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Philmont Inflation
This past weekend, the PLC decided to add Philmont to the 2011 calendar so I was online checking for registration dates. If you want to receive a registration packet, you should send a request to now. It's also not too early to gather interest from scouts so you can request the right number of crews before the end of November.

I also found the preliminary Philmont fees for 2011.

Are you ready?

Are you sitting down?

I searched around for fees from past years, and here's the Philmont fee over the years, per person:
2004 - $475
2005 - $495+04%
2008 - $560+13%
2009 - $595+06%
2010 - $620+04%
2011 - $725+17% !!!

Ouch, I'm hoping that is a typo or else 2011 is going to be a pretty expensive trip.

Scout On
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Posted: 12:34 09-30-2009 447
Lazy Man's Court of Honor
Like many troops, ours has courts of honor every quarter - March, June, September, December. The September court is by far the busiest with summer camp merit badges, new scout advancements, and general end-of-summer finishing up of awards. The SPL and ASPL normally distribute merit badges and other awards, then, as scoutmaster, I'm up front talking way too much doing the ceremonies.

There is a requirement in the Communications merit badge that the scout lead a campfire program or court of honor. Usually, they opt for the campfire option since it's less formal. I lucked out and a scout needing to complete this merit badge for Eagle planned and ran the court.

So, I got to be lazy and watch scouts run the entire thing with not a single adult out of his/her seat, except to stand and applaud. I could really get used to this and would highly recommend getting your scouts to at least occasionally perform ceremonies, if they don't already.

Scout On
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Posted: 22:48 09-29-2009 446
Yet Another Eagle Leadership Service Project today. It was fixing up the playground at a local church. We've had a glut of projects this summer - actually 7 of them. The projects were at four different churches, a nature area, and two city parks. Lots of landscaping, painting, and building of outdoor furniture.

Today's project had a relatively small group of scouts compared to the size of the troop. It still went well, but I'm afraid Eagle Project Burn-out has set in. I've been warning the Life Scouts of this since July and the last one even gave out ice cream coupons at troop meetings to get guys to volunteer - smart scout!

Five and a half years ago, the troop had a great group of about 16 scouts join. Many of them reached Life quickly, catching up to the scouts in the two years ahead. But then they went into idle mode, feeling they had "lots of time" to get to Eagle. In 10th grade, a couple of them got in gear and pulled the other seven along in their wake and put the pressure on the guys a year older. So, now we have 18 Life scouts, 13 of which are Juniors or Seniors, all anxious to get Eagle. Makes lots of service hour opportunities and a good impact on the community, but difficult to convince scouts to set aside yet another day for volunteer labor.

We still have 3 more projects being planned before winter sets in. They are good projects, but will be extra challenging to complete with the short time left and tired out scouts.

I will be using "the Summer of '09" as an example of planning your project well ahead of time, for a long time. Acquiring volunteers is a crucial part of the project plan that can't be taken for granted.

Scout On

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Posted: 22:00 09-27-2009 445
Training Day
troop leader training Senior Patrol Leader elections were last week with an 8th grade Life scout taking the reins for the next 6 months. The troop elects a new SPL in Sept. and March - then a mad flurry of training occurs. It's pretty fun and the training of scouts is one of a Scoutmaster's main goals.

Since we have elections mid-September and the new leadership team takes over on October 1, we have about 2 weeks for initial training. And, it goes something like this:

We use the small Troop Leader Training package from BSA and give out position cards. But, we also include other topics that have been fairly helpful. The day lasts about 3 hours plus 1/2 hour lunch and goes something like:

The Troop Planning session has the SPL and Patrol Leaders deciding on activities for a 6-month period 12 months out and putting them on a calendar. This is following the 18-month calendar plan from the BSA so they are planning activities for next year.
Each patrol leader present volunteers his patrol to plan and organize one of the campouts.
They also brainstorm high adventure ideas for 2 and 3 years out to make sure we're doing the Philmont and SeaBase lotteries.

This planning session can happen any time in the first month or so, but the new SPL chose to do training and planning today. In the past, we've done training on a campout or at our meeting location. But, the scouts' favorite spot is my basement so I'm off to vacuum the cobwebs and shove the Wii into a corner.

Train On

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Posted: 6:31 09-26-2009 444
Say Thank You
The troop took a week-long trip this summer, having a great time exploring the Pacific Northwest. We ran into lots of different people, some just wanting to exchange money for a campsite and that's all, others enjoying life and sharing their little part of the world with visitors.

A few folks we met really made an impression on the crew by their helpful and friendly attitude. So, on the way home we had a discussion about how people make an impact, good or bad, and what we might do to encourage the 'good'. The scouts thought it would be nice to send Thank You notes to a few they remembered.

I bought some official BSA cards and gave them to one scout that volunteered to write the notes. He then brought them to a couple troop meetings to have all the crew members sign them. Then, I addressed them (since I had all our trip bills and paperwork) and included one of our troop nickels. The notes just finally got sent - about 2.5 months after the trip, but at the end of a busy summer for most of the people that we wrote to.

I'd like to think that receiving a thank you card might bring a smile or two. It also might make it a bit easier for the next troop that visits where we stayed. And, if nothing else, it gave our scouts experience in showing appreciation to others.

In case you were curious, here's some of the people that we met:

Don't forget to thank the people that help make the scouting experience special for your scouts. Lots of people do a bit extra and we certainly shouldn't take them for granted.

Scout On
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Posted: 16:54 09-23-2009 443
BSA Green Bag
The Scout Shop has another new item I'm compelled to mention. For just $.99, the BSA Green Bag gives you a handy recyclable carrier made of recycled materials.

I can hardly wait to see if it sparks any conversations at the check-out buying groceries. I also plan to get a couple for our new Leave No Trace troop trainer to carry his demonstration materials and props in. Gee, maybe every patrol can have one for carrying their dry goods on campouts?

Scout On
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Posted: 13:41 09-17-2009 442
Merit Badge Sash Pins
Last year, my wife got me the world's most useless Christmas present - a BSA Branding Iron (which, if you read the page, has a warning that it is not intended for children under 3 years due to choking hazard, but no mention of burn hazard ???)

But, I just saw that the Scout Shop has now made available possibly the most useful item ever - a Merit Badge Sash Pin
The scout pins it through his epaulet and sash to hold the sash in place - wonderful!

I've been looking for something to present to scouts at their Star rank presentation and this is it. Their sash is getting top-heavy and sliding to the front and this will be servicable and sharp-looking.

I expect it would work just as well for an OA sash, so I might get one for myself - I deserve it. :-)

Scout On
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Posted: 8:40 09-16-2009 441
BSA PodCasts
Yesterday, I was asked by a nice fellow in Irving to let you know about ScoutCast - a series of podcasts for Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, and Commissioners. The 'Value of Scouting' ones are very inspirational and interesting. The 2,000,000th Eagle from Minnesota and the 2008 Conservation Hero from New York are my favorites.
The 'CubCast' sessions are intended for pack and den leaders with ideas for monthly programs from volunteers around the country. These are only audio so you can listen them while doing other computer work.

Be sure to notice the 'Archives' link on the far right to hear past podcasts.

Scout On
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Posted: 11:36 09-15-2009 440
Free Troop Groceries
Well, here's something that would sure be interesting. What if your troop got $5,200 worth of free groceries next year? Check out New World Pasta's contest.

Of course, you could just keep it yourself, but wouldn't it be cool to see what the scouts would cook when the sky's the limit?

Scout On
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Posted: 20:34 09-12-2009 439
Back to School
So, there's this school called Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering, or just Olin College, in Needham, MA. Ever hear of it? Me neither. But, it's a pretty cool place - actually really cool.

It's just 70 acres with 5 buildings (including the two residence halls) and has 334 total students. Hardly a blip on the screen and the fact that it opened in 2002 contributes to its obscurity. But, if you happen to know a high school scout with a passion and aptitude for engineering, you might want to mention it to him.

Olin reminds me of going to camp. It's surrounded by woods, appearing isolated, but actually close to other colleges and the community. The student support is amazing with mentors, clubs, partnerships, orientations, and even an Honor Code which encompasses many points of the Scout Law. Being a small school, it's like a small town - everyone knows you and you don't disappear into the masses. Each student matters.

Admission to Olin is a real challenge. Deadline to apply is Jan. 1 and info is on their admissions page. If you'd like to see what the accepted students are like, check this out.

The leadership and teamwork experience gained from scouting is a real plus for acceptance to this school as well as any others that screen their applicants. I'm glad my son chose this school and I believe if it had not been for his experiences in scouting he would not have made the cut. Of course, his SAT and ACT scores helped, but there's lots of real smart people - not so many with smarts and well-developed interpersonal skills.

Scout On
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Posted: 8:04 09-06-2009 438
The Old Favorites
We're an awful lucky group when it comes to campfires. There's never a lack of enthusiasm for skits on Saturday night. Sometimes the enthusiasm isn't always accompanied by planned skits and a patrol will have a great time hitting and tackling each other in some sort of pantomime with no real storyline which leaves the rest of the troop wondering what the heck is so funny. Stories take more effort to memorize than made-up skits, so they are a bit more rare but still a mainstay of our troop.

Occasionally, scouts will run out of ideas before they're too tired to stay awake and will ask me for a story. And, as creatures of habit, they'll request The Old Favorites - that is any story heard in the past that they remember hearing, but can't recall well enough to tell themselves.

Trying to live the motto - Be Prepared - I have a paper in my wallet with the titles of 2 dozen stories that I've got memorized. Before each campfire, I get a couple of them ready in my mind "just in case". I think it's good to have the scoutmaster ready to fill a lull with a good story.

Here's a few that have become old stand-bys and I enjoy telling. Maybe you can have a couple ready to share on your next campout:
And, one I reserve for trips with just older scouts - Scouts on Indian Grave.

I have noticed this past year that many stories I used to get to tell are now being told by the older scouts. To be honest, I miss delivering the punch lines, but it sure feels good to hear a scout keeping 20 youngsters hanging on every word in the dark, anonymous circle around the glowing coals.

Scout On
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Posted: 21:58 09-04-2009 437
After Scouts
I was gone most of the past week driving 3000 miles from MN to MA and back. We took our oldest son, the Eagle Scout, to college (I'll post more about the amazing school later). And, I got to see how life is a bit different after scouts.

I remember going to college. It wasn't a big deal. I packed stuff in my car, drove to the university, did greek rush, joined a frat, and lived there with a bunch of guys. My folks didn't come with me.
They didn't run to Wal-Mart to get stuff I forgot to bring. They didn't put the sheets on the bed for me. They didn't arrange my clothes and tell me how to use the washing machine. They didn't hang my towel and put my shampoo in the shower.

I didn't do any of those things for my son either - except driving him there and carrying two boxes to his room. I spent all my time keeping my wife from doing those things, walking around the campus, and playing Othello to pass the time. :-) But, those are all examples of what I watched other parents doing for their kids. It was pretty funny, more like first day of kindergarten than college.

Our son checked in, got his room key, brought in his stuff, and set up camp - all before lunch. I didn't think much of it because it's pretty much how every troop campout goes - we arrive, scouts get their gear, and set up camp. But, when compared to the other students arriving, it really shows how self-sufficient scouting can make a person.

He's now 1500 miles away, completely on his own, and I have absolute confidence that he'll be perfectly content and responsible for himself. No small part of that is due to his years in scouting.

After Scouts, life is a bit easier to manage.

Scout On
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Posted: 15:05 09-03-2009 436
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