Archive for the 'Council' Category

Celebrating Imagination AND Tradition

October 31, 2013
Batman: The Long Halloween

Batman: The Long Halloween (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Halloween is among the more popular holidays with the Scout-age crowd.  Its not just the candy.  Its a time of year when imagination runs wild.  Forget about what you are, or what your peers think you are.  You can be a pro-baseball player, or an NFL quarterback, or a super-fast goalie.  You can be a soldier or a sailor, Superman or Batman, warlock or web wizard.  Icabod Crane or the Headless Horsemen, Luke Skywalker or Darth Vader, Charlie Brown or Snoopie, pick your hero or villain.  You can be anything you can think up.

I’m not a Halloween guy myself.  The roots of the “holiday” lie in ancient pagan celebrations of Celtic spirits, which became incorporated in All Hallows Eve.  I have a hard time reconciling the tradition with my faith (A Scout is Reverent) but that’s me.  However, it reminds me that one kid’s harmless fun can be another kid’s offense.

I’m not talking about being politically correct.  I am talking about respecting tradition and different perspectives.  History is full of a variety of stories–my post on Tall Tales & the Bear Cub achievement activity is the #1 all-time post I’ve written anywhere.  These stories bind us to those who have gone before.  Our ancestors deserve to have their stories told unvarnished.

At the same time, Scout leaders must be sensitive to perspectives we may not share.  We grow by learning and welcoming new ideas, and figuring out how to incorporate those ideas into our traditions.  The whole is greater than the sum of the parts.  And our Packs and Troops and Crews will grow by letting our imaginations run a bit wild, without scaring off boys… or their parents.

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Scouter Davey Jones, RIP

September 29, 2013

Lewis & Clark Monument

I can’t say it much better than Sioux Council’s Scout Executive, on the recent loss of a long-time Scouter from Minnesota:

Scouting Friends:

It is with deepest regret that I share the news of the passing of Lewis & Clark Scout Camp icon and our Scouting friend, David “Davey” Jones. Davey passed away in his sleep on September 5th while on a fossil hunting expedition with a friend in Lusk, WY.

It is not over stated to say that Davey was a legend among Scouts who attended summer camp at Lewis & Clark. This past camping season was Davey’s 37th at the camp on the hills above the Missouri River. His legacy literally touched the lives of thousands of campers throughout the decades.

Davey’s impact on Scouting was not limited to summer camp alone. He was a stalwart presence in local Scouting in both the Worthington and Marshall, MN areas. His distinctive voice, the always positive attitude and the wealth of knowledge will be sorely missed by all.

In many college communities, Davey was renowned for his knowledge of, work in and support of paleontology. It is fitting that Davey’s last hours were spent doing what he loved.

Davey’s family wishes to express their thanks for the many kind words of condolence they have received from the Scouting community. Davey’s body will be cremated and a memorial service will be held in Spring 2014 at Lewis and Clark Scout Camp.

Family members have requested that anyone wishing to honor Davey’s memory can make contributions in his name to the Sioux Council, BSA.

Please keep Davey’s family, including his many beloved friends in Scouting, in your prayers in this time of loss.

Tom Smotherman Jr. – Scout Executive

Davey was displaced from his long-time home in Worthington, Minnesota, when the State widened a highway through town.  Turning lemons into lemonade, as Scouters are wont to do, Davey worked out a life estate at Lewis & Clark Scout Reservation outside Yankton, South Dakota.  He helped the camp build some much-needed facilities, as I understand it, and the camp helped him with a place to stay.  I can still hear him smile, raise his hand, and say “On my honor…” .

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Each of Us a Corp of Discovery

August 30, 2013

Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center

Back to school time is a good time to remember Scouting is NOT Scout School.

Scouting is boy-run, bottoms-up.  School is adult-run, top-down.

Scouting is a game for learning.  School is learning, so we can play games.

Scouting is a gang of eight (the patrol), all for one and one for all. School is all about individual achievement, as a cog in too-often a nameless bureaucracy.

Scouting is not competition for school or sports, but a compliment. We do well what they do not. Successful teams, like Lewis & Clark’s Corp of Discovery, follow universal truths with a strong dose of adaptation–to team members’ strengths and weaknesses, and to their changing environment. And each Troop does this not because we have to, but because we WANT to…go higher, last longer, be better citizens and men.

Yours in Scouting.
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Nothing More American Than Scouting?

July 4, 2013
Three early 20th century leaders of the Scouti...

Three early 20th century leaders of the Scouting movement (l-to-r): Ernest Thompson Seton, Robert Baden-Powell, and Dan Beard. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Elsewhere on social media, an innocent Independence Day missive provoked a flurry of comments:

“There’s nothing more all-American than Scouting! So it’s a great day to thank you for supporting BSA… Happy 4th of July!”

To which the most relevant responder pointed out that Scouting was in fact founded by an Englishman, and that Independence Day celebrates our (US) separation from the Brits.  Others (sarcastically or not) accused the Boy Scouts of America organization of either continued prejudice or abandonment of first principles, etc and so on.  You can guess where I stand on principles, but I’ve often wondered about America’s love-hate relationship with our Colonial overlords back in the United Kingdom.  America was first settled by people of British origin (setting aside the Native Americans who had migrated to the continent a millennium or more before).  To rebel against Britain was in many ways to rebel against our own family.  Yet there it was, in the Declaration of Independence:

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another…

I will let historians debate our shared Special Relationship.  Here I am interested in Scouting, as a movement not a bureaucracy.

Robert Baden-Powell, the Englishman did, of course, found the game of Scouting based on his military experience in Africa and India.  He also had a lot of help.

We all know the story of the Unknown Scout who helped Chicago publisher William D. Boyce through the London fog, and to a lesser extent James West who took the helm of the new Boy Scouts of America a century ago.  But sometimes we forget Boyce & West didn’t just import a British idea—they brought a Scouting idea home that had many fathers.

Ernest Thompson Seton was the first Chief Scout in the BSA, and is fairly well known as a founder of Scouting in America.  He is in the new Handbook, page 60 in fact.  An Englishman of Scottish descent, he emigrated to Canada with his family when he was a small boy.  Later settling in the New York area, Seton founded Woodcraft Indians in 1902 to give local hoodlums something to do.  It is well known that B-P was influenced by The Birch Bark Roll of the Woodcraft Indians, which Seton published in 1906, and the Woodcraft Indians merged into the BSA when that organization was founded in 1910.

“Uncle Dan” Beard is also on page 60, fairly well known as an American founder of Scouting, at least as far as Scouting Heritage is followed these days.  Daniel Carter Beard was an engineer and surveyor, and a friend of Ernest Thompson Seton.  In 1882, he published the American Boy’s Handy Book, filled with illustrations and practical stuff for American Boys to do.  In 1905, he founded the Sons of Daniel Boon, (aka Boy Pioneers) in celebration of American Frontiersmen such as their illustrious namesake, Kit Carson, Davey Crockett, Johnny Appleseed, James Audubon, and George Catlin.  Beard became National Commissioner in the new BSA, and helped found Campfire Girls as an outdoor-oriented sister organization to the BSA.

Less well known in the US are others who contributed to B-P’s Scouting Movement.  Minnesotan Frederick Russell Burnham, for example, grew up among the Sioux Indians and was an Old West scout in the Apache Wars.  He went on to serve in the British Army in Africa, where he taught woodcraft to Baden-Powell.  You can blame Burnham for B-P adapting the American cowboy’s bandana as the Scout Neckerchief.

Dr. Charles Alexander Eastman, a Dakota Sioux, was also from Minnesota and graduated from Dartmouth College and Boston University.  He wrote about growing up in an Indian tribe on the changing frontier, including Indian Scout Craft and Lore.  He worked with Seton to implement programs through the YMCA and other groups, then in establishing the BSA.  It was one thing for East Coast anglo-americans to tout Indian skills, but Eastman lived them and was proud of his Native American heritage.

These are just a few of the Americans who influenced Baden-Powell in establishing the Scouting movement, and who later implemented B-P’s ideas in the USA.  There may, in fact, be nothing more American than Scouting.  In many ways, in reaching out in partnership between the old family in England and the the new family here in the United States to bring to life the ideals in the Declaration of Independence, Scouting as a movement is more American than America herself.

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Scouting is the Idea

June 1, 2013

English: Front cover of the second installment...

What would B-P do?

Robert Baden-Powell founded Scouting over 100 years ago to fill a void.  He took what he had learned in service to his country and adapted it for boys who clamored for an outdoor life—a Boy’s Life.

Over the years, B-P’s Scouting idea was filtered and further adapted and bureaucratized by men, most with good intentions, as the Scouting Movement became institutionalized in 100s of nations across the world.  As they say, an idea is the raw grain of a movement, and as any other ingredient in man’s diet it is seldom recognizable by the time it becomes a “movement”.

We can argue if the Scout Association of the UK or the Boy Scouts of America (current or “improved”) or the Girls Scouts of America or any member of the World Organization of the Scouting Movement (WOSM) has remained faithful to B-P’s spirit and intent.  How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

There is no arguing that modern bureaucracies have changed essential elements of B-P’s Scouting for Boys.  That fact is printed in plain black and white.  The BSA has wandered far from the basics of the Game of Scouting, with warm fuzzys and merit badge factories and full-time institutional inertia.  We can (and will) argue whether this is a good thing or not.  And in the United States, this time of trouble regarding such a bureaucratic travesty as membership standards may be the perfect impetus to revisit the whole reason we became Scouts.

Why do you play the Game of Scouting?

As a youth, I never thought much about the difference between “Scouting” and the BSA.  I knew B-P started Scouting in England a long time ago, and communist nations outlawed Scouting.  When I returned to the BSA as an adult leader, I read up on the meaning of that purple fleur-de-lis on my uniform, and the fact that there are many different Scouting organizations, both within the WOSM and without.

The Traditional Scouting movement refers to a back to basics effort that returns Scouting to a style based on Robert Baden-Powell‘s model of Scouting; rejecting the trend of modernizing Scouting to appeal to more youths… In America, the term Traditional Scouting can also refer to “old-fashioned” Scouting in some form, as opposed to the Traditional Scouting movement. –Wikipedia

The BSA is only one player in the Scouting movement.  Some alternate groups are more or less organized, more or less conservative or liberal, more or less “Traditional”.  As a Scouter, this may be a time to stick with the BSA and work to bring the movement back closer to B-P’s ideas and ideals.  As a Scouter, it may be time to plant your flag in another camp.

Either way remember:  Scouting is a Game, and it is for the Boys.

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Pocket Flag Eagle Project

February 15, 2013

Pocket Flags Eagle Project

How’s this for an Eagle Scout Leadership Project?  Scout Greg D of Troop 116 (Chartered to the First Presbyterian Church of Cheyenne) here in Longs Peak Council BSA is organizing a service project at the Cheyenne Depot to provide 900 folded US pocket flags to members of the military from Wyoming.

Sounds like a great way to spend a winter Sunday afternoon.

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Scouts on Ice

January 24, 2013
Roundtable Commissioner Paul Horn with Zach S of Pack 25, Slayton http://www.murraycountynews.net/default.asp?storyid=60112&secid=105

Roundtable Commissioner Paul Horn with Zach S of Pack 25, Slayton

Sioux Council’s Buffalo Ridge District back home hosted an Ice Fishing Derby once again this month, attracting Packs and Troops from across Southwest Minnesota and South Central South Dakota.  As the Murray County News reported:

Those on the ice that day kept busy chasing their wind driven equipment across the lake.

Boy Scout Camp Shetek near Currie hosted the event where 9 Cub Scouts, 14 Boy Scouts and 19 adults participated.

Some years we had good fishing. Other years we just had good fun.  Either way it’s one more option to get the boys (and boys at heart) out into the Great Outdoors between Christmas and Klondike Derby.

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Always Room at the Scouting Inn

December 22, 2012

en: Ideal Scout Statue by Robert Tait McKenzie...

And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. -Luke 2:7

Did you recruit a new Scout today?

No?  Are you sure?

Like the original Unknown Scout in the London fog, every day each of us who are Scouts and Scouters represent Scouting and the BSA (or WOSM organization of your choice), in uniform or not.  At school or at work, on service projects or just puttering around the neighborhood.  When people know you’re a Scout, they judge all of Scouting by your actions.  When people don’t know you’re a Scout, each person you meet is a potential Scout/Scouter or supporter.

As I related in my last post, my family recently moved to a new city/state/Council, so my boys and I have been looking for a new troop(s).  In a time of transition like this, we faced (and are still working through) many decision points regarding participation in Scouting.  The boys, being at different ages and ranks, have their own interests and concerns–even whether or not to continue in Scouting at all.  So we poked around on the Council website looking for local Troop and Crew info.  I visited Roundtable to see which units were active.  I asked around when we got to town to see if anybody knew any Scouters… and we visited several meetings to see where the boys felt they could fit in.  In each case, someone had the opportunity to extend a welcoming hand… or not.

Not only does everybody win in the game of Scouting, but there’s also always more room for more players.  While Mary & Joseph were turned away from the Inn so long ago, there’s always room in Scouting for families who want to live by the Scout Oath & Law.  And every day, each and every one of us invite new Scouts in, whether we know it or not, by how we live the Scout Oath and Law.  Do you live On Your Honor?  Are you Courteous and Kind?  Have you Done A Good Daily?

There are no strangers to Scouting, only friends we haven’t met yet.

Merry Christmas.

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Everybody Wins in the Game of Scouting

November 30, 2012

Lions Park Scout House

Competition is a good thing.  We learn new skills and new solutions, then hone them further, through practice and competition. We compete on the basketball court and football field.  We compete in school and in our careers.

We recently moved to a new state and my sons have been visiting troops here.  Each troop is a bit different, with a different mix of boys—different ages, different schools, different interests—as well as each a different mix of adults.  One may tend towards canoeing, another towards hiking, another more towards service projects.

No one troop does everything “according to Baden-Powell”, but every troop, I believe, delivers the promise of Scouting as best they can.  Each troop finds their “thing”, or they find it hard to find members.  Every day, our Troops compete, not just for new Scouts but for the time and attention of each and every boy and adult leader on our rosters.

It seems the Intelligencia is determined to stamp out competition, believing it hurts our children’s self-esteem when they can’t win every game.  Life is competition… but Scouting is unique among most games our children play.  Only 5 boys can play on a basketball team at one time; 9 boys on a baseball team; 11 boys on a football team.  How many boys can play on the Scouting team?  All of ’em, 4-8 in a patrol, as many patrols as you can fit.  As Baden-Powell told us, “It is important to arrange games and competition so that all Scouts of the troop take part.”  Everybody wins in the game of Scouting.

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Scoutmaster Minute—Pride and Goodbyes

October 2, 2012
Longs Peak Council

Longs Peak Council (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

SM Minute—Pride and Goodbyes

“I’m proud of you guys.”

That’s all I could squeak out Sunday night in my final Scoutmaster Minute for Troop 25, Sioux Council, BSA.

See, I found a new job, back in Longs Peak Council of Colorado and Wyoming.  I like what I do professionally, but this is a great opportunity.  Frankly, it’s harder to leave behind my Troop after 5 years as Scoutmaster than my job of 8 years.  Maybe that’s because I’m satisfied my work is done at my job, but there is so much I still wanted to accomplish with the boys in my troop.

I am proud of my guys.  The boys my wife & I started into Tiger Cubs 8 years ago are filling out the Patrol Leaders Council now.  Brodie and Nathan and Matt have grown through Wolves and Bears and Webelos, and are all First Class or Star Scouts now.  Zach and Dylan are close behind, and my younger son earned his Tenderfoot at Summer Camp this year.

I was planning to talk about all the fun and adventures we’ve had the past 5 years—summer camp at Lewis & Clark and Camp Wilderness and winter camps at Lake Shetek.  Klondike Derby and Ice Fishing Derby, hikes at state parks and swamping canoes among the leeches.  All I could squeak out was, “I’m proud of you guys”

It’s easier knowing I’ve got—we’ve got—great Assistant Scoutmasters and Troop Committee members ready to step up.  I kept my Troop Committee Chair in the loop when I applied for a new position (he agreed to be a reference), and we talked it out ahead of time.  Our new Scoutmaster is ready for a seamless transition, and I will be eternally grateful for that.

So yes, Scouts and Scouters, I am proud of you.  I’ll be scouting campsites up in the Big Horn mountains.  Keep your Tour Permits up to date and we’ll see you Back at Gilwell.

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