Tag Archives: Leadership

Webelos Crossover Time

Webelos to Scout TransitionIt’s that time of year again folks – Webelos transition time!  This year, due to some changes in how our Council does re-chartering, things will be a little different (and in my opinion, better) for the Webelos who are planning on crossing over.

First of all, all Troops in our area only chartered for 11 months last year.  This makes us have to re-charter by the end of January.  All the Packs in our area re-chartered for 13 months, meaning they have until the end of March now before they have to re-charter.  What this means for Scouts who want to cross over at the end of February is they will only need to pay the $1 transfer fee to join the Troop until the end of the following January.  Not a bad deal, huh?  I hope that it makes it a bit of a no-brainer when it comes to any fiscal decision whether to join the Troop or not.  A great idea from one of our newer DE’s who ‘borrowed’ the idea from his former Council.

Of course, our Troop just recently held our annual ‘Transition Night’ meeting.  The Scouts plan for an outdoor activity for the Webelos (which I believe helps them earn one of the requirements for their Arrow of Light).  This year, the Scouts planned a campfire demo outside the church and then brought in s’mores and banana boats to make as well.  Scouts get to demo the proper way to light a fire using the EDGE method – and in the end all are rewarded with yummy goodness.  There was also question and answer time, but I’m not sure how many questions were actually asked.  Everyone had fun, to be sure!

While the Scouts and Webelos were outside – it was time for the potential new parents to get their time with the adult leadership of the Troop.   Our Committee Chair, one of our Committee Members, our ASM and myself briefly discussed the differences between Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts to them.  They had lots of good questions, and we tried to make everyone comfortable with how we wind up doing things.  We passed out our Troop calendar, behavior contract, info for summer camp, and the transfer form to transfer to the Troop.  We of course talked about how important it was for them as parents to help the Troop by either serving on the Committee, or becoming an Assistant Scoutmaster – or just helping out when the can.  I’ll talk more on this soon.

Sadly, we’ve only had one Den Chief up to this point.  I’m hoping to get a few more this year, but I’ve found with such a small group of boys in the Troop at this point, it’s tough to find anyone wiling to do it.  I’ll keep trying, though as I know it’s an important link between the Pack and the Troop that we are missing at this point.

We have a potential of having 9 new Scouts in a month.  I’m very excited and hopeful that they will all cross over and become Boy Scouts.  I think we have a solid foundation laid for them, and some great Scouts to lead them!

What do you do for crossover time?  Do you have something like what our unit does, or something completely different?  I’d love to hear what you do!


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!

Do you meet in the summer?

Troop meetings.  The cornerstone of any Boy Scout Troop.  Some units meet all year round, while others meet only during the school year, just like Cub Scouts.  What does your Troop do?

When our Troop first started, I had complete control over whether or not we met in the summer, and in my opinion it was really important the keep the meetings going as the boys were all greenhorns and needed to work on basic Scouting skills and techniques.  But the last couple of years I have left it up to the boys how they want to do it, and let the PLC make that decision versus myself.

Last summer, they wanted to try and only have one meeting a month in the summer (for the record, our ‘summer’ is defined as June, July and August).  So, we held one meeting a month, and only had a PLC every other month.  The thought there was that everyone seemed to be so very busy in the summer with everything under the sun, that maybe if we scaled it back a bit there would be more participation at the meetings we did have.  That didn’t work out so well.

This year I left it up to the PLC again, and this time they decided that they want to just keep the meeting schedule the same as during the rest of the year.  I can’t say that I blame them.  Their thinking this time around was that if you missed a meeting in the summer last year, you went basically 2 months without a Scout meeting, and they didn’t like that huge gap between meetings.  Granted, we’d have separate planning meetings for our outings and such, but those weren’t Troop meetings.

I personally have a tough time understanding how some Troops can still operate without Troop meetings in the summer.  To me, summer is the ideal time to be out and put the ‘outing in Scouting’.  But I feel you still need to have those meetings every month – just because it’s summer doesn’t mean that advancement and meetings should stop.

If you’re in one of those Troops that doesn’t meet in the summer, how come?  Maybe I’m missing something that to you is a no-brainer as to why you don’t meet in the summer.  If you’re willing, I’d sure appreciate some feedback from any of you on this.  Just let me know in the comments, please.  I may even make a poll on this one, just to be more ‘scientific’.

On a totally different note, anyone else interested in the Twitter CSP swap?  I got my first one from @SMShawn today, and now I’m all excited to start getting them from all over the country!  I’ll be sending out my CSP’s to you folks that DM’d me as soon as I can get to the Scout Shop and get some more unused patches.  Seems all of mine are pre-worn….don’t wanna pass those out now, do I?



Day 100 – Limping Across the Finish Line

100 days ago, I thought it might be ‘neat’ if I tried my hand at writing a Scouting blog.  It just so happened that the 100 Days of Scouting was kicking off for its second year and I found it a great excuse to get it going.

Here we are – and what a long, strange and eventful journey it’s been.  My last post was kinda my wrap up post – so I won’t do it again – but I do have something I’d like to get off my chest.

I think my wife summed up my irritation pretty well:  “I find it amusing and exhausting when people complain and rant about rules and policies in BSA or other youth organizations. Bottom line: if you don’t like it, then volunteer for a different organization. Pretty doubtful that a nationally based group is going to change their ways because you think you’re superior to their rules.”  Thank you dear, you have a way with words sometimes when I’m so frustrated all I can do is sigh.

Today, I also had to deal with a set of parents who tried to get their Scout signed up and paid for this weekends activities.  Sign up for it was due over a month ago so we could plan transportation and such.  What kind of lesson would we be teaching both the Scout and his parents if we let them slide on it?  Not to mention, we already have the tour plan filled out and ready to go.  Yea, I also struggle with excluding a Scout because his parents don’t know how to keep things straight.  But I even reminded 2 weeks ago thinking if they somehow forgot about it, they could take care of it then and it would have been ok.  It’s not fun to play the bad guy, but sometimes you just gotta in order to keep everyone from taking advantage of you.

Well, I kinda just went off for my Day 100.  Sorry.  Wait, no I’m not.  I’ll bet you there’s someone else out there who’s dealing with the same stuff, or worse – and maybe they’ll read this and feel just a wee bit better because they realize that they’re not alone.  That’s one of the lessons I’ve gotten out of this 100 Day of Scouting deal.  I’m not alone in how I feel, or the issues that I have to deal with day in and day out.  So, our Troop is at least sort of ‘normal’.

My last hashtag with #100DaysofScouting for the year…..*sniff*



Day 67 – 73: Catching Up!

Well, since it been nearly a week since I’ve written anything prepare to get an ear (or is it eye) full.  It’s been a busy week Scout-wise and non-Scout wise.

First off, we had our Troop meeting on Monday night.  Our newly appointed SPL wasn’t going to be there, and the ASPL couldn’t make the PLC the week before, so I knew there was going to be a little confusion this evening on what was planned and how to execute it.

We meet at 7pm.  7:15 rolls around and no one has decided to start the meeting.  I informed all the leaders and parents there that we all needed to let go a little and let them run this, and if that meant starting at 8pm versus 7pm then so be it.  Thankfully the ASPL finally realized what time it was and got the ball rolling around 7:20.  I was proud of all my adult leaders and parents for letting that little thing go, as it wasn’t easy for some of them (myself included).  Baby steps, right?

Another amazing thing happened that night.  Our younger patrol (the one full of Scout ranked boys and one Tenderfoot) decided that they wanted to go camping as a Patrol.  I sat with them for a while to listen to what they were working on, but the minute I walked away the real planning started.  I was amazed and impressed at how much they figured out in about 20 minutes.  Sure, they have lots of stuff to consider and plan for yet if they want to see this happen, but they sure got the ball rolling and if they keep it up will have themselves a fun weekend at some point this summer!

Tuesday we had a Troop Committee meeting.  Not a whole lot of exciting stuff there, except for the fact that we decided to order new equipment (stoves, rope, flag poles, etc…).  We ought to be really set for camping season this year with this new stuff.  We had a very successful fundraiser earlier this year and now we get to reap the rewards!  No Scoutmaster lounge yet, but I need to be patient for that (ha ha).  We also welcomed a new adult into the fold.  He’s going to be a merit badge counselor for now to see how he likes and go from there.

I checked the Guide to Safe Scouting on splitting mauls, as one of our ASM’s was wondering if it wouldn’t be safer for the older boys to use that when trying to split larger pieces of wood.  Yes, I know, it would be better if they just avoided larger pieces of wood – but sometimes firewood is scarce.  If we do get a maul, we’ll have special training and individual evaluation before anyone would be able to use it.  I double checked with our DE and he agreed that would be the best solution if we do get a splitting maul.

Wednesday was Church night, and a baseball meeting.  During the baseball meeting, it was brought up that our main baseball/softball fields does not have any concession area.   As it just so happens, my Life Scout is currently exploring options for his Eagle project and was contemplating possibly building a concession stand as his Eagle project.  So being the good Scoutmaster that I am, I made sure the baseball board was aware of his intentions.  I then saw said Scout at church that evening and told him to be sure to contact the athletic director ASAP if he wanted to be able to use that idea as his project.  So even on a non-Scouting night it seems to come right back to Scouting in one fashion or another.

And for the first time this week, I didn’t really do anything Scouting today.  Well, except for writing this blog.  It’s OK, I don’t mind.

Until next time my fellow Scout friends!

Day 62 – we’ve taken the first step.

Saturday saw our first Troop Leadership Training in several years.  We hada majority of the Troop show up, which was a good sign!  Another good sign was that someone brought doughnuts!  In all seriousness,  it was awesome to have that many Scouts attend leadership training.

I personally think it went rather well.  As we’re focusing on having the Scouts actually lead the Troop – this is going to take a little adjustment, but I think I’m ready for it to happen.  When I held this training 2 years ago – EDGE wasn’t in the Scout Handbook yet.  Now that it’s there, this is a much easier topic to cover, as they have all at least had some exposure to it.

What’s not in the TLT training guide is how to use the SMART criteria to create your goals for accomplishing your vision.  So I made sure we went over that and used it to make sure their goals were SMART.  For those of you wondering what SMART is, its:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Realistic
  • Timely

If you want more of an explanation, just search for SMART goals and you’ll get all the info you can handle on the subject.

We have a PLC tomorrow.  The first one with the newly trained Scouts, and the first one with the newly elected SPL.  We’ve taken our first steps into a new boy-led world and right now I like what I’m seeing!  If this boy-led Troop thing wasn’t a good way (or really, the only way) to run a Troop, the BSA wouldn’t be working on their second hundred years.

Keep up the good Scouting!

Day 60 – TLT Time!

Tomorrow morning I’m leading Troop Leadership Training (TLT, or sometimes still referred to as JLT).  I think I have it all put together – so wish me luck!  This is only the second time our Troop has done this, and thus it’s my second time as well.  Should be every 6 month, and I’m hoping to stick to it this time.

I’ve got the projector, the laptop, the PowerPoint presentation ready.  I’ve got the syllabus, the books, the position cards.  I’ve got all my ducks in a row.  Am I nervous?  Nah, not really.  I always have a bit of apprehension with training, though but I suppose that’s a good thing.

I’m really excited to train these Scouts  – I have high hopes that they can start to turn our Troop around and get us heading in the right direction.  Only time will tell though, and so I have to have patience…….which is sometimes easier than it sounds.

Tonight I put the final touches on the TLT stuff for tomorrow.  I also filled out our summer camp deposit form, and got all the money put together for the Troop.  Gonna hand it off tomorrow to our CC and he’ll cut one big check for the deposit.  Then we’re one step closer to summer camp!

I know I’ve said this a bunch of times on here now, but I am still thinking and working up the courage to finally sit down and try my hand at doing a podcast.  I don’t think my microphone is very good, but I can’t justify spending any money on a better one if I don’t at least try and make one with what I have.  I just need to script it out as best I can, and sit in a quiet room (hard to do here in my house) and go for it.  Any words of wisdom?  Words of encouragement?  Words of warning?

Tomorrow will be fun, I think.   It’s a very important step in building the leadership of our Troop, and of our Scouts.

Day 56 – I’m jealous

Springtime in Northern Minnesota is tough.  I don’t know how it is elsewhere, but for us here in the great Northwoods we’re in spring fever mode big time right now.  Even my dogs are starting to go nuts.  The weather is starting to warm up – a little.  We’re losing snow fast now, but the ground is still frozen, so we’ve got muddy puddles everywhere.  Spring is coming, but it’s not here yet.  I want it to be here.  I’m ready for winter to be over as it was a pretty rough season this winter.  Trouble is mother nature just isn’t ready to let winter go.  I wanna get the ‘outing’ in Scouting – I want to be able to go camping, or at least take a hike outside without sinking up to my knees in mud or ice cold water.  Yea, I’m kinda whining.  Sorry.

Reading all of the other Scouters who blog and are on Twitter talk about campouts isn’t helping.  I really wanna get out there, but it’s just not time yet.  Reading about your adventures does help in some ways, I suppose, as I get to live vicariously through your stories until I get to create my own again this summer.  I have big plans – and I think most of them can happen!

Tonight we had our first Troop meeting with our new leadership in place.  Our SPL did a great job for his first meeting, and I’m looking forward to seeing how all the leadership evolves over the next 6 months.  I have a good feeling about all of them, and think our Troop will be in a much better place in 6 months.  Troop Leadership Training is Saturday, and it’ll lay the groundwork for all the good things to come.  I know it won’t be smooth sailing all the time, but if we can make the bumpy parts learning experiences, then it’s all good.

Tonight we also held OA elections, had patrol meetings (where the younger guys patrol decided what advancement they wanted to work on – a big step for them!), and played some team building games for fun.  I have a really good feeling going forward, and I need to make sure that I thank my ASM’s that are helping make that happen.  Thanks Dave and Trish, you both are helping big time, and I want you both to know I appreciate it.  And Trish, you’re my favorite Scouter (yea, I’m biased, but that’s ok….we’re married!)

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 41 – training & hoping

This weekend I’ve been thinking of how our Troop needs to be much more boy-led.  With our Troop elections on Monday, I’m hoping that this will be the start of good things.  I’m hoping that no matter who is elected – with the proper training and guidance – that they’ll be able to lead our Troop in a way I don’t think anyone here has ever seen.

Since this Troop started out with 6 very green 11 years old 6 years ago – I felt the need to help them more than if I had joined an existing Boy Scout Troop that already had leadership in place.  Trouble is, I don’t think that I’ve ever really given it all up.  I realized this at our last PLC, when it seemed that our SPL just really didn’t understand that it was his meeting to lead.  Is that his fault?  Nope.  That’s mine.  It’s one of many things I’m hoping to fix in the coming weeks and months.

First this is to hold Troop elections.  We’re WAY past the 6 month term – and no one noticed.  Again, my bad.  Elections are tomorrow.

Secondly, Troop Leadership Training (TLT).  Haven’t held one of these in years.  It’s scheduled for early next month, and I will have my stuff together by then.  I will also have the SPL and ASPL trained prior so they can help in the rest of the training.  Once they complete TLT for their current position, they can wear the ‘trained’ patch, correct?  I’m also thinking of having quick ‘mini-PLC’ meetings after each meeting so we can go over what worked and what didn’t, and offer suggestions as to how to correct any issues for next time.

I realize that this isn’t going to all magically happen overnight.  There’s going to be some meetings and plans that won’t work.  There will be some moments where it will seem like none of the training is working.  But I know it’s just a rough spot, and if I can help the boys use it as a learning tool, it will only help them grow as leaders.

With these two things taking place in the next few weeks I’m hoping that we’ll be taking some huge steps towards an actual boy-led Troop.  I think if I set the tone and lay it out for them from the get-go, it should help.  If you have any other suggestions how to, in essence, turn this thing around – I’m very open to suggestions!