The Villa Philmonte (photo by "the third dream" on Flickr)

At Philmont Training Center’s Region Weeks, you’ll learn with Scouters who speak your language

Here’s a great chance for y’all, yinz, you guys and you-uns to get top-level training alongside people who speak your language.

I’m talking about this summer’s Region Weeks at the Philmont Training Center.

Yes, you’ll gather with folks who can agree on whether that sweetened carbonated beverage you’re drinking is a soda, a pop, a Coke or a soft drink.

But more importantly, you’ll be shoulder to shoulder with Scouters who know the unique challenges facing your region and can offer solutions you can take home and use right away.

Let’s face it: You don’t recruit Scouts in Portland, Ore., the same way you do in Portland, Maine. And retention strategies that work in Austin, Texas, might fail in Austin, Minn.

That’s why these Region Weeks are so brilliant. Interested? I’ve got lots more info for all y’all from the Central, Northeast, Southern or Western regions after the jump. Continue reading

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Tuesday Talkback: How do you get other Scouters to get trained?

Tuesday-TalkbackRandy has tried begging, peer pressure and guilt-tripping, but no matter what the Scoutmaster does, he still can’t get every adult in Troop 339 trained.

“I have a handful of parents in my troop who say they don’t have time to get trained,” he writes. “How do I show them the value of training? I feel like I’ve tried everything.”

Sound familiar?

The BSA’s training continuum, which begins with mandatory Youth Protection training and continues through high-level courses like Wood Badge, help turn run-of-the-mill parents into Scouting superheroes.

But in training, like anything in life, 95 percent of success comes from just showing up. Continue reading

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Need an extra set of hands at your den and pack meetings?

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Silly question. Who couldn’t use some extra help corralling a bunch of rowdy Cub Scouts?

Say hello to your new best friend: the Cub Scout Den Chief. This older Boy Scout, Varsity Scout or Venturer co-leads weekly den meetings, assists at pack meetings and meets regularly with adults to find out when and where he can help the most.

Don’t have one for your den? Let the October 2013 CubCast be your first step in changing that. In the latest installment of the monthly podcast, you’ll hear from Sherry Herzog, a terrific volunteer who set up a den chief training course with the Three Fires Council in St. Charles, Ill.

She’ll explain what a den chief does and why your den needs one ASAP.

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What does a unit commissioner, district commissioner and district executive do?

scoutcast-logo1That nice, uniformed, young man who visited your troop last week, was he your unit commissioner, district commissioner, district executive or someone else entirely?

For new adult volunteers, keeping track of your own Scouting title and responsibilities can feel pretty overwhelming. Memorizing the positions and duties of everyone else in your Scouting circle? Forget about it.

The good news, then, is that ScoutCast has help.

In the October 2013 episode of the monthly podcast (available to stream through your browser or download for later listening), you’ll hear from Ed Martin, scout executive for the Black Warrior Council in Tuscaloosa, Ala., as he explains who’s who in this “zoo” we call Scouting.

You’ll learn who these volunteers and professionals are and, more importantly, how they can help make your job in Scouting easier and more rewarding.

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10 things I learned staffing Wood Badge at Philmont

Just like your favorite film, Wood Badge is even better the second time around.

Last month, I served as a Troop Guide for Wood Badge course S2-571-13-3, known within the Dallas-based Circle Ten Council simply as Wood Badge 106.

Loyal blog readers will remember I had a mountaintop experience as a participant of Wood Badge 102 last summer at Philmont Scout Ranch. (Read my five-part recap here, and send to those who haven’t yet taken Wood Badge but should.)

But this time I was a Wood Badge staffer, again at a course held at Philmont. And this time I learned even more. Staffing Wood Badge is like having a backstage pass. From that new vantage point, you know what’s going to happen, how it happens and why it happens at that exact moment. That new perspective comes with a greater appreciation for why this is Scouting’s top training course for leaders.

I learned a lot more than I could put into one blog post, but I thought I’d share 10 lessons I learned staffing Wood Badge. If you’ve staffed, please share your own takeaways by leaving a comment.  Continue reading

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First look: Troop Leader Guidebooks, set to replace Scoutmaster Handbook

scoutmaster-handbookUpdate, Feb. 28. 2014: These books are still being reviewed, and Vol. 1 should be available in the coming months. Vol. 2 is expected later this year.


If you judge the Scoutmaster Handbook by its cover, you might assume it’s solely meant for, well, Scoutmasters.

Assistant Scoutmasters, it seemed, were to look elsewhere for Scouting wisdom.

That’s about to change. Later this year, the two-volume Troop Leader Guidebook will debut, replacing the Scoutmaster Handbook and offering helpful checklists, quick tips and fresh ideas for both new troop leaders and veteran Scouters.

Scouting magazine contributor Mark Ray wrote Volume 1, while Bob Birkby, author of the latest Boy Scout Handbook, penned Volume 2.

You can see the covers of the new Troop Leader Guidebooks after the jump. I’ve also got a sneak peek at what’s inside the books and what makes them better tools for Scoutmasters and assistant Scoutmasters.  Continue reading

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Five big takeaways from today’s release of the 2013 Guide to Advancement

2013-Guide-to-AdvancementHere’s one for your browser’s bookmarks bar: The newest edition of the Boy Scouts of America Guide to Advancement released today.

The PDF version contains answers to pretty much any advancement question that might come up, and it’s essential reading for your unit’s advancement chair and others who like to be kept in the loop on all things advancement.

You’ll want to spend some time with this user-friendly guide. Consider downloading the PDF to your tablet for portable reading. Or print off a copy on recycled paper and keep it handy.

There’s so much inside the guide that it’s pointless for me to go into too much detail here. But I did want to draw your attention to five takeaways I gathered from a first look at the guide: Continue reading

The Villa Philmonte (photo by "the third dream" on Flickr)

Bring the family to Philmont Training Center in 2014

PTC-patchForget everything you think you know about conferences.

Forget the long lines at the buffet, the windowless meeting rooms at hotels, the boring PowerPoints, and the awkward social gatherings.

Conferences at the Philmont Training Center, Scouting’s paradise in the mountains of New Mexico, are anything but typical.

Spend a week there and you’ll never forget the picturesque mountain backdrop, engaging sessions guaranteed to improve your Scout unit, enjoyable cracker barrels with like-minded Scouters, and deer grazing near your tent.

And did I mention you can bring your spouse and kids? Philmont has a week of fun planned for spouses and kids of all ages — all for a fraction of what you’d spend for a week at Disney World.

I speak from experience. As you can see in the pictures below, Continue reading

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How to keep your troop out of the ‘death spiral’

Handbook for Patrol LeadersWhat separates a successful Boy Scout troop from a foundering one? The answer hasn’t changed in a century.

It’s the patrol method, and it’s been around since at least 1920 when Scouting founder Lord Baden-Powell explained it in his Aids to Scoutmastership (link opens PDF).

“The Patrol System is the one essential feature in which Scout training differs from that of all other organizations, and where the System is properly applied, it is absolutely bound to bring success,” B-P writes. “It cannot help itself!”

But too often these days, adult leaders are reactionary when it comes to the patrol method. They start with good intentions, but when they see the slightest hiccup, they take the reins from the boys and run the troop themselves.

Clarke Green, who writes the excellent unofficial Scouting blog “Scoutmaster CG,” calls this the “troop program death spiral” in a recent post

He writes:  Continue reading

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Visual Storytelling Workshops back in action this summer

Who doesn’t love a good sequel?

After last summer’s successful premiere of the BSA’s Visual Storytelling Workshops in Atlanta and at Philmont, the return engagement is almost upon us.

Two more workshops are scheduled for 2013, including one set for this weekend — May 3 to 5 — in St. Louis. If you hurry, there may still be spots available.

But there’s certainly time to register for the second workshop, held Aug. 4 to 10 at the Philmont Training Center in Cimarron, N.M.

Participants will learn the basics of editing photos with audio to create compelling Scouting stories to share via social media. You’ll leave ready to build an army of Scouting storytellers and get the word about our great movement to those who haven’t yet come aboard.

Go to this site for more information or to register for either workshop.


Photo by Greg Crenshaw