Month: April 2017

District Nominating Chair named

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District Chair John Wiebke has announced that he has appointed Matt Rekeweg of Troop 358 at Zionsville’s St. Alphonsius RCC as the new District Nominating Committee Chair.

We learned the importance of the Nominating Committee from Council Vice-President of Operations and District Support Stroh Brann at the re-organization meeting for North Star District in March 2015, At that time, Stroh told the District to get a nominating committee in place. We did. Stroh told us to keep the nominating committee active to keep a healthy district. We did. As a result, North Star scored the highest of all district in 2016 Journey to Excellence. (The linked article is not quite right. We later learned that North Star was only 300 points from perfect.)

Matt Rekeweg works at Dow Agro and is a newer member of the Willie Gillies (that is Wood Badge recipient in North Star District; a Willie on his way back to Gillwell.)

Matt will be working with units to find volunteers for the District Committee and Commissioner Service.

Matt has been tasked with working with Chartered Organization Representatives to find positions in the District for those representatives to fulfill their duties to District.

 

Matt is tasked with holding meetings of the Nominating Committee and recruiting additional member for the Committee.

Nominating Committee Member is a position that can have an enormous impact with very little time spent. A Committee Member who identifies a prospective District Committee member and helps recruit that future volunteer will often have an impact that last long after the Nominating Committee member has rotated off the committee. If you are asked to serve on Matt’s committee, please seriously consider it.

We are delighted to have Matt Rekeweg as our new chair. Wish him well.

I’m a Scout leader – and I can’t recommend it highly enough | Opinion | The Guardian

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The U.K. Guardian, a strongly leftist newspaper, ran this favorable article about being a scout leader. We don’t often hear from scout leaders about the value to the adult leaders. 

Please send me your experiences and benefits from being a scout leader. Or share your thoughts on the comments below. I would like to run our own Indiana version of this article.

Is the Decline of Free Play Causing an Epidemic of Childhood Depression? 

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An article about free play time disappearing and its effect on kids makes an interesting starting point for a series of articles I am planning on posting.

People who meet with me about their Scouting unit often hear me recite the phrase, “If it is efficient, it is not scouting.” I know this often confuses some as they look at articles on this website. I’m also looking at best practices for improving the scouting experience. The question should arise in many people’s heads that best practices are often about efficiency; so, how can best practices in scouting not seek efficiency?

For me this is a very simple and obvious answer, we are not building a business to maximize profit. We are building young men of character. If it were simple to form a young man of character by a simple recipe, we would have no crime, we would have no conflict, and we would have figured out the system already.

Over the millennia, we know many different methods for raising young man of reliable character. In ancient Sparta, Young men were raised in very strict circumstances. They were taught to fight and to obey orders. At the same time, there was a strong structure of encouraging boys to break out from within the rules. If they wished to find a wife, they would often have to escape discipline and jump through windows in the dark of night to find their future betrothed. This mixture of discipline and self-reliance made Spartan warriors among the most flexible minded and deadly of any armies of their era.

In the Middle Ages boys of landed classes would serve as an apprentice to a knight, called a squire. The predecessor to modern trade unions, guilds, would take scout age boys in as apprentices and train them into journeymen. The guild apprentice system worked its way over to America with trades like blacksmiths, tanners (leatherwork), and coopers (barrel makers).

All of these training methods involved action and exposure to the real world.

The modern method of “classrooms solve everything” began in earnest around the turn of the 20th century. Part of the logic was parents were too dumb and ignorant to know how to properly teach children. It should be left to professionals.

Don’t get me wrong, I respect classroom education. I finished 19th grade (as I tell my Wolf Cub nephew. Want to see a head explode? “Seventeen more years?!”). From my many years in the classroom, though, I have concluded that Baden Powell had it right when he quoted a writer named Casson (of whom I know little else):

Judging from my own experience, I would say that boys have a world of their own — a world that they make for themselves; and neither the teacher nor the lessons are admitted to this world. A boy’s world has its own events and standards and code and gossip and public opinion.

In spite of teachers and parents, boys remain loyal to their own world. They obey their own code, although it is quite a different code to the one that is taught to them at home and in the schoolroom. They gladly suffer martyrdom at the hands of uncomprehending adults, rather than be false to their own code.

The code of the teacher, for instance, is in favour of silence and safety and decorum. The code of the boys is diametrically opposite. It is in favour of noise and risk and excitement.

Fun, fighting, and feeding! These are the three indispensable elements of the boy’s world. These are basic. They are what boys are in earnest about; and they are not associated with teachers nor schoolbooks.

According to public opinion in Boydom, to sit for four hours a day at a desk indoors is a wretched waste of time and daylight. Did anyone ever know a boy — a normal healthy boy, who begged his father to buy him a desk? Or did anyone ever know a boy, who was running about outdoors, go and plead with his mother to be allowed to sit down in the drawing room?

Certainly not. A boy is not a desk animal. He is not a sitting-down animal. Neither is he a pacifist nor a believer in safety first; nor a book-worm, nor a philosopher.

I love that line, “A boy is not a desk animal. He is not a sitting-down animal.”

I have a nine-month old Golden Retriever puppy at home. She is not a sitting-down animal, either. Goldens are known for their expressiveness. When Goldens are happy, they are jubliant. When Goldens are sad, they look like their best friend died. Put a Golden in a kennel by herself all day, every day and watch depression set in. I see much the same behavior in younger scouts.

We have noted previous studies that suggested that being in nature was good for a person’s psychology. These studies are showing patterns that BP would have warned us against nearly a century ago.

Boys need to be active. They need to take risks. They need to “waste time” being boys. It is an inefficient process.

I am starting an intriguing book right now called Antifragile.* As part of the introductory chapter, author Nassim Nicholas Taleb writes,

 [Anti-fragility] is behind everything that has changed with time: evolution, culture, ideas, revolutions, political systems, technological innovation, cultural and economic success, corporate survival, good recipes (say, chicken soup or steak tartare with a drop of cognac), the rise of cities, cultures, legal systems, equatorial forests, bacterial resistance … even our own existence as a species on this planet.

He continues a bit later,

The antifragile loves randomness and uncertainty, which also means— crucially— a love of errors, a certain class of errors. Antifragility has a singular property of allowing us to deal with the unknown, to do things without understanding them— and do them well. Let me be more aggressive: we are largely better at doing than we are at thinking, thanks to antifragility. I’d rather be dumb and antifragile than extremely smart and fragile, any time. It is easy to see things

The paragraph that connects Taleb’s concept of “anti-fragile” to the study first noted above is wrapped up in this quote,

Crucially, if antifragility is the property of all those natural (and complex) systems that have survived, depriving these systems of volatility, randomness, and stressors will harm them. They will weaken, die, or blow up. We have been fragilizing the economy, our health, political life, education, almost everything … by suppressing randomness and volatility. Just as spending a month in bed (preferably with an unabridged version of War and Peace and access to The Sopranos’ entire eighty-six episodes) leads to muscle atrophy, complex systems are weakened, even killed, when deprived of stressors. Much of our modern, structured, world has been harming us with top-down policies and contraptions (dubbed “Soviet-Harvard delusions” in the book) which do precisely this: an insult to the antifragility of systems. This is the tragedy of modernity: as with neurotically overprotective parents, those trying to help are often hurting us the most.

Being inefficient in scouting is no inherently good. Many mistakes can be made by just allowing the boys to “just be boys.” They can spend all their time playing video games on their iPhones in their tents, the modern equivalent of lying in bed reading War and Peace or watching the Sopranos.Anti-Fragile cover

We don’t want to hurt those we are trying most to help. So we need a chance for the boys to figure out their situation in the face of stressors. They need to be exposed to randomness and volatility. They need to be able to act within the framework of life without “neurotically overprotective parents” hovering over the boys.

Every day it is becoming clearer that “risk management” driven by the insurance and legal industries is not all that it is cracked up to be. The much better form of risk management is the old innoculation method: expose the patient to very small doses of the harm. This small exposure to the risk creates more strength, adaptability, and resilience.

So when you are with your scouts, take your cup of coffee and sit down. Wait for the scouts to face a risk before intervening. (Intervene for frustration, confusion, or danger.) You will be silently teaching them the best lessons.

* Taleb, Nassim Nicholas. Antifragile (Kindle Locations 342-345, 347-350, 366-373). (Random House Publishing Group, Kindle ed. 2016).

UPDATE 5/1/17: I just love this sentence, ibid. at 426.

We have the illusion that the world functions thanks to programmed design, university research, and bureaucratic funding, but there is compelling—very compelling—evidence to show that this is an illusion, the illusion I call lecturing birds how to fly.

Wrap up of Spring Camporee 2017

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Our Winter Camporee 2017 in t-shirts and shorts was followed by our Spring Camporee 2017 in hats and gloves. Oh, the joys of Indiana seasons!

Here are some thoughts from camporee staff afterward.

(MORE TO COME. WATCH THIS SPACE FOR UPDATES AS THEY COME.)

Troop 358 Fundraiser

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From Troop 358 Fundraising Chair Mark Pishon:

2017 Troop 358 Hog Roast

Saturday, May 6, 2017 4 to 8 pm
St. Alphonsus Liguori Catholic Church
1870 W. Oak Street,Zionsville, IN 46077

Tickets For SaleHog Raost 2017

CLICK HERE TO BUY TICKETS!
OR
CLICK HERE TO DONATE $50 TO THE TROOP!

Come celebrate with Zionsville’s Troop 358 as the boys put on their 5th Annual Hog Roast.
The goal is to off-set Costs for Summer Camp and our High Adventure Programs.
Family Ticket Feeds Six (6).
The menu is our signature pork with a choice of two sauces, Carolina Sauce (apple cider vinegar base), or Tomato based. Meal includes rolls, Mac-n-cheese, home made signature potato salad, green beans, and baked beans.
We will also be serving hot dogs and hamburgers.
Desserts will be of a bake sale type format.
Drinks such as lemonade, coffee and water will be provided.

If you have a unit fundraiser that you would like to promote, please let us know! We will post your information, too.

Clarifications from Lodge Chief on Out-of-Council Ordeals

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Lodge Chief James Colter emailed today to emphasize that going out of council is only an option if specific, “extenuating circumstances” cause the need to go out-of-council — to another lodge’s ordeal. He uses the example of a religious obligation. While we have tried to emphasize this point, we never used the phrase “extenuating circumstances.” If you do seek to go out of council, know that your letter requesting to go out-of-council must describe the nature of this extenuating circumstance. Inadequate explanation of the extenuating circumstance or an inadequate basis are both good cause for the request to be denied. Reading between the lines,

I sense that a conflicting extracurricular activity may not meet the extenuating circumstances test. In that case, you can write the letter and try to get it approved, but start with a pessimistic expectation. A religious prohibition or conflicting date is likely to be accepted with no questions asked. For example, my son had his confirmation Sunday on the day of his first opportunity to attend chapter ordeal, although he made Lodge Ordeal. Remember, just because the scout cannot make chapter ordeal, he will still have September’s Lodge Ordeal. Letters describing extenuating circumstances should deal with scheduling conflicts for both offered ordeals in order to be complete.

In our previous post, we told leaders to gather information about the scheduling conflict. This information just clarifies that this same information about extenuating circumstances needs to be in the letter requesting an out-of-council ordeal in order for permission to be granted by either lodge.

Thoughts on Scout Discipline

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As we prepare to go to summer camp and the joys of summer high adventure, now is a good time to reflect on discipline in scouting. Discipline in scouting is easy: we don’t do it.

Is that so?

Well, let me be clearer. Dictionary.com offers this definition:

  1. training to act in accordance with rules; drill: military discipline.
  2. activity, exercise, or a regimen that develops or improves a skill;training: A daily stint at the typewriter is excellent discipline for a writer.
  3. punishment inflicted by way of correction and training.
  4. the rigor or training effect of experience, adversity, etc.: the harsh discipline of poverty.
  5. behavior in accord with rules of conduct; behavior and ordermaintained by training and control:

Scouting clearly seeks to create a “disciplined” scout, in accordance with definitions 1, 2, 4, or 5. In these you can have the “discipline of scouting” as the rules and expectations of scouting.

Scouting does not do definition number 3. In this definition you get the sense of discipline as punishment. We don’t do punishment.

When you are faced with a scout who does not wish to comply with your unit’s expectations, what do you do?

I would recommend starting with an overview article by Clarke Green at ScoutmasterCG.com. With this quick overview, you can then dig into his larger analysis of expectation management and disciplines.

Discipline or punishment is handled by the parents. For other questions, Clarke clarifies many questions.

Order of the Arrow Unit Award of Excellence

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Do you ever tire of recognition for your adults or streamers for your troop flag? If not, I have some additional opportunities for you.

In an effort to promote the Order of the Arrow, the National Boy Scout Honorary Society, the National Council has created the OA Unit Award of Excellence. Related to the unit award are separate recognitions for the youth OA Troop Representative (or Crew Representative), the scoutmaster, and the Assistant Scoutmaster tasked woa_seal_fullcolorith OA liaison responsibilities. (Both the troop rep and ASM have special position of responsibility patches.)

To learn more about these awards, take a look at the record sheet on the OA website.

Camporee Updates

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Webhost Banner.fw Updates will be posted here as they come to the attention of Jeff Heck.

Friday night updates:

Official agenda: spring20camporee20planning20summary204_12_201720update

The three gun demonstration has been canceled by counsel without exclamation.  Mark Pishon announced at the leader and SPL meeting that he would like ideas to fill one hour on the agenda.

Rick Aker announced that the center of operation to move to bunkhouse number two, immediately behind the climbing tower. This is where the first aid station would be. The dining halls too cold to serve as a safety station.