Category Archives: Roundtable

A Time To Reflect, A Time To Refocus

2011 is in the books.  All in all, I’d say it was a good year.  It had it’s ups and downs, but on the whole I’d say it was a good one.  As we pass into this new year, I’d like to take some time and reflect on some Scouting things, and also look ahead at what’s to come.

A Time To Reflect:

First off, 2011 was my first attempt at blogging.  The 100 Days of Scouting thing got me into this whole blogging / twitter-ing stuff.  I have made many contacts and friends through these technologies, and for that I am most grateful.  Some of the ideas, information and suggestions I have gotten over the last year have greatly helped not only myself, but my unit, my District and my Council.  It’s like we’re one big Roundtable sometimes, isn’t it?

Secondly, there was the #CSPSwap.  I have a whole bunch of awesome CSP patches from all over the country now, and I hope that we can do it again sometime this year!  On a side note, I know that I owe a few of you folks some CSP’s still.  I haven’t forgotten who I owe patches to, and I will still get them to you – sooner than later I hope.

Our unit is currently in the process of recharter.  I’m not sure how we’ll pan out for the Journey To Excellence, but I think we’ll score high enough to at least get Bronze, if not Silver.  We look good on paper – but in practice I feel we have a long way to go.  This last year, I learned quite a bit about how a boy-led Troop is supposed to work.  For the past 6+ years, I have held too tightly to the reigns of the Troop (including planning, decisions and just about ever facet).  I’m learning to let go, let mistakes happen, let learning begin.  Training the boys isn’t about standing up in front of the Scouts and droning on and on about something.  It’s about letting them figure out what resources they need to learn a skill, and how to procure those resources.  It’s about asking the right questions.  Questions that lead them to discover the answers for themselves.
I have to admit – this is the toughest thing I’ve done this year.  And it’s caused a little bit of strife with some of the adult leadership.  Some feel there needs to be more adult-provided structure.  Maybe they are right.  I just don’t know, and we’ll have to see how things go.

I became one of the Boy Scout Roundtable Commissioners for our District.   I took my training, and am still learning and trying to come up with ways to make Roundtables something people want to attend.  It’s not easy.  And – it’s not my top priority.  Being Scoutmaster trumps being Roundtable Commissioner and I feel that at times, the Roundtable programming suffers for it.  It’s about finding a balance, and I’m still working on it.

Speaking of our District – our Council re-organized our Districts from 8 down to 2 very large Districts.  They had a contest to re-name each District – any the name I submitted was selected for my District!  We’re now part of the Northern Trails District of the Voyageurs Area Council, and I had a little something to do with the name.  Way cool, huh?

A Time To Refocus:

A new  year brings new opportunities.  Here are a few of the things I’m looking forward to so far in 2012:

We just held Troop elections – which means we have some new leaders and some returning leaders.  I’m looking forward to being able to train them using the new ILST.  It looks promising, and I hope to be able to use as much of it as I can to help these young men understand and start down their journey to becoming leaders.  It’s as much a learning process for me as it is for the Scouts.

We have a pretty good group of Webelos 2’s (or, should I say Arrow of Light Scouts?) possibly crossing over in late February or early March.  We could sure use a good influx of Scouts and just as importantly – new adults.  Our Committee is very, very thin right now and we need some people to step up and fill some important positions.  Hopefully we can get it all worked out and our Committee can, dare I say, start to do what a Troop Committee should do.

Summer Camp.  The possibility exists that a brand-new Troop in our area is going to piggyback with us to summer camp this year.  Our first year, we piggybacked with another local Troop to help us figure out the whole camp thing.  Time to pay it back – and to make it even better – their Scoutmaster and I used to be in the same Troop years ago!  I’m really looking forward to helping them down the right path so they can be a strong, boy-led Troop as well!

Blogging – I hope that I can blog more consistently this year.  Not sure I’ll do the 100 Days of Scouting or not – depends if it happens.  I feel like I lost all my steam after it last year, and I just didn’t give the blog enough of my time.  Granted, I got pretty burnt out on Scouting at one point this last year – and that definitely affected whether or not I wanted to write about it.  So I may try to pace myself more this year and see how it goes.

I have submitted my application to be an adult leader for the 2013 National Jamboree.  Our Council hasn’t picked any adult leaders yet, so I don’t know if I’m in or not.  If I do get picked there is one thing I know I have to do:  lose weight and get in shape.  I know I can do it, and it would be a great incentive to me to get my butt off the chair and moving and eating better.  Getting healthier is one of my goals for the year, but being part of the contingent would really light a fire under me.  (So if anyone from the Jamboree Committee is reading this….*ahem*).

I could go on and on about what I’d love to see…..but when it really all boils down to it – what I really want for 2012 is for everyone in my family (and extended Scouting/church family as well) to be healthy, happy and safe.

Feel free to share your hopes/dreams (dare I say resolution).  I’d love to hear what you are most looking forward to!

Here’s to the new year!


Day 93 – good times

Day 93 already?!?  Seems like only yesterday I was just catching wind on Twitter about the #100DaysofScouting movement and deciding that maybe I’d like to try my hat at it.  As we near the end of this interesting and fun journey this year, I have a couple of things I’d like to point out.

First of all, I’m humbled by the sheer number of people who come to this blog and read what I have to say.  I never imagined my words would spark such conversations across the country, and even in my Council and District.  This is all just me, just my opinions and observations as I try to help make the best Troop, District and Council I can.  I can’t believe just how much Scouting shaped who I am today, and I can only hope that I am able to return the favor.

Secondly, I have made several new Scouting friends via Twitter and podcasts.  I’ll mention a few here by name, as their podcasts and blogs have brought me new ideas and taught me that I need to really let the Scouts lead the Troop versus me being the heavy handed Scoutmaster that I didn’t realize I was kind of being.  Scoutmaster Jerry and Clarke Green have awesome podcasts – and if you’re an adult leader of a Troop I would strongly recommend you subscribe to both of these podcasts and start listening.  SMPhil has helped me along my Roundtable Commissioner route and I would like to thank him yet again.  I think things are going to be different around here come next fall when Roundtables start up again.  There are lots of others, you know who you are – and I will continue to interact with you even when the 100 days are done and over.  You all have been entertaining and a very valuable asset to me this year so far.

Now that I’ve said that – on to what I’ve been up to (only 8 more days of updates like this!):

Monday we held a PLC.  Second one where I’ve let the SPL run the show, and it went much better than the first.  I think they’re starting to realize that it’s their Troop, their program, and they have the final say in what they do.  Of course, I’m there along with others to ensure they follow the BSA guidelines and maybe to nudge ’em once in a while – but for the most part, they’re starting to talk to each other and not to me about what they need to do and want to do.  It’s really neat to see this happening for me , as I’ve always headed up the PLC meetings in the past.

Tuesday and today I had Scouting lunch meetings with different Scouters.  Yesterday I listened as an old friend of mine kinda ‘vented’ about the Troop his son just crossed over into, and was asking me several very good questions about how Troops ‘should’ operate and things of that nature.  I answered his questions, and offered what advice I could.  It will be interesting to see if he’s able to make some positive change in that Troop.

Today I met with our District Executive and talked about the future of Roundtables.  I think there’s some great ideas out there (that if they are implemented and work, I will share).  I was also asked to attend this weekend’s Spring Camporee even though our Troop isn’t going because the votes are in and the District name I submitted was selected.  In a way, I kind of left a legacy there – the new name of our new District was mine.  Cool, huh?  I’m planning on attending the campfire on Saturday now, and am very excited about the whole thing!

I hope you all have had a great Scouting day/week/month/100 days!  Keep on Scouting!



Day 88 – Uff Da!

10289866-dealing-with-stressI’m busy. VERY busy. I’m sure you all are too. Lots has happened since I had the time to sit down and write here. I’ll do my best to recap. I’ll get into other things that have come up in more detail at a later date.

So last Thursday I attended our District Commissioners meeting and our District meeting. I presented the report I generated from the online survey that was distributed about roundtables. It generated some great discussion that took up almost the entire hour we had for the meeting (sorry, Margi!). I think we’ve got some good ideas going forward – and once those things are in place a little more, I’ll share them with you (translation: I could write a book on roundtable at this point, but I have some catching up to do first).

Friday night I was in the role of Cub Scout Dad. I spent the night at the Lake Superior Zoo for their ‘Zoo Snooze’. We had pizza, pop, learned about polar bears, took a night hike through the zoo, made t-shirts, held frogs and hissing cockroaches and petted an albino python named Monty (har har). We then laid down and watched How to Train Your Dragon and fell asleep. The next morning we got up, packed up and had a light breakfast before having the zoo to ourselves for a few hours. It was an excellent program, and I enjoyed just being a Scouting Dad.

Monday was our Troop meeting. Kinda pulled a fast one on our SPL, as I realized we didn’t have any idea of what was in our Troop trailer since the winter, and we had 2 campouts coming up that we were gonna need to know what to get as far as gear. So, I brought the trailer to the church and we gutted it out and inventoried everything. Then, as though the BP was watching, we had to cancel both campouts because of lack of participation. Totally bummed, but I think there were just too many events going on those weekends (including graduation) that it made it tough for most.

That’s really it for my Scouting week. I am now an assistant baseball coach, and I’m also on the baseball board helping with the website and scheduling fields for practice. So, I have another hat to wear for the summer. That’s ok. I did the same thing last year, and the Troop survived just fine. Especially since I’m letting go of lots of things and putting my faith in the boys to run the show – it’ll all be ok.

That’s all from my neck of the woods for now. Gotta hit the hay soon – need to be at the church tomorrow morning to help with the Cub Scout pancake breakfast. It never ends, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I hope you all have a great weekend and a Happy Mother’s Day!

Oh and Mom, thanks for everything. Really. I love you. Happy Mother’s Day!

Day 79 – Re-thinking Roundtable

Not a whole lot happening this week at all for Scouting in my world.  As we don’t have a Troop meeting on the 4th Mondays of the month, this tends to be a little slower time for me and for all the Scouts and adults in the Troop.  And that’s OK in my book.  Very soon, it’ll get pretty busy with camping, and the summer madness.

Tonight I put together the final report for our District after gathering data from the survey I put together for the Roundtables.  Interesting results, to say the least.  Some people were very honest about stuff, and other took it as an opportunity to tell the Council just what they think of our program.  Some of the answers made me giggle, as they just didn’t make much sense to me, but I put them all in the report so everyone can see what our volunteers think and feel about the current Roundtable situations.

I read a comment by a fellow blogger, Clarke Green the other day about Roundtables, and I’m starting to wonder if Roundtables – the traditional monthly meetings – are past their prime, and need to be re-thought and re-tooled to accommodate today’s Scouting leaders.  Our District is huge (covers parts of 3 states) and although we’ve been holding several Roundtables each month, the biggest issue for Scouters attending seems to be distance.

Roundtables have traditionally been used to pass information on at a District level.  Before cell phones, internet, e-mail and other technologies this was pretty much the only way to ensure that leaders had the information they needed.  It was also a really good way to add supplemental training and even some required training.  With the majority of training being available online these days, it’s hard to offer much training that will interest people to attend.

I’ve already thrown out the questions to our Council about web meetings – and other forms of communication that might better serve our District.  In fact, that was one of the question on the survey.  There wasn’t one favorite answer, either.  It seems like there’s a mix of people who still want that face-to-face meeting, just less often it seems.  There are those who would prefer just electronic communications (podcasts, newsletters, ‘online roundtables’).  I hope we’re able to do some, if not most of these things soon.

I’m not saying get rid of the traditional Roundtable all together.  I’m saying we need to re-evaluate the purpose of Roundtables.  We need to figure out what our Scouters need now – and not just rely on what has typically been done.  If we’re able to move in the right direction for the majority of them, I think we’ll see more participation in Roundtable, and possibly in all Scouting events at the District and Council level.

“Change is inevitable – except from a vending machine.”
– Gallagher

Day 66 – Well, that was unexpected.

So tonight was our Roundtable.  Sort of.  Only 3 people showed up.  Our DE, the presenter and an Associate District Commissioner.  Yea.  That was a let down.  I won’t take it too personally, however.  I understand that life sometimes gets crazy, and with the cost of gas going up constantly these days, getting people to attend Roundtables is going to be increasingly difficult.

One thing I’m thinking of doing is trying some type of online collaboration.  Not sure if it’ll be a web conference where we can be interactive with online viewers, or if it’ll be more of a recorded Roundtable and then put it up on a site.  I’ve been asking our DE’s and even Scout Executive what they currently have for web conferencing software – and if it would work for Roundtables.  I seem to be getting a positive response so far, but I’m still in the ‘feelers’ stage of this.

I recently put out a survey for Roundtables – and it seems the best way that people want to get information is “Online newsletters with links where I can find additional information, and connect with subject matter experts”, followed closely by “Quarterly, in person Roundtable meetings”.  So I’m thinking a mix of meetings and technology need to come together.  Just not sure yet how.

Well, that’s all I’ve got to say about tonight.  The DE, presenter and I sat around for darn near the whole hour talking Scouting though, so it was still a productive evening – just not the way I thought it would be.

Day 44 – busy days!

These last few days have been pretty busy for me both at work and in Scouts – the main reason I haven’t been able to update this blog for a few days.  Today, thankfully, I was able to head directly home from work and am now watching the Twins play Baltimore in a spring training game.  Love it!

Monday we had our Troop meeting.  Handed out sign up forms for our upcoming Base Camp trip, and collected orders for a new T-shirt and hat order.  Also started collecting money for summer camp deposits.  So, I got to play book keeper in the beginning.  Sat with the younger Scouts and helped them with their Leave No Trace requirement for 2nd Class and their hiking safety requirement for Tenderfoot.

We also held Troop elections!  We now have a new Senior Patrol Leader – and in my opinion, he’s gonna do great.  Once we get through TLT, that is.  He was the ASPL for quite some time already – and since our last SPL wasn’t around much due to other commitments, he’s already had a taste of being in charge.

Tuesday I started peeking at the Scoutmaster Handbook you see in the picture.  It came from a Troop that kind of ‘merged’ with ours a few years back – and we finally got all of their materials on Monday.  I haven’t really looked much at this version (as I have the new version) but I’m curious to see if there’s any difference.  Fun to look at the pictures – and how ‘posed’ everyone is.

Yesterday and today I worked on creating an online survey for our Roundtable.  Ran it by our DE and Scout Exec, and they all seemed to like it and helped me tweak it with better worded answers and more questions.  One district passed it out today to their memebers, and I’m sure the other district will see it tomorrow.  It was neat to see the Council get behind me on this one and give me the green light.  I hope we gather some valuable data from it to improve how we do Roundtables.

Tonight I’m also working on subject matter for my podcast idea.  I figure I’m going to need quite a bit of material to talk about before I start actually recording stuff – so I can be sure that I have enough material!  This is all pretty fun at this point – so I’m going to keep on it.

I hope you all have a wondeful Scouting day!

Day 32 – Feeling good!

The ScoutmasterDay 32 already, wow.  Seems like I just started this crazy ride and we’re already this far!  I have to say that I’m loving this journey – and I’m glad that so many of you at least take a peek at what I have to say!  I have discovered a whole new dimension of Scouting – and I will continue to explore it and enjoy!

I’m feeling really good today about Scouting in general.  Last night the Mrs. and I held our second Roundtable as Commissioners – and it went very well, in my opinion!  We had a few more people attend (first good thing) and we had some very good discussions.  I think we’re on the right track, at least!  I hope those that attended enjoyed it as well…

We’re finding that we don’t need to have as much material ready as I thought we would.  What was supposed to be an hour meeting turned into almost two hours!  No one complained, as it was all good information and discussion.

One of the things brought up was training, and how very soon all registered leaders will need to be fully trained in their registered positions in order to recharter with the unit.  Does anyone know what training a Roundtable Commissioner needs to take to be considered ‘trained’?  I would very much like to take the appropriate training not only for myself, but for all those who come to Roundtables.  The Mrs. and I really want to improve the program for all leaders however we’re able.

The Troop is, in my opinion, heading in the right direction once again – and I think we’re making progress on the Roundtable side of things.  I’m feeling good….really good about Scouting right now.

Here’s hoping each and every one of you have a wonderful weekend!

‘The Scoutmaster teaches boys to play the game by doing so himself.’
– Robert Baden-Powell