As adults, we are involved in our units: packs, troops, and crews. We rarely stop to consider who is the most important part of the unit. As we talk to Council representatives, they talk about our units as packs, troops, and crews. This is for a good reason. Their job is to support the adults at those levels. Council’s (and, therefore, district’s) focus is on creating and maintaining a place for boys to do scouting.
This focus from council on units can easily confuse the adult leaders that those units are the primary units of scouting. If council focuses at that level it must be the most important, right?
Wrong. The most important is the den or patrol. Our focus is the boy and his enjoyment and growth. The den or patrol (which I simplify to patrol for reasons that will become more clear shortly) is where the boy experiences scouting. He wants to do scouting with his friends. He is more likely to continue scouting if his friends are physically nearby. The patrol is where this proximity can and should occur.
Clarke Green shares some very interesting literature from Canadian scouting about why and how this works. It is worth a read.
What should we learn from this? Do these lessons apply to Boy Scouts only or do they apply to dens and crews?
The stronger the identity and cohesiveness of the patrols, the stronger the pack, troop, or crew. The boys doing what they love as a patrol will never fail to seek more of the fun. They want to spend time with their friends their own age. If they get this, they will want to share the joy with younger scouts. It starts a healthy cycle of do, model, teach, and do again.
One of my son’s fellow Cub Scouts had a father a bit older than me. The father still had his Cub Scout shirt from the 1960’s with the Lion Cub Rank. This was the predecessor to the Arrow of Light and Webelos program. Webelos originally meant “Wolf, Bear, Lion: WBLs.”
Now BSA is pilot testing a reintroduction of the Lion rank. Instead of the highest rank, Lion would be a new rank for kindergarteners, similar to the Girl Scouts’ Daisies. Minnesota’s Northern Star Council was first. It has now expanded to the Garden State Council and Western Massachusetts Council.
We spend a long time and effort worrying about the boys transitioning from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts.
Frankly that’s not the biggest problem.
The people who have the hardest time transitioning are the former cub leader-parents. Boy Scouts is often a culture shock.
Considering that a former cubmaster may be very accustomed to watching the boys progress from year-to-year in there nice, tidy, little den. Rarely is there a difference in age greater than 14 months. The den leader is an adult, who maintains order much like a teacher in a classroom does.
And then the transition the Boy Scouts.
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From time to time our District subcommittee chairs receive emails providing updates on program changes within that subcommittee chair’s area of expertise. Here is an email sent out from Regional Training regarding changes to the Cub online training program:
Online Training for the New Cub Scouting Program
The online training for den leaders, Cubmasters, committee chairs and members, and chartered organization representatives [is being] updated with the help of volunteers from around the country. The new training will be divided into shorter, more targeted modules so leaders can get the training they need, in the order they want, any time they need it.
The new training is organized into time-based sections:
- the learning needed prior to the first meeting
- within the first 30 days, and
- training needed to be considered position-specific “trained.”
The new training will be implemented in conjunction with the BSA’s new learning management system. The anticipated timing for launching this new tool is June 30, 2015. Keep an eye on my.scouting.org for more information.
Philmont Training Sessions for Cub Scouting Program
Cub Scout leaders have a chance to visit Scouting paradise and learn more about “Leading the New Cub Scout Adventure.” Four sessions are offered by the volunteers who designed the program and wrote the new youth handbooks and leader training materials. Visit the Philmont Training Center site to learn more.
More information about the new Cub program is available at Scouting magazine. Remember the new advancement rules are effective June 1, 2015 for all but the newly classified Arrow of Light Year Webelos. They have some options of new versus old requirements.
BSA has announced the latest revision to the Guide to Safe Scouting (2015). This important document should be included with your scouts’ medical forms on every outing. It is available in PDF format for easy upload to mobile device (particularly when out of cellular range) or on the web, where it is updated quarterly.
This Guide is more than just the policies and procedures of the BSA. All scouters pay a small fee to BSA every year to contribute to the BSA insurance program. As I understand it, BSA is “self-insured.” This means that the BSA keeps its own pool of funds to pay on insurance claims made by Scouters and Scouts over the course of a year. The Guide to Safe Scouting not only serves to educate Scouters on how to run a safe program, but provides an outline of practices that the insurance will cover. In other words, by outlining “best practices” for scouting activities, the Guide reduces the risk that harm will come to our youth, but if harm does come while using best practices, the insurance covers the claim.
Each year, BSA studies incident reports from units, scout camps, and other sources. BSA identifies activities that have unusually high rates of incidents. The types of incidents are then considered for a re-write in the Guide.
Consequently, scouters who are familiar with each year’s revisions to the Guide to Safe Scouting are more likely to avoid problems areas. Often the issues revised in the Guide do not filter down to revised training as quickly as we would like. The Guide’s revisions then help scouters be current even before they have sat through a class.
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Several units in the North Star District have quietly honored our late military servicemen.
Two separate American Legion Posts have teamed up with local scouting units to gather and give respect for military members who have died. Each gathering is a little bit different.
In Zionsville, the American Legion Post #79 hosts the scout units on Saturday, May 16, 2015. Post #79 serves as the chartered organization for Pack 105, Troop 804, and Crew 408. These units will gather together. The units will then break into teams to place flags on military graves in and around Zionsville.
In Broad Ripple, the American Legion Post #3 hosts a slightly different event on Saturday, May 23, 2015. This event is open to all scout troops, regardless of chartering organization. For the past 10-15 years Troop 18 has participated. In recent years, Pack 35 and Troop 35 have participated, too. Post #3 serves breakfast beginning at 7:00 AM at the Post, located at 6379 N College Ave, Indianapolis, IN 46220. This Post places flags at Union Chapel Cemetery and Crown Hill Cemetery. To participate in the breakfast, the Post asks for RSVPs by Wednesday via email to Rees Morgan or by phone to (317)924-2154.
If units decide to participate in the Post #3 event, please provide statistical information at this link. This does NOT replace the need to contact Mr. Morgan, but it does help the District Programming Committee track participation in community events.
As we have been working to rebuild the district committee, I have learned how the Boy Scouts of America structures their committee system. It is a little bit unusual, so it is worth sharing more broadly.
Each committee in the BSA system is interlinked with more than one committee outside of itself. What does this mean?
Let’s look at one example. Since Cub Scout recruitment is going to be a major issue in the next 90 days, let’s look at the membership position on a pack committee.
I often listen to Clark Green’s Scoutmaster Podcast and read his blog at www.scoutmastercg.com. In several episodes and posts, he returns to the question of “how to deal with homesickness.”
In episode 171, for example, he talks at length about the importance of encouraging the young scout’s parents to be actively involved in discussions with the scout. The discussions should focus on what the scout can expect at summer camp. Clark also talks about the problems phone calls home from camp create. He underlines this point with research, suggesting that short times away from home are hurt by phone calls home. To avoid these problems, Clark recommends an agreed plan for written correspondence home often but no calls for short to several-week long trips. Clark also describes the importance of mementoes from home to create some familiarity in strange surroundings, such as stuffed animals or favorite items.
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UPDATE (6/24/15): Post moved to top of page in preparation for June District Committee Meeting.
On April 21, 2015, the Council held its semi-annual council operations meeting. This meeting is a chance for Council to outline its business plan for the next six (6) months and outline the responsibilities for the districts in carrying out those plans. The intended audience is the District’s Committee Chair, Vice-Chairs for Programming (with break outs for advancement, camping and activities), Communications, Membership, and Development, and the Commissioner.
Thanks to District Attendees
Since North Star is not fully staffed yet, the only persons who attended as a matter of their duties were Committee Chair Steve James and Commissioner Jeff Heck.
More impressively, North Star had many volunteers that took time out of their busy schedules in our response to our calls for help. These volunteers deserve a special note of thanks and appreciation from Steve and Jeff. Both our Roundtable Commissioners Sharla Merrick for Cubs and John Wiebke for Scouts attended sessions on Membership and Programs, respectively. Our co-chair for Eagle Projects and Boards of Review Rick Wittman and his wife Lynn Wittman attended sessions on advancement. Our chapter advisor for the Lowaneu Allanque Lodge of OA John Ruggles attended the camping sessions. Nominating Committee Member Mike Yates attended sessions on Training. Steve attended the session on Activities.
Cub Scout Recruiting & Back to School Night Changes
The central theme of the night is the massive changes that the Council Membership Committee is introducing for an exciting new strategy for Cub Scout Recruitment. The Council Membership Committee’s strategy focuses on making a streamlined process for marketing Back to School Night.
The problem that they identified is that young parents are often confused about how to join Cub Scouts. The solution is to make joining Cub Scouts more familiar. These same parents are familiar and comfortable with pee-wee athletics having a single event to join a pee-wee league. Cub Scouts is mimicking this method.