Tag Archives: Training

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 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 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 51 – I don’t need training! (or do i?)

“I don’t need training!”  First off, I don’t believe that for one minute.  But there are those out there who feel that their other trainings in their jobs/life mean that they have all the experience being a leader that they’ll ever need.  I think each and every leader deserves to be trained so they can successfully deliver the Scouting program.  If we all have the same ‘base’ BSA training, then we’ll all be on the same page and understanding while trying to deliver the Scouting program.  All of our outside training and life experiences should enhance our core training and be a great compliment to each of us.  I also firmly believe that there’s always something new to learn, something new to experience – otherwise this thing would get pretty boring after a while.

Some also feel that since they’ve volunteered to be a leader, and give of their time, that they shouldn’t give of their money in order to become trained.  I can see their point here.  That being said, I feel that most of this training that costs (Wood Badge, for example) is not only training for BSA – its quality leadership training for life.  I’ve used so much of what I’ve learned at Wood Badge in other aspects of my life that I have found it to be a very valuable thing.  Also – most, if not all training that is required for each position is free.  It’s the supplemental stuff that typically costs.  And that’s a personal choice, really.  I would encourage all leaders to consider Wood Badge, however.

Every Scout deserves to be led by trained leaders.  I urge you to get the training needed for your position in Scouting, no matter what it is.  There’s always something to learn!

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!