When Cubmaster Lee inherited the position earlier this year, he was pumped to make an even bigger difference in the lives of youth.
That is, until he saw the shape of his pack’s advancement and award collection.
“I inherited multiple plastic bags full of belt loops and pins in no particular order,” he writes. “I’d love to know if others have found some great organizational folders, cabinets, etc. to keep things together.”
Great question, Lee, and it’s one that applies to Boy Scout leaders, as well. Certainly there’s a better solution than a mess of zip-top bags.
Today’s Tuesday Talkback topic is a simple one: How do you store and organize awards and advancement items before presenting them to Scouts? Leave a comment below, and send your Tuesday Talkback questions directly to me. Continue reading
After loading them up with snacks and sugary drinks at the beginning of the meeting, it’s no wonder your Cub Scouts are bouncing off the walls right when you want them to settle down for a serious activity.
Boy Scouts, too, have endless energy, and getting them to focus on planning patrol menus for this weekend’s campout won’t be easy after they just came inside from 20 minutes of a high-energy game like capture the flag.
A young person’s energy level is a tricky thing to tame, but it can be done with proper planning.
You can start by creating a better meeting schedule — or, for Boy Scout troops, having your youth leaders do it. Does it make more sense for snacks to be at the beginning of the meeting or the end? What about high-energy games?
Once the schedule’s perfect, you’re still not done. Writing a den or troop code of conduct puts enforceable rules in writing. Even better if you have the boys create it themselves. Ask questions like, “What are some of the things you are not allowed to do in your home?” As boys respond, have them adapt home rules for the den; as they agree on rules, write them on the piece of paper. When they agree on the entire list, post it at all of your den meetings.
I remember my den growing up had a conduct candle. An adult lit a large candle at the beginning of the meeting and put it out at the end. If someone misbehaved, though, it was extinguished early. Once the candle fully melted away (usually after a few months of meetings), we got a pizza party or field trip or some other kind of treat.
It was a visual reminder to the boys that breaking the rules ruins things for everyone.
For today’s Tuesday Talkback, I’m interested in your experience with conduct at meetings. Specifically: How do you get Scouts to settle down? Leave some ideas below. Continue reading
“The pack meeting lasts 90 minutes, so that’s plenty of time to do some Christmas shopping, grab a bite and pick up my prescription for crazy pills.”
It’s crazy but true: A few parents out there see Cub Scouting (and Boy Scouting) as a low-cost babysitting option for their son. They’ll drop their son off for meetings or outings and go catch a movie or swing by Home Depot while their child experiences Scouting without them.
While it’s true that Scouting is a more enriching, engaging and affordable alternative to leaving a child at home to watch movies with the next-door neighbor, remember that BSA doesn’t stand for Baby Sitters of America.
Families get the most out of Cub Scouting and Boy Scouting when everyone is involved. But what’s a Cub Scouter to do when parents peels out of the parking lot before you can ask them to help out at the next blue and gold?
That’s today’s Tuesday Talkback question: How do you get parents more involved in Cub Scouting? How do you remind them that you and other dedicated Scouters aren’t babysitters? Is this a problem in your pack? Share your thoughts and experiences below. Continue reading
My biggest gripe about the holidays isn’t the endless electronics ads, the pumpkin-spice overload or the inflated airfares. It’s the timing.
The Scouting year hits its stride right as the holidays arrive. Most packs, troops and crews have built up tons of positive momentum right when Thanksgiving and Hanukkah — followed closely by Christmas and Kwanzaa — come along. Blink twice, and it’s 2014. Units that hibernate for the season lose six weeks and essentially must start from scratch in January.
Now don’t get me wrong; I love holiday time spent with family and friends. I’m just looking for a best-of-both-worlds scenario that lets Scout units stay strong even during the season of out-of-town visitors, family vacations and holiday stress.
But how do you do it?
Start by reading Mark Ray’s excellent Scouting magazine piece called “Ideas to help your pack build — not lose — momentum during the holidays.” You’ll find some great suggestions there.
Then join this week’s Tuesday Talkback discussion by sharing your tips for helping your Scout unit survive the holiday season ready for a great 2014.
Oh, and Happy Thanksgiving! Continue reading
The battle for fundraising dollars is on.
At offices everywhere, parents peddle pizza dough, flower bulbs, Christmas wreaths and more to their coworkers in the name of financing their kids’ extracurricular activities. It seems every orchestra, soccer team and stamp-collecting club in a 50-mile radius wants your money.
In this sometimes-cutthroat world, surely there’s a way for packs and troops to make their fundraisers stand out from the crowd. But how? Continue reading
Wear your hat outside; don’t wear your hat inside.
Seems simple, but it’s not that easy. Take, for example, this exception from the BSA’s Guide to Awards and Insignia [PDF]:
Official headgear may be worn while the unit or individual is participating in an indoor formal ceremony or service duty, except in religious institutions where custom forbids.
Typical indoor activities of this type are flag ceremonies, inspections, orderly duty, or ushering service. In any informal indoor activity where no official ceremony is involved, the headgear is removed as when in street clothes.
There are ceremonial reasons for leaving headgear on, but there are practical ones, too. Requiring boys to remove their hats at the beginning of a Cub Scout pack or den meeting likely would result in most of those boys losing their hats by the meeting’s end. Tough to misplace a hat if it’s on your head.
Social customs are changing, too. There was a time when men removed their hats when in the presence of a woman, but those days have passed — for better or worse.
What I’m saying is the answer isn’t black and white. So let’s discuss this gray area in this week’s Tuesday Talkback. Tell me: What’s your unit’s hat policy? And how’d you decide it? Continue reading
If you’re not meant to hike, sweat and get dirty in your field uniform, then what’s with all the pockets for storing stuff? Why do the shirts come in an option made from breathable fabric? And have Scouts who hike in “Class A’s” been doing it wrong for decades?
Though you’ll see fewer Scouts wearing the field uniform (unofficially called the “Class A”) while hiking or doing muddy service projects these days, that wasn’t always the case, I recently discovered.
Hal Daumé, a member of the National Advancement Advisory Panel and a former Scouting magazine What I’ve Learned subject, did a little bit of research and found that not only have Scouts hiked in their field uniforms throughout history, the BSA at one point did everything short of requiring them to do so through its official handbooks. Lines like “the uniform [is] the clothing of the outdoorsman” made it pretty clear.
You won’t find an official declaration of when to wear the field uniform these days, but Hal’s research gives us an interesting look into the BSA’s past. And it makes an interesting case for wearing field uniforms any time you’re involved in Scouting activities. Take a look after the jump, and weigh in with your own unit’s policy in the comments section. Continue reading
A select few very motivated boys are now earning the Eagle Scout Award before they can (officially) see a PG-13 movie.
Yes, the latest members of the “youngest Eagle Scouts ever” club are 12 years old.
First, the facts. It is, technically, possible to earn Eagle at 12. To join Boy Scouts, you must be a boy who is 11 years old, or one who has completed the fifth grade or earned the Arrow of Light Award and is at least 10 years old.
Reaching First Class comes with no time limit requirements. But once there, a boy must be active four months as a First Class Scout to earn Star, six months as a Star Scout to earn Life and six months as a Life Scout to earn Eagle. Add those numbers together and you get 16 months, or the minimum length of time from joining Boy Scouts to earning Scouting’s highest rank.
Let’s say we have a 10-year-old boy who earns the Arrow of Light and joins Boy Scouts. It’s quite possible he could complete all the requirements for Eagle Scout before he becomes a teenager.
So it’s possible, but should we encourage it?
I asked a similar question more than two years ago, and that post has now generated 190 comments from Scouters like you.
It’s time to have the discussion again. So for today’s Tuesday Talkback, tell me: What are your thoughts on 12-year-old Eagle Scouts? Leave a comment below. Continue reading
Randy 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.”
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
For a few lucky Scouters out there, “Scouting family” and “actual family” are synonymous. Their spouse and all their children are actively involved in the program, meaning family time is pretty much all the time.
The rest of us, however, must find a happy balance between those two important commitments.
Pop quiz: Have you ever found yourself shortchanging your family to fulfill a commitment to your pack, troop, team, post, ship or crew? Or maybe you’ve shirked something you agreed to do for your Scouting unit because family responsibilities took over?
The goal here isn’t to criticize your life priorities but to share ways you’ve successfully satisfied both commitments.
For today’s Tuesday Talkback, tell me this: How do you balance your real family with your Scouting family? Leave a comment below.
Here are some more questions to consider: Continue reading