Archive for the ‘Leadership’ Category


brainstormingI became a scoutmaster in 1981. I went to district and council training and learned that the Boy Scouts should do the planning for their troop’s program.Boy Scout Troop 68 began holding a yearly planning conference during the first or second weekend of August. During the last thirty years it has been fun assisting the troop’s junior leaders develop their monthly themes and activities. Some activities became yearly traditions. Others did not go very well and were not repeated.

This year’s planning session, held today, will have at least one thing different then sessions of the past 30 years. I will not be attending. I have to work Saturday morning and I have a wedding to attend in the afternoon. I am not the scoutmaster anymore so it is probably best that I do not attend, to just step back and let the new leaders lead.

Jim, our current scoutmaster, will not be going into the planning session blind though. He and I were the adult leaders for last year’s session so he has a pretty good idea how to conduct one. Most of the Scouts who will be attending have also participated in a planning session, so things should run smoothly.

Jim did make two changes to the planning session this year. The first should not make a difference. He invited all the Boy Scout members of the troop to attend. The reason I do not think it will matter is that we will be lucky if half the 11 current members attend. Hopefully, the junior leaders do attend because this session is part of their job as leaders of the troop.

The second change he made does worry me a little. He invited parents to attend. Now, I realize that not all the parents will show up. They already have events scheduled, I am sure. My concern is that too many parents will attend and mess up the planning process. I am afraid the program could end up being planned by parents and not by the Scouts.

Am I concerned for no real reason? Will the session run smoothly with the parents there? Will any of them even show up? I guess we will know soon.

How does your troop conduct its yearly planning session? Drop a note and share your ideas with us.

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    rtcommishShortly after becoming a 21 year old scoutmaster in 1981 I began attending the monthly district roundtable meetings, and learned quite a bit about how to be a good adult Scout leader. It did not take long for the commissioner to recognize my enthusiasm about Scouting. A few years later I was a member of the roundtable staff. We had a lot of fun and hopefully helped a lot of troop leaders become better at their positions. I even earned my commissioner’s award. It finally came to an end after several years as we all moved on and others took over, but I still attended roundtables as a scoutmaster through the next two decades.

    I have been trying to figure out what to do with myself after stepping down as the troop’s scoutmaster a year and a half ago. I still help out with the troop as a committee member (the troop treasurer.) I have helped on a few activities and the occasional troop meeting. I think I may have been helping a little too much because a couple months ago I was told by one of the current troop leaders to back off. That caught me by surprise but it did get me thinking. I do want to stay involved in Scouting, but where does a retired scoutmaster fit into the program?

    A couple people suggested I become active on the district or council level. I really have no interest in serving on a committee or some such role. I do not have the slightest interest in being involved with fundraising. I have never been very active in the Order of the Arrow. I am not sure I would like being a unit commissioner.

    Which brings me back to roundtables. I was once a roundtable staff member. I think I might be able to bring a little something to help with those monthly meetings once again. There are a few things I would like to try to add a little fun and spice. So, I sent the commissioner an email asking if he would like some help this upcoming year. It did not take him long to respond.

    Tonight I had a two hour meeting with Al. I threw a bunch of ideas at him and told him what I would be interesting in doing, and what I was not interested in doing, if I joined the staff. To tell the truth, now that I look back at the meeting, I wonder if I may have been a little too enthusiastic. He liked a lot of the ideas I brought up. Before you knew it, the two of us started creating a yearly plan for the 2013-2014 roundtable year. We now have our monthly themes, and even the September and October agendas plotted out. We plan to meet with our district executive within the next few weeks to get things finalized.

    So I guess I am once again on the district roundtable staff after a two decade hiatus. Who knew that I would one day be back in that saddle?

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      MikeL30(The following article was written by Mike Linnemann, an alumni of Melrose Boy Scout Troop 68. Mike was a member of the troop from 1997 to 2003. He earned the rank of Eagle Scout. It is the fifth of a series of guest articles written by former members of Troop 68.)

      Scouting: An Investment of Character
      By Mike Linnemann

      I’m an Eagle Scout and my Scouting experience, like my present tense designation, has not ceased.
      Spending over six years as a teenager was nothing short of transformative during those tumultuous hormonally unbalanced years. I look back at my experience as a Boy Scout not as one of developing skills from merit badges, learning synonyms to describe myself from the Scout Law and living up to a higher ideal. I think of my time as learning experiences in innovative thinking.

      At the time, I went through my advancement like most boys. Upon achieving one rank, the next would fall in line. Not unlike a job progression in a career, a linear path was always laid out before me. While along this journey, a seminal moment made me pause.

      Upon reaching the rank of Eagle Scout, I briefly examined how this feat affected my future. While doing so, it felt like a moment. Looking back, I stopped my advancement as soon as I realized. I earned zero palms and only a few mere more merit badges with my remaining two years. I sacrificed my drive to understand the greater situation. I think similar aspects happen when apprentices, students really, achieve most milestones. I thought of my individual experiences while in my troop very rarely. I was in varsity school sports and one goal turned into another. New paths always came from another’s end. At that time, aged sixteen, I had been in the troop for five years and many of my friends had left the troop and I finally became aware of it.

      Upon arriving as an eleven year old, I came into my troop with two patrols. Half of my friends were in each Cub Scout den. We decided to keep the dens as patrols. Due to the division, my friends slowly trickled off, along with most of the other members to pursue academic interests or the other short list of rural activities that boys partake in. At age sixteen, finally, I was able to look objectively at our issue. Were we to separate the haves from the have-nots and could I have accepted seeing six to eight people quit immediately? I was aware of the odds at the time. It was a visceral feeling that I knew would benefit me greatly on a personal level, but I would actively be sacrificing others. Advice from other scouts told me what was inevitable, that many would quit before reaching their full Scouting tenure. We made the right choice and I wouldn’t change it.

      These aspects of brotherhood aren’t shown, nor discussed openly. My troop and community taught us life’s rules but also showed how to bend and change that which can negatively affect our lives to benefit the greater community.

      While writing this, it’s eye opening to see how much we impacted our local community. I saw “our,” because an individual can only do so much. That is, until I met our gay Scout.

      In fact, he is an Eagle Scout and wasn’t “out” at the time. He was a shining example of what a teenage citizen means and my community rallied around that ideal. He stood out and we knew it. I thought nothing of it at the time but now, I utilize my troop and community’s reaction to this one Scout. The Boy Scouts very recently voted to include gay scouts, relenting on such stringent admission standards for mere boys who just want to be part of something greater than themselves. We all knew of him and it didn’t matter. Looking back, this only illuminates how important troops were to development of model citizens, beacons of good in a community. In our troop, we bent the rules to accommodate.

      That’s what I learned from Scouting. Do the right thing, despite what the odds or the negative reactions will invariably be.

      Doing the right thing is a part of being prepared, our own Scout motto. There are ideals greater than you or I, or even humanity itself. Our religious basis shuns the self and prepares us for humble lifelong service. Only Eagle Scouts place their honor on their resume but the relevant past that binds Scouts together, whether they reach the pinnacle or mere tenderfoots is real. That stickiness of Scouting usually leaves members if they leave a community, but the character building is with us always.

      These minor incidents of compromise, inclusiveness and respectfulness are footnotes in our lives. We think to them when issues arise and I’m happy to think that my foundation is solid. It’s hard to describe to a parent why Scouting builds character and how the intangible parts of Scouting far outweigh any cost.

      In short, Scouting is an investment of character and my community invested well.

      Mike is an art director in Minneapolis, married and living with his three dachshunds.

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        1996YPS03(The following article was written by Brad Kramer, an alumni of Melrose Boy Scout Troop 68. Brad was a member of the troop from 1995 to 1997. He earned the rank of Life Scout. It is the fourth of a series of guest articles written by former members of Troop 68.)

        What I got out of Scouts.

        I was in the Scouting program from the age of 8-18. It has made me who I am more than anything else in my youth. I can directly attribute some of my favorite jobs and adventures to my time as a Scout. After high school, I headed up to the Boundary Waters where I was a Dogsled and Canoe Guide/Outfitter. There is no doubt that the skills I learned in Scouts, whether it was camping, survival, leadership, or many other skills, were what landed me this dream job. Being a Dogsled Guide up in the Boundary Waters of Minnesota allowed me to run dogsled in the middle of the night with a close-knit group of guides and amazing dogs, with only the northern lights and stars on the horizon rather than city lights. The only thing that resembled smog was the breath of a living creature in the -40 degree temperature. The scenery was beyond amazing, and the memories are some of the fondest I’ve ever had.

        My clients were people from all over the world who spent thousands of dollars on a vacation to do what I did every day. The skills I learned in Scouts taught me to tie any knot that was needed out in the wilderness, whether it was rigging a shelter, repairing a dog’s harness, starting a fire in windy weather in temperatures so cold that water was frozen before it hit the fresh snow, or how to splint my wrist when I broke it on a canoe trip by myself three days into the wilderness in the crisp October weather. Scouting taught me how to dress for the wilderness so I could be comfortable all day long on an eight hour trip, whether I was on the back of the sled getting whipped with -60 windchill, or out front, sweating and hot, while breaking trail through waist deep snow.

        In Scouting, I learned the value of community service, and taking pride in your community, as well as the camaraderie from being with others. Over the years, the skills and confidence from Scouting were directly used as a Firefighter and First Responder. All the first aid and CPR training prepared me for the First Responder program in college. In the years to come, I became involved in the community where I would apply my leadership and citizenship skills to the Constitution Party when I was my county’s Vice-Chairman and acting Chairman. Currently, I am a member of my community’s Chamber of Commerce, where I sit on the Business Education Partnership Committee and Government Affairs Committee. Learning compassion for animals and responsibility were ingrained in me in Scouting, and I used to volunteer for a horse rescue where I would help take care of abused and neglected horses.In my professional career, as a business manager, I have much of the leadership abilities I learned as a Scout to thank.

        As a Boy Scout, I rose through the ranks from Assistant Patrol Leader, Patrol Leader, Assistant Senior Patrol Leader, and Senior Patrol Leader. My troop put me through Junior Leadership Training, where I was asked to come back the following year to teach others what I had learned. The skills I learned in these roles have followed me everywhere I go and prepared me to lead others.

        As a Scout, we are taught to love our country and honor our heritage, taught to know our history, and respecting our flag is mandatory. Shortly after I graduated, when our country was attacked on 9-11, I enlisted in the military, and was part of the honor division in basic training. The self-discipline instilled in me as a Scout gave me the strength to march through endless drills, which were no more difficult than the miles we’d put on as Scouts at Philmont Scout Camp, where we’d march through 100+ degree temperatures for mile after mile over different terrain, and our bed was a tiny foam mat on the rocky ground, and our water was from creeks that had to be treated with iodine. To this day, I often think back to the many great memories from when I was 13 years old and experienced Philmont. Unfortunately, I was discharged from the Navy because of the hearing loss I’ve had since childhood, but I am proud of the many Scouts I’ve known over the years who have represented us well in our military, who served honorably and answered the call.

        As I think back to Scouting, and some of the experiences I had, whether it was whitewater rafting, rock climbing, backpacking, or camping, going to Philmont in New Mexico, Many Point Scout Camp in northern Minnesota, or winter camping at Troop 68′s own Watchamagumee, or just playing basketball with my fellow Scouts after a meeting, I have many fond memories. All the merit badges we were able to work on taught me a broad range of skills that I have used many times since, or expanded my horizons to interest me in new hobbies. The values that were taught to us as Scouts have helped me over the years to be a better person. Now, 15 years after I last wore the uniform, I can still recite as quickly from memory the Scout Law: A Scout is Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, and Reverent.

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          1947handbooksmThe Boy Scouts of America’s website states this about the the Aims of Scouting: The purpose of the Boy Scouts of America — incorporated on Feb. 8, 1910, and chartered by Congress in 1916 — is to provide an educational program for boys and young adults to build character, to train in the responsibilities of participating citizenship, and to develop personal fitness.

          Character, citizenship, and personal fitness. Those are three outstanding goals to teach our young men. The site lists the methods, or building blocks of Scouting, as nine points: Advancement, Community Organizations and Scouting Councils, Personal Growth, Leadership, the Order of the Arrow, the Outdoors, the Patrol Method, Scouting Values, and Scouts with Special Needs. (See http://www.scouting.org/scoutsource/BoyScouts/TheBuildingBlocksofScouting.aspx )

          While the main goals of Scouting have stayed the same through the decades there have been changes in the way the B.S.A. has stated these aims and methods. I decided to pull down a couple versions of the Scoutmaster Handbook from my collection to read what they say about these subjects, and see what, if any, differences there are between then and now.

          First, let’s look back to the 1990 version of The Scoutmaster Handbook.
          The Aims of Scouting are listed on page 69. They are:
          Aim 1 – To build character.
          Aim 2 – To foster citizenship.
          Aim 3 – To develop fitness.

          The book goes on to explain character on page 70.
          It’s a “complex of mental and ethical traits”, says one dictionary. It’s “moral or ethical quality” says another. It’s qualities of honesty, courage, and integrity”, says a third. To these perfectly good descriptions we add four “self” qualities that Scouting, over the years, has been especially successful in developing in boys, self-reliance, self-discipline, self-confidence, and self-respect. When a boy begins to develop these, he begins to develop character.

          This book says about citizenship: The wise Scoutmaster can guide his Scouts not only to love their country, but to understand it, know more about its heritage and history, encounter the democracy that knits together its many cultures into a nation that welcomes them all. And thus find joy in serving it.It is growth in your Scouts to that level of citizenship in which you, as Scoutmaster, will find your joy.

          The book says about Aim 3, developing fitness – The third aim, developing fitness, covers a broader territory, for Scouting recognizes four areas of fitness: physical, mental, emotional, and moral. I sometimes see today’s Scout leaders emphasizing the physical fitness and forgetting about the other three, which is a shame.

          That 1990 version of the handbook lists the eight (yes, eight) Methods of Scouting as: Ideals, Patrols, Outdoors, Advancement, Personal Growth, Adult Association, Leadership development, and Uniform. These were the methods I based my 30 years of scoutmastership upon. This list is a bit different then found on today’s website. I have a question for the national office. When was Adult Association dropped from the list? When did the Order of the Arrow make this list?

          I also own a 1947 printing of the Handbook For Scoutmasters. Things are written a bit differently in that version. On page 10, right at the begining of the book, it states: THE AIM OF SCOUTING.
          Scouting trains for citizenship by inculcating in the boy, from within instead of from without, the qualities of Character, Health and Strength, Handcraft and Skill, Service to Others.

          That is somewhat different than how the aims are listed today. Some of it still exists today using different language but I find it interesting that Handcraft and Skill has been dropped. I had to look up the word inculcating because I have never seen it used before. It means: Instill (an attitude, idea, or habit) by persistent instruction.

          Also on page 10 the 1947 handbook talks about the Methods of Scouting. Scouting is game played by boys in boy gangs under boy leaders chosen by the gang, guided by a man backed by other men of the community. Scouting provides the boy with an active outdoor life, grants him recognition for mastering various skills, and gives him a chance to wear an attractive uniform. It holds before him the ideals of a true Scout, and encourages him to “help other people at all times”.

          The Scout Way – 1) A Game, not a Science.
          Patrol Method – 2) The Scout Patrol, 3) Boy Leadership
          Men In Scouting – 4) The Scoutmaster, 5) Troop committee and local Council Scouters
          Activities – 6) Adventure in the out-of-doors, 7) Scout Advancement
          Uniform – 8) The Scout Uniform
          Ideals and Service – 9) The Scout Law, 10) The Scout Oath, or Promise – Service: Good Turns.

          I love looking at the old literature and seeing how differently things were written back then. Of course, the biggest difference between Scouting in the 1940′s and today’s Scouting is that women can now serve as scoutmasters and other adult leadership positions. Back then they wrote “out-of-doors” instead of outdoors. Patrols are not called gangs in Scouting these days. I also like they way that Scouts have a chance to wear an attractive uniform. Have you seen the uniforms from the 1940′s?

          This article is not meant as rant or a statement about Scouting as it is today. It is meant to show the differences in the way Scouting language has changed through the decades. I would challenge you to find some old handbooks and read them and see for yourself the way it has changed over its 100 year history. Or is it still the same?

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            crthonorI do not know if you have ever read this poem but I thought you may enjoy it. It is a poem by Bill Chiappi about the adult Boy Scout leader. It is called “The Scouter”. I happen to come across this many years ago. This might come in handy for that special event.

            He hasn’t much in worldly goods,
            Yet he’s richer than you know,
            For he’s chosen to be a Scouter
            And his spirits are aglow.

            He’s just a Scouter, nothing more,
            But he molds the lives of boys.
            He teaches them how to do their best,
            And he shares their many joys.

            They work on badges, go on hikes,
            Share campfires in the night.
            They practice skills and follow laws,
            And learn to do things right.

            He watches them grow from boys to men,
            And it makes it all worthwhile,
            When they turn to him and say, “Gee Thanks!”
            And their face wears a golden smile.

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              FirstClassSmallThe Boy Scouts of America offers a unique youth program. It has five distinct features that other clubs and organizations do not offer today’s youth. Granted, some clubs do offer one or two of these features, but no other youth organization offers all five of them.

              What are these features that makes Scouting so special?

              Scouting is a value based program. The B.S.A. asks boys to take an oath when they join, and then live up to that oath. Scouting teaches values, promotes good citizenship, and provides good adult role models. The program is diversified. It is not the same thing every day as some youth activities can be. In fact, Scouting compliments other organizations by providing program that they may be missing.

              Developing leadership is another feature of Scouting. The boys plan their own troop program. They learn new things through hands-on experiences, not just by text book learning. They will receive the chance to be a leader by holding a position of responsibility in the troop. (Troop 68 holds elections every 6 months so many of its members will be given the chance to hold a troop or patrol office.)

              Scouting is an educational program. Through the advancement program a boy will learn many new skills. Some of these will be just for fun, but many will help him later on in life. Subjects introduced through the merit badge program may help a boy discover a new life-long hobby or even a career choice. As he earns his merit badges and ranks he is recognized in front of his parents and peers for his accomplishments. This builds self esteem and helps him to develop a sense of pride.

              Scouting encourages service to the community. An important part of Scouting is doing service for others. The Scout Slogan states that a Scout will “Do a Good Turn Daily”. Troops do countless hours of service conducting food drives, road and park cleanups, and conservation work, to name a few. By doing service a boy develops a pride in his community, a pride that will carry into adulthood.

              Scouting can be a vehicle to bring families together. Many families find scouting to be a neutral topic, one in which parents and children can participate together. It offers parents a chance to spend ‘quality time’ with their sons. And the program is already there. All you have to do is participate.

              The Scouting program does has its advantages. And families that participate in the program can attest that Scouting pays good dividends.

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                The last two posts to the Melrose Scout Productions Podcast contained the first and second parts of an eleven year old Boy Scout Leader Fast Start Orientation vhs tape I have in my Scouting collection. This post features part three, the last part of that training tape which covers the Troop Committee. Who makes up the committee? What does the committee do? What are they responsible for? Are they really necessary? It is an excellent video that is still relevant to today’s Scouting program.

                I think it is fun to watch these old videos to see how, or if, Scouting has changed through the decades. What do you think about it? Have you seen this before? This is a great video to watch if you are new to the Boy Scout program.

                Click here to DOWNLOAD and watch this Podcast.
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