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.™