Archive for the ‘Program’ 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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    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:

    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)

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

    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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      One of the things that makes the Boy Scout program different from many youth programs is that the boys plan their own program. The junior leadership of a troop meets once a year to plan themes, activities, and dates for the next twelve months. They meet once a month to fill in the activity details and plan the meetings. The Boy Scouts of Melrose Troop 68 have done this for the last thirty years. The troop leadership usually meets in August, but scheduling conflicts came up this year and the planning session was moved back to October. Once the Scouts have planned their agenda it is presented to the troop committee for final approval.

      Here is the Melrose Boy Scout Troop 68 schedule for the 2011-2012 program year:

      The theme for October was water safety and citizenship. The Scouts worked on various requirements for their First Class Rank. The activity for the month was the district fall camporee which was held at Camp Stearns, near Fairhaven, Minnesota.

      First aid will be the meeting theme for November. The troop is planning to brings in guests to teach the Scouts some first aid skills. The month’s activity will be the LPMRB, a troop tradition. This outing includes spending the day having fun while rollerskating, going out for pizza, going to a movie, and finishing with late night bowling.

      The Scouts chose a new theme for December: movie watching. They are going to be learning about how movies are made and how some of the special effects are done. The activity will be the annual Christmas party which will include a gift exchange. The last court of honor for the year will be held on Monday, the 19th.

      January’s theme is winter first aid and safety, which may come in handy when the Scouts go snow tubing for their activity. The district is also planning a merit badge midway to be held this month.

      During the troop meetings in February the boys will be learning about firearm and archery safety. February is also the month in which we will be celebrating the 101st anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America. The troop will be spending a weekend at Camp Stearns, having fun playing broomball, disc golf, and sledding on the camp’s great sledding hill.

      The theme for March is Family Life, which is an Eagle required merit badge. The troop’s first court of honor of the year will be held, recognizing the Boy Scouts for achievements earned. A trip to the Waterpark of America is planned, with a side stop to the Mall of America.

      The troop will hold its own version of the olympics during the April troop meetings. The Scenic district will hold a merit badge clinic this month. The troop will hold its spring fundraiser before Easter. April’s activity will be the overnighter with loads of activities, movies, and snacks.

      Historical places will be the theme for May. A weekend trip to Camp Watchamagumee is planned. This has always been one of the troop’s favorite activities. Order of the Arrow members will meet for a weekend conclave at Parker Scout Reservation near Brainerd.

      Hiking is June’s theme. Hiking is also a suggested merit badge for Boy Scouts to earn on their way to becoming an Eagle Scout. A weekend camping trip at Kings Lake is the outing. The summer court of honor will be held at the end of the month.

      The main camping event of the year will be held in July when the Boy Scouts spend a week at Many Point Scout Camp, which is located northwest of Park Rapids. In addition to earning various merit badges the Scouts will have the chance to swim, canoe, try a sauna, climb a tower, go sailboating, experience life as a lumberjack, learn about nature, and much more.

      August is the last month of the program year. Canoeing is the theme with a weekend canoe trip as the highlight. This will also be the month the patrol leader council meets to plan for the next program year.

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        This week will be a busy week for this scoutmaster in central Minnesota. It begins with this year’s first court of honor which takes place tonight at the city hall meeting rooms. There are not many awards to present, but we do have two new Boy Scouts to recognize and one Scout will receive his Tenderfoot Rank. Our district executive will give the annual Friends of Scouting presentation.

        The patrol leader council will meet Tuesday night to plan for the next month’s meetings and activities. We had elections in March so we will also have to work a little training into the meeting.

        Cubmaster Chris and I may record a Leaders Campfire podcast this Wednesday. I really need to make another Around the Scouting Campfire show to post on Thursday. I was able to write a script for it last week but have not got together with Buttons yet to record it.

        The court of honor for this troop’s nineteenth Eagle Scout will be held Saturday afternoon. The plans are complete. The guest speakers have been contacted. The guests have been invited. I have finished the slideshow of Dakota’s Scouting years but I still have to burn it to a dvd. I also need to write a short speech.

        This is just a list of the Scouting related items on the agenda. I need to find time to get work done around the house, and eat the Thin Mint Girl Scout cookies that have arrived.

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          Every once in awhile it becomes a busy week of Scout stuff in this scoutmaster’s schedule. This happens to be one of those weeks. Take a look…

          Monday, the 14th – The troop meeting. Most of the members of the Mel-TV board of directors stopped by for a photo with the Boy Scouts. They donated a thousand dollars to the troop. Time to replace some equipment this spring.

          Tuesday, the 15th – the troop committee meeting. In addition to the usual stuff, we had a board of review for a Tenderfoot Scout. The chairman of the Cub Scout Pack committee attended so we could plan for a Scout recruitment night in April.

          Wednesday, the 16th – preparation. Prepared and printed posters for next month’s Belgian waffle supper fundraiser. Printed, cut, and bundled the presales tickets for the supper. Met with one of the Boy Scouts to discuss and plan the food list for this weekend’s outing.

          Thursday, the 17th – packing. Time to prepare the troop gear and pack the personal gear for this weekend’s outing.

          Friday, the 18th through Sunday, the 20th – the troop’s winter outing. This one may not be much of a winter outing. Temperatures have been in the 40′s this week. The sledding hill may be brown instead of white.

          Monday, the 21st – the troop meeting. We will be using the meeting to have the boys go around town for the presales kick-off for next month’s fundraiser. Hopefully, sales will go well.

          Tuesday, the 22nd – The Blue and Gold Banquet. The Boy Scouts will be assisting with the opening and closing ceremonies. They will also be doing a short skit. I will be showing a slideshow I prepared featuring the Cub Scouts during their meetings and Pinewood Derby. I will also give the Friends of Scouting talk during the meeting.

          Wednesday, the 23 – rest and relaxation. Unless Chris decides we should do a Leaders Campfire episode.

          How is your week of Scouting this week?

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            Several years ago, the patrol leader council included a winter troop activity in their yearly program plan that became know as the overnighter. It was an all night outing that would begin at 6:00 Saturday evening and end at 7:00 Sunday morning. They talked me into holding it at my house. I guess they liked my ping pong table, dart board, Legos, board games, and dvd collection. It kept reoccurring on new yearly program plans.

            I did not mind, too much. The boys enjoyed the games and the social aspect of the outing. The parents seemed to like the idea that it was not at their house. After all, who would want a dozen or so teenage boys staying up all night playing games and watching movies in their house?

            The boys were usually well behaved. They are Boy Scouts, you know. That is probably why I kept hosting the outing. That and the fact that when it was time to go home, I was already home.

            I have noticed that my body does not approve of the all night activity. The boys are up all night, which means I am awake all night until the Scouts go home Sunday morning. I have a hard time sleeping during daylight hours so it usually takes a few days for me to recover from the loss of sleep.

            Troop membership has been dropping in Melrose for the pass few years. Only three Scouts (and one dad) of the eight members attended the overnighter this last weekend. Due to small turnout we were not able to have the usual tournaments and competitions. Don’t get me wrong though. The three boys still seemed to have a good time, but it bothered me that five did not attend. I know one Scout had a family function to attend, but the other four did not give a reason for missing the outing. I have a feeling that they do not think the outing is worth their time anymore.

            I have also come to the conclusion that I have no desire to host any more of these activities. Or attend them. If the patrol leader council wishes to include another overnighter on next year’s program they will have to find somewhere else to hold it, and another adult to take my place. It is time for the younger parents to take over chaperoning this event. This body has no desire to participate in another one. But I would attend one until midnight or so.

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              One goal of the program of the Boy Scouts of America is to provide leadership training to the youth of a troop. This occurs through troop meetings, patrol leader council meetings, weekend sessions, conferences, and the National Youth Leadership course.

              Troop 68 holds elections every six months for the offices of patrol leader and senior patrol leader, in March and September. These leaders than appoint the other troop and patrol leadership. Ideally, I like to hold an afternoon training session after an election. This has not worked out for the last year because of scheduling conflicts.

              The troop’s theme for this month’s program was scheduled to be “Laughs For Lunch”. We had planned to practice songs and skits for a community campfire style program. (See post about Laughs For Lunch HERE.) Unfortunately, due to a small troop roster and some high school sport conflicts, we had to drop the Laughs For Lunch theme. The patrol leader council decided to use this month’s meetings for leadership training. We would break down the afternoon training session into three parts for our January meetings.

              The first of these meetings was held last night. Six of the eight troop members attended, four of who had never taken part in a youth training program. We watched the first portion of the video which covered styles of leadership training, sharing leadership, communications, and knowing the skills of your team members. The game activities helped to demonstrate these leadership points.

              The meeting went well. The boys seemed to enjoy the session and even picked up a few leadership points. I hope next week goes just as well.

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                If you have been involved with Scouting for any length of time you have probably heard someone say, “It only takes an hour a week.” What a joke that is! Just a bit of a misleading line there, huh? Let us take a look at a typical month of Scouting during this scoutmaster’s life.

                We have three troop meetings a month. At ninety minutes per meeting, plus drive time, plus waiting for parents to pick their boys after the meeting, I can estimate two hours per meeting. Monthly total here is 6 hours.

                One committee meeting per month, average of 1.5 hours. One patrol leader council meeting per month, average two hours. One district roundtable meeting each month with drive time to council office, average of three hours. Total of monthly meetings is 6.5 hours each month.

                One weekend camping trip per month. The Scouts arrive at 6:00 Friday evening. Parents pick up the last boy at 11:00 Sunday morning. Total hours of camping trip is 41 hours. (Yes, I counted the sleeping hours. I am still in charge of the Scouts, am I not?)

                Now, let’s add this up. It comes to 53.5 hours during the month. (Keep in mind that this does not include any prep time, fund raising, training, or special activity time yet.) Divide this figure by four weeks per month. Gosh! That comes to an average of 13.75 hours per week.

                An hour a week? Not even close! But this demonstration does show that those of us who are scoutmasters can be quite dedicated to the program and the boys. The amazing thing is that I sometimes feel that I am spending more “quality time” with the boys then some of their parents do. What does this say about our society?

                Scouting can be a great organization for boys and their parents. It gives them a chance to do some things together. Come on parents! Get involved with that Cub Pack or Boy Scout Troop. Become a committee member, a pack leader, or an assistant scoutmaster.

                After all, it only takes an hour a week.

                (This article was originally posted on August 22, 2007.)

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