Posts Tagged ‘Leadership’

So, you are new to the Boy Scout program. Maybe you crossed over this spring with your son who was a Webelos Scout, or maybe you joined with your son as he joined the program. Either way, you may be hearing terms you are unfamiliar with and abbreviations that confuse you. Let’s see if we can make a few of these clear and help you along your Scouting way.

SPL – Senior Patrol Leader (The elected Boy Scout in charge of running the troop.)
ASPL – The Assistant Senior Patrol Leader.
PL – Patrol Leader (The elected Boy Scout leader of a patrol.)
APL – Assistant Patrol Leader.
ASM – Assistant Scoutmaster.
JASM – Junior Assistant Scoutmaster (A Scout who is not yet 18 years old.)
PLC – Patrol Leader Council. (The boy leadership who plan troop meetings and activities.)
TLC – Troop Leader Council (Another name for the PLC.)
OA – Order of the Arrow (A Honor Brotherhood of Scout Campers.)
NOAC – National Order of the Arrow Conference (Yearly national meeting of OA lodges and leadership.)
PTC – Philmont Training Center at Philmont Scout Ranch.
NYLT – National Youth Leadership Training (Training for youth leadership done on the council level.)
G2SS – Guide To Safe Scouting (Our bible of how to safely operate our troops and packs.)
BSA – Boy Scouts of America.

This is not the whole list, but it is enough to get you started. Happy Scouting!

The Leaders Of ScoutingIt is hard to believe that it has been over twenty years since some volunteers at Mel-TV 3, our local community access television station, recorded a show in which five men were interviewed. Each gentleman was very involved with the local Scouting program. It turned out to be a fun and informative show. It was filmed with VHS tape unfortunately and is showing its age.

A few years ago I decided to transfer some of those old tapes of Scouting programs to my computer and burn them to DVD before they deteriorated any further. “The Leaders Of Scouting” was one of those shows. Once I had it on the computer I decided to break the nearly two hour show into five smaller segments and post them to the Melrose Scouting Productions video podcast. The first segment was posted nearly 21 months ago. I guess I should have been a bit more diligent about posting them on a more timely basis. But never fear! Today I post part five, the final portion of the television show.

Mike R. began his adult Scouting career when his son John joined Cub Scout Pack 68 in Melrose, Minnesota. When John crossed over to the Boy Scout troop, Mike followed and became a committee member, and soon accepted the committee chairman position. During this time Mike also served as a unit commissioner. Dr. Hedglin, the show’s host, has a great time asking Mike R. about his positions in Scouting. The other guests are still on hand so the show soon involves all five guests as they reminisce about their time in Cub Scouting and Boy Scouting.

As this series comes to a close I would like to take a moment to once again thanks all five guests: George O., Joe T., Mike H., Gerry W., and Mike R. I would also like to thank Dr. Hedglin for hosting the show. He did a great job. Thanks also goes to the Mel-TV 3 volunteers who spent an afternoon filming the program.

I hope you enjoyed The Leaders of Scouting series on the Melrose Scouting Productions Podcast. Please post a comment and let me know what you thought of them, and if you would like to see more of this type of program.

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Show Notes:
The Leaders of Scouting episodes:
George O. – Episode #46
Joe T. – Episode #51
Mike H. – Episode #61
Gerry W. – Episode #72
Mike R. – Episode #87.

Thank you for watching Melrose Scouting Productions Podcast.

It was a beautiful evening in Melrose on that April day in 1980. A great day to get a few friends together, meet at the city park, and play some ball. I was nineteen years old, almost done with tech college, and was lucky enough to find a fulltime job and a place to rent in my hometown.

We had been playing ball for a little while when I noticed some boys taking down a tent on the other side of the park. “Could that be a Boy Scout group?” I asked myself. There had not been a troop in town for at least 4 or 5 years. I had been a Boy Scout for a few years when I was in my mid teens and enjoyed it. I had thought about joining a troop as an adult leader after finishing college. Maybe this was my chance.

I walked over to the small group packing up the tent and talked to the adult leader, who also happened to be a policeman in town. He admited that he was the scoutmaster of the newly formed troop. In fact, the troop was only a few months old. I asked if he needed any help? He was no idiot so he took me up on my offer. I became an assistant scoutmaster.

Little did I realize that I would still be involved with that troop 30 years later.

During the last 30 years I have seen a lot of boys come and go in Scouting. I have formed strong friendships with some of the boys that have continued into their adult lives. I have gone on many trips with the Scouts, including a National Jamboree and several trips to Philmont Scout Ranch. I have participated in many training sessions, have trained other leaders, and made many friends with other leaders.

I still find it hard to believe that is was three decades ago this month that I became an assistant scoutmaster for Boy Scout Troop 68. I would have not believed anyone if they would have told me that I would stay with the program this long. It has been fun, but there has also been plenty of challenges. Will I be with it for another thirty years? I doubt it, but you never know. Only time will tell.

The Patrol Leader Council (PLC) is one of the key elements of youth leadership within a Boy Scout troop. The senior patrol leader, assistant senior patrol leader, and patrol leaders use this monthly meeting to plan troop meetings, courts of honor, and the monthly outing. This is one way they practice the leadership skills of communication, planning, and compromising.

Our troop’s PLC meets the fourth Monday of the month, from 6:30 to 8:00 in the evening. They have an agenda which starts with a roll call and agenda approval. Old business is followed by new business which then moves into planning. The planning portion of the meeting, during which plans are made for troop meetings and activities, is usually when things get bogged down. The boys do not seem to enjoy planning things. Of course, as an adult leader, this is when I have to bite my tongue and stay quiet. I could plan the troop meetings in ten minutes instead of the 45 minutes it takes the boys. But if I did that, the boys would not be planning THEIR program. I do not want this to become the scoutmaster’s program.

There are a few guidelines I have put into place though. Troop meeting openings must contain something patriotic and something Scouting. An opening may only be used once per month. The boys must come up with three separate patriotic and three different Scout openings. The same “once per month” also applied to the game and meeting closing. This gives us a fair amount of variety and keeps us from doing the “same ol’ thing” each meeting.

I also encourage the youth leadership to only use one opening, closing, and game from the previous month. This allows us to have five or six different things in each area over a two month period. It makes it a bit more difficult for the PLC, but it works out well in the long term.

The youth leadership takes even longer to plan a troop outing. I encourage them to brainstorm a list of possible activities, then pick the ones they like the best, and finally post them into an agenda. Sometimes this goes smoothly, but other times it is like working with first graders.

Do we always get the work done during the ninety minute patrol leader council meeting? No, not always. If the boys would stay on track they could easily accomplish their goals. They have a tendency to stray from the agenda. Sometimes a look from the scoutmaster to the senior patrol leader is enough to get things back on track. (Sometimes it is the scoutmaster who got them off track in the first place.)

Even though the patrol leader council meeting can appear to be an inefficient way to get things planned, it is a great way to develop youth leadership skills and keep Boy Scouting a program for the boys, planned by the boys. I should know. I have been participating in them for nearly thirty years.

During the my last year of tech college my classmates and I would discuss what we wanted to do with our lives once we were out on our own. What kind of job did we hope to get? What kind of community would we like to settle down in? What organizations would we get involved with, if any?

I was a Boy Scout for three years so I made the comment that it might be fun to find a troop and get involved again. When I think about that comment now I have to stop and ask myself, why did I say that? I really did not accomplish much as a Boy Scout. Yes, I went to the meetings, and the occasional weekend camping trip, and three week long summer camps, but I do not remember much about them. I only earned four merit badges. I only got as far as Second Class Rank. I do not remember a single court of honor. Unfortunately, and I hate to say it, my time as a Boy Scout was pretty uneventful.
I must have had enough fun in Scouting though to make a comment like that in college. I may have realized that the Scout program was a great program to help young boys grow into men of strong character. I guess I wanted a chance to be a part of that process. But there was one more reason to reconnect with Scouting. A personal one. I always felt bad that I did not remember much about my time as a Scout, and that I did not accomplish much in the program. I thought that maybe I could help some other boys have a great time in Scouting and do the things I never had the chance to do.
As luck would have it, I found a job and settled back in my hometown. Within two months I discovered they had restarted the troop which had been disbanded about five years earlier. I walked up to the scoutmaster one night and asked him if he could use some help. That was nearly thirty years ago. I think I can honestly say that I have helped to make a positive impact on the Scout program in this community.
How long will I continue to be with the program? I do not know. I had never planned to be with it for three decades. Unfortunately, this community may make the decision for me. Membership in the troop has dropped to only seven Boy Scouts, down from nearly forty Scouts ten years ago. I discovered today that the Cub Pack currently has only three boys. One of the Pack’s problems is that parents do not want to take on any of the leadership roles. This has been going on for the last five years or longer. Thus, the Pack’s program has suffered, and the boys are not joining like they once did.
Let’s face it, parents need to get involved, at least at the Cub Scout level, for the program to succeed. Do today’s parents not understand the great benefits of the Scouting program, both to them and their sons?
Get involved with Scouting? Too tell the truth, I can think of few programs that are better worth your time and effort.

Twenty years ago the volunteers at Mel-TV, our local cable access television station, filmed a program in which five men who were Boy Scout leaders were interviewed about their Scouting experiences. I took that old vhs tape and transferred it to a dvd. I thought to myself as I was transferring the program that many of the things being said by those gentlemen still apply to Boy Scouting today. I thought I would break this show down into parts for the Melrose Scouting Productions Podcast, each part featuring one of the interviews.

This podcast video features the fourth interview from The Leaders of Scouting. Gerry W. began his adult Scouting career as a Cub Scout Pack committee member when his son became a Cub Scout. He moved to the Boy Scout committee when his son graduated into the troop. He soon became the outdoors chairman, making the arrangements for the troop activities. During this interview Gerry talked about being on the troop committee, going along on various troop outings, the values found in the Scouting program, the stunts he and the scoutmaster pulled, and his pride in seeing his son work through the ranks of Scouting.

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 I did my Woodbadge course in the fall of 1988. Yes, that was long before the current “Woodbadge for the 21st Century”, but I have a feeling the core training is still pretty much the same. The course was held at Camp Stearns in central Minnesota. We camped out, cooked outdoors, and slept in tents. In fact, most of our training was held outdoors. We seldom found ourselves inside the Woodbadge Lodge.

The staff kept us pretty busy between training and projects. One Saturday afternoon, each of the five patrols was assigned a pioneering project to build. The projects included a catapult, a ballistica, a swinging gateway, and an overhead gateway. My patrol, the Bobwhites, received the weather station project, which we found to be quite interesting.
As the patrols arrived at the field to build their projects we discovered piles of rope and logs and a drawing of the completed project. No directions on how to build it, just a drawing of what it should look like when finished. We needed to figure out how to construct it ourselves.
The weather station the Bobwhites were to build looked like a large diamond balanced on ropes about a foot off the ground.We guessed that the humidity and barometric pressure would tighten or loosen the tautness of the ropes, thus raising the diamond higher or lower. The closer it was to the ground, the greater the chance of rain. If it rested higher it was probably meant that we would have great weather.
The Bobwhites had a good time building their project, as did all the patrols. I like pioneering and knots so I was helping out the patrol members who were not as proficient with square and diagonal lashings. Raising, balancing, and tying the diamond onto the cross ropes proved to be a fun challenge. We hung a little strip of cloth to the top to show wind direction. One of our patrol members came up with another small embellishment for the project.
The scoutmaster and a few other staff members inspected each of the projects. When they saw a stone hanging from the end of a rope on our project their curiosity lead to ask what it was for. “It is a weather rock”, we replied. We placed a sign next to it that explained: If the rock is wet it must be raining. It the rock it swinging it must be windy. If the rock is warm and dry the sun must be shining.
All five pioneering projects turned out very well. There was even a competition between the ballistica and the catapult to see which would throw a projectile the furthest. Yep, we all had some fun that afternoon.

The Friday that I had been both dreading and excited about had arrived. It was time to go to the first weekend of Woodbadge training at Camp Stearns in central Minnesota. I was dreading it because I did not know if I would know anyone in attendance other than Paul, the culprit who signed me up for the training. I am pretty shy and it takes me a while to warm up to new people. But I was also excited because this was Woodbadge, the ultimate Scout leader training course.

It did not take long to find a few people from my council that I knew once I arrived at Camp Stearns. I have known Bruce since my days as a Boy Scout. He worked on staff at the summer camp I attended, Parker Scout Reservation. I knew Jim through roundtable meetings and council family camp weekends. Jim was also known as Skunk because of the striped cap and coat he wore when camping, which we suspected was made from real skunk hides.
John was also from the Central Minnesota Council and was the fourth member of our patrol. He was the scoutmaster of a troop in St. Cloud. The final members of our patrol were two female Scout leaders from the Viking Council, Mary and Marge. So, we had four men and two women in our group. We all got along great and formed a good, if somewhat mischievous, patrol.
It was time to receive our patrol name. Would we get to be the agile Antelopes? Maybe the wise Owls? How about the mighty Bears? I liked the idea of being a high flying Eagle. Imagine my disappointment when I discovered we were to be the Bobwhite patrol. A bobwhite? A small game bird? Come on guys, get real. But the Bobwhites we were named, and the Bobwhites we would be.
We actually had a lot of fun as the Bobwhite Patrol. We came up with a cool flag, created a nice sign for our camp, and came up with an awesome totem. Bruce even found some small yellow beaks for us to wear by the second weekend of training.
“I used to be a Bobwhite, and a good old Bobwhite too. But now I’ve finished Bobwhiting, I don’t know what to do.” We are the Bobwhites. Beware!
Watch for more stories about my Woodbadge training.