times a year but I always felt like I was intruding on someone else’s responsibilities. I will have to have a talk with the scoutmaster about my new role.

      The worse part about accepting this new position is that I am currently serving as the cubmaster of the Cub Scout Pack. The pack meets on the first and third Mondays of the month. The troop meets on the first three Mondays of the month. After thinking about it, that might be for the best. By having a limited amount of time with the troop I will have to try to use the time to the best of my abilities.

      Do any of you have any suggestions for this new advancement coordinator?

      The committee organization chart was found on The Volun-told Scouter Blog, found at http://voluntoldscouter.blogspot.com/2011/01/committee.html

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        2016Handbooks - 1Gosh! I do not know if you have heard or not but the Boy Scouts of America have changed the requirements for the Boy Scout advancement program. Scout is now a rank, which means there are seven ranks instead of six. Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class have changed a fair amount. Star, Life, and Eagle Ranks not so much. These changes could bring a few changes to your troop’s yearly program.

        Of course, these changes to the advancement program need to be reflected in the Boy Scout handbook, which means a new handbook needs to be written. I was hoping to see a new handbook by the end of last year, but I was told during last month’s roundtable that they would be out some time in January. Knowing the B.S.A.’s history of getting things out on a timely basis. I thought that meant we would have to wait until February.

        I was pleasantly surprised when I received an email last week that stated the new handbooks were now on the shelves and available for sale. I drove the thirty miles to my nearest Scout Shop on Saturday to pick up one for myself, along with some items for the upcoming Cub Scout Blue and Gold banquet. I ended up buying six handbooks; one for me, two for the scoutmaster and his assistant, and three for the Scouts. I like to keep a few on hand so new Scouts have them quickly available when they join the troop.

        I have already received an email from the father of one Scout who has asked me to put one handbook aside for him. I have a feeling the other two could be claimed by the end of the week. I bet I will need to pick up more of them when I attend next month’s roundtable in Sartell.

        I was caught a bit off guard when I saw the price of the new handbooks was $14.99. I should have known they would not be the same price as the old handbooks. Oh well, we have to have them.

        Did you get your new handbook yet?

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          IMG_4450Most of the time when you hear of someone talking about their Eagle project they are referring to their project for their Eagle Scout Rank. I am too old for that type of Eagle project. However, my Eagle project does involve work for a local organization. No, it is not a group that works with rehabilitating wounded birds. The organization is our community museum. My project is to have a framed 5×7 picture of each of the young men of Boy Scout Troop 68 who have earned their Eagle Scout Rank on display at the museum.

          There have been 22 Eagle Scouts of Troop 68 over the decades. The first was earned in the 1960’s, I believe, before I became a Boy Scout. The rest were earned from the 1980’s to present day. Eighteen of these Scouts became Eagles during my tenure as the troop’s scoutmaster. My project is to make a display featuring every one of these special Boy Scouts. Each photo also contains the Scout’s name and the year they earned the award. You can see in the picture above that I have most of them framed and ready to go. Unfortunately, I ran out of frames so it is time to run to the store and find some more.

          Does your troop have a special “Eagle Scout Hall of Fame” or wall of fame? Do you have a local museum that features an Boy Scout display? Right a comment and let us know about it.

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            roundtable_4350Once a year the roundtable staff of the Central Minnesota Council,  Scenic District, invites the Eagle Board chairman, the district advancement chairman, and other key people to attend a meeting to discuss Eagle Scout projects, workbooks, and board of reviews. Boy Scouts are invited to attend and encouraged to ask questions.

            When this meeting was held in the fall of 2014 we were surprised with once of the best attendances for a roundtable that we have had in many years. We had to set up more chairs and almost remove tables to create enough seating. I would guess that maybe 12 to 15 Boy Scouts came to the meeting with their parents or troop leaders. We were very pleased with the turnout and many questions were answered.

            As the room was being set up for this year’s Eagle meeting, which was held Tuesday night, only two tables were set up at the front of the room for the Eagle speakers, and a few tables were left set up in the back. We were hoping for a turnout as good as last year’s, maybe even better.

            As the clock approached the 7:00 starting time we realized more chairs would be needed then were set up. Boy Scouts, parents, committee members and troop leaders filled the room. It was a good thing the tables had been removed. I counted thirty Boy Scouts in attendance. I think that could be a new record.

            The meeting went very well. The three member panel talked about what they expect from the Scouts, what the Eagle Scout process includes, and the common mistakes to avoid. A lot of questions were asked by the adult leadership and the Scouts. Everyone seemed to be pleased as the meeting came to an end.

            I was expecting a decent turnout so I thought it might be nice to have a door prize for the Boy Scouts who came to the session. I had grabbed a 1965 Boy Scout handbook from my collection to use for the drawing. Near the halfway point of the meeting we drew a winning name from my cap. The Boy Scout who won was grinning widely as he came forward to collect the handbook. He seemed quite pleased to be able to add it to his collection, or maybe it was the start of his collection.

            I noticed several young Boy Scouts mixed in the crowd so toward the end of the meeting I asked for a show of hands of the the Life Scouts in the room. Most of the boys raised their hand. I asked the Star Scouts to raise they hand. Several hands went up but I noticed a few still had not lifted theirs. When I asked for the First Class Scouts to raise their hands the last four or five Scouts were recognized. I could not help myself. I commended these young men for thinking ahead as they plan to reach their goal of attaining Boy Scouting highest rank.

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              mpsc2014bThe Boy Scouts have come home. About an hour and a half ago the ten Boy Scouts and two adult leaders of Melrose Troop 68 arrived home from spending the week at Many Point Scout Camp in northwest Minnesota. From the few minutes I was able to talk to them I discovered they had a great time but were ready to get home, clean up, and get back to life with their families.

              The ten Scouts did an excellent job earning advancement while they were at camp. When I left them Monday afternoon I made a deal with them. I told them that if they earned a total of 25 completed merit badges during the week I would host a movie/pizza party. Eight of them were earning the Cooking merit badge which I did not think they could complete during camp so I did not count these against the total. I thought that 25 badges would present a good goal but would still be challenging.

              Someday I will learn my lesson for betting against the Scouts. They earned their goal and went beyond it. They came home with 33 completed merit badges. It might be 34 after we check one Scout’s camping outings to see if he completed his Camping Merit Badge. Eight of these merit badges were the Cooking badge. It seems that with the new requirements this year the boys can complete the award during the week at camp. Oh well, even if I took the eight Cooking merit badges off the total it still leaves 25 completed badges, which met the goal. I guess I better get ready to buy some pizzas.

              Here is a breakdown of the merit badges earned at summer camp this year:
              8- Cooking, 2- Climbing, 2- Environmental Science, 4- Fishing,
              1- Fish and Wildlife Management, 1- Forestry, 3- Game Design,
              2- Geocaching, 1- Kayaking, 1- Lifesaving, 1- Mammal Study,
              1- Nature, 1- Rowing, 1- Shotgun Shooting, 3- Weather,
              1- Wilderness Survival (and possibly 1- Camping).

              Congratulations to all the Boy Scouts for doing a great job at camp this week. Even though they earned a lot of badges while at camp they still managed to have a lot of fun and participate in in lots of activities.

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                PTCdeerWell, the week is now a part of history. Last week I spent my vacation at the Philmont Training Center at Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico. It was awesome! Sunny every day. Not a drop of rain. Great Scouters and instructors everywhere. And only one mosquito bit me. (Several dozen would bite me during a weekend outing in Minnesota.) And to top it off, I actually learned a few things about advancement, which is saying something after spending 30 years as a scoutmaster.

                The food was fantastic. I had lost 25 pounds before going to Philmont, from 193 to 168. Yes, I hit my goal, but I knew that going on vacation to PTC it would be hard to keep up the diet. So I didn’t. The food prepared in the dining hall by the PTC staff was great. I never went away hungry. If you did not like the main course, you could fix something at the hot bar. If that did not meet your taste buds you could always fix yourself a salad or a sandwich of your choice. And if those did not suit your mood, well, fix yourself a bowl of cereal. I was a little worried when I stepped on the scale this morning. I guess all that walking while at PTC paid off. I only gained  four pounds back. I should have that gone by the end of next week or sooner.

                My camera and iPad were busy during the trip. I usually took a few hundred photos when I was at Philmont in the past. I really outdid myself this year thanks to digital technology. In fact, I set a record not only for my trips to Philmont, but for any vacation I have ever taken. I have 907 photos of the trip between the two cameras. I also have 33 videos taken of various events through the week, including a talk given to my my class by  the National Commissioner Tico Perez. Photos and videos came to over 14 GB. Do you think I might have overdone it a bit?

                Yep, it was a great trip, made better by sharing it with Bob, my district executive from the Central Minnesota Council. Keep a watch on this blog during the next few weeks as I share more stories, photos, and videos from the trip.

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