Posts Tagged ‘Leadership’


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.

Leave a comment using the link below, or at the PTC Media forums. You can also rate the videos of Melrose Scouting Productions at the iTunes Music Store. (We could always use more iTunes love.) It really is great to hear what you think about the podcast videos.

Click here to DOWNLOAD this Podcast
Subscribe to Melrose Scouting Productions Podcast through iTunes.
or at this RSS feed: http://feeds2.feedburner.com/melrosescoutingproductions
Check out other Scouting podcasts at PTC Media.

 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.

I am veering away from the usual song or skit video found on the Melrose Scouting Productions Podcast to bring you something created by Eagle Scout Doug Gray. A couple years ago Doug’s father, Fred, asked me for some assistance in finding some Scouting videos that his council could not find for him. Fred recently wrote me to share a few videos created by his son. Here is a portion of that email:

My son just completed his Gold Palm and put together some videos. One of the DVD presentations was for this spring’s Buckeye Council NYLT. He is going to be JASM and will present “The Leading Edge, How To Be An Effective Leader.” Doug made an interactive DVD presentation in which he (as Napoleon on stage) interviews Napoleon on the screen. For Youtube he filmed both parts and put them into a complete presentation. Doug spent months on the project and then broke the presentation into four parts (he left out the first segment about Storming, Forming, Norming, etc because only NYLT people would understand that). The parts on Youtube Doug made because he felt that the National canned presentation was too much “how” and not enough “what” as far as leadership for 14 year old kids.
The best part of the whole presentation was about the Scout Law according to Great Leaders – Doug made that into a separate Youtube video. He is going to use it at his Eagle Palm presentation in a month.

I watched both videos and was very impressed with Scout Law video. After a quick email of my own, I received permission to share Doug’s video through this podcast. Fred wrote that Doug made the videos to share, so if you have an opportunity to use this within your troop, council, or district than do so.
Leave a comment using the link below, or at the PTC Media forums. You can also rate the videos of Melrose Scouting Productions at the iTunes Music Store. It really is great to hear what you think about the podcast videos.

Click here to DOWNLOAD this Podcast
Subscribe to Melrose Scouting Productions Podcast through iTunes.
or at http://feeds2.feedburner.com/melrosescoutingproductions
Check out other Scouting podcasts at PTC Media.

I was beginning to feel a little burned out after serving as the scoutmaster of Troop 68 for six years in the fall of 1987. I told Paul, a great Scouting friend of mine, how I was feeling about Scouting. He suggested that I attend a Woodbadge training course. Woodbadge would get me energized.

I had heard about Woodbadge, that it is like the college course of Scout leader training, and that it is an excellent course to attend. I also knew that it would take place over three weekends and that there was a “nice” registration fee. Woodbadge would be something I would attend some other time.
Paul caught up with me during a district function in the spring of 1988. “I registered you for the fall Woodbadge course,” he told me, and then gave me the dates of the three weekends. “Well gosh,” I thought, “that was nice of him.” Yes, I wanted to participate in a Woodbadge course but this was much sooner than I had planned. Oh well, I was registered now so I guess I may as well get it done and over with.
I told the troop committee about it at the next meeting. They agreed to pay a portion of the cost for which I was very thankful. I also discovered that I would need another uniform shirt since I was not about to redo many of the patches on my current troop uniform. Luckily, I already had the official Scout pants, cap, and socks.
As the first weekend approached I began to get a little nervous. I was attending the course in Viking Council, since our council was not conducting Woodbadge training. I knew Paul would be on the staff as the troop quartermaster but would I know anyone else? Who would be in my patrol? What would be my patrol name? Too many questions. Too much to be nervous about.

I found this article on a blog called Scouting Maniac (http://scoutingmaniac.blogspot.com/). They write about a site called BeliefNet which is sponsoring a contest called Most Inspiring Person of the Year 2008. Here is what is written:

This is not Friends of Scouting or asking for money, this is about honoring a group of scouts who gave selflessly to help those in need at Little Sioux Scout Ranch, where over this summer had a tornado tear through the camp. Belief Net which is a online website that offers a award called Most Inspiring Person of the Year, this award gives a large sum of money to the winners charity of choice. But in order for this to happen we need to get votes in on the website as soon as possible because voting ends this coming Friday. The website you must go to vote is that of:

http://www.beliefnet.com/Inspiration/Most-Inspiring-2008/index.aspx?loc=interstitialskip

Not much time left to vote on this, but I did. It is a close race at the moment. If the Boy Scouts receive more votes they could win this. Check it out and vote.

Update 12/6/08:
The Boy Scouts have made it to the list of three finalists. The site states, “Your top three picks are our most Inspiring finalists. As we do every year, the editors of Beliefnet will now make the final choice. Come back December 10 to see who won!” The final three include the Boy Scouts who survived the Iowa tornado, Randy Pausch, the computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon University, and Christian musician Steven Curtis Chapman. I guess I will have to check back in few days to see who becomes the site’s Most Inspiring Person of the Year.