Sunday, December 29, 2013

Helpful hint

It's time to box up the Christmas decorations and put them away. Here's a hack for keeping those strings of lights from mysteriously tangling themselves up: Wrap each strand around one of those awful Christmas DVDs you[r in-laws] bought your kids, instead of coiling them up or stuffing them into plastic Walmart bags, and fighting the tangles again next year.  A stiff piece of cardboard works, too (I'm guessing you have some of that lying around somewhere right now). BONUS: prevents repeat viewings in June.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Owl Post: Me and the Carpenter's Son

Years ago, we had a carpenter living next door to us. He really knew his business. I was amazed at his skill and knowledge. One day his oldest son was playing in our yard with our second son, Adam, and they were moving some wood around in our yard. We walked over to them and Adam looked up all bright eyed and said, "were building a club house!"

His mom looked at him doubtfully and said, "Do you know HOW to build a club house?"Adam's enthusiasm didn't even flicker. It took him about half a second to point to the carpenter's son and say, “me and HIM do!”

We laughed, but I've thought ever since then, that there are many times when I need to accomplish something difficult, and I absolutely don't know how I can do it, but “Me and the Carpenter's Son do!"

-Jim Sadler

Prepared. | For Life.™

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Thoughts on "Service"

"To help other people at all times."

"Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these, my brethren, ye have done it unto me."

The other day, the YW of my ward held a service project. It reminded me of a lesson I did in Priesthood Meeting once on the meaning of service.  I distinguished Service from service: in other words, there's a difference between a Service Project,™ and just being helpful because it's the right thing to do. There's also a difference between doing something because someone else set up "service hours" and simply helping out.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Olive Salad

Me, along with a couple of other young officers,
enjoying a fantastic Turkish lunch.
Nine years ago this month, I deployed with my squadron to Incirlik Air Base, Turkey.  After a very long, cold flight across both the Pond and the Med (the KC-135 is a notoriously uncomfortable ride), we arrived at the Turkish (though very American) Air Base near Adana, which itself is very near Tarsus. (I'd say ancient Tarsus, but all the cities in Turkey are ancient, so it's kind of a useless adjective here.)

My first night there, my team, along with our out-going counterparts, went into the village for dinner.  I was excited to try some new foods and experience new tastes, but It never crossed my mind that I'd have to let go of some of my Western ways.  I looked over the menu, which was in English, and read over the offerings. Lamb kebabs, couscous, cheesey bread, baklava and more. Oh, goody!  I decided to start off with something light, so I ordered the olive salad, because I like salad, and I like olives.

This was no Olive Garden-variety salad.

I was very surprised when the waiter brought me EXACTLY what I'd ordered.  It was a plate heaped with sliced green olives, drenched in olive oil - an olive salad. Definitely not what I'd expected.

It was delicious.

And it taught me a few things.

First, our assumptions are often so very wrong. When in a new situation, we may find we have to toss our assumptions and "understanding" out the window.  I'd ordered a salad, and everyone knows what a salad looks like, right?  A bed of greens, some fixins, and dressing. And olives are black, right? Well, this salad was green, and there was dressing. There the similarities ended. After my initial confusion, I resigned myself that "this is what 'olive salad' is, and they gave me exactly what I'd asked for. Better give it a try."  So I did.

It's often said that you never get a second chance to make a good first impression.  My first impression on seeing this new dish was mixed, to say the least.  I didn't know what to make of it, and at first I was reluctant to try it. Only when I put aside my preconceived ideas, my own traditions and "right' thinking, and gave it a chance to prove itself, was I able to really enjoy this unique taste. It's probably the case that the first impression is as wrong as the assumptions that led to it.  First impressions can be important, but it's more important to move beyond them.

Which brings me to: So it's not what you expected? Get over it! Give it and yourself a chance, and you may find it's something you enjoy. I find that's the case more often than not, whether in food, play, a calling, a job, an assignment, or whathaveyou. You may have to stretch your understanding a little bit to appreciate something, or make it work, but you can do it, if you persevere.

Even if you don't enjoy it, you'll probably be ok, and better for having tried at all.

Try it, you might like it.

"I do so like green eggs and ham.
Thank you.
Thank you, Sam-I-Am."

(And if anyone knows of a good Turkish restaurant, anywhere, please let me know)

Prepared. | For Life.™

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Owl Post: I Am Nothing Like Jesus

A few years ago a group of salesmen went to a regional sales convention in Chicago. They had assured their wives that they would be home in plenty of time for Friday night's dinner. In their rush, with tickets and briefcases, one of these salesmen inadvertently kicked over a table which held a display of apples. Apples flew everywhere. Without stopping or looking back, they all managed to reach the plane in time for their nearly-missed boarding-- ALL BUT ONE!!!

He paused, took a deep breath, got in touch with his feelings, and experienced a twinge of compassion for the girl whose apple stand had been overturned.

He told his buddies to go on without him, waved good-bye, told one of them to call his wife when they arrived at their home destination, and explain his taking a later flight. Then he returned to the terminal where the apples were all over the terminal floor.

He was glad he did.

The 16-year-old girl was totally blind! She was softly crying, tears running down her cheeks in frustration, and at the same time helplessly groping for her spilled produce as the crowd swirled about her, no one stopping and no one to care for her plight.

The salesman knelt on the floor with her, gathered up the apples, put them back on the table and helped organize her display. As he did this, he noticed that many of them had become battered and bruised; these he set aside in another basket.

When he had finished, he pulled out his wallet and said to the girl, "Here, please take this $40 for the damage we did. Are you okay?"

She nodded through her tears. He continued on with, "I hope we didn't spoil your day too badly." As the salesman started to walk away, the bewildered blind girl called out to him, "Mister...." He paused and turned to look back into those blind eyes.

She continued, "Are you Jesus?"

He stopped in mid-stride ... and he wondered. He gently went back and said, "no, I am nothing like Jesus - He is good, kind, caring, loving, and would never have bumped into your display in the first place."

The girl gently nodded: "I only asked because I prayed for Jesus to help me gather the apples. He sent you to help me, so you are like Him - only He knows who will do His will. Thank you for hearing His call, Mister."

Then slowly he made his way to catch the later flight with that question burning and bouncing about in his soul: "are you Jesus?" Do people mistake you for Jesus? That's our destiny, is it not? To be so much like Jesus that people cannot tell the difference, as we live and interact with a world that is blind to His love, life and grace. If we claim to know Him, we should live, walk and act as He would. Knowing Him is more than simply quoting scripture and going to Church. It's actually living the Word, as life unfolds day to day. You are the apple of His eye even though we, too, have been bruised by a fall. He stopped what He was doing and picked up you and me on a hill called Calvary, and paid in full for our damaged fruit.

Prepared. | For Life.™

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Lorenzo Snow

"Be upright, just and merciful, exercising a spirit of nobility and godliness in all your intentions and resolutions—in all your acts and dealings. Cultivate a spirit of charity; be ready to do for others more than you would expect from them if circumstances were reversed. Be ambitious to be great, not in the estimation of the worldly minded, but in the eyes of God, and to be great in this sense, “Love the Lord our God with all your might, mind and strength, and your neighbor as yourself.” You must love mankind because they are your brethren, the offspring of God. Pray diligently for this spirit of philanthropy, this expansion of thought and feeling, and for power and ability to labor earnestly in the interest of Messiah’s kingdom."

If you look closely enough, you can find Scouting's Ideals in there.


Prepared. | For Life.™

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Owl Post: How do you eat your Stew?

A holy man was having a conversation with the Lord one day and said, 'Lord, I would like to know what Heaven and Hell are like.

The Lord led the holy man to two doors.

He opened one of the doors and the holy man looked in. In the middle of the room was a large round table. In the middle of the table was a large pot of stew, which smelled delicious and made the holy man's mouth water. The people sitting around the table were thin and sickly.
They appeared to be famished. They were holding spoons with very long handles that were strapped to their arms and each found it possible to reach into the pot of stew and take a spoonful.

But because the handle was longer than their arms, they could not get the spoons back into their mouths. The holy man shuddered at the sight of their misery and suffering. The Lord said, 'You have seen Hell.

They went to the next room and opened the door. It was exactly the same as the first one.
There was the large round table with the large pot of stew which made the holy man's mouth water. The people were equipped with the same long-handled spoons, but here the people were well nourished and plump, laughing and talking.

The holy man said, 'I don't understand. 'It is simple,' said the Lord. 'It requires but one skill. You see, they have learned to feed each other. The greedy think only of themselves.

Prepared. | For Life.™

Monday, December 9, 2013

I called it

As expected, I never did have to make good on my offer to fund someone's Wood Badge experience. I even sold my golf clubs.

Prepared. | For Life.™

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Owl Post: Jesse the Chicken Plucker

Imagine, if you had to do it.

Jesse was a chicken plucker. That's right. He stood on a line in a chicken factory and spent his days pulling the feathers off dead chickens so the rest of us wouldn't have to. It wasn't much of a job. But at the time, Jesse didn't think he was much of a person. His father was a brute of a man. His dad was actually thought to be mentally ill and treated Jesse rough all of his life. Jesse's older brother wasn't much better. He was always picking on Jesse and beating him up.

Yes, Jesse grew up in a very rough home in West Virginia.

Life was anything but easy. And he thought life didn't hold much hope for him. That's why he was standing in this chicken line, doing a job that darn few people wanted. In addition to all the rough treatment at home, it seems that Jesse was always sick. Sometimes it was real physical illness, but way too often it was all in his head. He was a small child, skinny and meek. That sure didn't help the situation any. When he started to school, he was the object of every bully on the playground. He was a hypochondriac of the first order.

For Jesse, tomorrow was not always something he looked forward to. But, he had dreams. He wanted to be a ventriloquist. He found books on ventriloquism. He practiced with sock puppets and saved his hard earned dollars until he could get a real ventriloquist dummy. When he got old enough, he joined the military. And even though many of his hypochondriac symptoms persisted, the military did recognize his talents and put him in the entertainment corp.

That was when his world changed.

He gained confidence. He found that he had a talent for making people laugh, and laugh so hard they often had tears in their eyes. Yes, little Jesse had found himself. You know, the history books are full of people who overcame a handicap to go on and make a success of themselves, but Jesse is one of the few I know of who didn't overcome it.

Instead he used his paranoia to make a million dollars, and become one of the best-loved characters of all time in doing it! Yes, that little paranoid hypochondriac, who transferred his nervousness into a successful career, still holds the Record for the most Emmy's given in a single category.

That wonderful, gifted, talented, and nervous comedian who brought us Barney Fife was....Jesse Don Knotts.

Don Knotts, courtesy

Prepared. | For Life.™

Monday, December 2, 2013


With my release from my Scouting calling, I wanted to explain how much I have learned from this inspired, if not revealed, system, but I didn’t think it appropriate to share a testimony of Scouting in F&T meeting yesterday.

I’ve learned that Scouting, far from being the “activity arm” is really the Aaronic Priesthood (and the Primary) in action - it is actively doing one’s duty to God, through self-improvement and service to others.

It is leadership training and personal growth – stepping outside one’s comfort zone, literally and figuratively (Klondike camps, soaking rains, blisters, dehydration, stretching one’s mind, spirit and will); it is teamwork and practical preparation for a lifetime of being Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, Reverent - and missionary WORK.

It’s not so much a patch as a process, but the process is in large part accomplished through the patch.

It is, as has been emphasized over and over in this year’s LDS/BSA centennial year, about learning and doing one’s duty to God (though not necessarily one’s Duty to God book – the two are complimentary, not mutually exclusive).

It is a thousand opportunities to serve, to learn, to work; a thousand more personalized lessons that build character, testimony and lasting relationships, through shared experiences.

A Scout learns about the Creator by experiencing His creation. I am thankful for having had the experiences of the last three years: to have had the opportunity to work with your sons, and shared these experiences with them – to observe the complexities of life in a simple pond, and develop a greater reverence for life; to have studied the night sky, and contemplated the stars, galaxies and deep time and find our place in this vast universe; to have seen my - our - own little place in the grand Plan, and to have learned from the Scouts themselves how to think about such grand ideas.

It’s been said that Scouting isn’t really for the boys, but for the adults who work with them, for as we teach the Scouts, to teach, to lead, to trust, to let others do their own work, to grow from failures, and to lead exemplary lives, it’s difficult to teach Youth such things without trying to embody them yourself, as they can spot a fake a mile away. And so we improve our own lives so as to teach by example. Yet there is always a long way to go to reach the end of that trail. The twelve points of the Scout Law aren’t just for reciting on Wednesday night, but are for living each day of our lives: A Scout is.

I am extremely grateful to have had this opportunity of the last three years, and to have worked with each of you. It’s not something I would have asked for, but now it’s not something I wanted to let go of. There are few things in life that leave such an impact. I’d like to thank my Father for having given me this experience.

Prepared. | For Life.™

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Owl Post: How do you Move a Barn?

News report from Bruno , NE - In 1981, Herman Ostry and his wife, Donna, bought a farm a half mile outside of Bruno , Nebraska , a small community sixty miles west of Omaha . The property had a creek and came with a barn built in the 1920's. The barn floor was always wet and muddy.  When the creek flooded in 1988, the barn ended up with 29 inches of water covering the floor. That was the last straw. Ostry needed to move it to higher ground.

He contacted a building moving company and was discouraged by the bid. One night around the table, Ostry commented that if they had enough people they could pick the barn up and move it to higher ground... Everyone laughed.

A few days later, Ostry's son Mike showed his father some calculations. He had counted the individual boards and timbers in the barn and estimated that the barn weighed approximately 16,640 pounds. He also estimated that a steel grid needed to move the barn would add another 3,150 pounds, bringing the total weight to just under 10 tons. He figured it would take around 350 people with each person lifting 56 lbs. to move the barn.

The town of Bruno, Nebraska was planning its centennial celebration in late July of 1988. Herman and Mike presented their barn moving idea to the committee. The committee decided to make it part of their celebration.

So, on July 30, 1988, shortly before 11 a.m., a quick test lift was successfully made. Then, as local television cameras and 4,000 people from eleven states watched, 350 people moved the barn 115 feet south and 6 feet higher up a gentle slope and set it on its new foundation.

The reason most people think that something cannot be done is because they know that they can't do it by themselves. But impossible things can be done if we join together in the task. Working together, we can not only move barns, but change the world.

What could we do if we were united as a Family, a Church, a Community, a Nation, or as the World???

Prepared. | For Life.™

Monday, November 25, 2013

A Quiz

The Activity Arm of the Aaronic Priesthood (USA/Candada) is:

A. Duty to God
B. Scouting
C. Optional
D. Atrophied
E. Basketball
F. Squeezed in when there's time

What's your answer?
What's your boys' answer?
What's your bishop's answer?

Prepared. | For Life.™

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Owl Post - Be Yourself. No One Else is Qualified

Image courtesy of Tina Phillips,
My Wood Badge Chaplain (Owl Patrol) continues to send out a monthly inspirational note, hence: Owl Post.  I'm going to share them here on a weekly basis, until I run out.

The following is the philosophy of Charles Schulz, the creator of the 'Peanuts' comic strip.

You don't have to actually answer the questions, just ponder on them.
Just read straight through and you'll get the point.
  1. Name the five wealthiest people in the world
  2. Name the last five Heisman trophy winners
  3. Name the last five winners of the Miss America pageant
  4. Name ten people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer Prize
  5. Name the last half dozen Academy Award winners for best actor and actress
  6. Name the last decade's worth of World Series winners

How did you do?
The point is, none of us remember the headliners of yesterday.
These are no second-rate achievers.
They are the best in their fields. 
But the applause dies...
Awards tarnish...
Achievements are forgotten.
Accolades and certificates are buried with their owners.

Here's another quiz. See how you do on this one:
  1. List a few teachers who aided your journey through school
  2. Name three friends who have helped you through a difficult tim.
  3. Name five people who have taught you something worthwhil.
  4. Think of a few people who have made you feel appreciated and specia.
  5. Think of five people you enjoy spending time with


The people who make a difference in your life are not those with the most credentials, the most money...or the most awards.
They simply are those who care the most!

Pass this on to those people who have either made a difference in your life, or whom you keep close in your heart, like I did.

'Don't worry about the world coming to an end today. It's already tomorrow in Australia!'

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


“May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds. May your rivers flow without end, meandering through pastoral valleys tinkling with bells, past temples and castles and poets' towers into a dark primeval forest where tigers belch and monkeys howl, through miasmal and mysterious swamps and down into a desert of red rock, blue mesas, domes and pinnacles and grottoes of endless stone, and down again into a deep vast ancient unknown chasm where bars of sunlight blaze on profiled cliffs, where deer walk across the white sand beaches, where storms come and go as lightning clangs upon the high crags, where something strange and more beautiful and more full of wonder than your deepest dreams waits for you -- beyond that next turning of the canyon walls.”
--Edward Abbey

Prepared. | For Life.™

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Finally, some good news

There's been plenty of self-inflicted bad publicity in the BSA recently, so here's something good and more representative of what we're really all about.

Vandalized arch receives much-needed makeover from Boy Scouts

Unlike some other (former) Scouters, they got advise and permission from authorities before fixing the problem.   Way to represent, Gentlemen!

In the same vein, National Park officials in Zion NP worked to fix a damaged rock recently.  I remember seeing this rock when I was there last June with my family. It's on the Canyon Overlook trail, and readily observed, once you've taken in the grandeur of Zion Canyon. My 10YO daughter took the below photo of it, and I posted it on Facebook with the following caption (Posted during the gvt shutdown, when the parks were closed to the public):

"In case you were wondering why we need park rangers in the first place, here's some cumulative damage done in Zion NP. My 10yo daughter took this picture and wrote this caption beneath it: "Stupid people wrote on this rock and I don't like that." Imagine what "stupid people" would do if there were no ranger presence at all. (There would be a whole lot more gorings in Yellowstone, for one thing.)"
She recently revised her caption to simply :(.  She's wise beyond her years.

The fix consisted of chipping away the defaced sandstone until a relatively pristine, somewhat natural - even if unweathered - look was achieved.  See the results on the Park's Facebook page.

Prepared. | For Life.™

Monday, November 18, 2013

Do a good turn. Daily.

This should be your next Scoutmaster minute:

Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room. One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain the fluid from his lungs. His bed was next to the room’s only window. The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back.

The men talked for hours on end. They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in the military service, where they had been on vacation.. Hospital window.

Every afternoon, when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window. The man in the other bed began to live for those one hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and colour of the world outside.

Take just a minute to read the rest.

"...when ye are in the service of your fellow beings, ye are only in the service of your God."
-- Mosiah 2:17 (Book of Mormon)

Prepared. | For Life.™

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The importance of work

Godspeed on the James River.
She is  one of three (very small) ships
to carry the first English colonists
to Virginia in 1607. 52 souls crammed
aboard her to make the four-month,
one-way voyage. 
©2012 Eric Larson
Today's talks in Sacrament meeting reminded me of a magnet my wife and I picked up on a day trip during a business conference at Williamsburg, VA last year (we collect magnets of the places we visit).  The topic was work.  The magnet was a quote:
"He that will not worke,
shall not eate."
- Captain John Smith,
Jamestown Colony, 1608
Stick that on your Troop chuck box!

Speaking of work, my work with the Scouts, as I know it, has come to an end.  I was released today as an assistant Scoutmaster.  It's been a fun ride, and I have learned so much, especially from the online Scouting community. A big thank you goes out to all of you whom it has been my pleasure to get to know over the last three years. An especially big thank you goes out to the boys whom I have had the honor of getting to know and to serve as they begin life's journey, a journey which has but one finish line, and it's not marked by a patch.  Live it on your honor.

Prepared. | For Life.™

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

More links

I've added a link to Scouter Mom in the sidebar and on my links page.

Prepared. | For Life.™

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Be friends with failure

A friend posted this link on Facebook. If'n that ain't what we's bin fixin'ta complish, I dunno know what is.

© Doodle Alley - Stephen McCranie

Prepared. | For Life.™

An ideals quickie

I was looking for a crossword or word search for teaching the Ideals, and couldn't find any, so I made one. I'm hoping that it helps the Scouts memorize a few dozen words, so that by knowing the words, they can then learn the meaning. It would also work great as a pre-opening activity.

UPDATE: I created a couple of Ideals graphics to give out.

Prepared. | For Life.™

Monday, November 11, 2013

Letter to leadership - TTFN

My tenure is coming to an end, for now.  I had a nice chat with the bishop yesterday, and The Times, They Are A-Changin'. After the meeting ended, I had a few other thoughts, which I wrote down:

Bishop, thank you again for our discussion yesterday.  Again, it has been my pleasure to serve as an assistant Scoutmaster in the ward.  I have been blessed to have been able to associate with these young men (11YO boys are Scouts, therefore, in my opinion, they are Young Men, too, regardless of which organization they 'belong' to) and have learned so much about how this inspired program works, and why it has been so successful for over 100 years, and why our sons need it.  As we discussed, the measure of that success isn't the number of badges handed out, but the number of boys and youth served, who are better today than they were before.  I can think of no other youth program that so effectively mixes the mundane and ordinary with the spiritual, that gives Youth real responsibility, and rewards them for it.  I had a couple of thoughts since yesterday that I'd like to pass along, regarding the Troop Committee, and integrating Duty to God with Scouting rather than compartmentalizing them.

Marching to a different cadence

Something bothers me about the Pledge of Allegiance. It's how we continue (even as grown-ups!) to recite it as if we're all still in first grade, three words at a time:

Vietnam Veterans' Memorial,
Washington DC
©2012 Eric Larson
I pledge allegiance
To the flag
Of the United States of America
And to the Republic
For which it stands
One nation
Under God
With liberty
and justice for all

See? Choppy and infantile. And dare I say, even rote and meaningless. Why not re-teach our Scouts to use complete phrases, or even sentences:

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America,
And to the Republic for which it stands:
One nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

It's just a thought.

Shake a Veteran's hand today.

Prepared. | For Life.™

Thursday, November 7, 2013

A few thoughtful questions. And some thoughtful answers, too

I recently went back to the LDSScouts Yahoo! Group, just to see what's going on. I haven't been there in a while, and I was pleasantly surprised to find some thoughtful and helpful discussion. I copied some of the better questions and answers to this pdf (I hope no one from the list minds my putting this here), and hope to be able to use them as discussion drivers with my Committee and ward leadership. (BTW, I mentioned some months ago that my bishopric had been changed out. The new COR was the Cubmaster before, and he Gets It. The bishop is a federal attorney, and he'll definitely understand things from a "training + following procedure = inverse level of liability" perspective.  Hopefully, these questions, and the questions I sent them on Sunday, drive some good discussion within the bishop's office.)

Prepared. | For Life.™

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Century of Honor

The takeaway from last night's Century of Honor celebration, at least for me, is that Scouting is the antidote to the deficiency of discussion of words like Duty and Honor. As Church programs go, it was on the level you'd expect from LDS pageantry: lots of singing and uplifting stuff, but counter to form, no dancing. And what an entrance for our nation's colors! Rappelled in from the ceiling!  I fully expect to see President Uchdorf rappel in for his next General Conference Priesthood address.  And Elder Beck to use that zip line!  I was especially gratified to see the invocation delivered by the Reverend R. Chip Turner, of the Baptist Scouting body (I forget the official title/office), a reminder that Scouting is universal.

I took my two boys with me. We stopped at the mall food court first (ran into my WB Troop Guide there), where M (newly-minted Bobcat) had a slice of pizza, and B (Star) had his first gyro, before making our way to the Conference Center, finding our seats and meeting up with the other three from our ward's contingent. It was an inspiration, although I did sense the irreverent side of me rising up a couple of times; I did my best to keep that in check.  Ordinarily, I don't go for this kind of pageantry, but this time it worked.  Mostly, because it was simply telling Scouting's story, and why it continues to be one of the best programs for teaching young men how and why to do their duty.

At the official website (link above) you can stream the entire program, and there's a counter that at last check topped 1,183,140+ who checked in by text message (I did so three times, to account for my two sons).  One of the highlights was the sing-along extolling moms: "Ma you earned your eagle, but they gave the badge to me!" (guilty, and thanks, Mom - at about minute 28 of the broadcast above).  Overall, I think it did a great job of telling Scouting's story, and getting down to brass tacks as to why Scouting matters, without going (too) over-the-top.

Waiting for the show to start with my sons B (Star) & M (Bobcat)

The Conference Center crowd

The evening's program. Download a pdf of it.

Me and my boys. Yes, he's 13. Yes, he's taller than I am.

Prepared. | For Life.™

Monday, October 28, 2013

Three for the show

Taking my boys to the show tomorrow night:

It's in the nosebleed section, but we'll be there.

Prepared. | For Life.™

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The difference between Girl and Boy Scouts

Tonight I went to my youngest son's first Pack meeting where he was awarded his Bobcat badge.  There was a special Arrow of Light ceremony, too, with a special presenter.  Before he began though, he did a little uniform lesson.  First, he told everyscout to touch the top button of their shirt, and make sure it was unbuttoned.  Then, he said that there are two differences between Boy Scouts and Girls Scouts, and asked if the Cubs knew what they were.  They got the first one right away: Girl Scouts sell cookies (he supplied the second part: Boy Scouts sell popcorn).  The second they needed a little help with: Girl Scouts wear their shirts untucked; Boy Scouts tuck their shirts in. So, if you want to be a Girl Scout, leave it out. If you want to be a Boy Scout, tuck it in.  Genius. Instead of telling everyone to tuck in their uniforms and getting the same, "awwwwdowehaffta?," they got to choose to do it right, and have a good laugh about doing what they always refuse to do.

Prepared. | For Life.™

Friday, October 18, 2013

Scout leaders could (will) face vandalism charges

Hoodoos in Utah's Goblin Valley State Park.
They don't need our help to erode.
©Eric Larson
Salt Lake Tribune, October 17, 2013 - Two men destroyed a formation at Goblin Valley State Park, in their capacity as YM/Scout leaders. They could face up to felony charges for destroying public property and protected resources. This incident could serve as a jumping-off point for a good Leave No Trace discussion when planning outdoor activities with your Scouts. It also underscores the need for continuity and consistency in expectations and leadership in Scouting (for youth and adults) as they age from group to group. For example, older Youth can teach younger, less experienced Youth the skills they've learned, to reinforce correct principles (i.e., 'to do my duty country/Obeying, Honoring, and Sustaining the Law), as they move from Troop to Team to Crew. In a way, it reminds me of a 1976 Conference talk by then-Elder Kimball:
"We hope we can help our young men and young women to realize, even sooner than they do now, that they need to make certain decisions [in this context, adhere to the Outdoor Code] only once. I have mentioned at this pulpit before some determinations made early in my life, which decisions were such a help to me because I did not have to remake those decisions perpetually. We can push some things away from us once and have done with them! We can make a single decision about certain things that we will incorporate in our lives and then make them ours—without having to brood and redecide a hundred times what it is we will do and what we will not do.

"Indecision and discouragement are climates in which the Adversary lives to function, for he can inflict so many casualties among mankind in those settings. My young brothers, if you have not done so yet, decide to decide!" (Spencer W. Kimball, Boys need Heroes Close By, Ensign, May 1976)*
It also reminds me of this essay on Hugh Nibley's environmental perspective (see principle #4). To read the local paper, you'd think that Scout Leaders in my area seem too often to be violating the ideals they're supposed to be teaching and instilling in their charges. Way to lead by example, guys. I'd like to ask them, "brethren, what part of Leave No Trace does this fall under? I wonder, how much of that behavior and rationalization can be attributed to a general lack of training because the Leaders don't want to be held to/hassled by the standards? And how much to just plain old, "hey, y'all, watch this!" (after-the-fact rationale notwithstanding)? Every time someone does something stupid, the Tribune, et. al. will make sure everyone knows about it. By small and simple things (done by a few)...are we given a collective black eye.

UPDATE, 10:20AM: It's on CNN.
"...and I would have gotten away with it too, if it hadn't been for those meddling internetses."

UPDATE, 2:00PM: Utah National Parks Council responds to this incident.
"We are shocked and disappointed by this reprehensible behavior...and will take appropriate action." They could refuse to recharter the Troop in question unless a personnel change is made, among other things.

UPDATE, 10/20: In an even-worse-than-the-infraction kind of twist, it is reported that the goblin-tippers are receiving death threats. C'mon, people, a little more Scout Spirit in dealing with the wrong-thing-right-reason poor decisions of others.  Also, glue guns at the ready, local Relief Societies are repairing the damage, and shoring up other potentially dangerous hoodoos.

UPDATE, 10/21: I posted the following to a photography group on Google+:
I just want to say, and I probably won't say it very well, that these individuals are in no way representative of what Scouting - they were Scout leaders on a Scout activity when they were so "helpful" - represents.  They caused damage to more than one irreplaceable hooodoo, they demonstrated to their Scouts that such behavior is acceptable, if the fun factor dictates it, and you can come up with a plausible rationale.  In just a few minutes, they undermined all of the ethics they were supposedly teaching their young charges.

I'm also [an Assistant] Scoutmaster (I use my Scouting as an excuse to get out my Pentax), and I go to great lengths to teach my boys that such is not the case: to leave the squirrels and rattlesnakes alone, not to mention millions-years-old formations; to "take only photographs, leave only footprints".  It is my sincere hope that whatever happens to these men, whatever charges leveled and punishments meted out, that the lessons of the consequences are not lost on the boys they were 'leading.'
UPDATE: Appropriate action taken: "After reviewing this matter with the local chartered organization, these men have been removed from their leadership positions and are no longer members of the BSA (see the UNPC link above for details)."

*Surprise! It wasn't "Don't Kill the Little Birds," but it could just as easily have been. 

It was my Deacons' Quorum Advisor/Scoutmaster, US Army Maj. Jimmy Jones, who taught me about Pres. Kimball's talk, given the very month I was born. Maj Jones also administered my Oath of Office when I received my commission as a new Second Lieutenant in the USAF. Goes to show how our leaders have a lasting, incalculable effect on us, for good or ill; we lead by example, whether we realize it or not.

Prepared. | For Life.™

Thursday, October 17, 2013

A valid question

Someone on Google+ asked, "Why did you sign up and become an Adult Leader within the Boy Scouts?" Here some of the answers:
  • We went to a Cuboree and loved it. I knew I wanted to be part of it!
  • To pass on a legacy of service, adventure, learning, leadership, and stewardship to my sons.
  • Because I wanted to do it with my son, and there was also no other leaders to do it....
  • I signed up as a Tiger Den Leader so I could do something with my son. It turned into being a lot of fun. As I got deeper into Scouting and learning I realized that not only am I doing it for him, I am doing it for all the boys. Now, I am working to help Scouts learn life skills while having fun and become better people and to realize it's not all about them, but being a service for others.
  • My son's pack fell into my lap, no Cubmaster, no CC. I took CC my husband took Cubmaster. That was 7? Years ago. It is hard but it is well worth it.
  • My father was my Den Leader, Cubmaster and Troop Treasurer before he went on to District. It's kind of the family business.
  • My son wanted to join cubs, so I took him to the meeting. The next week my wife took him. I thought, "this won't be bad, us taking turns."
    She came home and said "They wanted a tiger leader for Zach's group so I signed you up."
    Best decision she ever made.
    I've never regretted it. 
  • I earned my Eagle and was active as youth right up to my 21st birthday.  After a few years away, I realized I missed the program and felt like I could give something back.  I joined up with a unit that some friend's from church were a part of.  That was 10 years ago, and I'm still going strong.

I thought of responding that, like most Mormon Scouters, I was pressed into service (nudge nudge, wink wink). However, in the years since that, I have volunteered to stay on because I enjoy the work, warts and all; I even volunteered to go to Wood Badge. I like working with the Youth and watching them learn and grow. In the short year I have with each of them, most grow up quite a bit, and have accomplished not a few big challenges. That makes it worthwhile.

Prepared. | For Life.™

On my honour...

- Lord Admiral Horatio Nelson's call to arms, prior to the Battle of Trafalgar

Prepared. | For Life.™

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Leadership training courses. You know, for kids.

Wouldn't it be awesome if BSA offered some kind of youth leadership course, kind of like Wood Badge training, but for kids? Just think of what they could learn, and how effective they could be in leading their troops, teams, crews and quorums! I wish someone would do something like that.

<sarcasm off> Here are a few of the [under-utilized] courses available to Youth leaders:

This is just a quick-and-dirty, not definitive, list, even for the options listed above.  Each council provides these and more opportunities, so go to roundtable, find out what's on offer, and get your youth leaders schooled in how to lead!

Here's a quick overview of the On Belay course:

Whole list of youth training options

Prepared. | For Life.™

Meeting follow-up.

Yesterday I posted about a training event taking place.  It was one of two GSLC LDS/BSA Relationships Conferences that took place this year.  I didn't hear about the first one.

It was a nice meeting.  There were plenty of bead-wearers in the audience, a lot of suits (I assume for those who don't have/do uniforms), and others were dressed come-as-you-are.  Speakers included the Council President and Key 3, Elder David L. Beck (YM General President), Sister Jean A. Stevens (General Primary 1C) and Elder Warren G. Tate (Area Auth 70 and Council Liaison, as I understood his role).  Elder Beck and Sister Stevens were leading by example, wearing the "dress" uniform. A local Troop's SPL led the Oath and Law.

It's late, and I really can't convey everything that was discussed and do it justice, but it really was a good conference, and each speaker did a fantastic job selling Scouting as a valuable tool in its own right. They may have even persuaded some in the audience who just don't "do" Scouting.  I hadn't been in that kind of spiritual Scouting setting since Wood Badge.  It was great.  Rather than try to summarize the meeting, though, I'm posting my transcribed notes and a handout.  I had thought I'd just scan my notes, but what's the point of that, if you can't read my chicken-scratch?

UPDATE (the following morning after thinking more clearly on the bus in to work): Afterward, I was discussing the meeting with my wife, and she rightly said that each program the Church provides has the potential to affect great change. The difference, I think, is that no other Church program can bring to bear the resources that BSA provides: youth leadership training curriculum, adult leadership training curriculum, advancement and outdoor programs that meet a boy on his own terms, facilities, events and opportunities, youth development experts, a cadre of experienced leaders and volunteers, spokesmen like Mike Rowe, and so much more - it all adds up to an unparalleled program that by design leads young men and women to do their duty to God.

Prepared. | For Life.™

Monday, October 14, 2013

Training opportunity

If you live near the Wasatch Front, tomorrow (Tuesday the 15) there is Scouter training being provided for Stake and ward leadership: Stake presidencies, bishoprics, stake and ward YM presidencies, Scouters, Cub Scouters (?), etc.  It will be held at the Bountiful Regional Center, but because the address is so screwy (857 Onion St., Woods Cross UT, 84054, or is it 835 N 400 E, North Salt Lake?), It's hard to find if you're not familiar with the area. Instead, here's the coordinates: 40.857618 N, 111.90323 W.  If you're coming from I-15, either north or southbound, take the 2600 South exit in Woods Cross/North Salt Lake, then go east to the light (500 South) and turn south/right. Take the next right at 1000 North, then left on 400 East, and you'll find it on the right about a couple hundred yard to the south. You can't miss it, it's the white-domed, red-brick building whose parking lot dwarfs the car dealership's next door.  Opening prayer is at 7:00pm.

I don't know if this will be broadcast, but I'll take good notes.

Prepared. | For Life.™

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Silly Song - I Like Traffic Lights

When I was a kid, I loved to stay up late on a Sunday night listening to the Doctor Demento Show. Silly, stupid songs by the likes of Spike Jones, Alan Sherman,  Stan Freberg, Monty Python, Tom Lehrer, "Weird AL" Yancovic and more, twisted my mind into what it is today (though it was my mother's An Evening Wasted with Tom Lehrer record which put me on this path in the first place - think Poisoning Pigeons in the Park, and The Elements, for example). Well, here's one of the few songs by Monty Python which could be deemed appropriate for a patrol of rowdy Scouts:


Why, you may ask, did I bring this up? Well, I was looking for a song to go along with fire-building, but came across Benny Bell's Shaving Cream on Boy Scout Trail.

And here's another gem that I owe my knowledge of to Dr. Demento: Moose Turd Pie.

Prepared. | For Life.™

Wednesday, October 2, 2013


I took the Scouts to the Church History Museum's 100 Years of Scouting in the Church exhibits tonight. I enjoyed looking at how things were, yet how much has remained the same in that time. For example, though the uniform has changed, there has always been a uniform (and I'd love to find me one of those 'envelope-style' caps they used to wear, kind of like the one I wore in the Air Force). In fact, three former prophets' uniforms were on exhibit: George Albert Smith, Ezra Taft Benson, and Howard W. Hunter (well, a life-size photo of him as a youth in full uniform, anyway).

Another thing that has changed in form - but not in substance - is the ideals. In 1912, when the Church was looking into BSA Scouting as its program for young men, while simultaneously running its own form of Scouting, it had its own version of Scout Ideals:

A Scout must -

Be Clean;

Stand Erect;

Keep his self-respect;

Be manly;

Be courageous;

Be cheerful;

Be industrious;

Maintain individuality;

Believe in God and right living.

Compare those with Lord Baden-Powell's original 1908 Scout Law:

A Scout's honour is to be trusted.

A Scout is loyal to the King, and to his officers,
and to his country, and to his employers.

A Scout's duty is to be useful and to help others.

A scout is a friend to all, and a brother to every other Scout,
no matter to what social class the other belongs.

A Scout is courteous.

A Scout is a friend to animals

A Scout obeys orders of his patrol leader or Scout Master without question.

A Scout smiles and whistles under all circumstances.

A Scout is thrifty.

Which all evolved into:

On my honour,

I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country,
and to obey the Scout Law
(A Scout is Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly,
Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful,
Thrifty, Brave, Clean and Reverent);

To help other people at all times (Do a good turn daily);

To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake,
and morally straight (Be prepared).

Instilling these values in young men and women has always been the goal. As someone else has said, camping, badges, ranks and even uniforms are how we teach, not what we teach.

Prepared. | For Life.™

Monday, September 30, 2013

Working with 11YO, er, New Scouts

Something I wrote in response to My Scout Stuff's post entitled, Advancement Plans for Eleven-Year-Old Scouts:

You have to be organized. I use spreadsheets a lot for this. On one spreadsheet, I track incoming boys for the next two to three years, and monitor their progress. I use this 12-month calendar for planning the allowed three camp outs, lots of monthly hikes and a few winter-specific activities, taking advantage of Council opportunities at GSLC’s Camp Tracy (Winter Fun-O-Ree and their New Scout Summer Camp). It takes the T/2/1 requirements and combines them into skill groups, and we focus on one group per month. In reality, some skills need more than this, some less, but everything gets covered, and there’s flexibility built into it. I plan to condense it into a 6-month plan, because I’ve come to realize that a year is overly long to revisit many of these topics, especially with boys entering/leaving the group at random intervals.

Sunday, September 29, 2013


I like to meet with each new Scout and his parents when they turn 11. Today I met with the next boy to join our group, and it just so happens that this boy's father is the 2nd counselor in the stake presidency. He's our coordinating council rep, so I was able to collect some good intel.  We got to talking about upcoming events, and I mentioned that I'd love to claim three tickets to next month's Century of Honor broadcast. He gave me six, so I have enough for me and my two boys, plus a few others, if I can find anyone else in the ward who might be interested. I can think of two.

Prepared. | For Life.™

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Run, boy! Run!

View of Deseret Peak, Stansbury Mts,
from the Deseret Peak Sports Complex,
Tooele, UT.
I just got back from the annual Great Salt Lake Council Jamboral. This year's theme was 100 Years of the Scouting in the LDS Church.  There was memorabilia from long ago: handbooks, patches, photographs, and uniforms to look at and admire. Aren't you glad wool isn't the standard uniform anymore?  One image showed two Scouts with wicker baskets on their backs, and a rifle in their hands. Gear sure has changed in a hundred years!

One of the available activities was earning the Thomas S. Monson award. We had a pair of Varsity Scouts from the ward join the Troop, and one of them (the one whom you would least expect it from) surprised me by earning this!  One of the highlights was an address by Elder Beck, LDS Young Men General President. But, our boys were slow to rise and eat, so we missed it. I don't think they even know that it happened.

Since none of my 11YOScouts were there (one of their dads described himself as a "fair-weather camper" and we'd had some good, stormy fall weather that day, which continued throughout the night), I went around the complex with my son and we looked at all the booths, activities and such. We both went to the Monson award booth and finished it. One of the requirements is to read (watch) then-Apostle Monson's 1982 General Conference talk entitled, "Run, boy! Run!" and discuss it, which I'd like to do here.

lifted from
What really impressed me about this experience is the transcendent nature of Scouting. One German soldier disobeyed orders to help a fellow Scout from another country, an enemy. In all likelihood, that unknown man may later have lost his own life, executed for his act of mercy; we'll never know. Scouting is real preparation for the realities of life. It instills within those it reaches a desire to be better. But that presupposes that we who guide these young men and women understand Scouting's aims, and that we strive to embody the ideals.  If it's just a camp-out club, or a merit badge mill, or a half-hearted effort done only 'because Salt Lake says to do it,' it will never have the power to build the kind of character shown by Dimitrious's savior.

Just some of the thousands of Scouts of all ages in attendance - Antelope Island in the distance.

Afterward, B and I found the orienteering booth, run by one of my Antelope Patrol buddies and his wife. Less of an orienteering/compass course, it was a navigation test, to see how fast you could get from point to point. We did the 3.7 km in a little under an hour, because I'm not in very good shape. But we did run!

Prepared. | For Life.™

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Duty to God

From A Century of Honor (
Watch it full-screen.

Prepared. | For Life.™

How to move a barn

I just received this from my Wood Badge Chaplain.

News report from Bruno, NE: In 1981, Herman Ostry and his wife, Donna, bought a farm a half mile outside of Bruno, Nebraska, a small community sixty miles west of Omaha. The property had a creek and came with a barn built in the 1920's. The barn floor was always wet and muddy. When the creek flooded in 1988, the barn ended up with 29 inches of water covering the floor. That was the last straw. Ostry needed to move it to higher ground.

He contacted a building moving company and was discouraged by the bid. One night around the table, Ostry commented that if they had enough people they could pick the barn up and move it to higher ground... Everyone laughed.

A few days later, Ostry's son Mike showed his father some calculations. He had counted the individual boards and timbers in the barn and estimated that the barn weighed approximately 16,640 pounds. He also estimated that a steel grid needed to move the barn would add another 3,150 pounds, bringing the total weight to just under 10 tons. He figured it would take around 350 people with each person lifting 56 lbs. to move the barn.

The town of Bruno, Nebraska was planning its centennial celebration in late July of 1988. Herman and Mike presented their barn moving idea to the committee. The committee decided to make it part of their celebration.

So, on July 30, 1988, shortly before 11 a.m., a quick test lift was successfully made. Then, as local television cameras and 4,000 people from eleven states watched, 350 people moved the barn 115 feet south and 6 feet higher up a gentle slope and set it on its new foundation.

The reason most people think that something cannot be done is because they know that they can't do it by themselves. But impossible things can be done if we join together in the task. Working together, we can not only move barns, but change the world.

Prepared. | For Life.™

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Three-Cheese Campfire Potatoes

Saw this on Facebook.


3 large potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes (or wash them and leave the skins on)
1 medium onion, chopped
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon minced chives (or green onion)
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup crumbled cooked bacon
1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese


In a large bowl, combine the first six ingredients. Transfer to a double thickness of greased heavy-duty foil (about 18 in. square). (Alternatively, cook up the bacon in a Dutch oven, remove it when crisp and set aside with cheeses, then add the first six ingredients to the bacon grease.) Dot with butter.
Fold foil around potato mixture and seal tightly. Grill, covered, over medium heat for 15-18 minutes on each side or until potatoes are tender. (If using a DO, just cook til tender.)
Carefully open foil. Sprinkle the bacon cheeses over potato mixture. Grill 3-5 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. Open foil carefully to allow steam to escape. Yield: 4-6 servings.

Prepared. | For Life.™

Boys' Life Magazine

I don't know if you know about this resource, but BSA publishes a monthly magazine for Scouts of all ages, called Boys' Life.  Each month, it features stories about the exciting things that Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Varsity Scouts and Venturers are doing across the country, like canoeing across Minnesota's 10,000 lakes, restoring wetlands, or exploring Idaho's Hell's Canyon.  Often, there is an article about a former Scout who made good, like Blue Angels pilots, or even more well-known role models.  It also has instructional pieces, on how to carve a neckerchief slide or other Scoutcraft, fishing techniques, camping/backpacking tips and so forth. There is also a section called "True Stories of Scouts in Action" which tells about Scouts who, because of their Scout training were able to step up and help when it counted. Finally, there's a silly section of reader-submitted jokes. (These are some of the stories I remember from when I was a Scout, and my ward provided every registered boy, from 8-18, with an annual subscription.)

The Youth Application explains Boys' Life to boys in this manner:
"Boys' Life is the monthly magazine of the Boy Scouts of America. It will help in your Scouting program and stimulate your interest in good reading. The subscription is only $12 a year (half the new regular rate of $24 a year). Just fill in the Boys' Life circle on the application. Please calculate and remit the appropriate state and local taxes. On late registrations it may be necessary to deliver back issues. Boys' Life will not begin for at least two months after you register."
I think that if each boy has a subscription to this magazine, it will help inspire him by showcasing Scouting's possibilities, and he may ask, "well, why can't we ______, like they did?" It will show him the great things and adventures other young men just like him, his own age, are planning and carrying out.

A subscription to Boys' Life costs $12.00/year, which is only slightly more than a subscription to Ensign or New Era magazines.  And just like ChurchMags, Boys' Life has an online edition.  As Rechartering time comes up, ask about how to subscribe.  You can also subscribe through your local Scout Office.

Prepared. | For Life.™

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Happens every time.

Every Wednesday after Patrol Meeting is over, I get a bit despondent; I get to feeling "WTH am I doing all this for, anyway?". We have a going-through-the-motions tradition of Scouting around here, but there are no real expectations for the program at any meaningful level of leadership. Except for some parents, I've never received feedback of any kind. Never from the Primary presidency whom I ostensibly answer to, never from the Bishopric. [Exclamatory word deleted], not even from the Scouts who aged out of the 11YO group. Does that mean keep doing what I'm doing, keep pushing harder to pull things in line with the way Dr. Harris describes them? Throttle back and just let things slide, pencil-whipping badges? All for what? The Activity Arm for Young Men around here is so badly atrophied as to be completely useless. I'd say put it in a sling so it can get SOME support, but no-one remembers their First Aid well enough to make one.

UnPrepared. | For Life™ Anything.

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Rescue of Roger Locher

Brig. Gen. Steve Ritchie was the USAF's only ace of the Vietnam war. In this talk, he describes how the war was put on hold to rescue a downed airman and friend, trapped over 60 miles and 23 days behind enemy lines. No one knew that Roger Locher had even survived his ejection, whether he'd been captured, or anything at all, until he made radio contact. Leadership, comradeship, loyalty, communication, self-reliance, and more are all part of this experience.

Scouting can and should have a role in producing men who are capable of acting as these men acted, who will put everything on the line for a friend.

Prepared. | For Life.™

Friday, September 13, 2013

Camping vs. Requirements

Something I sent to my Scouts' parents.

One of my favorite Scouting blogs is Scoutmaster CG, written by Clarke Green, who has been a Scoutmaster going on 30 years, in a troop of well over 30-40 Scouts (it's obviously not an LDS operation).  Last week, he posed a question: How long should it take to earn First Class? His answer, based on his years of experience, is that Scouts who go camping advance, but they do so at their own pace.  "...In my experience Scouts take anywhere from six months to five years to reach First Class." He goes on to say:
"Scouts focused on requirements will eventually not have any more requirements to [finish]. If  we've created the expectation that there will always be something to check off the list, when the list is all filled up they are done [that's not what we want, is it?].

"If we focus on camping they learn to love going camping and doing fun stuff with their friends. They play, sit in the sun, go for a hike, take a swim not because they feel pressured by a list of things to do but because they truly enjoy doing it. Naturally, in the course of these things, they are building skills.

"Once a Scout decides that they want to advance they simply cannot be stopped, sometimes that happens when they are eleven, sometimes when they are fifteen. Some Scouts may never show much interest in advancement at all.  The important thing is not how fast or far they advance but who they become."

I try to use this philosophy in working with the Coyote Patrol.  Wednesday nights are for learning and practicing new skills; monthly hikes, camps and other activities are, in part, the "exams" to show, demonstrate, explain, etc. a requirement.  While I would like to see every Scout attain First Class in this first year, the truth is, Scouting is one of many draws on their time and interests; some simply don't have the time.  Requirements and ranks aren't the objective though - growth in character is, and each Scout is in charge of his own Scouting experience.

Prepared. | For Life.™

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Change the World?

“I used to think I was gonna change the world. Now, I just let people onto the freeway.”
(here's the rest of the story.)

Prepared. | For Life.™

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Not my job.

From an email to parents, a bit of an attempt to reemphasize the idea that Scouts, not Scoutmasters, are responsible for Scouting (it included a personalized 'requirements remaining' sheet for each Scout):
I want to restate that one of my objectives is for the Scouts to take responsibility for their Scouting. By that I mean that each boy needs to be responsible for understanding what the requirements are, and keep track of his own progress in his Scout book. Rank advancement is an individual process, but I feel that it can be a great way to teach self-accountability; it's not the 'why,' but it is one of the 'hows.'  I maintain a spreadsheet of the Scouts' progress, but the whole idea behind Scouting is to help build up responsible young men and women.
An oldie, but a goodie.

Prepared. | For Life.™

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

LDS-BSA 100th Choir

This filtered down through my email chain-of-command today:

Sent on Behalf of the Young Men general presidency.

Please forward the message below and the attached document to Eagle Scouts, parents, and other key volunteers that would be able to help us identify 364 Eagle Scouts for this once in a lifetime opportunity (the largest Eagle Nest ever assembled).

To:  Individuals interested in singing in the Eagle Scout Choir for the 100 year celebration of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ affiliation with the Boy Scouts of America.

On October 29, 2013 The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints will celebrate its 100-year affiliation with the Boy Scouts of America in the Conference Center. Those who attend will enjoy an evening of fond memories, a salute to dedicated leaders, inspiring and uplifting music and stories of strengthened lives. A large number of National and Regional BSA leaders will be in attendance.

An important part of this special evening will be the beautiful music performed by a 364-voice Eagle Scout choir. We are inviting youth and adults (including multi-generation family members) who have achieved the rank of Eagle Scout to participate in the choir. Those who will be selected to participate in the choir need to have:

  1. A background in choral singing.
  2. The ability to attend each of the rehearsals as indicated below. The rehearsals will be held in the Conference Center Theater.
  3. A complete Scout Uniform for the performance. A commemorative neckerchief will be provided.
  4. A missionary haircut and a clean-shaven face.
For those who would like to apply, please complete the attached application. It must be received by the LDS-BSA Relationships Office by Monday, September 9th.

It is recommended that those interested in participating should live within 100 miles of the Conference Center. Email or fax the application to:

LDS-BSA Relationships Office
Boy Scouts of America

Phone: (801) 530-0004
Fax:  (801) 530-0029

Those who are selected will be notified by email.  Each choir member will receive two tickets to the October 29th commemoration.

Rehearsals: Sunday evening from 7:00pm to 9:00pm on September 15, September 22, September 29 and October 13.
Dress Rehearsals: Evenings of October 19, October 22, October 26, October 27 and October 28.
Performance: October 29.

If you have questions, please contact the LDS-BSA Relationships Office.

LDS-BSA Relationships Committee Secretary
Ron Smith (801) 688-2633

I couldn't resist - I just had to reply to my bishop, who sent the notice:
Sounds like a great opportunity. Trouble is, they finally drag themselves across the Eagle finish line at 17.5, then sequester themselves in the MTC the day after high school ends! (then there's the complete uniform (i.e. pants) thing, and can you really demand that those grizzled, 20+year veteran, bearded Scoutmasters shave...;)

Really, you want that many Mormon Scouts to spring for  Scout pants?!!

Prepared. | For Life.™

Thursday, August 29, 2013

What If You Stopped Going Outside?

Another reason to leave the Church building behind.

Prepared. | For Life.™

STEM education and Scouting

For parents of all Scouts*

With school just starting out for the year, here's something to think about: 

Most of us probably don't think of Scouting at the same time we think of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, let alone education in general, but a study published in 2009 by Ohio State University researcher Rachel Sterneman Hintz found that 103 of 121 (now 114 of 133) Merit Badges had at least one requirement meeting the National Science Education Standards.  In a world where US students lag behind their counterparts from other countries in STEM fields, and are less prepared for college-level work than ever, Scouting can be a part of the solution.  This brochure effectively makes the case that Scouting IS relevant to today's youth as part of a whole-person development strategy, and not just until a certain badge gets awarded, or a particular birthday is reached. Scouting can help mold tomorrow's leaders as it has done for over a century. Who will be tomorrow's Neil Armstrong? Jim Lovell? Steven Speilberg? Philo Farnsworth?** It could be the deacon, teacher or priest you see each Sunday, or at your dinner table every day.

So, the next time he says he's bored, send him here to pick something to do.

*Scouts is shorthand for Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Varsity Scouts and Venturers (i.e., primary, deacons, teachers and priests).
**Eagle Scouts, all.
Disclaimer - the attachment is a brochure from the BSA foundation outlining projects it is trying to fund, to help Scouting and youth organizations across the country with STEM programs. But as stated, it make an excellent case for Scouting as STEM education.

Prepared. | For Life.™

Friday, August 23, 2013

Merit Badge Question

How often do you think this -
  1. Show that you know first aid for and how to prevent injuries or illnesses that could occur while camping, including hypothermia, frostbite, heat reactions, dehydration, altitude sickness, insect stings, tick bites, snakebite, blisters, and hyperventilation.
  2. Learn the Leave No Trace principles and the Outdoor Code and explain what they mean. Write a personal plan for implementing these principles on your next outing.
  3. Make a written plan for an overnight trek and show how to get to your camping spot using a topographical map and compass OR a topographical map and a GPS receiver.
  4. Do the following:
    a. Make a duty roster showing how your patrol is organized for an actual overnight campout. List assignments for each member.
    b. Help a Scout patrol or a Webelos Scout unit in your area prepare for an actual campout, including creating the duty roster, menu planning, equipment needs, general planning, and setting up camp.
  5. Do the following:
    a. Prepare a list of clothing you would need for overnight campouts in both warm and cold weather. Explain the term "layering."
    b. Discuss footwear for different kinds of weather and how the right footwear is important for protecting your feet.
    c. Explain the proper care and storage of camping equipment (clothing, footwear, bedding).
    d. List the outdoor essentials necessary for any campout, and explain why each item is needed.
    e. Present yourself to your Scoutmaster with your pack for inspection. Be correctly clothed and equipped for an overnight campout.
  6. Do the following:
    a. Describe the features of four types of tents, when and where they could be used, and how to care for tents. Working with another Scout, pitch a tent.
    b. Discuss the importance of camp sanitation and tell why water treatment is essential. Then demonstrate two ways to treat water.
    c. Describe the factors to be considered in deciding where to pitch your tent.
    d. Tell the difference between internal- and external-frame packs. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each.
    e. Discuss the types of sleeping bags and what kind would be suitable for different conditions. Explain the proper care of your sleeping bag and how to keep it dry. Make a comfortable ground bed.
  7. Prepare for an overnight campout with your patrol by doing the following:
    a. Make a checklist of personal and patrol gear that will be needed.
    b. Pack your own gear and your share of the patrol equipment and food for proper carrying. Show that your pack is right for quickly getting what is needed first, and that it has been assembled properly for comfort, weight, balance, size, and neatness.
  8. Do the following:
    a. Explain the safety procedures for:
    1. Using a propane or butane/propane stove
    2. Using a liquid fuel stove
    3. Proper storage of extra fuel
    b. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of different types of lightweight cooking stoves.
    c. Prepare a camp menu. Explain how the menu would differ from a menu for a backpacking or float trip. Give recipes and make a food list for your patrol. Plan two breakfasts, three lunches, and two suppers. Discuss how to protect your food against bad weather, animals, and contamination.
    d. Cook at least one breakfast, one lunch, and one dinner for your patrol from the meals you have planned for requirement 8c. At least one of those meals must be a trail meal requiring the use of a lightweight stove.
  9. Show experience in camping by doing the following:
    a. Camp a total of at least 20 days and 20 nights. Sleep each night under the sky or in a tent you have pitched. The 20 days and 20 nights must be at a designated Scouting activity or event. You may use a week of long-term camp toward this requirement. If the camp provides a tent that has already been pitched, you need not pitch your own tent.
    b. On any of these camping experiences, you must do TWO of the following, only with proper preparation and under qualified supervision:
    1. Hike up a mountain, gaining at least 1,000 vertical feet.
    2. Backpack, snowshoe, or cross-country ski for at least 4 miles.
    3. Take a bike trip of at least 15 miles or at least four hours.
    4. Take a nonmotorized trip on the water of at least four hours or 5 miles.
    5. Plan and carry out an overnight snow camping experience.
    6. Rappel down a rappel route of 30 feet or more.
    c. Perform a conservation project approved by the landowner or land managing agency.
  10. Discuss how the things you did to earn this badge have taught you about personal health and safety, survival, public health, conservation, and good citizenship. In your discussion, tell how Scout spirit and the Scout Oath and Law apply to camping and outdoor ethics.
- gets reduced to, "did you go camping 20 times? You did? Good. You're done then." The same could probably be said about 'most any merit badge.  Talk about raising the bar, I think that too often we raise it just high enough to trip over, and then we wonder why missionaries have such a hard time with obeying mission rules...

 Prepared. | For Life.™