Long-Range Planning: an Alternate Proposal

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Traditionally in BSA units, National recommends that units do an annual planning conference one time per year. This is designed to discuss the budget, annual calendar, and longer-term projects, like high adventure outings. The idea is that at least once per year that the unit makes sure that it is staying on course. This is usually done concurrently with the annual program calendar.

The result is that the unit has a full agenda to talk about the calendar. Dealing with other long range issues gets varying discussion and analysis. For units that do the planning as part of an evening meeting, they run out of time quickly. For units that have a full retreat, they have plenty of time, but may have different items on their agenda.

Compounding the problem, most officers of the unit only plan to be with the unit until their son (and soon to be, daughters) leave the unit. This makes planning a much shorter term vision than the unit probably needs. But in terms of prioritzation, it allows the players to focus on what affects them and shorten the agenda.

Scouting already has a tendency to “meeting” our volunteers to death. We tend to have too many short meetings rather than taking the time to do a retreat once.

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Trained Den Leaders Required for Rechartering

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Den Leaders, like all registered leaders in North Star, must be trained in order to allow them to be registered with their pack at rechartering. This is one of the largest training deficiencies that we have in the district.trained patch

That means that they need to take the online training under My Profile at

The biggest obstacle to get people trained online is that do not have a working account.

At the next meeting, have a listed of people who need training. Pull each one aside and have them login to their account. Have them go to the Training section and make sure that they can start the online training by picking the right course. You will identify problems quickly this way. Then let them finish at home.

We will also be offering a Den Leader Training in person at the next Cub Scout Roundtable, Thursday, November 9, 2017 at 7:00 pm at Luke’s Lodge, on the campus of St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, 100 W 86th St, Indianapolis, IN 46260. This will be the last live offering in calendar year 2017 for North Star District (and third roundtable offering of the same). You can register here.

Scout troops should follow the same pattern.

All training is available online this year, except Scoutmasters’ and Assistant Scoutmasters’ class Introduction to Outdoor Leadership Skills which will be offered at Belzer October 27-29, 2017. Click here to register. (The one on the training hub is out-of-date, and has been replaced with this one.)

YPT Update

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Thank you to all the scouters who have been updating their Youth Protection Training. Your efforts are paying off. In 2018 we are running ahead of 2017.

We still have a bunch more to go, the trends are excellent.

YoY 2016-2017 YPT

Roundtable Thursday

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This Thursday we will have a busy roundtable.

We will have all the following at 7:00 pm

  1. Den Leader SDistrictCommissionerpecific Training for all grades;
  2. Camping skills for Webelos Den Leaders and Cubmasters with demonstrations by boy scouts from Troop 56;
  3. Introduction to Rechartering methods and other fun of unit administration. This is open to all persons handling rechartering; and
  4. An open forum for boy scout leaders not involved in rechartering.

We will also have Youth Protection Training for Cubs and Scouts live at 6:30 pm.

See you Thursday at Luke’s Lodge on northeast corner of campus of St Luke’s United Methodist Church, 100 West 86th St, Indianapolis, IN 46260 at 7:00 pm.

REMINDER: District meetings

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Thursday, October 5, 2017 at Second Presbyterian Church, 4th Floor:

  1. Commissioners: 6:00 pm, Room 401
  2. District Committee: 7:00 pm, Room 405

Thursday, October 12, 2017 at 7:00 pm (except where different below), Luke’s Lodge, outbuilding on Campus of St Luke’s United Methodist Church, 100 W. 86th St.

1. Youth Protection Training (Y01) (6:30 pm)

2. Boy Scout Roundtable: TBA. Possible topic: path to Eagle.

3. Cub Scout Roundtable: planning your next camp out. Presented by Scouts from Troop 56 and RTC Bill Buchalter. (Great for Pack Programming Chair, Pack Chair, Cubmaster and Den Leaders, especially Webelos Den Leaders). Tents and gear explained.

4. Rechartering breakout for Unit Rechartering Coordinators. How to rechartering. Changes to system.

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 »

John Cleese on Stupidity

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John Cleese is one of the best observers and commentators on the human condition. He is deep and funny simultaneously. I disagree with his world view and some of his conclusions that arise from his observations. Nevertheless his observations are keen.

In this short clip, he focuses on people who don’t know that they are stupid. Very funny insights.

But let’s take that a bit deeper than just a look at stupidity. At the 0:25 mark, he quotes a professor, “In order to know how good you are at something, requires exactly the same skills as it takes to be good at thing in the first place.” Is this a true statement? In part, yes; in part, no. Let’s start from his premise that a “stupid person” doesn’t know he is stupid.

When my son was in preschool, we were sitting at the dining room table one night. I commented about an event of the day, “That is so stupid.” My son piped in, “Daddy said the S-word.” My wife and I stared at each other trying to recall if I had said the four letter word or not. My wife quickly recovered and asked, “What word was that?” My son look horrified at the prospect of repeating the forbidden word. After some coaxing and reassurance that he would not get in trouble, he proclaimed the S-word as “stupid.” He explained that at preschool two of the boys called everyone “stupid” so often, the teacher had told the kids to repeat “Don’t say ‘stupid’!” every time they heard the forbidden word.

So borrowing this preschool lesson, let’s change Cleese’s very funny use of the S-word to something more prosasic. Using more diplomatic language, we can translate that to “an inexperienced and uninformed person.” What does the translation do to our understanding of the professor’s point, “In order to know how good you are at something, requires exactly the same skills as it takes to be good at thing in the first place.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Rechartering Outline Updated

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District Commissioner has revised the Rechartering Update page on this website in anticipation of the new Rechartering season.

Dates, times, and locations of rechartering turn-ins have been posted. Please make sure that your unit’s chair and/or the rechartering champion have placed these dates on their calendars. If they cannot make it, they may ask another person to attend in their place.

Please be advised no turn-ins at the Council Registrar window will be accepted. Those will be put in the inter-office mail and sent to the District Executive. This delays processing of your Application to Recharter.

Please be advised that scouters without a current YPT expiration will prevent your Application for Recharter from printing your finalized roster. This is new for October 2017. Work on YPT now so that you can complete recharter turn in on time.

Den Leader Training Report

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Last night, Thursday, September 14, 2017, at Cub Scout Roundtable, Roundtable Den Leader PatchCommissioner Bill Buchalter and District Chair John Wiebke led a Cub Scout Den Leader Training.

Thank you to the following Den Leaders who participated:

  1. Alaina McSherry (Pack 175, Christ the King RCC);
  2. Tyler Christman (Pack 18, Second Presbyterian);
  3. Alexandra Hoogestraat (Pack 747, St Richard’s School);
  4. Jay Lorentz (Pack 18, Second Presbyterian);
  5. Vince Biedron (Pack 175, Christ the King RCC);
  6. Jeffrey Hamilton (Pack 171, St. Luke’s RCC).

We received wonderful reviews on the quality of presentation that Bill and John gave. All participants were happy to share the experience in person rather than doing the training online through They felt better connected to the local scouting community and received ideas, such as taking Tiger Cubs to Holiday Park to let the park docents help the Tigers complete some of their advancement requirements.

Pack Committee Chairs, please encourage your Den Leaders to get trained. Den Leaders who train in person get a richer and more informative experience than the generic online experience. They will learn about local resources and be more likely to continue as Den Leaders, since they will feel part of something larger than themselves or their pack.

Remember training is required for all leaders as part of rechartering, which begins in less than 20 days!