Posts Tagged ‘scoutmaster’


It is time. After 30 years of serving as the scoutmaster of Melrose Boy Scout Troop 68 I have decided to step down and let someone else assume the role. My last day as the adult leader of the troop will be December 31, 2011. I have had some great times and awesome experiences during those three decades, but it was not always a bed of roses. There were four times I tried to quit, when the frustrations became so intolerable that I just could not handle it anymore. But after a few good nights sleep everything seemed to be a little better so I stayed on.

I still remember that evening in September 1981 when the troop committee appointed this young twenty one year old kid to the position of scoutmaster. I was shocked. I really did not see it coming. I was a little overwhelmed. I accepted the appointment and vowed to do my best for the troop. I took all the training offered by the district and council. I went to roundtables every month. I attended a weeklong scoutmaster training course at Philmont Scout Ranch in 1984. I wanted to be the best scoutmaster that I was capable of being.

As I step down from the position I never dreamed of holding for this long, I have to say that I will not be walking away from the Scouting program. As the first day of the new year arrives I will become a member of the troop committee. I will continue to be a merit badge councilor for eight awards. I do plan to assist the new scoutmaster as he or she prepares to assume their role in the troop. I still plan to attend some of the troop’s activities and outings.

Of course, I have mixed feeling about leaving the role I have held for sixty percent of my life, and nearly all of my adult life. I will miss sitting around the campfire on cool Minnesota evenings. I will miss working closely with Eymard, my assistant for 23 years. But most of all, I will miss working closely with the boys. The boys were my second family. They were and always will be the number one reason for remaining as the scoutmaster for as long as I have.

I do look forward to beginning a new phase of my Scouting career even though I am not quite sure what that will include. I do look forward to having Monday nights free and more weekends available to spend with family and friends. I look forward to having my very first summer vacation away from a Boy Scout camp. (Yes, I have spent every summer vacation of the past thirty one years with Boy Scouts at summer camp, Philmont Scout Ranch, or some other high adventure trip.)

I will not be able to give up Scouting completely. It has been a part of my life for too long. Lem Siddons was a scoutmaster for twenty years before he was retired by his troop. I would rather the idea to retire be mine, and not the committee’s. Reaching the twenty mark kinda became a goal of mine after watching Follow Me Boys in 1984. I never actually thought I would achieve it, but now I can say I not only achieved it but surpassed it by fifty percent. How do you like them apples Lem?

The troop committee was called to a local restaurant for a special meeting on September 13th. As the troop’s assistant scoutmaster I was invited to attend. So was the district executive. The scoutmaster was not informed of the meeting.

The troop had a problem. The current scoutmaster was not doing his job. He did not attend many of the meetings. He did not attend many of the outings. The committee needed to talk to the district executive about their options. After a short discussion one member asked the D.E. if they could fire a scoutmaster. The D.E. replied that they could. After all, it was their troop.

I had to leave the meeting at that point to go to the Cub Scout Pack’s monthly committee meeting, so I did not get to partake in the rest of the troop committee meeting. Later, on my way home, I noticed that a few of the Boy Scout committee members were still at the restaurant so I stopped to talk to them. The committee chairman invited me to sit down. They gave me a quick update about what I missed. They decided to fire the scoutmaster. They appointed me as the troop’s new scoutmaster.

I was a little stunned. No one had asked me about it. True, I was already doing most of the scoutmaster’s job, but I was only 21 years old. I was not sure I was ready for such a responsibility. The committee thought I was ready and promised their support. What could I do? I accepted the position.

That was in 1981, thirty years ago. I had been an assistant scoutmaster for only 16 months. I wanted to do a good job as scoutmaster so I took all the training the council and district provided. I attended nearly all the monthly roundtable meetings. I poured myself into the program because I believed in what Scouting had to offer.

The core principles of the program remain the same as they were thirty years ago, but their have been some changes. Women are now allowed to be scoutmasters. Two adults must now attend any troop functions. Youth protection training is now mandatory. Councils now do background checks on any adults who wish to hold a leadership position. Oh, and skill awards have disappeared from the advancement program.

The remember when the first boys joined the troop who were born after I had become a scoutmaster. “Wow. I am getting old,” I thought to myself. Then the parents of some of the Scouts were younger then me. I have now been a scoutmaster so long that those first Boy Scouts from the ealry 1980′s are old enough to have Scout-age boys of their own.

Thirty years. Wow. I have seen hundreds of boys go through the Scouting program. I have been to the Charles Sommers Canoe Base, attended a national jamboree, and been on five treks at Philmont Scout Ranch. I have participated in two dozen week long summer camps and attended nearly a thousand troop meetings. I have seen 19 boys earn the Eagle Scout award while a member of Troop 68. Hopefully there will be one more before the end of the year.

During the last couple of months I have been thinking about retiring as the troop’s scoutmaster. Thirty years is a long time. I have accomplished my goals. I have given it a good run, but I have been growing tired of the meetings and outings. I do not think I have much more to offer as a scoutmaster. Another factor is that Melrose has not been supporting Scouting like it once did. The troop is down to nine members. Only two of them live in town. If the community is not willing to support a Scouting program by getting involved then maybe it is time to let it go.

Like I said, thirty years is a long time, but I do not regret it. Sure, there have been some rough times, but there were a lot more great times and great boys that came through the program. I think I can honestly say I have done well as the scoutmaster of Melrose Troop 68.

If I hadn’t done a good job, the committee would have fired me. Wouldn’t they?

How did you do with the trivia quiz, part one? Are you ready for my Follow Me Boys trivia quiz, part 2? You must be, or why are you here? Get your pencil and paper ready. (I recommend a pencil in case you need to erase an answer. Let’s get started.

1) How much did Ralph Hastings say the lake property was worth if properly developed?

2) Who did Whitey marry when he grew up?

3) What year did the formal Scout camp start being built on the donated lake property?

4) Who made the decision that Lem needed to retire as scoutmaster when his health started failing?

5) What title did the troop committee give to Lem when he retired as scoutmaster?

6) What was the house number of Lem and Vida’s house?

7) Which one of Lem Siddons’ Boy Scouts became the governor?

8 ) What was the name given to the Scout camp built on the donated Siebert property?

9) What actor played the young Whitey?

10) What year was Follow Me Boys first released in the United Sates?

Remember to double check your answers before scrolling down.

Exchange your quiz paper with the person to your right.

No cheating is allowed.

You are trustworthy, aren’t you?

A Scout is all 12 points of the Scout law.

Do you think you did better this time?

Okay, enough of this.

Here are the answers.

That is, if you are ready for them.

If not, go back to the top of the page.

1) Half a million dollars.
2) Nora Thompson
3) 1950
4) The troop committee.
5) scoutmaster emiritus
6) 244
7) HooDoo
8 ) Camp Siddons
9) Kurt Russell
10) 1966

How did you do this time?

This episode of Around The Scouting Campfire is dedicated to a special individual of Boy Scout Troop 68, Eymard, our assistant scoutmaster. Eymard is 83 years old and has been with the troop for 23 years. Buttons and Steve thought it was about time to recognize Eymard on the podcast.

In addition to Steve’s story about Eymard and Buttons interview with him we also get to hear the Buckskin staff of Many Point Scout Camp as they lead the campers in the Bear Hunt song. Steve has a scoutmaster conference about being clean. Buttons shares some feedback on past shows, including one comment he does not like very well.

Steve and Buttons thank PTC Media (http://www.ptcmedia.net) for allowing this program to be a part of the family of Scouting related podcasts. We also thank the Boy Scout Store (http://boyscoutstore.com) for sponsoring the show. Be sure to take a moment to check out their website. Finally, we would like to thank you, our listeners, for downloading Around The Scouting Campfire.

Send us your emails. You can contact Buttons at buttonst68@yahoo.com. You may contact Scoutmaster Steve at stevejb68@yahoo.com. Please rate the show and/or leave a comment at the iTunes store or at PTC Media forums. You can also follow the hosts on Twitter at twitter.com/stevejb68 or twitter.com/buttonst68
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Download episode #18 by clicking HERE.
Subscribe to the RSS Feed - http://feeds2.feedburner.com/MelroseScoutingAudioPodcast
This podcast is found on iTunes at
http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewPodcast?id=307979159.
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Show notes:
The Eighty Year Old Assistant Scoutmaster – Eighty Year Old Assistant Scoutmaster
MSPP #64: MPSC The Bear Hunt – MSPP #64: The Bear Hunt
MSPP #16: Buttons Interviews Eymard – MSPP #16: Buttons Interviews Eymard

We have all heard that being a scoutmaster or cubmaster will only take an hour a week. In the last article I wrote about how many hours it may actually take for a scoutmaster. But what if we take this further? If Scouting only takes one hour a week that means it will only consume 52 hours per year. But let’s be a bit more realistic. Instead of looking at hours, let us take a look at evenings and days per year. Here is an average year in my Scouting life:

Troop meetings – 33 evenings
Patrol Leader Council Meetings – 11 evenings
Committee Meetings – 11 evenings
Troop Parents Meeting – 1 evening
School Night To Join Scouting – 1 evening
Courts of Honor – 4 evenings
Roundtables – 8 evenings
Summer Camp – 7 days
Weekend Camps (average 6 per year) – 18 days
One Day Activities – 6 days
Yearly Planning Session – 1 day
Fundraisers (meals) – 2 days
Troop Service Projects (varies per year) – 4 days

Grand Total  = 107 days/evenings!

This total surprised me. I did not realize that I give over three and one half months a year to the troop. And this does not count extra things like district or council training, evenings spent writing newsletters, working with boys on merit badges, or other such things. Wow.

I would like to hear from other scoutmasters out there. Does this sound similar to the time you dedicate to your troop?

If you have been involved with Scouting for any length of time you have probably heard someone say, “It only takes an hour a week.” What a joke that is! Just a bit of a misleading line there, huh? Let us take a look at a typical month of Scouting during this scoutmaster’s life.

We have three troop meetings a month. At ninety minutes per meeting, plus drive time, plus waiting for parents to pick their boys after the meeting, I can estimate two hours per meeting. Monthly total here is 6 hours.

One committee meeting per month, average of 1.5 hours. One patrol leader council meeting per month, average two hours. One district roundtable meeting each month with drive time to council office, average of three hours. Total of monthly meetings is 6.5 hours each month.

One weekend camping trip per month. The Scouts arrive at 6:00 Friday evening. Parents pick up the last boy at 11:00 Sunday morning. Total hours of camping trip is 41 hours. (Yes, I counted the sleeping hours. I am still in charge of the Scouts, am I not?)

Now, let’s add this up. It comes to 53.5 hours during the month. (Keep in mind that this does not include any prep time, fund raising, training, or special activity time yet.) Divide this figure by four weeks per month. Gosh! That comes to an average of 13.75 hours per week.

An hour a week? Not even close! But this demonstration does show that those of us who are scoutmasters can be quite dedicated to the program and the boys. The amazing thing is that I sometimes feel that I am spending more “quality time” with the boys then some of their parents do. What does this say about our society?

Scouting can be a great organization for boys and their parents. It gives them a chance to do some things together. Come on parents! Get involved with that Cub Pack or Boy Scout Troop. Become a committee member, a pack leader, or an assistant scoutmaster.

After all, it only takes an hour a week.

(This article was originally posted on August 22, 2007.)
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Leadership is the theme of Around The Scouting Campfire, show #17. Scoutmaster Steve and Buttons, the radical Boy Scout, begin the show by discussing Steve’s list of ten reasons to become a Scout leader. Steve tells us a story about a high school twerp who would become a scoutmaster. The Many Point Scout Camp staff tells us about the legend of Boots Hanson, the original caretaker of the camp. Buttons compares leadership styles to the rides at Disney World. We hear the second of three radio spots produced by the Bot Scouts of America. The show ends with a scoutmaster minute about being brave and a little feedback from our listeners.

Steve and Buttons thank PTC Media (http://www.ptcmedia.net) for allowing this program to be a part of the family of Scouting related podcasts. We also thank the Boy Scout Store (http://boyscoutstore.com) for sponsoring this show. Be sure to take a moment to check out their website. Finally, we would like to thank you, our listeners, for downloading Around The Scouting Campfire.

Send us your emails. You can contact Buttons at buttonst68@yahoo.com. You may contact Scoutmaster Steve at stevejb68@yahoo.com. Please rate the show and/or leave a comment at the iTunes store or at PTC Media forums. You can also follow the hosts on Twitter at twitter.com/stevejb68 or twitter.com/buttonst68
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Download episode #17 by clicking HERE.
Subscribe to the RSS Feed - http://feeds2.feedburner.com/MelroseScoutingAudioPodcast
This podcast is found on iTunes at
http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewPodcast?id=307979159.
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Show notes:
Ten Reasons to be an a Scout Leader – http://www.melrosetroop68.org/blog/?p=1014
The Twerp Who Would Become Scoutmaster – http://www.melrosetroop68.org/blog/?p=429
The Legend of Boots Hanson (video) – http://www.ptcmedia.net/podpress_trac/web/1668/0/BootsHanson.m4v
Which Ride Are You? – http://www.melrosetroop68.org/blog/?p=407
BSA Radio Commercials – http://www.scouting.org/WordstoLiveBy/PSAs/Radio.aspx

If you have been a leader in the Scouting program for a few years, or any sort of program for that matter, you have probably reached a point when you have said to yourself, “Why am I doing this? Am I the only one who cares? Why do I put up with these problems and these people?” It has happened to me several times during the 30 years I have been a leader of a Boy Scout troop.

The first time I was ready to hang up my scoutmaster hat was in 1986. I was a 25 year old scoutmaster, on the job as the scoutmaster for less then five years. The boys had become an unmanageable group, at least in my opinion. I was so frustrated that I wrote a letter to the parents. Then I called a friend of mine who lived nearly 100 miles away but had one of those new personal computers and a dot matrix printer. I asked him if he could type this letter and print enough copies for me to send to each family of the troop. After he agreed to do it I drove to his place that night. It was early in the morning when I arrived back home and mailed the letters but I didn’t care. I wanted the parents to know how I felt about things. I listed the problems I saw in the troop, and gave some solutions on how we all could solve them. Here is what I wrote in that letter 24 years ago…

FROM THE DESK OF: Scoutmaster Steve B
TO: parents of the Scouts of BSA Troop 68
REGARDING: Problems of our troop.

Dear Parents,

The BSA program strives for three aims: 1) building character, 2) fostering citizenship, and 3) developing metal, moral, and physical fitness. Could our troop be failing to do this? I think so.

The month of April was the worst month, at least in my opinion, in our history as a troop. At the April 15th troop meeting the boys reached an all time high for rowdiness, goofing off, not listening, and not giving a darn. The meeting had to be halted twice to settle things down. It was after this meeting that I almost quit being a scoutmaster. But I didn’t. And I will tell you why.

First of all, I like the boys and I care about them. I believe that each one has the potential to be a great human being. Second, I believe in the Scouting program. I feel it is the best program in the world that a boy can belong to. Third, I think that you and I both realize that if I quit this troop will more then likely fall apart for lack of a scoutmaster. I do not want that to happen.

During the week following that meeting I did a lot of thinking about the troop and my involvement with it. Should I stay on as scoutmaster? Is our troop really Scouting? Do the boys really care about Scouting? Do the parents care?

By the next meeting I found six things wrong with our troop: attitude, advancement, discipline, Scout spirit, uniforms, and participation. Quite a bit, isn’t it? In the following pages you will read my feeling about these six items and my solutions. At the end there is a questionaire. If you as a parent care about your Scout and want Scouting to continue in Melrose, I would like you to fill it out and send it back to me by Monday, May 13th. If you do not send it back, my opinion will be that you do not care about your son being a Scout or Scouting in general. If this is the case, I ask you to keep your son at home. Scouting is a three way partnership between the boy, the scoutmaster, and the parents. If this partnership is not complete, the battle is lost.

And I am finally sick and tired of battling parents and boys.

Now, to get down to business. PROBLEMS:

1) Attitude
I feel this is the most important problem. If this problem was solved, everything else would probably fall into place.
Problem – The boys just do not seem to care about Scouting anymore. They want all the fun and games involved with Scouting, but they do not even try to act like Boy Scouts. They will often fight things that deal with Scouting (for example – knots).
Solution – This one is up to the boys. Either they start trying to be what a Scout should be, or as far as I am concerned, they are out of the troop. I have several boys that would like to be good Scouts and I will not have their time wasted by kids who have an attitude problem. I have tried discussing this with the Scouts. It is now your turn.

2) Advancement
This is a way of measuring a boy’s interest in Scouting. But most important, it builds confidence in the boy and recognizes him for his achievements. This is extremely important at his age.
Problem – Advancement in our troop is almost at a standstill. I knew it had been bad, but I did not realize how bad until May 3rd when I did a report on troop advancement. The report is on the 24 boys who were in the troop for at least three months. Out of these 24 boys there is 1 Life, 1 Star, 4 First Class, 5 Second Class, 7 Tenderfoot, and six Scouts without a rank. Over one half of the troop is Tenderfoot or lower. These thirteen Scouts averaged 9.3 months with no rank advancement. Eight boys have not advanced in rank in over one year. Four of these have not advanced for over a year and a half.
Solution – The solution comes in two parts. First, and most importantly, you have got to show that you care. Sit down with him and calmly talk about it. Do not yell at him or he will shut you out. Find out how he feels about it. And then, this is very important, volunteer to help him, and then carry through with that promise. It is going to take some of your time, but he is worth it, isn’t he? Secondly, I have tried to push the boys along. It is now time for me to take more drastic action. Any Scout who has not advanced at least one rank during the previous eleven months as of 5/31/85 will not be allowed to attend any troop monthly outings until he does advance. The only exception to this rule will be summer camp.

3) Scout Spirit
Scout Spirit is defined as following the Scout Oath, Law, Motto, Slogan, and Outdoor Code, and having a positive attitude about things.
Problem – The boys’ Scout Spirit is at a very low point right now.
Solution – Other then to keep reminding them about it, I do not really have a solution. All of us, myself and you parents, must try to live up to the Scout Oath and Law, setting the example the boys need.

4) Discipline
To put it bluntly, a lack of it.
Problem – There is not enough of this in our troop. There are two groups of people who are at fault, the adult leaders and the parents. When I say the adult leaders, I am referring to one person, namely myself. This is the main area in which I must improve. I realize that I have been too lenient in disciplining and have let the kids go too far. But I have one problem. How far can I go in disciplining them? After all, they are not my kids.
Solution – First of all, I must get tougher and do more disciplining. This will be hard for me because I hate doing it, but the attempt must be made. Secondly, our troop is presently at 29 members, which is too much for one man to handle. Therefore, I ask that at least one other parent should be present at all troop functions or they will be cancelled.
Are you willing to give two hours a month to help your Scout and Scout troop?

5) Uniforms
The scoutmaster handbook states, “Just as it identifies the wearer as a Scout, the uniform reminds him that he is a Scout and influences his actions. The Scout uniform is also a leveler. Whatever a boy’s background, when he puts it on he shares equally in the program.”
Problem – The boys do not like wearing the uniform outside of a meeting. Sometimes the parents side with the boys.
Solution – The Scout handbook, scoutmaster handbook, Council and National Office state that whenever a Scout is on a Scout Function then he shall wear the uniform. As I told the boys last month, “You don’t have to wear your uniforms, and you don’t have to come to Scout activities either.” If a boy wants to be a Scout in our troop then he will wear the uniform.

6) Participation
Problem – First, the boys sometimes feel they do not have to come to meetings or activities unless they fell like coming. Wrong! Part of Scout Spirit is actively participating in meetings, outing, good turns, and service projects. Secondly, it seems that some parents feel this is a baby sitting service. There are a number of parents in this troop who seldom help out. A couple have not helped at all yet. They keep saying they are busy and don’t have the time.
Solution – Well, you should make the time! They are your kids, not mine. If you can not find the time to help out with the organization your son belongs to, then I can not find the time either. From now on I expect a lot more parent participation at troop meetings, outings, activities, committee meetings, and such. I am not going to try to handle 29 boys by myself. And I do not expect those parents who are already helping a lot to help anymore then their share.

I will be asking all of you to make commitments to your son and the Scouting program. If this troop is to work properly, we will have to work together. I myself am making a firm commitment toward helping the troop. At the end of April, I dropped out of every other organization I was involved with except two – Boy Scouts and the city council. I did this for a couple of reasons. One, I was getting involved with too many things. I finally realized this and set my priorities.

Secondly, I strongly believe that our children are our greatest resource. If we don’t take the time to teach them and show them what is right, who will?

Third, the boys need adult guidance. By getting out of all the other activities, I will have more time to spend with the boys. But remember, your guidance is the most important to them.

Fourth, when I took the scoutmaster position, I promised the troop committee that I would dedicate myself to the troop. Well, I have been slacking and it is time I got back on the right track.

I have said a lot in this letter, and I have probably made a few of you angry. But I have been quiet for too long and it is time these things were said. I would like to hear your comments and remarks. Please remember to fill out the questionnaire and mail it back to me.

Thank you.
Your scoutmaster,
Steve B.

Looking back at this letter today I am amazed by what I actually wrote. I am also amazed to see that things have not changed that much during the last 25 years. We are still having a few of these problems with today’s troop.

I am curious, what do you think of this letter by the 25 year old scoutmaster in 1986?