Category Archives: For Parents

Creating Engagement for Scouting and Families

Submitted by Chuck Eaton, Scout Executive and CEO

Somewhere along the way I realized I have to embrace the fact that I am a crusader. For all the good and the bad that term implies – I am not rational. I am irrationally dedicated to making Scouting Thrive. It is way more than my hashtag, or my job, it’s been my life’s mission. The short hand is that parents and kids of this generation deserve the same quality experiences of previous generations and we all need the benefits that come from raising a generation of character.

The crusade is to make Scouting Thrive – I am so excited about the future! Please save the date May 3rd 7PM at EDCO. Share this link and tell your friends. If you can’t attend – log in and watch it, ask questions and participate on line. Let’s work together to provide the council and the programs this generation of Scouts deserve! ‪#‎ScoutingTHRIVES

Participate NOW, by filling out this form and sharing with PARENTS and LEADERS in your UNIT.

Can’t attend in person – please participate on the 3rd from your computer via live stream (the event will also be archived). Thanks to the Key Foundation for providing the internet broadcasting technology!

The program is brilliant, yet the organization has struggled for almost 50 years. The bigger the struggle the more energy (time, money, effort) will be required to repair the problems. Success of the council only matters when it impacts the life of a Scout.

The most rational people involved in the BSA are the folks (typically parents and unit leaders) who understand the program’s value for youth, they have an altruistic calling and they put the program to work for their child and the kids in their neighborhood. They keep all “the council stuff” at arm’s length and take the support they need were they can get it. Sadly, there are less of those folks every year. The council NEEDS to be an active partner – not a bureaucratic entity to be tolerated.

I’m told my crusade is most evident in the techniques and tenacity I employ when I attempt to un-earth the core of a problem. I flatly refuse to accept mediocrity or partial answers – yet from time to time I’m forced to tolerate it and ask others to tolerate it TEMPORARILY as we dig deeper. I ask us collectively to look the problems in the eye, socialize answers and ultimately sequence and enact the answers. This takes time.

Here is an example: For 20 years I hear people say “the Boy Scouts should do more marketing” and for 20 years the organization replies “We’ve done a ton of marketing and it’s too expensive, and non-effective, therefore we think that’s a local responsibility.” That’s NOT the answer – nor is it really the right question. Every organization in America that thrives and grows uses some type of marketing and PR. Who are we to think we can grow without it? Everyone involved in our conversation is motivated to help Scouting, yet these two statements create an impasse. In short no one is wrong – yet no one is right, so in the meantime Scouting limps along. My crusade compels me to unwind the situation. To understand the complexities I throw myself into marketing efforts and opportunities, I learn about PR so I can finally address the situation with the right context. I know that seems like a simple starting point, but it turns out our paradigm doesn’t allow the discussion to start with that sentiment. Therefore it’s very difficult to ever develop a solution. On May 3rd we’ll share the detailed plans.

Marketing is an example: The WAY we discuss marketing is more critical to creating a successful marketing plan, than the energy we put behind the actual marketing. That’s the same for paperwork, program development, unit service, parent engagement, camp program, and district / board operations and on and on. The WAY we discuss it frames the conversation and our current paradigm inadvertently closes us to certain potential solutions.

The great thing about Spirit of Adventure – we’ve already done the hardest work. We worked to alter the paradigm and now we are in unchartered territory. I know it’s a little scary out here, I’ve been on the journey for decades and trust me … we are in the home stretch.

 

I Love Scouting for ME.

Submitted by Kim Lynch, Cubmaster (Pack 105, Burlington), Teacher, Mom, and Wife

My first year of being Cubmaster is coming to an end, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked why I do it. The answers always revolve around my sons: Jarrod (a Boy Scout), Dylan (a Wolf),  and another coming into Cub Scouts in a few more years. Lynch1I start my answer with a description of loyally cheering Scouts at a Pinewood Derby, or a thrifty and creative Recyclable Rain Gutter Regatta, occasionally I include the helpful relationships between Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts (I often use this one). Maybe I include the enjoyment of warm campfires, silly skits and scrumptious s’mores, but sometimes I simply focus on the morals that Scouting instills and how they revolve around teaching boys to be good men and dads later in life.

My answers always encompass what Scouting offers my children.

It’s here that I came to realize something a little different. I love Scouting for me. As new members to our local community, Jarrod and I forged relationships we still enjoy today; people I trust with my son in every way; people who have fought for him and supported him and helped me to feel trust. Now, as a Cubmaster, I enjoy friendships that extend well past Scouting. We look forward to our monthly leader meetings where we come together as friends and plan for our next meetings.

We all enjoy our Scouting fun and our many Scouting adventures and we have similar interests as well. This year a few of us from the Wolf den enjoyed a family adventure. Our Lynch4thrill ride took us up a mountain trail in New Hampshire together. We celebrate birthdays together or even just a fire side night out. Scouting brought us all together as friends. Our similar philosophies brought us to Cub Scouting and in turn to each other.

Our differences make us strong leaders. We have a tech-savvy spreadsheet creating wiz, a hands-on crafty queen, a saleswoman-forward-thinking diva, along with an innovative idea king and a Shriner Clown who’s always willing to share a laugh or twist a balloon. Our values tie us or should I say ‘knot’ us together both in and out of Scouting.

So when people say it’s hard to make new friends, I disagree. Knowing who you are and going out in search of it will bring you right to them.
From now on, when I answer the questions about loving Scouting, I will still start off with the many rewards my children reap, those all encompassing values, but I will equally emphasize what Scouting does for me!Lynch2

Let the Rare Adventures Begin!

Submitted by Joe Dailey, Northern NeXus Rare Adventures Director

As an avid camper myself, I’ve always been an adventure seeker. Philmont, Sea Base, mountain biking, skydiving, dirt biking, ice climbing, snowboarding, you name it, I’ve probably tried it! I love being at the center of the action, and when some friends told me about the plan for an all-new adventure base for our council, I knew I had to be a part of it.

You see, while I loved summer camp, sometimes it just didn’t provide enough adventure to quench my thirst…. I would return every year, but eventually, the normal routine lost a bit of its magic.

That’s why when I was asked to be the Rare Adventures Director, I knew that with the help of the Northern NeXus leadership team, we could make this something big. Being the adventure junkie that I am – but unable to pull myself away from the summer camp that had raised me – this was the perfect role for me to use my knowledge and love of the outdoors to bring those same experiences to scouts of all ages.

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Along with the rest of the leadership team, I promise every scout that enters a NeXus camp that they’ll get to enjoy a unique High Adventure experience, guaranteed!

My vision is that, together, we can build a new standard for summer camp experiences, the likes of which has never been seen, and show all the other Boy Scout camps and councils that here in the Spirit of Adventure Council, Scouting Truly Does Thrive!

Varying in length and difficulty, the Rare Adventures will provide new experiences to scouts of all ages and skill levels. Some examples are:

  • Learn advanced sailing techniques on the Craig Ryder, exploring the beautiful and expansive Northwood Lake!
  • Grab a friend and take on the allnew Vertical Caving Tower at T. L. Storer, climbing, crawling, and rappelling through a vertical maze!
  • Gather your patrol or troop and head out to Parker Mountain for an overnight survival simulation!
  • Units will even have the opportunity to work with the NeXus staff and build their own Rare Adventure.

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Whatever your path, you’re guaranteed a one-of-a-kind experience, only available at the Northern NeXus of Adventure.

In addition to this incredible new program, scouts will be able to earn points for participating in Rare Adventures, which can then be applied towards earning the all new Spirit of Adventure Camping Award! Multitiered and comprising a number of different components, this award will be offered on the individual, patrol, and troop levels, giving scouts the chance to challenge themselves not only individually but also as a team, working together to obtain the never before seen Spirit of Adventure Troop Award! Scouts will receive patches and awards as they progress through the various levels.

Making Friends through Scouting

Submitted by Diane Trubiano, Cub Scout Leader and Scout Parent.

Since Pumpkin Fest in October, my son Paul and I have had quite the adventure adding to our scouting story.  Paul ECoHHe started college, completed hiking all 48 of the 4000 footers in New Hampshire, and most excitingly earned the Rank of Eagle Scout. It was a great celebration (and moment of pride for me as his mom) to start 2016.

To pick up where I left off last year; it is safe to say that a good number of the people I am close to and call friends are people I have met through Scouting. If you look at my Facebook friends list, it is made up of all Scouts and family.  We see each other weekly in Pack and Troop meetings, then at the district and council level each month. I know families that see less of each other than that! We all of course bond over the common interest of Scouting and our commitment to the youth we serve. As we share stories about our favorite Scouting moments, it often feels as though Scouts and their parents become like family to you.

Some of the nicest people I have ever met are through the Scouting program. friendsAs
dedicated parents, we understand the long hours and time away from home, the need for taking our units camping for weekends and weeks at summer camp, hiking mountains with 50 pound back packs, passing swim tests at summer camp, challenging youth to do more than they thought they could. Shared interests, experiences, and campfires are what bring us together to meet and make new friends through the fellowship Scouting offers us as adults and youth.

When I was asked to help recruit 10,000 participants to join us at SOAR – Scouting’s Outdoor Adventure on the River in 2016,  I saw it as a great opportunity to make 10,000 new Scouting Friends. To share an event this big with so many Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, Venturers, and Scout Leaders from all over the Northeast is an opportunity not to be missed!

Please join me and share in a memorable experience with thousands of new friends at SOAR 2016 – Scouting’s Outdoor Adventure on the River October 8-10, 2016! I am very much looking forward to the opportunity for fellowship with all of you 😊
SOARClick to reserve your spot on the banks of the Charles River for the day (10/9) or the whole weekend.

Spring into STEM Camp

Spring is almost here and the April vacation will be here before you realize it.  The question that always comes up is, “what to do with the kids?”  You could always keep them home and let them watch television all day, but we have a better idea!  Send them to New England Base Camp for STEM Camp!

Jobs within the STEM (Science, Technology, Math, and Engineering) industry are growing at nearly twice the national average, meaning there will be well over 1 million unfilled tech jobs by 2020! Careers in STEM foster valuable 21st century life skills like problem-solving, creativity, and collaboration, while providing opportunities to create positive change and innovate a better world.  Not to mention that it is fun.

STEM Camp 2016 is bigger than ever!  This year, we will be hosting Peter and Paul Reynolds who will be teaching Animation Merit Badge with the animators at FableVisionWill Bales, from the TV show BattleBots, will be at camp teaching robotics to Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts. NVBots will be at camp teaching 3D printing.  We cannot forget about the paleontologists, meteorologists, astronauts, robots and drones coming as well.   Everyone will be taking a field trip this year.  Participants will be going to MIT, Lincoln Labs, iRobot, FableVision, Harvard, Wentworth Institute of Technology and many more.

We have added more sessions for the Boy Scout Merit Badge program.  Scouts can choose between Animation Merit Badge, Energy and Electricity Merit Badges, Inventing and Engineering Merit Badges, Nuclear Science and Drafting Merit Badges, Robotics Merit Badge, Space Exploration and Weather Merit Badges.  Cub Scouts will work on a multitude of Activity Badges.  Girl Scouts will be able to work on their awards and everyone works towards their NOVA award.

Bring your child to STEM Camp at New England Base Camp for chance to learn while having the time of their lives.

A Night at the Museum (of Science)

One Dad’s perspective on the Cub Scout overnight at the Museum of Science
By Ted Cormier-Leger, Pack 7 Dedham

Back in the fall, my son’s Cubmaster gave us the pitch about selling popcorn as a way to help support the pack and in return we would get some nice perks too.  One of those perks was my son would get to go the Museum of Science.

So like good Scouts we sold what we had to and eagerly waited for when our pack would get assigned its night at the museum.  I too was excited because I knew it was a parent and son program and something we could enjoy together.  After all, I remember going to the Museum as a kid many times on school field trips and such but I never got to sleep over.  I wonder if we can sleep under the T-Rex?  I wonder if they still have the planetarium?  Oh wow, I remember that lightning show being scary, so I hope my son is not freaked out.  These were a few of the things that passed through my mind.

So a few months later we got our date.  Sat night in mid February.  What I did not realize was MOST of the boys in my son’s Wolf Den were attending.  Now fear was starting to set in.  Were these little hellions going to be up all night?  What if they break something priceless? What if they accidentally reprogram the museum’s computers?  What if they take all the parents hostage and tie us up all night so they run free?  All very legit concerns for this particular group of 7 and 8 year old boys.

Charlie at deskThe afternoon had finally arrived and my son was very excited.  He wore his full uniform to the museum, proudly adorning all his accomplishments for the year.

We packed lightly but I was warned by more than one chaperone “bring an air mattress” so I did.  We got to the museum, checked in and soon I saw that not only was I chaperoning the scouts from my son’s pack but more than 200 boys were there from around New England.  Was I insane?  I was agreeing to spend the night in a science museum with 200+ little boys, surrounded by dinosaurs, relics of ancient civilizations, live animals and enough sugary snacks to keep them awake for a decade.  Luckily I was pleasantly surprised….

  • We got to see an awesome demo on the history of animation.
  • We enjoyed a live animal show.
  • We explored the dinosaur hall and other exhibits.
  • We saw the amazing indoor lightning show which was just as cool as I remembered.
  • We learned about space exploration and the distance of planets in relation to the sun.
  • We even got snack and all this before 11pm!

Bedtime came and we all got our stuff.  Air mattresses were being blown up everywhere you looked.  One family had a setup complete with sheets, pillows and a comforter.  It looked better than many rooms I have stayed in at 4 star hotels.  I think they even brought slippers!  I looked around and tried to find a spot near a power outlet so I could charge my cell phone.  I set up our mattress and sleeping bags and quickly more and more boys kept coming over to my general area.  Uh oh.

Turns out the glass display on the other side of my sleeping area was the baby chicken hatching station. Lucky me.  Three little guys decided that night would be their birthday!  The kids were excited but as the night went on, those little chicks went from being cute to being thought of in a delicious buffalo sauce.  They chirped and chirped and well, I did not get much sleep.  But it’s for the kids right?

Morning came and we got changed, got cleaned up as best we could and we got all our stuff packed away in our car.  We were treated to a nice breakfast and a morning full of more activities….an Imax theatre film, a planetarium show, more exhibit halls, another live animal show.  Good grief, they sure do pack it all in and 100% give you your money’s worth.  By noon on Sunday, no matter how strong the iced coffee was from the café, I was all done and we needed to get going so we headed home.

Cub Scout Charlie had another awesome experience and I lived to tell the tale.  And I am so glad and thankful for my night with the baby chicks.

Finding a Better Way Forward

Submitted by Ahmadou Balde, District Executive

Five weeks ago, I returned to the United States from a trip in West Africa that profoundly affected me. I saw at first sight how the desertion of the youth and young adolescents can affect a society. From the media and family members, I was already aware of some of the societal realities, however, I soon realize that no amount of stories could have prepared me for what I was witnessing. All the initial excitement I had of going back to a place I had been away from a eight years dissipated. Instead, I was ecstatic to get back to start my new job with the Boy Scouts of America. 

The only knowledge I had of this organization was based on the research prior to my interview. I knew I was aligning myself with the right organization to learn for the purpose of eventually giving back. What I did not know was the fact that I was joining a deeply misunderstood organization with a deep seated history. 

A few weeks into my new job, I came to realize the mainstream view of the organization as WHITE ONLY or UPPER MIDDLE CLASS ONLY perpetuates a misunderstanding and prevents the active participation of many individual communities that can profoundly benefit from the Scouting movement. And frankly, I think viewing the Boy Scouts through those lenses is doing injustice to all of us.  Undoubtedly, an organization that is 106 years old has a long and diverse history with its own stereotypes and reputation. However, I strongly believe that it has the solution to the moral decay going on in our respective communities that none of us can afford to ignore.  

Recently, I heard a compelling story from a Scouter. As a child, his single mom dropped him at Scout meetings. With her competing priorities and responsibilities, she barely had the time, but she was entirely committed to having her son participate in Scouting. I guess she saw how the different camping activities would teach him how to live in a pluralistic society and how the respective field trips would open his sense of curiosity. But I think most importantly, she realized how the Scout Law and Oath that he was routinely reciting would forever be ingrained in the psyche of her son. More than 40 years later, she was right. Her child has become a decent man, dedicated to giving back to the world.

Now, I am in no way stating that this man is a decent person only because he joined Scouting. I am sure we can find plenty of examples that provide supporting details. Nevertheless, his story and stories of others show that the historical contribution of the BSA to America was unquantifiable. Just like Scouters, this mother understood early on that with the decline of institutions like families and churches, the presence of an entity with the sole purpose of inculcating people with certain moral values is essential to the well-being of our society. We are beginning to quantify that value today, with longitudinal research.

Before every Scouting meeting, all Scouts are expected to recite the Scout Oath, which goes begins this: “On my honor, I will do my best to do my duty to God and my Country…” As a black African immigrant with a double consciousness, I grapple with the meaning of this phrase. I surely knew duty to God and to country means different things to different people. I wondered if I was just pledging blind loyalty to America or simply reciting a slogan. Fortunately, I came to realize that this one phrase is an affirmation of the longest lasting American promise expressed differently by each generation: the responsibility to leave a better world for our children. It is the God-given duty of self-responsibility for a greater good ingrained in the collective psychology of everyday Americans.

The rising moral decay expressed by rising attitude of indifference, egocentric motivation, perverted aspiration (win at all cost) or the rise of demagogues is a product of our failures to properly react. Consequently, individualism is on the rise with all its ramification. Now, it is of utmost importance that we acknowledge the current reality to properly shape the youth and create a better world. The approach of community based activities and leaderships practiced by BSA in respective neighborhoods to responsibilize adults and prevent children from lionizing morally bankrupt folks and teach them decent moral values will only help reconnect with this promise.

In reality, this situation is a generational challenge that will require the commitment of each and all of us. The Boy Scouts of America has much to offer; however, I know many youth and parents are distancing themselves from the Scouting movement simply due to misunderstanding or historical missteps. The goal of Scouting is to prepare young people for life, to cultivate a higher sense of positive character and decency. At the end, what makes America great is not the fighters or the wealth of the nation. It is the affirmation of social responsibility acted upon by each of generation and expressed by this one phrase recited by every Scout. Now, the continuity of this tradition will depend on our current actions and choices.

Rock Climbing and COPE Instruction

Submitted by Darrin Johnson, General Manager of New England Base Camp

The first time I went rock climbing was at summer camp.  You had to be 13 years old and they only offered it on Thursday morning.  I skipped Reptile Study Merit Badge to go and to give it a try.  After all, I had been waiting to try rock climbing for 3 years.  My response was an instantaneous love of the sport.  A love that would stick with me for almost 30 years.  We went back to the campsite and tested out our new skill using bailing twine and the cliff next to our tent.  Needless to say, that did not go well.

The next 25 years I would go climbing with the Scouts at summer camp, weekend climbing with friends and worked in the industry for a while.  When my oldest came home from a school trip to the local climbing gym and wanted to go climbing all time, was when I determined that I needed to refresh my best practices.  Even though I had learned new skills along the way, I knew that I needed to get better and safer.

Picking the right climbing course (or any course for that matter) is not easy.  I did not want one that was too basic.  I also did not want one that was way over my head.  I looked all around, and in the end I decided on the Spirit of Adventure Climbing Course.  For me, the reason was convenience.  The timing of the course worked and the location was right for me.  I was not sure what to expect, but my goal was to refresh my skills.

I sat by two people that I did not know.  On my left was a person who had never gone climbing before in her life and just wanted to “give it a try.”  To the right of me was a former White Mountain Guide who wanted to get his certification to take his Scouts climbing.  I was pretty much right between the two of them in my skill level, so the seat was perfect.

The course succeeded with something that is not easy to do at all- they managed to relate and to teach at all the different levels.  The person who had never climbed before, now takes her Scouts climbing regularly, helps out at Base Camp and is planning on taking her COPE certification.  The former guide added a ton to the discussion during the course, helped everyone, learned several new safety skills and now teaches Climbing Merit Badge for units, districts and at Merit Badge University.

I got something out of the course that you really cannot put a price tag on.  I did learn a ton (more than I ever thought that I would) and it did help make my best practices a whole lot better.  The biggest thing though, without question, is that I feel safe taking my daughters climbing.  We have gotten closer by climbing together on the weekends and bonding over the difficult climb that they managed to climb.

Come join us at New England Base Camp to become a Climbing Instructor and learn how to impact not only your life, but those of countless youth as well by registering HERE

Why Do We Camp?

To experience the wilderness? To be with friends? To challenge our skills? To explore?

All of this, and something even more. Camping is pure. It’s an opportunity to strip away the pressure of the day and focus on more important things. As the Scoutmaster, you can leave the stress of work behind and focus on helping others.

For the Scouts, they leave behind their school and part-time job concerns, desire for academic achievements, athletic competition, and social pressures. They are free to roam at camp like nowhere else (Obviously, we know where they are at all times, and they are in a safe environment). Within that wilderness space they can let go and explore. As a Council, we spend enormous time, effort and resources scheduling merit badges, building ropes courses, improving facilities, launching boats, and dozens of other activities that add up to “the program.” However, when the Scout comes home after the week at camp and his mom asks him what was the best part about camp, he says “I caught a frog!” Or “Billy laughed so hard milk came out his nose.” Two things he could’ve done on any given Saturday in the backyard.

If that’s the highlight, why do we camp?

We are grateful that he has fun memories when he’s 11 years old. But those memories change and evolve over time. As he grows he learns to articulate different memories from his camp experience. When you ask a 17-year-old about camp he references camaraderie. Ask a 25-year-old to reflect on his youthful camp experience and he talks about independence. When you ask 40 year-old he talks about learning responsibility in camp. Responsibility he never would’ve learned anywhere else. The place that prepared him to to be a father. Ask a 55 year old and he’ll reflect on learning leadership that, in retrospect, has guided him ever since. Ask a 70 year old and he’ll reminisce about the milk coming out of Billy’s nose 😉

So, why do we camp?

It provides life changing opportunities and builds life-long bonds. Deeper than they first appear, and they fill our personal memory reservoir. Camp is a wonderful mixture of authentic challenges, metaphorical lessons, and unparalleled fun. The scouting community (Scoutmasters, Scouts, camp staff and the physical property) all work together – like a recipe to make the experience work.

Building and developing the Northern Nexus and the Spirit of Adventure is an authentic challenge. It’s the challenge that makes the victory taste so sweet. We are glad to announce all the registrations for the much anticipated inaugural summer at Northern Nexus (Wah-Tut-Ca, Storer and Parker) can be found HERE.

Birthday Adventure Is Yours Here!

All across the country, Troops, Packs, and Venture Crews find ways to celebrate and recognize and share their enthusiasm for Scouting is part of the anniversary.

Everyone understands the character and leadership building value of the program. And everyone in the program understands the fun excitement of the scouting activities. Yet, in many communities we also struggle with attracting new families. Ask any Cubmaster with growing membership and will all say the same thing “The secret is program first! Make it fun for the scouts, siblings and the parents!”

What could be more fun than an outdoor adventure birthday party!?
Plan your birthday party with us this month and save $50.
Think about the invitation list. All their friends would enjoy a day that includes rock climbing, archery, swimming, Native American games, and all the great outdoor activities.

So plan today, and register with your Scout’s birthday party between April – October 2016 during the month of February and save!
Email Heather Sheehan or call her at 617-615-0004 to schedule your party now.