As the tagline promises, I’ve created this blog as a repository for ideas related to writing, Scouting, and writing on Scouting. I talk about the books I sell at EagleBook.com, my other Scouting-related writing projects, and other items of interest. I hope you find the blog of interest. If you have ideas to share, just post a comment on the About page.
J. Sterling Morton, the founder of the National Arbor Day Foundation once said, “If you seek my monument, look around you.” The same could be said of Eagle Scouts; their monument lies in the people they’ve touched through their leadership, service, and example.
But wouldn’t it be great to have a permanent monument to your troop’s Eagle Scouts, one that’s entirely appropriate to Scouting? Imagine starting a grove of trees near your meeting place (or the local Scout camp or a nearby park), planting a tree each time one of your Scouts becomes an Eagle. Imagine a group of Tenderfoot Scouts walking through that grove 20 years from now, dreaming of the day they too could add their own tree to the collection.
Your local cooperative extension service office should be able to give you more information or help you get started. In most parts of the country, now is the about the right time to plant trees.
But that’s not the only “tree-mendous” way you can honor your new Eagle Scouts.
The National Arbor Day Foundation has a program called Trees in Celebration/Trees in Memory. For a $10 donation, you can have 20 native trees planted in your honoree’s name in either Superior National Forest in Minnesota or Blackwater River State Forest in Florida. (Locations vary from time to time.) The Eagle Scout’s name goes in a permanent online registry, and you receive a full-color certificate you can present at his court of honor. (If you’re pressed for time, you can download the certificate as a PDF file and print it yourself.)
Most Eagle courts of honor are followed by a cake-and-punch reception, often held in the same room or just down the hall. Such receptions give guests a chance to meet and greet and to offer personal congratulations to the new Eagle Scout.
For one of our troop’s Eagle Scouts, one reception wasn’t enough. His family held a second reception at their home the weekend after his Thursday court of honor. While some of us attended (and enjoyed!) both receptions, the second was specifically aimed at out-of-town family, school friends, and others who couldn’t attend the court of honor.
For another court of honor, we did basically the opposite thing. This honoree had a number of out-of-town guests on hand, so his family held a dinner right before his court of honor. (It was held in another part of the church building, which ensured that everyone was on time to the ceremony.)
Having a family dinner or a second reception lets more people celebrate a young man’s achievements while keeping the troop-sponsored reception relatively simple and inexpensive. And since they are clearly separate, family-sponsored events, they don’t set a precedent that the troop or future Eagle families have to follow.
Most Eagle Scouts excel in several areas of their lives, not just Scouting. The young man you’re honoring at your court of honor may well be an honor student, a star athlete, or a leader of his church’s youth group. These other accomplishments could enhance the picture painted at the Eagle court of honor—if they were mentioned. Unfortunately, they’re usually left out.
One court of honor I attended solved this problem neatly. The program included a 3- or 4-minute “testimonial” from someone who knew the honoree outside of Scouting. For one young man, it was a family friend who had also been his middle-school principal. For the other, it was the director of the church choir of which he was a member.
These men gave the ceremony added color, humor, and depth. They also had some surprising insights. For example, the choir director said, “The point of Scouting is not to make you a different person but to take the person you are and make you better.”
Who has been instrumental in your honoree’s life outside Scouting? Consider inviting him or her to participate in the court of honor. You’ll be glad you did.
Kudos to the BSA’s health and safety team for making health forms easier to navigate this year!
Originally posted on Bryan on Scouting:
And starting today, you’re getting a streamlined version of the BSA health forms and an easier-to-use website to accompany them. The site is the result of several BSA teams (professionals and volunteers) joining forces to make this process a painless one for you and other Scouters.
The Annual Health and Medical Record (hereafter AHMR) comes in several flavors, and until now some Scouters and parents found it a little difficult to determine which version of the AHMR they or their Scout/Venturer needed.
Taking your Cub Scouts on a local tour or your Boy Scouts on a two-night camping trip? The forms you’ll need are different from those required on a camping trip lasting more than 72 hours.
Here’s an interesting self-test to give to the patrol leaders at your next patrol leaders’ council meeting. It comes straight out of the 1939 edition of the Handbook for Patrol Leaders but is as relevant today as it was then.
- Do I know about every Scout in my patrol—each fellow’s strong and weak points; ambitions; home life; special needs?
- Can I plan and conduct patrol meetings worthwhile enough to insure the bunch attending, and steady enough to provoke a second invitation from the fellow’s parents in whose home we meet?
- Can I salute and report “All present or accounted for,” at every troop gathering?
- Can I interest the fellows in continuous and thorough work for advancement in Scouting?
- Can I divide the actual leadership of the patrol so that every Scout gets a chance to do his best part in helping with the meetings, hikes, games, Good Turns, new recruits, etc., so that all the fellows in my patrol have a chance to develop leadership?
- Can I patiently handle any boneheads or wise guys or roughnecks, so that they will either come through with the right Scout spirit, or when every possible chance has been given them, eliminate them for the good of the patrol and the troop?
- Can I keep the Good Turn idea strong in the minds of all boys in my patrol, so that Good Turns are a habit?
- Can I make the fellows proud of our patrol’s appearance, dependability, progress—so that the patrol spirit will be strong and wholesome?
- Can I plan a patrol hike and lead it well enough so that eventually my Scoutmaster can trust me with the patrol for a day without adult supervision?
- Can I wisely lead my patrol in its part of the troop enterprises and have brains enough to think of new things for the patrol to do besides?
- Can I justify my Scoutmaster’s confidence in my loyal and thoughtful cooperation under his leadership for the development of the whole troop?
- Finally, can I make my own Scout life an unboastful example and encouragement to every fellow in my patrol, commanding thereby respect and confidence?
Note: Some readers may be surprised that activities without adult leaders (as described in question 9) are still permitted. They are under certain circumstances. Here’s the relevant section of the Guide to Safe Scouting:
There are a few instances, such as patrol activities, when the presence of adult leaders is not required and adult leadership may be limited to training and guidance of the patrol leadership. With the proper training, guidance, and approval by the troop leaders, the patrol can conduct day hikes and service projects.
Muslims go to Mecca. Mickey Mouse fans visit Disneyland or Disney World (or at least the Disney Store). The swans return to Capistrano. And Scouters go to Philmont.
Okay, maybe I’m overstating the case, but I really think every Scouter ought to get a chance to spend some time at Philmont—either in the backcountry on a backpacking trek or in the classroom at a training conference. In fact, that’s just where I’ll be in August, facilitating one of this year’s “Building Stronger Troops” conferences.
Conferences like that are a great opportunity to recharge your batteries and learn best practices that you can take home to improve your troop. They cover everything from advancement and troop committee operations to geocaching and trek planning, all in the shadows of the beautiful Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Many give you sneak peeks of coming attractions (like the new Cub Scout advancement program) and access to national-level volunteers and professionals.
The Philmont Training Center is also a great place for a family vacation. There are full-day programs for every age from infant through adult, and schedules are carefully coordinated so that families get to enjoy meals and evening programs together.
Given the still-recovering economy, of course, vacations are out of the question for many families. But, depending on the size of your family and how close you live to New Mexico, a week at PTC can be a real bargain. Moreover, as a Scouting volunteer, you may be able to write off your portion of the trip.
To learn more about the Philmont Training Center, visit http://www.philmontscoutranch.org/PTC.aspx.
A truly inspired (if fattening) way to screen potential volunteers….
Originally posted on Bryan on Scouting:
Try the Oreo Test.
Don Lauer of Troop and Pack 9212 in Summerville, S.C., devised the method, and he said it hasn’t failed him yet.
“Just a simple thing,” he tells me. “Plus I like cookies.”