Posts Tagged ‘scoutmaster’


beagle-scouts-rock-keepsake-ornamentIt is August 1st, and that means this year’s new Hallmark Keepsake ornaments are in the stores and ready to sell. Beagle Scout Snoopy and his friends once again make an appearance as the Scouting series continues. This year captures the Beagle Scout as he  climbs to the top of the mountain with the help of Woodstock and his friends. It is a fitting theme when you think about how popular rock climbing has become with Boy Scouts and how many summer camps now feature climbing towers.

Unfortunately, it is not one of my favorite Beagle Scout Snoopy ornaments. To me it looks like the characters are climbing a piece of frosting covered chocolate. Maybe the characters are climbing a gigantic s’more instead of a mountain! That would be quite tasty. The sticky marshmallow topping would make the climb a little easier, or would it make it worse?

Anyway, I bought two when I was in the store today. One will actually be used on the tree, and one will be stored away as part of my collection. I believe this is the seventh Beagle Scout ornament in my collection. Here are my articles from the previous years:
Campfire Fun 2007
Beagle Scout Day Out (canoeing) 2008
A Spooky Story 2009
The Fearless Crew 2010
Holiday En-tree-preneurs (selling Christmas trees) 2011
Salute The Flag 2012
Beagle Scouts Rock! (this year’s)

http://www.hallmark.com/products/general/keepsake-ornaments/beagle-scouts-rock-1495QXI2175_DK/

It looks like you may have to find a store to buy it. The Hallmark website does not to seem to include it as an online purchase. Will you be picking one up for yourself or that special Scout in your life?

1947handbooksmThe Boy Scouts of America’s website states this about the the Aims of Scouting: The purpose of the Boy Scouts of America — incorporated on Feb. 8, 1910, and chartered by Congress in 1916 — is to provide an educational program for boys and young adults to build character, to train in the responsibilities of participating citizenship, and to develop personal fitness.

Character, citizenship, and personal fitness. Those are three outstanding goals to teach our young men. The site lists the methods, or building blocks of Scouting, as nine points: Advancement, Community Organizations and Scouting Councils, Personal Growth, Leadership, the Order of the Arrow, the Outdoors, the Patrol Method, Scouting Values, and Scouts with Special Needs. (See http://www.scouting.org/scoutsource/BoyScouts/TheBuildingBlocksofScouting.aspx )

While the main goals of Scouting have stayed the same through the decades there have been changes in the way the B.S.A. has stated these aims and methods. I decided to pull down a couple versions of the Scoutmaster Handbook from my collection to read what they say about these subjects, and see what, if any, differences there are between then and now.

First, let’s look back to the 1990 version of The Scoutmaster Handbook.
The Aims of Scouting are listed on page 69. They are:
Aim 1 – To build character.
Aim 2 – To foster citizenship.
Aim 3 – To develop fitness.

The book goes on to explain character on page 70.
It’s a “complex of mental and ethical traits”, says one dictionary. It’s “moral or ethical quality” says another. It’s qualities of honesty, courage, and integrity”, says a third. To these perfectly good descriptions we add four “self” qualities that Scouting, over the years, has been especially successful in developing in boys, self-reliance, self-discipline, self-confidence, and self-respect. When a boy begins to develop these, he begins to develop character.

This book says about citizenship: The wise Scoutmaster can guide his Scouts not only to love their country, but to understand it, know more about its heritage and history, encounter the democracy that knits together its many cultures into a nation that welcomes them all. And thus find joy in serving it.It is growth in your Scouts to that level of citizenship in which you, as Scoutmaster, will find your joy.

The book says about Aim 3, developing fitness – The third aim, developing fitness, covers a broader territory, for Scouting recognizes four areas of fitness: physical, mental, emotional, and moral. I sometimes see today’s Scout leaders emphasizing the physical fitness and forgetting about the other three, which is a shame.

That 1990 version of the handbook lists the eight (yes, eight) Methods of Scouting as: Ideals, Patrols, Outdoors, Advancement, Personal Growth, Adult Association, Leadership development, and Uniform. These were the methods I based my 30 years of scoutmastership upon. This list is a bit different then found on today’s website. I have a question for the national office. When was Adult Association dropped from the list? When did the Order of the Arrow make this list?

I also own a 1947 printing of the Handbook For Scoutmasters. Things are written a bit differently in that version. On page 10, right at the begining of the book, it states: THE AIM OF SCOUTING.
Scouting trains for citizenship by inculcating in the boy, from within instead of from without, the qualities of Character, Health and Strength, Handcraft and Skill, Service to Others.

That is somewhat different than how the aims are listed today. Some of it still exists today using different language but I find it interesting that Handcraft and Skill has been dropped. I had to look up the word inculcating because I have never seen it used before. It means: Instill (an attitude, idea, or habit) by persistent instruction.

Also on page 10 the 1947 handbook talks about the Methods of Scouting. Scouting is game played by boys in boy gangs under boy leaders chosen by the gang, guided by a man backed by other men of the community. Scouting provides the boy with an active outdoor life, grants him recognition for mastering various skills, and gives him a chance to wear an attractive uniform. It holds before him the ideals of a true Scout, and encourages him to “help other people at all times”.

The Scout Way – 1) A Game, not a Science.
Patrol Method – 2) The Scout Patrol, 3) Boy Leadership
Men In Scouting – 4) The Scoutmaster, 5) Troop committee and local Council Scouters
Activities – 6) Adventure in the out-of-doors, 7) Scout Advancement
Uniform – 8) The Scout Uniform
Ideals and Service – 9) The Scout Law, 10) The Scout Oath, or Promise – Service: Good Turns.

I love looking at the old literature and seeing how differently things were written back then. Of course, the biggest difference between Scouting in the 1940′s and today’s Scouting is that women can now serve as scoutmasters and other adult leadership positions. Back then they wrote “out-of-doors” instead of outdoors. Patrols are not called gangs in Scouting these days. I also like they way that Scouts have a chance to wear an attractive uniform. Have you seen the uniforms from the 1940′s?

This article is not meant as rant or a statement about Scouting as it is today. It is meant to show the differences in the way Scouting language has changed through the decades. I would challenge you to find some old handbooks and read them and see for yourself the way it has changed over its 100 year history. Or is it still the same?

crthonorI do not know if you have ever read this poem but I thought you may enjoy it. It is a poem by Bill Chiappi about the adult Boy Scout leader. It is called “The Scouter”. I happen to come across this many years ago. This might come in handy for that special event.

He hasn’t much in worldly goods,
Yet he’s richer than you know,
For he’s chosen to be a Scouter
And his spirits are aglow.

He’s just a Scouter, nothing more,
But he molds the lives of boys.
He teaches them how to do their best,
And he shares their many joys.

They work on badges, go on hikes,
Share campfires in the night.
They practice skills and follow laws,
And learn to do things right.

He watches them grow from boys to men,
And it makes it all worthwhile,
When they turn to him and say, “Gee Thanks!”
And their face wears a golden smile.

Boy Scout Troop 68 has a problem. We are looking for someone to become the scoutmaster. Unfortunately, no one seems interested in the position at this time. Having a small troop does not seem to be helping matters. Being in a community that has not been interested in having their boys in the Scout program has definitely made it tougher. (Only three of our eight Boy Scouts live in town.)

When I retired from the position after being the troop’s scoutmaster for 30 years I had a feeling it would be tough finding someone to take over. Luckily, one father stepped up to the plate. After five months he has decided to step down. I had a hunch this might happen. Why? Because he is also the Cubmaster of our Pack. Holding two “full time” volunteer Scouting positions would be tough for anyone to handle. Add to this that his sons are heavy into sports and extracurricular activities, and that he owns his own business, I knew it would be a challenge for him. But I have to give him credit. He gave it a good try. He did a good job. But there just was not enough time in the week to do it all, and do it well. He continues to serve as the Cubmaster.

So, the troop is once again looking for a scoutmaster. I have received several “hints” that a few people in the troop (Scouts and parents) would like to see me return to the position. I have no plans to do so. I am worn out and burned out. I actually began to hate going to Scout functions during my last year as scoutmaster. I do not want to return to the routine of weekly meetings and monthly activities. While I really enjoy working with the boys I do not want the responsibility any longer. I like my new position on the committee.

Sometimes I think thirty years was too long to be the scoutmaster. People got to the point where they would just assume that I would take care of things, and I usually did. People are now scared of the role. I am not quite sure why they should be. I took the position when I was a “wet behind the ear” 21 year old. I did okay with almost no experience. I had a committee that supported me. I was willing to take training, and that made a huge difference.

We have the month of June pretty well covered. I guess I will be the acting scoutmaster. Next month is summer camp, so the troop will not have any meetings. But by August we need to have someone step up to the plate. If we don’t, the council could get antsy and apply pressure to find someone quick. Or else. Troop 68 went through that in 1981. We went through four men as scoutmaster that year. (I was the fourth.) I would hate to see that happen to the troop again. I would really hate to see the troop lose its charter because no one was willing to take the position.

It would be sad to see the troop fold after 32 continuous years.

I had been curious for a couple of weeks what the committee had planned for the retirement party. They had been very quiet whenever I was nearby. A great example of this was at the February committee meeting. I make the agenda so I listed the party under old business thinking they night bring up a few things that needed to be discussed. When the time came up one committee member passed a sheet of paper to the new scoutmaster and, well, that was it. There was not a discussion, not a word was said. My attempt to get information had failed.

Finally, the day of the party had arrived. It began at 2:00 in the afternoon with the Boy Scouts, their families, and a few troop alumni present, but people kept coming in. Shortly after 2:45 the Scenic District executive asked people to have a seat, that the program would soon begin. The five rows of tables were not quite filled but soon would be. At 3:00 the district executive, Bob Rueter, called the room to attention and asked everyone to face the flag, and to join him in the Pledge Of Allegiance. Eymard Orth, my assistant scoutmaster of 24 years and the current troop chaplain, gave the invocation.

Mr. Rueter began the ceremony with the presentation of the last leader’s knot I earned as the troop’s scoutmaster, the Unit Leader Award of Merit, followed by a brief speech about his years working with me. Mr. Orth took the podium next sharing stories of our Scouting experiences. Mark Ettel, the troop’s new scoutmaster, spoke for a few minutes and then asked the current Boy Scouts to come forward. He asked me to joined them and gave me a Norman Rockwell print of the Boy Scout standing in front of the flag of the United States of America, as seen with this post.

Mr. Ettel opened the floor for anyone to come forward to say a few words or share a story. Eleven former members of the troop took the opportunity to come to the podium. Every decade of the thirty years was represented. (Watch the Melrose Scout Productions Podcast for upcoming videos of these speeches.)

It was time for me to step up to the microphone. I joked that I could tell a story about everyone of the Scouts present but that we did not have time for that. I did thank the VFW Post 7050 for sponsoring the troop during the last 32 years. I also thanked the American Legion and the Lions Club for supporting the Scouting program. I thanked the parents, especially those who served on the committee and as assistant scoutmasters. Finally, I thanked all the boys and young men who were members of Boy Scout Troop 68 throughout the years. After all, they were they main reason I stayed on as scoutmaster for over 363 months.

I ended my talk by explaining that I had tried to quit at least four times but for some reason I always changed my mind. It was much nicer to be able to say “I retired” then “I quit”.

The rest of the afternoon was spent visiting with people and former troop members. All in all, it was a great afternoon.

I finally did it! On Wednesday, after thirty years of holding the position, and after one month of retiring from that position, I pulled the Scoutmaster patch off the left sleeve of my Boy Scout uniform. I have been wearing that patch since September 1981. I think I have now been traumatized. I pulled it off myself. I should have left someone else do it. It may take months of psychiatric therapy to get over this.

A few years ago I bought a new uniform, so this was actually the third shirt on which I wore that patch. And I should mention that this was not the first Scoutmaster patch that I have worn. The first patch is still on the first uniform shirt. This was the latest uniform, with the latest patch, the one with the current meaning.

That patch did not come off easily. I had decided during my lunch break to bring my uniform to a local lady who does sewing. I stopped at home, grabbed my uniform out of the closet, and grabbed a Troop Committee patch along with a new Journey To Excellence patch. (Our troop earned the silver award this year.)

I had applied the Scoutmaster patch to the sleeve with Badge Magic adhesive. I was in a hurry so I grabbed the edge of the patch and pulled. And pulled again. And yet again. It was being stubborn. It did not want to easily come off. Either the Badge Magic was working well, or the shirt did not want to lose a trusted friend. I slowly, finally removed that round piece of cloth, leaving much of the plastic backing on the sleeve. I didn’t care, much. The new patch would cover up the mess. I grabbed everything and left the house.

I do not think I will be wearing the uniform very often anymore, but is was important for me to change the patches. I have always stressed to the Boy Scouts that they should wear they uniform correctly and proudly. I scoutmaster should set the example. Only one person in the troop should be wearing that patch and that person is no longer me.

Now, if you will excuse me, I have to leave for my appointment with my therapist. He is going to help me remove the scoutmaster patches from the top of my shoes, the car windshield, my neighbor’s nose…

I guess you may now call me Scouter Steve, instead of Scoutmaster Steve. As the new year began I stepped down from the position I held for over thirty years. I am now a committee member. The troop treasurer, to be exact. It is a job with which I feel comfortable accepting. It is a job that I am familiar with even though I have never balanced the troop’s checkbook. After all, if you a scoutmaster for three decades you have a pretty good idea of the income and expenses of operating a Boy Scout troop.

Tonight was the first troop meeting of the year. The first troop meeting for the new scoutmaster. I did not attend the meeting. I thought it best to stay away, to let the scoutmaster sit in what was my usual spot (or maybe he chose a new spot), to let the Boy Scouts know that, yes, I did retire. And to let everyone start the year without me being there. The Boy Scouts know what to do. Eymard, my assistant scoutmaster for the last 24 years, was there to help Scoutmaster Mark if he needed any.

Was it easy staying at home? Yes and no. I wanted to go to see how things would work out, but I knew that if I went to the meeting it would affect how things would turn out. Does that make sense? I stayed at home and watch an episode of the tenth season of Smallville on dvd. (Yes, I am still a bit of a nerd. I did not give that up with the first of the year.)

It is now 8:30. The troop meeting has been over for thirty minutes. I did not receive a phone call asking for assistance. No one stopped by after the meeting to complain about anything, or to tell me that things fell apart. In other words, I think the meeting must have gone well. The local Scouting world did not come to an end. The troop got along without me. Life goes on.

Now, if you will excuse me, I have to make a phone call to find out how things really went tonight!

Happy Scouting everyone!

It is not a secret. Some Boy Scouts get nervous when it is time to do a scoutmaster conference for a rank. As a scoutmaster I do my best to put the Scout at ease and we usually get through it without a problem. Although there was the time when I held my first Eagle Scout conference back in the late 1980′s. That young man was so nervous that he could not recite the Scout Oath, even though he had repeated it at troop meetings for over six years. Ah, the memories.

One of the Boy Scouts recently came to the house for his Star Rank scoutmaster conference. He was accompanied by his mother. It did not take long to realize that he was nervous, and that having his mother sitting across the room from him was not helping matters. In fact, I think it was making it worse.

Let me set the stage for you. My front door opens into my living room. To the right, in front of the picture window, is the sofa. Across the room are two rocking recliners. At one end of the room is a gliding rocker chair. At the other end is the television and bookcases. When the Boy Scout arrived he sat down on the left end of the sofa, near the door. His mother sat in one of the recliners. I grabbed the troop record book and sat down on the sofa to the Scout’s right.

Like I said, it did not take long to realize this Scout was a little nervous. I also noticed that he kept looking at his mother as he answered several of the questions, instead of answering to me. I moved to the other recliner across the room. This helped in that he now had an easier time looking toward me but he still looked toward his mother, as if looking for approval of his answers and comments. His mother was also commenting on some of the subjects we were discussing.

I thought it might be better to make a few changes. I asked the Boy Scout if he was a bit nervous. He replied that he was. I asked him if having his mother sitting across the room was adding to his nervous. He said yes so I offered a new seating arrangement. I asked his mother to sit in the gliding rocker at the end of the room. I had the Scout sit in the recliner his mother had been using. This put the Scout between me and his mother, thus putting his mother out of his line of sight. I also asked his mother not to respond to any questions unless they were directed to her. She understood and pulled out her smartphone to play with.

The seating arrangement did help. Once his mother was “out of the picture” the Scout was more relaxed and had an easier time talking to me. He may have still been a little nervous but the discussion moved along much better. He passed his Star Rank scoutmaster conference and his now ready for his board of review.

Have you had any interesting experiences during a scoutmaster conference? Leave a response and tell us about it.