Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Chinese Proverb

I hear, and I forget.
I see, and I remember.
I do, and I understand.
- Confucius

Prepared. | For Life.™

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

What are they thinking???

By now, you've probably heard the news about this BSA press release:
Boy Scouts of America
Monday, Jan. 28, 2013
Attributable to: Deron Smith, Director of Public Relations

“For more than 100 years, Scouting’s focus has been on working together to deliver the nation’s foremost youth program of character development and values-based leadership training. Scouting has always been in an ongoing dialogue with the Scouting family to determine what is in the best interest of the organization and the young people we serve.

“Currently, the BSA is discussing potentially removing the national membership restriction regarding sexual orientation. This would mean there would no longer be any national policy regarding sexual orientation, and the chartered organizations that oversee and deliver Scouting would accept membership and select leaders consistent with each organization’s mission, principles, or religious beliefs. BSA members and parents would be able to choose a local unit that best meets the needs of their families.

“The policy change under discussion would allow the religious, civic, or educational organizations that oversee and deliver Scouting to determine how to address this issue. The Boy Scouts would not, under any circumstances, dictate a position to units, members, or parents. Under this proposed policy, the BSA would not require any chartered organization to act in ways inconsistent with that organization’s mission, principles, or religious beliefs.”
It was reported in the local paper.  I was disappointed in the vitriol and narrow-mindedness expressed in the comments, though I was not surprised.  "My Eagle Award is worthless now, I'm giving it back," some complained.  I was also encouraged by some more level-headed thinking.  My response was the following:
This is only an issue to the BSA. Scouts Canada, Scouts Australia, and other national Scouting organizations worldwide admit all freely - male, female and in-between - and their programs are thriving. It is high time to openly serve all youth, regardless of background. Scouting will not die, nor will Sir Robert spin in his grave. Scouting is about Character with a Purpose and Citizenship. Local organizations will still determine their own composition, so if you have a narrow mind, you can always find a Troop that shares it. I will welcome anyone who wishes into my Troop.
That is all I shall say on the matter.

Prepared. | For Life.™

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Lecture me this

At last night’s Coyote Patrol meeting, I laid out a pile of clothing and asked the boys to sort through it for stuff they’d take on a cold-weather outing. Now, I don’t have any top-line down-filled parkas from "Really Expensive Items" (apologies to Dave Barry), just a whole lot of stuff left over from a deployment to Manas Air Base, in Kyrgyzstan. We’re talking thermal underwear, poly-pro long-johns, thick long-sleeve t-shirts, Gore-Tex parkas and snow pants, combat boots and a field jacket with fleece liner. I added to this things like ski caps and gloves, fingerless gloves, snow/moon boots, a poncho from my mission in Guatemala, my Kmart winter coat, jeans, work-out sweats, tennis shoes, &ct., &ct.

They did a good job of sorting through the dross (tennies out, moon boots in), but did wind up selecting two each of outer layers and insulators, not to mention three or four base layers. I asked them if anyone had seen “A Christmas Story” as I put it all on and demonstrated my best “Randy” impersonation. It was a good visual! We had a good discussion about having enough for the job, vs. having too much (ok, you can always divest a bit) or too little (not ok, you can’t use what you don’t have).

This was one of those “what am I going to do tonight in my role as 11YOS Leader/Troop Guide?” and recalled a similar experience at Introduction to Outdoor Leadership Skills, where a big pile of gear was laid out, and a few of us selected what would be appropriate for an overnight backpacking trip. We sorted, then explained our choices, to the scrutiny of the rest of the class. Overall, a good experience.

Boys are visual, experiential learners. They do better when they can see, rather than hear about something. I could guided a discussion about all about layering, or even just sat them down and told them the "right" way to do it, but seeing it firsthand left a much better impression, and got their creative juices flowing. And they laughed about it, which gets some good hormones into the brain, and should aid in remembering it. Now when we go out to Farmington Bay for some wildlife viewing, they’ll have a better concept of how to stay warm.

Prepared. | For Life.™

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Hoops Hypothesis

Coaches coach, they don't take to
the court to themselves.
Image courtesy of Naypong,
I wrote a response to a recent post on Adventures and Accidents in which I had an epiphany of sorts. I think I have realized why basketball is such an integral part of the LDS Young Men's experience; why it is so popular among the boys - it's often the one thing that the grown-ups will allow them to do that also offers them minimal interference from those same grown-ups.

I don't say this as a justification to default to basketball as the activity du jour, but as a reminder to "Train 'em, Trust 'em, and Let 'em Lead." In a real Troop (not one that exists on paper "because SLC said we have to charter a Troop"), boys have ample opportunity to act independent of the adults in the room and exercise new knowledge, skills and abilities.  They need that kind of freedom in order to learn what the limits really are.

ADDITIONAL, 1/15:  I discussed this with my wife last night, and she offered that basketball is OK with adults, because (1) the boys enjoy it, and (2) the adults are familiar with and understand it.  Because we know that basketball (or soccer, et. al.) is a game for boys, we let them play unimpeded.  Everyone knows the rules, and that the boys will, to a large part, self-regulate ("HEY!, You fouled me!" "Yeah, you fouled him, I saw it."), so we don't feel that we have to take to the court ourselves; we're comfortable watching from the sidelines.  Now, taking a page from that playbook and applying it to the boys' actual activity program, what's the difference?  I think it is a general lack of familiarity with Scouting and an unwillingness to let the boys play the Game unimpeded - we don't understand the rules, so we don't trust that it works without our direct intervention.  A willingness to learn the rules of the Game, and follow them, will result in a better experience for all involved.

Prepared. | For Life.™

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Learning about consequences firsthand

Newspaper article about how learning firsthand about consequences prepared teens for real life as an adult.
"Parents have long wondered why teenagers are such impulsive, temperamental sensation seekers. But experts indicate that those same exasperating traits may be necessary to success later in life. As a parent, knowing what risks are appropriate and how to point teens in the right direction can be pivotal.

"Though his recovery from injured vertebrae took several months, [Alex] Doxey — now a soon-to-be father himself — doesn't regret the risks he took as a teenager.

"'My parents and the experiences they allowed me to have played a key role in teaching me how to safely take risks, and then how to deal with both the failure and triumph that accompany risks,' Doxey said. 'Life is risky, but learning how to deal with those risks provides incredible confidence.'


"A lot of people don’t take risks, because they are afraid to fail," Alex Doxey said. "The truth is, not taking the risk is already accepting failure.'"
Rebels with a cause? Reckless teen behavior may be the key to success in adulthood
By Rachel Lowry, Deseret News
Published: Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013, 6:45 p.m. MST

On a related note, Better recess key to school experience, reports KSL TV. Y'all hear that? Play is essential to learning and development!
By Mary Richards
January 9th, 2013, 6:43am

Prepared. | For Life.™

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Easy chili

Last week I talked about winter cooking. Here's one that's strictly summer fare: Dashboard Chili. Park your car facing south or west. Put your cans of chili on the dash. Spend several hours doing your activities and climbing mountains. When you get back to base camp, your hot can of chili is waiting. Of course, this presupposes that when you camp, you have an agenda for the following morning that doesn't include a race home by 11:00, since Johnny can't be away for too long.

Prepared. | For Life.™

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Parents' meeting

I held the parents' meeting tonight and it went very well. Six of seven families were represented, and we discussed aims, mission, vision, and methods. We discussed policy vs. tradition, in the form of "Fathers are invited and encouraged to attend the camps with their sons, and with boys whose fathers cannot attend," puting particular emphasis on the fact that requiring a father's attendance hamstrings the son.  In regards to advancement, We discussed how 11YO  (Church-speak for inexperienced) Scouts participate in advancement, and are encouraged to achieve First Class, but that as such, the responsibility is theirs (the boys'). I laid out a bunch of stuff for the boys to look at, scouting books, copies of Boys' Life, merit badge books, topo maps, patches and they ate it up, especially the kids who are looking forward to turning eleven.  I ended with Pres. Monson's centennial testimonial; nothing more need be said after that. I'll add a link to my presentation later. Now, I must sleep. Here's a link to my presentation, and following is my preamble - I decided to read an opening statement, so as not to ramble on:
What If I told you that there is a program for your sons that teaches them accountability to themselves, their peers, their family, their community and to God; that challenges them to learn new things, even things they don’t want to do, but are necessary life lessons; that develops their character as it teaches them practical life skills; that gives them the tools they will need to be able to be productive adults, who are able and willing to serve their neighbors; that teaches teamwork, responsibility, leadership, and spirituality, all at the same time? Would you want your sons to be a part of such a program? What if I told you that we already have that program? What if I told you that Scouting, when properly carried out, is that program, and that your sons are already part of a 12-year holistic youth development program, and not merely a race to a badge.

I believe in the power of Scouting to guide boys on the path of adolescence toward true manhood. Scouting aims to build boys and young men of high moral character, who are participating citizens and who maintain good personal fitness, physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. Quite simply, Scouting does not exist to hand out badges, but the badges represent what the boy is becoming. Why did the late Neil Armstrong list earning the Eagle award among his life’s accomplishments? Was it the patch itself, or the process that it represented that made the difference in his accomplished life? Outside this room is a graphic stating that over 2 million individuals have become Eagle Scouts (57,976 just last year, a new record). But that’s 4% of every person who has ever worn a Scout uniform. By the numbers, if Scouting is about Eagle awards, it’s an abysmal failure. Fortunately, Scouting is not about accumulating badges, but building boys; not getting stuff, but becoming something better. In our case, it is one of the tools that helps a boy become a Priesthood man of God.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland had this to say about Scouting: “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!”

With that as a background, I’d like to have a discussion about this year’s 11YO program/calendar and some thoughts on making Scouting more than a checklist for your son, to explain my philosophy, and to understand your expectations.
It all went great, and I would be remiss in not recognizing the help of my wife for making the outstanding refreshments and troubleshooting the tech problems. Thanks!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Winter cooking

At roundtable last night we discussed winter cooking. I haven't done much in the way of winter camping, mainly because I prefer that, with the Church's 3-night/year 11YO camping restriction, we do our camping in more clement weather. But if you're taking the boys out in the cold, some guidelines we discussed are that a meal should be:
  • Simple/Easy 
  • Fast
  • Hi-calorie
  • Hot
  • Tasty

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Do you ever feel...

Do you ever feel, when you're trying to reconcile official BSA and LDS guidance (to say nothing of the local "flavor"), like Ned Flanders, who, when a hurricane destroyed his home, remarked that he had "done everything the Bible says, even the stuff that contradicts the other stuff!"?

Prepared. | For Life.™

Starting the new year right with your Scouts' parents

If you were to hold a Parents' meeting, what would you put on the agenda? Here are some of my ideas:
  • Proposed calendar for the year, hopefully prepared and drawn up by the boys
  • Expectations: boys', parents' and leaders'
    • What do you want to get out of it? 
    • No box-checking, focus on accomplishments
    • Emphasis on character building
    • Talk of aims, mission, vision, methods, especially ideals, patrols, outdoors, youth leadership
    • Accountability of boys - wear uniform, bring book, know reqs, know your own progress
  • Rules, especially those that have been "false-traditionally" ignored and/or misinterpreted: Green book (this is especially touchy within the LDS EYOS construct vis-à-vis camping)
  • Budget - what's covered, and what's NOT covered/outside the budget - not that we can't do that, but know that it will require personal investment (as it should be)
  • Outdoors-intensive program
  • Comprehensive, holistic youth development program, not a line on a résumé
  • Plenty of inspirational quotations from RBP, GAs, etc.
  • Parental involvement expectations
  • Questions you may have
  • "Refreshments"
What would you talk about?

Prepared. | For Life.™