Posts Tagged ‘roundtable’


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?

The monthly roundtable is a meeting for Scout leaders to learn new skills, receive information, and have fun with friends. Sometimes special presentations are made. During this month’s Scenic district roundtable the district executive took a moment to recognize a Boy Scout leader. This leader is about to step down at the end of the year after 30 years of being a scoutmaster for Troop 68 in Melrose. The video was recorded on an iPod by one of the Scouters in attendance.

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The internet has opened new worlds of information and new ways to communicate since it became popular two decades ago. (Gosh, has it been that long already?) During the last few years audio and video podcasts have become a popular method of delivering sights and sounds to the web audience.

Those of you who visit this blog know that it also serves as the home of the Melrose Scouting Productions Podcast, or MSPP. This podcast features videos of Boy Scout activities and even campfire songs and skits. Is MSPP the only Scouting related podcast on the web? No, not at all. There are dozens of Scouting podcasts listed on the iTunes music store. If you do a search on Google or Yahoo I am sure you would find dozens, if not hundreds, more.

I was recently a guest on an audio podcast which discusses Cub Scouting topics. The Leader’s Campfire is hosted by two Cub Scout leaders, Mr. Bob and Cubmaster Chris. During the shows (thirty so far) they have covered a wide range of Cub Scouting, Tiger Cubbing, and Webelos topics. Occasionally they invite a guest or two on the show.

I was invited to be a member of a panel of leaders to discuss Webelos transition for the thirtieth episode. Bob, Chris, and I were joined by John, Lori, and Mac, who are Cub Scout leaders from around the country. The final product turned out to be nearly an hour long podcast about Webelos transition. I am not going to cover the details about what we discussed in this blog because I want you to go to their website and listen to it. I strongly suggest that Cubmasters and Webelos den leaders listen to this podcast, episode 30.

Personally, it was a great experience for me. I was able to meet five fantastic and dedicated Cub leaders from around the United States, and share ideas with them. Hopefully, those ideas will help other Cub Scout and Webelos leaders around the country.

This was the second time that I have participated in a podcast of the PTC Media network. The first time just kinda happened when one night when I found myself online the same time Mr. Bob and his son Ty were about to tape an episode of Akela’s Adventure. Ty, Bob, and Buttons, the radical Boy Scout, had a great time discussing the activities Ty participated in while at Cub Scout Day Camp.

I invite you all to listen to The Leader’s Campfire, Episode #30. Should I be allowed to participate in another podcast in the future? Or should I retire my microphone and headset? Let me know what you think by leaving a comment.

And don’t forget, that anyone who leaves a comment to a “A Scoutmaster’s Blog” article this month will be entered into a drawing for a dvd-r featuring twenty Scouting promotional videos.

Roundtables need to meet a few requirements if you want Scout leaders to attend them. They need to be informative. They need to offer worthwhile training. They need to offer a wide variety of topics, not just the same old thing year after year. They need to offer something for the new leaders, and something for the experienced crowd. But most of all, they need to be fun!

I have attended many good roundtables, and many boring ones. Any meeting that expects me to sit there for ninety minutes listening to a lecture is NOT a good meeting in my book. If that speaker is someone with a monotone voice that likes to drone on and on then I will be fidgeting in my seat.

I know the national office publishes meeting suggestions for roundtables. I also know that not every roundtable staff uses them. Sometimes the national suggestions are not compatible with a district’s agenda. It does not matter if the staff uses the nation book or makes their own agendas, but they need to make the meetings worthwhile for adult leaders to take the time out of their own busy schedules. Otherwise do not expect people to show up to fill those chairs. Here are my suggestions for a decent roundtable.

First of all, have an opening and a closing ceremony. Use different ones every month. Give the pack and troop leaders new ideas to take back to their units. Keep in mind that when you use and opening and closing ceremonies you “actually” bring the meeting to a start and an end just like a troop meeting.

Try to offer at least two topics per monthly meeting, something for the new leaders and something for the old timers. You can either break the meeting into two halves, each half covering one topic, or break the group into two groups, one covering each topic. Be sure to invite speakers who are knowledgeable in the topic.

Play a game part way through the meeting. Yeah, that is right. A game! Expecting men to sit there for ninety minutes is the equivalent of torture. A short ten minute game lets everyone get up, stretch, and burn a few calories. It clears the cobwebs that may have started to form in the mind. Keep the game simple and something that could be used during a troop or pack meeting with the boys. Remember, we are at the roundtable to learn things to take back to the troops. Oh, and make sure the game is fun!

Before the closing ceremony spend a few minutes with any announcements. And do not forget to recognize any accomplishments achieved since the last roundtable. Yes, adults like to be recognized also, just like the boys, even if the recognition may be for something silly.

There, now you have my recommendations for a good roundtable. After these three entries about roundtables you can look forward to a new topic next time.

In the 1980’s, when I began attending monthly training meetings, the district had a great roundtable staff. They were well trained, prepared for the subjects, and they made the roundtables fun.

Paul was the roundtable commissioner. He had sons of his own in the Scouting program and had held several positions within Scouting, including scoutmaster. He seemed to be very knowledgeable about every aspect of the Scouting program. Paul was a Scouter that I looked up to. Over the next few years he became my mentor and one of my best friends in Scouting.

Once I had attended roundtables for a few years Paul invited me to join his staff. I was in my mid-twenties and did not feel very comfortable about training men and women who would be older then myself. I think Paul saw something in me that I did not see in myself.

During the next few years, under Paul’s guidance, I began refining my Scouting skills as an adult leader. One trick that Paul loved to do to me was to place me in charge of a subject for the next roundtable that I did not know a lot about. So, I had one month to learn about it. The trick worked very well, although at the time I did not always appreciate it. I learned a lot under Paul’s instruction. He soon encouraged me to be a staff member for the Scouting University and the weekend scoutmaster training sessions. We even experimented one year with a junior leader roundtable.

I soon became more comfortable speaking in front of groups of people, something I had hated doing in high school. My voice started cracking less and less, my palms became less sweaty, and I did not shake quite as much as I used to. I began to become more confident in myself as my knowledge in Scouting increased.

As adult leaders we always like to brag about how Scouting can help our boys, but I think we also need to remember what Scouting offers adults who are willing to apply themselves to the program. I, for one, have grown more as a Scout leader then I ever did as a Boy Scout. I am sure that I am not the only one out there who can make that claim.

Twenty years after those roundtable staffer days, I received the council’s highest award, the Silver Beaver. I invited my parents to the award ceremony. (I am not married so there was not a wife to invite.) I also asked my old roundtable commissioner, mentor, and friend to attend the dinner and be the person who would present the award to me. Both Paul and I were grinning wide as he placed the Silver Beaver award around my neck.

Should you attend your monthly roundtable meetings? You bet you should! And apply yourself to the leadership roles you have accepted. After all, look where it got me.

I began attending monthly district roundtable training meetings shortly after becoming an assistant scoutmaster in 1980. I was a firm believer that this ninety minute training session would help me in my new position. I still attend many roundtables, even though I have been in Scouting long enough to conduct the meetings myself. I still pick up a couple things here and there that are useful.

Those first years of roundtables were critical in my leadership training. Oh yes, I did also attend the weekend scout leader training session and the yearly Scouting University, but it was during the roundtables that I really got to know the other Scout leaders in my area.

I live in Melrose, a city of approximately 3000 people. Nearby cities are 6-7 miles apart with a lot of farm land between them. Interstate 94 runs through the south portion of Melrose. The Central Minnesota Council office is located in St. Cloud, thirty five miles from my home. A couple leaders from neighboring cities and I would carpool to the meetings. During that 30 minute drive we would discuss various Scouting topics and sometimes talk about current problems we had within our troops. The same thing would happen on the way home, although the meeting may have given us a new topic to discuss.

One advantage in attending these monthly meetings was forming new friendships with my fellow Scouters. I am pretty shy by nature so it was great to be able to share experiences and to have them there to help solve problems.

The members of the carpool soon decided to stop for supper after the roundtables since we did not have the time to eat properly between getting home from work and getting to the meeting. We made a habit of going to Bonanza in St. Cloud. These “after-roundtable roundtables, as I liked to call them, became another important element of my training and friendship making. It did not take long for other Scouters to discover our after-roundtable roundtables. There were times when we would have eight to ten leaders, in Scout uniform, sitting at a table in Bonanza, shooting the breeze and solving all of the problems in Scouting. We had a great time.

Currently, I am the only member of those early roundtable years that is still involved in Scouting, at least locally. Most of those guys have retired from Scouting or moved on to other locations. I, however, am still making new friends at the roundtables. A couple months ago, four of us stopped at a local dining place after the meeting for some snacks and something to drink. We talked about Scouts, the Order of the Arrow, and the council’s camp.

Who knows… Maybe the after-roundtable roundtables will become popular once again.