Archive for the ‘Leadership’ Category


roundtableThe District Roundtable. That once a month training meeting for all Scout Leaders. They are a good meetings for all Scouters to attend, filled with lots of ideas and knowledge, but in reality only a small percentage of Scouters attend them. It is really a shame.

I began attending roundtable about the time I became the scoutmaster of Melrose Troop 68 in 1981, thirty five years ago. During most of those years I was a regular attendee, maybe missing one or two a year, usually to weather issues, like snowstorms. I thought I had a very good attendance record, especially when you consider that I live 35 miles from the council service center.

I was recruited as an assistant roundtable commissioner in the late 1980’s, and continued through the early 1990’s. For a couple of years we even held junior leader roundtables for senior patrol leaders, patrol leaders, and other youth officers. I finally stepped away from the roundtable staff because I needed to clean my plate of a few positions. I did not want to burn out after all. I did continue to attend the monthly meetings, just not as a staff member.

A few years ago I decided to offer my assistance once again to the roundtable commissioner. Al had been running the roundtables himself. I know from experience that a helping hand not only makes things easier, but it also makes it more fun. He quickly accepted my offer and I became an assistant roundtable commissioner once again.

In May I finished my third year as Al’s assistant. May is also the month that Al and I decided to retire as the roundtable staff. It was a good run, and we both had fun, but we both felt it was time for new leadership to take over.

I had an additional reason to step down from the position. I currently serve as the Cubmaster for Melrose Pack 68. The committee has decided to try moving den and pack meetings from Monday nights to Tuesday nights during the 2016-2017 program year. The Scenic District roundtable are held on the first Tuesday night of the month. I have not yet discovered how to be in two places at one time. This coming year could be the first Scouting program year that I will not attend a roundtable meeting since 1980. That is going to bit a little weird for me.

I do not know who will take over the roundtable staff positions this fall but I wish them the best of luck. It is a great experience and can be a lot of fun with just a little bit of planning.

Thanks for Sharing!

    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.

    roundtable_4354

    Thanks for Sharing!

      CubmasterTis the season for all units… in the Central Minnesota Council to complete their recharters. Begin the caroling and pass the eggnog. The new committee of Cub Scout Pack 68 is about to learn how it is done.

      The recharter was one of the things on the agenda at last Monday night’s Pack committee meeting. Fortunately, our district executive was on hand to explain how to complete the online registration and answer questions. Unfortunately, our new treasurer announced that he is stepping down from the position because he has accepted a new pastoral position in another part of the state. His family is moving this week.

      Although surprised, the pack committee did not panic but started talking about possible parents in the pack who could be recruited as the treasurer and other positions that still needed to be filled. We currently of a great group of parents so the committee plans to speak to them for several minutes during this Monday’s Pack Meeting while I take the Cub Scouts in the next room and work with them on a skit to perform for the parents.

      There is also one other key three position that the Pack need to fill, the Cubmaster. Although I am registered as a pack committee member this year I have been been the acting cubmaster this fall since no one has stepped up to the plate yet. It is not a position I have sought, but after 30 years as a scoutmaster I thought I could run a few pack meetings until we find someone to take over.

      There is only a couple weeks left to complete the recharter. It is down to crunch time. Some of the committee thought they had a candidate to become the cubmaster but he had to decline due to commitments in other organizations to which he already belonged. Where were we to find a cubmaster?

      I have been acting as the cubmaster. Notice the word “acting”. After a short discussion with the committee I agreed to take on the role of cubmaster, but I would only accept the role for this program year, with the condition that that the pack finds an assistant cubmaster this year who would step into the cubmaster role in May of next year. The committee has a lot to talk to the parents about at Monday’s pack meeting.

      I have had fun as the acting cubmaster these pass few months, and it has been a pleasure working with the new committee members. I do actually look forward to being the cubmaster for the rest of this program year, this one term. I do not plan to become the permanent cubmaster. I still intend to continue working with the Boy Scout troop. My goal is to be the liaison between the pack and the troop.

      Hopefully, Santa will bring us a few more committee members, den leaders, and an assistant cubmaster this month. “Deck the Pack with lots of leaders, fa la la la la, la la la la.”

      Thanks for Sharing!

        TheLeadersCampfireA week ago I was on Skype chatting with Chris (formally known as Cubmaster Chris) and we began talking about were we currently involved in the world of Scouting. Chris’ youngest son is a Boy Scout, and I have been spending time assisting the local Cub Scout pack get reorganized for the new year. It is almost like our roles have kinda somewhat reversed from the days we hosted a little podcast called The Leaders Campfire.

        As we were talking Scouting it was inevitable that our old podcast would come up in the discussion. It has been nearly three years since we recorded the last episode. As we were reminiscing about the “old days”, Chris mentioned an email he had received from a Scout leader somewhere stating that he missed the old PTC Media podcasts, and that there just was not much to choose from anymore.

        Our conversation about Scouting continued for a little while longer before we decided to brush the dust off The Leaders Campfire and create one more podcast, based on the things we had just been talking about. Chris did a quick search of his computer and found that he still had the audio files for the beginning and end of the show, and even the commercials. We decided to record the show as if we had never quite doing it, and never reference the fact the it had been nearly three years since the last one. Chris hit the record button and the new podcast began.

        We both expected the show to maybe be a half hour long or shorter. After all, we did not really have much to say. To our surprise, the show ended up being nearly 50 minutes long. I guess we had more to say than we thought we did. Chris decided to edit it and post yet that Saturday night.

        Chris did not think the show would receive many downloads. After all these years who would even think about listening to the two of us talking about Scouting, he reasoned. I thought we would get at least 50 downloads. After all, we still had over 300 likes on the PTC Media Facebook page. Plus, there were still people subscribed to the podcast on iTunes. It would be interesting to see how this would play out and who would be correct.

        By Monday morning we had received over 50 downloads of the show. To tell the truth, both Chris and I were surprised. I sent Chris a note asking him how long he thought it would be before we reached the 100 mark. We reached that mark and downloads still kept happening. I checked the stats as I wrote the podcast and discovered we are now over 200 downloads! That may not seem like much when you compare it to some well known podcasts but for a podcast that was retired 3 years ago? I am still amazed that people want to listen to us, and we do thank you for support of the podcast.

        Maybe that Scout leader who sent that email was correct. Maybe there still is a need for more Scouting themed podcasts. Unfortunately, Chris and I may not be the ones to produce a weekly or monthly podcast anymore, but there must be someone out there willing to do one.

        PS: As far as I know there are currently only two Scouting related audio podcasts that I found. The first is Cubcast, produced by the Boy Scouts of America. The other is the Scoutmastercg Podcast by Clarke Green. Check them out when you have a chance.

        Thanks for Sharing!

          cubscoutpackmeetingI was a little nervous before that meeting on Monday, September 29th. It was to be my first time as acting as a cubmaster. Being a scoutmaster was no problem. I did that for 30 years. But this was a whole different age group, and a new set of parents and family members. Could I keep the interest of these 6 through 10 year olds during the meeting, and keep them and their families entertained? I was about to find out.

          We began the evening at 6:30 by breaking the pack into their dens to create posters representing their group. Then, about 7:00, we began the pack meeting. The three Webelos Scouts lead the opening by acting as the honor guard and bring the flags forward. Well, the one flag forward. And an empty pole. We had a United States flag but we have not been able to find the old pack flag yet. The Webelos Scouts decided they wanted to march the empty flag pole as a symbol for the missing pack flag. It confused a few parents who did not know what was going on until the end of the meeting when I explained it. Once the flags had been posted we said the Pledge of Allegiance and repeated the Cub Scout Promise.

          The first order of business was to have each den of Scouts bring up their poster and explain what they had drawn. I had the Webelos Scouts go first so they could set an example for the younger dens. This went quite well and the boys were happy to explain their posters. Unfortunately, anyone sitting more than two rows away from the front probably did not hear the Tigers and Wolves very well.

          It was time for a song, time for these boys and their parents to make some noise. It was a chance to test their singing voices and to see if they could keep up with me. What was the song? The Hole in the Ground song. Repeat after me. As verses were added the song got longer and faster. And louder. We had a good time. Too bad it did not get recorded.

          Fifteen boys were in attendance that evening. Five returned from last season, and ten were new to the program. I asked the new Scouts to come forward so the committee and I could present them with patches for their uniforms. We gave them the troop numbers, the council shoulder patch, and the World Crest patch. Before handing out each of the patches I explained the meaning of the patches to the Cub Scouts and their parents. From the smiles on the boys’ faces it seemed as if we were presenting them with their first awards.

          Since their were no real awards or beads to hand out during this first pack meeting of the season the committee had decided to hand out neckerchiefs and slides to the Scouts. I started with the Tiger Den and moved through them all to the Webelos Den. I think a few of the Bear Scouts were already eyeing up those fancy Webelos neckerchiefs. Once again, the boys were grinning from ear to ear as they received their neckerchiefs. It was another “award” of recognition for them.

          The meeting ended with the three Webelos Scouts retiring the colors, followed by announcements from the pack committee.

          I had a great time. The boys told me they had a great time and gave me a thumbs up. I guess I did pretty well. The committee talked to me afterwards and offered me the position of cubmaster. I tuned them down stating that Monday nights is still Boy Scout night night for me. Maybe if they would have left the meeting on Tuesday nights….

          They asked me why I did not say something before they had created their schedule for the year. I just smiled. Inside I really wanted them to find a cubmaster. To my surprise, one of the committee members sent an email out two days later to say she may have found someone to take the job.

          I did have fun as the cubmaster for that one night. And to tell the truth, I began thinking to myself that maybe I should have accepted the position, but my heart still lies with the Boy Scouts. But you know, maybe I could do both. No, I should just continue helping out on the committee level and being the liaison between the troop and the pack.

          But I did have fun that night as the cubmaster of Pack 68.

           

          Thanks for Sharing!

            SeptRoundtableLast night was the first Tuesday of September. That means the Scenic District roundtables have started once again! I must have done something right last year as the assistant roundtable commissioner because Commissioner Al asked me back for a second year. I was not sure if I really wanted to do it for another year, but I forgot how to say “no” so I guess I have the position again. I had fun last year so I have a feeling I will have fun again this year.

            The meeting began with the Pledge of Allegiance, followed by announcements of upcoming events and meetings. Then we hit the main course of the session: New Parents and what to do with them. We discussed the first parent meeting and what should be covered with them. We also discussed leadership recruitment and first training, such as Youth Protection. We even touched on the problem of those parents who treat Scouting as a daycare service. Fourteen Boy Scout leaders from across the district were in attendance and many of them entered into the discussion. It was a roundtable in the full sense of the word.

            Shortly after the halfway point of the evening we divided the group into teams and went outside to play Ultimate Frisbee. Some of the men had already played the game within their troops, but a few had not so we took just a couple minutes to give the short rules. It was a bit confusing at first once the game began, not so much because people did not understand the rules, but because there were too many Scout uniforms, It was hard to keep track of who was on who’s team. After a few minutes we got that figured out and everyone began to get into the spirit of the sport. We played for about 10 or 15 minutes before going back inside for the rest of the meeting.

            Once we sat back at the tables and everyone caught their breath, Al lead a discussion on what was learned during the game. What could we have done better? What leadership skills were needed? Organizational skills? Was there any sort of team building? That lead to a larger discussion of how we can use games within our troop meetings and activities to teach Scouts various skills that will help them through their time in Scouting.

            The meeting ended with the Outdoor Code. I noticed a few small groups of leaders talking to each other after the roundtable. Let the mini-roundtables begin!

            Thanks for Sharing!

              PhilmontPTCpatrol1984My first trip to the Philmont Training Center (PTC) was shortly before my 24th birthday in 1984. It was my first trip on a plane. It was my first trip away from Minnesota on my own. In fact, it was my first trip anywhere on my own. Yes, I was quite nervous. Was it worth it? Yeah sure, you betcha!

              That training course was “Boy Scout Skills For Scoutmasters”. Scoutmasters from around the country came to learn about doing a great job in the role they held. The instructors were Carl Nelson and Jim Boeger. They did a fantastic job of leading the conference and made it both fun and enjoyable. I was even able to get Jim Boeger to sign a copy of his book The Scoutmaster.

              The course participants were divided into patrols, just like a Boy Scout troop. I was a member of the Daniel Boone Patrol. I think the age of the members of our patrol spanned forty years, but it did not matter. We were all there to learn new skills and have fun. And we did. (pictures of this trip can be seen in my Flickr album at
              https://www.flickr.com/photos/stevejb68/sets/72157622517598000/

              It will be thirty years to the month, this month, when I travel to PTC for a second training conference. Bob, my district executive, and I will be taking a new course for 2014, “Increasing Advancement By Delivering Excellence”. According to the brochure:

              It has long been said in the BSA that the best advancement comes through participation in exciting activities. Units presenting programs with “built-in” opportunities to fulfill advancement requirements not only retain youth through the rewards of recognition and develop confidence through advancement, but they retain youth because every meeting, every outing, every adventure, leaves them wanting more. How is such programming planned and promoted? What is the responsibility of the council and district advancement committees? What can commissioners, trainers, and members of camping committees do? If you are a unit leader, a volunteer involved in the advancement program, a commissioner, a trainer, or anyone else connected with district operations that is interested in building the rate of advancement through excellence in program delivery, then join us at Philmont!

              Bob and I are looking forward to this conference and bringing back new ideas for our troops and district. I also look forward to meeting Scouters from around the country. I hope to get a little patch trading done while I am there. I was not prepared for trading council strips when I first attended in 1984. In fact, now that I think about it, things could be a bit different this time around. After all, in 1984 there were no home computers, iPhones, iPads, or digital photography. I thought I took quite a few pictures last time. That will be a small number compared to what I plan to take this time.

              If you are there during this time I invite you to look me up. Let’s trade patches!

              Thanks for Sharing!

                Philmont SMT19840008I had been a scoutmaster for only two and a half years when I received a letter in the mail inviting me to attend the Philmont Training Center (PTC) for the Scoutmaster Fundamentals course. I had always wanted to go to the Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico so I jumped at the opportunity. The troop committee thought it was a good idea and agreed to fund a portion of the trip. The Melrose business community provided most of the rest of the funds. So, in 1984 this 23 year old scoutmaster received his first experience at the ranch.

                I have returned to Philmont five times to participate in backcountry hiking treks, but I have never returned to the PTC for another training training course. The last time I was at Philmont was in 2004 when I was an advisor for a trek crew. As the years slipped by I began to think that would be my last trip to the ranch. I was beginning to miss the place.

                I received an invitation to attend the training of my choice at PTC early this year. I was thrilled to receive the letter but also a little skeptical since I had stepped down as the scoutmaster of Troop 68 two years ago. Yes, I remain active with the troop and serve on the committee but why would the council recommend me for training at Philmont Scout Ranch? No particular course was recommended this time. I would be allowed to sign up for whatever interested me.

                I called Bob, our district executive, and asked him what was up with this. He replied, nothing special, no particular reason. The council thought I might be interested, that’s all. We chatted a few times about this over the course of the next few weeks. Before I knew it we had both registered to take a course in June, this month.

                I am thrilled to be going back to Philmont. The course is just the carrot on the stick for me. I am really looking forward to seeing the silver on the sage, starlight skies above, and aspen covered hills once again. Philmont truly is a Scouting paradise. And a great place to have a training center.

                I wonder if the old stagecoach is still there.

                Thanks for Sharing!