Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Just because

Last night the moon was sandwiched between Taurus and the Pleiades, and lined up ten degrees above Jupiter, which in turn was about another 10-12 degrees above Venus. Beautiful.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Quote - Dwight Eisenhower

"Leadership is the art of getting someone to do something you want done because he wants to do it."
- Dwight D. Eisenhower

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Commitment EDGE

For the last several months I've been providing training to the Scouters in my ward. I was banking on the fact that as the 11YO Scouter, I had no authority, but perhaps Wood Badge would give me some credibility.  I've been met with some success, but more and more I think I'm just "that Scouter guy" who insists on going by the book.  (Guilty.)

In re-evaluating my techniques, I've found that I have neglected a couple of things.  One is the steps of Team-building (forming, storming, norming, performing) and I think we've been stuck at stage 1.25 for several months.  I need to do a better job of creating a team atmosphere. The other is that I've just been presenting information, and it likely seems I'm just nagging, teaching "what we're doing wrong" lessons.  I think I figured out the solution.


When I was in the USAF, knowing the strategic and tactical objectives made my day-to-day job more meaningful - I knew that what I was doing had relevance to the big picture, and those long nights in Kyrgyzstan were more tolerable. I think that if boys, but especially adult leaders, understand the objectives (BSA Aims and AP Purposes), then the techniques (Methods/DtG/FiG) will blend together in such a seamless way that we'll see what Elder Holland describes: Scouting as Priesthood in action; two arms of the same body.
“When I was a deacon, it didn’t matter if we were working on merit badges, doing a service project, or collecting fast offerings, it was all priesthood. It is with this vision that we need to utilize Scouting and the priesthood to help our young men reach their potential by learning NOW to do hard things!”
- Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Yep, that's about it

I keep seeing similar images on Facebook, so I had to make one for us.

Instead of "society" I should have said, "ABCNNBCBS".

Monday, February 13, 2012

You don't need an Assistant PL

More to the point, no boy should be saddled with a position that doesn't count toward his advancement tenure:
From Star/Life requirements #5 / Eagle #4:
While a First Class/Star/Life Scout, serve actively for four/six/six months in one or more of the following positions of responsibility (or carry out a Scoutmaster-assigned leadership project to help the troop):

Boy Scout troop. Patrol leader, Venture patrol leader, assistant senior patrol leader, senior patrol leader, troop guide, Order of the Arrow troop representative, den chief, scribe, librarian, historian, quartermaster, bugler, junior assistant Scoutmaster, chaplain aide, instructor, troop webmaster, or Leave No Trace trainer.
Assistant Patrol Leader is not on the list of positions of responsibility. For my part, that's one position that will go unfilled from here on out.

EDIT: I think I'll clarify a hastily-scribbled, "big head/little arms" thought. From the perspective of the 11YO patrol, where for the most part kids won't need to worry about tenure, this wont' be an issue. But I will revise my position by saying that after he's attained 1C, it's a disservice to only have served in a position that doesn't count toward tenure. An accurate understanding of the requirement is necessary for everyone, SM, SPL, PL and Scout. I'm not about limiting opportunity, but providing adequate opportunity to succeed. I can see a scenario where a boy would have the expectation that because he's been the APL for four months after receiving First Class, he's met the Star req for tenure, and thus feel like he was set up when someone says, "hold on a minute."

This came up at Roundtable last week, and took a lot of us by surprise.

Advice for my Sister

My younger sister was recently called as the YW president in her ward. She expressed some concerns about strong personalities - holdovers from the previous administration. I offered her this advice:

If you want your counselors to step back, a good way is to clearly lay out your vision for the girls and how they can help bring it about.   Strong personalities will resist this, but hold firm; exhibiting strong but empathetic leadership will go a long way (edit: easier to write than to do).

Put the girls in charge of their meetings and activities, and instruct the advisers to simply advise. Presidents preside, advisers advise.  Who was set apart as class presidents?  NOT the adults.  Teach your youth leaders to lead, and then stand back and let them.

Harder than doing it yourself? Yes.
More beneficial to your girls? Absolutely.
Resistance from those who've "always done it this way?" Undoubtedly.

Mistakes will happen, at all levels, but that's where the best learning happens. So long as health and safety (edit: and testimony and salvation) are not threatened, let the girls do it.

Good luck!

Later, I sent her this letter:

For what it's worth, here are my thoughts on your new opportunity. It's something I've given a lot of thought to over the last year or more, and I even bounce these ideas off a co-worker, a beehive adviser in her ward, she seems to like it.

One thing I have learned from my Scouting training in the last year and a half, is that the techniques are not unique to Boy Scouts. I strongly believe that most of Scouting’s methods can be readily adapted by a YW program. Let me ‘splain:

"Don't need training" button

Here's a link for everyone who knows that they don't need training. It's in the right-hand column.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Straight off Wikipedia today...

Frederick Russell Burnham in 1901
Frederick Russell Burnham (1861–1947) was an American scout and world traveling adventurer known for his service to the British Army in colonial Africa and for teaching woodcraft to Robert Baden-Powell, thus becoming one of the inspirations for the founding of the international Scouting Movement. Burnham had little formal education, attending high school but never graduating. He began his career at 14 in the American Southwest as a scout and tracker for the U.S. Army in the Apache Wars and Cheyenne Wars. Sensing the Old West was getting too tame, as an adult Burnham went to Africa where this background proved useful. He soon became an officer in the British Army, serving in several battles there. During this time, Burnham became friends with Baden-Powell, and passed on to him both his outdoor skills and his spirit for what would later become known as Scouting. Burnham eventually moved on to become involved in espionage, oil, conservation, writing and business. His descendants are still active in Scouting. (more...)

Originally posted at on Feb 9, 2012.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


For you Varsity Scouters out there, Scouting Magazine has an article just for you: How your Varsity Scouts can earn the Denali Award.

This explanation of how it all fits together is perhaps the most valuable piece of information on the page:

No. Varsity Scouting uses the Boy Scout ranks, so Eagle Scout is the highest rank. Think of the Denali Award as a recognition on the way to Eagle (or after the Eagle rank is earned).

Enter to Win

Scouting Magazine is giving away a pair of hiking boots. Click here to enter:

Happy Birthday, BSA

Monday, February 6, 2012

I'm NOT Throwing Out the Baby

I finally figured out that I’ve been making the wrong changes. One of my WB tickets is to fully implement the Patrol Method. I thought this meant PL elections, everyone has a “job” to do, they plan the details of their activities, etc., but I kept using the annual Birthday-to-First-Class calendar that I had designed. In short, I have hamstrung myself, trying to make changes while retaining the vestiges of an advancement-based model. I’m going to really emphasize Patrols and Leadership. How?

I’m throwing out the calendar.

No more “Scout School” curriculum-based meetings.

A resounding “Yes” to the 11YO patrol setting their own goals (I’ll guide them toward good, fun ones, like the backpacking trip and a service project) and planning meeting time around practicing the skills they’ll need to succeed. That those skills coincide with advancement requirements is a happy accident ☺.

Scouting is all about learning, through fun activities, how to think through a problem, discipline yourself to achieve an objective and help others to do the same.

So, the boys will be responsible for themselves. There is plenty that they can do on their own time, so we can really focus on learning those basic Scouting skills. By the calendar method, we just glossed over every requirement, said they’d done it and called it good, but when camping, they didn’t really have a grasp on what to do. The (old) Green Book said: “Each boy participating in an overnight outing should have learned and practiced the required skills before the camping experience.” Patrol meeting is where they can learn and practice. I will function as an instructor when they need me to, but my job is to teach them, not Scout skills, but leadership and responsibility. The boys need this time to become proficient before they go on their campouts and other adventures; camping is where it all comes together.

The expected result: First-class young men, not just First Class badges.

The other expected result: caterwauling. Parents and others will be reluctant to make this change, but I honestly believe that by changing the emphasis in Scouting, and even in Aaronic Priesthood quorums (but what would I know about that?), to youth leadership as opposed to advancement and box-checking (no matter how well disguised, see above) we will see incredible changes in our sons. This means following the Scouting methods, because they directly correlate with the Purposes of the Aaronic Priesthood.

This is the change I should have made to begin with.

Here’s the T-2-1 breakdown by skill group.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

My Library

I'm an LDS Assistant Scoutmaster. Some of the official, and unofficial, publications and references in (or that should be in) my library are:
What essentials am I missing?

This is, of course, not an all-inclusive list, and I need to go shopping. What should be on your shelf?