Category Archives: Scouts

About scouting

Scouting and Stubenville

I’ve mostly avoided news coverage of Steubenville because such tragedies sicken me on many levels, especially the way everyone involved is smeared with dirt by some news reporter or blogger.

Events like this should make us ask, “Why does almost every kid’s parent hope to raise a star player?”

How can this be healthy for growing boys or girls? We always hear about how sports teach ethical lessons beyond the mere rules of the game. But here’s the object lesson of sports teaching “win at all costs,” and “to the victors belong the spoils.”

Scouting has its shortcomings (and there is hope they’re being addressed) but it’s more than badges. The good troops (and there are lots of them out there) lead by example, give the kids a lot of non-sexually-themed things to do, and explicitly promote honesty, courtesy, and courage.

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What change might look like

Inclusive Scouting Patch

Last week we filled out surveys from the Boy Scouts of America about proposed “membership standards” changes that would lift the official ban on gay scouts and adults. With my active volunteer work in scouting and my gay daughter and daughter-in-law, I’m in the middle of it. Towelroad (self-described as “a site with homosexual tendencies”) has posted an accurate copy of the questions I was asked, more or less (the scenarios were renumbered). Towelroad doesn’t comment on the survey, but lets it speak for itself.

[Update 3/19/13 – Slate published a piece claiming that the survey is biased towards changing the policy. The Dallas Voice, a GLBT publication, has also published a copy of the survey.]

And yes, the survey may be the epitome of political incorrectness. But this is what change looks like if you’re going to carry on conversations instead of just shouting at each other.

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Alert for the Fall Eagle River Camporee

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Centers for Disease Control – Atlanta, GA

July 22, 2012; 13:41EDT

UPDATE JULY 2012: Small animals manifesting “Zombie like” characteristics are rumored to have been sighted in the Upper Midwest, and appear to be slowly spreading throughout the Illinois and Iowa, mainly centering on river areas. No people have been impacted by this situation. US Health Officials have been capturing sick looking animals and, other than an occasional infection, nothing in particular has been noted.

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Charter Presentations for Scouting Units

This is an arcane bit of trivia from the Scouting movement. Traditional scouting groups like packs, patrols, crews, posts, and so on, are chartered through a community organization that is already involved in education and service to youth. This approach arose in England when LTG Robert Baden-Powell collaborated with others to establish an organized scouting movement.

The scouting group renews its charter every year here in the US, and the local Boy Scout council issues a charter to the sponsoring community organization, called the charterd organization.

The local commissioner is a volunteer who visits individual scouting groups on behalf of the local council. Commissioners are usually organized into districts and communities, and take care of packs, troops, crews, etc., in their own neighborhoods. Charter renewal gives the commissioner an annual opportunity to meet with a chartered organization’s leadership, report on the benefits produced by their scouting units, and thank them for their sponsorship.

So, here are my thoughts on how to present a charter.

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Abuse by a Scout Leader

A Burnsville Scoutmaster has been accused of molesting three troop members.

It’s impossible to 100% prevent such incidents, just as it’s impossible to prevent death and injury during scouting events. Scouts are specifically taught how to identify and deal with potential abuse situations. Leaders are taught to avoid situations that might enable abuse. For example, individual leaders are never supposed to be alone with individual scouts. We call this “two deep leadership.”

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BSA in the Mideast

I just spent an evening sharing stories with a fellow Scouter who has served as scoutmaster to an enclave of American boys in the Mideast. Their troop is a “direct service” troop, which means they don’t have a normal district or council. Instead, they work directly with a representative at the National Council office in Texas.

Scouting is a bit different out there. We may have deserts and exotic locales here, but it’s something different out there. They’ve camped in everything from the endless desert to 12,000 foot mountains among wild baboons. Local rules send most of the older boys away, so most in the troop are younger Scouts. Regardless, my friend had just finished submitting a batch of Eagle applications before leaving for the States, so we know this is still the Boy Scouts of America.

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