Monday, November 14, 2011

Wrapping up Woodbadge

My time as a Troop Guide for Woodbadge Course 1017 officially came to a close a couple of weeks ago. In some ways it seems like eons ago since the actual course and in some ways it seems just like yesterday. I am proud to have had the great privilege to be the Troop Guide for the Owl Patrol and to have seen them grow together as a team during the course. Next, I saw the Owls put their learning into practice through the implementation of their goals (Tickets).

In my non- Scouting life I am a Human Resource Development manager (training) for Sprint. I therefore speak from many years of training experience when I say that Woodbadge is a leadership development course on par or better than any course you will find in corporate America. I wish that during my tenure as a leadership trainer I would have had at my disposal courses that teach theory(weekend one), practice application(weekend two) and then had the participants show effective use of the training out in the real world(Tickets) with accountability for successful completion. Scouters get all of this and more with Woodbadge.

I wonder if any other non-profit organization has as great and effective training as does the Boy Scouts of America. We are fortunate indeed.

It is my hope that the Owls and others of SR 1017 will take the many lessons from Woodbadge and will continue to apply them in practice to benefit Scouting, their family, and their professional life. I know as a Troop guide, I personally took away experiences that have helped me grow. Truly life is a process of continual learning.

Good Luck Owls and all the participants of SR 1017. Thank you for taking such a commitment for to improve your effectiveness as Scout volunteers and as mentors to the next generation.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

They did it!

Wow they did it! Our Scouts participating in the hiking merit badge hiked 20 miles last week. This was their final hiking requirement for the merit badge and last Philmont urban training hike before moving on to winter stair climbing.

As we walked I thought back to the first 5 mile hike we did way back in summer. I know at that time the thought of going a full 20 in a single day seemed a little far-fetched. Heck I have run several marathons but the idea of walking that far seemed crazy and painful in my mind. There is power in youthful exuberance and the guys had so much fun on all the hikes that the time seemed to fly by. I especially enjoyed the variety of locations around OKC and Edmond they chose for us to walk. It was not very many years ago that walking these trails would have been impossible since they did not even exist.

I was shocked really to read in a Philmont Advisor guide “Rangers that we talked to say that, based on their experience, 80% of the adult advisors coming to Philmont are not adequately prepared for the physical demands of the backcountry and that 50% of the adult advisors had not exercised at all prior to their arrival at Philmont.” Ouch!

I know from my own miserable experience as a youth at Philmont that being physically prepared is a key to actually having fun. I was not in the right shape as a kid at Philmont and my memories now are mostly of blisters and pain on the trail. Our Scouts and adults will be ready.

Perhaps my favorite part of the hike was the look on the faces of folks we passed by as they stared at this group of 14 crazy folks walking with packs on through OKC. I guess it is pretty unusual to see youth hiking 10 -20 miles starting at 6AM. There were also the whoo hoos! from people that would yell “go Scouts!” or people that would say, “You guys must be Scouts!”. Kind of good to know that even out of uniform they can be recognizable by the community is such a positive way.

Now it is time to move on to stage two of the fitness training plan. Hiking stairs at a downtown high rise building. Now that is going to be hard. (well and a lot of fun I am sure)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Final Philmont 10 mile training hike...

Yesterday was our final 10 mile hike and next up is the super challenge of a 20 miler on Sunday. The hike this week around was a little more scenic thanks to some time on a short trail through a local wildlife refuge. All of our hikes have been urban walks on paved paths prior to this and it was kind of nice to get some dirt on our boots for a change. Trails for these hikes would be ideal of course but her in our part of the state we would be looking at a long drive to find such a thing. We are fortunate at least to have a wide variety of walking trails available.

Overall this 10 mile hike experience has been a good one. The boys have taken the lead on each of them with the adults hanging a few steps back. Next week is going to be a big challenge with a 20 miler. I have run marathons and done other distance events but walking 20 miles is something new and finishing this is going to be an accomplishment for everyone.

After we complete the hike, the boys will move on to winter training which will be walking up and down stairs at a building downtown. Whew that is going to fun too! We have backpacking campout weekends set for the spring in various location and there is no doubt that these guys will be as prepared as possible for a great experience when they take that first step on the trail at Philmont in July 2012.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Philmont Gear Meeting

 Recently we had one of the more exciting of our Philmont training experiences. Gear time! Our Scoutmaster is a true Philmont veteran with having gone on four previous trips. Learning from his level of experience and overall obsessiveness (he is an engineer) is a key positive for our Scouts to be completely prepared for the trail. We plan to have a strong focus on traveling light as well as being physically fit.

“an ounce in the morning is a pound in the afternoon”

For this meeting, Scouts and adults were treated to a buffet of gear examples from every price range. The gear required to travel light and comfortably is expensive. I have been lucky enough to have been buying the “good stuff” over the last few years which leaves our family with a little less to buy than some others. Even with that in mind, there are many things left for us to buy. My high adventure point of reference is Sea Base from 2011 which basically only required the purchase of some extra sun screen and flip flops.

Our Scoutmaster also provided the Scout families with a multipage document outlining the required gear and purchase suggestions. Finally, he is always on the prowl for good deals and sends emails out when he catches something on sale that would be good for the Scouts.

It was a fun meeting and now I am looking forward to some time at the store. : )

Monday, August 8, 2011

Strangers on a plane...

A Scout Twitter friend of mine recently wrote this article for her local paper in Panama City Beach. It is kind of preaching to the choir to share this with you but I thought I would anyway.

It got me thinking....

On our way back from Sea Base we had a young man sit with us on the plane. He was a second year student from OU that was traveling back to norman for the weekend from his home in Houston. We had our uniforms on and since it was a SWA flight he had specifically chosen to sit by us. Why? Turns out he was an Eagle Scout.

He told us over the next hour how he had never really got the value of Scouting until just that summer. He had applied for a summer internship with a Houston company that based upon his grades and work experience he really did not qualify for. To his suprise he was selected. Why? You guessed it! They told him that after seeing Eagle Scout on the application they had moved him to the top of the "pile" and did not consider any other candidate. What an awesome story.

He wanted us to hear this as a word of encouragement that what we do in Scouting does make a difference even if at times the Scouts don't realize it. Throughout that trip we had random people come up to us at the airport to share similiar stories.

There are so many distractions in the busy world of our youth and being a volunteer is a thankless job for sure. So...thank you for all you do and are doing. You make a difference.
What stories have you heard from strangers when traveling with the uniform? What about from former Scouts? 
Great stories to share this time of year as people consider joining Scouts and others consider quitting due to busy fall schedules.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Training for Philmont #3

Saturday was our third training hike for Philmont as the Scouts continue to train and work on requirements for the Hiking merit badge. Once again we met at the crack of dawn to get ahead of the oppressive heat here in Oklahoma City. This was an interesting route with a walk from one Edmond park to another basically through town. How lucky these Edmond people are to have such great walking trails basically in their backyards. Everyone seemed to do great on this hike and personally I found this one to be the most enjoyable so far mostly due to going a way I have never been before.

Next up for us is a gear meeting with the Scoutmaster to learn everything that will be needed to purchase. The total estimate for this is around $500 and includes pack, boots lightweight sleeping bag and more. My son and I are kind of lucky in that since we like hiking and have been buying Philmont ready gear already for a couple of years. That will help reduce the shock of what to buy in the next few months.

Overall things are going well for the boys. There are a few that currently do not meet the BSA high adventure guidelines for weight. Unfortunately, as with most teenagers the coaching to correct is having the opposite effect with some of them actually gaining weight. If they were to not meet criteria there is a real possibility that we will not have enough Scouts for two crews and some Scouts (and adults) will have to be pulled out. I am keeping my thoughts positive on this with hopes everything will work out for everyone. More on this later!

Less than a year to go!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Training for Philmont #2

This morning was our second training hike for Philmont 2012 and the first of a series of 10 mile hikes as the Scout start work on the hiking merit badge. We got an early start by meeting at 530 the beat the terrible heat we are having in OKC. The planning Scout chose a nice route around one of my favorite local lakes.
Overall it was a great hike today with our group finishing much faster than we had anticipated. It looks like we have a pretty fit group of guys with good attitudes. Never did I hear any complaining along the way. Our Scoutmaster is a veteran of many Philmont trips and uses his teaching skills by having Scouts take turns in the lead and by having several carry a compass along the way. It was often that he would ask one of them to give a barring to an object.
By the time we reached the parking lot I was still feeling strong but indeed was ready for the a/c of the car. My main need for training is work on my core to strengthen my back. So far I am doing well with this and it seemed to make a positive difference this morning.

Being our first 10 miler, I am incredibly proud of the Scouts and adults for the great effort today. More to come.....

Monday, June 27, 2011

First steps to Philmont

Going to Philmont with my son has been a goal of mine for many years. Originally I had hoped for this to happen the summer after his 8th grade year but that did not work out. The good news is that we ended up with two slots in 2012 (Troop and crew) and I was invited by the SM to participate. Over the next several months, I will blog from time to time here about our experience as we prepare for this trip. I am sure there will be many ups and downs along the way.

Last week we began our training and team building with a five mile hike. The Scouts are working on the hiking merit badge and the was the shortest of a series of many hikes. The guys seemed to be in good spirits and kept a brisk pace. This was a week night hike and the Oklahoma June heat was certainly in full swing.

It seemed all the guys did well and I am looking forward to the future hikes just as much for the fun time walking together as anything. Next up is a 0530 10 miler and I know that is going to be great.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Sea Base is over : (

We all made it back a little tired, a little tanned and full of memories that will last a lifetime. Our Florida Sea Base Coral Reef Adventure lived up to and exceed all of our expectations. The Scouts all agreed that is was a great high adventure trip that they would love to do again someday.

Reflecting back, I just can't say enough about how proud I am of these guys and they way they worked together as a team and learned something new each day. Believe me that with nine people in that small of space there was plenty of potential for conflict and issues. They did their best to just enjoy every moment and experience everything the boat had to offer.

Now....only 396 today to go until Philmont :   )

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Final day....

It is hard to believe that we are at the end of our Sea Base Adventure. Today we had the gift of wind and for the first time got to really sail. Each of us had a specific role to play from setting the jib to hoisting the main or navigating to ensure we are in the beam. No I don't know what the heck most of that means but luckily the Scouts all do by now.

Our Captain ended his time with us by awarding the Scouts their Sea Base patch and telling the story behind the symbols. He talked about the Scout Law and asked several to relate what the words meant in their own lives. Living life to its fullest and doing so with the Law as a guide was a great message to hear from our amazing Captain. 

Back at port the entire crew worked to scrub the boat clean to prepare for the next group that will head out on Friday. There are around 17,000 Scouts that experience Sea Base every year.

Now evening is here and we a all showered, short of money thanks to the gift shop, and ready to travel home in the morning. I am thankful to have spent this time with such a great group of young men and feel privileged to have see them grow and learn this week.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Shore day

Today is our shore day and was our first fresh water shower in a few days. What a fun time the Scouts had today with small boat sailing, tubing, volleyball.

The wind has not been our friend the last two days and this has kept us sailing. Instead we have spent our time with some great snorkeling. Our Capt tells us these are the best conditions he has seen this season. Captain Tom has been a fantastic teacher to all of us. The boat we are on is his primary home.

Tomorrow it is back to the boat and the forecast is for some great wind. We are looking forward to it.

Until next time....

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Sea base day 1

We were the first crew to arrive which worked out great for us. Right after dinner it was time to head out and we enjoyed a beautiful sunset

Friday, June 10, 2011

Sea Base day one

Today was our first day on our journey to Florida Sea Base. We began with an early 600 flight that eventually got us to Ft. Lauderdale late that afternoon. Soon it was off to lunch and a little time at beach. The highlight of the evening was dinner at Bubba Gumps and as you can see from the picture our Scouts made the most of their last full day of electronic access.

Tomorrow it is up at 700 and a 0900 pick up to travel down to Sea Base. This has been a great trip already!

Blogging from my phone

I am going to try blogging a bit from my phone this week during our Sea Base adventure.

Thursday, June 9, 2011


Well it was almost 18 months ago when I found out I was going to have the opportunity to be the adult leader for our 2011 Troop high adventure trip to Sea Base. Now finally the time is here and we will be stepping on the plane at 0600 in the morning.

Having done most of the logistical work, it is going to be great to turn things over to the Scouts starting tomorrow and let them run the show from here. They are a wonderful bunch of guys and I am as excited to spend time with them and the other two adults as I am the trip itself. I just hope I don't end up barfing too much!

In many ways I do not know what to expect. Mostly I am just happy to be going and very appreciative to have this wonderful opportunity. I would have never imagined years ago when my son brought home that flyer from school that his Scouting journey would also become such a grand adventure for me too. How blessed we are to be part of the Boy Scouts of America!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Walking the Walk

At our last campout several of the adults were sitting around enjoying our usual nice evening conversation and the topic turned to the BSA guidelines that have been implemented around weight for high adventure. These rules require that high adventure participants meet certain height/weight requirements if they are to participate. The intent of course is to promote a safe experience and at the same time also promote a healthy lifestyle. After all, a Scout promises to do his best to be “physically strong”.

At bit of contention for many in the discussion was the pushing of the rules from BSA leadership when they themselves appear to be well into the obese category. “Who are they to push these rules when they themselves would not qualify for high adventure” was a typical statement.

I am excited to see that BSA leadership has heard the call and decided be an example through a new program called Walking the Walk. Even our Last Frontier Council Executive Jeff Woosley in participating.

It takes some guts to be so public with your journey to good health and I wish everyone participating the best of luck.

The American obesity epidemic is a genuine problem and as youth mentors we have an opportunity to be examples of change. It seems over the last few weeks I have noticed a real upswing of Scout leaders joining in the fat and fitness battle so they too can live lives that are a positive example for the Scouts to follow.

Yes I know it is hard to change a lifestyle but it can be done. I grew up in a world of chicken fried steak, poor eating and seldom exercise. I am genetically inclined to be overweight and believe me it is an everyday battle. Nonetheless, I am becoming more and more convicted that I need to make the right choices as much to be an example for the Scouts as for myself. That is very inspiring and motivating. Plus, I want to be a leader that can barrel down a trail or climb a mountain with the Scouts and hold my own. I don't want any kid to miss an opportunity for high adventure because their leader could not cut it.

Do you want to be an example yourself?  The great folks over at Scout Nation have a Fit Club in the works for Scout leaders and it looks like it is going to be a fun program. You can learn more here.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Scouting Sucks

Being a Boy Scout is about as counter culture a program you will find for a 10 – 18 year old youth today. On purpose these guys do things others do not. They camp once every month from Friday night to Sunday afternoon --rain, shine, snow, heat, bugs, filth with no access to electronics or girls.

While on these outings they have complete responsibility to set up camp, plan/cook meals, clean up and deal with the interpersonal conflicts that naturally arise among teenagers of diverse backgrounds.

Yes there are adults but they keep to themselves and let the Scouts run the weekend.

Three or four Mondays a month they put on a uniform and attend a chaotic meeting planned and run by fellow Scouts that have been elected as their leaders. These meeting times are used to learn skills like first aid, pioneering, hiking, cold weather camping and more. Amazingly, these skills are taught not by adult “experts” but instead by an older Scout that has been assigned the task of teaching.

At the end of the meeting, the Scouts still have work to do by cleaning the meeting room by either vacuuming or sweeping.

Many times throughout the year they spend hours doing community service through projects that include building trails, gathering food for the food bank, doing projects that benefit local non-profits and other menial tasks that tend to totally blow personal time on a weekend.

Then there is the teasing. Chances are that at school their non-Scout friends give them a hard time about being a Scout. “What do you mean you can’t hang out this weekend?” “Scouts are dorks” “That uniform is gay” “You are in High School now, aren’t you a little old to be hanging out with 11 year olds playing campout?”

Scouts do hard things. Why?

First of all what other organization trusts youth to completely run a program and puts them in charge of adults? Second of all, as crazy as it sounds, community service and camping through hardships is actually a lot of fun.

The truth is that by doing hard things now that few others are willing to do they are learning to do the same throughout life.

Someday in their career they may be tasked to complete a complex project and think back to the planning skills they learned to pull off on that winter campout for 60 people. Someday they may be faced with an interpersonal conflict and think back to that time they successfully mediated between two younger Scouts that were arguing. Someday they may see a need to serve others and have the skill to organize a team to clean up after a great storm. Someday they may happen upon an injured person needing immediate medical help and find they are the only one that knows what to do. Someday they may find themselves trapped in a personal hardship, remember that day they hiked 16 miles in the rain at Philmont and know they can climb any mountain life sends their way. Someday they may be faced with an ethical issue and deep down remember the Oath and Law they recited so many times.

Most of all, when faced with a hard task that looks to be insurmountable they can look back and say “I am Prepared and I can do it”

The funny thing is that during all the learning of their youth, most will never know that the Boy Scouts of America purposely had them experience challenges as a Scout so they could conquer even more difficult ones as an adult.

No Scouting does not suck.

In our sterile world we need to raise a generation of people that are willing to do what is hard and learn to enjoy giving up the self for the betterment of others. I for one and glad to be part of an organization that for over 100 years now has been doing that.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Time to camp

Troop Guides Teaching using EDGE
 This weekend is our first campout with our full group of New Scouts. During Troop planning last year the Scouts voted on this campout to be different in that it is out of state and a longer than typical drive (close to 5 hours).

This is my third year helping as an ASM for the New Scout program in our Troop and once again I find myself full of excitement about getting to know these young men and seeing firsthand how much they will grow and mature thanks to the many challenges and fun they have ahead.

Our three Troop Guides will also learn many lifelong skills as they facilitate learning, deal with conflict, lead through the stages of team development and fully understand the awesome responsibility that leading others brings.

Since we will be leaving at our usual 6PM, this will mean setting up camp starting at 1100. Certainly this will be a memorable challenge for our New Scout patrol as they attend their first campout and experience many other firsts including: Setting up a tent, cooking, KP, hiking and spending time with a bunch of guys most of them do not know very well. All but one of the new Scouts were Cubs but of course Scout led Patrol camping is very different than family style camping.

Many of their parents our joining us for the first time as well and I can remember clearly the struggles I had transitioning from a Webelos leader to Boy Scouts. There is a sudden "what do I do" bit of loss since the Scouts are to lead and learn with no interference from adults. I know some of the New Scout parents will experience this too. It is hard not to jump in and "help".

It is going to be a great weekend for sure.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

A Scout Chapel Service

My son is a Troop Guide this spring and was Chaplin last year. The current Chaplin was unable to attend this weekend and as a result Conner was asked to fill in. I am pretty proud of my son as all dads I hope are too. So proud am I of the message God gave him for the service this week that I thought I would share his notes with you. I think it is a pretty good message to hear.

Good morning welcome to chapel

Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all sins. (Proverbs 10:12)

Did you have a good Valentine’s day? Did you maybe have that special someone well even if you did or didn’t GOD loves you. He’s loved you since before you were born, now and to come. See in the bible god talks about love; how we should love our families, our friends, and our siblings. Because you’ve all heard your parents to tell you to say I love you to them. 

Well do you ever heard someone tell you to love that quiet kid in the corner all by himself. Now I’m not talking about love as in marriage I mean like more than a family member love. Because with a family member you’re stuck with them am I right?  But you still love them even when they make mistakes. 

Now let’s say there’s that one kid you know that no one likes maybe because he’s annoying or weird but how many of you would say that your family is weird? You still have to remember that we are all god’s children. Now this week if someone is bothering you just stop and think we are all god’s children. This is my brother or sister I love them. 

Just try being nice to everyone this week. Now I’m not going to say that I get along with everyone. No, I don’t there’s some people I just can’t stand but, I’ve learn to love them and they end up being pretty cool. This week remember that god created all of us and loves every one of us.  So by loving those people we also are loving God.