Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Scouting is for everyone

Loved this story. Four new Eagles before Ramadan. With Scouts like these, we can safely ignore fear-mongering politicians and their dead-wrong ideas.  Scouting, like the country in general, is a very big tent.

Click here.

Prepared. | For Life.™

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

New Reqs, New Tools

I've updated some of my planning tools with the 2016 requirements. These are designed for Leaders of 11YO Scouts, but hopefully are useful to anybody. 
These are MS Excel spreadsheets, so the advancement tracker contains formatting, formulas and pivot tables. I have provided instructions on how to configure the pivot tables to generate individualized reports.  The Program Plan is basically something I found, modified, and improved to suit my own way of working, including sheets for lesson ideas in each skill area. The six-month version is something I wanted to do a while ago, but never got around to until now. It hasn't been tested yet, so caveat emptor.

I wrote the following into the draft six-month plan:  'think of the requirements as a lesson plan outline, so you're teaching skills, not "doing requirements"...Skills are what the boys learn, requirements are how they demonstrate that learning.'

If anyone winds up using these, let me know how useful you found them, and what modifications you made to make them better.

Prepared. | For Life.™

Friday, December 4, 2015

Scouting Matters.

If only to build individuals who are able to think through a situation. Here's to smart Scouts. And Scouters:

Prepared. | For Life.™

Thursday, December 3, 2015

New Policy Statement - Code of Conduct

This showed up in my email today.

Preface from the Great Salt Lake Council:
"Please review the newly released Scouter Code of Conduct from the Boy Scouts of America. The Code of Conduct outlines the standards of leadership for all adult leaders in Scouting. This Code demonstrates that Scouting values are still intact with Duty to God strengthened as a core principle. Scouters are not judged by any labels but are accountable to the behavior outlined in the Code."
I don't read it so much as a new policy per se, but as a reiteration of those things Scout Leaders should already be in compliance with. The items below are nothing new. Putting them all in one place, with no wiggle room, is; it eliminates ignorance of policy as an excuse by unequivocally stating that these policies exist.


On my honor I promise to do my best to comply with this Boy Scouts of America Scouter Code of Conduct while serving in my capacity as an adult leader:
  1. I have or will complete my registration with the Boy Scouts of America, answering all questions truthfully and honestly.

  2. I will do my best to live up to the Scout Oath and Scout Law, obey all laws, and hold others in Scouting accountable to those standards. I will exercise sound judgment and demonstrate good leadership and use the Scouting program for its intended purpose consistent with the mission of the Boy Scouts of America.

  3. I will make the protection of youth a personal priority. I will complete and remain current with youth protection training requirements. I will be familiar with and follow:

    1. BSA youth protection policies and guidelines, including mandatory reporting:
    2. The Guide to Safe Scouting:
    3. The Sweet Sixteen of BSA Safety:

  4. When transporting Scouts I will obey all laws, comply with youth protection guidelines, and follow safe driving practices.

  5. I will respect and abide by the Rules and Regulations of the Boy Scouts of America, BSA policies, and BSA-provided training, including but not limited to, those relating to:

    1. Unauthorized fundraising activities
    2. Advocacy on social and political issues, including prohibited use of the BSA uniform and brand
    3. Bullying, hazing, harassment, and unlawful discrimination of any kind

  6. I will not discuss or engage in any form of sexual conduct while engaged in Scouting activities.

  7. I will refer Scouts with questions regarding these topics to talk to their parents or spiritual advisor. I confirm that I have fully disclosed and will disclose in the future any of the following:

    1. Any criminal suspicion, charges or convictions of a crime or offense involving abuse, violence, sexual misconduct, or any misconduct involving minors or juveniles
    2. Any investigation or court order involving domestic violence, child abuse, or similar matter
    3. Any criminal charges or convictions for offenses involving controlled substances, driving while intoxicated, firearms or dangerous weapons.

  8. I will not possess, distribute, transport, consume, or use any of the following items prohibited by law or in violation of any Scouting rules, regulations and policies:

    1. Alcoholic beverages or controlled substances, including marijuana.
    2. Concealed or unconcealed firearms, fireworks, or explosives.
    3. Pornography or materials containing words or images inconsistent with Scouting values.

  9. If I am taking prescription medications with the potential of impairing my functioning or judgment, I will not engage in activities which would put Scouts at risk, including driving or operating equipment.

  10. I will take steps to prevent or report any violation of this code of conduct by others in connection with Scouting activities.

Prepared. | For Life.™

Thursday, November 12, 2015

What would you tell a new Scouter?

My brother was recently called as the 11YO Scout Leader in his ward (and I am extremely jealous; he's going to have a blast!).  Not wanting to overwhelm him with information, I suggested that he concentrate on Youth Leadership/Patrol Method and a strong outdoor program, and let the rest take care of itself.  Besides getting trained, what would you tell a newly-appointed Scouter with no experience?

Prepared. | For Life.™

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Scouts and Politics

There is a kerfuffle in my city. A land developer wants to trade some acreage he owns for some USFS acreage adjacent to the city limits. Take a look at this news story for the details. There is a strong effort opposing this land swap deal, of which I am a part. However, Scouting came up in the context of their participation in a "Save the Mountain Day." Below is the post on Facebook, and my response. Tell me, was I too harsh or curt?  It just bothers me to see Scouts used as someone's prop, whether Mitt Romney or SLC PRIDE.

Here are the links from the screen capture:
UPDATE: Of course, one of the most important things I learned as a Scouter is that there's nothing you can do about parents with an agenda.  You can quote chapter and verse all day long, and they still make Scouting in their own image.  Which is of course, what happened here.  Someone rationalized that this doesn't really apply, because 'I really don't want it to.'  And the rest jumped on that.  It's sad, really, that we say we want to raise boys of integrity, until the rules are just too danged inconvenient.

Prepared. | For Life.™

Monday, October 26, 2015

Mt. Hood--Beautiful and Deadly

Be prepared means a lot of things.

"When people look at a forecast, people should think, 'this could save my life.'"

Mt. Hood--Beautiful and Deadly by WinterBenton

Prepared. | For Life.™

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Thoughts on working with non-profits

The following link takes you to a photography blog, but I think some of what the author says about developing relationships, and finding common cause with respect to with whom and where you volunteer your time is definitely pertinent to our volun-told system. And, there are some great portraits of dogs. Who doesn't like happy dogs?

Photographer Luke Copping on working with non-profits

Prepared. | For Life.™

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Merit Badge Counselors

Something to keep in mind with merit badge counselors - the good ones don't just rubber-stamp stuff, they put the Counsel in Counselor.  They help a boy understand and do what the requirements state, and work out answers to the more difficult stuff. They also have conversations, and become mentors and even friends.  In one sense, working with the Counselor is actually more important than the requirements themselves.  It also gives each boy experience working with different people and personalities.  This is why the recommended procedure is to first find, then visit with a counselor before beginning work (in most cases; some things just happen as a matter of course, like doing chores for Family Life).

When calling the counselor to set an appointment, take a buddy. This can be a friend, another Scout, a brother, parent - anyone so long as you don't go alone.

Prepared. | For Life.™

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

New Cub Scout Advancement model

I saw a nice one-page summary of the new Cub Scout Advancement program at Pack Meeting last week, but can't duplicate it here. So I made one of my own (pdf).

Prepared. | For Life.™

Friday, September 4, 2015

Playing the odds

Scouting in the Church (and everywhere else, really) often takes a back-seat to the organized sports leagues and camps that parents shell out oodles of cash for, all in the hopes of scholarships and a possible career. Let me restate that: The Church-sanctioned Youth development resource is eclipsed by the very big business of youth sports, all in an effort at some hoped-for, but very uncertain, future payout. This NPR story explains the bill of goods purchased.
[9yo] J.C. now has his baseball future all mapped out. "I'm going to go to Stanford and get a scholarship, and then I'm going to go to the Yankees in the MLB draft," he says.

Those big dreams aren't all that unusual. According to a recent poll from NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, 26 percent of U.S. parents whose children in high school play sports hope their child will become a professional athlete one day. Among families with household incomes of less than $50,000 annually, the number is 39 percent...

According to the National Collegiate Athletic Association, only a tiny percentage of high school athletes actually go on to play professionally — roughly 1 in 168 high school baseball players will get drafted by a Major League Baseball team, and just 1 in 2,451 men's high school basketball players will get drafted by a National Basketball Association team.
I'm not saying youth sports is not worthwhile. My own kids have had some very good experiences with it. But my hope for them is that they learn the skills of the game, work hard, enjoy playing the game, whatever it is, and learn how to be on a team. We should use all the best options for our kids' growth - sports, school, Scouting, 4H or whathaveyou.  Keep it in perspective.  And remember that all those youth leagues charge all kinds of fees for a reason, and that reason is not your kid's future.  So, rather than make sports the sole focus from an early age, let the kids be kids, and let them grow up into what they choose.

This article is well worth reading. Not for a Scouting-vs-Sporting diatribe, which I hope I've avoided here, but simply for a reality check on how we use our children's, and our family's, resources, and our own expectations.

Prepared. | For Life.™

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

LDS to keep on Scouting

"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints appreciates the positive contributions Scouting has made over the years to thousands of its young men and boys and to thousands of other youth. As leaders of the Church, we want the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) to succeed in its historic mission to instill leadership skills and high moral standards in youth of all faiths and circumstances, thereby equipping them for greater success in life and valuable service to their country."

Here is the entire news release.

On a lighter note, I was all ready to post a list of positive outcomes if BSA and LDS were to part ways.  So sad that I won't get to post:

  • BSA accident rate drops - dramatically
  • Unprepared LDS Young Men and leaders stay safely behind the chapel doors instead of venturing into the dangerous, and uncontrolled, World (see what I did there?)
  • On the rare occasions they do go outside, when they screw up by knocking over millions-of-years-old hoodoos, they don't drag the BSA's good name through the mud with them
  • No more sins of omission by failing to get trained

Prepared. | For Life.™

Owl Post: the Prison Camp Violin

From Guidepost Magazine - January 1997 by Clair Cline, Tacoma, WA;
Stalag Luft I POW

He carved it of rough-hewn bed slats with a penknife traded for Red Cross rations. But would it play?

In February 1944 I was a U.S. Air Corps pilot flying a B-24 bomber over Germany when antiaircraft fire hit our tail section and we lost all controls. We bailed out and on landing I found myself in a field in occupied Holland, just across the border from Germany. We were surrounded by villagers asking for chocolate and cigarettes. Then an elderly uniformed German with a pistol in an unsteady hand marched me to an interrogation center. From there I and other prisoners were shipped to Stalag Luft I, a prison camp for captured Allied airmen.

The camp was a dismal place. We lived in rough wooden barracks, sleeping on bunks with straw-filled burlap sacks on wooden slats. Rations were meager; if it hadn't been for the Red Cross care packages, we would have starved. But the worst affliction was our uncertainty. Not knowing when the war would end or what would happen (we had heard rumors of prisoners being killed) left us with a constant gnawing worry. And since the Geneva Convention ruled that officers were not allowed to be used for labor, we had little to keep us occupied. What resulted was a wearying combination of apprehension and boredom. Men coped in various ways: Some played bridge all day, others dug escape tunnels (to no avail), some read tattered paperbacks. I wrote letters to my wife and carved models of B-24s.

The long dreary months dragged on. One day early in the fall of 1944, I found myself unable to stand airplane carving any longer. I tossed aside a half-finished model, looked out a barracks window at a leaden sky and prayed in desperation, "Oh, Lord, please help me find something constructive to do."

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Three Membership Policy thoughts

I was discussing the recent brou-ha-ha over Scouting with my boss, a repeat Wood Badge staffer, and decided to finally register some of my thoughts on the matter. He and I are pretty much in agreement.

First of all, I do not have a problem with the recent membership policy changes. That said, here are three distinct, vaguely related ideas.

1. People who want to pull out of Scouting because of the membership policy haven’t a leg to stand on, when you consider that they sign their kids up for football camp, basketball camp, baseball camp, cooking camp, drama camp, band camp, lacrosse camp, swimming camp, art camp and ukulele camp. None of those worthwhile activities have restrictive membership policies of the kind BSA recently disavowed, and everyone seems to be fine with that.

2. Whatever program we wind up with, the same people will be running it as are running the current one. The same Leaders who refuse to go to training and learn how to ensure their Scouting program "is properly carried out" now aren’t going to suddenly jump up and go to training meetings for whatever lackluster replacement many are hoping for.

3. One of the loudest arguments I hear against Scouting in the Church is the huge disparity between the boys’ and girls’ experiences (see Robert Kirby's column on the matter, but remember he’s a satirist). I am sympathetic to this argument, as past posts will attest - I want my daughters to have the same breadth of opportunities as my sons. The solution though is not to curtail the boys’ program, but to enhance the girls’; give them the same resources, latitude and freedom to operate that the boys enjoy. From ages 8-18.

[Addendum, 8/24, Kirby nails it again.]

Prepared. | For Life.™

Monday, May 11, 2015

Leave No Trace Outdoor Ethics

Camping season is almost here in full force. Time for a review of outdoor ethics.

Prepared. | For Life.™

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Unusual Troop in SLC

This is really great. And inspiring.

Prepared. | For Life.™

Monday, April 6, 2015

Conference thoughts

Just a few thoughts, some incomplete.

It seemed to me that Elder Eyring's tie was sporting Gillwell colors (Saturday, all sessions).

Br. Larry Gibson - released as YMGP 1st Counselor - referred to Duty to God as a "resource," as opposed to the more common "program."  That, I think, is a significant distinction (Priesthood

"Raising the Bar" was 13 years ago, and in some ways, it has succeeded marvelously, but to me, in some ways where the "bar has been raised," it has been at the expense of lowering other bars almost to the ground (Elder Ballard, Priesthood Session).

Prepared. | For Life.™

Monday, March 9, 2015

The Monkeys

Once upon a time there was a cage full of monkeys. In the middle of the cage was a pole with some bananas on top. After a while a monkey got hungry and walked over to the pole. As soon as he touched the pole, all the monkeys were sprayed with ice water. Clearly, he did not climb the pole. Sometime later another monkey got hungry and walked over to the pole. As soon as he touched the pole, all the monkeys were sprayed with ice water. Clearly he did not climb the pole. Eventually all the monkeys repeated the experience. The bananas remained untouched.

One day, one of the original monkeys left and a new one appeared. And of course, he became hungry. As soon as he started toward the pole all the other monkeys attacked him! No ice water was needed or wanted. One at a time all the original monkeys left and were replaced by new monkeys. One at a time they walked toward the pole. And, one at a time they were attacked!

Finally the cage with the pole with the bananas on top was filled with monkeys, none of whom would go near the pole and none of whom knew WHY. It didn't matter why, they had just always done it that way.

Prepared. | For Life.™

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

More Pinewood Derby stuff

YouTuber Frank Howarth gets voluntold to make some derby stands, then shows the right way to build a derby car - you let your boy (or girl) do it.

(If you want to skip the stand building, click ahead to 4:30.)

Prepared. | For Life.™

Tuesday, January 20, 2015


Last night, my wife asked our son what the YM would be doing this week. My son answered "Duty to God." My daughter, who just turned 12, asked, "is Duty to God like Personal Progress?" I answered, yes, just not as hard.

Prepared. | For Life.™

Friday, January 9, 2015


Observed wisdom from riding the bus: Never argue with an idiot, because it's hard to tell who's who.

Prepared. | For Life.™