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.
The Every Student Succeeds Act (2015) is the successor to the No Child Left Behind Act (2001) of the Bush 43 years, expiring in 2007. The ESSA will have major impacts on school funding from the federal government and the expectations of schools that accept that funding.
Here is a quick overview. Worth noting is a requirement that is summarized as (italics added),
Districts that get more than $30,000 have to spend at least 20 percent of their funding on at least one activity that helps students become well-rounded, and another 20 percent on at least one activity that helps students be safe and healthy. And part of the money can be spent on technology.
Indiana will also have a say on how this new federal law is implemented. Indiana Code sec. 20-30-5-5 now requires,
Sec. 5. (a) Each public school teacher and nonpublic school teacher who is employed to instruct in the regular courses of grades 1 through 12 shall present the teacher’s instruction with special emphasis on:
(4) obedience to law;
(5) respect for the national flag and the Constitution of the State of Indiana and the Constitution of the United States;
(6) respect for parents and the home;
(7) the dignity and necessity of honest labor; and
(8) other lessons of a steadying influence that tend to promote and develop an upright and desirable citizenry.
(b) The state superintendent shall prepare outlines or materials for the instruction described in subsection (a) and incorporate the instruction in the regular courses of grades 1 through 12.
While this statute refers specifically to in-classroom curriculum, we can see that the principles of the Scout Oath and Law are required to be taught in a school.
Being aware of this curriculum requirement and being able to refer to it when communicating with our schools as prospective Chartered Organizations helps demonstrate how scouting serves their statutory mission. Having the studies (e.g., Tufts study on scouting) referred to in the FAQ attached is another way to reinforce proof of scouting’s successes in meeting these statutory requirements.
Council has prepared a Frequently Asked Questions flyer on how scouting can contribute to bringing a school into compliance with these requirements.
Read through the FAQ and learn more about scouting and its benefits to schools. Then you can be an informed supporter of Council’s efforts to be re-introduced to schools.
Council through our Wabash Valley District will host at Camp Wildwood in Terre Haute a Cub Scout Leader Training on April 8, 2017, 9:00 am – 3:00 pm, for more information contact the Terre Haute Service Center 812-232-9496.
Later in the month, they will host Outdoor Webelos Leader Skills Training (which is similar to IOLS but specific to Webelos Leaders) April 22-23, 2017 at Camp Wildwood from 9 am (Sat) – 12 pm (Sun) – For more information contact the Terre Haute Service Center 1-812-232-9497. You will likely need to plan to stay overnight. OWLS is very important in the new Webelos advancement program. The increased emphasis on outdoor skills and working as a “patrol” require a Webelos Den Leader have more knowledge than the old advancement requirements. Get ready for the 2017-18 Webelos Den Program by getting trained now.
At the recent Unit Key 3 Conference, I spoke about the need to work with your Unit Commissioner and your Unit Key 3 (i.e., Chartered Org. Rep., Chair, and Unit Leader) to do a Unit Service Plan.
A Unit Service Plan is a six-month “business plan” for your unit. It examines your annual planning & budgeting, your programming (like camping and meetings), your leadership succession plan, your adult leader training status, and your recruitment and retention status.
If your unit is not examining these departments on a regular basis, it is easy to allow one part or another to slide. The worst case scenario is you ignore the slide until the slide is a death-spiral do you stop and try to fix it.
The goal of doing regular Unit Service Plans is to prevent this scenario from occurring.
If your Unit Key 3 meets with your Unit Commissioner in the next 90 days, we would help you define ways to succeed in a predictable and healthy manner.
One trick is building your unit is to set goals of 5% across the board improvement. Five percent does not sound like much. But it is.
If your unit has 30 boys and it grows 5%, it means that you have replaced boys who have aged out or dropped out, keeping your retention at 100%, then adding an additional 2 boys (it is hard to have 1.5 boys, so I rounded up).
In programming it means moving from 10 monthly events to 11 events (rounding again). If you have 20 events, you move to 21. More opportunities for more scouting leads to more opportunities to find the one event that sparks the passion of one more scout. With the spark ignited, he is easier to retain, even when his parents are offering different extracurricular activities.
A five percent increase in fundraising, for example by adding camp cards to your existing practices, means that you have more money to use in programming that one more event mentioned above.
A five percent increase in trained adults means one more volunteer to staff events.
A five percent increase in advancement means you are less likely to lose scouts because they are progressing and are actively engaged in the program.
Now has your unit improved by 5%? I would argue not. You have add more financing, more capacity for adult leadership, more boys, more events. You are a much healthier unit.
When your next recruitment cycle hits, you will likely gain more than just 2 boys, because you have that much better of a program to pitch.
Schedule to sit down with your Unit Commissioner and see where you can plan a 5% improvement plan. Your Unit Commissioner’s job is to help you find the resources to make your plan work. You will be amazed at how quickly your unit will grow in a short period of time.
Check out this cool episode.
Webelos are beginning to cross over into your troop and while getting boys into your troop is one thing, it’s important to know how to keep them in the troop and coming back week after week. Charles “Doc” Goodwin is the Scoutmaster of Troop 236 in Kettering, Ohio, and for more than 30 years his troop consistently has had more than 100 Scouts! So what’s his secret?
The new membership recruitment program for Fall 2017 is already starting to roll out from Council’s office.
Simply put the theme is going to be “Catapult into Scouting.” Each new recruit will receive a miniature catapult, pre-cut by the Indiana Woodworkers Association.
The IWA through its representative and Pathfinder District’s new District Commissioner Stan Jewula will provide the Council with 10,000 catapults. These will be hand cut in Central Indiana.
Each boy will receive a bag with all the necessary parts. The new Cub Scout will then assemble his own catapult. He may decorate it as he sees fit.
Then there will be an activity for each pack or district to have an event using the catapults.
The Council is also rolling out plans to try to have scouting units re-introduced to public school districts. Much more information about these plans will be rolled out at the semi-annual operations meeting in April 2017.
In the BSA, there is a long tradition of members of the BSA’s national scouting honor society, the Order of the Arrow, sending ceremony teams to pack’s Blue and Gold Banquets. These ceremonies are run by teenagers to symbolize the movement of the Webelos from an adult-led program in Cub Scouts to a youth-led program in Boy Scouts.
For an example of these ceremonies can look, see some of these YouTube videos from around the country.
Packs are strongly encouraged to use the Order of the Arrow teams. OA teams’ involvement build excitement for adventures to come for all Cub Scouts, not just those Webelos crossing over. To that end, here is a communication from the incoming OA Chapter Advisor Mark Pishon to all Packs.
Dear Pack Leadership:
My name is Mark Pishon. I’m the new Order of the Arrow Lowaneu Allanque Chapter Adviser (LOA).
I’m reaching out to you to schedule a ceremonies team for each Pack’s Crossover event..
Please reply back the following or let me know you are working on it:
- Do you need a OA Ceremony Team this year? Y N
- The number of boys transitioning:
- Date of Crossover?
- Time of Event:
- Time of ceremony:
- Location of the Crossover event:
- Point of contact name, email, and telephone #:
- Yours in Brotherhood,
LOA Chapter Adviser
For more information about Order of the Arrow, the Jaccos Towne Lodge in Crossroads of America Council and the Lowaneu Allanque Chapter in North Star District, click on each link.
A new study shows scouting gives mental health benefits along into adulthood. It also gives the ability to adapt to socioeconomic situations throughout life.
The study does not explain why the benefits exist. There are extrapolations based on prior research including increased mental resiliency, adaptability to stress, exposure to the outdoors providing stress relief, and communal activities.
Earlier studies going back a decade had also shown the lack of problems in the criminal system was another benefit.
As I have noted earlier, our recruitment numbers for Tiger Cubs are down for Washington and Pike Townships.
Thinking about ways to increase our free-marketing opportunities, I realized how few times in the modern era that scouts are seen in uniform outside of scout meetings.
In my review of the history of scouting in Central Indiana to track the history of my home troop (which was founded in 1915), I learned a lot about scouting practices in the early 20th century.
What caught my attention is how often the scouts were out at public events in uniform. Some at neighborhood events. Some at scouting events open to the public. Some of these are antiquated ideas, but I find old things a great means of sparking the imagination and brain storming.
In the pre-WWI era, a common neighborhood practice was the “Yard Party.” A family or group would hold a party in the yard of a member’s home or the local church. They would publish an announcement in the local paper and invite the neighborhood. It seems the only idea was to entertain and socialize. No fundraising. No other complications.
For scout troops, this was a way to be seen as actively participating in the local neighborhood. Houses were in walking distance of each other in the city, and neighbors would see the neighborhood boys working together for the good of the community.
Now we look at the activities we do. How many times are your scouts in public without their “Class A uniforms” on? Would non-scouts know that you are doing scouting from a distance? How many times do you do activities away from your usual secret-hideaway meeting location?
These are all opportunities lost to market ourselves at no cost.
We need to be finding ways to put on our uniforms and be seen near our neighborhoods – near our meeting locations. That will start conversations and introduce us again to our neighbors.
This year’s Tiger Cub class is way down in Pike and Washington Townships. (We are steady so far in Zionsville.)
Our new Field Services Director Nate Young has been encouraging the professional staff to recommend “Water Pod Parties.”
This idea consists of having enrolled Tiger Cubs inviting their best friends, who have not joined Cub Scouts yet, to a water rocket launch. The launch would be held as part of a Gathering Time event at the next Tiger Cub Den meeting. The friends would be asked to come for the rocket launch, then stay for the Tiger Cub Den meeting as guests.
The idea is to get the boys engaged in Cub Scouting before making the formal “Ask” to join. Kick the tires before buying.
If you are interested, please contact Con Sullivan, our District Executive, for more information.
NOTE: This can work for other dens, too, such as Lions, but our primary focus is on Tigers right now.