Posts Tagged ‘Training’


The Boy Scouts of America needed a new place to hold the 2013 National Jamboree. Fort A.P. Hill, located in Virginia and the site of several previous Jamborees, would no longer be available for this major event. After a lot of searching and fundraising, the B.S.A. purchased property in the mountains of West Virginia and quickly began developing the site for its needs. The Summit Bechtel Reserve opened on time for the 2013 Jamboree and became a hit with the Scouts and adult leaders.

A special program was held during three weeks of the summer of 2018 at this new high adventure base. The Summit Adventure Leadership Training course, also known as SALT, introduced Scouts to the various programs offered at The Summit. Thanks to a generous donor, the cost of the 5 day course was reduced to $45 per participant, plus the cost of transportation.

When the Central Minnesota Council received this information they began the process of trying to create a contingent of 40 or more Scouts. If they could find the forty Scouts the cost would be $325 per participant, which included the cost of a charter bus. Four Boy Scouts of Melrose Troop 68 quickly registered for this event. Two of the troop’s adult leaders applied to be adult leaders. One was chosen to be one of the four chaperones for the trip.

The contingent of 42 Scouts and four adult leaders left the council office in Sartell Sunday evening on July 22nd and arrived at The Summit Monday afternoon. During the next few days the crew members received a sampling of many of the high adventure activities which included BMX biking, mountain biking, skateboarding, a high ropes course, rock climbing, shooting sports, and more. They even visited areas of the base that most campers never get a chance to visit, such as the logistics center. Two highlights of the trip were the 3200 foot long zip line Tuesday morning, and the white water rafting adventure Thursday morning.

Was the trip a success? Did the Scouts have fun? Well, let’s put it this way. When the Melrose Scouts were asked if they would like to go back for a full high adventure program they all agreed they would love to have the chance to go back to The Summit. I guess the answer to the question would be “Yes!”

In May I discovered that four Boy Scouts of Melrose Troop 68 had signed up to attend the new S.A.L.T. program at the Summit Betchel Reserve in West Virginia. The Summit Adventure Leadership Training is a five day program designed to give participants a chance to sample many of the activities found at the Summit, along with some training on how to promote the Summit in their troops, districts, and councils.

I have never been to the Summit. I wanted to visit the base during the 2017 National Jamboree but things did not work out for that to happen. I decided to call the council office and check if they needed any adult leaders go to on the trip. They told me they were looking for leaders and if I was interested I should send in a “resume”. The last time I needed to send a resume to the council was when I applied to be a Scoutmaster of one of the troops for the 2001 National Jamboree.

It took me week to get around writing a resume. As I was writing it I thought to myself, as I listed my Scouting accomplishments, this could work for me or against me. The council may decide to choose younger leadership or a couple Scoutmasters for this trip. Oh well, the decision was theirs. I sent it in and waited for a reply.

For the next week I waited for a reply. To tell the truth, I was starting to have second thoughts about the whole thing. I would soon be 58 years old. Maybe I did not want to camp out for a week long trip anymore. I have not spend a week camping since I stepped down as Scoutmaster in 2011. The hot, humid, and possibly rainy weather known to be in West Virginia during July was another concern. I think I have grown a bit soft since I moved on to a committee position. I was also a little concerned because I had very little information about what would be required from the adult leaders.

After a week I received a reply from the Central Minnesota Council. They would be glad to have me join the crew if it still worked for me to get vacation time. That would not be a problem. I had already been approved the time off at work. I would have to let the Scoutmaster know I would not be spending a couple of days at summer camp which the troop would be attending the week before the trip to the Summit.

I called the council to inform them that I would be glad to attend the Summit. I would soon add a third Boy Scouts of America high adventure base to my list of bases attended.

Being a Boy Scout leader can be serious work. And it can be a lot of fun. Sometimes we can look at ourselves and have a spot of fun at our own expense. That is why I like some of the “special” awards I have seen some councils and troops develop over the years.

A few years ago our council developed a special award for Scout Leaders, The Nap On Safely Award. After all, naps are serious business! If you need to take one during an afternoon while at camp you want to be sure you are doing it properly and safely. This is so important we took time during one of our roundtables to have a training session for this critical award. Here were some of the subjects covered to earning it:

Remember the S.L.E.E.P. acronym.
Safety
Lifestyle
Environment
Enjoyment
Practice

Safety: location, equipment, preventative measures .
Locations: shelters, cots, mats, tables prefer not, chairs, benches.
Environment: hydration, shade, air conditioning or wind, become one with nature.
Enjoyment: relax, timing, find your happy place.
Practice: frequently, consistency, trial and error, repeat, more than 45 minutes is sleeping and not napping.

Once a Scout Leader completed the training he or she received the patch to hang on the right pocket of their uniform. Does your council have a similar award?

beagle Wood BadgeI partook in Wood Badge training way back in 1990. From what I hear, the current Wood Badge course is a little different than the one I attended. I did not plan to go to a course that year until another Scout leader decided to give me a kick by registering me. I was a little upset at first but soon was glad I went through with it. I had fun and learned quite a bit about being a good adult leader in the troop. By the way, I am a Bobwhite, and a good ol’ Bobwhite too.

I recently came across a picture online that combined my favorite Beagle Scout, Snoopy, with a hint to take Wood Badge training. I never realized the the troop leader of Woodstock and his friends was Wood Badge trained. And he has a patrol named after him? Gosh, he is a more important Scout Leader than I thought!

What do you think of the logo? I have to say, I like it.

roundtableplanningI had received a couple emails this summer from Bob at the council office asking if I would be on the roundtable staff again for the 2015-2016 program year. I really did not feel like being on staff for a third year so I sort of ignored the messages. When Al, the roundtable commissioner called me, I knew it was time to make a final decision. Al made a comment that this would probably be his last year so I agreed to to one more year. After all, we seemed to make a pretty good team.

I did not have much to do during the September roundtable since Al and I had not sat down yet to plan out our meetings. That was fine with me since I still was not really feeling like I wanted to be on staff again. When we got together in late September to plan for the next several months something clicked into place and I was back into roundtable mode.

As the October roundtable began I was ready with plenty of handouts for my session, and ropes for the knot relay. I also had a Scouting ghost story for the end of the meeting about two Scouts who were best friends, and the promise they made to each that they would keep, even after death.

My favorite part of the October meeting was when we broke for the knot relay. I separated the participants into three “patrols” and gave them a few minutes to practice the three knots they would need for the relay. These three groups immediately started acting like a Boy scout patrol. The more experienced “Scouts” began helping and teaching the less experienced. During the rely, all three patrols did their best to win the competition. It was fun watching “Scouting in action” with the adults leaders.

Like I stated, I am back in roundtable mode for a third year. I am looking forward to the next several meetings. I think the troop leaders who attend for find them to be informative and fun.

This will be my last year on roundtable staff though. Yes, I have had fun and think I brought little something to the sessions, but it is time to hand it over to some new leadership and see what they can bring to the training.

PTCdeerWell, the week is now a part of history. Last week I spent my vacation at the Philmont Training Center at Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico. It was awesome! Sunny every day. Not a drop of rain. Great Scouters and instructors everywhere. And only one mosquito bit me. (Several dozen would bite me during a weekend outing in Minnesota.) And to top it off, I actually learned a few things about advancement, which is saying something after spending 30 years as a scoutmaster.

The food was fantastic. I had lost 25 pounds before going to Philmont, from 193 to 168. Yes, I hit my goal, but I knew that going on vacation to PTC it would be hard to keep up the diet. So I didn’t. The food prepared in the dining hall by the PTC staff was great. I never went away hungry. If you did not like the main course, you could fix something at the hot bar. If that did not meet your taste buds you could always fix yourself a salad or a sandwich of your choice. And if those did not suit your mood, well, fix yourself a bowl of cereal. I was a little worried when I stepped on the scale this morning. I guess all that walking while at PTC paid off. I only gained  four pounds back. I should have that gone by the end of next week or sooner.

My camera and iPad were busy during the trip. I usually took a few hundred photos when I was at Philmont in the past. I really outdid myself this year thanks to digital technology. In fact, I set a record not only for my trips to Philmont, but for any vacation I have ever taken. I have 907 photos of the trip between the two cameras. I also have 33 videos taken of various events through the week, including a talk given to my my class by  the National Commissioner Tico Perez. Photos and videos came to over 14 GB. Do you think I might have overdone it a bit?

Yep, it was a great trip, made better by sharing it with Bob, my district executive from the Central Minnesota Council. Keep a watch on this blog during the next few weeks as I share more stories, photos, and videos from the trip.

PhilmontPTCpatrol1984My first trip to the Philmont Training Center (PTC) was shortly before my 24th birthday in 1984. It was my first trip on a plane. It was my first trip away from Minnesota on my own. In fact, it was my first trip anywhere on my own. Yes, I was quite nervous. Was it worth it? Yeah sure, you betcha!

That training course was “Boy Scout Skills For Scoutmasters”. Scoutmasters from around the country came to learn about doing a great job in the role they held. The instructors were Carl Nelson and Jim Boeger. They did a fantastic job of leading the conference and made it both fun and enjoyable. I was even able to get Jim Boeger to sign a copy of his book The Scoutmaster.

The course participants were divided into patrols, just like a Boy Scout troop. I was a member of the Daniel Boone Patrol. I think the age of the members of our patrol spanned forty years, but it did not matter. We were all there to learn new skills and have fun. And we did. (pictures of this trip can be seen in my Flickr album at
https://www.flickr.com/photos/stevejb68/sets/72157622517598000/

It will be thirty years to the month, this month, when I travel to PTC for a second training conference. Bob, my district executive, and I will be taking a new course for 2014, “Increasing Advancement By Delivering Excellence”. According to the brochure:

It has long been said in the BSA that the best advancement comes through participation in exciting activities. Units presenting programs with “built-in” opportunities to fulfill advancement requirements not only retain youth through the rewards of recognition and develop confidence through advancement, but they retain youth because every meeting, every outing, every adventure, leaves them wanting more. How is such programming planned and promoted? What is the responsibility of the council and district advancement committees? What can commissioners, trainers, and members of camping committees do? If you are a unit leader, a volunteer involved in the advancement program, a commissioner, a trainer, or anyone else connected with district operations that is interested in building the rate of advancement through excellence in program delivery, then join us at Philmont!

Bob and I are looking forward to this conference and bringing back new ideas for our troops and district. I also look forward to meeting Scouters from around the country. I hope to get a little patch trading done while I am there. I was not prepared for trading council strips when I first attended in 1984. In fact, now that I think about it, things could be a bit different this time around. After all, in 1984 there were no home computers, iPhones, iPads, or digital photography. I thought I took quite a few pictures last time. That will be a small number compared to what I plan to take this time.

If you are there during this time I invite you to look me up. Let’s trade patches!

Philmont SMT19840008I had been a scoutmaster for only two and a half years when I received a letter in the mail inviting me to attend the Philmont Training Center (PTC) for the Scoutmaster Fundamentals course. I had always wanted to go to the Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico so I jumped at the opportunity. The troop committee thought it was a good idea and agreed to fund a portion of the trip. The Melrose business community provided most of the rest of the funds. So, in 1984 this 23 year old scoutmaster received his first experience at the ranch.

I have returned to Philmont five times to participate in backcountry hiking treks, but I have never returned to the PTC for another training training course. The last time I was at Philmont was in 2004 when I was an advisor for a trek crew. As the years slipped by I began to think that would be my last trip to the ranch. I was beginning to miss the place.

I received an invitation to attend the training of my choice at PTC early this year. I was thrilled to receive the letter but also a little skeptical since I had stepped down as the scoutmaster of Troop 68 two years ago. Yes, I remain active with the troop and serve on the committee but why would the council recommend me for training at Philmont Scout Ranch? No particular course was recommended this time. I would be allowed to sign up for whatever interested me.

I called Bob, our district executive, and asked him what was up with this. He replied, nothing special, no particular reason. The council thought I might be interested, that’s all. We chatted a few times about this over the course of the next few weeks. Before I knew it we had both registered to take a course in June, this month.

I am thrilled to be going back to Philmont. The course is just the carrot on the stick for me. I am really looking forward to seeing the silver on the sage, starlight skies above, and aspen covered hills once again. Philmont truly is a Scouting paradise. And a great place to have a training center.

I wonder if the old stagecoach is still there.