Archive for the ‘Training’ Category


Philmont ArrowheadSome of my favorite Scouting memories are from my trips to Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico. I have been lucky enough to attend Philmont six times: once for scoutmaster training and five times on a trek with the Boy Scouts of Melrose Troop 68. Needless to say, Philmont holds a special place in the heart of this long time Scouter.

It has been ten years since Troop 68 has planned a high adventure trip, so at Wednesday’s committee meeting I brought up the idea that we should start planning for one. We discussed briefly each of the four national bases, the approximate costs of each one, and transportation issues. We talked about the two to three years of planning and fundraising required for this type of outing, and how it would give the younger Scouts something to look forward to as they get older.

Of course, I am partial to Philmont. The Charles Sommers Canoe Base would be the closest and least expensive. The Florida Sea Base would be a fantastic adventure but also the most expensive, probably. We talked a little about the Summit in Virginia, but we did not have much information about that base yet. The committee decided to bring it up to the Boy Scouts to get their opinions.

The theme of the Scenic District’s January roundtable is High Adventure. I am going to have to try to get our scoutmaster and maybe a few Scouts to attend this meeting. In fact, one of our Scouts participated in a Philmont trek this summer so I am going to ask him to come to the meeting and give us a brief summary of his experience.

Talking about Philmont at the committee meeting. Upcoming theme about high adventure bases at the next roundtable. Add to this that I was watching the Philmont Documentary Collection DVD this week and you can see that I have been thinking about Philmont a lot recently.

On Thursday I received a surprise when I looked through my mail. There was a letter from Philmont Scout Ranch. Talk about timing! I thought it was a brochure about the treks available for Boy Scouts. My surprise grew when I discovered it was an invitation to attend the Philmont Training Center in the summer of 2014. I was grinning from ear to ear.

I called Bob, my district executive, to ask him about this. After all, you do not get an invitation unless your council recommends you. He explained that my name was on the short list that the council thought might be interesting in attending a course at the ranch. He also told me that he was thinking about attending a course himself. If I decided to attend, and our courses happened to be the same week, we could drive down together.

As I hung up the phone I could not help but think about all the Philmont related coincidences that happened this week. Add to this that 2014 would be the 30th anniversary of my first trip to Philmont (for training) and the 10th anniversary of the last time I attended the ranch (for a trek with the troop).

It almost seems like I am being called back to those starlit skies above, those aspen covered hills, and the country that I love. Is it time to return to Scouting’s paradise?

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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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      wood badge 2013Many Scouters will tell you that Wood Badge is like the college course of training for adult Scout Leaders. Not only is the course fantastic for any branch of Scouting but participants also receive training which they will find useful in the field of work and life in general. The woodbadge.org site states:

      Wood Badge is Scouting’s premier training course. Baden-Powell designed it so that Scouters could learn, in as practical a way possible, the skills and methods of Scouting. It is first and foremost, learning by doing. The members of the course are formed into patrols and these into a troop.  The entire troop lives in the out-of-doors for a week, camping, cooking their own meals, and practicing Scout skills.

      Wood Badge is more than just mechanical course work. Wood Badge is the embodiment of Scouting spirit. Like many intense training experiences, it has always relied on a busy schedule forcing the participants to work together, to organize and to develop an enthusiasm and team spirit to accomplish the tasks and challenges placed before them. Carried out in context of Scouting ideals and service to young people, the course brings out a deep dedication and spirit of brotherhood and fellowship in most participants. Certainly were it not for the common goal of the movement and its program for young people, it would be hard to get grown men and women to endure the 16-hour days required by a program that runs from early morning to late at night.

      During this month’s Scenic District roundtable, three Central Minnesota Council Scouters received their Wood Badge beads and neckerchiefs for completing the course and their “ticket” of goals. Kevin Schatz, Mike Peters, and Troy Payne stood proud as they received the tokens of their achievement. I have always considered an adult completing a Wood Badge ticket the equivalent of a Boy Scout completing his Eagle Scout award. This video post to the Melrose Scout Productions Podcast further recognizes these three men for completing their goals.

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        roundtable2013Tuesday night was the Scenic District roundtable at the Scout Service Center. Al and I make up the staff for the Boy Scout roundtable. We have been trying to make them fun and informative. I think we succeeded last night.

        The evening began with a combined Cub Scout and Boy Scout meeting to recognize three Scouters who have completed their Wood Badge tickets. I recorded the Beading Ceremony and plan to post the video to the Melrose Scout Productions Podcast later this week or this weekend. After the presentation of the neckerchiefs, the woggles, and the beads the room divider was pulled and both roundtables began.

        Al began the Boy Scout roundtable with leading the twenty Scouters in singing America The Beautiful. I led the group in reciting the Knight’s Code, which used to be found in the Boy Scout handbook. Al and I have been choosing different openings and closing for each month’s meeting to give troop leaders ideas to bring back to their youth leadership.

        During the first skill session, Al led a discussion about scoutmaster conferences. The group talked about when they are needed, where they could be held, and who should be present. We also discussed how conferences differ from rank to rank as a Scout grows older and more experienced.

        At the half way point of this year’s meetings Al and I have been planning a fun activity. During the last two months we went outside to play a game. This month I lead the Scouters in one of my favorite campfire songs, Vista. I asked the three Wood badgers to come forward to join me in leading the song. I was surprised when I saw three other Scouters take out their cell phones to record this sing-a-long. One video was already posted to Facebook later that evening.

        Board of reviews was the subject of the second skill session. I had talked to Al and two other Scouters before the meeting about conducting a mock review. A Boy Scout who happened to be in attendance agreed to be the Scout for the demonstration for Life Rank.

        Al, Dan, Mike and I drilled the Boy Scout. I questioned his knowledge of the Scout Oath, Slogan, and Outdoor code and why he was not in complete uniform. Al drilled him about his participation in service projects. Dan criticized his work as the troop’s webmaster. His scoutmaster chewed him out about his participation at troop meetings. This poor Scout was getting it from all directions.

        As you have probably guessed, our mock board of review demonstrated how NOT to conduct one. The four of us tried to do as many things incorrectly as we were able to do. I never told the Boy Scout what we had planned because I wanted the Scouters to see his unplanned reactions to our questions and comments. He was a good sport about it when I stopped the drilling, and everyone thought he did quite well despite how we treated him.

        This horrible board of review led into a great discussion of what not to do, and on how to conduct a proper review. We also discussed when a review is needed, where one should be held, and who should sit on a board.

        The meeting ended with a scoutmaster minute from Al about friendship and myself leading the “Be Prepared” song. All in all, I think the meeting went very well and everyone learned something new.

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          Roundtable StaffLast Tuesday was my second meeting as a member of the roundtable staff once again. I have to admit, I am having fun. And I think the Scouters who have been attending have discovered my method of roundtable training is a bit different then other peoples’ methods. I do not like to just stand there and talk. I like to move around, change up my voice tone, and even get everyone up on the feet to do things. I think the roundtable commissioner likes what I have brought to the table. At least I hope he has. Here is a review of things we both covered at this month’s Scenic District roundtable.

          This year we start our roundtables with a two part opening, one part patriotic and one part Scouting related, and we plan to change it up for each monthly meeting. For this month we began with the American Creed and the Scout Law.

          We would usually go into skill development next but since it gets dark early this time of year we switched things up and went outside for our game. Yes, you read that correctly. We played a game. The goal is to introduce troop leaders to possibly new games they can bring back to their troop to play. This month’s game was Tip, played with a frisbee. The two teams tossed the disc to each other. Team members would try to “tip” the disc to other team members and then have someone catch it. The team scores one point for each successful tip, but only if the disc is caught at the end of the tipping. The Scouters had a blast playing the game and really got into it. I believe a few grass stains may have been taken home.

          Back inside the meeting room, Al and I conducted a brief uniform inspection and talked about the uniform being one of the methods of the Scout program. I opened a discussion of this month’s Jamboree On The Air and the Jamboree On The Internet. Many of the Scouters had not heard of these events. Al lead a discussion about the duties of a troop’s junior leaders.

          Before the meeting I had set up a table display of my patch collections, including OA lodge patches, council shoulder patches, and patches from the 2001 National Jamboree. I also had several old Scouting themed books set out to view. We talked about the fun of patch trading, who trades with who, and about B.S.A. policy regarding trading.

          Al finished the day’s skill development by discussing how to plan a troop meeting, or I should say, how the troop’s junior leaders should plan a troop meeting. A few Scouters were eager to share their thoughts on this subject. We closed the roundtable with Scout Vespers.

          After the meeting, I caught up with a Scouter who is a fairly new scoutmaster and asked him if he had been finding this year’s meetings helpful. He said that he has been learning quite a bit and is discovering good ideas to bring back home to his troop. I walked to my car with a grin on my face. I guess Al and I are doing a good job so far.

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            rtcommishShortly after becoming a 21 year old scoutmaster in 1981 I began attending the monthly district roundtable meetings, and learned quite a bit about how to be a good adult Scout leader. It did not take long for the commissioner to recognize my enthusiasm about Scouting. A few years later I was a member of the roundtable staff. We had a lot of fun and hopefully helped a lot of troop leaders become better at their positions. I even earned my commissioner’s award. It finally came to an end after several years as we all moved on and others took over, but I still attended roundtables as a scoutmaster through the next two decades.

            I have been trying to figure out what to do with myself after stepping down as the troop’s scoutmaster a year and a half ago. I still help out with the troop as a committee member (the troop treasurer.) I have helped on a few activities and the occasional troop meeting. I think I may have been helping a little too much because a couple months ago I was told by one of the current troop leaders to back off. That caught me by surprise but it did get me thinking. I do want to stay involved in Scouting, but where does a retired scoutmaster fit into the program?

            A couple people suggested I become active on the district or council level. I really have no interest in serving on a committee or some such role. I do not have the slightest interest in being involved with fundraising. I have never been very active in the Order of the Arrow. I am not sure I would like being a unit commissioner.

            Which brings me back to roundtables. I was once a roundtable staff member. I think I might be able to bring a little something to help with those monthly meetings once again. There are a few things I would like to try to add a little fun and spice. So, I sent the commissioner an email asking if he would like some help this upcoming year. It did not take him long to respond.

            Tonight I had a two hour meeting with Al. I threw a bunch of ideas at him and told him what I would be interesting in doing, and what I was not interested in doing, if I joined the staff. To tell the truth, now that I look back at the meeting, I wonder if I may have been a little too enthusiastic. He liked a lot of the ideas I brought up. Before you knew it, the two of us started creating a yearly plan for the 2013-2014 roundtable year. We now have our monthly themes, and even the September and October agendas plotted out. We plan to meet with our district executive within the next few weeks to get things finalized.

            So I guess I am once again on the district roundtable staff after a two decade hiatus. Who knew that I would one day be back in that saddle?

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              FirstClassSmallTwo Boy Scouts attended a committee meeting recently. One came for his Star Rank board of review, the other to ask some questions about his Eagle Rank. After talking to both Scouts we discovered it may be time to spend a portion of each troop meeting talking about the basics of Scouting. You know, those things boys learn when they first become Boy Scouts but have forgotten over the years. In other words, it was time for a refresher course.

              The Boy Scouts are very good with reciting the Scout Oath, Law, Slogan, and Motto. They stumble a bit when asked what the twelve points mean, or what are the three duties of the Scout Oath. What should a Scout be prepared for, and how exactly does one do that?

              I talked to the scoutmaster and the senior patrol leader about this subject. I offered to do a ten minute review at the end of each troop meeting covering one topic of the basics. The SPL smiled and told me he would time me and let me know when I reached my ten minutes. He is such a sweet kid. I guess I better keep the talks short and to the point.

              Here is a list of some of the topics I plan to cover:
              The meaning of the Scout Law, and the Scout Oath.
              Wearing the uniform properly and proudly.
              The Scout sign, slogan, and handclasp.
              Advancement double dipping.
              Preparing for a board of review.
              Flag editcate. Uses for basic knots.
              Meaning of the Scout emblem.

              Like I said, these short talks are not meant to teach the basics, although new Scouts may learn a few things, but are meant to refresh the Boy Scouts’ memories. To tell the truth, I know a few adult leaders who could benefit from listening to these discussions.

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                Fast Start Orientation, The Outdoor ProgramThe last post to the Melrose Scout Productions Podcast contained the first of three parts of an eleven year old Boy Scout Leader Fast Start Orientation vhs tape I have in my Scouting collection. This post features part two of that training tape which covers the troop Outdoor Program. It is an excellent video that is still relevant to today’s Scouting program.

                I think it is fun to watch these old videos to see how, or if, Scouting has changed through the decades. What do you think about it? Have you seen this before?

                 

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