As the BSA moves to being 100% co-ed, we need to study carefully what makes the BSA uniquely successful. In business this is called “best practices.” Best practices are an attempt to articulate in clear language and procedures what patterns of behavior in a business consistently lead to success, wherever tried.
The BSA has a history of moving adult leadership toward co-ed, so that once what was solely the province of men is now open to open women, too, especially the role of Scoutmaster. Even within our own district we have had successful female scoutmasters and cubmasters leading boys.
As girls move into the provinces that were once for boys only, we should consider with diligent care what are the Best Practices of leading scouts and cub scouts.
Since BSA adult leadership has been dominated by men with consistent involvement of women, some of the habits and practices that we have generated have come spontaneously from typical male leadership patterns. They are habits arising without thought or discussion. Some typically-male practices have been encouraged, such as the tendency toward a rougher and more chaotic pattern of play and participation. Some typically-male practices have been discouraged or outright banned, such as yelling orders at boys or hazing.
Psychologically we know that women tend to be more nurturing, protective, and risk avoiding, especially of infants and younger children; men tend to be more physically playful, bombastic, and risk inviting. According to Professor of Psychology Jordan Peterson, these two patterns help support one another in developing the most well balanced children. Both are essential to a psychologically healthy child. (Most of the analysis below is Peterson’s.)
Mothers create a safe environment where a child knows that the child will be well cared for when the child runs into problems, conflicts, or chaos. Mothers physically embrace and comfort children without hesitation when problems arise. Mothers speak soothingly and tenderly, allowing the child to right himself from whatever has upset him. This comfort and soothing are critical to allow a child to quickly find balance after something disrupt the calm surrounding the child. When my son was small, and even today as prepares to leave for college, when he is upset or frustrated, he is most likely to talk to my wife. My wife gives my son peace of mind.
Fathers create a risky environment where a child can explore the boundaries of the child’s body, its capabilities, and its limitations and of the world-at-large. Fathers are more likely to engage in rough and tumble play with the children. Children learn the limits of their bodies in such play. They learn that dad is heavier and harder to hurt. They learn there are consequences for inflicting pain on playmates. They learn difference between play and real fights. But most interestingly, children are so motivated by play that when dad tells them to do their homework before playing with dad, the children are more likely to do the dreary work first in order to be able to play with dad. This is one of the first and most effective means of teaching children the value of delayed gratification. When my son was younger, assuming dinner wasn’t ready, I would often toss my infant son up in the air and catch him, or tickle him. As he got older, I would change clothes then wrestle with him on the bed or do whatever game caught his attention at the time.
The father’s role in learning makes sense. Since we are creatures with bodies, our learning begins in the physical body’s interaction with the world. Our actions teach us more about the world than do our brains. We learn stoves are hot and dangerous through feeling heat (and hopefully avoiding contact). We learn how balls bounce through playing with balls, not reading books.
We learn how to walk through trying, while scientists are just now figuring out how to have robots do the same thing. This is called “embodied learning.” Robot designers have struggled with how to teach robots how to perceive and adapt to the world. They have used enormous amounts of computer processing and had little success. When they changed their perspective and focused on how a robot with a body would interact with the world, they quickly made huge break throughs. We embody learning because our bodies are our point of contact with the external world.
We learn love from mother’s caresses and hugs. We learn to walk by climbing up tables and trying our first steps. We learn to read by touching the page with our fingers to track where the next letter will be. We learn to treat others well through rough and tumble play. We learn to clean dishes after a meal when there are no clean dishes at the next meal. We learn to plan ahead by physically suffering from bad choices previously made. There becomes a desire to avoid the suffering the next time.
This physicality of embodied learning is a natural strength for male leaders. It encourages trial and error. It encourages individuality. It allows maturity-appropriate suffering while always avoiding and teaching the risks of life- or health-threatening suffering. Embodied learning is a core component of scouting.
So as girls become more involved in scouting, we have to be able to assess where male and female leaders strengths best serve our Best Practices.
We need to consider our Youth Protection Training and natural inclinations arising from chivalric principles about how men should treat and interact with women and young girls. How do we offer girls the benefits of embodied learning and physicality generally without overstepping our bounds, especially for male leaders?
I would suggest we recognize that these girls are joining Cub Scouts and likely will join Scouts BSA to have the experience of risk-taking, embodied learning, and other characteristics of male play that the girls have found lacking in other extracurricular offerings. We need to offer these girls what they have come for.
That means that mothers and fathers who are more risk averse for their “fragile” daughters need to be coached about the value of embodied learning that challenges these girls’ self-imposed limits. We need these mothers and fathers to recognize these challenges will make the girls anti-fragile. As a result, these girls will be happier, more self-confident, and more resilient.
In other words, we need to grow comfortable with telling the daughters’ parents that we don’t intend to water down the BSA program for their daughters. It is the undiluted BSA program that works. In essessence, we need to be prepared to explain why scouting works for boys and girls.
If you have Spanish-speaking families in your pack’s or troop’s neighborhood, you may have difficulty making sure that they have all of the Spanish-language material you need. Council has undertaken a Latino Initiative to overcome this problem.
Currently, they are working on a dedicated Spanish-language version of the Council website.
Today they are rolling out the first part of this with a Crossroads of America Council En Español Facebook page. Please help us publicize this page by clicking on the link and “Liking” the page. That way your friends and family can find it easier.
This will also help you see how the Latino Iniative is progressing to help serve your unit.
On behalf of North Star District Mini-Marathon Chair, Greg Jacoby:
Based on the success of our involvement last year, Troop 174 and all other scouts from the Crossroads Council have been asked to increase the presence of the Boy Scouts at the 500 Festival.
We have been asked to staff water station number 17 at the Mini-Marathon on May 6. It is the water station just before the end of the race, and is located on the IUPUI campus making it very easy to get to and park.
This activity is open to all Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, Webelos and their Families.
Please consider volunteering – sign up by April 25!
We need 60 people (30 per shift) to come help, one early morning from 6:30 to 10:30 and one late morning 10:00 to 1:30. You can sign up for one or boththe shifts.
If you are interested in getting involved, please:
- Send an email to me (Greg Jacoby) at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know what shift you will be working and who will be attending.
- Go the Mini Marathon web site and sign up, using these instructions:
- Log onto our Pit Station Volunteer Website (<== link);
- Click on the Register Now button;
- Click on the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon Pit Station Volunteer (Select button);
- Look for the “Boy Scouts” box (if you see a plus sign, click on that to expand the box);
- Click in the small box next to where it tells you how many openings are left, it should show a check mark;
- The Next button should turn Green, now click on that;
- Create an Account (or sign in with a previous account if you are a returning volunteer);
- From there you can complete your volunteer registration. Please register all that will be attending.
Scouts must wear their CLASS A SHIRTS at the Water Station.
Thanks for your help and as always feel free to contact me [email email@example.com / phone 317-828-6230] if you have any questions. You may also contact 500 Festival Volunteer Intern, Mannah Mace [email firstname.lastname@example.org / phone 317-614-6113]; or Program Manager, Erika Miller [email email@example.com ].
Yours in Scouting,
Please see links below for exciting camping and training opportunities – these are roughly in date order:
National Youth Leadership Training (several dates)
Wood Badge (Adult Leadership training) (several dates)
2018 Voyageur Canoe Training (several dates)
Indianapolis Indians game and Campout at Victory Field (May 11)
Cub Scout Fishing Derby at Camp Kikthawenund (May 12)
Leave No Trace Master Education Course 2018 (Aug 17-19 and Sep 13-16)
Boy Scouts Brickyard 400 Weekend Campout (Sept. 8 – 9)
Citizenship in the Nation MB Workshop (several dates)
We are in need of at least four adult volunteers to serve as Unit Trainers (at least two apiece from Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts, respectively).
A Unit Trainer is responsible for ensuring that the adults in the units have completed required BSA Youth Protection training, making training opportunities available, and maintain proper training records, as well as occasional one-off duties. The MeritBadge.Org site has a good overview of responsibilities and qualifications at this link: Unit Training Chair.
Please email District Program Chair Mark Pishon at firstname.lastname@example.org with volunteer nominee names by Saturday, March 31, 2018.
Thank you for considering, and for your continued commitment to our Scouts’ adult leadership development!
We’re watching the weather carefully but as of right now it doesn’t look to be enough to warrant cancelling the District Pinewood Derby, we’re a go!
We’ll continue to keep an eye on the situation but unless you hear otherwise by tomorrow 24-March @8:00 am (updates will be posted on the website & Facebook page if any should be needed) see you @ the Derby tomorrow.
For more Derby details see our March 7 post.
Looking forward to a great 2018 North Star District Pinewood Derby!
It’s that time of year again! Let’s start thinking about how we can grow our units to their full potential. Does this include inviting girls into our units? Does this include recruiting from multiple schools or starting new units in some areas? Your District Executive, Jessica Hofman would like to start having these conversations with you, as well as start developing a membership plan for the Fall. Please schedule a time with Jessica over the next two months to sit down and dive into membership logistics before back to school season sneaks up on us.
What: Membership Planning Meeting
Who: Cub Packs! Cubmaster/Committee Chairman/unit membership coordinator
Where: At a committee meeting, over lunch, or whenever is convenient!
When: At a convenient time before May
How to Schedule: Email Jessica at email@example.com
What: Spring Recruitment Planning
Who: Cub Packs! Cubmaster/Committee Chairman/Unit Membership Coordinator
Where: Let’s develop a plan!
When: Before Summer, let’s get new youth to camp!
How to Schedule: Email Jessica at firstname.lastname@example.org
North Star is actively searching for those that share Jessica’s passion for growing Scouting. If you’d like to join the membership team for the North Star District and help out at a District level with membership planning and execution, please reach out!
Subtitle: Or the Roar of the Crowd versus the Eagle Court of Honor.
I offered my thoughts on the differences between sports’ lessons on team work and personal development versus scouting in those same domains.
I was watching Professor Jordan Peterson, whom I have introduced before. In his fifth lecture on Maps and Meaning, he has an interesting side discussion on the dopamine effects on the brain for positive reinforcement. Yes, he is lecturing on Pinochio, and very funny in the process.
In the segment I am highlighting, the professor suggests that striving toward a vision or major goal in life is crucial for finding meaning in life (23:30). In one part of his analysis, he analyzes why athletes can have an injured thumb or sprained ankle and continue to play. Yet, the athlete is in excruciating pain once the competition is over. He attributes this mind over matter to the focus of a goal-oriented mind. In this case, the goal is winning the game, whether regular season, post-season, or championship game is not discussed. Implicit in the point, based on his later analysis, is the notion that the athlete is probably seeking a longer-term goal, as he defines it. (Championship trophy, college recruitment, all-time record, etc.)
The professor suggests that long-term goals are crucial for finding meaning in life (as opposed to the grander “meaning of life”) and personal satisfaction.* The professor hypothesizes that a person feels a dopamine (i.e., good feeling) response from the brain when a significant step toward a self-identifed, valued, larger goal is accomplished. Each step that moves the progress toward the long-term goal foward compounds the dopamine response. Then brain starts to associate accomplishing the long-term goal as a source of good feelings. Absent the longer-range goal, the person has a random spike in dopamine that does little to incentivize future behavior. It is important that the person have dopamine spikes often enough and systematically enough to engage this personal satisfaction.
From the Council Training Committee meeting this week comes this news:
Contrary to past BSA program design, all Cub Scouts — not just Webelos — may participate in paddle sports as a pack or den; previously, they could only do so at district or council events. And, of course, Cub Scouts may continue to participate in swimming as a pack or den activity.
The Cub Scouting team worked with the Aquatics and Health and Safety committees to relax the council- or district-only requirements for paddle sports. But as adult leaders, you still must make sure that the points of Safe Swim Defense and Safety Afloat are incorporated, including training and staying within the BSA’s aquatics framework.
The new Cub Scout program includes one aquatics-related adventure for each rank, but you’ll notice they’re all elective, not required. That means Cub Scouts who aren’t interested in water activities are fine to stay on dry land.
Safe Swim Defense: Any time you take Scouts swimming, even if you’re going to a council event or local pool where lifeguards are present, you still need leaders trained in Safe Swim Defense.
- You can take Safe Swim Defense online at scouting.org. (Click My Dashboard, then Training.)
- You always need at least one leader trained in Safe Swim Defense — even if you’re somewhere that provides lifeguards.
- When lifeguards are notpresent, you need additional rescue personnel trained in Safe Swim Defense.
- Swim tests are not optional. A key part of BSA aquatics is knowing one’s limits.
- Safe Swim Defense training is good for two years.
Safety Afloat: You are permitted to take Cub Scouts boating as a pack or den. (Previously you could only go boating with your Cub Scouts at district or council events.) But any time you take Cub Scouts boating, you need at least one leader with Safety Afloat training taken within the previous two years. At least one adult leader must be trained in first aid and CPR as well.
- You can take Safety Afloat training online at scouting.org. (Click My Dashboard, then Training.)
- For Cub Scout boating activities, the ratio of trained adults, staff members or guides to participants must be at least one to five. (For Boy Scouts, it’s one to 10.)
- Cub Scouts must know how to swim to try paddle sports.
- All participants must wear properly fitted, U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets.
- Any swimming done in conjunction with the activity afloat should operate using Safe Swim Defense.
(Scuba: Cub Scouts aren’t permitted to do scuba.)
PLEAS NOTE: Tiger Cubs, Cub Scouts, and Webelos Scouts may complete requirements in a family, den, pack, school, or community environment. Tiger Cubs must work with their parents or adult partners. Parents and partners do not earn loops or pins.
As I have noted before, my latest obsession is Professor Jordan Peterson. His recent book, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos, is a tour de force in offering a way to live a good life. This is not the normal self-help book. This is the work of a deep philosophical thinker, practicing psychologicology research professor, practicing clinical psychologist, and practicing lecturing professor. He thinks about people, studies psychology, uses psychology, and teaches about people and psychology. For example, he understands that knowing what the rules of life and being able to follow them are not the same thing. It takes practice to be an actively moral person.
To that end, his fifth rule is “Do Not Let your Children Do Anything that Makes You Dislike Them.” He opens the chapter this way,
RECENTLY, I WATCHED A THREE-YEAR-OLD boy trail his mother and father slowly through a crowded airport. He was screaming violently at five-second intervals— and, more important, he was doing it voluntarily. He wasn’t at the end of his tether. As a parent, I could tell from the tone. He was irritating his parents and hundreds of other people to gain attention. Maybe he needed something. But that was no way to get it, and his parents should have let him know that. You might object that “perhaps they were worn out, and jet-lagged, after a long trip.” But thirty seconds of carefully directed problem-solving would have brought the shameful episode to a halt. More thoughtful parents would not have let someone they truly cared for become the object of a crowd’s contempt.
Peterson, Jordan B.. 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos (Kindle Locations 2377-2383). Random House of Canada. Kindle Edition. In the chapter he goes on to explain that making a child welcome in the world-at-large is a big job for parents. If the parents like the child, because the child is well-behaved, when the child visits others’ homes or places of business, adults will greet the child warmly. This warm reception will make the child more likely to be well-behaved. Well-behaved kids tend to have an easier time making friends their own age. They are happier and more connected socially. Since we are social animals, this is important.