Latest Event Updates

Applications Awaiting Approval

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The district currently has 13 new leads for scouts and scouters that are stalled in the Invitation Manager and 2 applications for scouts and scouters.

Please make sure that your COR, Unit Chair, and Unit Leader (i.e., Cubmaster, Scoutmaster, or Venturing Advisor) log into to these regularly.

If you cannot clear the application or invitation due to technical difficulties, please email the applicant and me to inform them of the problem.

I have been told that this system will be closed for 60 days during Rechartering, but I have seen no evidences of this yet.

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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.

Watch Facebook feed for more

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Over the last several weeks, I have increased the use of Facebook for interesting snippets of information. A perfect example is this article on positions of responsibility. You can find more examples of highlighted articles like this by following the district commissioner feed on Facebook. Look in the right column (on your desktop) or the bottom (on your mobile device) of this page to access it.

Anti-Fragile and Scouting (Part 1)

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As I have mentioned before, I have been reading the works of Nassim Taleb, beginning

incertowith his book Anti-Fragile, part of the Incerto series.

Since I plan on writing a series of commentaries on this author’s work, let me begin by giving a quick version of his biography.

Taleb is a polyglot (i.e., French, Arabic, English, etc.) and graduate of Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. He was born and raised in a small francophone village in Lebanon to a well-connected Greek Orthodox family. Through most of his later childhood, he was surrounded by the Lebanese Civil War. After coming to America he has been a floor trader in the commodities exchange and worked on derivatives trading. He eventually received his doctorate and served as a distinguished professor at NYU’s School of Engineering and Dean’s Professor at University Massachusetts at Amhearst.

He is deep. He is thorough. He is just damn funny.

Read the rest of this entry »

Unit listings updated

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I have been working to make sure the unit listings on this site are up to date.

Each unit chair should assign someone to provide me udpated information or contact me directly to confirm the accuracy of the information posted.

Many Cub Packs and Venturing Crews do not have websites. This is very damaging to your ability to look credible and inviting. Please seriously investigate having a website hosted on a service like WordPress (which I use for this website), a FaceBook page with multiple administratiors, or using a built-in web service for advancement like TroopWebHost.

The Cub Packs are listed here.

The Scout Troops are listed here.

The Venturing Crews are listed here.

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 »

Hurricane Maria: An update on BSA members in Puerto Rico. Ways you can help.

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Bryan on Scouting has just posted this article on how to help after Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

To my view, the most important part of this article is that the councils and units affected have been slow to report their needs. This creates a risk of their needs being forgotten or overlooked by the rest of the BSA.

This slow response to state needs makes a lot of sense. First, the BSA is built on a diffused organizational system. National Council needs information from local councils. Local councils need information from districts. Districts need information from units. Units need information from unit leaders. Unit leaders are busy caring for their families, work or businesses, and places of worship.

Now the information trickle is beginning. The BSA has created several central clearinghouses of information. Units can make direct appeals for help. The BSA has created a central fundraising website. Now we know where to look for what is needed.

So the next question seems to be, “What can our unit do?”

What you can do is still limited by BSA regulations. Let’s take a quick look so that these are all fresh in mind.

Read the rest of this entry »

Internet Rechartering Emails

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District Executive Con Sullivan has emailed me that all units should have received their emails inviting their unit chair, unit leader, and Chartered Org Rep to the rechartering system. If the unit chair has informed Con about who will be the rechartering specialist, that person received an email, too.

Officially, the internet recharter system goes live on October 1, 2017.

Right now, the unit chair should be reviewing his internal records to have a clean list of scouts and scouters in his unit. This will be a very useful tool when the system goes live. The scouters on that list should have their YPT expiring after March 1, 2018, otherwise the recharter system will prevent the entire unit from rechartering. No open YPT issues are allowed by National Council this year. YPT must be finalized before the roster can be finalized.

The introductory email includes your access code and recharter turn-in date and time.

Remember no login names or passwords from last year work. You must log in as a first time user again.

I recommend setting a password that is NOT personal to you. That way if you have to share it with other leaders, it creates no problems.

Watch Rechartering Updates 2017 for updates as they are available.

Contact your unit commissioner with any questions.

Fall Camporee Updates

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From Camporee Chair Mark Pishon:

Dear Camporee Stakeholders:

I’m very excited to announce the Purdue Motorsports Engineering Program will be joining us at the Subaru facility with their Grand-Prix Go-Karts.

We are only 12 days out so please get registered. The information and all the updates are attached.

YIS,

Mark Pishon
Fall Camporee Chair
Cell 317.374.2262

Willie Award Judging Criteria Fall Camporee 2017.pdf

North Star Fall Camporee Leaders Guide V6 9_21_2017.pdf

Release & Waiver Agreement.Boy Scout 2017.pdf

Secrets to Eva’s Success and Lessons for Scouting

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The secret of Eva Moskowitz’s Success Academy” in the New York Post tells the story of a charter school system in New York. It tells how the school has inner city kids performing well on standardized tests and grades.

Success Academy breeds success: Its inner-city students outperformed every other school district in the state in the 2017 exams. And one big secret to that success has been the application of the kinds of tactics and strategies that helped bring the city back from the brink more than once — this time, applied to education.

Both “broken windows” policing and Success Academy schooling target minor infractions that create a culture of chaos.

Writing about dealing with disruptive students in 2006-07, Success Academy’s first year, Moskowitz notes that when teachers are unable to stop even one student’s incessant misbehavior, it “can have a domino effect . . . and soon the teacher is playing whack-a-mole rather than teaching.”

That meant imposing “cultural expectations” on the classroom, which soon developed into a barometer Moskowitz calls “culture data.” Standardized test scores can only tell you so much so quickly. But monitoring “latenesses, absences, uniform infractions, missing homework, incomplete reading logs, and whether our teachers were calling parents about these problems” can serve as a “canary in a coal mine.”

It also manifested in instruction styles that required the kids to pay attention in class — such as randomly calling on students to respond to other students’ answers during a lesson — rather than just hoping they absorbed the information and then testing them to find out.

Consistent standards are also key. Unlike union-dominated schools, Moskowitz’s charters could fire bad teachers and administrators, ensuring those standards are applied evenly.

* * *

She explains: “Excellence is the accumulation of hundreds of minute decisions; it is execution at the most granular level. Once you accept the idea that you should give in to things that make no sense because other people do those things and you want to appear reasonable, you are on a path towards mediocrity.”

In scouting, we are not trying to be data hounds or playing BigBrother to make sure all is well with our scouts. But even laying aside the data, there are insights we can learn from this story.

If a scout regularly misses campouts, what does that tell us about the scout’s experience in scouting? What is that scout’s absence on his fellow scouts? Is it reasonable for a scout to miss a campout because he doesn’t “find it interesting”? If a parent accepts this complaint from the scout, what should the Cubmaster or Scoutmaster do in response?

Read the rest of this entry »