Archive for the ‘Scouting’ Category


One of the joys of being a scoutmaster is watching the boys grow up and hopefully taking some of the things they learned in Scouting along with them on their life’s journey. It is great when former Boy Scouts stop by for a visit and we talk about the fun they had while they were a Scout, and how being a Scout has helped them in their adult life. Many of my former Scouts now have families of their own, are doing well with their careers, and a few have even found their way back to the Scouting program.

While a boy is in Scouting we try to instill in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law. We try to get them to live by the Outdoor Code and Leave No Trace guidelines when we are camping. We ask them, “What have you done for a good turn today?” “Are you prepared?”

As adult leaders we try to provide a program of learning, friendship, and fun. But a Boy Scout troop is only one influence on the young boy who is rapidly becoming a young man. His family and parents are the biggest influence on his life. Then add school, sports, and other extracurricular activities to the equation. Finally, add his friends. As we quickly realize, Scouting is one of many parts that help to shape his life.

I have noticed that with most boys some the values of Scouting stick with them. But not always. Once in a while I will hear of a former troop member who left the Scouting path and turned down the wrong trail. Some have fallen into alcohol or drug abuse. Some have gotten into trouble with the law through shoplifting, or worse. A few have become fathers before they were married and ready to settle down.

The public perception of Scouting sometimes seems to believe that once a boy becomes a Boy Scout he will be a near perfect young man who is always helping others through his kindness. As adult leaders of the program we understand that will not always be the case. We provide one influence in his life. Hopefully, that positive Scouting influence will be strong enough to overcome some of the negative influences a boy will happen across.

Do you have a story to share about how Scouting has helped your life or someone you know? Leave a comment and share it with us.

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    I remember very well when nine members of my Boy Scout troop participated in the 2001 National Jamboree. How could I not remember it? I was the Jamboree troop’s scoutmaster. One of my assistant scoutmasters was my Jamboree third assistant scoutmaster. One of my Boy Scouts was the Jamboree troop scribe. Another was a patrol leader. It was a great time, made greater by having many members of my home troop along to share it with.

     
    Before we arrived at the Jamboree, the two troops from Central Minnesota Council spent a couple days in Washington DC to see some of the sites. I remember the Lincoln and Roosevelt memorials, the very quick tour of the Smithsonian Museum, and our walk around the Capital building. But one that will always stay with me is the Boy Scout Memorial. Yeah, that’s right, there is a Boy Scout Memorial in Washington DC.
     
    It is a very simple memorial. It is a statue of three people, a man, a woman, and a Boy Scout. It also includes a small pool. According to kittytours.org:
     
    The memorial stands on the site of the First Boy Scout Jamboree in 1937. The two nearly naked figures represent Manhood and Womanhood; the realistic Boy Scout is leading them into the future.
     
    Next to the statue is a pool which bears the inscription: “In grateful tribute to the men and women whose generosity, devotion, and leadership have brought Scouting to the nation’s youth and to honor all members of the Boy Scouts of America who in days of peace and times of peril have done their duty to God and their country this memorial was authorized by the Congress of the United States and erected in recognition of the fiftieth anniverary of the Boy Scouts of America.

     

    After viewing the memorial I think I have the same question that many visitors to the statue have these days: Why is a nearly nude statue of a man part of the memorial? Of course, when the memorial was erected in 1964, the views of society were a lot different then they are these days. No matter, it is still a great memorial, and one I am sure will be visited by many of the Boy Scouts who will be attending the 2010 Jamboree.

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      Wow, I almost missed a couple of dates that I probably should not have forgotten. On May 18, 2006, I posted the first article to “A Scoutmaster’s Blog“. It is hard to believe that it has already been three years of sharing Scouting stories (430 posts) with you. There have been a lot of other Scouting related blogs that have come and gone during that time.

      One April 4, 2007, I posted the first video to the “Melrose Scouting Productions Podcast“. That video introduced many Scouts, leaders, and families to a new character we know as Buttons, the radical Boy Scout. Sixty five videos have been posted to the podcast over the last two years.

      I want to thank you all for reading this blog, watching the videos, and for listening to the new podcast, “Around The Scouting Campfire“. Your support, emails, and comments keep me fired up to continue these projects.

      I would like to give special thanks to Cubmaster Chris of PTC Media for all the background help he has given me over the years, and to the Boy Scouts and family of Troop 68, both past and present, who have given me the material needed for these projects.

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        During lunch today I read an article that was linked in an email to the Boy-Scout-Talk Yahoo group. It was a link to an article written by Rebecca Hagelin titled simply “Boy Scouts”. Here is a small portion of the article:

        Turn on the television for 30 minutes and show me how boys and men are portrayed – you can watch just about any station at any hour and the image will be the same. When sit-coms and commercials contain family groups or interactions between the genders, the man is usually stupid, lazy, and doltish.

        If our media culture showed positive male images and if we actually put effort back into teaching boys that real men are also gentlemen, we would get more of the behavior our society needs to survive.

        What the nation really needs are more Boy Scouts. And I mean that literally.

        As a mother of two Eagle Scouts (now ages 20 and 21), I can personally testify about the tremendous positive impact that Scouting continues to have on their lives.“

        I thought the article was very well done and hit some good points. You can read the whole post at: http://ow.ly/3rZL

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          He was a small tenth grader. Many of the eighth graders were as big or bigger then he was. When he received his drivers license at 16 years old he was 5′-2″ and weighed only 88 pounds. He was the weak skinny kid who would get pinned during wrestling in phy ed in less then 15 seconds. He was shy and quiet and would blend into a crowd, trying not to bring attention to himself. He was not physical enough to join a high school sports team so he became the team’s student manager for basketball and baseball.

          He was also a Boy Scout. He enjoyed Scouting: the camping, the hiking, and the other activities. Even though he was two or three years older than most of the members of the troop he had found a group in which he could participate and have fun. He served as the senior patrol leader for much of his three and a half years in the troop.

          This little twerp finally hit a growth spurt during his high school years was became a skinny 5′-8″ teenager when he graduated from high school. He continued his education at a two year vocational college. He often thought that it would be fun to get involved with a Scout troop once he found a job and settled down. And he did. Within a month of graduating college he had found a troop and became a nineteen year old assistant scoutmaster.

          He worked well with the troop. He got along great with the boys. He earned the respect of the parents and committee. Shortly after he turned 21 years old, after spending only one and a half years as the assistant scoutmaster, the committee appointed him as the scoutmaster of the troop. He was very nervous during his first court of honor as an adult leader. His hands were shaking. His voice cracked. But he got through it. Over the years he became more comfortable talking in front of the troop.

          During his first decade as a troop leader he took part in nearly every training course offered by the district and council. He was invited to become a staff member for several of the training courses. He even joined the district roundtable staff and began a junior leader roundtable which lasted for a couple of years.

          This young man continued with the troop as the decades began to pass him by. He took the Boy Scouts to the High Noll Trail in Virginia and the Charles Sommers Canoe Base in Minnesota. He went backpacking with five crews at Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico. The only years he missed the annual week-long trip to summer camp were the years he was attending a high adventure base.

          This small tenth grade Boy Scout who grew up to become the scoutmaster of his hometown troop can celebrate 29 years of being a Scout leader this month. He is a little bigger then he used to be, unfortunately only growing in the direction you don’t want to be growing as you approach your late 40′s.

          By the way, if you have not guessed it by now, that twerp of a tenth grader was me.

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            I recently went on vacation to the four Disney them parks in Florida. The family and I had a lot of fun and rode a lot of the rides. Now that I am getting back into the Scouting mode, I began thinking about how some leadership styles within packs and troops is similar to some of those rides. Here are a few examples of what I mean.

            Some adult leaders are like the Dumbo ride at the Magic Kingdom. I am not saying they are dumb, but that they like to take things slow and easy. They don’t like too much excitement but they do like to have a little fun. They do not like to rock the boat. They like to keep things running along smoothly.

            Some leaders are like the Hollywood Studios’ Tower of Terror ride. They start out with a lot of enthusiasm, rise to great heights, but then fall quickly, only to rise again, and fall again. They are somewhat unpredictable. You are never sure how they will do at their assigned tasks.

            Some leaders are like the Mount Everest ride at the Animal Kingdom. They start out slow, gaining momentum, and do great work. But then they stop and change direction, go backwards for awhile, before changing direction a second time and really charging forward in a position in which they thrive and enjoy.

            Some leaders are like the Aerosmith Rock ‘N Roll Rollercoaster at Hollywood Studios. They hesitate a moment before excepting a leadership role, but when they do they charge into it fast and furious. They enjoy the thrills of leadership and pour their heart and soul into it until it is time to move on to something else. Chances are that they will get right back into the program in a new position with the same enthusiasm. They enjoy the Scouting ride and want to continue it for as long as they are able.

            Of course, there are more styles of leadership then Disney has rides. Which ride are you?

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              The Boy Scouts of America celebrated its 99th anniversary on Sunday, February 8. That is a lot of advancement being earned, service projects being done, and boys learning about being physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight. I still believe that Scouting is one of the best organizations that a boy and young man can belong to, and I dislike it when a political group decides to step on the principles of Scouting to further its own cause.

              That is why when I discover an article about the positive aspects of the Scouting program I like to pass it along for you to read. One of the people I follow in Twitter, DavidTCopeland, recently posted a link to an article found in the Desert Valley Times. The article is written by David Bye, who was a Scout himself as a youth. He writes his article about the good in Scouting, and how things could be in society if more people had been a Scout as a youth. He writes:

              “When Robert Baden-Powell founded the Boy Scouts movements in the early 1900s, it was his aim “is to develop among boys a power of sympathizing with others, and a spirit of self-sacrifice and patriotism.”

              Baden-Powell envisioned a standard of exemplary conduct that included respect for all, without regard to class distinction. “Everything on two legs that calls itself a boy has God in him,” he wrote, “although he may — through the artificial environment of modern civilization — be the most errant little thief, liar, and filth-monger unhung. Our job is to give him a chance.”

              He was a little ahead of his time. The Fourth Scout Law was a powerful challenge to the racism and British snobbery of the time: “A Scout is a friend to all, and a brother to every other Scout, no matter to what country, class or creed, the other may belong.” That such a clear standard of equality and tolerance has sometimes been followed imperfectly does not negate the ideal.”

              I invite you to read the whole article at http://www.dvtnv.com/ (under dvt opinion) and leave a comment. I think that we who appreciate what the Scouting program has to offer need to do want we can to support articles like this one.

              Update: Another Twitterer, LatterDay_Scout, has posted an about an article of a cross country tour celebrating 100 years of the BSA. This looks like something that would be worthwhile checking out. Check out the article at
              http://www.freep.com/article/20090203/FEATURES01/902030306/Michiganders+to+celebrate+100+years+of+Boy+Scouting

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                Twenty years ago, when I worked in a lumber yard in Melrose, a salesman came in to speak to one of the owners. I explained that she was busy at the moment but should be available in a minute or two. We started small talk and he began telling me about his kids and family. He asked me how many kids I had. Without hesitation I told him that I had twenty boys, and then walked away because the owner had arrived. After seeing the shocked look on his face she had to explain to him that I was single, had no children of my own, and that I was talking about the boys in my Boy Scout troop. It was a great moment.

                Twenty years later, I am still single without any kids. Just like Lem Siddens in the movie Follow Me Boys I consider the Boy Scouts to be my boys. I like to joke with people that I have a great arrangement. “When I want some kids in the house I make a few phone calls. When I am tired of them I send them home.”

                Once in a while, I find myself talking to someone new. When they find out I am a scoutmaster they will usually ask me, “How old are your boys?” When I tell them I do not have any, they give me a look that seems to say, “Are you crazy? Why are you a scoutmaster if you do not have any boys in the program?”

                Sometimes I ask myself that very question. The simple answer is that I believe in the program. I always have. After nearly three decades of being a Scout leader I can honestly say that I have seen the good that come from Scouting. I wish more boys would try Scouting. I think they would find that they would enjoy the program and actually have fun learning new skills.

                I also think that more parents should consider Scouting as a program for their sons and family. Many parents do not understand the benefits of the program, which really is a shame. I think it is encouraging that the National Office plans to increase the promotion of the Scouting programs.

                There have been nearly 250 boys in my extended family over the decades. There have been a lot of movies watched, pizzas eaten, and Dungeons and Dragons games played. I have been to dozens of graduation parties, and even several weddings. I have seen the boys grow up, begin lives of their own, get married, and start their own families.

                Yep, the Boy Scouts are my boys. And in most cases, they are also great friends.

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