Month: November 2015

Thanksgiving Lessons for Scouting

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As Thanksgiving arrives this year, we begin considering more time with extended family and friends. Scouting tends to be put on the backshelf. Even so, Thanksgiving is a great time to think about the philosophy and lessons of scouting. (While this article is focused on boy scout troops, the same lessons of unit cohesion apply to Cub Scout Dens and Venturing Crews, too.)

The history of Thanksgiving is not often as it is represented in the media. To truly learn the lessons of Thanksgiving, we need to return to the the true story of Thanksgiving.

When the Plymouth colonists arrived and were moored alongside shore, they entered into the famed Mayflower Compact, effectively the first constitution written in North America. The Romans had previously had their Twelve Tables, the Swiss their agreement of confederation, and the Jamestown colony their royal charter. All of these were written agreement of government organization, but were all written in Europe. The Compact did not emphasize powers and duties like the US Constitution. It emphasized that all the colonists agreed to be subject to a common government as it was constituted from “time to time.” (That phrase is lawyer-speak for changes that occur every once in a while.) So they agreed to stick to the colony as the rules changed.

This agreeing to be part of the group and be subject to its changing rules is the first similarity between the Compact and a boy scout troop. While the rules for troop organization and management are far more detailed in the Senior Patrol Leader’s Handbook, the new Troop Leaders’ Guide Book (which replaced the Scoutmaster’s Handbook this year), and the Scout Handbook than the Mayflower Compact, neither these scouting handbooks nor the Compact define the daily rules of performance. Neither tells who cooks food, cleans, or organizes the day’s activities. Those are left for future decisions. Consequently, both systems leave lots of room for future lessons to be built into the future activities and organization of the band of people participating.

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Useful Camp Gadgets: Revisited

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Back in June, shortly after I started this website, I posted an article about useful camp gadgets for Firecrafter requirements. It is read regularly each week.

This past weekend, I finally had a chance to go on a troop campout for the first time since I took the position as District Commissioner. I decided to use my own advice. I made a crude lantern holder.

As you can see from the previous post, my design is largely a knock-off.

While I was working with the hand drill by the campfire, one of our thespian scouts walked up and asked, almost as if reading from a script of the prior post, “What are you doing?”

I explained that I am teaching myself a pioneering method that is different the method in the scout handbook.

“What’s it called?” he asked.

“Cat drill. It’s based on a system I found on an Italian scout troop’s website.”

“Why are you doing it?” he continued.

I told him, “I want to be able to teach scouts who are interested how to do it. But, first, I have to make sure that I know how to do it. So I am experimenting on this campout.”

“Well, if you are doing it at summer camp, I want to learn how to do it,” he finished.

“Sounds like a great idea to me!” I exclaimed.

This entire project required a $12.00 hand drill from Amazon’s website, a $3.00 set of bits, a $1.00 ball of twine, and sticks I found near the campfire. Next time, it will cost me nothing but time.

Who knows who will join me. Maybe we’ll make something bigger.

Rechartering Updates 11-21-2015

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Note about this report’s completeness: This report is based solely on information available to the District Commissioner as of the date of publication. Due to lags in information-sharing from the Council registrar or information communicated to other Commissioners, there may be missing information in this report. Sorry for any confusion that these information-gaps cause. Your assistance in filling gaps is always appreciated. Pack 625 is intentionally omitted from this report. Troop 191 is only included for purposes of Journey to Excellence reporting.

As of Saturday afternoon, here is the current status of North Star District’s Application for Rechartering and Journey to Excellence Reports.

First, the units that have turned in their Applications for Recharter include

Received recharter 151121

Thank you again to our units for moving rechartering along quickly.

In the next report, we will be looking at any units that have been officially marked as “Completed Rechartering.” This means that these units have completed all necessary paperwork, YPT reporting, JTE reporting, and payments of dues. Our goal is to have 100% of our units “Completed Rechartering” before Thanksgiving this week. Council Commissioner’s deadline for completing rechartering is November 30, 2015.

(Read below the fold for reports on Journey to Excellence results in the District.)

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Notes for chartered organization representatives

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For our chartered organization representatives, we are entering the busiest season of the year, where your services are most uniquely needed for Boy Scouts.

First, the district elections for 2016 officers will take place at our regular December committee meeting on Thursday, December 17, 2015 at 7 PM in Brandt’s Lounge on the first floor of Luke’s Lodge at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, 100 W. 86th street, Indianapolis, IN 46260. The Lodge is the outbuilding on the northeast corner of the church’s campus.

Second, the council elections will take place at the annual meeting for Crossroads of America Council at the Belzer Activity Center on Camp Belzer’s campus, 6102 Boy Scout Rd., Indianapolis, IN 46226. The meeting begins at 5:15 PM.

The chartered organization representative is the only person who is entitled to vote on behalf of your chartered organization and the scouting units that your organization has. (Other eligible voters for the 2016 District Committee Elections include the 2015 District Members-at-Large, that is anyone duly registered to serve on the District Committee, and 2015 Council Members-at-Large, residing in the North Star District.)

It is exceedingly important that your chartered organization representative be in attendance at both of these elections.

At the December meeting, you will be voting for the officers of our district for the coming calendar year. The District Chair, elected at the District Election, has the duty to represent our district to council for quarterly executive board meetings in 2016 and will be our official vote there. In addition, we elect the chair’s cabinet for 2016. If anybody has nominations for any of these positions, they need to be directed to our nominating committee chaired by Scott Claybaugh. The nominating committee is on track to announce the slate of District Chair and Vice-Chairs shortly before Thanksgiving. The nominating committee expects additional positions to be slated in early December.

At the January meeting, you will be voting on the council’s officers for the coming year. In addition, any resolutions for bylaw amendments or policies to be addressed pursuant to the bylaws will be voted on, too. Eligible voters should have received a letter inviting them to attend via US Mail this past week. See that written correspondence for further details and deadlines for nominations and resolutions to place on the ballot.

It is too early to provide any guidance regarding what else is going to be on the agenda for either meeting. Monitor this website for information as it becomes available.

In the meantime, cubmasters, scoutmasters, and committee chairs should be contacting their chartered organization representatives to confirm that the chartered organization representatives have these dates on their personal calendars.

Eagle Board Report for November

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News from District Eagle Board Coordinator Jerry Simon:

The following scouts passed their BOR on November 11th. They will not officially be Eagle Scouts until certified by National but, once that happens, their date-of-rank will be November 11, 2015.

Jack Whitlock T 191
Michael Isakson T 514
Nicholas Shirrell T 56
Jerome Zirnheld T 56
Matthew Bricker T 358
Brian O’Leary T- 358

Congratulations to these scouts on completing their obligations for the Eagle Scout rank! We look forward to the good news of National’s confirmation.

BSA Licensing for Movies at Scout Reservations

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This is an unexpected report:

We show movies at Scouting events from time to time . . . .

* * *

Some camporees, day camps and summer camps show movies, too.

Because of this, we need to be obedient and follow the rules about showing movies in public — and yes, those rules apply to the Boy Scouts of America even though we’re a nonprofit organization.

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But starting now, the BSA has purchased an umbrella license through the Motion Picture Licensing Corporation that covers all council-owned properties.

The added benefit of this new umbrella license is that it covers all local council facilities and camps for the duration of the license: Nov. 1, 2015, to Oct. 31, 2016.

Anything from one of these studios. That’s a long list that includes Fox, Disney, Paramount, Warner Bros., New Line, NBC Universal, MGM, Marvel Studios and many more.

I’m told that roughly 95 percent of movies are covered by this list.

November Committee Meeting Agenda

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The November Committee Meeting Agenda.

UPDATE: Despite efforts at proofreading, the blast email announces the committee meeting and its location contains an error. The email for both November and December mentions two different rooms. The proper location for each month is in the outbuilding Luke’s Lodge. All references to Room N-101 are incorrect. Sorry for the confusion.

Rechartering Turn-in report 11-13-15

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UPDATE 11-13-15 at 10:00 AM: new tables inserted below.


Thank you to the units that have now turned in their rechartering applications. (Pack 625 is intentionally omitted from this DistrictCommissionerreport.) This report is as of 9:00 AM on Friday, November 13, 2015 from DE Con Sullivan. (If your unit has turned in documents at the Registrar’s office in the final hours of Thursday, the paperwork may not have made through office mail to Con’s desk yet.

I am pleased to announce every single unit who is rechartering has logged into the system and reviewed their roster. That is an important step to completing the process.

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Marching Band and Scouts

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Do you have a musical scout or a marching band scout who you would like to keep engaged in scouts? Does marching band seem like an impediment to his scouting experience?

Two reasons why marching band participants can thrive in scouts:

  1. Crossroads of America Scout Band at Camp Belzer
  2. Madison Scouts.

Many are familiar with the 98-year old local Scout Band at Camp Belzer and registered as Crew 559.

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