Thursday, December 29, 2011

You can't read it here...

A big thanks to the folks at LDS Scouter who asked me to write a blog post all about the 11-year-old Scout patrol.  You can read it here.

Archived html file of this post.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

of Dungeons Deep and Caverns Old

I can't resist. And if you're wondering what The Hobbit has to do with Scouting, talk about your Character, Fitness and Citizenship, not to mention Outdoor Activities, Personal Growth, Leadership Development, Patrols, Adult Associations and Ideals (Advancement and Uniforms not so much):

Monday, December 19, 2011

Wild Life

One thing I've really enjoyed about my involvement with Scouting is the chance to get out with my camera - I wouldn't get any opportunities like this otherwise.

On Saturday, we went to the Farmington Bay Waterfowl Management Area near my home (only 5 miles away!) to see what we could see. What a great place to find evidence of ten wild animals, or ten native plant species (2C#6 adn 1C#6). I didn't know this resource existed until a few weeks ago. What hidden gems have you discovered within just a few miles of your front door? Here's what we saw during about three hours in the cold:  Several bird species, including hawks, owls (a pellet, anyway) meadowlarks, ducks, pheasants and a raven, a magpie, finches, plus plenty of small birds whose names I just don't know; lots of tracks in the snow of raccoons, skunk, fox, feral cat, and rodents, and the piéce de résistance, three or four American Bald Eagles. I need to invest in a good long telephoto.

Eagles and other stuff
Shot on my Pentax K7 DSLR with a Sigma 70-300mm f/4.0-5.6 lens.

That's it - I'm taking a Scouting Break until January. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, everyone.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Four Ts

With an emphasis on Training 

What tools has the Church given Primary and Young Men leaders to mold our sons?  They include Duty to God, Faith in God, For the Strength of Youth, Preach My Gospel and other manuals, and Scouting. Do you know how to use the tools you've been given?

Elder Vaughn J. Featherstone said, "There are four things that are absolutely essential in a great Scout leader. I call them the four T's:
  1. "Testimony — that they have a testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ, His Atonement, and that this Church is God's Church.
  2. "Trained — they need to be trained, not only by the Church, but as well by Boy Scouts of America within the districts and council (the focus of this training module)
  3. "Time — they need to have time to be a leader of boys.
  4. "Tenure — short tenure if they don't enjoy the work and are not willing to put in the time necessary, and long tenure if they love the young men and want to serve them with all their hearts and souls." (spelled Ten-Year)
  5. The Fifth T, Truck, is not essential, but very useful (goes with the 9th method, Git-r-dun)
So, then, Who needs to be trained?
"The Church teaches, 'Wherefore, now let every man learn his duty, and to act in the office in which he is appointed, in all diligence' (D&C 107:99). Carried out, this suggests that members serving in Church assignments—including Scouting—will learn the responsibilities of their calling and then fulfill them to the best of their ability."

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Setting Goals

Two of the First-year boys have completed First Class, so it was a great opportunity to set them up for success.  So, at last night's patrol meeting we discussed making SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely) goals to help the boys break down their advancement requirements into manageable pieces, and also help each boy set his own timeline to complete his next rank. We introduced the concept and let it percolate a bit while they wrote down their thoughts - their goals will need further defining and refining, but they know that flexibility is the key, and to plan on their plans changing. Here are the five rules I gave them for making goals, starting with and adapted from the Scoutmaster Musings blog:
  1. Make a plan - look over what's required and set smaller milestones of how to reach the goal.

  2. Remember that no plan is ever followed exactly - things will come up, things won't go right, people will let you down, you will make mistakes. As long as you modify and adapt rather than get discouraged, no setback in Scouting will be big enough to stop you from reaching your goal.

  3. Get informed - Read your handbook and merit badge pamphlets.  Learn what the responsibilities are for your Patrol position. Ask questions when you need more information.

  4. Keep good records - Use your handbook to record dates and everything else you need to document, like merit badges, service hours, camping nights, hiking miles, Scoutmaster approvals,  completion dates...  

  5. The only time limit is your eighteenth birthday, but at the same time, it takes a minimum of sixteen months to go from First Class to Eagle.  Your plan needs to take this into account.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Two Arms
Brad Harris, in Trails to Testimony, cites the oft-repeated “Activity Arm of the Aaronic Priesthood” metaphor and clarifies it by comparing it to a push-up. Now, I can do a handful of one-arm push-ups, but I’d much rather use two of ‘em. It’s easier, and more effective to do so. Eyes front, knuckles down, back straight, up, drop, repeat 50 times. In growing our LDS boys and young men into responsible adults, we (in the United States, anyway) have two arms: the left arm, Scouting, and the right one, Duty to God. (DTG is flexible enough, however, to be adapted to those regions where Scouting is not part of the Church’s YM program.)

On My Honor medal
There’s an award that actually recognizes this two-armed approach: the On My Honor award. To earn it, young men must (1) complete the requirements for the Duty to God certificate for deacons (or for another Duty to God certificate) and (2) achieve the Scout rank of Star in the United States, or equivalent Scouting award in other countries.

Let’s explore it a bit.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Frodo and the One Ring

"All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us."
- Gandalf the Grey

- JRR Tolkein, The Fellowship of the Ring

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Quote - Progress

Never discourage anyone...who continually makes progress, no matter how slow.
- Plato

Beginning Boy Scouts - Book Review

Having lived in the aviation world, I learned the value of checklists for performing both critical and mundane tasks. I wouldn’t get on an airplane today if the pilot thought he didn’t need his checklist or have to understand and follow established procedures.

So, you just volunteered (or were just volun-told) to be a Scoutmaster, or your son just joined (or had an 11th birthday) and became a Boy Scout. What do you do now? Wouldn’t it be great if there were a checklist so you knew how to get started or what he (and you) are getting into? Beginning Boy Scouts: an Unofficial, Practical Guide to Boy Scouting for Parents and New Leaders, written and self-published by Jeremy C. and Heather R. Reed through Reed Media Services, is just such a checklist. At 139 pages, it’s a quick read and shouldn’t take more than a couple of hours to get through. Think of it as an abridged Boy Scout Handbook with an emphasis on procedure rather than skills.

The chapters cover topics such as uniforms, patrols (in my opinion, the most important method), advancement, camping, meetings and more, and even explains, step-by-step, how a boy should work through the Eagle paperwork and project processes. "What, there are procedures for these things? Who knew? I thought we were all just supposed to wing it!"

A Poem about Perseverance

Melinda Mae
by Shel Silvestein

Have you heard of tiny Melinda Mae,
Who ate a monstrous whale?
She thought she could,
She said she would,
So she started in right at the tail.

And everyone said,"You're much too small,"
But that didn't bother Melinda at all,
She took little bites and she chewed very slow,
Just like a little girl should...

...and in eighty-nine years she ate that whale
Because she said she would!!!

Poem and art originally published in  
Where the Sidewalk Ends, by Shel Silverstein.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Bilbo Baggins' Walking Song

"[Bilbo] used often to say there was only one Road; that it was like a great river: its springs were at every doorstep, and every path was its tributary. 'It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door,' he used to say. 'You step onto the Road, and if you don't keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to.'"
The Road goes ever on and on 
Down from the door where it began. 
Now far ahead the Road has gone, 
And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet, 
Until it joins some larger way 
Where many paths and errands meet. 

And whither then?
I cannot say.

– JRR Tolkein, The Lord of the Rings

Speaking of great books, KSL TV in Salt Lake City published a list of  five books your teenage boy will actually read. Also, the website is dedicated to boys' literacy (though L Ron Hubbard seems to be over-represented). I'd add John Christopher, Lloyd Alexander and several others to these lists, but no list can be truly comprehensive.

For younger Scouts, or Cubs, why not read a chapter around the campfire? (We actually read Poe's The Telltale Heart once, but I think it was way beyond the eleven-year-olds' comprehension. I don't remember why we went there.)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Court of Honor

I skipped the COH last night. My daughter had a choir performance, so we went there, including my son, who completed his First Class. We'll get it to him next week at Patrol Meeting.  Family first.