Archive for the ‘National’ Category


JTE-White1I would like to see Cub Scout Pack 68 earn the 2015 Journey To Excellence (JTE) award because I think we can do it. I made this statement during last night’s pack committee meeting, and than reviewed the requirements. By the time I finished I believe the committee was in agreement with me.

Pack 68 of Melrose went into a reboot this fall. We have a brand new committee and a new cubmaster (me). We are all learning the Cub Scout program as we move forward and I would say we are making good strides. As we attempt to earn the 2015 JTE it will help us to provide a better blueprint for the program as we enter the new year.

There are three levels a pack could attain when qualifying for the Journey To Excellence award. It starts with a Bronze Level. Silver is the next step up. Gold is the highest level a pack may earn. So which level could Pack 68 earn?

The pack’s 2014 program year did not qualify for the JTE award. There are a number of factors why but I think it really came down to the pack did not know about the challenge and what requirements needed to be met. As this year’s cubmaster I want the pack to try to achieve it.

After looking over the requirements for the 2015 Journey To Excellence, and reviewing them with the pack committee, we agree that this is attainable. While the Gold Level will be out of our reach we should be able to reach the Bronze Level by adding to and revising our program a little. There is a slight chance we could even achieve the Silver Level.

The pack should be able to reach the Bronze or Silver Level of the first four objectives without too much problem. We feel that if we provide a good program and promote the pack more during the year we should see an increase in membership this fall, while retaining most of our current membership. I also plan to invite the Boy Scouts to attend a few pack activities to assist with making the Cub Scouts feel comfortable about graduating into the Boy Scout program.

The Program objectives is where we need to do the most work. There has not been an emphasis on advancement so we need to promote more of that during the next year. We are planning to add more outdoor activities for the 2015 schedule, and promote the district’s day and resident camps. We will be planning 3, maybe 4, service projects, including one conservation project. We already plan to have 8 or 9 pack meetings, but having dens meet twice a month will probably not happen this year.

The Leadership objectives will present a challenge. We should be able to attain the Bronze Level easily. We might be able to attain the Silver Level but it will take some work. The Gold Level will be out of our reach for the coming year, but you never know. Maybe the parents will surprise me before this fall.

I did a quick estimate of each of the 2015 objectives. I did not check a Gold Level for any of them, but did mark a Bronze or Silver Level for each one. When I added up the score I discovered we should be able to make the Bronze Level. The Silver Level is within our reach if we work a little harder and plan a little better.

My goal is to present a revised plan for the 2015 program to the pack committee at their January meeting. If they agree to it, and the pack gets behind it, the Cub Scouts will receive a new patch during the 2015 December pack meeting to add to their uniforms. That would be awesome.

The requirements for the 2015 Journey To Excellence award can be seen at:

http://www.scouting.org/filestore/mission/pdf/2015_JTE_Pack_Scorecard.pdf

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    PTCdeerWell, the week is now a part of history. Last week I spent my vacation at the Philmont Training Center at Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico. It was awesome! Sunny every day. Not a drop of rain. Great Scouters and instructors everywhere. And only one mosquito bit me. (Several dozen would bite me during a weekend outing in Minnesota.) And to top it off, I actually learned a few things about advancement, which is saying something after spending 30 years as a scoutmaster.

    The food was fantastic. I had lost 25 pounds before going to Philmont, from 193 to 168. Yes, I hit my goal, but I knew that going on vacation to PTC it would be hard to keep up the diet. So I didn’t. The food prepared in the dining hall by the PTC staff was great. I never went away hungry. If you did not like the main course, you could fix something at the hot bar. If that did not meet your taste buds you could always fix yourself a salad or a sandwich of your choice. And if those did not suit your mood, well, fix yourself a bowl of cereal. I was a little worried when I stepped on the scale this morning. I guess all that walking while at PTC paid off. I only gained  four pounds back. I should have that gone by the end of next week or sooner.

    My camera and iPad were busy during the trip. I usually took a few hundred photos when I was at Philmont in the past. I really outdid myself this year thanks to digital technology. In fact, I set a record not only for my trips to Philmont, but for any vacation I have ever taken. I have 907 photos of the trip between the two cameras. I also have 33 videos taken of various events through the week, including a talk given to my my class by  the National Commissioner Tico Perez. Photos and videos came to over 14 GB. Do you think I might have overdone it a bit?

    Yep, it was a great trip, made better by sharing it with Bob, my district executive from the Central Minnesota Council. Keep a watch on this blog during the next few weeks as I share more stories, photos, and videos from the trip.

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      2014flags2The Boy Scouts of Melrose Troop 68 will be doing it again this summer. I believe this is the fifth time they will be doing it. The Scouts have fun and the people in the community enjoy it. What am I talking about? The Boy Scouts will once again be handing out small U.S.A. flags along the parade route before the parade begins in Melrose on June 28th.

      We ordered this year’s “made in America” flags from the United States Flag Store. The ones we chose are the 4″ x 6″ stick flags that they currently have on sale for only $0.17 each. They are manufactured at the factory in Pennsylvania, printed in bright colors on cotton fabric, and securely stapled to a 10 inch natural wooden stick. We ordered these last year and people along the route really liked them. They can be found at
      http://www.united-states-flag.com/usa-stick-flag-4×6-no-tip.html

      When we first started doing this project several years ago we bought the cheapest flags we could find which were made out of plastic. Unfortunately, they were not made in the U.S.A. and by the third year people started refusing to take a flag because they were not American made. They had a good point, but we had a limited budget. So, do we buy American made and order half of number of flags, or do we keep ordering the ones not made in America?

      Thankfully, when we were ready to purchase flags last year, the United States Flag Store ran a sale just at the right time. We could order the quantity of flags we wanted and stay in budget. The Scouts handed out all 1500 flags before the parade. Unfortunately, the flags did not say “made in America” on them, so when people asked the Scouts had to tell them they were made in Pennsylvania.

      The flags for this year’s parade arrived last week, another 1500 of them, paid for once again by Melrose VFW Post 7050. I checked them out and once again they are not stamped that they are made in America. They are great flags, but I really wish they were stamped. It would be nice for people to know they were made here in the U.S.A. without having to ask about it.

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        Internet_ExplorerI admit it. I am an Apple guy. My home computer is a 2007 Mac Pro. My last three computers were Apples. I own three versions of the iPod. I use my iPad several times each day. But I do not own an iPhone. At least not yet.

        What this all means is that I do not use Internet Explorer. IE has not been available on Macs for probably ten years or more. I do occasionally use it at work, when I am forced to. This also means that there are portions of the B.S.A. website that I cannot access from my home computer since you have to use IE to get to them. For example, advancement recording.

        This has always been a pet peeve of mine. Why in this day and age would a such a large organization create a website, or portions of a site, that are useable by only one browser? This makes absolutely no sense to me, unless Microsoft paid them to do it. Hmmmm…

        When I heard this past weekend that their is a major fault with Internet Explorer that could allow a hacker to remotely take over a computer I thought of the B.S.A. websites, and had a chuckle. When I heard on the radio this morning that the Homeland Security office is advising people not to use IE I had another chuckle. Thousands of Scouting families could be putting their computers at risk due to a flaw in the Microsoft program.

        Granted, from the sounds of it this risk should not apply to the Scouting websites. But could another fault be found that could make using those sites a risk? It seems that IE has had more then it fair share of problems over the years. Once again I ask, why would anyone tie their website to a browser that has had so many problems, and a browser that is not usable to many home computers?

        I do not plan to ever buy a Windows based computer for my home which means until the B.S.A. opens their whole website to all browsers I will not be able to access portions of it. If the B.S.A. does not feel that my access to their complete website is important, then so be it. I will continue to chuckle every time I hear about a new security risk about IE.

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          myscoutingDo your Youth Protection Training online, they tell us. Take your position specific training through the website, the council promotes. You should be doing your troop advancement through the internet, not through paperwork, I am told.

          How the hell am I suppose to do anything online through MyScouting.org when the website does not even recognize me?

          I have been a registered adult leader with the B.S.A. through Boy Scout Troop 68 for over 33 years. I am also on roundtable staff and a member of the Cub Pack committee. I once was able to use the myscouting.org website without a problem. Then something happened a year ago, right about this time. I was up for Youth Protection Training and tried to get on the website to take it once again. I could not get on it. I tried Safari and Firefox on my home computer ( I use a MacPro). I tried at work. No luck there either.

          I call my district executive and explained the situation. I have to admit, he went out of his way to try to fix it. He even called the national office. It took over a month, and a phone call from someone at the website, but it got fixed and I was able to do the YPT online. I have to say though, I was very frustrated with the B.S.A. during that time period.

          I have not been back to the myscouting.org site for several months. I had no need to visit it. I had a nice visit with my district executive this afternoon and we talked about internet advancement. Our troop does not currently use it. I told Bob that he should email the information to me and I would take a look at it.

          Meanwhile, I tried to get into myscouting.org on my Windows based computer at work. I tried Internet Explorer and Firefox. I could not enter the site through either one. (The server could not sign you in. Make sure your user name and password are correct, and then try again.) Maybe I forgot my password, I thought. I tried to reset the password but the site threw a page at me with a lot of code which meant absolutely nothing to me. Okay, I will try again at home and see if I was using the right password.

          After supper, I received the information from my D.E., including my username and password. Surprise! They was the same ones I had tried using at work. I tried it again on my home computer. I used Firefox and Safari. Neither one worked! We are back to playing that locked-out game once again.

          Can you tell that I am frustrated once again? The national and council offices want us to do virtually everything online these days, yet they lock me out of my account so I can do nothing. It is like I do not exist. If this is how the national office wants to treat me after 33 years of volunteer service I feel like it is time to tell them to forget it. If they don’t want me as a volunteer anymore then just tell me. If I am so low on their radar that they cannot even keep my account active then maybe it is time to quit this organization and find one that does appreciate the work I do for it.

          I have dropped an email to my D.E. to let him know what is going on again. I feel sorry for him, because I know what he went through last time this happened, but what can I do? I know no one at the national website, and from the looks of it, they do not know me.

          Have any of you out there have any similar problems with this website?

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            LifeRsmallThere has been a lot of press lately that the Boy Scouts of America is about to change its policy on allowing opening gay youth into the organization. In fact, the press likes to make it sound like this is already a done deal. The press makes it sound like the poll conducted by the B.S.A. states that Scouts, parents, leaders and councils overwhelmingly support changing the policy. I decided to bring up the poll results at the scouting.org website and look at the figures myself. It is not quite as cut and dried as the media is playing this up to be. I am a little bit skeptical. Here are a few statistics from one part of that poll, along with a few of my thoughts:

            Parents Study Group and Leaders Study Group

            The BSA’s Voice of the Scout Membership Standards Survey was sent to more than 1 million adult members, with over 200,000 respondents. I have been involved with the Scouting program for 33 years, yet I was not contacted to participate in this program. As far as I know, not one person in my troop was contacted. How did the pollsters choose the parents and leaders that were contacted for this poll?

            The survey found:
            Respondents support the current policy by a 61 percent to 34 percent margin. (I underlined the phrase.) Wow, that is a 17% margin. Presidents have been voted into office by fewer percentage points. Yet the media makes it sound like it is the other way around..
            Support for the current policy is higher at different program and volunteer levels in the organization:
            50 percent of Cub Scout parents support it; 45 percent of Cub Scout parents oppose. This was closer than I thought it would be.
            61 percent of Boy Scout parents support it. This could be true, but I don’t think it is true in my part of the country. Once again I ask how they choose the parents who participated in this survey. Was there a balance from across the nation?
            62 percent of unit leaders support it. I know some who do and some who do not.
            64 percent of council and district volunteers support it. I know more who are not sure what to decide yet.
            72 percent of chartered organizations support it. For some reason, I do not fully believe this figure. It seems high to me when you consider what groups make up a large portion of the chartered organizations.

            Local Council Study Group

            The Local Council Study Group was charged with listening to the voice of the Boy Scouts of America’s 280 local councils. While many of the conversations centered on a policy that would give chartered organizations the discretion of whether to accept avowed homosexuals to serve as leaders, many groups had concerns about this concept:
            50.5 percent of councils recommend no change.
            38.5 percent of councils recommend a change.
            11 percent take a neutral position.
            So, one way to look at this is that 61 percent of councils do not recommend a change to the current policy, almost two thirds of the organization’s councils. When listening to the media I thought that most councils wanted the policy change.

            There is a lot more to this poll. Read it yourself at

            http://www.scouting.org/sitecore/content/MembershipStandards/Resolution/Summary.aspx

            So what do I think? I am not ready to tell you yet, but here are a couple things that stick in my mind. The B.S.A. does not ask people what their sexually preference is. It is not found anywhere on any application. The only time it comes up is when it is brought up by the person himself, and when it does it becomes a media circus and the gay activists try to use it to their advantage.

            I was a scoutmaster for over 30 years. It was not my duty to ask a Boy Scout about his sexual preferences. It was my duty to try to teach him citizenship, leadership, and outdoor skills, and to let him have fun. Did I ever have a gay young man as a member of the troop? Yes, I did. But they did not come out as being gay until after they left high school. Would I have kicked them out of the troop if they mentioned they were gay while still a Scout? I am not sure because it was never an issue, but I would like think I would have allowed them to continue being a Boy Scout as long as they did not give me any other reason to ask them to leave. Keep in mind that the 1980′s and 1990′s were a bit different then today’s world.

            I think all boys should be allowed to be a Boy Scout. However, I do not think that any boy, or his parent, should take his membership and turn it into a political issue, which is what I am afraid this issue has become. In my opinion, this takes everything good the Scouting program offers a young man and turns it upside down. Suddenly everyone forgets of all the great things this 100 year old program has done for our youth and our country.  “Don’t ask, don’t tell” worked for the 30 years I was a scoutmaster. I did not ask, they did not tell, and we all enjoyed the time we spent in Scouting. It was not an issue, and it should not be an issue. I wish everyone would just shut up and let us get on with implementing the best Scouting program that we can provide for our youth.

            Now, what are my feelings on allowing opening gay men as adult leaders? That is a post for another time.

            Last words… I usually stay away from hot topic issues with this blog, but I felt I needed to finally get something out there. I do review every comment before it is posted. That is the best way to keep spam off this blog. I will be reading any comments for this post and if they are civil I may allow them to be added to this post. However, if I feel that they are mean spirited or rude I will trash it. It is my blog, and I will decide what is posted to it.

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              I have been podcasting for over five and a half years. I have co-hosted one podcast (The Leaders Campfire), produced an audio podcast (Around The Scouting Campfire), and continue to post videos to the Melrose Scout Productions Podcast. All three podcasts have had Scouting related themes. I have had fun podcasting and hope that those of you who have watched or listened to them have found them fun and informative.

              This afternoon I did something I have not done for awhile. I went on iTunes and did a search for Scouting themed podcasts. There used to be several out there, mostly audio versions. I was a little surprised by what I found. I did a search for “cub scout” and 15 podcasts were found, but only three actually dealt with Cub Scouting: An Hour A Week (audio), Autism and Scouting Radio (audio), and my own Melrose Scout Productions (video). When I changed the search to “cub scouting” only two showed up: Autism and Scouting Radio and the Melrose Scout Productions Podcast (MSPP).

              Next I tried a search for “boy scout”. Sixty one podcasts came up, but only five of these actually dealt with the Scouting program. One was produced by the Boy Scouts of America, and another was produced by Boy’s Life magazine. Both appeared to be dead podcasts with no episodes produced for quite awhile. Of course, MSPP was listed. When I changed the search to “boy scouting” I discovered that MSPP was the only Boy Scouting related podcast listed.

              Now I know there have been other Scouting podcasts produced during the last few years, such as The Scoutmaster Minute and the Boy Scout Hour. I know the Scoutmastercg podcast is going strong and has a strong listenership. But these podcasts did not show up in the searches. Even my old Around The Scouting Campfire did not show up. Why? The only thing I can think of is that we all may need to check our podcast tags.

              Then I started thinking. Are podcasts even relevant to Scouting anymore? Are adults leader searching them out and listening to or watching them? Do current leaders even know they exist? Do we need to do a better job and promoting them? If we do, what is a good way to promote them? The BSA does not seem to be podcasting any longer so maybe they do not feel there is a need for this medium.

              I know the viewership of MSPP has gone down over the last year. I receive very few comments about the videos. If you look at the iTunes listing for MSPP you will notice that there has not been a comment left for nearly two and a half years. Comments  and emails are the only way we podcasters really have of knowing how people feel about what we are producing.

              I have begun to wonder if it is time to retire the Melrose Scout Productions Podcast. I have already stopped producing Around The Scouting Campfire. Is it worthwhile putting forth the time and effort?

              Here are my questions to you.
              Do you listen to or watch Scouting related podcasts?
              Do you subscribe to any?
              Which ones do you subscribe to? How should we promote them?
              Or have Scouting podcasts lost their importance, if they ever had any that is?
              I look forward to reading your comments.

               

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                Last month I finally broke down and bought an iPad (the newest version). I have been having fun with it. It looks great and works well. I have to admit, playing Angry Birds on an iPad is a lot more fun then playing on an iPod Touch. I have downloaded dozens of books that are in the public domain, especially all the fictional novels I can find written about Boy Scouting during the early years of the movement. Most of the stories about Pee Wee Harris, Roy Blakely, and Tom Slade are waiting on my iPad’s hard drive waiting to be read.

                I have also downloaded a couple of Scouting related apps.The first one was MyBadges, written by Kevin Butler. It is an app which quickly puts the requirements for Boy Scout ranks, merit badges, and other awards on the screen. I have used this app while sitting on a board of review and found it to be quite handy, although one Boy Scout may not agree with me since I found a current requirement that was not listed in his handbook which was about 5 years old. Kevin has been doing a pretty good job of keeping his app current with the latest BSA handbook.

                Which brings me to a problem I found. I was going to download the Boy Scouts of America app of The Boy Scout Handbook. After all, I am still involved with Scouting and thought it should be on my new gizmo. I went to the App Store to download it and stopped dead in my tracks. I have not purchased it, and will not purchase it. Here are the reasons why…

                First of all, The B.S.A. has not updated the Handbook App since November 7, 2009. Yes, you read that correctly. 2009! For an organization that wants its members and volunteers to stay up to date they have really dropped the ball here. Heck, they come out with a new printed handbook every year. Why should I pay $9.99 to download a handbook that does not even contain the latest requirements for ranks and training?

                And the price of $9.99, which just happens to be the same price as a physical handbook, but yet does not let me (or a Boy Scout) write in it and keep track of things like we can in a real physical copy? I think the price should be a couple bucks cheaper but I think I understand the reasoning behind it. After all, I was going to buy it until I started looking closer at it.

                Third, the app is only available as an iPhone App. Really? Come on B.S.A., get with the program. Over 50 million of these devices have been sold. I am sure I am not the only Boy Scout volunteer that owns an iPad. I had thought the B.SA. was trying to be more modern and catch up to current technology. It seems to me they have been dropping the ball in a major way with this app.

                Fourth. And speaking of dropping the ball, have you read the reviews about the latest version of the e-hanbook? (Which, keep in mind, came out in 2009.) They are not glowing, I can tell you that. The main gripe seems to be that it is not much more then a pdf version of the handbook. Excuse me national office, but if I am going to pay for an ebook, I would like it to be an ebook with at least a fair amount of accessible features. The book should be interactive, like the B.SA. says a Scouting program should be for its boy members.

                So, I will not be purchasing the B.SA.’s Boy Scout Handbook app. At least not yet. I would like to, but the national office needs to work on this program and at least update it, if nothing else. Or could it be that this app is not a big enough seller for the B.SA. to care about? That would be a shame.

                I would be interested on hearing from you if you use the Boy Scout Handbook app. Do you think it is useful? What is your general impression of it. Write a comment and share your user experience with us.

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