Archive for the 'Pack' 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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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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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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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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National Preparedness Month

September 20, 2012

September is a good time to work with our Scouts—Pack, Troop, or Crew—on being prepared during National Preparedness Month.  Expand on the Bear Law Enforcement Activity with FEMA resources.  Ask your PLC to refresh the Troop on basic First Aid Skills or work on Wilderness First Aid for the backcountry.  Bring in your First Aid and Emergency Preparedness merit badge counselors.  Ask your leaders to take the online BSA Hazardous Weather training.

Be Prepared.

NATIONAL PREPAREDNESS MONTH: YOUR FAMILY PLAN

Main Content

Release date:
SEPTEMBER 13, 2012
Release Number:
R6-12-143

DENTON, Texas – September is National Preparedness Month. Putting together a family preparedness plan for disasters or emergencies can serve you well in any circumstance. Whether you are facing a severe weather event, a fire in your home, a hazardous materials incident in the neighborhood, or any other emergency, it’s a good idea to plan in advance.

  • Talk to your family members about preparedness and how to respond calmly to emergencies. Discuss what you would need to do to shelter in place, leave your home or evacuate your city.
  • Identify two meeting places, one near your home and one away from the neighborhood in the event family members cannot return to the house.
  • Post emergency phone numbers beside the telephone. Teach children how to call 911.
  • Choose a friend or relative out-of-state whom all family members will telephone to check in. The out-of-state relative can relay messages. When evacuating, notify relatives and friends about your plans. Be familiar with designated evacuation routes leading out of town.
  • Draw a home floor plan and choose at least two escape routes. Make sure you know how to shut off the water, gas and electricity.
  • Keep an emergency supply kit, including water, non-perishable food, important documents, radio and flashlight with extra batteries, extra eye glasses, medications and special needs products for babies and the elderly.
  • Make plans for family members or neighbors with special needs, as well as for care of pets.

During National Preparedness Month, and throughout the year, FEMA and the Ad Council invites everyone to prepare in advance for all types of natural disasters. The Ready Campaign’s websites (ready.gov and listo.gov) and toll-free numbers (1-800-BE-READY and 1-888-SE-LISTO) provide free emergency preparedness information and resources available in English and Spanish.

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Arrow of Light: Four Winds

February 4, 2012
Cub Scouting (Boy Scouts of America)

Image via Wikipedia

Four Winds Ceremony for Arrow of Light

Den Leader:  Our Pack is gathered to recognize some of our brothers who have achieved the highest rank in Cub Scouting, the Arrow of Light. Second Year Webelos Scouts, please step forward with your parents.

The Founders of Scouting learned many things from those who came before us. They learned of the Lenni Lenape who lived in the cradle of our new American nation. The Lenape believed that the Great Father created this Earth and the Four Winds. He sent four spirits, the Manitou, to care for the Four Winds.

North Wind: I am the North Wind. People say I am cold, but you have grown to accept me because you have been true-blue Scouts and have lived up to the Law of the Pack. Accept others that you meet on your scouting trail.

South Wind: I am the South Wind. Over hill and dale I have blown fair and warm on your outdoor adventures as you explored the world around you. As Cub Scouts you have been cheerful and friendly – a credit to your den and pack. Continue to be cheerful and friendly as you follow the Scout Law.

East Wind: I am the East Wind. I bring the worst of storms on my gusts. Through the challenges you faced in Cub Scouts, you have shown that you are brave and helpful to others. Remain brave in the face of hardship and keep looking for ways to help those in need.

West Wind: I am the West Wind. I bring warmth, fair weather, and blue skies. You have shown yourself to be a trustworthy Webelos scout, loyal to your den of brothers. Loyalty and trust will fill your life with fair skies and good friends as you scout outside our Pack.

All Winds: (in unison) We will be with you forever. We wish you the best of luck in your travels and experiences on the Scouting trail.

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(adapted from Boy Scout Trail.com Crossover Ceremony.  I asked five Boy Scouts whose brothers are in the Pack to help, each reading one Wind and the other handing each Cub a real arrow donated by our local archery shop.  I added the reference to the Lenape in honor of the Order of the Arrow. We do AoL at start of Blue & Gold Banquet, then do bridging ceremony, using the Scout Oath, Scout Law, Scout Motto, and Scout Slogan, at end)

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Tall Tale, the movie

November 22, 2010

My post about the Bear Cub Folklore achievement has been fairly popular this year.  Not sure if I just hit on a SEO strategy with the ample Tall Tales name-dropping (Paul Bunyan, Casey Jones, Hiawatha, and all their friends).  Anyway, I really enjoyed this den activity.

One of our previous Pack leaders bought Disney’s movie Tall Tale: The Unbelievable Adventures of Pecos Bill (with Patrick Swayze) and donated the video to the Bear Den.  (John Henry’s even brought into the story.)  I split it up into two den meetings, between talking about the characters in the handbook.  I didn’t get the feeling our boys had been exposed to these stories in school, which kind of made me a bit sad.  This stuff is Americana, not just our shared history but our shared imagination.

Now I’m not usually a fan of TV-as-baby-sitter programming, but in this case none of my cubs had seen it, and they really seemed to enjoy it.  Maybe you can find it on sale this holiday season.

-JohnS

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