Tag Archives: Scouting

It is time


After a lot of thought and discussion with my family, I have decided that it is time for me to step down as Scoutmaster of Troop 169. I’ll do my best to explain why and where I’m at.

Truthfully, I’m just burnt out. I’m out of gas. I’m not giving the program the attention it deserves, and that’s just not fair to the Scouts. I’ve been hanging on longer than I realized, hoping that the new infusion of Webelos into the Troop would give me the shot I need. It worked for a few months, but now things are right back where they were.

I’ve gotten a few more helpers in the form of Committee members recently, but that’s about it. My ‘usual suspect’ of an ASM has all but disappeared due to her sons lack of participation. No one has filled that hole, and I’ve been left trying to do more than ever.

I also think its just time for some new leadership. I think we are stuck in a rut, and with me leading the charge that’s not likely to change. This might even get the Scouts more excited, who knows. Or, it might spell the end. I sure hope not but you never know.

I’m not quitting Scouting, however. I think I’ll take the fall off and look to see what I can do at the District/Council level. I also need to help find the replacement SM, as the Committee didn’t feel a need to do it months ago when I gave them their first heads up.

I really questioned if I was doing the right thing, but when I wrote my resignation email and sent it off I didn’t have any regrets. Told me right there that I was truly ready to do this. 8 years starting and running a Troop all year long has taken a toll on me. I simply need a change.

What will become of this blog? I don’t know yet. I’ll probably change my Twitter handle to something appropriate, that’s all I have so far.  Right now, I’m just feeling a little more free.


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!


The Best Part of Waking Up…


…Is a Scoutmaster outside your tent singing loudly and out of tune!

This is a tradition that I have carried on since I was a Boy Scout years ago.  It is now requested that I do this at least once a camp-out (if possible).  I now submit to you – for the first time ever in a public place – my ‘Good Morning’ song:

(don’t worry, I’ll keep my day job)


Overcommitted


First off, I know it’s been a long time since I’ve posted. I apologize to those of you who visited here from time to time hoping I had something new to say.  I’ve been busy finding a new job, and just working on keeping myself and my family healthy and happy.  New job = happy Kyle = Scout musings….

We had a Troop meeting last night.  There were 6 boys who attended.  Only one was First Class or above.  I expected it, however.  See, most of the older boys had a football banquet to wrap up their season.  Not a big deal.  We were also supposed to have a PLC after the meeting, but since only one boy was there from the PLC, I made the call that we’d let the young Scouts who were there plan the next meeting.  It went very well, and I’m glad these boys had the opportunity to see how a PLC meeting runs.

After the meeting, it got me thinking.  And I realized something I think will help not only the Troop, but myself as well.

In this day and age it seems that the older boys are way too overcommitted.  School, sports, other activities….they all add up and as these boys are getting older it seems Scouting is taking a back seat to just about everything.  Some simply drop out – they get ‘the fumes’ as I call it – car fumes, perfumes, etc…  Some stick with it, but just don’t have the time to participate fully anymore.  This raises a question:  How am I supposed to judge ‘active’?  No, they’re not around much anymore.  No, they don’t hold a position of leadership anymore because they’re not around much.  Yes, they do participate fully when they are here, and they are great leaders when they are here.  I know Clarke Green just had a podcast about this….think I need to re-listen to that one and take some notes.

I guess what I’m getting at is this:  I can not assume that the older boys are going to be around enough to be considered reliable.  At least, not the ones that are currently in the Troop.  I won’t generalize, but as of right now, that is the case.  I’m going to have to go back to the days when we didn’t have older Scouts in the Troop – almost like starting the Troop over.  It’s not a bad thing.  I’ve been running under the assumption that some of these boys will want to make the Troop their priority – and sadly that doesn’t seem to be the case.  This has caused me quite a bit of frustration – and I think the Scouts that do participate can notice that as well.  So – away I go!

I think the first thing I’m going to do is sit down with the older boys and find out what other things they have going on that will interferre with Scouts.  What I mean is what extra activities do they particpate in that will keep them from regularly attending Troop meetings.  Outings are a totally different thing – at least where I’m coming from.  Once I know that, then I can move forward.  We have a Troop election coming up – and then ILST….

It’s sad that the boys are overcommitted.  Of course, I’m biased in saying that I feel Scouting will be with them for the rest of their life, and sports most likely will not.  That being said, it’s not always the boys that make the decisions as to what they do – I have seen many parents live vicariously through their son in regards to sports.  I always tell them the door is open to them if they ever want to come back, and I sure do miss some of them.


My Biggest Pet Peeve


If there’s one thing I can not stand – one thing that just annoys the snot out of me, it’s seeing a Scout in uniform with his shirt UNTUCKED!  I don’t know why, but boy, when I see a Scout with his Class A uniform shirt on, but not tucked in, I have to say something.  Of course, I’m nice about it and usually just ask ‘can you please tuck in your shirt?’ and it gets fixed.  It’s a uniform, and you should be proud to wear it – so wear it properly!

I’m very thankful that one thing is my biggest pet peeve.  I’m sure it could be something much bigger, much worse that would drive me nuts all the time – so I’m counting my blessings.

Anyone else have a Scouting pet peeve?  I’d love to hear what gets to you.  Remember to keep it civil, please.  Just throw me a comment!

 


Summer Camp


Look what a week together does to us....

Summer camp.  I missed last year (new job), so preparing for this year I was even more of a Nervous Nelly than usual (just ask my wife!).  And as always, all my worrying and fretting instantly disappear when the rubber meets the road and we’re off and running.  I just want everyone to have a great time all week, and I worry before-hand to ensure it all goes well while we’re there.

This year was a very special year for me.  This year was the first year that my son came with.  I’ve been to camp for 4 years, and he was still in Cub Scouts all that time.  So this is my very first time that I had to be Scoutmaster AND Dad….and according to my son, I did just fine.

This was our first year at Tomahawk Scout Reservation.  We decided as a Troop years ago that we’d switch it up from time to time (2 or 3 years) so the older boys didn’t get bored, and since we have so many camps in our area, we wanted to experience them all, if possible.  The boys chose to go to Sioux Camp, where food is delivered right to your campsite, and you eat in camp.  I’m very happy with that choice for two reasons.  One, it gives us a little ‘Troop time’ every meal, so we can discuss the day’s activities, address any issues or concerns and so on.  Secondly, if there wasn’t enough food (and it did happen) – we had our Troop trailer with us, and we could make other food to complete the meal.

11 boys earned 22 merit badges over the week.  Several more have just one or two requirements left to finish them up.  All in all, the staff at TSR Sioux Camp were awesome.  We weren’t really tickled with the campsite given to us, but we feel we’ve upgraded for next year.  Our Troop also won the sailing regatta and the ‘fear factor’ challenge (eating nasty things).  This was many boy’s first go at summer camp, and I have to say that I’m very proud of them all for their work and attitude throughout the week.

A few of my gifts

Just a few things that were given...

One thing to note, is that they do treat the adult leaders there very well.  I felt respected and listened to all week, not to mention some of the cool things they wound up giving me!  Several patches, a very nice belt buckle (for having over 75% of the troop attending) and a Scoutmaster coffee mug were given to me throughout the week.

Finally, I would like to thank the other leaders that took a week and spent it with me the the boys.  I always have a blast at summer camp, and this year was no exception.  I hope to be doing this for many more years!

YIS


What is going on?


cancelledToday I had to cancel a Troop camping weekend due to a lack of adults.  This isn’t the first time this has happened to us this year.  Actually, we haven’t gone camping yet this year, and it’s the middle of June.  I don’t understand what’s going on.  I think one was due to expense, but the others – and here’s the kicker – have been due to a lack of adult help.  That’s right, it’s been just me willing to take the boys out and that just can’t happen under the BSA flag.  My wife is willing as well, but that is still a no-no for youth protection training.

So what’s going on?  I think part of it is that for the last 6 years, myself and one other registered adult went on everything.  There was never a worry about adult leadership at outings because her and I would always be there.  Well, now that’s changing.  I’m involved in baseball, and the other leader’s boys aren’t as active as they once were.  So now I’m seeing the results of having the ‘usual suspects’ take care of everything for so long.  And I have to say, I’m not impressed.

So now I have to think on how to fix this.  We have a mandatory Troop meeting on Monday to go over summer camp stuff, and I think since we’ll have everyone there it would be a good time to address this issue as well.  Question is, how do I address it without coming off like a jerk (I’m known to be more than a little rough around the edges and not worry too much about offending)?  Any suggestions you folks have would be appreciated.  I really am getting concerned that without more parental involvement, our unit might just fall apart due to a lack of outdoor programming – not because we don’t want to, but because we’re just unable to.

Chime in please, I could use some advice on how to handle this one.  Thanks all!

From the Northwoods of Minnesota, where the mosquitos can carry you away at dusk…

K


Base Camp


Last Sunday, our Troop spent the day at Northern Star Council’s newest camp – Base Camp.  From their website:  “It is designed as a place – “Where expeditions begin” –  to introduce young people from all communities to the type of activities that are core elements of Scouting and our “learning by doing” approach to non-formal education. Young people of all ages and backgrounds can experience the adventures of Scouting right in the heart of the metro area.”

We had 9 boys and 4 adults take part in the day’s fun activities.  So that’s 13 people total, and we had the place to ourselves.  2 staff members with us all day and an extra staffer was with us during the high ropes portion of the day.  We started off with indoor archery.  The first 6 or 8 rounds were your typical archery – just shooting arrows at the targets.  Then they spiced it up a bit and gave us a few different challenges – like trying to get one arrow in each color on the target, and placing paper cups and balloons on the targets to see if we could hit them.

Then it was off to the rock wall.  Seemed to be the most anticipated thing of the day – and many of the older boys ate this up.  I was impressed to see that all of the boys had been climbing already, and they all worked as teams very well together.  Lots of encouragement, and lots of help to find the right hand and foot holds.

Lunch time was pizza – and all but 3 pieces remained.  The Mrs. and I debated on how many to order, and I’m glad we kept it at 6 pizzas (I over-order most of the time).  By this time in the day, the boys were getting a little tired both physically and mentally, so lunch and a breather was a great idea.

After lunch it was time to hit the high ropes course.  This is indoors as well, and during this time is when the tornado hit the Minneapolis area.  Our director for the day, Karl, had this ‘deer in headlights’ look as he approached me to inform me of the weather situation, and if it moved any closer to us, we’d have to get the kids off the course quickly and into the designated storm shelter.  No big whoop, just like summer camp, really.  We wound up not having to do it, but we were ready to just in case.

Finally, it was time for the Space Shuttle simulator.  Being the space geek that I am, I was really looking forward to this.  Sadly, it was the most disappointing thing we did all day.  Very little instruction, and we all came out of it feeling like we didn’t gain a thing from it.  The staff seemed to think the software was goofed up, and I sure hope so for their sake.  But, you live and you learn.  I really doubt if we return to Base Camp that they’ll want to do this part over.

We were then treated to an unplanned bike ride around Fort Snelling.  The weather had cleared up, and it was a beautiful afternoon for a bike ride.  The bikes provided were very nice, and we didn’t really bike all that far.  It was a wonderful ending to a wonderful day, however.

Rock Wall at Base Camp

To recap, I would have to say that Base Camp is definitely worth the cost.  (Cost is based on what activities you want to do, and whether or not you need them to be staffed – see their website for details.)  All of us, including the adults, had a great time.  What’s not to like about it?  You’re basically getting to do most of the things that are the highlights of summer camp, closer to home and anytime of the year.  I think this place is going to wind up on our annual planning agenda in August.  A HUGE thank you to the Mrs. for setting all of this up – I hope you can come with if we go again, I think you’ll love it too.

http://www.explorebasecamp.org/


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 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!)