Sunday, February 7, 2016

Using Scouting as a Missionary Prep Tool

A note I shared with my son's new Young Men President:

Today is Scout Sunday, and I wanted to share with you my feelings on how Scouting can help the Young Men in our ward.

I shared the following link with your predecessor, and I think you would benefit from reading through it, too.  I was the 11YO scout leader in the ward a few years back, and I learned so much about how Scouting, when properly carried out as a youth-led* and -driven program, provides practical preparation for not just missionary service, but the life skills our boys (and girls) will need upon leaving the house as 18YO 'adults'.  Boys of priest age, especially, need these lessons reinforced, in addition the spiritual side.  It's often said that Scouting (not basketball) is the activity arm of the Aaronic Priesthood (at least in the USA and Canada), but I have seen that that arm is often atrophied to the point of uselessness, and one-arm push-ups are really hard to sustain. (Picture a fencer here, with an oversized sword arm and tiny non-sword arm, if it helps.)

I have learned that a good Scoutmaster (to include Varsity Coach and Venturing Adviser) can turn every Scouting experience into a Duty to God moment, effectively converting 12 dedicated DTG nights into dozens of meaningful experiences. What I mean by that is that if the boys are taught to recognize the spiritual implications in every activity they undertake, whether Church, School, Scouting, etc. they will be more effective at helping others recognize those same things later on; instead of holding dedicated, compartmentalized "Duty to God Nights" to check off a line on a list, they will be more likely to continually do their duty to God.  This means that camping must be more than sleeping in a tent and playing around all day.

I would urge you to evaluate how well Scouting is working in the YM organization, and if there are deficiencies, to remedy them.  I would be happy to share with you my lessons learned and what I think are some best practices, if you would like.

*This past year, since B has been in the marching band, and I watched how they operate and have been impressed with what I have seen.  Unlike the top-down, adult-centric leadership methods we use in Church, I noticed that the marching band was youth-led.  The football, basketball and drill teams are the same way.  Teachers and advisers teach and advise the youth leaders, but they don't take the field, even if something goes wrong.  Instead they coach those leaders, who then are trusted to carry the instructions and lessons back to their team.  This is the same model Scouting employs, but is the hardest thing for our volunteer leaders to figure out.  It is also why I am fond of saying that "Presidents preside, Advisers advise."

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Scouting is for everyone

Loved this story. Four new Eagles before Ramadan. With Scouts like these, we can safely ignore fear-mongering politicians and their dead-wrong ideas.  Scouting, like the country in general, is a very big tent.

Click here.

Prepared. | For Life.™

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

New Reqs, New Tools

I've updated some of my planning tools with the 2016 requirements. These are designed for Leaders of 11YO Scouts, but hopefully are useful to anybody. 
These are MS Excel spreadsheets, so the advancement tracker contains formatting, formulas and pivot tables. I have provided instructions on how to configure the pivot tables to generate individualized reports.  The Program Plan is basically something I found, modified, and improved to suit my own way of working, including sheets for lesson ideas in each skill area. The six-month version is something I wanted to do a while ago, but never got around to until now. It hasn't been tested yet, so caveat emptor.

I wrote the following into the draft six-month plan:  'think of the requirements as a lesson plan outline, so you're teaching skills, not "doing requirements"...Skills are what the boys learn, requirements are how they demonstrate that learning.'

If anyone winds up using these, let me know how useful you found them, and what modifications you made to make them better.

Prepared. | For Life.™

Friday, December 4, 2015

Scouting Matters.

If only to build individuals who are able to think through a situation. Here's to smart Scouts. And Scouters:

Prepared. | For Life.™

Thursday, December 3, 2015

New Policy Statement - Code of Conduct

This showed up in my email today.

Preface from the Great Salt Lake Council:
"Please review the newly released Scouter Code of Conduct from the Boy Scouts of America. The Code of Conduct outlines the standards of leadership for all adult leaders in Scouting. This Code demonstrates that Scouting values are still intact with Duty to God strengthened as a core principle. Scouters are not judged by any labels but are accountable to the behavior outlined in the Code."
I don't read it so much as a new policy per se, but as a reiteration of those things Scout Leaders should already be in compliance with. The items below are nothing new. Putting them all in one place, with no wiggle room, is; it eliminates ignorance of policy as an excuse by unequivocally stating that these policies exist.


On my honor I promise to do my best to comply with this Boy Scouts of America Scouter Code of Conduct while serving in my capacity as an adult leader:
  1. I have or will complete my registration with the Boy Scouts of America, answering all questions truthfully and honestly.

  2. I will do my best to live up to the Scout Oath and Scout Law, obey all laws, and hold others in Scouting accountable to those standards. I will exercise sound judgment and demonstrate good leadership and use the Scouting program for its intended purpose consistent with the mission of the Boy Scouts of America.

  3. I will make the protection of youth a personal priority. I will complete and remain current with youth protection training requirements. I will be familiar with and follow:

    1. BSA youth protection policies and guidelines, including mandatory reporting:
    2. The Guide to Safe Scouting:
    3. The Sweet Sixteen of BSA Safety:

  4. When transporting Scouts I will obey all laws, comply with youth protection guidelines, and follow safe driving practices.

  5. I will respect and abide by the Rules and Regulations of the Boy Scouts of America, BSA policies, and BSA-provided training, including but not limited to, those relating to:

    1. Unauthorized fundraising activities
    2. Advocacy on social and political issues, including prohibited use of the BSA uniform and brand
    3. Bullying, hazing, harassment, and unlawful discrimination of any kind

  6. I will not discuss or engage in any form of sexual conduct while engaged in Scouting activities.

  7. I will refer Scouts with questions regarding these topics to talk to their parents or spiritual advisor. I confirm that I have fully disclosed and will disclose in the future any of the following:

    1. Any criminal suspicion, charges or convictions of a crime or offense involving abuse, violence, sexual misconduct, or any misconduct involving minors or juveniles
    2. Any investigation or court order involving domestic violence, child abuse, or similar matter
    3. Any criminal charges or convictions for offenses involving controlled substances, driving while intoxicated, firearms or dangerous weapons.

  8. I will not possess, distribute, transport, consume, or use any of the following items prohibited by law or in violation of any Scouting rules, regulations and policies:

    1. Alcoholic beverages or controlled substances, including marijuana.
    2. Concealed or unconcealed firearms, fireworks, or explosives.
    3. Pornography or materials containing words or images inconsistent with Scouting values.

  9. If I am taking prescription medications with the potential of impairing my functioning or judgment, I will not engage in activities which would put Scouts at risk, including driving or operating equipment.

  10. I will take steps to prevent or report any violation of this code of conduct by others in connection with Scouting activities.

Prepared. | For Life.™