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Christmas Tree Robbers
Boy Scout blog

So, you didn't recognize the Maldives boy scout earlier this week? What about these three guys? Well, hopefully you won't be seeing them for 50 years if they are actually found guilty as charged.

David (19), Kenneth (19), and Nashon (20) are indicted in the robbery last month of Boy Scouts selling Christmas trees. The thiefs had a shotgun and punched a 13 year old scout to get away with $350. So, that's about $117 each which will work out to about $2.34/year if they get the full prison term - what a deal.

These three thugs have prior records including rape and burglary charges, and the evidence against them is supposedly "overwhelming". Here's to a fair trial and Happy New Year with the streets starting out a bit cleaner.

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Posted: 16:25 01-11-2008 291
From the Scout Handbook - "A Scout is courteous. A Scout is polite to everyone regardless of age or position. He knows that using good manners makes it easier for people to get along."

When someone sees a Scout in uniform, they visualize him helping a little old lady across a busy street. That is the essence of being courteous as well as helpful, cheerful, friendly, and kind. They are all tied together and that image is exactly what scouts should work towards.

Being courteous is being a gentleman. It is opening doors and holding them open for the next person. It is noticing that the bus you are on is filling up and you have a seat while a woman is standing. It is saying "Pardon me" when you bump into someone in a crowd. It is giving a firm handshake when you make the acquaintance of someone.

Courtesy often seems to be a thing of the past; something for old people or something out of old black and white movies. In our age of email, instant messaging, and online chats, courtesy becomes a more difficult behavior to learn and practice. And, make no mistake, it takes practice to become good at it. Courtesy requires personal interaction where the value of the other person can be demonstrated. After all, courtesy occurs out of respect for other people.

When we have respect for the other person, we show that respect through courtesy. We shake hands with men. We remover our hats to women. We stand and converse when someone approachs us and begins talking. We say Please and Thank you. All of these are ways in which we show that we respect the other person. All together, these are known as 'etiquette' - the proper way of behaving politely. Etiquette is how Scouts should manage their behaviors.

It is important that Scouts show courtesy to all people. Whether it is a cute, young girl or an old, stooped woman, a Scout treats her courteously. Whether a rich businessman or school janitor, the Scout greets him cheefully and sincerely.

And, that can be the challenge. Courtesy without an underlying respect and thoughtfulness is a lie. To be courteous requires us to first be caring; to be concerned with the people around us and on the lookout for their wellbeing. Many people, hoping to get ahead, will be very courteous and friendly to people above them in social standing, while at the same time treat lesser ranked people with disdain. We see this often in business where a salesman will be outgoing until he realizes there is no sale to be made and then turns his attention elsewhere. But, the same occurs daily in all social circles. A Scout needs to overcome this temptation and be sure he treats all people with equal respect and courtesy.

The next time you go to a restaurant with a group of friends, make an effort to listen to how many of them say a simple Please or Thank You to the waitress when she takes the order or brings food or water. My experience has been that I am often the only one, and I sincerely make an effort to do it. The first thing I do is read their nametag if they have one and then use their name from then on. I also look at their face and eyes while they are taking the other diners' orders just to get a feel for what they are like. I do this not in the hopes of better service, but so I remind myself that the person waiting on me is just as important as I am and deserving of my respect, courtesy, and appreciation.

One other courtesy exercise that might be enlightening is to have a patrol dinner. At summer camp last year, our troop ate in the dining hall rather than cooking our own meals for the first time in at least six years. Each patrol sat at a different table. I was appalled at how the scouts behaved at the tables! This summer, the month before camp, I will be hosting a series of patrol dinners. Scouts will be invited to eat and will be instructed on proper table manners and courtesy in general. Is that the Scoutmaster's job? Sure, my job is to train and let them lead - besides, it will be fun. At least the pudding might make all the way around the table this year. :-)

The Daily Good Turn is founded partially on courtesy. Helping the little old lady across the street is the epitome of Good Turns, but countless other opportunities are available when a Scout keeps his eyes open and his thoughts on helping others.

Finally, I want to point out that true courtesy is done cheerfully and sincerely. Someone may be trained to do all the correct actions, but without a heart that cares for others, they are hollow actions. Sincere courtesy raises the social level and rubs off on those around a courteous person. And, courtesy should begin at home where it may be the most difficult to demonstrate. Remembering to be polite to parents, brothers, and sisters can be a true challenge for a Scout, but one which he needs to overcome to become a man of strong character.
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Posted: 22:54 01-10-2008 290
Scouts in Action - Maldives Edition
Maldives Boy Scouts Rock

Do you know Mohamed Jaisham Ibrahim? Yeah, me neither, but that's him in the photo. He's a hero today after putting himself in the way of an assassination attempt on the president of the Maldives. He is also a 15-year old Boy Scout that now has a knife injury to his hand for a badge of bravery. His quick actions and being in the opportune location make for a great story and promotion of scouting. I expect we'll be hearing a bit more about the details over the next few days.

Maldives Boy Scouts Rock
Those guys in the picture are just some Maldives Boy Scouts in uniform - don't mess with them!

Take a look at all the stories showing up in Google News for details.

Scout On
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Posted: 19:58 01-08-2008 289
From the Scout Handbook - "A Scout is friendly. A Scout is a friend to all. He is a brother to other Scouts. He offers his friendship to people of all races and nations, and respects them even if their beliefs and customs are different from his own."

Friendship is a strong relationship between two people. Sometimes it grows over years while other times it springs up in a short time. In my life, I've had few close friends, though I've had many acquaintances and been friendly to many more people. Friends are people you cherish and care for and enjoy being around. You know them and they know you.

A Scout should be friendly to everyone he meets, giving them the benefit of the doubt and believing them to be worthy of friendship first until their character becomes known. If a Scout pre-judges someone on their skin color, language, clothes, looks, family name, or other superficial aspect, then he is not following the Scout Law. Offering his friendship to be taken, rejected, or lost to all people is expected of a Scout. It is going out on a limb and knowing that some people will reject you.

Being friendly is demonstrated in many ways, depending on the situation in which a new person is met. Being friendly to a new boy in school struggling to find his next class might require escorting him there. If he were seen sitting alone at lunch, it might just mean asking to join him. If a gang of boys were laughing at his strange accent, a Scout might step in and deflect the abuse.

It is easier to relate to people of our own race, beliefs, and social standing. It can be more of a challenge to befriend someone poorer or wealthier, either because of our snobbery or jealousy. Looking past social standing to see the value of the person is required of a Scout. Scouts come from all ranks of life and they accept others based on their character and actions.

Finding common ground with those people having beliefs and customs that vary from our own is more challenging, but also more interesting. Imagine how your knowledge and understanding expands as more is learned from a friend from a foreign land. We also learn that we have far more in common than we have differences. We can ask for explanation of behaviors that seem odd due to no understanding of the norms of a foreign society, but make sense when explained. If we ignore the possibility of friendships like these, we remain ignorant and close-minded.

Once a Scout shows his friendliness, it is up to the other person to follow through. A person's actions and behaviors will demonstrate his character and we can determine if it is wise to continue building on the relationship or discontinue it. Observing how the person works, plays, treats others, talks about others, and generally behaves, shows us what sort of friend he is. When someone is clearly of poor character, a Scout should continue to be friendly to him in the hope of turning him around. But, a Scout should not have a friendship with such a person, since doing so would associate him with the same character.

The law says that a Scout is friend to all. Sometimes the best way to be a friend is to demonstrate high values and refuse to join in those activities and behaviors that are of low character. A friendship will not grow in such a relationship, but the low character may rise when faced with the choice of continuing inappropriate actions or relating with a Scout of high character. And, later on, a real friendship may slowly grow.

A Scout is friendly.
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Posted: 0:07 01-08-2008 288
From the Scout Handbook - "A Scout is helpful. A Scout cares about other people. He willingly volunteers to help others without expecting payment or reward."

From a baby's first cry of hunger, he continually looks out for himself with a self-centered view of things. Human nature is to preserve oneself. A Scout is challenged to put others first, possibly at odds with his own needs. This being helpful is an outward demonstration of the inner honor being developed in a Scout. Doing a Daily Good Turn takes real effort to search for need and then a commitment to fulfill that need. A Scout that has not learned to care about other people and be willing to sacrifice some of his time can not live this part of the Scout Law. Guidance, explanation, continual modeling, and planned service opportunities in the troop give a Scout the learning moments to understand the importance of this law.

In order to be helpful, a Scout must be ready, able, and willing to help. Many things can be done to aid others, such as mowing a neighbor's yard, shoveling a sidewalk, or cleaning windows, by untrained boys. But, in order to help in many ways, a Scout needs special knowledge, skills, and abilities. To walk a dog, he needs to understand animals. To drive an elderly neighbor to the store, he needs a license. To prepare a meal for a family in grief, he needs cooking skills.

Many a Scout might use the excuse of "I don't know how" when faced with an opportunity to provide aid. He must be trained and confident so his attitude changes to "I'll give it a try". Without First Aid skills, how can he properly bandage a serious cut? Without Swimming and Lifesaving skills, how can he rescue a drowning swimmer? How can a Scout prevent panic? How can he direct traffic, extinguish fire, carry an unconscious person, or any of the dozens of tasks that may be required in an emergency? By participating in Scouting activities, that's how. Advancement through the ranks shows a Scout is participating and building skills. Merit badges give him reason to learn more skills. Leadership roles allow him to practice taking control in different situations.

Having skill and confidence is necessary for specific aid, but at least as important is the skill of being observant. In our society, making eye contact, especially in larger cities, can be dangerous. We are more and more becoming indrawn with minimal contact with strangers and that causes more and more people to become strangers. But, a Scout needs to be constantly observing what occurs around him so he is Ready and Prepared to act if needed. Knowing where fire exits, alarms, and phones are in school and other buildings he enters will make it easier for him to help in case of trouble. A person walking down the street having difficulty carrying groceries, or some kids worried to cross the busy street, or a person sitting on a park bench having problems breathing can only be recognized by an open-eyed, observant person. If a Scout walks down the street, head down, eyes ahead, like so many of the people around him, he misses life and misses opportunities to lend a hand.

To broaden the scope of being Helpful, a Scout is also helpful when he supports the leaders of his troop. It is a difficult position to be in when leading a group of peers. By obeying directions and supporting decisions, a Scout helps his Senior Patrol Leader or Patrol Leader. Being respectful of and caring for those leaders, a Scout strives to help them at all times.

I believe that Scouts today have a huge responsibility to emphasize being Helpful in their communities. Ask the average person what they envision when you say "Boy Scout" and they will still say something along the lines of a boy in uniform helping a little old lady. But, that is not what they actually see in their mind when they see a real, physical Scout at their door. They see someone wanting to sell them something - popcorn, wreaths, spaghetti dinner tickets, mulch, nuts, flower bulbs, or some such thing. That is not the image of Scouts that I want people to have.

A patrol of 8 scouts in our troop just spent a couple hours this weekend clearing snow from fire hydrants in the neighborhood. They knocked on the door of the house on whose property the hydrant sat and asked if it would be alright for them to clear the snow so the fire department could access it in case of an emergency. Of the 20 houses, every single one asked about giving a donation - every one! No one thought, "Oh, the scouts are being helpful again." They all figured the Scouts were trying to raise funds in a new way. Now, after the next snow, when they do it again, these people will hopefully not expect to give a donation - they will just think, "Oh, the scouts are being helpful again", and that's how it should be.

A Scout is Helpful.
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Posted: 16:06 01-06-2008 287
From the Scout Handbook - "A Scout is loyal. A Scout is true to his family, friends, Scout leaders, school, and nation."

Loyalty means to be faithful. When we say a Scout is Loyal, it means he remains steadfast in his adherence to what is right. Being loyal is a character trait that can be often tested, and often misdirected.

When a friend of a Scout steals and then asks the Scout to keep it a secret to prove his loyalty, what should the Scout do? Is he being disloyal if he lets authorities know who stole? Similar dilemmas can occur when a Scout wants to be loyal to family or leaders.

If someone lies to protect another through a sense of loyalty, he smudges his own honor and he only prolongs the time until that other person gets into worse trouble. By being truthful, he may lose a friend, may lose love, and may lose popularity, but with his honor intact, he can live the Scout Law and know that, in the long run, he has done the right thing.

A Scout, as any other boy, wants to be part of something important, something great, something that is 'the best'. As young boys might argue that "My Dad can beat up your Dad", so older boys might debate about whose school football team is better. That kind of loyalty is more of a self-promoting exercise rather than being firmly supportive of the person or organization. True loyalty happens when nothing is personally gained.

A Scout, when he hears some boys putting down a friend, should step up and defend that friend's name. He should never join in laughing at slanderous jokes and should let the jokers know when he feels they are being unfairly harsh or malicious. This can be one of the most difficult demonstrations of a loyal friend - sticking up for an absent friend against other friends or popular people.

When a Scout is asked to be loyal to his leaders, he needs to support them and their decisions. When the leaders decide to have a fishing outing and a Scout lobbied for a waterski outing, he may be tempted to undermine the plans by staying home or even inviting other scouts to a party that same weekend. A loyal Scout will support and promote the plans of the troop, even when they are not his favorite choice. He will continue to follow the lead until he earns the position of leadership that allows his plans to take fruition.

Scouts need to be loyal to the laws of our country and the people that represent those laws. Whether or not a Scout agrees with the way a mayor, governor, or president governs, he must demonstrate respect to that position. Debating the merits and effectiveness of policies put in place by the current administration is a healthy, useful way to bring about change, but degrading the person currently holding an office demonstrates a lack of respect to the country.

By being loyal to the Scout Law, and holding its points dear, a Scout is naturally loyal to those around him in a right and good manner. Blind loyalty is not loyalty at all, but loyalty founded on truth, compassion, and honor is truly loyal.

A Scout is Loyal.
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Posted: 23:40 01-04-2008 286
From the Scout Handbook - "A Scout is trustworthy. A Scout tells the truth. He is honest, and he keeps his promises. People can depend on him."

The first of the twelve points of the Scout Law sets a high bar for scouts. Being helpful, friendly, or courteous are simple, easily described behaviors compared to being trustworthy. Being "Worthy of Trust" means a promise made is a promise fulfilled. It means a scout will do what he says he will do. It means the scout will see things through to the end.

It is easy to trust someone, even strangers. We do it every day. I trust that drivers will stop at red lights. I trust the cashier will not steal my credit card invormation. I trust the garbage man will collect the trash every Tuesday. This trust is in place because I've experienced the correct behaviors over and over. Drivers ALWAYS stop at red lights, so I trust they will continue to do so. But, the behavior is forced by laws, not by some belief held by all drivers that stopping at red lights is the right thing to do. All trust that we have of strangers is forced, either by laws, contracts, or some similar regulations.

That is where a Scout is different. He is trustworthy not because he is forced to be that way, but because he chooses to be. His honor is the only regulation that enforces his trustworthiness. That is why the words, "On My Honor", are so important to a Scout - his honor is the only collateral he has to offer to ensure that he can be trusted. If a Scout has no sense of honor, then the Scout Law and the Scout Oath lose their meaning and strength. For that reason, it is a critical task for leaders to explain and demonstate honor and then nurture and strengthen it in Scouts. By establishing a strong sense of honor, all the other aims and goals of scouting can take place.

When a boy is asked what honor means, the general reply will include doing what is right in difficult situations or making the right choice because it is known to be right. Honor tends to be associated with challenges of moral crisis, such as being tempted to cheat, steal, or betray. Many men, when confronted with obviously immoral opportunities, will choose what is right. The choice is clear and the possible repercussions of being discovered are great. But, personal honor comes into play in everyday decisions as well. In every choice, promise, and action taken, personal honor plays a role.

A trustworthy person arrives on time, commits to tasks he can handle, and completes both boring and difficult tasks on time. He is punctual, prompt, and perseverent. He realizes that fulfilling simple, basic commitments and expectations every day lays the foundation of trust that extends to more challenging situations. When others see that he completes tasks, they trust him with more and more responsibilities because he has earned that trust.

Building the basic sense of honor in everyday situations is a key part of a scout-run troop. The youth leaders should be encouraged to start and conclude meetings on time, not to demonstrate their power of being in a leadership position, but to be honorable. The expectations of a start and stop time are in place and it is our honorable duty to adhere to those expectations. We made a commitment to the scouts that are there on time and to the parents that expect to take their son home at a certain time.

When a scout takes on a task, specific expectations should be set, such as milestones, completion time, and costs. A leader, either adult or experienced scout, should check on progress at pre-defined times to ensure the scout's success. As a scout builds his trustworthiness by demonstrating his ability, he is given more responsibility and is checked on less often. He does what he said he will do - he is trustworthy.

Once honor is understood and a scout can be trusted, the usefulness of honor can be expanded. Rather than just fulfilling assigned tasks, a scout with honor will begin to look for ways in which he can be of use. His honor requires him to not just complete a task, but improve on what was expected; not just lead a meeting, but make it exciting; not just finish a hike, but encourage others on the hike. As his honor grows and tempers, he develops initiative and becomes a leader.

Of course, not all people have the charisma and desire to lead a group. That is not required to be trustworthy. Whether a president or a plumber, a king or a cook, a senator or a scout, every man can fulfill his role in life with honor and be worthy of trust. When a boy makes a habit of being honest, doing his best, and helping others, he is setting a solid foundation on which he will build his life. Whatever career he takes and whatever challenges life sends at him, his dignity and character can remain solid if his inner sense of honor has deep roots. Those roots should be formed in scouting every day, on every campout, at every meeting, and in every interaction with his leaders.

A Scout is Trustworthy.
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Posted: 11:03 01-03-2008 285
I just reviewed my list of 2007 resolutions that I've had pinned to the wall here by my desk. Of the 13 resolutions, I successfully completed 10 and 2 were outside of my control. Not bad!
For 2008, I resolve to:

I sincerely hope that 2008 is a terrific year for all the scouts, scouters, and others that happen to occasionally take a peek at - and even for all those hundreds of thousands that don't even know this site exists. :-)

Happy New Year!
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Posted: 11:15 01-01-2008 284
Scouts in Action
In the Boys' Life magazine, there are stories of Scouts in Action - acts of heroism by scouts of all ages.
Not many scouts find themselves in situations where acts of heroism are required. But, every day, scouts are in action doing simple, helpful tasks that demonstrate the skills and values they've learned from Scouting. This week visiting with relatives has given me the chance to notice this in my own two scouts.
With 10 grandchildren from various families running around, it was impressive to see the amount of time they spent helping with the really young ones as well as doing other chores. They also led the gang in most of the playing that went on.
I saw lots of the leadership training we've done over the past three years being used - and used just as if it was the normal way to do things, not as a forced effort. Praising others, explaining what to do, demonstrating what is expected, including everyone, cooperating rather than winning - all examples of what they've picked up from Scouts.

I hope and expect that many scouts across the country have impressed their families similarly this week. Now, as we get ready for a new year, we'll continue to look for the spark of a strong Scout Spirit to drive these guys even when Santa's helpers aren't watching so closely. :-)

The Daily Good Turn is something we often mention in our troop and is also one of the more challenging things we ask scouts to do. It requires them to keep an eye out for others in need rather than just looking out for themselves. That's why it is so important. Putting others first is a big part of the Scout Law and Scout Oath and a huge step towards manhood.

It isn't a single big step when a scout suddenly changes. Over time, with constant exposure to good role models, scouts gradually grow their skills and mature as hoped. Keep watching for Scouts in Action and remember to thank them when you notice a good job.

Scout On

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Posted: 15:54 12-30-2007 283
Squishy Bowl for Christmas

Santa got me something I didn't ask for, didn't need, but will probably use a ton. It is a set of Squishy Bowls from GuyotDesigns.
The bowl and cup are flexible, squishy silicone and withstand up to 400 degrees. They bend any old way so you can back them into any spare little place you have left in your pack, unlike my rigid bowl and cup I've used the past 5 years.
They cost around $15, but the low weight, easy packing, and simple clean-up make them a worthwhile investment. To clean them, you can turn them inside out and lick away. Then, an easy rinse and you're done!
I'll let you know how they stand up to weeks of use in 2008 - I'll be using them at Philmont and my son will use his all summer at Boy Scout camp.

I never would have gotten these myself, so, "Thanks Santa!"

Scout On
Merry Christmas to everyone in the Scouting Family
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Posted: 10:38 12-25-2007 282
BSA Card Decks
Have you checked out the Scout Shop Christmas Catalog? Lots of gift ideas in there, from an offcial BSA basketball to BSA long underwear! With the ever-growing selection of stuff that BSA is selling, I was kidding my wife this summer that they will soon offer BSA diapers so boys can get going the day they come home from the hospital. Well, I haven't seen those (yet) but there IS a BSA branding iron now - I guess those die-hard scouting families could put the logo on a new baby's behind so there's no doubt about it. :-) :-) :-)

There ARE some useful items available, though, and here's a couple. The Scout Shop has come out with a couple new card decks that your troop should include in its resources. We've got the Scout Skills game and the Deck of Knots and they've been very helpful in helping scouts learn the skills and having fun and competition in the troop meetings.
We'll be getting the Stars and First Aid decks right after Christmas and put them to use right away.

Deck of Scout Skills
64 questions and answers for scout skills taken from the scout handbook and fieldbook.

Deck of First Aid
Cards for all the first aid rank requirements and techniques for proper treatment.

Deck of Knots
Instructions and illustrations for all the Boy Scout knots plus lots of others.

Deck of Stars
Glow-in-the-dark constellations for night exploration and identification.

Scout On
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Posted: 15:11 12-23-2007 281
Aging Out Ceremony
A scout recently earned his Eagle and has now aged out of the troop at 18. We've had some challenges with our scouts maintaining their patrol equipment and it caused some unnecessary expenses last year.
I discussed this with the Eagle to see if he had any ideas. He did!

At his last troop meeting as a scout, he carried his patrol box and tent to the front of the troop. He told the scouts that this would be his last meeting as a scout. He was the last scout left from his original patrol and he wanted to return the gear he had been given when he started.
He asked the troop Quartermaster to come and join him. He handed the tent over and thanked the Quartermaster for letting him use it for 7 years. He said it was pretty worn out, but the troop might use it for demonstrations.
He gave his patrol box to the Quartermaster and said he had just checked the inventory list and everything was accounted for except paper towels and a scrubbie. He said some of the pots were dented and one of the plastic spatulas was melted, but the rest should be fine for the next group of scouts.
The Quartermaster thanked him and took the gear to the back of the room while the rest of the troop applauded.

It was a simple thing that said a lot. It showed that a scout should be responsible for his gear and the gear can really last through an entire scouting career. It made an impact on the younger scouts. Whether it will make a difference or not will be seen over the next couple years, but I hope to see similar short presentations by the scouts that age out over the coming year.

Scout On
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Posted: 14:08 12-22-2007 280
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