Posts Tagged ‘Training’

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

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.

wood badge 2013Many Scouters will tell you that Wood Badge is like the college course of training for adult Scout Leaders. Not only is the course fantastic for any branch of Scouting but participants also receive training which they will find useful in the field of work and life in general. The site states:

Wood Badge is Scouting’s premier training course. Baden-Powell designed it so that Scouters could learn, in as practical a way possible, the skills and methods of Scouting. It is first and foremost, learning by doing. The members of the course are formed into patrols and these into a troop.  The entire troop lives in the out-of-doors for a week, camping, cooking their own meals, and practicing Scout skills.

Wood Badge is more than just mechanical course work. Wood Badge is the embodiment of Scouting spirit. Like many intense training experiences, it has always relied on a busy schedule forcing the participants to work together, to organize and to develop an enthusiasm and team spirit to accomplish the tasks and challenges placed before them. Carried out in context of Scouting ideals and service to young people, the course brings out a deep dedication and spirit of brotherhood and fellowship in most participants. Certainly were it not for the common goal of the movement and its program for young people, it would be hard to get grown men and women to endure the 16-hour days required by a program that runs from early morning to late at night.

During this month’s Scenic District roundtable, three Central Minnesota Council Scouters received their Wood Badge beads and neckerchiefs for completing the course and their “ticket” of goals. Kevin Schatz, Mike Peters, and Troy Payne stood proud as they received the tokens of their achievement. I have always considered an adult completing a Wood Badge ticket the equivalent of a Boy Scout completing his Eagle Scout award. This video post to the Melrose Scout Productions Podcast further recognizes these three men for completing their goals.

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roundtable2013Tuesday night was the Scenic District roundtable at the Scout Service Center. Al and I make up the staff for the Boy Scout roundtable. We have been trying to make them fun and informative. I think we succeeded last night.

The evening began with a combined Cub Scout and Boy Scout meeting to recognize three Scouters who have completed their Wood Badge tickets. I recorded the Beading Ceremony and plan to post the video to the Melrose Scout Productions Podcast later this week or this weekend. After the presentation of the neckerchiefs, the woggles, and the beads the room divider was pulled and both roundtables began.

Al began the Boy Scout roundtable with leading the twenty Scouters in singing America The Beautiful. I led the group in reciting the Knight’s Code, which used to be found in the Boy Scout handbook. Al and I have been choosing different openings and closing for each month’s meeting to give troop leaders ideas to bring back to their youth leadership.

During the first skill session, Al led a discussion about scoutmaster conferences. The group talked about when they are needed, where they could be held, and who should be present. We also discussed how conferences differ from rank to rank as a Scout grows older and more experienced.

At the half way point of this year’s meetings Al and I have been planning a fun activity. During the last two months we went outside to play a game. This month I lead the Scouters in one of my favorite campfire songs, Vista. I asked the three Wood badgers to come forward to join me in leading the song. I was surprised when I saw three other Scouters take out their cell phones to record this sing-a-long. One video was already posted to Facebook later that evening.

Board of reviews was the subject of the second skill session. I had talked to Al and two other Scouters before the meeting about conducting a mock review. A Boy Scout who happened to be in attendance agreed to be the Scout for the demonstration for Life Rank.

Al, Dan, Mike and I drilled the Boy Scout. I questioned his knowledge of the Scout Oath, Slogan, and Outdoor code and why he was not in complete uniform. Al drilled him about his participation in service projects. Dan criticized his work as the troop’s webmaster. His scoutmaster chewed him out about his participation at troop meetings. This poor Scout was getting it from all directions.

As you have probably guessed, our mock board of review demonstrated how NOT to conduct one. The four of us tried to do as many things incorrectly as we were able to do. I never told the Boy Scout what we had planned because I wanted the Scouters to see his unplanned reactions to our questions and comments. He was a good sport about it when I stopped the drilling, and everyone thought he did quite well despite how we treated him.

This horrible board of review led into a great discussion of what not to do, and on how to conduct a proper review. We also discussed when a review is needed, where one should be held, and who should sit on a board.

The meeting ended with a scoutmaster minute from Al about friendship and myself leading the “Be Prepared” song. All in all, I think the meeting went very well and everyone learned something new.

Roundtable StaffLast Tuesday was my second meeting as a member of the roundtable staff once again. I have to admit, I am having fun. And I think the Scouters who have been attending have discovered my method of roundtable training is a bit different then other peoples’ methods. I do not like to just stand there and talk. I like to move around, change up my voice tone, and even get everyone up on the feet to do things. I think the roundtable commissioner likes what I have brought to the table. At least I hope he has. Here is a review of things we both covered at this month’s Scenic District roundtable.

This year we start our roundtables with a two part opening, one part patriotic and one part Scouting related, and we plan to change it up for each monthly meeting. For this month we began with the American Creed and the Scout Law.

We would usually go into skill development next but since it gets dark early this time of year we switched things up and went outside for our game. Yes, you read that correctly. We played a game. The goal is to introduce troop leaders to possibly new games they can bring back to their troop to play. This month’s game was Tip, played with a frisbee. The two teams tossed the disc to each other. Team members would try to “tip” the disc to other team members and then have someone catch it. The team scores one point for each successful tip, but only if the disc is caught at the end of the tipping. The Scouters had a blast playing the game and really got into it. I believe a few grass stains may have been taken home.

Back inside the meeting room, Al and I conducted a brief uniform inspection and talked about the uniform being one of the methods of the Scout program. I opened a discussion of this month’s Jamboree On The Air and the Jamboree On The Internet. Many of the Scouters had not heard of these events. Al lead a discussion about the duties of a troop’s junior leaders.

Before the meeting I had set up a table display of my patch collections, including OA lodge patches, council shoulder patches, and patches from the 2001 National Jamboree. I also had several old Scouting themed books set out to view. We talked about the fun of patch trading, who trades with who, and about B.S.A. policy regarding trading.

Al finished the day’s skill development by discussing how to plan a troop meeting, or I should say, how the troop’s junior leaders should plan a troop meeting. A few Scouters were eager to share their thoughts on this subject. We closed the roundtable with Scout Vespers.

After the meeting, I caught up with a Scouter who is a fairly new scoutmaster and asked him if he had been finding this year’s meetings helpful. He said that he has been learning quite a bit and is discovering good ideas to bring back home to his troop. I walked to my car with a grin on my face. I guess Al and I are doing a good job so far.

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?