Friday, July 17, 2015

Crew 2417 Rolls Into Summer

After taking part in the rainy Swift Base Service Weekend at S-Bar-F Scout Ranch located in Knob Lick, Missouri the final week of May, Crew 2417 has went it's own different directions in June; some attended Boy Scout Summer Camp with Troop 417 and others explored summer school classes or jobs, but most gave service at the Ozark Trailblazers District Cub Scout Twilight Camp (#OZTwilightCamp) held on the beautiful campus of Mineral Area College.

In the next week, Crew 2417 will attend a Pool Party with Cub Scouts from Pack 432 and then attend an All-Scout Unit Camp Out with their fellow Chartered units; Cub Scout Pack 3417, Boy Scout Troop 0417, & Venturer Scout Crew 2417.

August will bring a canoe trip before assisting with School Night to Join Scouting in the Central R-III School District in the final weeks of the month.

Camp Swampy is Born

Mark your calendars, Camp Swampy was officially born as the base camp of Boy Scout Troop 417, chartered to the First United Methodist Church in Park Hills, Missouri. We've had base camps before; summer camps, camporees, klondikes and other camping adventures, but Camp Swampy has been in the works for a number of years. One of our number, Assistant Scoutmaster Barrington, created our now iconic camp direction sign pole, which has been in our camps for 2 years now. But this was the first year that the troop finally attained Camp Swampy status; two highly functioning patrols with a mixture of older, younger and brand new Boy Scouts who, generally, smelled of high heaven by Wednesday after being told daily to take a shower and clean their tents before Family Night on Thursday.

Over 35 merit badges, 6 Mile Swimmers, 6 nights, 14 Boy Scouts, 50th Anniversary of S-Bar-F Scout Ranch in the Greater St. Louis Area Council. What an Adventure.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Done Working My Tickets!

My last update on my Wood Badge progress was back in February.  At that point I had completed two ticket items, they were starting a Venturing Crew, which for those that do not know, Venturing is a co-ed Scouting program offered to those 14-21.  This was my diversity item.  I was prompted to make this one for selfish reasons, although they have benefited my community.  My daughter had turned 14 in January and after years with the Girl Scouts and watching her older brother go through the Boy Scout program she was itching for some of the adventure offered in Boy Scouts.  That item was a bit challenging, gathering up the required members.  The Venturing program, in my opinion, has the ability to see substantial growth but that has yet to materialize in the small communities where we live and work.  

My second ticket item was organizing a Merit Badge University.  A Merit Badge University is an opportunity for Boy Scouts to come and work on a variety of merit badges not traditionally covered in a summer camp setting, where many youth in our area earn their badges.  I wanted it to be different, however, with no Eagle Scout required merit badges.  Instead, I wanted to bring back the concept of working on merit badges for fun, and to possibly develop a hobby or career for their rest of their lives.  Steven Spielberg earned his Cinematography merit badge in the Boy Scouts and that fueled his passion and, some would say, successful career in movies.

Both of those items came and went, they happened, I wrote up my progress notes, supplied verification and photographs to my ticket counselor, also my Troop Guide, as per instructions from the course.

The third item, the STEM Camporee I discussed in February, went off with only a few hitches a couple weeks ago.  Last week I finished up working on and getting approved a Cub Scout Pack Operations Manual.  And today, finally, after 9 months of serving as a Unit Commissioner in my District, I was able to procure an e-mail verifying my work from our District Commissioner.  I waited to submit my Operations Manual ticket item until a few hours ago and now I will submit my last ticket item.

This however does not mean my journey is over, but rather just beginning.  My goal is to leave a legacy behind. And I haven't quite finished doing that yet.

Baden's Rowdy Beavers

The Battle of the Water Gun

It has been awhile since I have posted anything but lately the news has had me worked up so much that I do not know where to begin.  From stories of violence and protest both domestic and aboard, it is difficult to pick your battles, especially when there are more worthy efforts locally where I can use my meager talents to promote organizations that benefit our community.  However, after seeing once again the crap storm that sensationalist media outlets have stirred up and how many parents have gotten taken up in the arguments, I thought it was time to dust off the computer keyboard and address this latest attack on an organization that has meant so much to me, personally, and my family, the Boy Scouts of America. 

Earlier in May, Bryan Wendell, who is a senior editor of Boys' Life magazine, the official magazine of the Boy Scouts of America aimed at the youth of the program, and Scouting magazine, which is aimed at adult leaders, shared a blog post about information contained in the newly released 2015 Boy Scouts of America National Shooting Sports Manual.  To save any confusion, I will copy word for word the information contained on page 99 of that manual: 
"Water guns and rubber band guns must only be used to shoot at targets, and eye protection must be worn."

This was the big issue that everyone has been jumping on the band wagon to attack the Boy Scouts of America.  And not only that, Wendell, who is himself an Eagle Scout, went out to point out that on page 100 of that same manual, the issue of water balloons was covered:

"For water balloons, use small, biodegradable balloons, and fill them no larger than a ping pong ball."

The blog post, dated May 6, 2015, is quoted to say, "Why the rule? A Scouter once told me this explanation I liked quite a bit: "A Scout is kind. What part of pointing a firearm [simulated or otherwise] at someone is kind?""

There are several things that are problematic with the information Wendell put out, the way it was put out, and how it was interpreted by the media.  First off, this is not a new rule in the Boy Scouts of America.  There have been long standing rules that are covered in another manual called the Guide to Safe Scouting.  On page 61 of that Guide it states:

 "Pointing any type of firearm or simulated firearm at any individual is unauthorized. Scout units may plan or participate in paintball, laser tag or similar events where participants shoot at targets that are neither living nor human representations."

So, for the media outlets to jump on this non-story and try to make it like these are new rules is just plain wrong.  Secondly, using the quote from a Scouter, a term for an adult leader, claiming that A Scout is Kind and that is why the pointing of even a simulated firearm at another person is a rule, is wrong on Wendell's part.  It was his opinion that this was as good a reason as any, but the fact of the matter is that rules such as this teach our young people that guns are not toys, even when they are toy guns.  How many times have we seen news stories where a young person is shot and killed by police officers because they are pointing a toy gun at the police?  How many times does television, movies, and video games reinforce the mindset of guns being toys?  Shoot someone and they just respawn.  Many people may think it is a silly rule, we are only talking water guns here, but in actuality it is a solid rule.  If more people were taught gun safety, proper gun safety, perhaps there would be less gun violence.  Just a thought. 

As of today, May 20th, as I write this there have been 415 comments on Wendell's original blog post and across social media platforms the war of words has raged on, fueled by more and more news media coverage of this non-story.  A Huffington Post article by Hilary Hanson attacks the Boy Scouts of America in the opening sentences: 

"The Boy Scouts of America may have no problem kicking out gay members the second they turn 18, but they'll be damned if they let scouts participate in a squirt gun fight."

The short article covers all the main parts of Wendell's original blog post and even covers some of the information put out by Boy Scouts of America spokesman Deron Smith.  This article had 124 different comments, most negative. 

Scott Stump writing for Today Parents actually did some investigative reporting, rather than just copying and pasting from other sources as others did.  He also referenced comments from Boy Scouts spokesman Deron Smith, who told that "the blog post referencing the water guns is specifically targeted to our adults responsible for taking the kids out.  It's just a reminder of the policies that were already in place in the guide to safe scouting.  This has gotten a bit of reaction and has been taken to be a new approach, but this is not new".   In Stump's article, Smith continues when asked if banning simple water gun fights is overkill, "That's a different discussion for health and safety experts.  We have to make sure that kids have phenomenal, life-changing experiences in a safe manner.  Regardless of that policy, we make sure the kids have fun.  If they can't squirt each other with water guns, they will have fun in another way."
I can tell you as a former Cub Scout myself and the parent of a son who went through the entire five year Cub Scout program and is in his sixth year as a Boy Scout, having earned his Eagle Scout rank late last year, I have never even seen water guns at a Scouting activity.  I have been trained by the Boy Scouts of America National Camp School as a Camp Director for the Cub Scout program and this information is nowhere near new, at least not in the past decade.  Instead of water guns, to cool off in the summer time at the Cub Scout level we use buckets of water and large sponges and have the Cubs run relay races.  There are many ways to have fun with water without the use of water guns. 

Many news outlets and many Scouting parents and leaders are using this opportunity to once again attack what is an American institution.  Boy Scouts have helped millions of young men and women realize their dreams.  Many of the astronauts that stepped on the Moon had been Boy Scouts.  Captains of Industry, Politicians, President of the United States, and many more people have all been involved in the program.  Late this afternoon, I even saw one of the local Scout leaders, who has a habit of not wanting to follow official Scouting rules anyway, basically say he and his unit would not follow this rule.  He is also one of those people that plays both sides of the fence; staying a registered member of the Boy Scouts of America and taking every advantage of their training programs and materials all while bad mouthing the organization on a National and Council level, and playing the other side of the fence as an advocate, if not full member of the alternate Scouting organization known as Trail Life USA that cropped up last year after the National Board  of the Boy Scouts of America decided to allow homosexual youth to be members.  Some people just cannot wait to attack something and either feign ignorance or have real ignorance of what is at stake here. 

Our duty as leaders in the Boy Scouts of America is to provide a safe, quality program teaching adventure, citizenship, responsibility, and conservation, to name just a few of the things we teach.  There are some within our midst working to tear that down.  There are plenty of outside forces working to do the same.  Well, you can rest assured there are also many of us working within the organization to make it better, safer, and still carry out our responsibility to the youth of our nation.  

Friday, February 13, 2015

Wood Badging It!

I'm 8 months in with 10 months more to go, at the most.  My time line has me finishing in 4 more months, but the only Constant in Life is Change, and the Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men Often Go Awry.  I'm talking about Wood Badge.  

For those that do not know, Wood Badge is the Summit of Adult Leader Training in the Boy Scouts, a course originally designed by Lord Baden-Powell himself and updated over the years to now provide leadership training, team building skills and games, new ways to look at servant leadership and leaving a legacy.  Once the practical portion of the course, a six-day experience designed to replicate the first week long summer camp experience of a real Boy Scout, ends then each participant has 18-months to complete their "ticket", five self-set goals within Scouting, usually serving a particular unit or area.  

My Wood Badge Course, C3-312-14-1, was held at Beaumont Scout Reservation within the Greater St. Louis Area Council, the premier training Scout Camp in the Council.  The course was originally taught at the old Camp Irondale, which was located only about ten miles from where I am now.  As the Camping Chairman for our District, the Ozark Trailblazers District, one of my "ticket" items was to organize a STEM-themed Spring Camporee, that ticket is being worked in earnest, leaving only 2 ticket items to finish, but more on them next time.  The STEM (for Science Technology Engineering & Mathematics) Camporee will be held at the old Camp Irondale location, quite by happenstance, the location chosen by the Boy Scout Troop asked to Host the event.  Coincidences are so neat, much like the old saying was in the military, "stick around long enough and you'll run into everyone again" first NCO supervisor from my time in Germany, two years after he left Europe, we ran into each other in line at a makeshift PX in Saudi Arabia; my other NCO supervisor from Germany, I'm walking into a local Wal-Mart and there he was, walking out fifteen years after serving together thousands of miles away.  Funny thing is, his family is from Irondale.

Scoutmaster Gene 
Baden's Rowdy Beavers