Archive for the ‘Leadership’ Category


roundtable2013Tuesday night was the Scenic District roundtable at the Scout Service Center. Al and I make up the staff for the Boy Scout roundtable. We have been trying to make them fun and informative. I think we succeeded last night.

The evening began with a combined Cub Scout and Boy Scout meeting to recognize three Scouters who have completed their Wood Badge tickets. I recorded the Beading Ceremony and plan to post the video to the Melrose Scout Productions Podcast later this week or this weekend. After the presentation of the neckerchiefs, the woggles, and the beads the room divider was pulled and both roundtables began.

Al began the Boy Scout roundtable with leading the twenty Scouters in singing America The Beautiful. I led the group in reciting the Knight’s Code, which used to be found in the Boy Scout handbook. Al and I have been choosing different openings and closing for each month’s meeting to give troop leaders ideas to bring back to their youth leadership.

During the first skill session, Al led a discussion about scoutmaster conferences. The group talked about when they are needed, where they could be held, and who should be present. We also discussed how conferences differ from rank to rank as a Scout grows older and more experienced.

At the half way point of this year’s meetings Al and I have been planning a fun activity. During the last two months we went outside to play a game. This month I lead the Scouters in one of my favorite campfire songs, Vista. I asked the three Wood badgers to come forward to join me in leading the song. I was surprised when I saw three other Scouters take out their cell phones to record this sing-a-long. One video was already posted to Facebook later that evening.

Board of reviews was the subject of the second skill session. I had talked to Al and two other Scouters before the meeting about conducting a mock review. A Boy Scout who happened to be in attendance agreed to be the Scout for the demonstration for Life Rank.

Al, Dan, Mike and I drilled the Boy Scout. I questioned his knowledge of the Scout Oath, Slogan, and Outdoor code and why he was not in complete uniform. Al drilled him about his participation in service projects. Dan criticized his work as the troop’s webmaster. His scoutmaster chewed him out about his participation at troop meetings. This poor Scout was getting it from all directions.

As you have probably guessed, our mock board of review demonstrated how NOT to conduct one. The four of us tried to do as many things incorrectly as we were able to do. I never told the Boy Scout what we had planned because I wanted the Scouters to see his unplanned reactions to our questions and comments. He was a good sport about it when I stopped the drilling, and everyone thought he did quite well despite how we treated him.

This horrible board of review led into a great discussion of what not to do, and on how to conduct a proper review. We also discussed when a review is needed, where one should be held, and who should sit on a board.

The meeting ended with a scoutmaster minute from Al about friendship and myself leading the “Be Prepared” song. All in all, I think the meeting went very well and everyone learned something new.

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    crazy squirrelI saw this picture online and it brought a huge smile to my face. I could not help but picture a Scout Leader standing up in front of a council or district training session and yelling this to all the attendants.

    Just think of this for a moment. It has to be true, doesn’t it? Don’t you have to be a little crazy to sit there in a room full of teenage boys, trying to steer them into learning constructive life skills? Or a cubmaster trying to keep a few dozen elementary age boys’ attention long enough to conduct an award ceremony? Or a scoutmaster taking 15 boys who are not his own into the wilderness for a camping trip? Don’t you have to be a little crazy to do these things, and so much more?

    Well, maybe a little bit. But you also have to believe in the program and be willing to back it up 100 percent or more. More importantly, you have to believe in the boys and imagine what they are capable of becoming as they grow into adult men and future leaders of our communities, and even our country.

    Yes, we Scouters are a little crazy, and though it may not be a competition, it is a worthwhile program to belong to.

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      Roundtable StaffLast Tuesday was my second meeting as a member of the roundtable staff once again. I have to admit, I am having fun. And I think the Scouters who have been attending have discovered my method of roundtable training is a bit different then other peoples’ methods. I do not like to just stand there and talk. I like to move around, change up my voice tone, and even get everyone up on the feet to do things. I think the roundtable commissioner likes what I have brought to the table. At least I hope he has. Here is a review of things we both covered at this month’s Scenic District roundtable.

      This year we start our roundtables with a two part opening, one part patriotic and one part Scouting related, and we plan to change it up for each monthly meeting. For this month we began with the American Creed and the Scout Law.

      We would usually go into skill development next but since it gets dark early this time of year we switched things up and went outside for our game. Yes, you read that correctly. We played a game. The goal is to introduce troop leaders to possibly new games they can bring back to their troop to play. This month’s game was Tip, played with a frisbee. The two teams tossed the disc to each other. Team members would try to “tip” the disc to other team members and then have someone catch it. The team scores one point for each successful tip, but only if the disc is caught at the end of the tipping. The Scouters had a blast playing the game and really got into it. I believe a few grass stains may have been taken home.

      Back inside the meeting room, Al and I conducted a brief uniform inspection and talked about the uniform being one of the methods of the Scout program. I opened a discussion of this month’s Jamboree On The Air and the Jamboree On The Internet. Many of the Scouters had not heard of these events. Al lead a discussion about the duties of a troop’s junior leaders.

      Before the meeting I had set up a table display of my patch collections, including OA lodge patches, council shoulder patches, and patches from the 2001 National Jamboree. I also had several old Scouting themed books set out to view. We talked about the fun of patch trading, who trades with who, and about B.S.A. policy regarding trading.

      Al finished the day’s skill development by discussing how to plan a troop meeting, or I should say, how the troop’s junior leaders should plan a troop meeting. A few Scouters were eager to share their thoughts on this subject. We closed the roundtable with Scout Vespers.

      After the meeting, I caught up with a Scouter who is a fairly new scoutmaster and asked him if he had been finding this year’s meetings helpful. He said that he has been learning quite a bit and is discovering good ideas to bring back home to his troop. I walked to my car with a grin on my face. I guess Al and I are doing a good job so far.

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        brainstormingBoy Scout Troop 68 now has a program plan for the 2013-2014 year. I talked to the scoutmaster at last week’s troop meeting to ask how things went at the year planning conference. If you recall from the last blog article, I was a little concerned over an item or two, namely that he invited the entire troop membership to attend and that he also invited all the parents. Turns out that I did not need to be concerned.

        The parent invitation is the one that bothered me the most. If too many parents attended the meeting I was afraid it would become a parent planned program instead of a Boy Scout planned program. I need not have worried about it. Not a single parent, other than the scoutmaster and assistant parent, came to the session.

        Unfortunately, not many of the Scouts attended it either. Most of the patrol leader council either could not attend, or decided not to attend. Only three boys showed up. One was the senior patrol leader, who happens to be the scoutmaster’s son during this term, and another was a new Scout who just joined the troop and does not hold an office. Talk about getting involved right from the start. Although not many boys showed up for the session they went ahead and planned the yearly program.

        The scoutmaster told me he really did not want to reschedule the meeting since only a small group of Scouts attended. I had to agree with him. The boys and families had known about the session for over a month. If he would have rescheduled he would have had no guarantee that more Boy Scouts would have attended. And it would have pushed the scheduling process back another week or two or three which could have caused us to miss the presentation of the new schedule by the senior patrol leader at this month’s committee meeting. If it would have been rescheduled for later in the month it also could have got in the way of this month’s outing.

        I think they did the right thing. If any parents or Scouts want to object about the new program, well, all we have to is ask them where were they on Saturday, August 6th. After all, everyone was invited to come and give their two cents at that time.

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          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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