Archive for the ‘Leadership’ Category


Troop Meeting TrainingI have collected a fair number of Scouting related items during the thirty-plus years I have been involved with our local Boy Scout Troop. One of these items is a vhs tape of Boy Scout Leader Fast Start Orientation from 2002. You see, there was a time, not that long ago, when adult leaders could not readily go to the internet to watch training videos. They had to borrow a vhs tape from their council office. I know, hard to believe.

While I am stuck at home recovering from neck surgery, I decided to make a digital copy of this 2002 training tape I received from the council when they decided to throw it out several years ago. Once I had a digital copy of it I thought it might be fun to share this 11 year old production with the viewers of the Melrose Scout Productions Podcast. The whole video is 32 minutes long so I broke it down into three parts.

This first part takes us through the process of planning and conducting a Boy Scout troop meeting. The video covers things very well and is still very reverent to today’s program. Melrose Boy Scout Troop 68 has followed this format for decades with a lot of success. If you have new adult leaders in your troop I would recommend they sit down and watch this. I also think it is fun to watch a training video from 11 years ago.

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    As active members of the Boy Scouts of America we all do our best do follow the Scout Oath and the Scout Law. I recently received an email from a friend in Europe that listed some other excellent suggestions to live by. See what you think of these…

    1. Give people more than they expect and do it cheerfully.
    2. Marry a someone you love to talk to. As you get older, their conversational skills will be as important as any other.
    3. Don’t believe all you hear, spend all you have, or sleep all you want.
    4. When you say, ‘I love you,’ mean it.
    5. When you say, ‘I’m sorry,’ look the person in the eye.
    6. Be engaged at least six months before you get married.
    7. Believe in love at first sight.
    8. Never laugh at anyone’s dreams. People who don’t have dreams don’t have much.
    9.  Love deeply and passionately. You might get hurt but it’s the only way to live life completely.
    10. In disagreements, fight fairly. No name calling.
    11. Don’t judge people by their relatives.
    12. Talk slowly but think quickly.
    13. When someone asks you a question you don’t want to answer,  smile and ask, ‘Why do you want to know?’
    14. Remember that great love and great achievements involve great  risk.
    15. Say ‘bless you’ when you hear someone sneeze.
    16. When you lose, don’t lose the lesson.
    17. Remember the three R’s: Respect for self; Respect for others; and Responsibility for all your actions.
    18. Don’t let a little dispute injure a great friendship.
    19. When you realize you’ve made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.
    20. Smile when picking up the phone. The caller will hear it in your voice.
    21. Spend some time alone.

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      It has been one year since I retired as the scoutmaster of Melrose Boy Scout Troop 68. It has been an interesting, but sometimes confusing year. After thirty years of serving as a scoutmaster I am trying to figure out what my role should be and where I now fit in with the troop.

      I knew one of those new roles would be as advisor to the new scoutmaster. When the new scoutmaster stepped down after five months (he was also serving as the pack cubmaster) I found myself to be an adviser to the NEW new scoutmaster, Jim. Jim has taken to his role well and is not afraid to ask questions. He has taken all the online training and has been attending the monthly district roundtables. He has continued many of the things I brought to the troop but he is also adding a few of his own touches, which is to be expected.

      When I visit a troop meeting, I have to watch myself. I find that I sometimes will step back into the role of scoutmaster when I see some help may be needed. When I catch myself I take a step back. I am getting better. The Scouts still seem to enjoy that I come to some of the troop meetings.

      Patrol Leader Council meetings are still held at my home. It is a center point for the out of town families. The scoutmaster likes it because I am there to offer suggestions when needed. It has also offered a continuity to the meetings through the last year of adult leader changes.

      I will admit that it has been strange not attending the monthly troop activities. I like that I may now pick and choose which outings I will attend instead of being expected to attend everyone of them. It was weird not attending a long term camp with the troop in 2012. After all, I have spent every summer vacation for the last 30 years with Boy Scouts, either at summer camp, Philmont Scout Ranch, a Jamboree, or some other high adventure outing.

      I currently serve as the troop treasurer on the committee. After a year I have decided that although I guess I am doing a good job, I really do not enjoy doing it as much I as thought I might. I miss working with the Scouts. It may be time to look at changing to something new. I wonder if the troop could use an assistant scoutmaster?

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        It has been interesting how many people in the area think that I have retired from the Scouting program when they hear that I have stepped down as the scoutmaster of Melrose Boy Scout Troop 68. I explain to them that I am still active with the troop, that I serve on the committee as the treasurer, and that I am still assisting the new scoutmaster through the transition.

        I am not ready to leave the Scout program completely. It has been a part of me for nearly 3/4 of my life. I was a Boy Scout in my youth. I was an assistant scoutmaster before being appointed the scoutmaster. The Scout Oath and Law have literally become the guidelines in my life, along with the ten commandments.

        Oh, I am sure that someday I may step away from the program, but it will be a slow transition. We have a Boy Scout who is going to Philmont this summer and I want to be there to help as he prepares for his adventure. Some Scouts want to earn merit badges for which I serve as a counselor. A few of the boys have a good chance of becoming Eagles Scouts and I want to be around to see that happen and celebrate their accomplishment with them. Plus, there are still troop activities I plan to attend. I am even thinking about going back to spend a week with the troop at Many Point Scout Camp this summer. (I did not attend last year and I missed it.)

        No, I am not ready to retire from Scouting just yet,  but I am ready to try some new things outside of Scouting with the extra time I have. Any suggestions?

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          Every month the patrol leader council of Melrose Boy Scout Troop 68 meets to plan the meetings and activities for the next month. When I was the scoutmaster I did not want the boys falling into a rut by using the same opening and closing for every meeting, three times a month, month after month. I wanted the Scouts to add variety to their meetings, and to think about what could be used for openings and closings.

          I gave them a challenge (okay, I told them) to have different opening and closing ceremonies at each meeting during the month. The opening must contain something patriotic and something Scout related.  When they plan the next month they could use only one opening and one closing that was used during the previous month. This way there would be at least five different opening and closing ceremonies used during a two month period. It has worked well over the decades and the Scouts seem to enjoy the variety.

          When I stepped down as the scoutmaster last year I thought the boys may drop this guideline, but I did not need to worry about it. They have decided to continue this tradition, which has made me and the new scoutmaster happy. It is a challenge for the patrol leader council sometimes to rotate the various ceremonies (they try to avoid singing) but they have done well during the last nine months.

          So, what do they do instead of the basic Scout Law and Scout Oath at every meeting? Here are a few of the ceremonies they have used:

          OPENINGS
          Pledge Of Allegiance
          America Yell
          God Bless America
          The National Anthem
          American Creed
          Scout Law (or variations of)
          Scout Oath (or variations of)
          The Knight’s Code
          Gilwell Song
          Tommy Tenderfoot (song)

          CLOSINGS
          “Be Prepared” Song
          Patrol Calls
          Scout Benediction
          Scout Vespers
          Scout Slogan
          Scout Motto
          Taps

          What does your troop do for its opening and closing ceremonies? Do you have any good ones to add to this list?

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            I received a call this morning from a father of one the Boy Scouts, who is also a troop committee member, asking if I was going to attend the troop meeting tonight. He and his family would be gone on vacation next week and his son would not be able to attend the committee meeting for a board of review. I said I could be at the troop meeting but other committee members would have to be called. Little did I know it would be a weird, but fun and interesting evening.

            As a new committee member and former scoutmaster I find that I sometimes need to pull back from things I am used to doing myself, and learning how to help others in new ways. For example, at the board of review tonight, I found that I wanted to step in and ask questions, lots of questions. But it was not my place to do so. There were two other people sitting on this board, not just me. I was now part of a team, not the scoutmaster doing a conference. Added to the situation was a new advancement chairperson who was learning his new responsiblities. Yes, I had to bite my tongue a couple times so that I would not dominate the board of review.

            The Boy Scouts are getting used to the idea of a new scoutmaster. (He just registered last Tuesday.) He is very serious about talking on this new role. The boys get along with him but I needed to remind a couple of them that I am no longer the one to be talking to about some things. They need to go to the new scoutmaster. I had to smile to myself and they headed off to get their question answered.

            Could I have answered their questions? Yes, I could have, but I need the boys to realize that I am not the scoutmaster anymore. And besides that, I want the new scoutmaster to build that bond with the boys. That will not happen very well if the boys keep coming to me every time they need something.

            Once the First Class board of review was completed I noticed one of the Life Rank Scouts was not doing anything at the moment so I called him over to the board for an update on his Eagle Rank. We took a few minutes to find out what his plans were. After all, he turns 18 years old in four or five months. I think I caught him a bit off guard but we had a good discussion. I will be meeting him later this week to review his eagle packet. Why am I doing this? Because the new scoutmaster already has enough on his plate this month learning his responsibilities so I thought I could help hm out on this one.

            After the troop meeting the scoutmaster and I spent some time reviewing the new tour permit, or troop outing guide, or whatever they call it now. We also talked about other things. I like that he is pouring himself into his new role and is trying to learn things as quickly as he is able. I think he will do well as the new troop leader.

            So what was weird about tonight? That it seemed that I was still in the middle of things, even though I am not the scoutmaster. It is like my troop is now made up of adults. Instead of training boys I have now moved to the position of training parents in their roles.

            And you know what. I am kinda enjoying it. It is a different challenge. And I am having fun.

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              Boy Scout Troop 68 has a problem. We are looking for someone to become the scoutmaster. Unfortunately, no one seems interested in the position at this time. Having a small troop does not seem to be helping matters. Being in a community that has not been interested in having their boys in the Scout program has definitely made it tougher. (Only three of our eight Boy Scouts live in town.)

              When I retired from the position after being the troop’s scoutmaster for 30 years I had a feeling it would be tough finding someone to take over. Luckily, one father stepped up to the plate. After five months he has decided to step down. I had a hunch this might happen. Why? Because he is also the Cubmaster of our Pack. Holding two “full time” volunteer Scouting positions would be tough for anyone to handle. Add to this that his sons are heavy into sports and extracurricular activities, and that he owns his own business, I knew it would be a challenge for him. But I have to give him credit. He gave it a good try. He did a good job. But there just was not enough time in the week to do it all, and do it well. He continues to serve as the Cubmaster.

              So, the troop is once again looking for a scoutmaster. I have received several “hints” that a few people in the troop (Scouts and parents) would like to see me return to the position. I have no plans to do so. I am worn out and burned out. I actually began to hate going to Scout functions during my last year as scoutmaster. I do not want to return to the routine of weekly meetings and monthly activities. While I really enjoy working with the boys I do not want the responsibility any longer. I like my new position on the committee.

              Sometimes I think thirty years was too long to be the scoutmaster. People got to the point where they would just assume that I would take care of things, and I usually did. People are now scared of the role. I am not quite sure why they should be. I took the position when I was a “wet behind the ear” 21 year old. I did okay with almost no experience. I had a committee that supported me. I was willing to take training, and that made a huge difference.

              We have the month of June pretty well covered. I guess I will be the acting scoutmaster. Next month is summer camp, so the troop will not have any meetings. But by August we need to have someone step up to the plate. If we don’t, the council could get antsy and apply pressure to find someone quick. Or else. Troop 68 went through that in 1981. We went through four men as scoutmaster that year. (I was the fourth.) I would hate to see that happen to the troop again. I would really hate to see the troop lose its charter because no one was willing to take the position.

              It would be sad to see the troop fold after 32 continuous years.

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                Your have seen the presentation in the first video. You have heard from the former members of Boy Scout Troop 68 during the next two videos. Now it is time to hear from the retired scoutmaster. In this, the final of four parts of the retirement party, we finally get to hear what Steve has to say after 30 years of serving as the scoutmaster of his home troop. He talks about the Scouts, the parents, the leaders, the committee members, and brings his assistant of 24 years up to the podium.

                Steve has not retired from the Scouting program. He still serves as the troop’s treasurer on the committee, attends the occasional troop meeting, and tags along on an outing now and then. He makes sure he is available if the new scoutmaster has any questions.

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