Category Archives: For Parents

These Are Troubling Times

Submitted by Komba Lamina, Urban Scouting and Exploring Executive

When I saw the video of Alton Sterling’s killing for the first time, it frightened me. The video evokes memories of waking up to sounds of gunshots and artillery fire on one beautiful October morning in Koidu Town, Sierra Leone; rebels had attacked the city that morning. I felt broken, my spirit dampened, and experienced fear on that day like I never felt before. It was as if hope had left my being. I felt exactly the same way today, after viewing the video again.

I was equally horrified when I woke up to news of another police involved shooting in Minnesota, and the senseless killing of five police officers in Dallas, Texas.

I’m sure that the perplexed feeling I had was shared by many here in America and across the world. And like many of you, I asked myself these questions: what are we becoming and what are we to make of these tragedies? I also asked myself what can I do to help put a stop to it?

It was with that feeling that I called a few of my team members to see how they were coping. I wasn’t shocked to hear that they were also confused, fearful and broken. They also asked themselves the very questions I was grappling with.

img_20160419_131505As the professional overseeing the inner city program for the Boy Scouts of America in Northeastern Massachusetts, most of our Scouts are minorities. I have often wondered what our Scouts are feeling during moments like this. I wonder if they have the avenue to express themselves in a positive manner and come to grip with this reality — and most importantly, what can I and the Boy Scouts do to stop these tragedies.

Many Americans and citizens around the world are asking themselves similar questions as to what they can do to ensure these tragic and hurtful occurrences come to a stop. That’s what I heard speaking to my teammates, and that’s what I derived from Chuck Eaton, our Scout Executive’s (CEO) email:

  • Komba,
    The news for the past couple years regarding race relations has been troubling – to say the least. Scoutreach obviously has more to do with financial and parenting support then race, however we all know the majority of those scouts are people of color, while the majority of our council is white. We should be an organization of action, not rants or blogs. But it’s so hard to figure out what to do, and stay away from the political aspect of things. I have a few ideas, but I think it’s more important the ideas come from you, or your Scoutreach staff, or others. If you have any ideas I’d like to support them if not, maybe we can brainstorm together. I hope you and your family are doing well. Thanks
    Chuck

Chuck is right, we must act, but act in a meaningful way. We understand that this is a very sensitive issue, therefore, many organizations stay away from it for fear of antagonizing the public. Because of what we (the Boy Scouts of America) do, (which is helping to shape the lives of youth), we cannot shy away from these issues. As a professional tasked with overseeing Scouting in urban areas, and as an Exploring Executive that works with police officers, I see community and the very best in each of us.

As an organization, we must take a stand for what is morally right, not convenient. We must foster an environment that allows our Packs, Troops and Crews to become places where genuine interaction between youths and adults occur regardless of political association, skin color, or profession. That is by facilitating a space for genuine interaction that celebrates all of our differences and help bridge gaps that exist in our communities. A space where young people are equipped with life skills. In this space, our focus is youth and equipping them with character that builds a healthy nation.

img_20160219_083017This space brings all of us together and in the process helps us learn a bit more about the other. In the end, we define ourselves less by our profession, skin color, political affiliation or financial aptitude. Widening this space is what I intend to do to help put an end to these hurtful times.

Please join us on Saturday, October 29th, at New England Base Camp’s Camp Sayre in Milton, MA

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Making the World Safe for Diversity

Sincerely submitted by Francisco Guzman, Scout parent, Cubmaster Pack 109, Leader Troop 109, Chelsea

“We all should know that diversity makes for a rich tapestry, and we must understand that all the threads of the tapestry are equal in value no matter what their color.”  – Maya Angelou

Three boyhood friends, one Asian, one African American and one Caucasian walk into the Bar at the Ritz.  They all grew up together, went to Milton Academy, and recently all graduated from Harvard Business School…  This may be the beginning of a joke, but the question I would ask is, are they a diverse group?  My answer would be NO!  Diversity is more that race or ethnicity; it is a group of people from diverse racial, ethnic, social, religious, educational, financial, life experience and cultural backgrounds working together for a common goal.   The above group may be of different races, and possibly other factors, but the all share an equal cultural and social foundation.img_20150731_145854

The recent acts of race and ethnic base violence became a catalyst for my second blog.  Part of the reason is that I am trying to come to understand something that is beyond my understanding, how people make decisions and act on them based solely on someone’s race or ethnic background.  The other part is to share how lucky I am that our Scout group in Chelsea has remained free of any ethnic or racial discord.

My upbringing did not prepare me for the racial tensions that are so much in the news.  Having grown up in Puerto Rico, a community as racially diverse as you will find, we could not understand the racial tension shown on American TV during the 60’s and 70’s.  Our running joke in those days was that if we were racist, we would start by hating ourselves!

When my wife and I restarted the Cub Scout Pack in Chelsea, we made a decision to actively recruit Scouts from every race, ethnicity, social class, religion etc.  We did not want a Hispanic or any specific ethnicity group.  img_20160315_190121It was important to me to try to recreate the Scout experience I was involved in as a youth.  Fortunately our neighborhoods are exactly like that.  The Chelsea schools are integrated regardless of any traits from preschool on.  All kids learn early on to work with other children regardless of appearance or any other differences.

As much as younger children do not have any preconceived ideas of hatred or racial bias, unfortunately parts of our society seems to very easily teach our children about it.  It has been our priority as Scout leaders to keep those divisive issues from our Boy Scout program.  We emphasize from day one, that we are stronger because of our differences, not in spite of them.  Our Scouts learn to judge each other based on actions and behaviors, not on skin color, country of origin or language spoken.

By using the values taught in Scouting, we are able to keep at bay the negative values that seem to run freely thru our society today.  We teach our scouts to value cooperation vs. winning at all cost; the importance of community betterment vs. self gain; the importance of trustworthiness vs. selfishness.  These are the values Scouting instills on our children and teen agers, and we must continue focusing on those values.

Unfortunately, the foundation of Scouting as a community base organization, can also be use to foster those negative values.  We must remain vigilant against some of the more narrow minded and bigoted views within our movement that want to return to the “olden days”.  The future of our communities and our program will be on how it deals with those that are different from “us”.  Every time I hear the old “but this is how we have always done it” my stomach churns.  This excuse has been used for generations to allow for everything from slavery to segregation; from withholding education from girls and children with special needs to withholding equal pay for women or other special or disenfranchised groups.

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Presently we have 25-30 Scouts from several countries, religions, races and at least 5 different languages.  We have Scouts with physical, emotional and intellectual disabilities.  We have Scouts from financially challenged families and Scouts whose families can help and contribute.  At our recent summer camp I was stuck by the fact that on the second night of the week long summer camp I had 3 homesick Scouts, all three were different races, ethnicities and which all spoke different languages.  When the tears came, some of the other Scouts jumped into action.  Amazingly, they did not jump in to comfort the children that were “similar” or the same ethnicity or spoke the same language as them, they just helped a Scout. It was not based on race, or ethnicity or language, just simply Scouts helping other Scouts.  That was all the proof I needed that we are on the right track, we just need to persevere.  MLK’s famous speech was about his dream, I am happy to see Chelsea’s Scout group bringing that dream a little closer to reality.

Please join us on Saturday, October 29th, at New England Base Camp’s Camp Sayre in Milton, MA

“The war we have to wage today has only one goal and that is to make the world safe for diversity.” – U Thant (Former Secretary General of the U.N.)

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ScoutBook: What’s in it for US?

Submitted by Chris Rogers, Scoutmaster, Troop 507, Winchester

I have been adult leader in Scouting for around 22 years.  Finding better ways to stay organized has always been important to me, as there is only so much time in the day to balance family, work, church and Scouts.

In Scouting, it is important to NOT reinvent the wheel, but to talk to other leaders by attending Roundtables, taking advantage of adult training opportunities and being present at Council gatherings.  Find out who else is doing something better… and do that, is my motto!   We are always better off when we share ideas and experiences, right?

When I first heard about ScoutBook, at the 2013 National Jamboree, it only took one quick demo and I knew that having this program would make my life as a Scoutmaster so much easier.  Why?… because advancement and personal information records would be stored all in one place, in a secure place, but viewable by the whole Troop.  Last October, when I found out that BSA National had bought the program, I signed up our Troop.

Some of the neat features of ScoutBook, are as follows:

  1. Youth are empowered to take control of their own advancement.  Parents know where their sons are in terms of their advancement as well.  No longer do they have to search for the Scout Handbook.  Wherever and whomever is allowed electronic devices, this information is available.
  2. Each Unit sets the parameters of what is viewable and able to be entered.
  3. Nobody needs a list of emails or phone #’s of anyone in the Unit.  Youth protection exists, as the parents linked to the Scout are copied on communications.
  4. Youth and adult leadership positions are recorded.
  5. Merit badge counselors are listed for quick reference (for Boy Scouts).
  6. Keeps track of the dates of your medical record, swim test classifications, and adult training… which is important to trip planners.
  7. Calendars, with reminders and attendance is all part of ScoutBook records.
  8. Can create reports by patrol of who is working on what requirement to help patrol leaders and for planning activities.

leader-with-laptopWe can have discussions regarding: does ScoutBook do this or does ScoutBook do that?  But, the bottom line is, ScoutBook is here to stay and will improve with time.  Persons like myself, across the country are helping to make suggestions and prioritize future enhancements to ScoutBook.  There is NO perfect program, for any organization.   I recommend you embrace ScoutBook for what it can do for US now!

All You Have To Do Is Ask!

My dad always told me “all you have to do is ask”. Yes, that statement has very much to do with a father daughter relationship, but being a Scouter for me has always been about the “Ask”. My dad taught me that it is ok to ask people for help and in return be at the ready to help others if asked.   What does my relationship with my dad have to do with helping Scouting Thrive?

Sometimes just asking is the hardest part. Over the course of my years as a Scouter I have never succeeded at anything on my own. I have had to ask 100’s of people to help make it happen: a Blue and Gold for almost 400 people, a raingutter regatta for a district, selling $57,000 in popcorn, and Pumpkin Fest for 3000 people at New England Base Camp. I have had to do a lot of asking and thankfully enough many, many, many people have said “Yes, I will help!”
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Collectively we have delivered great programs to thousands of Scouts over the years and I am inspired by the level of commitment and talent you can find within the Scouting community. It is amazing how someone can take a simple idea and deliver something that will last in the minds of our young Scouts for a lifetime just because they were asked.
Sometimes we prompt the ask in a conversation with other leaders and parents by saying “What can I do to help?” Because we all want to help, Don’t We? We often just do not know how. Well here it is how the “Ask” helps Scouting Thrive, someone tells us what they need us to do by asking us a very specific question.

pfestI was asked to be the Registrar for S.OA.R – Scouting’s Outdoor Adventure on the River, they asked “Can you help us get 10,000 people to come to the Charles River in October of 2016”. A specific question…okay, I was crazy enough to say yes (my dad would remind me that it is good to be helpful) and now it is my turn to ask you something.

Have you registered for S.O.A.R? You can help us by signing up your Troop, Crew, Post,
Pack, or Ship to come and joins us on the Banks of the Charles River! Visit http://soar2016.us

popcorn-1Have you encouraged others to attend Scouting’s Outdoor Adventure on the River? You can help us by working with the Pack’s in your town to coordinate Webelos Camping Overnight for the event with your Troop.
As a unit leader have you shared S.O.A.R. information about how to register with your families if needed? You can share event details and registration information. Share http://soar2016.us

Have you signed up to volunteer for S.O.A.R.? You can help us by signing up to volunteer! Visit http://staff.soar2016.us/ to sign up today!
You can share with others and let them know that your unit has registered for Scouting’s Outdoor Adventurer on the River and that you are ready to for a memorable adventure with 10,000 new Scouting Friends on Columbus Day Weekend.
You can help us by joining our S.O.A.R. Facebook Event Page let us know you are coming. Better yet Join and Share our S.O.A.R. Facebook Event Page!

Don’t know how you can help – Guess what? Ask me! Email register@soar2016.us – I have just the Job for YOU!

soar-meeting-1Over this past year, teams of volunteers have been planning, emailing, phone calling, attending countless meetings, all to make S.O.A.R. a quality event that will be sure to provide countless memories that will stay with you and the youth we serve for years to come , all because someone asked. Now it is your turn, I ask you to help us by saying yes to any or all of the questions above!

See you on the Banks of the Charles River October 8-10, 2016…Come Join the Adventure!

Telling Our Story: Promoting Your Cub Scout Pack

Submitted by Matt Bailey, Cubmaster, Pack 28 Wenham

Last year, I recall reading a Council blog about a focus group held at New England Base Camp with non Scouting families. My takeaway was families once exposed to the Scouting program thought it was awesome but they also told us they saw Scouting a closed system and as outsiders did not know how to access Scouting.

I thought this was a terrific insight and thought if we can get our message out and promote an invitational environment, we may just be able to grow the program.

Now, I have enjoyed some recent success getting our Pack’s story in the local press. It wasn’t easy.

I spent a year submitting photos and articles and getting no results. My wife and I spoke with reporters and editors at our local weekly and delivered a similar response.

“We have been sending pictures and articles but nothing gets published. I’m good if you don’t print our stuff, just let me know and I won’t bother taking the time to submit articles”.

What changed? We did.

Our media friends, want photos and stories about our Scouts doing something exciting. Let our Scouts tell the story. Show the Scouting spirit.

So, here are the secrets:

  1. Make it easy for the press.
  2. Give them action photos and an engaging headline.
  3. Close up photos work best.

So, if we write the story we want to tell, in they way the press likes they may just print the whole thing.

Wow! Think about that for a moment…

We have an opportunity to engage potential recruits, stakeholders and the communities we serve at zero cost. We also get to define the Scouting brand in our community. People have a fuzzy impression of what Scouting is about and so if we create a mental picture of Scouting in our local community we may be more successful recruiting new members and engaging adult participation.

So, why would the press be interested in Scouting?

  • We have great activities no one else is doing.
  • Cub Scout photos show authentic excitement.
  • We are local.
  • Our content is free. No payments to freelancers or staff reporters.
  • Cub Scout parents are a demographic that might not buy newspapers and who the print media may want to engage…and the demographic that buys newspapers loves Scouting.

Here an example of a good, but ineffective, effort…

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Headline: Pack 28 Pinewood Derby Race Winners Announced Group shot of a Pinewood Derby finalists. (NOT Published)

This is an example of why close ups are important. A good close up eliminates visual clutter that may not be appealing to an editor. It is also a lot easier to take a three great individual photos than a group shot.

The below articles were published and I included one photo from the final article; however each article had a multiple photos that made it to print and I did not include the narrative portion. A common theme among all that were printed were great photos of Scouts genuinely excited about Scouting. All three events, were also open to new recruits and we had new visitors.

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Headline: Cub Scouts Ignite Interest in STEM / Photo Caption: Caeden and Owen very proud of the rockets they made (PUBLISHED)

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Headline: Pack 28 Holds Annual Fishing Derby / Photo Caption: Pack 28 held their 2016 Fishing Derby at Pleasant Pond in Wenham. Gabe won the award for the smallest fish. (PUBLISHED)

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Headline: Wenham Cub Scouts Catch Olympic Spirit / Photo Caption: Avery clears the mud pit and stays dry.(PUBLISHED)

So, you may say, that’s great but: 1) you aren’t a professional photographer, 2) you are not in PR and 3) you don’t have time.

No worries. Most of these photos were taken on a smartphones, all by amateurs.

The story is a simple one to write using a common recipe. It does need to be produced soon after the event to be newsworthy.

  • Headline: Cub Scouts did something fun, outdoors and unique
  • Story: Pack 1 Cub Scouts had a great experience doing something fun, learning something new.
  • Pictures: Close ups of excited Cub Scouts doing an activity. Send files as a .jpg attachment.
  • Closing: Cub Scouts is a year-round outdoor program for boys in grades 15. For more information contact: _____________.

So, why make the effort?

We have a great story to tell. Press coverage instills as sense of pride in Scouts about their program and unit. It helps define the Scouting brand in your town. It validates our Scouts. At our feeder school, press clippings of students are posted in a prominent location a common practice. Because of the nature of our program as civically engaged and offering unique programming we have the ability to generate press other youth activities can only hope to create. Finally, telling our story in an invitational way will help to address a perception of Scouting as a closed system and open for new members.

Our Council also has the ability to help your Pack get PR at a greater level for seriously awesome events and activities. Check out the examples from Pack 126, Wilmington this Spring:

If you are having an event of this nature that you feel deserves broader press than just within your community, please contact Brice Pearce, our Communications and Sales Manager via email or Facebook.

Troop 3 Milton Comes Home

Submitted by Assistant Scoutmaster Ron Gauld

On July 16, 2016, Troop 3 Milton came home to T.L. Storer.  The troop had not attended a summer camp there in twelve years. So at 9:00 AM on Saturday July 16th, Scoutmaster Dave Humphreys and Assistant Scoutmaster Ron Gauld along with Troop 3 parent Andy Synnott arrived at Adams Field to witness the graduation of four of their Scouts from National Youth Leadership Training (NYLT).  The NYLT contingent along with two younger siblings and two senior scouts who had had been NYLT staff formed the advanced party for the troop’s arrival the next day. So with high spirits after a successful NYLT course, the scouts moved over to Campsite Chippewa and dropped off their gear before heading off to do some required laundry and enjoy some celebratory pizza.

The calls of the ravens with the rising sun woke the early arrivals and breakfast was made and preparations for the Troops arrival were completed. Soon enough the Troop started to arrive and eager scouts started to unload footlockers and bags and unhook bicycles for the upcoming week. Senior Patrol Leader Jackson Humphreys gathered up his key leaders and got the Troop organized. Tents were assigned and the all-important bug netting was set up. The troop then gathered up and off they went on a tour of the camp finding the waterfront for swim testing, COPE and Climbing, the all-important dining hall and the trading post was located for later attack. The final stops on the tour were shooting sports, nature (yea nature!) and the chapel.  Then it was back to Chippewa to finish getting settled and get ready for the first meal of the week. The Troop’s 29 scouts, two adult leaders and two additional parents soon found themselves sitting in the dining hall enjoying a good meal and quickly found the old Troop 3 sign nailed up in the rafters and determined that a new one needed to be made.IMG_0877

Monday morning broke with a little light rain as the Troop raised the colors in the campsite and preparations were made for the first full day at camp.

Locations for merit badges, Trailblazers and Older Scout program were all determined and soon after breakfast off the scouts went eager to start the week off with a bang. Monday afternoon the troop’s senior scouts went up the rifle range where they learned how to load and shoot black powder rifles.  This was a Rare Adventure that they had chosen.

On Tuesday the Magee Cup relay race plan was developed and put into effect. After dinner the runners, bikers, swimmers all were in place. The race was close and the Troop wasIMG_0875 in second place until Quartermaster Andrew Viola, paddling in the kayak leg, powered across Adams pond and took the lead that was never surrendered again. Soon anchor leg runner Patrick Fox crossed the finish line and the Troop had won the Cup. The entire Troop mobbed the winning team and the cup was carried back to the campsite amid laughter and shouts of joy.
A happy group gathered around the campfire that night as each leg of the race was retold in exacting detail and after some impromptu singing and comedy the troop settled into some well-deserved rest.

Wednesday was a big day as soon after lunch the scouts in the Older Scout program left for a bike trek, the troop also had a large group heading off for the Wilderness Survival merit badge overnight. It was a much smaller group that night in the dining hall and enjoyed a meal with the usual singing and silliness that is a part of a scout camp meal.

Thursday morning came as the groups returned to main camp after surviving a night off by themselves. They came home tired but happy and after some showers, food and rest they were off again to play Camp wide games after dinner.

Friday was the lets finish up the merit badge day and get ready for the final campfire. Troop 3 scouts gathered at the fire to watch Scoutmaster Dave Humphreys get his Woodbadge beads before the fun that is a scout campfire started. Songs were sung, jokes were told and James” Jiggles” Disandro and Carl Williams represented the Troop in the program with a well done skit about a ship hitting an iceberg. Soon enough Scout Vespers was sung and the troop quietly returned to Chippewa for the final night of camp.

Saturday morning came all too soon and the troop went to the dining hall for the last breakfast of summer camp 2016. Back in the campsite trunks were packed in preparation for departing Camp TL Storer. Troop 3 had a successful camp, several scouts advanced in rank, and lots of merit badges were earned. The Troop scouts and leaders decided that it was good to be home again.  In that spirit the Troop is hoping to return to its historical roots and stay out at Campsite Sioux and run an old fashioned patrol cooking summer camp in 2017.

Troop 3 Milton would like to say thank you to the Directors and Staff of Camp TL Storer and the rest of the Northern Nexus for a great week. We would also like to say thank you to the parents of the Troop 3 scouts that came up and spent time at the camp assisting the Scoutmasters.  We cannot do it without you.

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Climbing Toward Adventure

Submitted by John Iler, BSA Climbing Instructor, former Scoutmaster of Troop 103, Burlington, MA, and dad.

“OK, I’m going to do this exactly once in my life.” That was my daughter Sarah as she prepared to rappel down a 40′ foot rock face at Quincy Quarries. Climbing/rappelling is just one of the many ways to ‘play outside’ provided by New England Base Camp at Camp Sayre.

Sarah leads a busy life with many high school activities, but she was never really a big outdoors person. However, her Eagle Scout twin brother Luke was very active in his Boy Scout Troop. Sarah enjoyed Luke’s stories of adventure and misadventure as he returned from campouts. She wanted a taste of the camaraderie with good friends, the fun of a campfire and outdoor cooking, and a little adventure. When Burlington’s Venture Crew started two years ago, she jumped at the opportunity to be a founding member.

One of the first adventures the Crew had was the Quincy Quarries rock climbing trip IMG_3611mentioned above. Shortly after that trip, the Crew enjoyed the Venturing Klondike at Base Camp in February 2015. In the abundant snow, Venturers hiked about in snowshoes, went Ice Climbing, and practiced making climbing snow anchors, all within Base Camp. One station embedded in Sarah’s memory was the simulated crevasse rescue. As the first volunteer ‘victim’, Sarah began to lower off the edge of a very real ice and snow covered cliff being used to simulate a crevasse. She gasped slightly, exclaiming, “this is a lot higher than I expected!”. Fortunately, her Crewmates working with the instructors set up the rescue rope and pulley system and hauled her back up over the edge.

The following year (February 2016), Base Camp hosted another Venturing Klondike in
decidedly less Klondike-like conditions. The Base Camp staff and Ice Climbing instructors adjusted the program to deal with the balmy weather and snow-free conditions. The Crew particularly enjoyed the fat-tire bike riding and Base Camp’s High COPE course. When Sarah walked along the COPE course’s 50′ high ‘Burma Bridge’ cable, she let go of another fear.

As Sarah and the Crew prepares to go to Philmont this summer, I know their various Base Camp experiences were a good part of giving them the confidence to try any challenge.

JohnIn parallel with the Crew’s growth, I was also able to have some of my own. Just before the Crew formed, I was a student in a BSA Climbing Instructor’s course. This led to me becoming a rock and ice climbing instructor in the council, which allowed me to help provide many of the Crew’s experiences above. I am fortunate to have worked with so many scouts and for my new friends in the instructors’ community.

Are instructing and participating in Base Camp’s climbing opportunities right for everyone? You will know as soon as you try.

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Wood Badge Helps Ensure #ScoutingTHRIVES

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Submitted by Michael Terry, Council Vice President of Program

Designed to help Scouters make scouting thrive in their communities, Wood Badge for the 21st Century is BSA’s premier training program.  It is typically run by councils, or clusters of councils in cooperation with one another, and consists, in one form or another, of six days and evenings of concentrated training on how to be better adult leaders.

The Spirit of Adventure Council is part of a cluster of councils that cooperate to run the course annually. Other cluster members include Old Colony Council and Cape and Islands Council. Annawon Council had been in our cluster until it merged into Narraganset Council.  Like most, our cluster runs Wood Badge over the course of two three-day weekends.  Our cluster just completed its second weekend this past Sunday, with 30+ learners finishing their course work at Lone Tree Camp.  There were just under twenty staff members – all volunteers — and I was lucky to be one of those.

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Wood Badge is built around the concept of a scout’s progression from Cub Scouts through Boy Scouts, with learners broken up initially into Cub Scout Dens. These groupings remain intact for the duration of the Wood Badge course, so the dens eventually become patrols. This approach is simply a device under which to organize the course, and to give adult scouters a sense of what it is like to be a Cub Scout and subsequently a Boy Scout.  Each den/patrol is assigned a Wood Badge staff member, called a guide.

Initially, the guide is extremely directive with his den, giving presentations, leading group learning and team building exercises, etc., but as the den becomes a patrol, the guide’s role evolves to be less directive and more advisory.

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Wood Badge instruction takes the best from corporate training and gives it a scouting twist:  Listening to Learn, Communications, Aims and Methods of Scouting, Managing Conflict, Embracing Change, Leave No Trace, Diversity in Scouting, and Scouts with Disabilities are just some of the topics covered during the course.  Interspersed among these presentations are worthwhile games and exercises that not only help the patrol gel as a team but instruct them as to the four stages of team development – forming, storming, norming, and performing.

Toward the end of the course, learners develop five “tickets” that they will work on and complete in the next eighteen months. Each ticket is intended to strengthen whatever part of scouting the learner is most involved in, whether a Cub Scout pack, a Boy Scout troop, Venturing crew, or district or council volunteer role.  These tickets are intended to spur the learner to take what he or she has learned over the Wood Badge weekends and put it into concrete action to make scouting thrive in his or her community.

A learner is considered to have completed Wood Badge training when he or she has completed the five tickets. At that point, the learner is presented with two wooden beads held on a leather thong, a distinctive Wood Badge neckerchief, and a leather woggle/neckerchief slide of turk’s head design.WoodBadge

So, who should take the Wood Badge course?  Anyone who wants to make scouting thrive.  Our course included Cub Masters, Committee Chairs, Scoutmasters, Assistant Scoutmasters, Venture Crew leaders, and district professionals. An added benefit?  Much of what is covered in Wood Badge is applicable at home and at work.

Already a “Wood Badger”?  Consider volunteering to serve on staff for the next course, to be held in the spring of 2017. Either way, please contact me at HERE for details.

Our Pass to Family Adventure

Submitted by Chris Jackson, Cubmaster, Pack 137 (Lexington)

Our family’s Scouting adventure started three years ago when our son saw some pictures of Pack 137 in Lexington’s previous trip to the Battleship Massachusetts. He HAD to go. He had no idea what else the Scouts did he just knew that if it included sleeping on a battleship he was in.

Since then we have become increasingly involved in the pack and with District events. Two years of Pumpkinfest (for 2 children), two years of Day camp, this year’s Overnight camp and a host of other events around our Council.

But while we have been able to do some fantastic things with the Scouts we still had to CHOOSE what events we took part in as the cost has just been prohibitive for a family of four. STEM Camp, several weekend events, and even family camp have all come second place for the main opportunities our family wanted to take advantage of.

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What the card will do for us is open up those missed opportunities.  With a large discount off overnight camp and STEM camp, we have the opportunity for him to work on Robotics and Chemistry while also keeping up with the archery, BBs, and outdoor camping he loves.  We can avoid the weekends where we struggle with “Tablet time/Screen time” and he and his sister can make New England Base Camp their second “outdoor” home.  Surprise weekend trips to one of the other camps for a day of waterfront hijinks he can share with his cousin (who he considers his best friend) now become an easy choice over a visit to a town pool or rec center.

Our son is 9.  After three years in the program he has set his sights on earning his Eagle, joining Venturing, and traveling the country (and the world) through Scouting activities. Lofty goals for sure, but not out of the question and our family will be behind him supporting him all the way. With the opportunities given to us by the New England Adventure Card program it feels like our Council is there supporting us, and allowing him to immerse himself in the Scouting experience at a level we would struggle to do without it.

Changing the Future of Camping

Submitted by Rob McLaughlin, NeXus Counselor-in-Training Co-Director

Everything is getting shaken up this summer at the Northern NeXus of Adventure including our new approach to Counselors-in-Training. All aspects of the Northern NeXus are being re-evaluated, including the CIT program that has been historically offered. Beginning this year, CIT’s at T.L. Storer and Wah-Tut-Ca Scout Reservation will become more a part of the camp staff than ever before. Now 14 year-olds will have the opportunity to experience a full summer learning at camp by participating in all staff activities from Staff Week all the way through take down, at no cost to the CIT. Also as part of the new CIT experience, all participants in the program will attend the exclusive Staff Training and Growth Course (STAG) which will teach CIT’s leadership and team working skills through the Rare Adventures of T.L. Storer and Wah-Tut-Ca. The opportunities presented by the NeXus make this program unique in Boy Scouts.

When I was fourteen I would have loved an opportunity like this. During my own summer as a CIT at Wah-Tut-Ca Scout Reservation I had a lot of fun but this course was built to surpass that experience in every way imaginable. As a former staff member at the National Youth Leadership Training Course, a participant at Philmont’s National Advanced Youth Leadership Experience and a veteran of five years of camp staff at 3 camps, I was able to draw from a large box of involvement to develop a program that applies to the type of leadership needed not only for camp, but also for life. Some activity examples are Search and Rescue Training, Challenging Outdoor Personal Experience challenges, a youth planned backpacking outpost to a mountain in the NeXus and much more.

Another great benefit of this program stems from its change in the role of a CIT from a learning-camper to an apprentice staff member. By attending and participating in Staff Week, CIT’s will learn all the staff specific trainings and integrate fully into the camp staff. Following the completion of the STAG Course during the first week of program, CIT’s will apprentice in program areas for the rest of the summer, learning skills by being additions to the general staff members assigned to that area. As stated before, unlike previous summers participants in the program can spend their whole summer at camp for free, including the STAG leadership training course. They will even get the 25% Staff Discount at Spirit of Adventure Scout Shops to buy their summer uniforms and any other gear at the store. No other Boy Scout camp in New England offers a program like this for 14 year olds.

To apply to be a participant in the STAG Course and a CIT this summer all you have to do is fill out this electronic application. There will be two participant information meetings (both starting at 7:00 PM):

  1. May 17th in Chelmsford, MA, at Trinity Lutheran Church (170 Old Westford Rd)
  2. May 19th at New England Base Camp (411 Unquity Rd. Milton, MA)

Don’t miss out on this once in a lifetime opportunity to live the adventure at the Northern NeXus.