Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Why I give my time and my money

Why do I give my time AND my money to Scouting? I recently had a fun opportunity to be interviewed by the Last Frontier Council’s roving reporters Robby and Bobby about this topic. These two fine young men are examples of the thousands of youth positively impacted by the amazing Scouting programs that are offered for our area youth through the Last Frontier Council.

None of this would be possible without the financial investments gained through the annual Friends of Scouting campaign. Scouting is not about fundraising and never will be. At the same time we recognize that it does take funding to keep the camps and programs continually improving. This knowledge and seeing firsthand the impact motivates me to give each year.

How about you? Have you made a financial pledge to Scouting this year? You could be someone already actively working with Scouts or a member of the community that wants to help our area youth.

Invest today in the future of Bobby and Robby. You will be glad you did.

Philmont Shakedown Hike #2

This weekend our Philmont crews hiked the Shores Lake loop in Arkansas for the second a four part series of backpacking hikes in preparation for our July trek. We had a bit of a light turnout from the Scouts due to several conflicts with school activities.

It was a five hour trip from OKC to the campsite and we got an early start to beat the traffic. Thanks the small turnout I was lucky enough to not have to drive.

Saturday morning was a 5:45 wake up and we were packed and geared up in a respectable 45 minutes.

The guys kept up a brutal pace and at times I felt like I was trail running vs hiking. Oh to be 15 and physically fearless like these guys. Really I was amazed at how well all of them did with the challenging steep and rocky trails. I remember all of these guys when they joined the Troop as first year Scouts. Now just a few short years later they are maturing young men that were able to blaze through the woods cheerfully with heavy packs. They did so well in fact that we skipped the first campsite to hike an additional 4 miles. This worked out great since it made our final day shorter for an early return to home.

The guys ended up deciding they liked the challenge of this trail so much that we will return again in just a few weeks. The scratching on my legs this evening will serve as a good reminder to be prepared next time for the chiggers and mosquitos that seemed to be everywhere.

On a sad not, I have learned that one of our Scouts has decided to drop out of the trek due to some physical challenges he has been experiencing. I hate to see anyone not to make it all the way to Philmont but respect the decision to make the right choice about preparedness.

Less than 90 days left to go. I am looking forward to our final two training hikes as we set to complete our training.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Eagle Scout survey results....

Ok so today there was a post on the Scouting Magazine Blog about a recently completed survey that examined ways Eagle Scouts differ from other Scouts and non-Scouts in adult life. I was at first quite excited about the headline and to read the great ways that Eagle Scouts differ from others in society as they become adults. However, after taking some time to look over the survey again I became concerned.

The reality of Scouting is that the vast majority of our kids will never reach Eagle. From that perpective I read the survey again to mostly compare Scouts to non-Scouts and quite frankly many of the results are shocking. I may just be reading the results wrong of course so look over these I have pulled from the survey and tell me what you think.

Exercise every day for 30 minutes: Eagle Scouts are approximately 58 percent more likely than other Scouts but are not significantly different from non-Scouts.
Satisfied with the amount of leisure and free time they have: Eagle Scouts are 51 percent more likely than Scouts while there is no statistically significant difference between Eagle Scouts and non-Scouts.
Drink alcohol in the last seven days: Eagle Scouts are 25 percent less likely than other Scouts, although they are not significantly different from non-Scouts.

Report being extremely close with neighbors: Eagle Scouts are 97 percent more likely than Scouts. Eagle Scouts are not significantly different from non-Scouts.
Report being extremely close with their religious community: Eagle Scouts are 66 percent more likely than Scouts. Eagle Scouts and non-Scouts are not significantly different.

Have extremely close relationships with friends: Eagle Scouts are 60 percent more likely compared to Scouts. Further, Eagle Scouts are also 37 percent more likely to be extremely close with friends, compared to those men who never participated in Boy Scouts.
Report being extremely close with their co-workers: Eagle Scouts are 57 percent more likely than Scouts but are not significantly different from non-Scouts.

Report trying to use less water in their household: Eagle Scouts are 71 percent more likely than Scouts, while they are not significantly different from non-Scouts
Agree they work hard to get ahead: Eagle Scouts are 88 percent more likely than other Scouts, although they are not significantly different from non-Scouts.

Agree they always treat people of other religions with respect: Eagle Scouts are 109 percent more likely than other Scouts. Moreover, Eagle Scouts are 45 percent more likely than non-Scouts to agree they always treat people of other religions with respect.
Say it is important to show respect to the American flag: Eagle Scouts are 89 percent more likely than other Scouts. However, Eagle Scouts and non-Scouts are not significantly different in their attitudes toward the American flag.

Huh?  Some of these results seem to indicate it is actually bad to be a Scout vs Eagle Scout or non-Scout.
Are you reading it this way?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

My New Scout Parent Memories......

Leaving for 1st campout
I will never forget what it was like when my son joined his Boy Scout Troop. Just two weeks prior to his first meeting I had been the Webelos II Den Leader and now with giddy excitement I had changed over to a Boy Scout uniform and was ready to get busy! Adding to this was the fact that I had also recently completed my Woodbadge training and had a head super full of Scouting knowledge. At least that is what I thought.

I got to the chaotic meeting and it did not take me very long to realize that in his Scout troop there was actually very little for me or the other new adults to do. Looking around it seemed that everyone had known each other for years and each somehow knew exactly what was going on.
Dang he was cute new Scout
Add to this that as a member of the “New Scout Patrol” my son was no longer with me as he was when I was his den leader. Instead he was in a room every meeting night being taught by some scraggly looking 14 year old kids. I would peak in the window and from the outside it looked like nothing really was getting done. Certainly it was a far cry from the organized and structured meetings I had been running. 
Fast forward a few weeks and it was time for the first campout. It was a cold and blistery March weekend and there was no question that I would be coming along. I remember pulling my rather large duffle bag out of the car compete with a wide variety of gear and a really nice inflatable mattress.
Oddly I suddenly felt a little like I did as a fraternity pledge way back in college. I was in middle of an organization with a long history, strong culture and rules about things that I simply did not understand. Sure there had been a lengthy parent orientation meeting with a multipage document but suddenly I was once again feeling like I knew nothing.
I also really wanted to spend time with my son and to be honest it was hard when the kind Assistant Scoutmaster for the New Scouts gently reminded me that weekend that I was to step back and let my son learn on his own. His advice was to just stick with the Adult Patrol and keep my distance. Over the next several months he had this nice little talk with me often.

It took me a little time but eventually I began to figure out what I was there for as an adult. My role as a new Scout dad was to provide transportation to campouts, eat amazing food cooked by some dutch oven wizards, drink a lot of coffee, relax in a comfy camp chair, do whatever duty I was assigned on the roster and on Sunday safely transport the Scouts I had taken to the campout back home. That was pretty much it. Turns out that I was learning probally as much as my son during this sponge time. It was great just to soak things in.

Even though I had been there the whole weekend, the car ride back was my time to find out from my son how the campout had gone for him. Except for that time when he got dehydrated and vomited  all night, his stories were always animated, funny and mostly fun.

The stick reflects more adventure

Now here I am four years later and that enthusiastic fifth grade kid of mine has grown into a maturing freshman in high school, Life Scout, and Senior Patrol leader of his Troop. From my position of distance, I have seen the Scout program work its magic in helping him grow as a leader and as a young man.
Each year now I see new parents come into the Troop and recognize quickly the perplexed looks and I remember clearly what it was like for me. I want them to understand that they are not alone!
The key to survival is the first year is to understand that you are not alone with your feelings. Also understand that there is a why for everything and there are no stupid questions. Ask! Ask! Ask! The Adult leadership of the Troop is there to help you as much as they are to help the Scout.

The best way to feel part of the Troop as an adult is to join the Troop on campouts and enjoy some time just soaking things in and getting to know everyone. You will find quickly that the adults are a bit of family. Like any family they have quirks and conflicts but ultimately share common values and a common goal--- to see the boys benefit from the program.
Not a camper? Hang out with the adults that are around on meeting night and ask questions. Want to dig even deeper? Register as a committee member, attend those meetings and volunteer for a position. Show leadership and a skill for mentoring and the Scoutmaster may even ask you to be one of his assistants eventually. Heck want to really understand? Take the excellent training offered by the BSA and sign up for Woodbadge too!

Do these things and I promise you and your son will have years of enjoyment, learning and adventure.
Yes it would be easier to find a Troop that perhaps is adult run, adult organized and does everything that in our adult minds makes sense. Go there your son will miss his chance to fully benefit from the intent of the program. It would be even easier to not to be in Scouting at all.

Instead I suggest you let the program be the program. You will find a niche and you will make a difference. For now, drink some coffee, drive some kids to a campout and enjoy some great food cooked by some nutty people in Scout shirts. You will never regret that you did.

Oh and PS. Don’t worry about having nothing to do. As I write this I am on my fifth day in a row of Scouting fun. Enjoy that first few months of rest. You are going to need it.

YIS (Yours in Scouting)


Philmont Shakedown hike #1

This weekend was our first outing in preparation for our July Philmont trek. The weekend consisted of hiking the trails at the Wichita Wildlife refuge near Lawton OK. It was a bit of a backpacking “light” experience since we started from a campsite and returned to the location. This was a good option for a first shakedown since we had the home site in case there were any unforeseen issues or problems.

Friday night the two crews set up separate camps and the guys got to practice with their tents. The next morning was a 0600 wake up with a goal to be fully packed and ready to go in 30 minutes or less. Most did not meet the 30 minute objective this first time but hey that I why we practice right?

The hike was 10 miles on a loop through the refuge. I am huge fan of this area and the amazingly diverse topography. Basically it has everything. Hills, rocks, lakes, canyons, plains, trees and of course there is the wildlife. The Scouts in our group did great with the hike and I was impressed with their pace and positive interaction along the way. We did have one little scare when one of the guys tripped while walking down a rocky path and cut his forehead on a rock. Luckily it was just a scratch and he was fine. This worked out to be a good training on first aid since we had to break out the kit for him.

The guys were pretty exhausted by the end of the day and spent much of the afternoon around the camp hanging out under the dining fly and chatting. My time was spent thinking how much I am going to miss a place to sit. This has me seriously thinking about added a lightweight chair to my gear.

Sunday was a 0530 wake up so we could get an early start on the 1,000 foot 2.5 mile hike up Mt. Scott. We wanted to see the sunrise along the way and get done for an early return home. It was beautiful to see the sun reflecting off the granite one side and the morning clouds floating peacefully on the other.

A couple of our guys struggled quite a bit this second day physically. Part of the purpose of this short all uphill hike was as a fitness gut check. The hike was up a closed road, short and close to our cars if there were to be a problem. The Scoutmaster had told me in advance that this was purposeful so that the guys could get a good fitness measurement with time to get on the ball before we leave in July. The struggle guys made it to the top and hopefully will use the pain they felt as motivation to really jump on the need for additional fitness and weight loss before our Trek. We talked to them about working to thrive through the Philmont experience and not just survive. We train so extensive so that most issues can be worked out before going and when there have even more fun.

Overall it was a great weekend and I am now looking forward to our next shakedown adventure to Arkansas.