Half of the new scouts in the troop attended the Paul Bunyan campout last weekend. This was our first tent camping trip of the season and the agenda was to teach the Totin' Chip and Firem'n Chit skills.
The Panther patrol did a most excellent job of scheduling the day's events and two scouts working on the Communications merit badge planned and led the campfire program. This was the best organized weekend we've ever had! I hope it is a harbinger of a great summer ahead.
The two new patrols are the Carnivorous Crows and the Buffalos (or, as they prefer, the Buffalo Chips). This year, we are trying larger patrol sizes. Two years ago, we had 3 patrols of 6 scouts each but when a few scouts dropped out and some moved away, those patrols were merged. This year, we have two patrols - 9 in one and 12 in another. The 12-man patrol has a lot of sports-oriented scouts so I expect they will never have a full contingent. And, 3 or 4 are just 'trying out' scouting without much expectations of staying in. We'll work with them.
These scouts were taught knife, axe, and saw safety by experienced scouts and were presented with their Totin' Chip cards. We tear off a corner for poor tool safety and when all the corners are gone, the program needs to be redone. Each card gets the first corner taken off when it is presented so the scouts know it's serious and because 4 mistakes are too many.
Fire safety was covered and Firem'n Chit cards given out. In the past, we've burned off one corner, but these scout leaders just tore one off.
The basic two half hitches, tautline hitch, clove hitch, and bowline knots were instructed. The plan was to do a lashing project in the afternoon, but the scouts preferred to practice their whittling, chopping, and sawing, along with a few little fires being built and stomped out.
Three adults in our troop just completed Assistant Scoutmaster training. Two of them are parents of new scouts. Now they get to start practicing adult leadership in Boy Scouts - trying out the theoretical in a practical way.
One of these new Assistant Scoutmasters (ASM) told me he wanted to get some color-coded rope for a new scout patrol to use in practicing knots and he wanted to know if he could buy it and get reimbursed. This is a good example of how a simple thing can and should be used as a learning exercise.
I explained that materials for the patrol really should be requested by the Patrol Leader or Troop Guide through the Quartermaster. (Our troop has a Troop Guide for each New Scout Patrol.) This gives the Patrol Leader some responsibility and lets the Quartermaster keep track of what the troop has purchased and where it is.
The ASM could mention to the Troop Guide that it would be useful for each scout to have a color-coded rope and ask him what he thinks - he'll most likely agree that it would be good.
Then, ask him how he thinks they should go about getting the rope. There's a good chance he won't think of requesting it from the Quartermaster, but may just say "buy some at the store".
Then, ask him if he thinks getting rope for the scouts would be a Quartermaster job. And, he'll say "oh yeah."
Then, ask him if he thinks he should go ask the Quartermaster for the rope or if he should give some responsibility to one of the new scouts to do that task.
A discussion about the length, thickness, kind, and number of ropes required for practicing knots would result in a specific request that the Quartermaster could fulfill. The scouts will also need to either fuse or whip the ends and decide how they can be colored.
By using the troop structure and placing as much leadership and decision making on the scouts as possible, the program is improved. Instead of an adult handing out a dozen lengths of color-coded rope, the Troop Guide got to figure out what was needed, how to use the troop structure, share his leadership, and get the rope to the scouts.
From the scouts' point of view, their Troop Guide got them the rope they needed and they whipped the ends and colored them so they have respect for his leadership and ownership of the results.
From the adult's point of view, it can be a lot more work, very inefficient, and sometimes frustrating. :-) Instead of a 20 minute task of buying, cutting, fusing, coloring rope, it may take a week or more for the Troop Guide discussion, getting the request to the Quartermaster, the Quartermaster getting the rope to the patrol leader, and finally the scouts preparing the rope.
The end result is the scouts have rope to practice knots, but the Scout-Led path to get there makes those ropes much more valuable.
An even better solution for this specific rope issue would be to have each new scout make his own knot-tieing rope from twine - Ropemaking Machine
The next time you see a need for rope, tents, tools, ..., anything for the troop, make sure the scout leaders agree with the need and guide them to fulfill the need rather than having an adult step in and do it.
We learned a lot from our moccasin project at a troop meeting last month.
There were about 25 kits made and most of the scouts really enjoyed the project and were successful in starting their kits and finishing them at home.
Four scouts made moccasins from scratch. I got their shoe sizes and used a pattern to lay out the pieces on a side of suede leather. I also glued the foot pads in place since that would have been an hour of just waiting for it to dry and it is potent glue. They had to cut out the pieces, punch the holes, and lace them together with leather strips.
Things we learned:
- The kits had shoelaces instead of leather strips so the 'from scratch' moccasins were more realistic, but much more challenging.
- Kits should have been grouped by patrols and given to patrol leaders for distribution. Lots of time was wasted in handing out kits.
- Don't do projects in March. New scouts were at the meeting and had not had a chance to request a kit.
- Have a few scouts complete kits prior to the project so they can instruct and help the rest.
I just returned from a great vacation skiing at Keystone and Breckenridge in Colorado with my family. Last year, a couple scouts wanted to get a spring break ski trip on the schedule but it didn't get enough support at the planning meeting. Now that I've been there, I hope they bring it up again this fall. :-)
We had a great time on a lot of Blue and a couple Black runs.Keystone Web Site
tells about where we were.