Glowstick Orienteering

glowstickIn an earlier posting about a Scout Campout, I talked about Glowstick Orienteering.  I got a few requests via Twitter for more details.

After a quick email to the Scoutmaster, he replied with this: “Basically there were 10 glowsticks that correspond to the 10 Essential items.  Bearings were provided and then a very approximate number of paces to each point.  The idea was to put the glowstick somewhere it can be seen from within 20 feet or so, or inside some fairly obvious structure (like inside a KYBO door).  They somehow attached the name of an essential to each glowstick or something so that each patrol could write that down as they went.  This way they made sure the guys completed the course in the right order. The patrols were started 15-20 minutes apart with the hope of tracking total time to complete the course and naming a winner, but the sabotaging of the course for the third group screwed that part up.
I would add that some of the difficulty getting the guys started was because none of our older guys had done this before either since the last time the Troop had done this was 2008.  If we get back to doing it at least once a year on a campout or at summer camp, then the older guys will already know the game and it can go smoother/faster.”

I think that this a great event for a Campout for a Troop and even a Cub Scout Pack if it was made easier.

Understanding the Troop Flavor

IMG_1066It’s Sunday night and I am back from  a weekend of camping with the Troop.  It was the annual shakedown Campout for Camporee in a month.  This was also the first campout with the Troop for Elliot and myself.  I was pretty eager to go since I had not a clue on how Troop 150 operated outside of the gym.

Boy was it fun!  First, I had never been to Camp Lewis.  Super great place for a Weekend Campout.  School was out on Friday, so many people went up after 1pm.  As one Scout said, 5 hours of more fun!  The rest came later.

The several Scouts were working on the new Cooking Merit Badge.  It all went pretty well, until it was realized Saturday night that they didn’t plan for Sunday breakfast.   The Adult Patrol rescued them with sharing our eggs and toast.

The Scouts worked on Knots, Lashing, First Aid, Plant ID and Orienteering.   The Scoutmaster brought back a tradition that he went through when he was in the Troop.  A Night Glow-Stick Orienteering Course.  That was fun!

Earlier in the evening, we had invited a Troop from Thunderbird District to share a campfire, skits and songs.  It turned out that I knew the Scoutmaster!  He was a Bear on the 2010 Wood Badge Course.

I saw several things that really made me like this Troop a lot more.  I also got to understand what and how a Troop operates.  I am still learning on how the flavor of this Troop is, compared to all the others.

First, they are keenly aware of advancement.  A lot of Scoutmaster Conferences were had with those working towards Scout.  I think seven or eight got that SMC and Rank.  Tenderfoot requirements for Elliot and his buddy were realized and the two high-ranking Scouts were notified to work with them.  We actually were planning a couple of sessions over the weekend, but due to time that did not happen.

Second, the Patrol Method worked.  It was messy at times, but the Scouts worked with each other and the Adults interceded at times.  Usually when a Scout tried to enter the Adult  Kitchen area.  Our tent area was in another section and they never went there.

Thirdly, I had and listened to many great conversations about how the Troop should do this, that and/or the other.  Better than a Troop Committee Meeting, we got ideas out there.

Finally, when putting all of this together, I watched Elliot.  I stopped myself from interacting with him.  I did point out a few things to him and asked how he was doing.  But, I left it to the Patrol Leaders and other Adults to correct him as needed.  Boy that was hard.  But, I saw him grow.  Did I want him more engaged at times.  Yes.  But, I resisted.  He got into it in his own way.  He also ate.  He is normally very picky, but the good thing was a lot of the food he liked.  He did not starve.

This was a good camp outing.  I got to know the Troop more and Elliot got be with the Troop.  This is really his first overnight since Camporee 2013.  He even stated on the way back that it was better than the last Camporee.  Which, is a massive improvement and statement.  His vision of Scouting was greatly affected by that last overnight.  He has come full circle.

It was a good weekend.

Tigers and Ham Radio

HamRadio-YP-SafeThe Tigers of my old Pack were “almost” done with all the requirements for their Tiger Badge.  They only needed to complete the 4G Communicate requirement.  Apparently they had a hard time getting into either a TV, Radio or Newspaper.  Luckily the Cubmaster sent me a note asking about if I could use my Ham Radio.  Excellent!  I get to help out Tigers!  They are so bouncy!

I loaded up my Ham Radios and all my antennas and headed out for the Den Meeting.  I took both my Yeasu 817ND (High Freq) and Yeasu VX-7 (VHF/UHF) Radios.  I also took my Buddiepole and Arrow Antenna.
I spent several minutes asking questions about how the Scout communicated.  Did they use phones.  Did they use iPhones?  Facetime or Skype?  They all did.

I then talked about what Morse Code was. Explained SOS and the Titanic.  Explained that people could send signals using flashlights.

Getting to the Ham Radios, I explained that when an emergency happens and no one can use cellphones or home phones because the towers are down and the telephone poles are broken, that Ham Radio can help.  We talked about the Mud Slide near Seattle and how Ham Radio is helping people.  We also talked about different types of emergencies.

I then demostrated the Yeasu 817ND unit.  Unfortunately on 15meters tonight, I could not raise anyone. I even used an app to see if people were talking.  No go.  So, I used the VX-7 and talked about what Repeaters are and how they were just like Cell Towers.   I made the call out asking for support after listening to a conversation.  We got a former Boy Scout who was listening and talked to all the Tigers.  One of the sisters who was at the meeting got to talk.  She’s a Girl Scout!

It was a good meeting and I got a chance to show Ham Radio to the Scouts and parents.    Before we started the meeting, I did show this video:


Back to Gilwell 2014

IMG_0983  I was asked to be a guest presenter at the W1-492-14 day 4 of Wood Badge for the Cascade Pacific Council.  This weekend for about 19 hours, I was on Gilwell Field.  I staffed in 2011 as a Troop Guide for the Bobwhites.  You learn so much the first time you somewhat forget a lot of it.  You re-learn it while staffing.   Now, as a guest presenter I am learning more.

I will not go into the presentation that I am giving, but it is on Day 4.  The presentation itself has been re-written by National.   When I learned that I was going to give this presentation, I thought AWESOME!  Then I started remembering it when I was on course and on staff.  Both times we were at Camp Cooper for it.  We are at Camp Clark, which threw me a bit.   Once I got to Camp Clark, I was informed that the presentation itself was re-written by National.  Ok….getting lost, but “SIMPER GUMBY”.

I had really good conversations with the Admin Staff who enlightened me on the where it would be held and what changed.  Gotcha.  All good things hitIMG_0984 you like a ton of bricks, and this did.  It was good.  I have material and I worked through the bones of it in front of the Troop Guides and Admin Staff.  I came home and needed to Google and search Wikipedia for what I need.  I have awhile to put together all my notes and I think it will be great.

The other added bonus of my 19 hours at Gilwell, was reconnecting with old friends and making new ones.  I had great conversations with several people.  For me, Wood Badge has opened more doors for me than I had ever thought.  A new ticket is being written.  And that is exciting.

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Adopt these 3 steps for healthier meetings, earn the Healthy Unit Patch


This is good timing since I just talked about the JTE and Pack Annual Planning in the past couple of posts. Good read!

Originally posted on Bryan on Scouting:

healthy-unit-patch Drink Right, Move More, Snack Smart.

Those six small words hold big power. Power to make your unit, and therefore your Scouts, healthier.

Changes you employ today could have positive rewards that last Scouts a lifetime. And speaking of rewards, if you make three health-conscious changes over the next three months, you’ll earn a special patch for everyone in your unit. Now do I have your attention?

There’s more than a patch at stake, though. For the first time in two centuries, the current generation of children in America may have shorter life expectancies than their parents.

Sure, mom and dad play a vital role in their children’s diet and exercise habits. But Scout leaders can make a difference, too. After all, you’re with these kids one night a week and one weekend a year, typically. What you do at unit meetings and campouts matters.

Ask yourself: How active are…

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Pack Journey to Excellence 2014

Metrics  Every government, company, business, internal department, office, project, client and employee has metrics to live by and report.  I just got done with my annual review and projection for 2014.  The Boy Scouts of America is no different.  The BSA just got done delivering the 2013 Report to the Nation.  There is even a report for the Cascade Pacific Council for 2013.

So, how does Council and National get all of this data?  One of the main ways the Council gets this data is through Journey to Excellence!  Is your Scout Unit filling it out?  Besides giving data to Council, why would I want to do this?

As I stated in the last post about Annual Planning, it’s a good road map, guide or review of what your Unit should be doing.  It also helps find a weakness within the unit.  So, what does the Pack JTE track?

Advancement, Retention, Membership, Outdoor Activities, Trained Leadership, Camp, Service Projects, Leadership Planning, Webelos transition, Unit Budget, Pack & Den & Committee Meetings, Fitness & finally Charter Renewal.  That is 13 metrics that National and Council are tracking.  This was the same as 2013.  But for 2014 is it a tad different in “how” the metrics are JTEreported.

As you can see the layout is completely different in 2013 on the left, compared to 2014 on the right.

In looking at the 2013 and 2014 JTE, it looks like National is wanting more specific Data and some comparison between the two years.   Having prior data will help a unit identify a weakness or strong point in the program.  For 2014, the JTE wants to know dates/location and # of Scouts for Service Projects. Also if that data was entered into the JTE Service Website.  The Data/Location of the Outdoor Activity.  Who is trained or not trained.  The date of Pack & Committee Meetings.  Summertime Pack Award earned and  the Fitness Program.

The interesting required info being asked is:
Who are the Leaders, Does the Pack have a Den Chief, Webelos-Troop Activity, Webelos Transitioned and has the Pack invited the Unit Commissioner and Charter Org Rep to a Meeting.

Here are the easy points:
Outdoor Activities. 
If you promote and hold an Activity for SummerTime Pack Award, that is THREE and you earn the Summertime Pack Award.  Hold a Bike Rodeo for Fall Round-up that is four.  Hold a Raingutter Regatta that is five.  Your done.

Service Projects:

If your Unit does Scouting for Food, that is one.  Plus it’s OUTSIDE.  Any Conservation projects count.  If you take a Pack Hike, that is another.  Just have the Scouts do a Leave No Trace Project as they hike and help clean the parking lot. Done and it’s OUTSIDE!

Keep Track on Internet Advancement.  It gets loaded into Scoutnet and Council will love you.  If you use Packmaster, I would suggest updating Internet Advancement as well.  You can then print off the Award list and go to the Council Scout Shop and have a shopping list.

Leadership Planning:
If the Adult Volunteer isn’t Trained, the Pack needs to know why.  Do you really want an untrained leader outside of Youth Protection in the Pack?  Do they know the program and why things are done?  The more the Adult Volunteer knows the easier the Pack will run and the program will be a lot more fun.

If you hold a Spring Recruitment, that new Tiger Den Leader and other Adult Volunteers have a longer time to get trained and understand the program than in the Fall.

Annual Charter Renewal Process:
Yes, it takes awhile to get everyone signed on the dotted line.  Chasing the Charter Org Rep that you only see this once a year for them to sign something.  Making sure that YPT is up to date.  Plan ahead and get it down.

The new bit: Do you have a Unit Commissioner?  Do you invite them to a Committee Meeting, Pack Meeting and Outing? No?  You should.  They will help you navigate the waters when you have questions.

Invite the Charter Org Rep.  Yes…this person actually controls and owns the Scout Unit.  They can replace anyone on the Committee.  They also sit and vote on the District and Council Committee as a member.
The Journey to Excellence is here to help point out what a Unit should be doing.  A lot of these points are here because a lot of Units just do not know what they should know.  Most of this stems from not being fully trained for their position, going to Roundtable and having a Unit Commissioner help them.

If you are a Scout Unit without a Unit Commissioner.  Call or find out who you District Commissioner is and tell them you want one.  If you do not know who your District Commissioner is, call Council and ask for your District Executive.  If you do not know what District you are in, tell them your a Pack and your Unit Number.  The Council people will be able to look that up. This is what I did when I took over as Cub Master.  I went to Roundtable, found the District Commissioner and asked for a Unit Commissioner.  I got one that night.

My only GRIPE about the 2014 Journey to Excellence is this. In the “Help” section of the spreadsheet is this note: “Although Macintosh systems can edit data, they are unable a this time, to use the check boxes and option buttons due to ActiveX incompatibility.”    WHY?  Why have ActiveX?  If anyone at National reads this, please make it SIMPLER to edit/input the data.  I use a Macintosh and it’s easy.  A lot of people use Macintosh and are the CC, CM, COR and DLs.  Do not make it harder to get the data.

So…go get the Journey to Excellence and start creating a great program

Pack Annual Planning

JTE203I just sent this out to my District’s Cub Scout Pack Key 3.  It is about April’s Cub Scout Roundtable Breakout Meeting.   I knew that in my planning of this year as the Cub Scout Roundtable Commissioner, that I needed to have a breakout on this.   During the Commissioners College this weekend, it hit home even more.

The message was this.  “Be a friend to the Unit.  Provide something useful.  Make Roundtable worthy of coming.  Make it Fun.”  There were so many people doing fun and cool things at their Roundtables and other meetings, I go inspired.  If you make it fun and worth the time, people will come.

Hence, this email below.


Hello Key 3!

For the April Cub Scout breakout we are going to get a jump on Annual Planning!  Which, if you use the Journey to Excellence for Packs, you will see that one requirement is to have an Annual Pack Planning Committee Meeting!

We will go over what should happen during this process and give out pointers of what to do.

This will include:
Summer Camp
Summertime Pack Award (Bike Rodeo, Waterbottle Rockets, Hikes, BBQ)
Spring Round-up (Recruiting new Tigers from Kindergarten)
Fall Round-up   (When do you hold your Join Nights)
Pack Meetings Ideas: Pinewood Derby, First Aid, Blue & Gold, Crossover, Team Work, STEM, Camping, Outings, Skit Nights

Also, what Training is needed for those new Adult Volunteers and those continuing on.

Below are several links to the National BSA’s website that will help you get started thinking about what we will be talking about.

Having a good plan, list of meeting themes/topics and calendar of events will help communicate to the Committee, Scout Families and potential Cub Scouts/Parents who might want to join.  It will also help stop guessing what a Pack and Den will be doing next time.

Overall, it will help you create a program for your Pack that will provide learning and advancement through having a lot of FUN!

Notes from the KYBO


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