Scouts in Society-at-Large

Perception and Adaptation

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In some of my reading on other subjects, I ran across some scientific research from the mid-1800’s that I think is fascinating in its potential application to scouting. I am going to go down some complicated paths in this series of articles, so allow me to set the context first.

The View from the Eagle Board

For those of you who have sat on an Eagle Board of Review more than once, you likely can confirm that the following scenario is common.

A 17-year old in full dress scout uniform walks in the door. He is often clean shaven (although beards are increasingly common). He walks erect even if slightly nervous about what he is walking into. He firmly shakes hands with each member of the Board of Review. He answers questions about his Eagle project in great detail. He has pride in his accomplishments. He looks the part of an Eagle Scout already.

As he sits through the Board, the Board members ask the Eagle candidate to reflect on his beginnings in scouting and his growth. The candidate describes his first campout in the rain. He reflects on his anguish and discomfort. He laughs about how those deprivations are nothing compared to the later discomforts of camping in the snow of winter amidst the howling winds. He reflects on what he learned about overcoming obstacles, adapting, and accepting his circumstances.

He has learned that slight discomforts at home are nothing compared to facing the elements and the discomforts Mother Nature offers.

In my role as District Commissioner, the BSA charges me with the primary mission of encouraging Best Practices in our units. In other words, I am responsible for being able to explain to leaders why BSA policies are in the best interest of the unit, its leaders, and its scouts. That does not mean that I agree with each and every policy, but it does mean that I should be able to articulate the rationale in the light most favorable to the BSA’s intent.

For example, I should be able to articulate why units that camp the most are the more successful; why units that allow the boys to experiment with the patrol method with guidance and boundaries from the scoutmaster corps are more successful than units where adult leaders run the program; or why units with Senior Patrol Leaders who work the Patrol Leader Council are more successful than units where Senior Patrol Leaders acts as the patrol-leader-of-all. Read the rest of this entry »

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Memorial Weekend Grave Dressing

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Memorial Day is upon us for 2017.  The American Legion would like to invite all of the North Star District for breakfast. The district will make a short trip to Crown Cemetery and put decorations on veteran’s graves in honor of their service. We should be done before lunch.

Your Service is Requested

Date: Saturday, May 27, 2017

Time: 7:30 to 8:00 AM

Breakfast location: Broad Ripple American Legion Post # 3, 6379 N College Ave, Indianapolis, IN
Yours in Scouting,
Mark Pishon

North Star District Committee

Cell 317.374.2262

New Law’s Opportunity for Scouting Recruitment

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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:

(1) honesty;
(2) morality;
(3) courtesy;
(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.

ESSA FAQ

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.

Building Relationships with Chartered Organization

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Many scout troops and packs are looking for ways to make their relationships with their Chartered Organizations more meaningful.

Our District’s Troop 73 is hosting an event for its Chartered Organization. Here is how they describe it:

Event: T-73 Hosts St. Paul’s Summer Fellowship
Where: St. Paul’s Episcopal Church
When: Jul 24, 2016, 9am – 12pm

Troop 73 will host St. Paul’s Summer Fellowship after the 10 am service on July 24th. We will provide hot dogs, bratwurst, buns and toppings, s’mores and the campfire to cook it over as well as several dutch over desserts (bring your favorite recipe!) . Scouts will demonstrate and teach parishioners about: how to load and paddle a canoe (similar to our trip earlier this summer); using tents and hammocks; sawing logs; & tying knots. Please be ready to demonstrate any of these skills. If you have other ideas, please suggest them!

* * *

Your time spent at the Fellowship will count as service to St. Paul’s, our Chartering Organization.

Now imagine you are the minister of that church. Your scout troop offers to host a Fellowship event. What is your estimation of scouting at that church going to be? What would you be willing to do to empower scouting?

New Duty to God Requirements: Are we a religious organization?

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As many scoutmasters have learned, January 1, 2016 brings new boy scout rank advancement requirements. The moving of requirements among the ranks is not getting much attention. Neither is the specificity of the type of service hours now required: specific conservation requirements.

The scout’s demonstration of observing his religious duties is getting attention.

The great Bobwhite Blather blog addresses the question of whether this demonstrates that the BSA is or is not a “religious organization.” His analysis is well worth a considered read.

Scoutmastercg.com’s Clarke Green contributed to this analysis, last June, when he took a look at how Baden Powell thought a Scout’s Own service should be managed. Clarke goes further in critiquing some of the current interpretations and inconsistencies in the current BSA definitions of Duty to God.

Clarke’s analysis clearly in another article demonstrates that encouraging a scout to examine his religious beliefs within the religious emblem program gives a scoutmaster the ability to avoid entering a debate on the subject of “what constitutes an acceptable religion” and still upholds the principles of Duty to God.

No matter how a scout answers the question for himself, the most important part is for his scoutmaster to encourage the scout to enter the realm of seeking answers to questions about his own beliefs. This seeking process can be either through his own self-study or with his own house of worship.

Scouting is an active process of learning. We put scouts in the position of making moral and ethical choices on a campout by deciding how to treat his patrol well, especially when things don’t always go smoothly. The Duty to God is supposed to put these questions into a realm of questions that rise about the current moment. A momentary conflict between patrol members can and should turn into a moment of learning about life outside of the patrol.

Having a working mental vocabulary of his own beliefs creates a tool for self-improvement. His actions and self-reflections within a larger context cause those self-discoveries to come faster and to have a greater impact.

These new requirements encourage religious self-exploration and not any mandatory conclusions, other than the scout is part of a larger world than just himself. He needs to figure out how he is a small part of a larger world.

Volunteering at State Fair Scout Base Camp

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UPDATE 7/21/15: Michelle Carroll has had Del-Mi’s Troop 303 and Pioneer’s Crew 359 take charge of one full day’s calendar. She is begging for similar support from other units. So only August 8th and 9th are covered completely.
The following is a request for volunteers from Council’s Michelle Carroll, the State Fair Scout Base Camp Chair.
For some of you that have worked at Base Camp in previous years, I hope that you will consider volunteering again this year. I like to consider all of you my “seasoned pros.” If you have not worked Base Camp before, it is a great way to interact with the public through hands-on activities that tie into scouting. Sign-up is easy (online), and we are throwing in something new this year for our volunteers. The sign-up times on the link are going to be adjusted, so I will include the new times in this email.
What I am needing from all of you is to please pass along the following information to your troop/crew. It will include what they need to know about the Base Camp, what is required of them, and a few guidelines that must be followed. Feel free to copy/paste the following into a group email, post it to your troop website, or print it as a hand-out for one of your meetings. By sending out this email, you are helping me to reach out to over 340 units, which saves me from having to make phone calls to each and every troop and crew in the Crossroads of America Council.

Read the rest of this entry »

Old News made New: Boy Scout as Lifesaver

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Did you catch this story last year? WRTV-6 has re-visited last summer’s life saving story.

Del-Mi District’s Tyler Hulka, 11, was re-united with A.J. Barrickman, 3, at the pool where the near-drowning occurred in Cicero. Click the photo to see the whole story.

Good story to start the summer swimming season.

Victim hugs his scout-lifesaver
Victim hugs his scout-lifesaver