Order of the Arrow Unit Award of Excellence

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Do you ever tire of recognition for your adults or streamers for your troop flag? If not, I have some additional opportunities for you.

In an effort to promote the Order of the Arrow, the National Boy Scout Honorary Society, the National Council has created the OA Unit Award of Excellence. Related to the unit award are separate recognitions for the youth OA Troop Representative (or Crew Representative), the scoutmaster, and the Assistant Scoutmaster tasked woa_seal_fullcolorith OA liaison responsibilities. (Both the troop rep and ASM have special position of responsibility patches.)

To learn more about these awards, take a look at the record sheet on the OA website.

Roundtable: Dream Big, Good Programming

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At April’s Roundtable we focused on the importance of Big Dreams to Good Programming. Boys join scouts for the programming: camping, games, and fun. They don’t join for to sit in meetings or to sit in classes.

We discussed how to make programs that excite the boys.

Take a look at the video for a quick review of the discussion. We went longer than the video, but you can see the overall vision that we proposed.

Share this video with your unit so that you can all be on the same page.

We also referenced thre every good links on the BSA website which were:


I also recommend using the PowerPoints on these pages to lead off your planning. It shares many of the same points, but with a briefer format.

Camporee Training Reminder

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Please remember to sign up for Camporee Training for IOLS (required for Scoutmasters and Assistant Scoutmasters to recharter in the fall of 2017) and CPR/AED for Adults and Children, 2 sessions (required for some members of all high adventure crews; strongly recommended for youth crew members, since the adults are the most likely candidates to be the patient). (Scoutmaster Specific Training is required for rechartering, but is now available online as of this month. We will not offer it at Camporee as a result.)

Read this article for more details and sign-up links. We need your sign ups for CPR in advance the most, since we need to bring sufficient teach supplies.

SCOUTMASTERS: Remember staffing the camporee is higher priority than training. Plan accordingly.

OA Lodge Chief Interview UPDATED

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Due to the confusion over the Order of the Arrow Ordeals in 2017, I spoke with Jaccos Towne Lodge Chief James Colter. We wanted to make sure that some of the confusion could be laid to rest in advance of this weekend’s Tap-Out Ceremony at the Spring Camporee at Camp Ransburg.

First things first: there will be a Fall Lodge Ordeal in 2017. More on that in a minute.

James Colter
2017 Lodge Chief James Colter

James is the current chief of Jaccos Towne Lodge, that covers all of the Crossroads of America Council. James comes from Troop 335 in North East District.  He is currently a student at Ball State University. As such, he also serves a troop in Golden Eagle District while at school.

Each Council has one and only one Lodge. A lodge can then be divided into chapters. North Star District has its own chapter.

James also shared with me that he was elected secretary of Section C6A for Order of the Arrow. This is Area 6 of the Central Region of the BSA, of which A is a subdivision.

James explained to me that the Ldoge is trying to redesign its programs so that stronger chapters can help support struggling chapters. Part of this plan is to have chapters carry out more of their efforts together. While Council’s overall restructing into three section, Lodge is following a completely different alignment of chapters based on the characteristics of the chapters, not their georgraphy.

From May 19 to 21, 2017, the Lowaneu Allanque (LOA) Chapter of North Star will be joining with the Kickapoo (KPO) of Wabash Valley District (Terre Haute area), the Tatankaskah (TAK) Chapter of Sugar Creek District (Crawfordsville area), and the Wundchenneu (WUN) Chapter of Hou Koda District (Plainfield area). This will be held at Camp Krietenstein a/k/a Camp K West.

Read the rest of this entry »

OA Ordeal participation UPDATED

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UPDATE 4/19/17: For newer information see article posted April 18, 2017. with an interview of the Jaccos Towne Lodge Chief James Colter.

As the Order of the Arrow tap-out ceremony is coming up at Spring Camporee, Scoutmasters are looking ahead to when and where the Ordeal ceremonies will be.

This year the Council’s Lodge has chosen to have all districts’ OA chapters hold their Ordeals on the same weekend: May 19-21, 2017. (Our LOA chapter is with Central Section at Camp Krietenstein.) For families with scheduling conflicts, this presents a problem.

Remember ordeal candidates must complete their Ordeal within 12 months of being tapped-out for candidacy. Otherwise the offer of membership expires. The scout then has to be re-elected to candidacy.

There is traditionally a Lodge Ordeal in the fall. On the current calendar it shows at September 15-17, 2017. UPDATE: 4/16/2017: Chapter Advisor Mark Pishon is being told from the Lodge that no Lodge Ordeal will be held, despite the calendar. Both Jaccos Towne Lodge Chief James Colter and Council Director of Programs Lee Murdoch confirm that there will be a Fall Lodge Ordeal as posted on theLodge website. More details in my upcoming interview with James this week.

Regardless whether there is a Lodge Ordeal, some families will still have scheduling conflicts.  Read the rest of this entry »

Training at Camporee

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We will be offering two trainings at Spring Camporee.

In the last seven days, Scoutmaster Specific has been added online at, so no face-to-face session will be offered for this.

1. IOLS and OWLS in one class

Introduction to Outdoor Leadership Skills (IOLS) concurrent with Outdoor Webelos Leadership Skills (OWLS) will be offered Friday and Saturday. Sign up is available here. IOLS is offered only face-to-face and is required for any Scoutmaster or Assistant Scoutmaster to recharter in that position in the Fall of 2017. Please note that the sign up looks like there are two separate classes, but these are, in fact, two sessions of the same class. Attendees must participate from Friday evening and all-day Saturday.

The same is true for OWLS of any Webelos Den Leader rechartering in the fall. Since Webelos now requires a heavier dose of patrol method training, this training is crucial to increase the quality of a Webelos Den experience.

Instructors will be Jeff Heck, District Commissioner; John Wiebke, District Chair; hopefully one scouter-extraordinaire to-be-named later; and Con Sullivan, District Executive. Other faculty are invited to teach modules, too. Contact Jeff Heck if you wish to teach module. The more, the merrier.

Ideal adult candidates for this training on future Scoutmasters, ASM’s, Webelos Den Leaders, and persons holding those positions now and wishing to recharter for 2018 in the same position. This session is useful for Junior Assistant Scoutmasters. Eagle Scouts since 2002 are automatically credited with completing this class because they lived the modern curriculum. Older Eagle Scouts are not grandfathered because of the significant advancement curriculum change in 2002.

2. CPR/AED for Adults and Children

We will also offer CPR/AED training courtesy of Kevin Neese from Troop 269. Sign up is available here for the morning or afternoon session. Please note that the afternoon session will not be held without a minimum of three participants or a full morning class.  This is required for at least one person to have on some scout outings under the Guide to Safe Scouting.

The curriculum will address resuscitating adults and children (not infants).

The class is open to adults and youth. To pass, all participants must demonstrate the ability to learn and retain the information and perform the physically demanding chest compressions. Sometimes sustaining adequate chest compressions are difficult for smaller youth because of the force production required.

IMPORTANT NOTE to Scoutmasters

Troops that do send participants to training still need to provide adequate adult or youth leaders to help staff the camporee. If your adults are participating in training, make sure you bring extra adults.

Staffing the camporee in order to serve our scouts will take priority over class participation.

How are we doing? Read your Finish Line Report

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As BSA puts more and more effort into Journey to Excellence as a method for units to assess how they are doing, new tools are cropping up.

If you log into your account, pull down the menu. Some leaders should be able to see the “JTE Reports.”

This menu option allows you to pull up a report that shows what statistical data that council has received about your unit. The report has several line items numbered as “#1” or “#4.” These numbers indicate a measurement line-item on the JTE system. These lines are very important.

If your unit has reported their advancement properly to council, a statistic showing the percentage of scouts advancing this year will appear. If you have reported your service hours, the total reported to date for the year will appear.

If any of the lines are blank for your unit, where you think your unit has done work, you may want to make sure that you have a person designated to follow up on the missing data.

Service hours are the biggest problem. Units forget to enter the data regularly.  If you have questions, look at the National website. Remember we are working for 1 billion service hours in scouting by 2020.

These reports are worth printing out at the end of each quarter, so April 1, 2017 is a good time to take a look at it. Take it to your unit committee to review with other reports like the treasurer’s report. This will make year end JTE reporting simple, since you will have fixed problems each quarter.

Swim Test Monday

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Don’t forget that Monday, April 17 is the swim test at Pike High School’s Aquatics Center.

See this article for more details2abd5ead-9881-4e1b-b55a-c3b04b41b660 and Update on North Star Swim Test.

Upcoming MBU . . . at a real university

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There is a true Merit Badge University coming up. This term used to refer to opportunities to work on merit badges with university professors and researchers in the field.

Over the years, it has devolved into a generic term of any large gathering of merit badge classes.merit2bbadges

Wabash University is going back to the original concept . . . some of our district’s former scouts, according to rumor, helping organize it.

Here is more information from Jessica Hofman, Sugar Creek’s District Executive via Con Sullivan:

Want to learn about game design from a theater professor and video game reviewer?  Or help with a research study on turtle behavior as you learn the material for the Reptiles and Amphibians merit badge?  Or learn about astronomy from professors who have taught courses on Mayan archeoastronomy?  Or consider how buildings are designed from a Roman Architecture and Archeology expert?

These are just a few of the offerings at the Merit Badge College at Wabash on May 6th!  All of the badges (except First Aid) will be taught by college professors who are experts in the subject.  The cost is $20, and includes a T shirt and lunch.  There will be fun lunchtime activities and sessions for parents to learn about scouting and college opportunities.  You can register at  Registration closes on April 15th, and classes will fill, so register early!

Wabash’s faculty already has a strong relationship with council. One of their economics professors is Sugar Creek’s district commissioner.

This is a great opportunity for older scouts to go visit the beautiful campus in Crawfordsville and work with Wabash’s impressive faculty . . . with no grade pressure!

Here is more information:

Sugar Creek District
2017 Wabash Merit Badge College
Join us for a great learning opportunity and chance to work on your merit badges at an awesome venue!  Join us at Wabash College for the first annual Wabash Merit Badge College.  Reserve your spot now!
  • The college will be at Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Indiana on Saturday, May 6th.
  • There will be two sessions (one from 9:30 to Noon and another from 1:30 to 4:00) with lunchtime activities in between.
  • Registration Cost is $20.00 for Scouts which includes courses, lunch, and a event T-shirt
All Day Merit Badges (requires both morning and afternoon sessions):
  • Robotics
  • Space Exploration
  • Reptile and Amphibian Study
  • Game Design
  • Animation
  • First Aid
Half Day Merit Badges (offered in one or both sessions, but does not require both sessions to complete):
  • Nuclear Science (afternoon, might open morning if there is enough demand)
  • Architecture (morning or afternoon)
  • Medicine (morning or afternoon)
  • Astronomy (morning)
  • Citizenship in the World (afternoon)
  • Family Life (morning)
Lunch Break Activities:
  • Chemistry Merit Badge
  • Ultimate Frisbee on the Mall
  • Activities for Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class Ranks (tree and plant identification, knot tying, flag etiquette, map and compass/GPS navigation course around campus)

Take a look!

Ember Meeting Postponed due to Spring Break

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From Ember Advisor Greg Hoyes:

Do to many people being on Spring Break, April’s Ember meeting will be on April 9th, instead of April 2nd. We know that still not miss everyone on Spring Break, but hopefully some people will still be able to attend on the new meeting date.
Hope to you everyone a week from Sunday.
Yours in the Fire

Greg Hoyes XXX

North Star Ember Adviser