Friday, 27 January 2012

Why is Scout Camp Important Part 1

So now that its after the first of the year and the end of January is right around the corner, many units have already begun or will shortly begin planning and organizing summer camp. Personally both of the units I am working with including Troop 669 from Soldotna, Alaska and Troop 1316 from Anchorage, Alaska first brought up the subject of summer camp at our second to last week of December which is definitely a lot earlier than when most unit choose to do so. But in my opinion most units do not start planning next years summer camp until it is too late. In my humble opinion Scout camp preparation should start the month after you attended scout camp.

Hold we are getting off subject, so before I go rambling on about when planning should begin for camp, lets focus on a real serious issue that is happening more and more often as resources are less and less. That issue is that of choosing "to go" or "not to go" to Boy Scout summer camp. There are many reasons parents won't allow their son to go to camp or their are rumors among the boys about what summer camp is and isn't. First though lets discuss new Webelos Cross-overs also known as newbie-Scouts or first years. The issue that scares many truly dedicated leaders in the Scouting movement is about these first years, which when I tell parents or other leaders they about look like their going to have a heart attack. For all you who don't know the statistic I am talking about Im referring to the fact that approximately %80 to %90 of 1st year Scouts who don't go to camp will leave your Troop within the 1st year of joining. This isn't something I've made up but it is truly the truth about why we loose so many Scouts within their 1st year of joining. Again there are many other reason's why Scouts leave the Troop in the 1st year but that is a topic for another post, the reason why I share this right off the bat when I am introducing new Scout parents during the first summer camp presentation which should occur in December of last year or in January of the year your going to camp, is to emphasize the importance and for me a mandatory requirement for 1st year Scouts. Parents always come back with excuses or the answer of "i can't believe it and can this possibly be the truth" or are you just making it up to make us as the parents feel bad for not attending scout camp. I will not ever impress parents or treat parents this way but it is a very good opener for your 1st summer camp parent meeting to get their attention.

Now for some reasons why parents don't let their son's to attend camp can include any of the following and most likely dozen's more reason. So here they are:

  1. Its too expensive: this has to be one of the top reasons why and my personal favorite. Here I'm not going to lie, Boy Scout Summer Camp is expensive especially for inner-city or areas that have a high number of people that are at or just above the poverty line. These units have the hardest time getting their Scouts to go to camp while suburbia based units don't have as many problems with this issue. What I usually say to this is there is pretty much always a way to get your son to camp, it just depends on how willing you are to put in the effort to do so. Several different options for units with severe struggles in this area include asking local businesses to sponsor or help support your Troop, raise money through bake sales or car washes, look into if available camperships offerred by council, ask your Unit Commissioner for help, or finally you can always go to your District Executive for help.
  2. Its the same as school: Well yes there are those camps that run like Merit Badge mills which definitely have a school like atmosphere but then again it all comes down to which  summer camp facility you choose to attend. Many camps though usually only let Scouts work on a make of 4 or 5 merit badges because they don't want the Scouts to only work are Merit Badges since that is only part of the Summer Camp experience.
  3. My son gets homesick: Well, well, well yes there is a possibility of your son to get homesick but usually homesickness is caused by a Scout that has never really had any experience with spending a night over at a friends house or (Warning: Please don't be irritated, this is what I have noticed, from my experience with 1st year Boy Scout parent's) the parent is overprotective and/or doesn't allow their son to participate in age appropriate activities. Homesickness is prevented in two ways with the first being helping the youth to prepare for and be ready for camp without having too many worries (there will still be some but that isn't preventable at all). While the second is that once your son gets to camp he will end up so busy with all the opportunities at camp that he really won't have the time to worry about missing you. Finally one more point to mention is that if you as the parent stress about this or worry about this in front of your son, that will only make the problem worse. Trust me their are Scoutmasters and other adult leaders who have experienced and ready to deal with homesickness problems without even having to involve you as the parent because in most cases it is because the Scout had people issues or didn't like a certain aspect of camp.
  4. We can't accommodate camp into are summer plans because of.......: Now lets not create a list of activities or events that could interfere with camp. But some of the major ones include family vacations, sports, or other activities outside of Scouting. That is why most units take a poll or take to many families to figure out when your unit wants to go to camp and the fact that we try to make known the dates for camp as early as possible. Also another important thing you can do to prevent this problem is ask leaders or parents what week they go to camp because of the fact that many Troop's have tradition's about which week they go to camp. It may not be 100% fool proof but it still works in your son's favor for the majority of the time. Second the most popular weeks that units go to camp are the last two weeks in June or the first two weeks in July.

Well before I wear you guys out or you get bored I better wrap it up but anyway here are the common reasons why parents say their son can't go to camp with tips and tricks for leaders, old parents, and new parents on how to prevent these issues from causing Scouts to drop out of the Troop within their first year. Pretty much if Scouts make it through the first year the likely-hood of earning the Eagle Rank or having one of their best times in life for a few years drastically increases.

Next post will start working through what is behind the purpose of Boy Scout Summer Camp and the actual whys and hows about how Summer Camp is one of the Scout's strongest memories after they become a adult or after leaving the program when they come back to reflect on this time during adulthood.

Yours in Scouting Service
Mark West
Assistant Scoutmaster
Troop 1316, Troop 1616(aka 669), Troop 125
Tustumena District/ Denali District/ Eklutna District, Great Alaska Council
NSJ '05 Youth Participant NSJ '10 Subcamp 7 Youth Staff NSJ '13 Subcamp Staff
WSJ '07 Youth Participant WSJ '11 International Service Team(IST)
Eagle Scout OA Brotherhood Honor Big Horn Denver Area Council NYLT QM Philmont AA '08

If you are paid to do Scouting, you are called a professional. If you are not paid to do Scouting, you are called a Volunteer. If you pay to do Scouting, then you are called a Scouter

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Scouting Hours

Starting this year I will be recording the number of hours that I spend on activities, meetings, outings, camp outs, summer camp, scout projects, event preparation, meeting preparation, and finally any other Scout related task. I do not expect any problems with accurate tracking as I have now accurately tracked the first three weeks of January but I am not sure if this will happen. But the only thing I can do is to try to strive for recording hours for every one of the items listed above.

It should be interesting to find out the total number of hours.

As of 17:15 on January 24, 2012 I have already done 78.5 hours. So I think my average will be approximately 100 plus hours per month for a total of at least 1200 hours.

I still have a campout coming up so I will most definitely reach 100 hours this month.

Yours in Scouting Service
Mark West
Assistant Scoutmaster
Troop 1316, Troop 1616(aka 669), Troop 125
Tustumena District/ Denali District/ Eklutna District, Great Alaska Council
NSJ '05 Youth Participant NSJ '10 Subcamp 7 Youth Staff NSJ '13 Subcamp Staff
WSJ '07 Youth Participant WSJ '11 International Service Team(IST)
Eagle Scout OA Brotherhood Honor Big Horn Denver Area Council NYLT QM
Philmont AA '08

If you are paid to do Scouting, you are called a professional. If you
are not paid to do Scouting, you are called a Volunteer. If you pay to
do Scouting, then you are called a Scouter

Assumptions and their effect on society

Scouting Thought of the day:

Don't ever, ever, and never assume something about someone, the only thing you can guarantee from assumptions is that they will come back to haunt you in the end and it means that you will never know or have the ability to fully understand those that surround you.

Eventually assumptions lead to anger, depression, hurt, less involvement, and bullying. So the question today is why do people make many assumptions about so many different things. The answer includes some of the following:

1. Stereotypes: we all stereotype some one at some time in our life, it is impossible to not do so. Remember that just because a person can be labelled or grouped a certain way doesn't mean that the label or group fully represents who they truly are.

2. Emotionally controlled: Many people out of the three basic thought patterns which include ethos, pathos, or logos, will spend most of their time in their pathos state of mind. First let me say that not just one of these states of mind will create a better time but using all three will make you a better person. Even with that you will have one primary mind state. Ethos is appealing to ethics or using previous credible situations and having advanced knowledge of the subject. Pathos on the other hand is purely related to the emotional side of our thinking process. Emotions all us to find ways to deal with feelings and the nuances that go with those feelings. Finally logos is the appeal to logic or use of rational and concrete based thoughts to determine how to proceed.

3. Pattern based thinking: I admit since that I spend so much more time in the logos state of thought I regularly and probably on a too often basis will end up using patternized thinking. Using patterns can help us make sense of the world around us but also have the disadvantage of making unique individuals or those that go against the norms of society seem radical, outcast like and have a inability to handle matters of group and societal based concerns.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Scouting’s One Essential Feature -

Scouting’s One Essential Feature -

At our council camporee in December I walked around the entire camp and saw only two troops that had identifiable patrols. Most troops were set up as one unit, with all the tents lined up and no discernible internal division into patrols.

Because our site was so small, our tents were all jumbled up and crammed into the site. Only our senior patrol leader and his patrol leaders really knew where the individual patrol boundaries began and ended. This wasn’t the optimal setup for patrols functioning well and but that’s not really what the campsite inspectors were looking for anyway.

Why don’t we value and emphasize patrols as much as our founder indicated we should?

The Patrol System is the one essential feature in which Scout training differs from that of all other organizations, and where the System is properly applied, it is absolutely bound to bring success. It cannot help itself!
The formation of the boys into Patrols of from six to eight and training them as separate units each under its own responsible leader is the key to a good Troop.
The Patrol is the unit of Scouting always, whether for work or for play, for discipline or for duty.


What has happened to the patrol?

While we may talk a good game about the patrol method many adult leaders simply don’t understand or trust it. As a result our Scouts don’t really associate their identity with a patrol but with a troop. We haven’t trained them to think of themselves as a patrol member first.

The issue of Patrol formation and organization is a constant topic amongst adult Scout leaders because they think it is their responsibility to meddle with the patrols in their troop. They want to assign Scouts to patrols and manipulate when and how patrols are formed and reorganized. This kind of management drains the life out of patrols to the point that they are merely a way to organize larger groups of Scouts instead of being the one essential feature at the heart of the movement.

Ok, (now I’ve set things off with a blast) how come we are called ”leaders” and and Scout”masters”? Aren’t we supposed to be making these sorts of decisions, aren’t we supposed to ”lead”?

Well, yes and no.

To understand this you need to understand Larry Philosophy 101 on adult leadership in Scouting;

Don’t; don’t do it. Don’t ‘lead’!

Are you still with me? I am still talking about patrols but the way we look at things as adults is very important to this. Years of experience have taught me that the Scouting model of adult leadership is hard for many of us to understand. because the common leadership models we know well are diametrically opposed to the model of Scouting leadership.

Scouting organization charts normally have the Scoutmaster and the committee at the top with their leadership filtering down to the Scout. We look at that and think that everything funnels down from the top; instruction, authority, responsibility, discipline, character development, etc.

I made a chart with the Patrol Leader at the top to reflect that he is the most important person in the troop. Everyone else (SPL, SM, Committee, Council, BSA) is supporting him as he delivers the program to his Scouts. (Some of the district leaders used to shudder when I used this chart!)

Top down leadership models used in the military, corporations, government agencies and (perhaps most importantly) the student/teacher model our Scouts experience in school are fundamentally different than Scouting leadership.

One model that particularly gets in our way is parenting; specifically that sort of over-involvement I call ‘mommying’. I’ve probably stepped on on a few toes with that but let me explain – mothers are a very good thing – a very necessary in a young mans life – but they need to start letting go in many ways when he’s 10 or 11 years old so he can grow up.

Once we better understand the adult leadership role in Scouting it informs the central role of patrols, the choices that form them and the way patrols work.

Scouting is a nation-wide organization of patrols arranged into troops. Patrols are more important than troops – troops are just a handy way for patrols to share resources.

1. Scouts register with the BSA.

2. These Scouts form patrols select their own leaders and plan their own activities.

3. These patrols associate themselves with a troop chartered to a local community organization.

Patrols are the organizing principle, the basic unit, the one essential feature at the heart of Scouting. We need to understand them, how they are formed and how we relate to them to understand Scouting.

Scouts create their own Patrols. They form their Patrols as they would a neighborhood play group or sandlot ball team. Like these informal groups patrols are formed without outside interference. Patrols are not formed by adult leaders, or youth leaders. Scouts are given clear instruction (usually by an older Scout ), based on Scouting literature (Boy Scout Handbook, Patrol Leaders Handbook, etc) in Patrol organization and function.

Does the Scouting literature specify a mandatory method for creating Patrols? No.

Should adults leaders choose who is in a particular patrol? No.

Should troop level youth leaders choose who is in a particular patrol? No.

What is the role of the adult leader in patrol organization?
Insuring Scouts (particularly the older ones) have been properly trained and informed about the Scouting program, . Adult leaders most commonly work directly with the older Scouts within a troop so they can properly instruct younger Scouts. Older Scouts may attain this knowledge in classroom sessions, mentoring/coaching interactions or by reading the literature produced by the BSA.

Once a patrol is created members of the patrol elect a patrol leader. The patrol leader appoints other leaders as required. Usually these are an assistant patrol leader, a scribe and a quartermaster.

How is a newly registered Scout placed into a patrol?
He selects a patrol in the troop that he wishes to join.

Patrol formation and organization is the least risky element of troop program to completely give over to the Scouts, and yet it is often the most contentious subject amongst adults.

Understanding all this I’m ok with whatever Scouts come up with. I’m ok with a troop of 19 Scouts having three patrols of 3 Scouts, 5 Scouts and 11 Scouts. When Scouts are trained and knowledgeable they usually realize that something like a 3 man Patrol is not very functional. When they realize this they will do something about it without a Scoutmaster to telling them.

In my experience when handled correctly by skilled, trained leaders patrols within a troop will be fairly permanent. Once Scouts are fully trained and skilled in the Scouting program and understand how patrols function, they get on board. Once they understand their leadership role as a First Class Scout, they begin to exercise that role within the patrol. When Scouts understand the program and identify themselves mainly within a patrol all the other issues with “patrol organization” mostly go away.

When Scouts join an existing, viable patrol they automatically begin training him. They take him camping, teach him skills and he advances. It all works very naturally!

The Scoutmaster who hopes for success must not only study what is written about the Patrol System and its methods, but must put into practice the suggestions he reads. It is the doing of things that is so important, and only by constant trial can experience be gained by his Patrol Leaders and Scouts. The more he gives them to do, the more will they respond, the more strength and character will they achieve.


Sunday, 1 January 2012

Blog Goals

Here are some of the goals that I have put together about my blog and this year in regards to Boy Scouts. First, lets look at my goals for the blog:

1. Posts;  For the First Six months of 2012 my goal is to create 1 to 2 posts a week. Then in the last six months of the year be creating, editing, and writing 3 to 4 posts a week. The first part of this goal should be a little challenging since I have a hard time about keeping up and regularly posting to my blog.

2. Summer Camp Series: This year my main focus is going to be pretty much exclusively on summer camp. Now, wait many of you right now are probably going there isnt enough information and areas, subjects, or points to cover about summer. But in all actuality there is too much to do justice to this topic if I were to cover it for  only a year.

Summer Camp Subjects that will most likely be covered

  1. g Evaluating: Prec-camp evaluation and post camp evaluation processes. Why both of these are very important, ideas on how to do them, some personal experience from evaluating units that Ive worked with directly in regards to summer camp as a adult leader. 
  2. Choosing Camp: Figuring out how to best determine the best summer camp facility for your Troop, Home Council vs Out of Council Summer Camp advantages and disadvantages, and when basic decisions about where your going need to be made and how to make those decisions
  3. High Adventure: What is High Adventure, what is the appropriate target audience for your Scouts, using high adventure bases, and creating your own High Adventure Summer Camp experience.
  4. New Scout Programs: What to look for, how to manage sign offs at camp, and is this a mandatory or optional thing for first year scouts.
  5. Keeping older boys without a High Adventure Program: How do you keep your older boys coming to camp, how to offer alternatives to high adventure programs, what older Scouts really want from camp, and what you can do when you are trying to get older experienced to go into summer camp leadership positions.
  6. And many more topics to cover. I dont want to write down a more complete list because A) it would take forever, and B) it wouldn't be able to keep all the information in one post.
Well this post was going to include Boy Scout goals for the year but since this post is a little long already it will just have to wait for another day to come.

Happy New Year and may all your Scouting adventures and dreams come to light and become true.

Yours in Scouting Service
Mark West
Assistant Scoutmaster
Troop 1316, Troop 1616(aka 669), Troop 125
Tustumena District/ Denali District/ Eklutna District, Great Alaska Council 
NSJ '05 Youth Participant '10 Subcamp 7 Youth Staff '13 Subcamp Staff
WSJ '07 Youth Participant '11 International Service Team(IST)
Eagle Scout OA Brotherhood Member Big Horn Denver Area Council NYLT QM Philmont AA '08

If you are paid to do Scouting, you are called a Professional. If you are not paid to do Scouting, you are called a Volunteer. If you pay to do Scouting, then you are called a Scoute

New Years Resolution: A Different Perspective

New years resolution:

First question is does having and creating a New Years Resolution work??
It doesnt, so why are we all obsessed with creating them. The reason is because society expects us to do but then u must ask:

Are u willing serving urself and others in the best way possible if u do create one???
Well technically speaking the idea behind a New Year Resolution is excellent and if used in the proper way could be a useful tool but why call it somethings its not, we really shouldnt do it and insteadcreate goals on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. The more often u set goals whether its just getting that assignment turned in or as big as getting married and making a family the basic principle behind creating a good goal is to use the "SMART" method of goal setting. The method is as follows:

S: Specific



R: Realistic


Im not going to define these yet I just want to let people ponder and think about what this means to themselves.

Yours in Scouting Service
Mark West
Assistant Scoutmaster
Troop 1316, Troop 1616(aka 669), Troop 125
Tustumena District/ Denali District/ Eklutna District, Great Alaska Council 
NSJ '05 Youth Participant '10 Subcamp 7 Youth Staff '13 Subcamp Staff
WSJ '07 Youth Participant '11 International Service Team(IST)
Eagle Scout OA Brotherhood Member Big Horn Denver Area Council NYLT QM Philmont AA '08

If you are paid to do Scouting, you are called a Professional. If you are not paid to do Scouting, you are called a Volunteer. If you pay to do Scouting, then you are called a Scoute

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