Quality trumps quantity when it comes to Scouting. A well-run unit of 15 to 20 boys or girls beats a dysfunctional unit of 80 to 100 Scouts every time. (Many larger troops thrive, but only through careful planning and strong leadership.)
What happens when your unit reaches that magic number where adding any more Scouts means a drop in program quality — overcrowded meeting space, leaders stretchen too thin, or other growing pains?
Do you turn Scouts away, sending them to another nearby unit? Or do you squeeze them in?
That question was posted to a Scout message board earlier this week: Continue reading
Spring may be the season of renewal, but fall’s when Cub Scout packs hit the reset button for the year.
Which is also the perfect time for Cubcast to do the same. As I mentioned in August, the podcast has been completely reimagined, with your help, and the November 2012 episode is the result of that revamp. If you ask me, it’s a hit. The new hosts bring a fresh energy and a sense of authority to the informative, 10-minute episode. And the shout-out to my blog makes it even sweeter!
The subject matter for this month’s episode is about renewal, too — as in the unit charter renewal process, a timely reminder this time of year.
Who are the new hosts? Meet Regional Operations Manager (and past leader of the Cub Scout Division) Sam Thompson. He’s joined at the microphone by Cub Scout volunteer extraordinaire Janet Griffin. This month, the two chat with Terrie Wilder, assistant council commissioner for charter renewal for the Mount Baker (Wash.) Area Council.
Listen to the November 2012 Cubcast or catch up with past episodes here.
Boy Scout Leaders, Listen Up!
Cubcast is great for pack and den leaders, but what about Boy Scout volunteers?
Just wait — ScoutCast will air Jan. 1.
Think of it as a roundtable or after-hours discussion. Sure, we all know how to teach kids about cooking over a campfire or tying a sheepshank, but ScoutCast will focus on topics like anger management, bullying, or dealing with kids with ADHD or hyperactivity.
I’m thinking it’s something Boy Scout leaders won’t want to miss.
Scouts aren’t exactly stumbling over themselves to take Personal Management, Emergency Preparedness, or Citizenship in the Community/Nation/World.
But with a little advance planning and creativity, you can bring seemingly dull merit badges to life.
Start by studying every requirement for ways to turn lectures or pen-and-paper exercises into something hands-on.
Then consider these tips from our friends on Facebook and Twitter: Continue reading
It’s amazing how quickly a whisper turns into a roar.
Take Wood Badge tickets, for example. Each one leaves a lasting legacy, but 50, 500, or even 5,000? That kind of impact reverberates across the Scouting universe for generations.
At my Wood Badge course in August, 50 Scouters each crafted five tickets. That’s 250 boosts to Scouting in North Texas from our course alone.
Some of you might be wondering: What is a Wood Badge ticket? Well, after the six-day course ends, participants aren’t done. To earn those iconic beads, a Wood Badger must complete five projects, called tickets. The tickets allow Scouters to give back to the program and to “realize their personal vision of their role in Scouting.”
That focus on Leaving a Legacy is a huge part of the spirit of Wood Badge. And it’s the subject of today’s fifth and final Wood Badge Wednesdays post.
In your unit, is a Scout’s contact info freely available or guarded like nuclear launch codes?
Two forces are competing here: Effective, efficient communication between families — and privacy. How do you straddle the thin line dividing the two?
That’s what assistant Scoutmaster Leon wondered in an e-mail to me last week. Take a look at his note, and then weigh in below: Continue reading
In Scouting, as in life, change is inevitable.
You’ve got new merit badges, new locations for campouts, new roles in your unit, new health and safety regulations, and more.
That makes change the only fact of life guaranteed to never change. And these days, both in and out of Scouting, change happens at a faster rate than ever before. Resistance is futile, but how you respond to it is entirely up to you.
Let’s say change is a bucking bull; do you: (A) Jump off and run away, (B) Hold on and try to survive, or (C) Grab the horns and steer. In other words, do you resist change, accept it, or lead it?
At Wood Badge, we learned how and why to try the third approach. It’s one of many Tools of the Trade I took home from the course in August, and it’s the focus for this edition of Wood Badge Wednesdays. (If you want to catch up, please read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.)
As Models for Success go, it’s tough to top course Scoutmaster John Stone (left) and Senior Patrol Leader Bill Hemenway.
As anyone who’s watched Survivor can attest, grouping a bunch of people together and giving them a name doesn’t make them an effective team.
No, if you want to morph a collection of individuals into a cohesive group, you’ll need good leadership, willing teammates, and ample time.
That was certainly the case for the Owl patrol at the Wood Badge course I took in August at Philmont.
We arrived as strangers and left as lifelong friends.
I know, I know. I could’ve taken that line right out of a Hallmark card. But Wood Badge veterans know this is true: The course offers a better firsthand lesson in effective team development than anything else out there.
That’s the concept behind my third installment of Wood Badge Wednesdays: Models for Success. (If you want to catch up, please read Part 1 and Part 2.)
Wood Badge allows Scouters to experience Baden-Powell’s vision for a perfect, youth-led Scout troop. Participants don’t just read about how Scouting should be run — we eat, sleep, and drink it for six full days.
By the end of the course, each leader walks away with practical skills that instantly apply back home. But that concept of “strangers to teammates” only describes the beginning and end. What happens in the middle? Well, let’s just say it’s no cake walk. Continue reading
You’re walking through the church lobby after your Scout meeting one night when you spot something new on the bulletin board.
JOIN PACK 123!
“But wait,” you say, “this church is where my pack, Pack 456, meets!”
It happened to Sandy, a Scouter who e-mailed me and asked that her full name and hometown not be used. And it could happen to you.
It’s a sticky situation. Yes, we’re all in the business of serving as many Scouts as possible, so we should be happy when any young person finds a pack, troop, team, ship, crew, or post to call home — even if that home belongs to a different unit.
On the other hand, each Scouter out there wants his or her unit to reach its full potential, and losing members restricts that.
How do you walk this line? And when, if ever, is it appropriate to compete against other units for members? I turned to our Facebook friends to find out: Continue reading
Update Feb. 21, 2013: I have learned that the grant is not available for 2013.
Consider it giving back to those who give back.
Lowe’s, the home-improvement giant with more than 1,700 stores, has teamed up with the BSA and local Scout councils to give selected Eagle Scout candidates a $100 prepaid gift card to be used toward their service projects.
Any Life Scout still in the planning phases of a construction-based Eagle Scout service project is eligible. In other words, if the Scout’s project requires supplies from, say, Lowe’s, it’s eligible.
Your local councils will actually award the money, and councils will get a certain number of awards based on a percentage of their three-year average for Eagle Scout Awards earned.
Here’s what you need to know: Continue reading
One study says chocolate is good for you, while another swears it’ll kill you.
When it comes to information about nutrition and health, cutting through the fat to get to the good stuff online isn’t easy.
Enter the BSA’s new SCOUTStrong site. The news aggregator collects Scout-approved, health-related news articles, podcasts, and videos in one spot for easy viewing. The goal: making Scouts and Scouters physically strong, mentally awake, and completely prepared for the jamboree and other BSA adventures ahead.
After spending a few minutes on the site, any adult — leader, volunteer, parent — should feel empowered to pass on the lessons learned to their Scouts. Continue reading