With the beginning of a new Calendar year, we started out strong as a Troop. We have new leaders that are taking roles for the coming 6-12 months. We had 14 Scouts and leaders attend Snow Base and we have 15 new Scouts cross-over from Cub Scouts to Troop 283. As I have been able to travel, stay and discuss with each of them, I have had time to dive into the ‘why do you participate in Scouts? I am often struck by the different why’s I get, some are common, some are unique. What’s similar across them all is the focus and attention each Scout gives to these answers. They know why they participate, they know what they like. They also like discussing these ideas with their adult leaders. It is a great opportunity for each to share a little about themselves, and I encourage each adult to stalk to their Scout about it this month. Then we can collectively take this information as a Troop, add to what is working well and work on where we have improvement suggestions.
As we look ahead to February, we’ll have an opportunity to keep developing our winter fun skills – both having fun and doing service. The annual Ft. Snelling National Cemetery Clean-up depends every year on the Scouts to go from Christmas green to winter white. Every year, for 4 hours, nearly 500 volunteers descend on the Cemetery to pick-up, gather & dispose of the Holiday Decorations. It is amazing to see the Cemetery transform, and all because we show up and help. We also will have the opportunity to ‘be on display’ at our places of worship’ – assisting each of our faith beliefs in holding services and ‘doing our duty to God.’
So, my Scoutmaster challenge to each of you: where will you grow in your faith, how will you serve our Country? Scouting and the USA is strong because each person within it does his part to make it better. How will you add to that legacy this month?
Yours in Scouting,
September started up just as August ended - full of Scouting. We started out the month by hosting the annual James J Hill Coaster Cart derby, running a 'Find out about Scouting' booth with floating archery targets and Marching in the Parade - all in 1 weekend! Then it was off to Wayzata beach for our next 2 Troop meetings - Stand Up Paddle boarding (SUP) & Canoe races. In-between our 2 meetings, we camped out between the storms and had a great canoeing and exploration weekend at Camp Sacajawea. The next weekend found us helping out the American Legion dispose of flags that were worn beyond repair. Then we started our annual fund raisers of selling popcorn and wreaths closing with a our monthly Troop Leader Meeting (TLM) where we worked on our leadership roles and planned out our October Troop meetings and events.
Feeling tired yet? Well, if so, I hope you take this weekend to rest and reflect because our year is truly just getting underway. I was asked this month why do we do so much? Partly we do Scouting a lot because the Scouts want to get out and have fun. Partly we do Scouting a lot because getting out and doing is what boys need and want to do. But I think mostly we get out and do Scouting a lot because we are asked and called to do so.
Take for example part of our Mission in the Boy Scouts - to teach and embody citizenship. I,for one, had never been part of an official flag disposal ceremony - how sad given I've been a US Citizen for over 44 years and son of a retired Army Officer (as well as an Eagle Scout.) Take leadership - how many of our Scouts at school or in sports get to plan, set-up and run a 2-night program for over 40 peers? So, why would we not get out and do more Scouting? Take self-development - where else can a boy go to plan, execute and reflect on a project where he led 10+ peers in community service?
If a person is not growing in some way, likely he is shrinking. So too does it go with Scouting. What are you doing to hone your Scout skills? How are you becoming a better leader? Who are you bringing into our Scouting family? Let's see how we can all grow in October to continue to do a lot of Scouting. Although the weather and trees tell us fall is here, Scouting continues to Spring forth with new growth and opportunity at every corner
I look forward to seeing each of you at a our Troop meeting, our Roundtable, our camp-out and our University of Scouting!
Yours in Scouting,
I know historically, August is a ‘slow Scouting’ month each year. This year though, I found it extremely Scout-full. My 3 highlights were: 1. Going to Many Point Week 2 in Quetico-camp-site, 2. Meeting with our perspective/nearly-Eagle Scouts and 3. Visiting Baden-Powell’s statue in London, England.
First, earlier this month, I got to see 15 Scouts using the Patrol Method set-up camp, cook, operate, clean & put away camp on their own. Sure, it was not all smooth and silky sailing, but the growth that I saw in each Patrol and individually in each Scout was tremendous. We also ate well, came home a ‘Super Troop’ and moved the bar significantly for advancement for each Scout. I hope the parents of each Scout also saw this when their Scout returned from camp. I am hoping even more that next year we have double this number joining and growing with us.
Second, when I wasn’t at camp, I was busy following up with several of our Scouts working on finishing their Eagle rank. Some have years of Scouting ahead of them, others just days before they turn 18. One common thread with each of them is their desire to give back to the Scouting program. I know we often think of the Eagle Rank as the pinnacle, but what every Eagle Scout undertakes upon receiving his Eagle is the Eagle Oath to give back and help others along their similar journey. I would expect this to be the beginning of our seeing more visible Eagles continuing their leadership development while they are free to focus their energies on areas of specific interest and concern.
Third, take a look at the picture. What do you see? Yes, that’s right, it’s yours truly and a double size statue of Scouting’s Founder, Lord Robert Baden-Powell. I got the chance when I was in England last week to stop by and visit this place. To me, what I took away, is that not only is Scouting bigger than anything I will ever be, but through Scouting I have the opportunity to continue to grow and experience Baden-Powell’s vision. For he saw many years ago the need for society to have a place where boys could have fun growing under the watchful eye of trained leaders. And since I alone cannot reach the top of this vision, I am looking to others to help me reach there together. Sometimes it will be Scouts, sometimes other leaders and sometimes parents. By growing and reaching together, I believe we can approach where Baden-Powell pointed out to us so many years ago.
So, come join me this fall as we kick-off our 2017-18 Scouting year on the best year of adventure and leadership development!
Yours in Scouting,
Welcome to August 2017, and another exciting month of Scouting adventures! Some of our Scouts are busy at Many Point having a blast together with another 500+ other Scouts, and others will be coming up in a few days to repeat that experience – just a different campground and a different 500+ Scouts!
Before I get too far into this coming month, I wanted to reflect on last month, July. I got to see a lot of you and your Scouts out at Half Moon Lake for a slightly warm couple of days. Our youngest Scouts (now sporting cool looking Wolverine Patrol Patches at Many Point) got a chance to learn, practice and hone some great Scout skills. Knives and knots were very popular, but I think the biggest blast was putting together catapults with ‘sticks & string’ to launch water balloons at each other! They had so much fun, they saved them for the next day to show off to their parents their skills and pride while enjoying a meal all of the Scouts cooked themselves. Way to go Wolverines!
Then just a few days later, 8 Scouts and 2 Scouters headed to Washington D.C. to enjoy some touring of our Nation’s Capital as well as 10 days at the Summit Bechtel Scout Reservation in West Virginia at our National Jamboree. They got to do nearly everything at the Summit from the largest zip-line in North America to Scuba Diving and trying to break the Guiness World Record largest dreidel game. Also, as many of you have heard, they got a chance to see President Trump. What you may not know is that regardless of your politics, the President is part of our program. Each year, the top Scouts go to Washington D.C. to deliver the Report to the Nation. Then every National Jamboree, the President is invited to come and speak. Sometimes the President comes in person, sometimes virtually and sometimes through a representative, but the effort is nearly always there and has been since the first Jamboree when FDR visited for nearly a day.
Why does this matter and why does the President put forth this effort? My supposition is that it is because the President is always looking for and ultimately responsible for the next generation of leaders. And because the Boy Scouts of America have leadership development at its core, the National Jamboree is the largest single gathering of our future leaders.
Now exactly what kind of leaders our Scouts become and how they lead the future of both Boy Scouts and our country is up to us. We can invest our time, skills and experiences with these young men who are part of our lives. This is why we encourage parents to get involved, come camping with us and just be part of our program. Each one of us brings something to the table, and by coming together, we have a richer program.
I’ll close my minute this month by asking everyone to invest a little time, about 6 minutes, to watch part of this interview with Mr. Stephenson, AT&T CEO & Chairman. He is also the current BSA National President (volunteer role), where he talks about the BSA, what it means and why he spends his time as the National President: https://www.facebook.com/boyslife/videos/10154491287061650/ - see about minute 18 in where he starts to share what BSA offers and why it's important for Scouts, Scouters and parents to support the Scouting movement.
Thank you for all you do for our Scouting family, and I look forward to seeing more of you at Many Point as well as hearing about how we were able to step-up & help at the Wayzata Community Church’s Rummage Sale.
Yours in Scouting,
Scouts and Parents of Troop 283,
As I am sitting here reflecting on how it is already July 1, I wonder where part of the summer has already gone? After some reflection, I find that I know where, we have already had several Eagle projects finish, several more get started and some of our best and brightest attend Grey Wolf Training. Now, we are preparing for our own Mini-Point where our pre-1st Class Scouts can pick-up a few more skills and enjoy some Scouting fellowship before heading off to 1 of our 2 weeks at Many Point.
So what makes the summer so special for Scouting? I think it is because summer allows our boys to slow down, pause, and have time to really immerse themselves in something. Sure, there are all of the sports, family vacations and the like, but where is time truly left to our sons to be themselves? It is hanging out with their peers in an environment where they are challenged by older Scouts to truly push themselves.
Therefore, I would encourage you to get your Scout out camping, join him for at least part of his time outside and be prepared to be amazed! I am always impressed while we are at camp and afterwards to see how each Scout grows and matures. Time invested today in being in the outdoors learning to thrive there pays huge dividends tomorrow. I'm looking forward to seeing you all at camp soon!
Yours in Scouting,
This past weekend, we here in the US celebrated Memorial Day where we honor those who have served our country. As is becoming our Troop 283 tradition, we helped the American Legion Post 118 in Wayzata decorate the graves in nearby Summit Park Cemetery with a flag celebrating each veteran. We almost missed it this year because, as it turns out, the gentleman who has organized it for years passed away. That first made me sad, but then I remembered why we do this service project to begin with. It is because he asked us in 2015, our Troop's 100th Anniversary, if we could lend our 'youth' to assist the 'seniors' in this important recognition.
Why do I mention this part of the story instead of commenting and thanking our 10 Scouts and 4 leaders that came to help with the 98 graves we marked? Because it is not so much the work we did, the new friendships we made, or the fun we had, rather it is the legacy that this veteran did for those that came before him. In his case, he made sure that the veterans in this cemetery are not forgotten. And now we honor him because we are following through on his wishes to honor Wayzata's veterans.
The reason I chose to write about legacies is that we are on the cusp of recognizing our Senior Class of Troop 283. We have many Eagles again this year, and I am grateful for each of these Scouts. I have watched them grow and mature into the young men of our Troop that led many of our current Scouts in rank advancement, skill lessons and adventure trips they'll talk about for years to come. Each of these Eagles has also left his mark on our community through a service project - from gardens alive with pollinators to new canoe racks for our local park district, each of these projects is leaving a legacy around us even as they leave and head off to college, technical schools, the military and jobs.
So, as we enter into our summer months of no homework and new adventures of a lifetime, I want us all to think about: what is our legacy as Scouts? What is our Troop legacy? How will others remember you? How will they know you were here? What mark will you leave behind? What is and will be your legacy as a Scout?
Yours in Scouting,
Happy May Scouts, Scouters & Parents!
I know the weather outside feels more like February/March, but the calendar does not lie. Before long, we'll be swatting mosquitoes away and getting ready for our June Court of Honor! In the mean-time, we have plenty keeping us busy and working to our goals.
Just last weekend, we were up at Taylor's Falls and Interstate State Park were a dozen of our Scouts climbed up over 70 feet of rock and rappelled down again. If you ever want to stare fear in the face, just ask these happy dozen. They even capped the night off with a cake bake-off competition. Only problem was that over half the camp turned in before the cakes were done... ah well, better next time.
And speaking of planning, about 1/3rd of our Scouts joined 10 leaders and I today, Sun 30-April, for our semi-annual Troop Leader Training session. In keeping with the spirit of more Scout leadership opportunities and building on our successes, ASPL Karsten S and SPL Steynar A led our Scout only session on Leadership and overcoming challenges while the Scouters worked on how to best invest time with our Scouts. We then broke for hot dogs and fellowship (mostly running in and out since the weather seemed extra cold and wet), and then we dug into our goal planning. This time we spent some time together with each role-respective Scouter leading the discussion with the Scouts to set ourselves up for our forthcoming Troop Leader Meetings as well as goals and commitment planning for the incoming term.
What always impresses me about these sessions is the growth I see in our Scouts. Sure, they come for the snacks and fellowship, but what we see in-between is sometimes amazing! Some of these Scouts have been coming to each session for years, and some for their first one. I enjoy the growth I see when I push on the growth goals. These are life skills, and the Scouts pretty much take my feedback and run with it. Some set tougher, more complete goals while others adjust time allotments for making their goals attainable in the term of office. One piece of feedback we will be taking up is a mid-term review. Now we won't be polling like the papers, but the Scouts thought that a group review and discussion mid-term would allow for real-time feedback.
Keep your eyes out for our Canoe Camp-out coming in June as well as Many Point in July & August. Also, I'm counting on the weather improving as we are to be Stearns Scoutcamp in 5 days to get some great fishing in at our Scout's 'private lake'. Hopefully all of our Scouts will be joining us for some outside adventure soon!
Thank you for continuing to support your son's growth, and I hope you are seeing the same at home. We enjoy participating and helping in wherever we can be useful mentors.
Yours in Scouting,
As we prepare for our forthcoming Patrol and Troop elections, I cast my mind back to the purpose of why we do it this way. To find that answer, I went back to some of Baden-Powell's first writings on this topic. In 'Scoutmastership: a Handbook for Scoutmaster on the Theory of Scout Training' he wrote:
In the administrative scheme a splendid opportunity is given to break away from any incrusting method. It comes about in the Patrol and in the Troop. It teaches the boys to work together in teams. It secures co-operative effort for a common end; that is a democratic thing in and of itself.
So, I met this past week with your 2 SPL's to see what they were thinking about in regards to their 'team' of Troop 283. They expressed that generally we are improving our overall direction. Patrols and their respective leaders are hosting good meetings, having good camp-outs and doing good service. However, they also felt there was more we could do. Camp-outs could be better attended and better organized. The Troop could do more service and help our community more. Scouts could also be learning, advancing and growing more.
They felt that the best way to accomplish these 'mores' is to get more Scouts involved directly in overseeing these activities. Then by having more focused leadership both the Scout in the leadership role as well as the Scouts being led would learn more, do more & grow more. So I hope you will individually look to yourself in April and see where is your 'more' and how you can help your SPL's do and grow more. I for one will be working with them more, and I hope you will join me.
Yours in Scouting,
Happy March and early Spring!
With the warming temperatures and lack of snow, it’s hard to imagine that we are still 3 weeks away from the official start of spring. It definitely made our February trip to Giant’s Ridge a lot slushier, and we took advantage by having a tailgate cook-out on Sunday to close out our time there!
This past Monday at the Troop Leader Meeting, we demonstrated, discussed and learned about the first point of the Scout Law, A Scout is Trustworthy, and how that enables and forms the foundation of Leadership Development. One of the key areas of being a Boy Scout and advancing in rank is assuming larger and more complex leadership roles. As a Scout grows, he also learns that he himself cannot do all of his role perfectly out of the gate. This is where trust and leadership meet.
Scouts learn and grow together as a Patrol and as a Troop. Through this growth, they learn about each other and how they individually can work together with others. Then when a Scout becomes a leader, he leverages these relationships to lead his fellow Scouts. The Scouts then follow their leader because he was elected by them, his peer group. The key to making this all work in the end though is through the trust they put in each other. Sure, each Scout has innate leadership skills and abilities, but only by listening, compromising and trusting each other can a leader truly lead. We demonstrated this by creating group human chairs that only allowed the whole group to sit together or fail together – enabled solely through trusting and following each other into a sitting position.
So, I challenge each Scout this month, what are you doing to grow your trust in others and how are you helping your fellow Scouts become more trust-worthy of you?
Yours in Scouting,
February 2017 marks the 107th Anniversary of the founding of the Boy Scouts of America in the United States. Our organization has certainly grown in that time and continues to evolve. Two things that have remained constant are the Ideals for which the BSA stands for as well as the method of learning by Advancement.
To some, these could stand in opposition to one another – how can you preach ideals of helping others when part of you is focused on advancing and personal recognition? To me, these go hand-in-hand as part of Scout self-development. When Scouts first join and earn the rank of Scout, they are able recite the Scout Oath, Law, Outdoor Code, BSA Motto, and BSA Slogan. But just because you can say a word, doesn’t mean you can also explain and demonstrate it in your daily life. These traits come as Scouts mature and grow in their understanding of what it means to ‘help others at all times’. And since February is Scout Sabbath and Scout Sunday month, I’ll focus on Reverent as the 12th point of the Scout Law and the first in the Oath “Duty to God and Country”. For a 5th grade Scout, these usually mean and are demonstrated by going to church, learning about his religious faith traditions, and continuing on his faith journey. By the time a Scout sits with me for his Eagle Scoutmaster conference, these meanings have evolved to become everything from more questions than answers to a life-long vocation choice and commitment. These conversations and reflections help both to reinforce our ideals by discussing and sharing his growth stories as well as explore their meanings more deeply. In today’s society of always on, always on the move, the need to sit, think and reflect is key to growth. So our way through Advancement with Scoutmaster conferences and sharing our own stories helps bring our Ideals to the forefront of what we do and who we are.
So, this month, I hope every Scout and Scout parent in Troop 283 continues to grow in their faith tradition by reflecting on where you each were at this time last year and where and how you will grow to become more Reverent in 2017.
Yours in Scouting,