Archive for the ‘Leadership’ Category


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.

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    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.

     

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      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!

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        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!

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          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.

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            weight-scaleI was the runt of my class. I was the smallest boy, both in weight and in height. In fact, most of the girls in my class were taller than I was. When I was in tenth grade another guy moved into our class. Suddenly, I was not the shortest guy in the class of ’78. In eleventh grade I finally hit a couple growth spurts. I may not have been the shortest anymore, but I was still one of the lightest. Skinny kids do not weigh much after all.

            I stopped growing when I hit 5′-8″ tall. I remained skinny throughout my twenties. I began to put on some weight when I was in my thirties, finally hitting the 160′s. I soon began to realize that my metabolism had changed. In my early 40′s I hit 170 pounds. By my late 40′s I had made it into the 180′s. Sitting behind a desk most of the day was taking a toll, and all the snacking was not helping matters. I still remember the first time a young Boy Scout called me fat, but it was not enough of a shock to make me do anything about my weight.

            On Monday morning, March 3rd, I stepped on the scale and was shocked to see that I weighed 193 pounds. No wonder my clothes were not fitting well any more. I thought to myself that I needed to do something before this got any worse. I got dressed, had breakfast, and went to work. End of subject. Forgotten once again.

            The next day a coworker of mine asked me to help him with a program his wife had downloaded to her tablet. It was a calorie counting app she was using to help her lose weight. He wanted to lose several pounds himself but could not figure out how to create an account for himself. I downloaded the app to my iPad, quickly learned how to use it, and showed him what he needed to do.

            He came to me just at the right time. I decided to try using the app myself. I set a goal to loose two pounds per week for 11 weeks to get my weight down to 170 pounds by May 20th. Of course, it was all up to me really. I would have to watch my I eat, and how much of it, and record it into the app. It gave me a daily calorie goal to stay within to loose the weight. I also needed to get out and exercise some more.

            My eating habits are probably the same as most people. My meal portions were too big. I ate too my fast food and junk food. And I snacked too much between meals. This app quickly showed me the areas I needed to change to reach my goal.

            It has been over 8 weeks since I began my diet experiment. I am happy to report that I am still using the app and still watching what I eat. I have cut way back on the snacking. I very seldom eat at fast food joints anymore. I have cut back on the size of the portions at mealtime. I still get a little hungry between meals but my efforts have paid off. I am on target and have lost 16 pounds so far! There was no fancy diet plan, no exercising until I drop from exhaustion.

            It was nice to have to punch a new hole in my belt to hold my pants up. My shirts and jackets are fitting much better. It is great to be back in a suitable area on the Boy Scout physical weight chart. I look forward to reaching my goal just a few weeks before I head to Philmont Training Center in June. And yes, I do realize that once I hit my goal weight I will always have to watch what I eat to maintain it, but I have a positive outlook.

            Sorry Burger King and McDonalds. You will not be seeing me often anymore.

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              lions club logoThe Melrose Lions Club is one of several service organizations that do a great job of helping our community. They also support our Boy Scout troop. While our troop’s usual fundraisers raise enough money for our regular program needs The Lions, VFW Post, and American Legion help us out when it is time to replace equipment like tents and dining flies.

              Once a year, the Melrose Lions invites community volunteers to a dinner to recognize them for their service and commitment. Members of the fire department, the ambulance corps, and the police reserve attend along with members of the local food shelf, Project Give-A-Gift, Scouting, and others.

              Three adult leaders from Boy Scout Troop 68 attended this year’s meal held on Wednesday, April 23rd. Scoutmaster Jim, Assistant scoutmaster Eymard, and myself as a committee member enjoyed a great meal of chicken, dressing, mash potatoes with gravy, corn, and a choice of cookie. Joining us at the table were members of the police reserve and a couple members from the Lions Club.

              It was a good night of fun and fellowship, and nice to be recognized for the many hours of service we all donate to our community. I would like to thank the members of the Melrose Lions club, and also thank them for all their support of Scouting over the years.

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                Cub Scout CharactersCub Scout Pack 68 held their Blue and Gold Banquet last night, Tuesday March 25, at the American Legion in Melrose. Pizza was brought in with hot dogs, chips, and desserts provided by the families. The Cub Scouts were pretty excited to receive their achievements during the award ceremony.

                I am a member of the pack committee and attended the event for two reasons. First, I wanted to video record the awards ceremony. Second, I wanted to chat with the second year Webelos and their parents to promote moving on to the Boy Scout troop. Unfortunately, only three of the six Webelos Scouts attended the ceremony. I did get to chat with the three boys who did attend, along with their fathers.

                Mark, the current cubmaster, will be stepping down from his position in May. His youngest son is one of those second year Webelos who will become a Boy Scout of Troop 68. Mark has been the cubmaster since his oldest son, who is now 14, was a Cub Scout. Near the end of the evening’s ceremony Mark spoke briefly of his tenure with the pack and thanked the parents for allowing their boys to be a part of the Cub Scout program.

                It was then time for Dave, the committee chairman, to say a few words and thank Mark for all he has done for the pack. Dave’s son is also a second year Webelos Scout and will be joining Troop 68. Dave has agreed to join the troop committee.

                This means it is time for new leadership to step forward to continue the program of Pack 68. After the meeting I chatted with a few of the parents about filling these leadership roles. One father is seriously considering taking over the position of cubmaster. Another is willing to join the pack committee, and may even be willing to take over as the chairman.

                I offered to stay on the committee for another year and offered my home as a place to hold the committee meetings. Mark and Dave have also stated they would be willing to help the new leaders as they learn about their new roles within the pack. Our district executive has offered to come to town and conduct a training session for all the new pack leaders.

                It is starting to look like things are falling into place for Cub Scout Pack 68′s program to continue strong as things kick-off again with a new program this fall.

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