Archive for the ‘Leadership’ Category


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.

          Click here to DOWNLOAD and watch this Podcast.
          Or watch it online at the Melrose Scout Productions Podcast channel at PTC Media.

          Subscribe to Melrose Scout Productions Podcast through iTUNES  (and rate the show)
          or at http://feeds2.feedburner.com/melrosescoutingproductions
          Leave feedback here, at iTunes, or on the forums at PTC Media.

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            If you have been following this blog and the Melrose Scout Productions Podcast you know that two of the four parts of the scoutmaster retirement party video have been posted. Here is the third part. It features more alumni of Boy Scout Troop 68 as they step up to the podium and share their memories of Scouting with Scoutmaster Steve. It features six more gentlemen, of which three earned the rank of Eagle Scout. A few of them are from the first decade of Scoutmaster Steve’s 30 year tenure. One is from the last decade.

             

            Click here to DOWNLOAD and watch this Podcast.
            Or watch it online at the Melrose Scout Productions Podcast channel at PTC Media.

            Subscribe to Melrose Scout Productions Podcast through iTUNES  (and rate the show)
            or at http://feeds2.feedburner.com/melrosescoutingproductions
            Leave feedback here, at iTunes, or on the forums at PTC Media.

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              When the scoutmaster of Troop 68 retired at the end of 2011, the troop committee thought it would be a good idea to throw a retirement party. The party, which was held in February, was well attended. Former troop members from the past 30 years came from as far as a hundred miles away to visit with their retired Scout leader and other troop members. Some of the members had not seen each other for many years. There was a lot of reminiscing and catching up.

              Of course, there was a recognition program (which was featured in the previous video of Melrose Scout Productions). Then came the time for anyone to go to the microphone to speak about being a Boy Scout or sharing a story from years gone by. Many of the former troop members took advantage of the opportunity to talk about their Scouting experiences and to maybe speak from the heart of what being a Boy Scout in Scoutmaster Steve’s troop meant to them now that they are adults themselves.

              This video is the second of four parts of the retirement party. It is the first of two which feature the former Boy Scouts of Troop 68 as they came to the microphone. One father also decided to share his feelings about the Scouting program in Melrose.

              Click here to DOWNLOAD and watch this Podcast.
              Or watch it online at the Melrose Scout Productions Podcast channel at PTC Media.

              Subscribe to Melrose Scout Productions Podcast through iTUNES  (and rate the show)
              or at http://feeds2.feedburner.com/melrosescoutingproductions
              Leave feedback here, at iTunes, or on the forums at PTC Media.

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                I had been curious for a couple of weeks what the committee had planned for the retirement party. They had been very quiet whenever I was nearby. A great example of this was at the February committee meeting. I make the agenda so I listed the party under old business thinking they night bring up a few things that needed to be discussed. When the time came up one committee member passed a sheet of paper to the new scoutmaster and, well, that was it. There was not a discussion, not a word was said. My attempt to get information had failed.

                Finally, the day of the party had arrived. It began at 2:00 in the afternoon with the Boy Scouts, their families, and a few troop alumni present, but people kept coming in. Shortly after 2:45 the Scenic District executive asked people to have a seat, that the program would soon begin. The five rows of tables were not quite filled but soon would be. At 3:00 the district executive, Bob Rueter, called the room to attention and asked everyone to face the flag, and to join him in the Pledge Of Allegiance. Eymard Orth, my assistant scoutmaster of 24 years and the current troop chaplain, gave the invocation.

                Mr. Rueter began the ceremony with the presentation of the last leader’s knot I earned as the troop’s scoutmaster, the Unit Leader Award of Merit, followed by a brief speech about his years working with me. Mr. Orth took the podium next sharing stories of our Scouting experiences. Mark Ettel, the troop’s new scoutmaster, spoke for a few minutes and then asked the current Boy Scouts to come forward. He asked me to joined them and gave me a Norman Rockwell print of the Boy Scout standing in front of the flag of the United States of America, as seen with this post.

                Mr. Ettel opened the floor for anyone to come forward to say a few words or share a story. Eleven former members of the troop took the opportunity to come to the podium. Every decade of the thirty years was represented. (Watch the Melrose Scout Productions Podcast for upcoming videos of these speeches.)

                It was time for me to step up to the microphone. I joked that I could tell a story about everyone of the Scouts present but that we did not have time for that. I did thank the VFW Post 7050 for sponsoring the troop during the last 32 years. I also thanked the American Legion and the Lions Club for supporting the Scouting program. I thanked the parents, especially those who served on the committee and as assistant scoutmasters. Finally, I thanked all the boys and young men who were members of Boy Scout Troop 68 throughout the years. After all, they were they main reason I stayed on as scoutmaster for over 363 months.

                I ended my talk by explaining that I had tried to quit at least four times but for some reason I always changed my mind. It was much nicer to be able to say “I retired” then “I quit”.

                The rest of the afternoon was spent visiting with people and former troop members. All in all, it was a great afternoon.

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