Archive for the ‘National’ Category

I am not sure if you saw the article or not, but Chief Scout Executive Robert Mazzuca was recently interviewed for an article in the newspaper, USA Today. I thought it was a well done article, and I am glad to see that our Scout Executive is not afraid to speak to the media to discuss the positive aspects about the Scouting program. Here is a short except from the article:

Q: When people of business discuss leadership, they use words such as vision, passion, charisma. Why do the Scouts use these 12 words: trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent?

A: Charisma and other personality traits may determine how far up the ladder you go, but the 12 points of the Scout Law define your character. If you don’t have integrity, you’re not a good leader no matter how charismatic.

Q: Which one of the 12 would you most recommend to a business executive?

A: (Pause). I think brave. You can’t do the right thing and be effective without some courage.

Q: The Scouts are retooling as they head into their second 100 years. What changes are being made?

A: We’ve been engaged with (management consultant) McKinsey folks for months. Over 100 years, you get a little arthritic and bureaucratic. We are steeped in tradition, which is a good thing, but we’re not particularly good at innovation and renewal. We don’t want to abandon tradition, but we want to be nimble. I’m writing a blog now. It’s gotten more traction and excitement than anything I’ve done in my life. It’s cool.

To read the whole article click HERE. I am not sure how long USA Today leaves their articles online so you might want to check this out quickly.

Also, do not forget to read the sidebar information about Robert Mazzuca. There are a couple good bits of information there including Mazzuca’s Tips:
There are many ways to the top, but great leaders must be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.
The most important Boy Scout quality of a business leader is bravery. You can’t do the right thing without courage.
Companies need to be proactive and define themselves, or someone else will.
Encourage personal responsibility. It’s a hallmark of leadership.

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    For a few years now, the Boy Scouts of America has done background checks on new adult leaders in troops, packs, and crews. When the organization first began doing this I thought it was a bit extreme, but I have gotten used to the idea. I have also noticed that others groups, clubs, and even schools now do the same thing for their volunteers.

    Will background checks work to keep out the rift raft and troublemakers? I am sure it will help, but nothing is one hundred percent foolproof. It does sound like it has stopped some “undesirables” from holding Scout leadership positions. Unfortunately, it is also stopping some good people from holding a leadership role due to mistakes made early in their lives.

    For example, I had a father who was very active with the troop. He worked well with the boys and they respected him. He was a good assistant scoutmaster. Unfortunately, when the council did a background check on him the council found that he had made a few wrong choices in his life over twenty five years ago. and then denied his application. This gentleman had straightened out his life a generation ago, has raised a fine family, and had already proven himself to be a good troop leader, but the BSA says that he is no longer good enough the be an assistant scoutmaster. (And no, I am not going to write here what his record showed, even though I know because he and I have talked about it.)

    In this example, I think the background check has backfired against the local troop, and thus the BSA. This policy is actually keeping a good man out of the program. It makes me wonder how many more times this has happened around the country. Don’t get me wrong though, I happen to agree the background checks are a good idea, but I also think we need to take a look at the current character of the person, not just what happens to be on record from a generation ago. After all, people do change. They learn from their mistakes.

    Or are we now going to teach the boys that once they make a mistake we should hold that against them for their entire lives?

    I have been a scoutmaster in Scouting for over 25 years, so the background check has not been done on me yet. Last week I did receive a letter from the National Office asking me to complete a form because they are now doing the checks on all adult leaders. I can mail the form in, or I can do it online.

    I am not worried. I have never been arrested, never done drugs, never been part of a political demonstration. I have never even got a speeding ticket. I am just an ordinary law abiding citizen of Minnesota. Always have been, always plan to be.

    However, when I think about it, would this not be a dandy way to get out of being a scoutmaster after all these years? Hey Bubba, pass me a bottle of beer and give me the keys! It is time to get a record. (I am kidding, of course.)

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      The next National Jamboree is only two and one half years away! It is time to start thinking about whether or not I intend to attend as an adult leader.

      My decision will be based on the Boy Scouts of my troop. If several of them decide to attend then I will apply to be one of the troop leaders. If they don’t, then I won’t. But I think it would be great to attend another Jamboree.

      I was the scoutmaster of Troop 1417 during the 2001 National Jamboree. I participated in a lot of meetings to prepare for that trip. But it was worth it. I was lucky to have a great team of assistant scoutmasters and junior leaders. I was also blessed to have a great group of Boy Scouts in my Jambo troop. Things went so well that during the reunion meeting held a few weeks after returning from the trip, I told the parents that I never want to attend another Jamboree again. The Scouts and leaders of Troop 1417 set the bar so high that I was sure I would never have another troop as good as this one.

      Well, several years have now gone by and the itch to attend another Jamboree needs scratching. Of course, this being the Jamboree celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America is just one more reason to attend.

      As far as I know, the Central Minnesota Council has not formed a Jamboree committee yet. I hope they do soon. I know it takes nearly two years to prepare for a trip of this magnitude. I would expect the transportation to be one of the biggest issues.

      In 2001, the council sent two troops to the Jamboree. In 2005, the council was able to send three troops to Virginia, which was nearly ten percent of the Boy Scouts in our council. (We are not a large council.) It would be great to see our council send three troops in 2010. Or even four troops. Of course, the problem could be finding enough adults to accompany the troops. Just one more reason for the council to get started early.

      The 2010 National Jamboree promises to be the biggest event in the BSA’s history. I think it would be great to be one small part of it. Now, I just have to convince my Boy Scouts.

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        The first requirement for the ranks of Star, Life, and Eagle is to be active in your troop and patrol for at least 4 or 6 months as the previous rank. This is a pretty vague requirement and can be one that troop leadership can struggle with sometimes. What does it mean to “be active” in the troop and patrol?

        The national BSA website states:
        A Scout is considered to be active in his unit if:

        1. He is registered in his unit (registration fees are current).
        2. He has not been dismissed from his unit for disciplinary reasons.
        3. He is engaged by his unit leadership on a regular basis (Scoutmaster conference, informs the Scout of upcoming unit activities, through personal contact, and so on).

        The unit leaders are responsible for maintaining contact with the Scout on a regular basis. The Scout is not required to attend any certain percentage of activities or outings. However, unit leaders must ensure that he is fulfilling the obligations of his assigned leadership position. If he is not, then they should remove the Scout from that position.

        Okay, that made things crystal clear, didn’t it? I think that statement made things even more confusing for scoutmasters and troop leaders. Let me explain my view on this BSA statement.

        If you read this as the “letter of the law”, a Scout only needs to be registered to “be active”. He does not need to attend any troop meetings or troop activities. It seems to be the scoutmaster’s and unit leadership’s job to contact him and tell him what the troop has coming up, but gosh, he does not need to attend them. Um, excuse me National Office, but how is a Scout to be considered active if he does not attend meetings and outings? (Keep in mind, I am only writing about being active, not about his position of responsibility.)

        I understand National’s statement of “The Scout is not required to attend any certain percentage of activities or outings.” Every Scout is not going to make every meeting or activity. A youth in Scouting is usually active in other groups and activities. If he is in sports then practice and games will conflict with Scouting. Family schedules conflict with Scouting. Even homework can get in the way of attending a troop meeting. So yes, I agree that we cannot impose a percentage requirement on attendance.

        When I meet with new Scouts, and Scouts during their Scoutmaster’s Conference, I tell the boys, and parents, that I would like them to set a goal of attending at least two thirds of the troop meetings and at least half of the outings. This is a goal, a guideline, for the boys to follow. An example – I have had several Scouts over the years that have been involved in high school hockey. They sort of disappear from Scouting during those three months of the season. But they still try to make meetings and activities when they are able to. This is a sign to me that they want to be active in the troop. Once the season is over they return to the regular schedule. I can live with that.

        According to this statement from National, it seems that a Scout would never have to attend a meeting or activity to qualify as being active in the troop. Sorry, but I do not agree with that. It is not fair to the boys who are active in the troop. A Boy Scout must make an attempt to attend meetings and activities. Would a coach allow a player to play in the game if he never showed up for practice? Would the the school allow a student to letter in an activity if he did not participate in that activity? Would an employer keep employing a young man if he did not show up for work when he was scheduled? No, no, and no.

        Part of the Scouting program is to teach the boys responsibility. A Scout needs to attend troop functions, or at least make a good attempt to do so. If a Scout does not want to actually be active in the program then he needs to make a decision whether to continue his membership. Sorry National, I am not signing off a boy just because he is registered and because I talk to him a few times. A Scout will need to attend troop meetings and functions, not just meet with merit badge councilors, if I am to sign my name to that advancement form.

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          It happened on September first. Roy Williams, our national chief Scout executive for the past seven years, retired. I believe Mr. Williams had a rough seven years. At least I would call them rough. The BSA has had its share of problems lately. And, at least at the troop level of the organization, I really have not seen a lot of leadership from the national office lately, though I will give them credit for sticking to the principles and ideals of Scouting during all the media hub-bub and not backing down. I wish there would have been more done and said by national, but for some reason they decided to stay pretty quiet during these last few years.

          We now have a new chief Scout executive. His name is Robert “Bob” Mazzuca, and according to his profile found at he has held a lot of district, council, regional, and national positions during the last 36 years. While this may be a good thing for the BSA at the national level, I am afraid that those of us “in the trenches” may not see much of a change in the national organization. Here is a piece of the news release:

          “Mazzuca’s most recent position was with the National Council of the BSA as assistant Chief Scout Executive, a position he’s held since 2006. He received a bachelor of arts in history from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, Calif. He and his wife Nanette have two sons. Bob began his Scouting career in 1971 in Modesto, Calif., as a district executive and an Exploring executive. He became the Exploring director in Sacramento in 1975 and eventually served as a field director and the director of field service. In 1983, Mazzuca became the Scout executive in Stockton, Calif. In 1987, Bob became area director in the Western Region and he was promoted to Scout executive of the Golden Empire Council in Sacramento in 1988. In 1992, he was named assistant region director for the Southern Region and in 1995, the Scout executive in Pittsburgh.”

          Of course, this is just my opinion, but I think Mr. Mazzuca may have been out of touch with Cub packs, Scout troops, and Venture crews for too long. I fear that someone who has been on the regional and national level for as long as Mr. Mazzuca has been could be out of touch with the real reason for Scouting, namely, the boys. Has he gotten so involved with the politics on the national level that he will fail to help the program of Scouting? Has he become so entrenched with other national officers and pencils pushers that he will forget about the volunteers at the troop and pack level? Will he be a leader who’s number one concern is financial, or will he concentrate on the Scouting program and lead us into a new resurgence of Scouting?

          Mr. Mazzuca, I have a few suggestions for you. First, take the time to meet the volunteers on a local level from across the country. Get out and meet the scoutmasters, and Cubmasters, and crew advisers. Listen to their concerns. See how things are going from their perspective. There is no way to get this type of information by sitting behind a desk in Texas.

          Second, I would like to see National begin to promote Scouting more on a national level. The BSA has been beat up a bit during the last several years. It is time to start promoting the good that Scouting does locally and nationally. The BSA has done well informing it’s councils and regions about how well things are going, but I think it is time to start letting the common folk know about Scouting. Advertise! It is not a dirty word. Yes, it may cost some money, but I think this organization is worth it, don’t you? Use the internet! I have posted Scouting videos on YouTube and our troop’s website. And guess what? People do watch them. I think national has mostly overlooked this avenue of communication.

          Third, how about making things less costly within the Scouting organization. Oh, I am not talking about our yearly fees. I think they are reasonable. I would like to see the cost of Scout uniforms and equipment come down in price to a more reasonable level. Requiring us to pay $35-$40 dollars for the uniform shirt is pretty high, especially for the quality of the shirt. I pay less for dress shirts. And don’t even get me started on the pants and shorts. I can buy two or three pairs of great quality jeans for the cost of one Boy Scout trouser that will not wear near as long. If you want the boys to dress in the full Scout uniform then make it affordable for the boys and adult leaders.

          Well, that is enough of my personal opinion for the moment. I know that Mr. Mazzuca will probably never see this blog, but it feels good to at least write about a few of my concerns. And if you do read this, Mr. Mazzuca, I invite to post a response and let us know what you have planned for the Boy Scouts of America.

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            Sometimes I think that we as Scouting leaders need to be reminded about the goals and aims of the Boy Scouts of America. I know I do once in a while. I found the following on the BSA website and thought it might be a good idea for us all to read it and remind ourselves why the Scouting program is such a great program.

            * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
            Aims and Methods of the Scouting Program

            The Scouting program has three specific objectives, commonly referred to as the “Aims of Scouting.” They are character development, citizenship training, and personal fitness. The methods by which the aims are achieved are listed below in random order to emphasize the equal importance of each.

            Ideals. The ideals of Boy Scouting are spelled out in the Scout Oath, the Scout Law, the Scout motto, and the Scout slogan. The Boy Scout measures himself against these ideals and continually tries to improve. The goals are high, and as he reaches for them, he has some control over what and who he becomes.

            Patrols. The patrol method gives Boy Scouts an experience in group living and participating citizenship. It places responsibility on young shoulders and teaches boys how to accept it. The patrol method allows Scouts to interact in small groups where members can easily relate to each other. These small groups determine troop activities through elected representatives.

            Outdoor Programs. Boy Scouting is designed to take place outdoors. It is in the outdoor setting that Scouts share responsibilities and learn to live with one another. In the outdoors the skills and activities practiced at troop meetings come alive with purpose. Being close to nature helps Boy Scouts gain an appreciation for the beauty of the world around us. The outdoors is the laboratory in which Boy Scouts learn ecology and practice conservation of nature’s resources.

            Advancement. Boy Scouting provides a series of surmountable obstacles and steps in overcoming them through the advancement method. The Boy Scout plans his advancement and progresses at his own pace as he meets each challenge. The Boy Scout is rewarded for each achievement, which helps him gain self-confidence. The steps in the advancement system help a Boy Scout grow in self-reliance and in the ability to help others.

            Associations With Adults. Boys learn a great deal by watching how adults conduct themselves. Scout leaders can be positive role models for the members of the troop. In many cases a Scoutmaster who is willing to listen to boys, encourage them, and take a sincere interest in them can make a profound difference in their lives.

            Personal Growth. As Boy Scouts plan their activities and progress toward their goals, they experience personal growth. The Good Turn concept is a major part of the personal growth method of Boy Scouting. Boys grow as they participate in community service projects and do Good Turns for others. Probably no device is as successful in developing a basis for personal growth as the daily Good Turn. The religious emblems program also is a large part of the personal growth method. Frequent personal conferences with his Scoutmaster help each Boy Scout to determine his growth toward Scouting’s aims.

            Leadership Development. The Boy Scout program encourages boys to learn and practice leadership skills. Every Boy Scout has the opportunity to participate in both shared and total leadership situations. Understanding the concepts of leadership helps a boy accept the leadership role of others and guides him toward the citizenship aim of Scouting.

            Uniform. The uniform makes the Boy Scout troop visible as a force for good and creates a positive youth image in the community. Boy Scouting is an action program, and wearing the uniform is an action that shows each Boy Scout’s commitment to the aims and purposes of Scouting. The uniform gives the Boy Scout identity in a world brotherhood of youth who believe in the same ideals. The uniform is practical attire for Boy Scout activities and provides a way for Boy Scouts to wear the badges that show what they have accomplished.

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              The 2001 National Jamboree at Fort AP Hill was over. We had made the trip home. The camping gear was all put away. It was time to return to “normal” Scouting. Well, not quite. I still had one more Jamboree related meeting to attend.

              A reunion meeting was held a couple weeks after our return. The Boy Scouts and leaders of both Central Minnesota Council troops, along with the boy’s parents, were expected to be there. This would be the last meeting of the 2001 troops. The agenda included a slideshow to be presented by our Jamboree chairwoman, and would also be a chance to share photographs, stories, and experiences. Of course, a few words by the two scoutmasters was also expected.

              The meeting began well. Most of the Scouts and their parents were in attendance. Photo books had been spread out on several tables. The 8 x 10 group photos had been handed out. Unfortunately, our chairwoman with the slideshow was nowhere in site. We had a laptop computer and projector available so I improvised by showing photos that I had on cd discs. It worked out alright, but it was not as good as a prepared slideshow would have been. Our chairwoman did arrive later but it was too late to watch the slideshow.

              It came time for the scoutmasters to speak. I stood up, looked over the room of Scouts and parents, and told everyone that I had a good time. However, I continued, “I never want to attend another National Jamboree again!”

              There were a few shocked expressions among the Scouts and parents before I explained why I made that statement. I told them that I had been a part of a nearly perfect Boy Scout troop. The adult leaders, the youth leadership, and the troop members had been great to work with, and to be with. We did have have any real problems. The boys got along well with each other.

              “I do not think I will ever have another Jamboree experience as good as this one was,” I said. “It was almost too good. I doubted I could ever have another group of adults and boys as great as this one. Thus, I did not ever want to attend another Jamboree again.”

              Time moves on. I did not attend the 2005 National Jamboree even though the council sent three troops and needed additional leaders. However, with the 100th anniversary of the BSA being celebrated during the 2010 Jamboree I am beginning to think about attending another one. I wonder if it would be possible to get my former Jamboree troop back together.

              Photos of my trip to the 2001 National Jamboree can be found at

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                In 1999 Sue talked to me about it, I thought about it, I applied for it, I interviewed for it, and finally, I got it. I was going to be the scoutmaster for one of the two troops the Central Minnesota Council would be sending to the 2001 Jamboree.

                Little did I realize how how work and how many meetings would be involved. I need to attend the council’s Jamboree committee meetings, meet my assistant scoutmasters, and start putting our team together. I soon discovered that the eight men chosen to lead these two troops were very dedicated to the cause, that we would work together well, and make a great team.

                I found that one of my duties was to promote the Jamboree among troops in the council and to recruit members. I quickly recruited nine members out of my home troop. My assistant scoutmasters did a great job of recruiting from their troops. The council did a little promotion. It did not take long before we had enough Boy Scouts to fill both troops and had a waiting list of boys who would like to participate.

                After the first “troop meeting” was held with the Jamboree Scouts and their parents, we began accepting applications for the youth leadership positions. The assistant scoutmasters and I conducted interviews from the list of applications and chose our senior patrol leader, ASPL, troop quartermaster, and troop scribe. I have to admit, we did a good job with our appointments. Our junior leaders became a great team to work with.

                The troop roster was divided into four patrols of eight Scouts. We made sure that no patrol contained over two Scouts from the same home troop. Once each patrol elected its own patrol leader we had a full patrol leader council and could begin training sessions.

                During the next year I attended several meetings a month to prepare for the Jamboree. There was the monthly committee meeting, the monthly leaders’ meeting, the troop meetings, training meetings, gateway building sessions, and more. Of course, this was all in addition to my usual duties and meetings in my home troop.

                Scouting had begun to take a significant portion of my time through the years 2000 and 2001. But with a great cast of assistant scoutmasters, committee members, and junior leaders in both my home troop and the Jamboree troop, my positions of scoutmaster went smoothly.

                In June of 2001 we help our pre-encampment which was basically a practice run for the Jamboree, with training mixed into the weekend. It was our first camp outing as a Jamboree troop. I am happy to report that things went very well. The only real problem to speak of was that we discovered some very loud snorers in the group.

                Preparations were over. It was time for Central Minnesota Council Troops 1417 and 1418 to attend the 2001 National Jamboree at Fort A.P. Hill in Virginia!

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