Day 51: Scouts are like cockroaches. They say after we destroy the planet in a nuclear holocaust, the cockroaches will survive. They get into everything and survive anything. They come in all sizes, about 4,500 species of them. Sounds like Scouts to me!
Cockroaches live in a wide range of environments around the world. Cockroaches adapt readily to a variety of environments, but prefer warm conditions found within buildings. Many species prefer even warmer environments and do not fare well in the average household.
They have specially developed legs for locomotion on difficult terrain. They help each other find food and water sources.
Research has shown that group-based decision-making is responsible for complex behavior.
Cockroaches are among the hardiest insects on the planet. Some species are capable of remaining active for a month without food and are able to survive on limited resources like the glue from the back of postage stamps.
You can replace 'Cockroaches' with 'Scouts' and you have:
Scouts live in a wide range of environments around the world. Scouts adapt readily to a variety of environments, but prefer warm conditions found within buildings. Many prefer even warmer environments and do not fare well in the average household.
They have specially developed legs for locomotion on difficult terrain. They help each other find food and water sources.
Research has shown that group-based decision-making is responsible for complex behavior.
Scouts are among the hardiest beings on the planet. Some are capable of remaining active for a month without food and are able to survive on limited resources like the glue from the back of postage stamps.
OK, maybe not postage stamp glue, but some of the camp meals I've seen are pretty close.
Day 50: I got to spend most of yesterday doing my own other stuff, mostly researching long-distance backpacking and considering a big trek next year.
So, I thought I'd share some Other Stuff with you that this troop does to make its program a little bit different.
Coup Beads: patrols receive pony beads to string from their patrol flag for scouting accomplishments. Some patrols have 4 or 5 stringers of beads, bells, and feathers now. The ASPL hands out beads at troop meetings.
Patrol Spirit: patrols accumulate points over a 3-month period to determine the top patrol in the troop. The points are mostly for participation, so any patrol can win. The short timeframe allows many different opportunities each year. The Scribe tracks the points.
Scout Challenge: each year a new set of tasks is presented as a challenge to the scouts. Those that complete enough tasks earn the patch and a pin for each year. This helps expand scouting to their everyday lives and promotes specific activities or behaviors each year.
Troop Muster: Each January, a troop meeting is set aside for reviewing the past year and looking forward to the new. Each scout signs his 'Patrol Charter' indicating he will participate in scouting this year. Parents pay feeds. Volunteer roles are filled. Pictures are taken.
Scout-o-rama: Webelos are invited to spend a day doing scout skills with local troops around Halloween. This troop has put on a scout-o-rama for six years, just last year opening it up for participation from other troops. It's a fun way for 5th grade Webelos to see what's ahead for them.
Order of the Golden Pen: higher ranked scouts are allowed to sign off T-2-1 requirements in this troop. To remind them of their responsibility and make it more fun, I spraypainted some Bic Pens metallic gold and made up the Order of the Golden Pen membership cards. There is a little training that goes with it and assistant scoutmasters can be members as well. Now, I have new Star scouts asking to get their golden pen just as soon as they have their Star patch. :-)
Tech Chip: the technology revolution is over and if you are still 'banning' electronics in your troop, you've lost. We've embraced the digital age in this troop and use the Tech Chip program to educate scouts on expectations of proper use. We seldom have problems now, and when they do occur, the scouts take care of it rather than adults confiscating items.
Does your troop have fun, unique programs to liven things up? Give a shout.
Day 49: Met with the outgoing SPL to review his term. He led the court of honor tonight as his last meeting. For the Communications merit badge, he ran the entire ceremony and had his ASPL hand out badges. I just got to sit and watch. Not much left to teach him. Sat down with the last new scout after the meeting and went through his Joining requirements.
Day 48: Yesterday and today I presented CPR/AED training to two troops in preparation for their summer outings. Also had a Girl Scout leader in the mix. Met with the new SPL tonight getting prepared for his first PLC meeting next month. He's got some good ideas for fun activities and new games. Signed him up for the council's NYLT camp (Grey Wolf) which will be an great experience for him. Printed a stack of blue cards for Pioneering merit badge applicants.
Day 46: Three weeks until your taxes are due. Remember to consider the miles driven for scouting as a tax deduction. Your Friends of Scouting contribution and other expenses you had for Scouting may also be deductible.
My Exped Synmat 7 DLX sleeping pad arrived! Last summer, another adult on the first week of backpacking in Wyoming had one of these. He let me use it the second week when he returned home with the first group. Wow! It's like sleeping on a bed. So, I got one for my birthday last October but just finally got around to actually purchasing it since I was hoping for sales. I got it at Campmor.com for $124 (ouch) - now REI is having their 20% off any item sale, so I could have saved another $6. Oh Well. I keep thinking I could buy 20 blue closed-cell foam pads at Wal-Mart for the same price. :-(
This is the 77X26 inch version rather than the 72X20 so my feet and arms don't hang off. It weighs 1/2 pound more, but that's cool. Now I'm ready for my two weeks at summer camp and 50-Miler 5-day backpacking trip this summer. It really is a nice sleeping pad.
Day 44: Two scoutmaster conferences and 2 hours reviewing a robust Eagle Service Project workbook. Also lots of emails arranging participants in the seven Red Cross Wilderness & Remote First Aid sessions I'm presenting over the next 4 months. I might need to add another in June for the "Oops, I didn't realize we needed that for Philmont and we're leaving in two weeks" people. My goal is to have 100 participants this year and it's looking like no problem.
Day 43: Have you every heard a parent say, "But, they're too young to plan and lead all that"?
Last night, I spent 90 minutes at a swimming pool watching nine scouts pass their BSA swim test, rescue each other with arms, legs, and ropes, tie bowline knots, and work as teams to swim out and rescue victims. It was great fun in the tropics as the snow was falling outside.
And my part in getting this activity going? Not a thing! A Tenderfoot scout needed his Second Class swimming requirement so he found out when the pool was open, told all the other younger scouts, and asked me to come and sign off. So, I showed up and did that. I also did a little teaching of the bowline for a couple guys, but that was about it. There were three adults there - we each worked with three scouts.
I'm sure the scout's dad assisted him, but the view from the rest of the world was that this scout did it all. He was the only one interacting with others to get it organized. That's important because those other eight scouts see that they too can plan something if they want to.
With a reason, some encouragement, and a little guidance, any scout can put together and lead a scouting activity or event. This swimming evening is an example. Another is our local 50-mile backpacking trek this summer being organized by a scout that hasn't been able to go on our remote high adventures. He has a reason, he's been encouraged, and now I'm just here to guide him as needed.
Day 42: I'll tell ya, I'm really enjoying these new scout conferences! My favorite question is - "So, what do you think you'll be doing this summer in Boy Scouts?" I love the oversized, still-creased, half-untucked, patchless uniform shirt. I love hearing the debates about what patrol name is best - Scorpions vs. Black Widows right now. I love hearing "... physically strong, morally awake, and mentally straight" and watching the gears turn as he decides if "Be Prepared" is the motto or slogan. I love seeing a square knot tied right, whether it's the first or fifth time. I love seeing fidgety fingers and swinging feet gradually slow down as the scout and I get to know each other a little and he realizes I'm not like a principal or drill sargeant.
Most of all, I love wondering how this pipsqueak of a kid sitting here is going to grow over the next six years and how I can help make his Scouting experience the best it can be. The mom of one of those ex-pipsqueaks called me this afternoon, getting his uniform current for his Eagle board of review. He'll be graduating in a couple months and heading off to the Air Force Academy a couple weeks later. He'll be a Falcon then, but he'll still be an Eagle.
Day 41: Boards of Review, Patrol Meetings, and Troop Committee meeting.
We had eight scouts complete boards of review this evening, mostly Tenderfoot and Second Class.
The new scout patrol had a meeting. I went through the Joining requirements with one of them and he got it all except the square knot and scout badge. So, he'll take care of those at the troop meeting next week. We had a nice talk about Wii, Pokemon, and stamp collecting.
The main topic of discussion in the committee meeting was dividing the troop. After yet another very lengthy discussion, the decision was made to do nothing except inform the scout families that anyone can join any troop at any time. If someone wants to start a new troop, that is up to them. So, the troop will continue on at its present size of ~75 scouts and see if it continues to grow or not. Since I've expressed my opinion that this is the incorrect road to take to provide the best possible experience for the scouts, it makes sense for me to speed along the ramp-up of the next scoutmaster and turn it over to him as soon as possible.
Day 40: lots of scouting paperwork today. Went through packets of information from summer camp, Seabase, and training.
I did talk with a local scouter in a troop just getting interested in backpacking, but with very little experience. I might get to visit with their PLC soon and share some of our adventures and help them get started. That would be a lot of fun, so I've got my fingers crossed.
Day 39: I drove 212 miles to home yesterday (34mpg in my 22 year old Mazda 323!) just in time to shower and get to a Star scoutmaster conference. This is one of those scouts you need to be careful that you don't short change on attention. He's so on top of things that he needs little direction, motivation, or encouragement. It's easy to just sign off and move on to the next one since my help isn't needed. Just taking the time to hear how he loves Scouts and his plans for summer is refreshing and relaxing - aaaaah.
The new SPL decided to have his Troop Leader Training start at 8:00am today. Oh well. He's an 8th grader with a great team pulled together with three juniors, a sophomore, and a freshman to provide advice and support. All these guys did a super job of offering ideas and coaching the other 10 scouts on how things should be done for the next six months.
They discussed traits of good leaders, reviewed EDGE, covered their position responsibilities, made personal goals, and stayed awake the whole time.
After lunch, the patrol leaders planned out six months of troop outings for 2012 and assigned patrols to lead the planning of each one.
Day 37: The past two days have been just 'remote scouting' for me - only communicating remotely over the 'net to the scouts and adults back home, replying to emails from site visitors, and adding troop links to myScouting Links page.
It's really pretty amazing how we can instantly communicate with practically anyone at any time. Our advancement chair had a question about a scout completing rank requirements. I got on my laptop wirelessly connected, opened Troopmaster which connected to their website, updated the requirement completions, ane emailed the advancement chair back. Even though I'm hundreds of miles away, it all just took a few minutes. A couple scouts set up scoutmaster conferences through Troop Kit for when I get home. I'm electronically planning our Troop Leader Training for this weekend with the SPL.
I just watched "UP" with the nephews and niece last night. Russell, the Wilderness Explorer, used his GPS to steer the balloon-lifted house to South America. Technology fits into Scouting just fine when used as a tool to supplement skills rather than as entertainment which should come from participation in scouting activites, or as a crutch to make up for lacking skills. Allowing technology in your troop and educating scouts (and scouters) on its proper use is a better solution than trying to prevent its presence. The Tech Chip card is an example of integrating technology into scouting.
The BSA appears to be thinking along similar lines of promoting technology through Scouting. A new STEM-NOVA Award is in the works. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. Various awards, patchs, and pins will be available to Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, and Venturers. The program is to be announced in May and fully developed over the next two years. Read more at this page.
Day 35: I got to visit Troop 342 in Ashland, WI tonight. I'm visiting my nephews and one of them just joined that troop this month. It's good to check out other troops when you can. You get to see what you're doing right, pick up ideas, and see that generally all troops are chaotic. :-) This troop's scoutmaster does things much differently than I do, but the scouts certainly have opportunity to lead.
It was great to see some 16 and 17 year olds welcoming the new 5th graders that just crossed over. I imagine this scene is unfolding in thousands of troops across the country this week. Guys barely up to the elbows of the Life and Eagle scouts learning two half hitches or trying to do a pull-up or two, and being obviously impressed by the skill and leadership of the older scouts.
I got to chat with an Eagle scout volunteering as assistant scoutmaster now. He showed me their gear room (I'm jealous!) and told me about their fundraising, summer camp, and usual weekend campouts. There are many logistical differences between a troop of 20 scouts and 80 scouts, but the individual scout challenges are identical - how do I motivate this one to step up and lead? why doesn't this one ever bring his book? how do I spread this one's enthusiasm to the rest?
Day 34: Yet Another Cold Campout - another weekend camping with snow and cold. About 15 degrees colder than forecast. Tying knots and lashings when it's 15 degrees isn't all that much fun so I'm now officially looking forward to Spring and the thaw.
The guys had some fun, learned some stuff, and got dirty - it was a success. I held four scoutmaster conferences on the campout so that was fun for me. One of the new scouts joined us as a guest of an existing patrol since he's not received his patrol gear yet. He did complete his Joining requirements last night.
Hopefully, next month's campout will be rain rather than snow. :-)
This post brought to you by Victor Pest. All opinions are 100% mine.
Occasionally, a troop trailer will be stolen or equipment will be broken but, every year, troops and scouts run a greater risk of losing gear to mice and rodents. Tents, sleeping bags, rainflies, and the like are fine nesting spots for the little critters and cooking items not thoroughly cleaned can smell like a free meal.
At summer camp last year, we had a mouse actually get into a patrol box, shred paper towels, and make a nest. Everything non-metal in that box got thrown out and everything else was totally sanitized before being used again.
I just found out that Victor has some way cool high-tech rodent control options that are perfect for scout troops like ours. There are electronic traps and ultrasonic repellents, both more humane, effective, and clean than old style traps.
The Victor electronic trap uses a couple AA batteries and instead of squishing the mice, it quickly shocks them. It has an LED letting you know if it caught a mouse or not. Two of these in your troop trailer or shed or other place you store your gear that has no electricity will do the job. To empty and reset, you just turn it upside down over the garbage can and set it back down - pretty simple.
The Victor ultrasonic repellents, called PestChasers, are great for your garage or room with an electric plug. These Pest Chasers are safer than poison, cleaner and kinder than traps, and prevent rather than correct problems. A sound is produced that repels the rodents but is inaudible to humans and non-rodent pets. Just plug it in and that's it - mice stay clear of the area.
Now that winter is winding down, new scouts are joining the troop, and patrols are gearing up for summer camping, you and the quartermaster are probably evaluating equipment and cleaning the storage area. This is a perfect time to ensure the equipment is safe from rodents for the year ahead with just a little effort. Victor has a special promotion going on now that could fit a troop's needs well. It's called the "Protect Your Space Combo Kit" and includes:
1 Sonic PestChaser Heavy Duty
2 Sonic Mini PestChasers
2 Electronic Mouse Traps
For $99.99, you could provide six years of rodent control for your troop trailer, garage, and two other storage areas.
Day 31: Showing up for the first scoutmaster conference, not sure what to expect, or how mean the old guy will be, or how hard it will be to remember everything, or if this is the right troop to be in. And, that's just the mom's thoughts! When a new scout shows up for his first scoutmaster conference, he's kind of in limbo. His blue shoulder loops were replaced with green ones and he was given a Scout Handbook. But until he completes the Joining requirements, he doesn't have a troop neckerchief and slide or troop numerals to wear. He really, really, really wants that neckerchief and to belong to the gang.
I ask if he has any pets. Oh, he does! That's always a great place to start, sharing stories of pets. Then, I coax a bit about his family out of him. See how he likes school - or not. Finally, we work our way around to the joining requirements.
I just go down the list on page 17... How old are you? Check Did you find a troop to join? Check Let's say the Pledge of Allegiance. Check See how easy these requirements are? Nothing to it when you know your stuff. How about that Scout Sign? Check Salute? Check Handshake? Check - by the way, when you shake with those older scouts in the troop, make sure you have a good, strong grip. Yeah, that's it! See this cool scout badge - what do you see on it? What does that Eagle remind you of? What is a shield used for? Does this scroll look kind of like a smile? Have you ever heard of someone tying a string around their finger to remind them of something? Do you have the Scout Law or Scout Promise memorized yet? No, that's ok, you don't need them memorized until Tenderfoot. Have you seen the movie "UP"?
I've found that pretty much every kid has seen "UP" by now - if you haven't I think you should. The scout, Russell, exemplifies pretty much every point of the Scout Law. So, I ask about a scene from the movie, for example when Russell was hanging from the hose, or when he was all covered in dirt, or when he first met the old man. And, we figure out if he was being brave, or clean, or courteous.
On this day, I got to have a great chat with a new scout. He's a great little kid with messed up hair, glasses, and a lot of something they used to call "spunk". I can hardly wait to see what sort of man he becomes. Let's get started...
Day 29: Had a conference with a scout for second class. Loaded info for the last new scout into TroopKit.com for events. Had a scout volunteer to plan a 50-Miler trek for July - now he and I can start the fun of figuring out what all is needed. I'm looking forward to working with him on this little project.
Day 28: The SPL led his last PLC meeting tonight. At the end, he stood up and took out a piece of notebook paper. He asked if anyone had ever run in a relay race. Then, he asked if they knew what a baton was. He drew a racetrack on the paper and marked off an area where the baton could be exchanged from one runner to the next. He explained that if the runner just stood there, there would be a collision. If he took off without the baton, he'd be running for no reason. So, the old and new runners need to work together to optimize the transition and to accomplish it inside the boundaries of the exchange zone. He then told all the patrol leaders that they needed to pass off the baton to their replacements. They needed to help them start running and make the pass as smooth as possible and within a certain time. I thought it was great guidance and a super way for him to wrap up his time with this team of his. And, I'm pretty sure I'm going to use his words for my scoutmaster minute next week. :-)
Day 27: Presented Red Cross Wilderness and Remote First Aid training to a bunch of scouters all day yesterday and this afternoon. With the snow and cold, we did it all indoors except the hypothermia scenario. Pretty good way to spend the weekend since the troop wasn't doing anything interesting.
Day 22: When a scout comes prepared, it sure makes life easier for me. A scout stopped by to demonstrate fire making and backpacking stoves. He brought his own box of wood and his dad's stove - way cool! And, he had obviously practiced a bunch because he got right to work and zip, zam, zowie demonstrated the skills and was done. We even had time to do some first aid and he saved me from bleeding to death and from a rabid rabbit bite I got on my ankle. He did learn that he just doesn't have enough body weight yet to compress the chest on an adult when doing CPR - he's only 11. Reminds me I need to do the Flea Training scoutmaster minute at the next troop meeting.
Helped get a campsite for next month's outing. A different patrol with assistance from an adult plans each monthly outing. The patrol leader and adult had run out of ideas so they asked me for help. Since I know a guy that knows a guy I arranged a spot that will be great, and the first time the troop has ever camped there.
I also gave away a $25 scouting gift card, Class B $50 coupon, and a fire piston yesterday. If you didn't enter this month's contest yet, you're missing out.
Day 21: I Love Mondays! It's troop meeting night! The SPL, along with some other high schoolers, was gone to a ski club dinner tonight so the ASPL ran the show. A first year patrol led the skills time and game time since their patrol is planning the campout coming up. It was all about knots - I'm not sure exactly WHAT knots, but I did recognize a couple bowlines and some half hitches. :-) The campout will be 'Pioneering' so they wanted to brush up on those skills.
I also met with a Tenderfoot this afternoon and an Eagle candidate.
This Eagle has 26 days until his 18th, but he's down to just signatures and turning in paperwork now.
I wonder what you thought when you read that last sentence? Maybe, "oh, another one waiting to the last minute." Or, "huh, somebody must have pushed him and he didn't want it." There's usually some reason a scout barely finishes his Eagle requirements in time, or sometimes not quite in time. In this case, it's the best of reasons as far as I can tell - Scouting is just one part of his well-rounded life.
This guy is the perfect example of what my personal vision is of an Eagle Scout. Fitness: His sports training kept him from many scouting opportunities, enabling him to play varsity football and getting a college scholarship. He demonstrated his fitness in scouting on high adventure treks from Florida to Washington, swimming in oceans, climbing mountains, and backpacking hundreds of miles. Citizenship: When he graduates in a couple months, he'll be serving his country in the military. Character: In seven years with the troop, serving as SPL and other positions, he has consistently supported his fellow scouts. He never learned how to play "the Blame Game" - always taking responsibility for any failings of his team.
As I mentioned to my wife, "If every guy was like him, there'd be no need for Scouting." :-) I often wonder how much impact Scouting has - for example, is this scout the way he is because he was in Scouts or is he just that way?
Scout On Challenge your Scouts If any other scouting bloggers want to use these numerals, they are at http://boyscouttrail.com/i/nums/[xx].jpg - replace [xx] with 01, 02, 03, ..., 98, 99 If you know HTML, you'd put something like: <img src="http://boyscouttrail.com/i/nums/21.jpg">