Youth Training

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.

Read the rest of this entry »


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 »

Den Chief Online Training

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Have you had your Boy Scouts take their Den Chief Training? In-person is always best.denchiefpatch

But online is better than none. This requires Flash, so it will not work on Apple mobile devices. If your computer does not have Adobe Flash already, you can download it for free from

Den Leaders, Scoutmasters, and future Den Chiefs should all take the training just to make sure that everyone is on the same page.

Den Leaders should have a short bullet-point list of expectations to share with the Den Chief and Scoutmaster to provide accountability and ease of cooperation. Here is an example of where you can start.


Report from Council Training Committee

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From Council Training Committee Scribe Barbara Blue:trained patch

NEW UPCOMING EVENT: Council is conducting a Tiger Scout Forum. 

Forum will happen in October and November—Tiger leader/parent will attend BOTH sessions. All new Tiger Cub Den Leaders will be invited to the Forum by the district. These will occur on the same night at the District’s Roundtable. These may or may not be at the same location as the District’s Roundtable. Tiger leaders will be taught how to do adventures and they will receive things to help. They will also be trained as Tiger Cub Den Leaders during this forum. A Training Team member needs to be involved with this Forum, but the person(s) running the forum should be about the same age as Tiger leaders—25 to 35 years old. The Training Committee members will be copied on emails about the Forum.


David Cobb sent an email to previous instructors at University of Scouting asking if they will teach again. Catalog is ALMOST done. Hopefully the pdf version will be out next week to start sharing. There are about 25 new classes—many of the aimed at Cub Scout Leaders.

Wood Badge is in September. 39 are signed up.  Looking for at least 8 more participants. First weekend at Ransburg and second weekend at Redwing. Matt Best will be asking for contact information for your district’s social media person— watch for it!  Or send it to him so he can promote WB.

Del-Mi District and Northstar District are teaming up to do an OLS on October 28. They are looking for instructors so if you know someone who can teach a session, send contact information to [Event Chair Stephen Heath (troop 358)].

Del-Mi District is also hosting Scoutmaster Specific Training and BALOO Training on September 30 at Camp Belzer.

Reports from some people unable to attend this evening:

From Wabash Valley (Terre Haute area):

  1. Boy Scout Leader Specific, Saturday, September 2, 9 am to 3 pm at Camp Wildwood
  2. Cub Scout Leader Training, Thursday, September 21, 6 to 9 pm at Camp Wildwood
  3. Introduction to Outdoor Leader Skills and Outdoor Leader Skills for Webelos Leaders, Saturday, September 23, 8:30 am to 5:30 pm at the Fall Camporee at the Vigo County Conservation Club.  This does require overnight camping.
  4. Cub Scout Leader Training, Wednesday, October 11, 6 to 9 pm at Camp Wildwood
  5. Den Chief Training, Saturday, October 28, 9 am to 4 pm at Camp Wildwood
  6. Boy Scout Leader Specific Training (i.e., Scoutmaster, Assistant Scoutmaster, Troop Committee Chair/Member), March 17, 2018, 9 am to 3 pm at Camp Wildwood
  7. BALOO Training, Saturday, April 7, 2018, 8 am to 4 pm.
  8. Introduction to Outdoor Leader Skills & Outdoor Leader Skills for Webelos Leaders, Saturday, April 21, 2018 at 8:30 am to 5:30 pm.  More details soon.  This does require overnight camping.
  9. Den Chief Training, Saturday in May, 2018, more details soon.

Also, spread the word, see attached flyer for Catholic Retreat for Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, and Girl Scouts who are Catholic.

From Pathfinder District (Greenwood area):

  1. Autumn Leader Training, Saturday, September 9, 8 am to 2 pm at Greenwood United Methodist.  See attached flyer or visit
  2. WRFA course dates are turned in for 2018 and will be available soon

From Golden Eagle District (Muncie area):

  1. Committee Challenge and Unit Chair Training, September 6, 7 to 9:30 pm at Muncie Scout Service Center
  2. Lion Den Guide Training, September 11, 7 to 8 pm at Muncie Scout Service Center
  3. Den Leader Training, September 12, 7 to 9 pm at Muncie Scout Service Center
  4. Den Leader Training, September 13, 7 to 9 pm at Muncie Scout Service Center
  5. Unit Training Coordinator Training (all unit types), September 20, 7 to 9 pm, at Muncie Scout Service Center
  6. Unit Training Coordinator Training (for Troops and Crews only), September 27, 7 to 8:30, at Muncie Scout Service Center
  7. Den Chief Training (4 hours) and “Do-it-to-it” Eagle’s Knob, October 21, at Camp Redwing
  8. SM/ASM Position Specific Training, October 27, 6:30 to 10 pm at Camp Redwing
  9. Cub Leader Position Specific Training, October 27, 6:30 to 10 pm at Camp Redwing
  10. Intro to Outdoor Leader Skills and OWLS Training, October 28, 8am to 5 pm at Camp Redwing
  11. BALOO, October 28, 8am to 3 pm at Camp Redwing
  12. Venturing Position Specific Training, October 28, 8 am to 5 pm at Camp Redwing
  13. Troop/Pack/Crew Committee Challenge, October 28, 3 to 5 pm at Camp Redwing
  14. Intro to Backpacking, October 28 to 29, 5 pm Sat to Noon Sunday at Camp Redwing
  15. Outdoor Ethic Guide Training, November 3, 6 to 10 pm at Muncie Scout Service Center
  16. And More in 2018 (see attached flyer)

Here are all the flyers referred to above.

  1. Boy Scout Leader Specific 9-2-17
  2. Catholic Scout Retreat 2017
  3. Cub Leader Specific 9-21-17
  4. Cub Leader Specific 10-11-17
  5. Den Chief Training Flyer 10-28-17
  9. GE TRNG SCHEDULE flyer-080117
  10. GE UNIT TRAINER TRAINING flyer-Sept2017
  11. IOLS-OWL 9-23-17
  15. PF Fall Training 2017

For more information on training, see the Council Training Hub. (If the calendar is blank, select “Category” in the upper left corner of the calendar window, then check “Training,” then “Apply Filter.” The entire list of trainings should then appear month-by-month.)

Remember that the following trainings must be done in person and are NOT available on

  1. Introduction to Outdoor Leadership (IOLS) (required for scoutmasters, assistant scoutmasters, and venturing advisors and associate advisors);
  2. Outdoor Webelos Leaders Skills (OWLS) (required for Webelos Den Leaders);
  3. Basic Outdoor Leader Outdoor Orientation (BALOO) (Required for at least one adult leader on a Cub Scout Pack campout);
  4. Den Chief Training (Required for boy scouts seeking to fulfill their Postion of Responsibility through being a Den Chief to a Cub Scout Den).

All of these trainings are offered above at least once.

Reserve a Spot at Fall NYLT

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Our District’s highest performing units put a heavy emphasis on the senior members of the Patrol Leaders Council having complete National Youth Leadership Training.NYLT_4k

The fall course is less than 30 days away. Encourage your scouts to participate by signing up on the reservation page. (Informational flyer for 2017 courses.)

This course is open to Venturers, too. The Spring 2018 NYLT Course Director Brian Spellman of Del-Mi Troop 199 told me last week that he will be putting a heavy emphasis on recruiting Venturers. Put a bug in their ear for Spring, if they can’t go in the fall.

For future planning, remember that NYLT students are highly encouraged to complete Introduction to Leadership Skills for Troop or for Crews.

Lessons from Memorial Day: Eagle Project Ideas

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One of the lessons we learned from the Memorial Day grave dressings is that our cemetaries in North Star need a lot of tender loving care. I took some photos of Fall Creek Cemetary at just eat of the 4000 block of Keystone at Millersville Rd. (Unfortunately, I don’t have my camera with me to post the photo. I will try to post it here later.)

The fencing and edging looked like something out of Scooby Doo.

There are reportedly a number of Pioneer Cemetaries in the District that need some clean up.

While Eagle Projects cannot involve maintenance like mowing, they can beautify and restore weathered older facilities. Troop 343 recently had an example of that.

Also in placing Memorial Flags at the cemetaries, we saw how many veterans were not getting flags placed at their graves. Our mission Saturday was to place flags at past members of the American Legion. Not all veterans are members of the American Legion. That means that many were skipped, even though their gravestones clearly identify their unit of service and often the war in which they served.

This lends an opportunity to an Eagle Candidate to help assure that we can better serve these late veterans and their families. I don’t know what Crown Hill has on record about the veterans buried there. I have asked for better maps from them. Hopefully we will find out at the District Committee meeting tomorrow when Crown Hill’s staff might visit us.

Think about Eagle Projects for all of these cemetaries in our District. There are plenty of opportunities for lasting effects from our Eagles.


Memorial Day turn out

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We had a great turn out for the grave dressing with American Legion Post #3. Thank you to all the troops and packs that participated!

Troop 343 cleans up Bethel Cemetary

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From Scoutmaster Ron Wells:

Troop 343 continues to give back to PIke Township: On Monday, May 22nd members of the troop “dressed” approximately 200 graves of veterans for Memorial Day in Bethel Cemetery located in the 5200 block of W. 52nd St. Attached are some photos of the event.
Eagle Scout candidate Jonathan Appleton recently completed his Service project at the cemetery also. A large amount of brush was removed revealing several headstones that had been obscured for decades. Scouts also cleaned several headstones with a special fluid that preserved them and still allowed them to not be damaged during the process.

Remember your unit can do grave dressing this Saturday with American Legion Post #3 at 7:30 am. Be there for breakfast, served by the Post members. The Post Commander Rees Morgan, a long-time scouter in North Star, too, will have some remarks and then give the Packs, Troops, Crews, OA Chapter members, and Firecrafter Ember members present their assignments among Union Chapel Cemetary and Crown Hill Cemetary.

Last year we had the better part of 120 scouts, scouters, and family members present. Let’s try to beat that attendance.

Advice for SPLs

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Many scoutmasters do not enjoy the start of a new Senior Patrol Leader’s term of office. The new youth leader has a lot to learn. The scoutmaster has to spend time teaching him the ropes, which may feel annoying, since the last SPL had gotten it all figured out. He had not required so much of the scoutmaster’s time as the new guy does.

Sometimes it is is useful to find an ally in getting the new SPL.

Clarke Greene recently posted a podcast about advice to a new SPL.

Take a look at the support materials and additional resources he points out.

REMINDER: Roundtable Thursday

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This Thursday is round table. We will be meeting at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church outbuilding,Luke’s Lodge.

Cub Scouts topic: National Den Award. This is a powerful way to bring your den together and enhance retention.

Boy Scouts topic: using Junior Assistant Scoutmasters. This is a great use of your oldest scouts before they age out. Successful use of JASM’s will increase your rank advancement and participation of early teenagers.