Why Unique Scouting Jargon?

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Like most human specialized endeavors, Scouting has its own unique jargon. We often use these terms without much thought about their original meaning or its meaning as time has passed. Let’s stop and examine this language for a few minutes to see what we can learn about the philosophy of scouting.

The terms Cubmaster and Scoutmaster are used every day. There is even a movement to change these terms. Many national councils in the Worldwide Movement of Scouting have already taken this step. What does the term “master” mean in this context?

In Baden-Powell’s youthful days (1850-1880), a school teacher was referred to a “school master.” The teacher might have had a Master’s Degree. These were the 19th century license to teach. They had mastered the material well enough to teach the material.

Notice it is not a reference the doctrine of law known as “master-servant” or other less savory references that the XXXIII Amendment to the Constitution outlawed.

Knowing what Baden-Powell meant when he chose the term, does it change your vision of what a Cubmaster or Scoutmaster should do when working with Den Leaders or Senior Patrol Leaders, respectively? Look to some of the early stories from Wood Badge leaders about their first experiences as scouts trying to figure out how to build fires, pick camping sites, or hike without going in circles. The need for a teacher was clear. In some of the stories, the boys would set up tents but the police would show up and march them home, because no adult was present to vouch for the boys’ good intentions. The need for an adult mentor, not just an older brother was also clear.

Council is a very strange term. In the late 19th Century, British government was moving away from Administrators with sole responsibility. They were moving toward a more collective method of organizing. Councils sprung up everywhere in British society. They were not corporations. In American parlance, we would tend to use the term “committee.” Since Baden Powell was encouraging a “Scouting Movement” not a “scouting organization,” the idea of individuals coming to together more informally fit his vision for what scouting should be.

Commissioner is a very strange term. In the Commissioner literature, the attempt to explain the term is that Baden Powell wanted to rely on the landed gentry, who did not work for living to advise new scoutmasters. He chose an archaic term of Commissioner from the 13th Century. Council Commissioner’s Training Manual, pg. 57 (2009) tells the story this way:

The word “commission” dates back to 1344, when it was derived from the Latin word commissionem, meaning “delegation of business.” The nation’s monarch delegated authority to a deserving few.

Individuals identified by the monarch had to qualify as a “gentleman,” legally defined as a man who earned his income from property and as such was independently wealthy with time to devote to other agendas. It was exactly this kind of man that Lord Baden-Powell wanted as his volunteer commissioners: men of both money and leisure. [ed.: too bad this era has past.]

Baden-Powell’s first chief Scout commissioner was Lieutenant General Sir Edmond Roche Elles Baden-Powell’s commissioners included W F deBois MacLaren, who donated Gilwell Park; and Rudyard Kipling, author of The Jungle Book [ed.: and the source material for Cub Scout concepts].

As communities formed more troops, it became evident that leadership was needed to maintain standards, provide camping opportunities, recruit leaders, give training, establish local courts of honor, and stimulate local Scouting This person was the commissioner.

The Scout commissioner represented the local community committee or council. A great deal of importance was placed upon the selection of this man. He was expected to have a great deal of outdoor experience and act as the local authority in all Scoutcraft matters.

While originally a volunteer, in some areas the community was able to raise enough funds for the Scout commissioner to become a salaried position.

The areas with paid leadership positions, such as a Scout executive or executive secretary, became known as first-class councils, while those with a volunteer head, still called the Scout commissioner, were known as second-class councils. By 1931, there was only one second-class council left.

The wreath of service that surrounds all commissioner and professional position badges is a symbol of the service rendered to units. It also symbolizes the continued partnership between volunteers and professionals.

Sometimes a return to original definitions helps better understand how we can improve our service to youth, as an indirect means of returning to first principles.

History of North Star Scouting

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At the last District Committee Meeting, the question of our district’s history, particularly its founding and name.

I did some quick research, finding all Indianapolis Council districts were announced in the Indianapolis Star in January 1919. North Star was originally designated as District No. 4. Within 10 months, though, it was already called North Star.

Last night, District Advancement Chair long-time Troop 358 scouted Mark Pishon sent me a historic book on Zionsville’s former Camp Wilson, circa 1945. The author does an incredible job of giving a snapshot of all of Central Indiana Scouting. It includes the list of all units and their Chartered Organizations.

In this same document, you can see that the Central Indiana Council had moved to designating districts by directional names: North, East, Central, etc.

In his history of North Star District and North Star Willie, the late “Uncle Mikey” Stalcup wrote how the name of the district returned to “North Star” several times. This history focuses on the logo, but there are some interesting bits about other reorganizations of the district from 1963 to 2003.

Bicentential Torch is Coming to Us!

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Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts, the Indiana Bicentennial Torch Relay is coming to Boone and Montgomery Counties on October 13th, 2016!

In Montgomery County the torch will be passing through between 10:00am and 12:00pm. In Boone County it will be passing through between 12:30 pm and 2:30pm (at the court house around 1pm and Lincoln Park in Zionsville around 2pm).bicentential-torch-relay-graphic
Follow the torch and support the torchbearers! Follow them on social media. http://indianatorchrelay.com https://www.facebook.com/INTorchRelay/ https://twitter.com/intorchrelay https://www.facebook.com/boonecountybicentennial Download INTorchRelay app and follow the torch.

That’s not all!

That night between 7 and 10pm a FREE block party will take place at the Boone County 4-H fairgrounds. Anyone can attend. This includes Food, Activities for the Kids, Historical information about the counties and much more. Bring a can food item to donate to the Caring Center, Bring a book to donate to the “Boone Counties little Library” and a favorite picture of your location in Boone County.

Download the flyer here.

100 Years of Eagles with Troop 18

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In a previous post last month, we announced that Troop 18 is celebrating 100 years of Eagle Scouts in the Crossroads of America Council. In 1916, Troop 18 had the first three Eagle Scouts in the Indianapolis Council (the predecessor to the Crossroads of America Council).

This week we will add more to the story of Troop 18.

In 1917, Louis Fletcher, First Class Scout, age 14, earned bronze honor medal for saving 2 boys from drowning (Boys Life, Sept. 1917.)
Also in 1917, Troop 18 put on a show at the Peter Pan Theater. The net proceeds were to defray expense of the two-week summer camp the troop went on every year “An elaborate moving picture program has been arranged for the performances” (Indianapolis News, May 23, 1917, pg 13.)
In 1924, Hillis Howie worked with Troop 18 and earned gold badge from William Hornaday for service to wildlife. (Mr. Hornaday was instrumental in the BSA’s early conservation program and was the director the New York Zoological Park.) The gold award today requires the equivalent of multiple Eagle Projects dedicated to conservation. While the Bronze and Silver awards are met by requirements. The gold award is by nomination only after 3 years of dedicated service to youth conservation efforts. 
In 1926, Hillis Howie, now Scoutmaster of Troop 18, organized Prairie Trek summer camping in American Southwest. Later, Prairie Trek goes under name of Cottonwood Gulch Foundation. Mr. Howie purchased 500 acres near Thoreau, New Mexico for the camp. (see Prairie Trek expeditions records 1926-1982). The center of the treks moved from the Boy Scout Troop to the Indianapolis Children’s Museum. In 1938, Hillis Howie led an expedition with the young Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., an Indianapolis native and graduate of Shortridge High School. Vonnegut thought so highly of Howie that he dedicated his book Galapagos to Howie. Vonnegut’s father, Kurt Vonnegut, Sr., known today for being the architect of the Athaneum and Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument on the Circle, showed his appreciation to Mr. Howie by designing the cabins that remain in New Mexico to this day.2nd Pres troop writeup Feb 2016
In 1929, Howard Young received his Eagle Scout award from the hand of Chief Scout Executive James West (1929 Boys Life).
In 1931, Indiana Department of Conservation (pg 118) lists Troop 18 as having 28 members attend Camp McCormick.
Skipping forward several decades, in 2012, Eagle Scout Ian Kenney awarded honor medal with crossed palms for saving a friend during a house fire.
Help Troop 18 celebrate its and Crossroads of America Council celebrate its century of Eagles together by joining in the fun!

District Reminders for next 7 days

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1. Thursday, July 14th at 6:30 pm is Roundtable at St Luke’s United Methodist Church (New room assignment Room W-125 (Entry #4) due to scheduling conflict.). The topic will be annual planning and adult staffing. See Church Map (Entry #4 cut off on bottom of map.)

2. Friday, July 15th Membership Kickoff beginning at 7:00 pm at St Paul’s Episcopal Church. Packs and Troops welcome. Food served.

3. Sunday, July 17th is the 50th Anniversary Celebration for Camp Ransburg.

Centennial Celebration for Troop 18

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Save the date: Troop 18 will be celebrating its 100 Years of Eagles on August 27 & 28, 2016.

They have been researching their troop’s history and Eagles. We will post more about their history in the coming weeks.

For right now, Scoutmaster Steve Bye shares just a few tidbits.

In 1916, Troop 18 had the first three Eagle Scouts of the Indianapolis Council (later merged into the Crossroads of America Council).

  1. Hall Marmon 
  2. Noble Butler
  3. G. Vance Smith.

Jaccos Towne Lodge History, page 10.

Also in 1916, Edson T. Wood Jr. earns bronze honor medal for saving a lady from drowning (Boys Life, 1916).

2nd Pres troop writeup Feb 2016

The mystery of the neckerchief – resolved

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In last week’s post, we opened the mystery of who introduced the neckerchief to scouting. The neckerchief and campaign hat or iconic emblems of Lord Baden Powell. Yet he did not invent the neckerchief.

We also discovered last week that BP came to use the neckerchief because of his friend Fred.

So who was Fred?

Read the rest of this entry »

Whose idea was the neckerchief?

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We all know that Baden-Powell gave us the neckerchief. It is such an emblematically British accoutrement, right?

Or is it?

Baden-Powell had taken to wearing a neckerchief before the famous Siege of Maefking, where the journalist Win

Baden Powell

ston Churchill helped make the general famous.

In fact, Baden-Powell made the neckerchief and his famous campaign hat part of the South African Constabulary (law enforcement department) when he was re-assigned to South Africa later. The newly formed Canadian Mounted Police visited Baden-Powell in South Africa and adopted the campaign hat as part of their new uniform.

But where did BP come up with the neckerchief and campaign hat?

BP had become friends years earlier with a chap he had met while BP was serving in southern Africa. This chap was named Fred. BP was taken with Fred because Fred was an extraordinary army scout. Fred was able to bring back robust and detailed reports on the movement of the enemy, the lay of the land, and other useful intelligence.

While BP had already written a book on military scouting, BP still learned many skills about scouting from Fred. In fact, as a result of many of these lessons, BP went back and revised his previous army manual to issue the new Aids to Scouting. This book is what later attracted so many young boys to BP when BP returned to England from Maefking.

BP had been impressed with Fred’s technique, but he was also impressed with Fred’s ubiquitous campaign hat and neckerchief. Fred would explain that the hat and neckerchief were very useful for a scout. The neckerchief kept the sun off the back of his neck and allowed him to stay cool. The hat kept the sun out of his eyes and off of his head.

So who was this Fred to whom we owe the iconic hat and neckerchief?

More on this mystery next week . . . .

Anniversary of a Scary Meeting

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This past week North Star District marked the anniversary of a scary meeting. It is worth taking a moment to consider what has happened since that meeting.

For the sake of clarity, allow me to begin with a definition. In scouting, we use the phrase “Key 3” often without defining it as a term. Since 2008, every level of scouting has identified three people who are important for assuring that scouting functions as designed. At the unit level, the Key 3 consists of the Chartered Organization Representative, the unit committee chair, and the unit leader (e.g., the Cubmaster, the Scoutmaster, the Venturing Advisor, the Varsity Team Coach).*

On March 1, 2015, the North Star District’s unit Key 3’s and regular volunteers at the district level received an email from Crossroads of America Council Vice President for District Operations Stroh Brann. He said, in part,

You are receiving this [email] because you are a key scouter in North Star District. You are probably aware that for the past months the district has been without anyone in a number of important district committee positions, including District Chair and District Commissioner.

The role of a district in scouting includes primarily three areas. District committee members serve as the voice of the district’s units (the scouts and scouters we serve) in helping formulate the Council policies. Districts deliver the scouting program to the units in the district. And third, the districts provide ongoing support to the scouts, scouters and their units. Without the key leadership, a solid committee and a strong Commissioner staff, none of these goals can be accomplished.
The role of Council’s District Operations is to support the districts, to assist them in finding the resources needed, and to help them achieve the goal of delivering on the promise. The current state of the North Star district organization has me concerned. Over the past few weeks I have been talking with a few North Star scouters to gain a better understanding of where you are as a district. Their feedback has been helpful and encouraging. This concern has also been a topic of conversation in my regular meetings with Rob Hemmelgarn, Director of Field Service and Staff Advisor to District Operations. Rob shares my concern regarding the future direction of North Star and has been very supportive in the efforts to help the district find the best solution to the leadership issue.
We have arranged for a meeting of key North Star scouters to be held on March 11, 2015 . . . .

The purpose for this meeting is to layout the process required to fill the leadership void in the district; to solicit your input and your support for this process; and to take the first steps toward solving the problem.

At that meeting, Stroh introduced several council representatives. These representatives were the Council Commissioner Rick Tardy (whose role many attendees, including myself, wondered about), Director of Field Service Rob Hemmelgarn, and others (whom I apologize for forgetting a year later). spoke plainly about the problems in the North Star District, its loss of membership, and its flat disfunction. We had about 20 registered district volunteers (excluding Merit Badge Counselors) of whom most were inactive. We had no functioning Commissioner’s Service.

Stroh then dropped the hammer. He told us in no uncertain terms that we had to either get our act together or else Council was going to dissolve North Star District. That got some energetic responses.

Stroh then told us that the path to avoiding dissolution required that we hold a Nominating Committee meeting as soon as possible and fill the vacancies for District Chair and District Commissioner immediately. Rob told us that we were without a district executive and none would be hired for us until we demonstrated that we were serious about reorganizing. We had until late June 2015 when Council would start making final decisions about the District’s fate.

As we look back on that fateful day with the advantage of a year’s experience, we now have a District Commissioner’s Staff at 45% of capacity, a District Committee that is nearly 60% staffed, and a veteran District Executive. All of our units rechartered last year. We had one of the most efficient rechartering systems in the Council. We had nearly 90% of our units earn Journey to Excellence recognition with the District receiving JTE Gold. Our membership losses were cut in half based on year-over-year comparisons. We had a wonderful fall recruitment campaign with many Boy Scout Troops contributing staffing for Cub Scout Packs.

We have had a great year!

Thank you to the volunteers in North Star District for demonstrating what a wonderful district we have.

* At the district level, the Key 3 consists of the District Chair, the District Commissioner, and the District Executive (or Professional). At the local council level, the Key 3 is the Council President, the Council Commissioner, and the Council Scout Executive. At the national level, the Key 3 is the National Council President, the National Commissioner, and the Chief Scout Executive.