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Scoutmaster's Minutes

Jamboree Report: Boys (and Girls) from All Over

posted Aug 14, 2010, 6:54 AM by Ralph Heredia

by Bill Edge.
Well, today is day 9 of the 2010 Boy Scout National Jamboree, 100th Anniversary, where 45,000 plus Scouts and Scouters have ascended upon Fort A.P. Hill just outside, Virginia, near Washington DC.  And what a week it has been!  Monday morning, July 26, beginning at 0600, busses started arriving with boys and girls in all Scouting Programs from all over the world for the most exciting event in recent Scouting history.  The Boy Scouts of America celebrated its 100th birthday this year and looking back, we have come a long way.  As you can imagine there are displays and activities that not only span the roots of the BSA, but exciting events that project Scouting in the future!  Everything from Pioneering of the early days to NASA Space Exploration over the next century is on display for the world to partake.  Our boys are learning black powder muzzle loading to making real arrowheads, to the latest solar panel technology and everything in between.

It doesn't take long for one to realize that Scouting in today's world is still relevant to the life we live and the global nature of our economy and social interactions.  The principles upon which Scouting was founded are being taught and lived daily by many who represent all generations including the next generation of young people coming behind us.

Although, I must tell you that the next generation of boys and girls are immersed in a world that is far more complex than many of us have ever experienced.  For instance, at the Jamboree this year there are kiosks and areas staged with IPODs and Cell phone charging stations, internet Wi-Fi throughout the camp and a computerized Merit Badge system that accounts for each requirement completed (or partially completed) to record the progress of the boys achievements while here.  Broadcast throughout many venues across the campus is the sound of QBSA radio station that features Scouts as the radio personnel spinnin' the vinyl (Oops!, I mean CD's!).  And don't think your boys are being out-done, because we have had four of our Scouts from the Blue Ridge Council "Live, On the Air!  On Scouting's most exciting radio station of the Century!"

So, living in tents, with no electricity, makeshift showers and latrines, sweltering heat (no air conditioning), and the best transportation system is your own two feet, has not hampered the spirit of the contingent!  Why, I would even say that the spirit of the boys has been enhanced by the experiences of the week.  This environment has bolstered the ideals of Scouting to a place higher than you could imagine.  And in the midst of all of the excitement and activity, one realizes that these kids are really all the same.  They have similar needs, desires, wants, fears and experiences.  I have had the opportunity to talk to Scouts and Scouters from all over the world this week getting to know where they are from and what their likes, dislikes, favorite things, backgrounds, and current struggles are.  I have met Scouts from Sweden, Texas, California, Canada, Egypt and many other states and countries.  And what I have discovered is that kids are kids.  Regardless of their backgrounds, experiences, beliefs, or situation, they want someone to care in what they are doing.  They want someone to listen to their story.  They don't have the barriers of prejudice or intolerance.  They thrive on someone who takes interest in them.  From my son, to the kid from Alabama that got his patches stolen, to one of our boys that traded a shirt off his back with the kid from Bangladesh as a souvenir, they each have a story to tell.  And if we listen, we find that their plight is the same.  No matter what state, what country, what continent, they need that connection and input so that they recognize that although we are different, we are the same.  Scouting provides a vehicle we can use to connect to our young people.  It gives us an open door to their world; a place to encourage, to challenge, to direct.  It also provides a set of principles that are known and understood world-wide.  The Scout Oath and Scout Law are universal tenants that ground us and bind us together.  Regardless of your religion, race or creed, we speak a common language of Character, Citizenship and Fitness.  Achievement, Encouragement, Hard Work, Integrity, Values, Respect, Pride, and LIFE!  Whether in Scouting or not, we each have an opportunity to connect to this generation.  We are the link, the example, the mentors and teachers.  No matter what your background, experience, or pre-conceptions, we have one reality we face.  Every one of us will leave a legacy behind.  We get to choose whether that legacy is filled with good or bad.  We get to choose now whether our legacy will have an impact or not.  Yes, no matter which you choose, your legacy will be left behind and when we are done, we are done.

But the good news is that it is simple.  A word at the bus stop, a smile in the grocery store line, a listening ear to a youth trying to reach out, and a note or a word of encouragement that says you noticed something good is all it takes.  Whether the kid is from Asia, Mexico, Tennessee, Anderson County, or Powdersville, they need us to care.  They need us to break down the barriers first.  They need us to connect.  Let me say in our world today that the boys (and girls) from all over are connecting in ways we will never comprehend.  We have an opportunity now to shape their world.  Take a minute to care for the boys (and girls) from all over in your world!

BSA National Jamboree Trip - by Chad Boltz

posted Aug 14, 2010, 6:37 AM by Ralph Heredia

My name is Chad Boltz, and I am a Boy Scout who would like to share the best 10 days of my Scouting life with you.

It involves the National Boy Scout Jamboree, held outside of Washington D.C., which honored Scouting’s 100th birthday this year. It was held from July 26–Aug. 4, 2010.

Preparation for this trip began in 2009 with lots of planning by our Scout leaders before I ever learned of the trip. At first I was hesitant, but my father kept telling me it would be both fun and educational.

Our troop leader, Dr. H. E. Chip Walpole said, it would be “an experience of a lifetime.” So after several weeks, I decided it was for me, and I am sure glad I chose to go because there were nonstop events every day.

Four new troops were formed from the BSA Blue Ridge Council, which is comprised of several counties. Our troop was #1917 and had 43 Scouts and three leaders from Anderson, Pickens, and Greenville counties. We prepared by having meetings and camping trips so we could get to know each other and work together as a unit. We elected leaders and also filled various positions in the troop. One of the positions was for a “Hometown Reporter”, who would report back to their community about the events that were taking place at Jamboree. I was selected by our troop to do it.

Jamboree is no small event. It consists of more than 43,000 Scouts and leaders coming together for 10 days at the same site. They traveled from almost every state and several foreign countries. That requires a lot of deodorant, when you get that many Scouts together.

We always prepare for weekend camping trips, but this was not your ordinary trip. We had to prepare our breakfast and dinner, stay hydrated in the heat, get to event areas and have a great time, all in the same day. I guess that is why the Scout motto is “be prepared.”

We departed Greenville, bound for Bowling Green, Va. on three charter buses the night before the big event began. Try getting sleep on a bus with 50 other Scouts full of anticipation — it does not make for a good night of sleep.

When we arrived, we immediately set up camp and started getting oriented to the huge Army Base. There were around 100 buses for transportation to get to various Jamboree activities, each traveling about 70 miles per day. We were issued ID cards and off we went.

The camp was very well laid out, divided into sub-camps. There were areas for swimming, boating, biking, archery and a merit badge midway. Merit Badges are areas of interest where Scouts can learn about various fields like Energy, Camping, Music and Personal Fitness. Over 80 badges were offered here, taught by professionals in their fields of study. I took an Engineering class taught by people from MIT and Perdue University.

I had special access to many areas, since I had a press pass. This enabled me to interview an Apollo astronaut, the President of AT&T Corporation and several authors. We heard interesting speeches from the U.S. Secretary of Defense to Mike Rowe of “Dirty Jobs” fame.

The Jamboree usually takes place every four years, so it has a wide range of activities, exhibits and demonstrations that keep Scouts interested and wanting more. This year it was five years so it would fall on the BSA 100 year celebration.

This trip really made me feel proud to be involved in Scouting. I realized just how many people are involved in putting together an event this large. On behalf of all of my fellow Scouts, I would like to thank all involved in this great event. This was definitely one of the highlights of my 14-year life.

Read more: The Powdersville Post - BSA National Jamboree Trip

‘Sneak up’ on someone doing good

posted May 30, 2010, 6:36 PM by Ralph Heredia

by Bll Edge

 

Have you ever caught someone doing good? I often like to “sneak up” on the boys to observe their behavior when adults are not present. Last Friday night I got an opportunity to witness pure goodness.

The Boy Scout National Jamboree celebrating 100 years of Scouting is coming up this summer. The Blue Ridge Council has four contingent Troops assembled with 160 Scouts and Leaders from many of the area Troops from Greenwood to Long Creek. The boys range in age from 12 to 17 years old and hold various positions of responsibility within their home Troops. It is a monumental task to plan and deploy 160 people whom many have never met, for a 500-plus mile trip for 10 days, with all the gear to set up camp and become self sufficient and prepared for everything from inclement weather to personal comfort and hygiene to homeland security! This is not a resort area, but an Army Tank training facility being converted into a 40,000-plus person tent city overnight! I am priv ileged to join my son as a leader for one of the Troops.

In preparation for the 10 day trip in July, the four contingent Troops met in Travelers Rest at Camp Old Indian for the last opportunity to organize and do training before we pack the gear for its final trip to Fort A.P. Hill near Washington, D.C. Part of the agenda for the weekend included a mandatory two-hour leader meeting on Friday night while the boys were left under the direction and supervision of the elected boy Leadership of each of the four Troops. I’ve been an adult leader in Scouting for almost eight years (and I remember my days as a Scout….) and I must say, I recognized the risk of this move. After all, how much damage could occur by leaving 144 teenage boys to their own devices for two solid hours!

Here’s the good news, several months ago each of the four Troops met separately to organize and form the Troop structure. Junior Leaders were elected to “Senior Staff” positions and each Troop organized into four Patrol units who have elected Patrol Leaders and since have begun to form their own identity. Patrol names have been selected, Patrol flags made, Patrol patches ordered and even Patrol yells created. By this weekend, the boys have started to get to know each other. Each Patrol has gone through the Forming and Storming stages of team development and are starting to proceed through the Norming and Performing stages. This is a dynamic that is amazing to watch happen. Over the past few months there has been confusion, frustration, communication problems, struggles, and even anger at times as the boys approach this trip. So, as I sat in that two-hour meeting, I had “confidence” (reserved) that the boys were secure and in good hands under the direction of their Senior Staff.

So, as Ronald Regan used to say, “Trust but verify!” As soon as the meeting was over, I made a beeline for the campsite. I had previously given permission for the boys to build a campfire. However, being conditioned to think about what is the worst thing that could happen, I wanted to see for myself what the boys were up to. As I walked the trail to the campsite, I could see the glow of the fire through the trees. As I got closer, I could hear the loudness of 36 teenage boys at 10 p.m. on Friday. When I neared the end of the trail I stopped to listen. I turned off my headlamp and walked the last 100 feet in the dark. At the edge of the campsite, I found a place to sit, undetected and out of view of the boys. I watched.

For 30 minutes, I observed the boys in their “natural state,” uninhibited by adult intervention. They were not being disruptive, rowdy, dangerous or malicious. Most were sitting around the campfire, taking turns telling jokes and riddles. Bits of useless trivia were being shared sometimes with laughter, sometimes with scoff and sometimes with disbelief. I observed as the boys were running to thei r bunks to get something and running back quickly to not miss any of the action. The loudness was laughter and just boys being boys!

Yes, I like to “sneak up” on the boys. I often can catch someone doing something good. Last Friday night, I “sneaked up” on pure goodness!

Bill Edge is the Scoutmaster for Powdersville Troop 10.

Thanks for reading!
The Powdersville Post

Here is the link to the article on the Powdersville Post website.

 
 

Scoutmaster Minute

posted Apr 9, 2010, 5:14 PM by Ralph Heredia

Stand up for what you believe! Speak your mind! If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything!

These are all things we want our kids to remember. After all, our forefathers came to the new world looking for religious freedom and freedom from the rule of a monarchy. We believe in our right to speak our minds and celebrate our ability to voice our opinions. We fight for the underdog, help the needy, comfort the afflicted, and enjoy our society and its privileges.

We also have the most powerful and efficient communication tools that have ever been employed. We are in constant touch with each other through our e-mail, text messaging, Facebook, Twitter, you name it! We can status our daily lives through chronicles of words and wisdom.

I have a college friend that posts on Facebook a daily quote from some famous person that really makes you think about your life’s situation and its relevance in this world. I also get status messages from many of our youth that, quite frankly, I believe have forgotten that I am their “friend”. This can lead to some interesting “teaching moments” as we interact through Scouts or Church Youth group. I dare not reveal myself on the social network media for the concern that I may violate the trust I try very hard to build with these youth. The point is that you can really learn a lot about a person by “listening” to what they say. But that, is another article…

So, the subject of this Scoutmaster Minute is Crusaders. I find it humorous how we sometimes become Crusaders through our communication media. I know that we become Crusaders in our vehicles. Just read about the “road rage” incidents that occur on our highways. Some of us can get very aggressive and very bold when we climb behind the wheel of our vehicles. Many times, we may do things, (or people may do things to us) that otherwise we would never do if forced to interact face-to-face. Some of the same behaviors can be observed through our communication media. Some folks say some things that you know they wound not say in one-on-one conversation.

This brings me to a recent example that occurred over e-mail. In Scouting there are three “Aims” to the program: to build Character, Citizenship and Fitness. Many of you know (and probably some don’t) that there are eight “Methods” used in Scouting to achieve these Aims. Among the “Methods” of Scouting are the Patrol Method, Outdoor Program, and Uniforming. Yes, Uniforming is used as a method to achieve Character, Citizenship and Fitness! After all, what Sports Team can you think of that doesn’t require a uniform for the team on game day? What military doesn’t require a uniform for its troops? A uniform is a source of pride and belonging; an identity with a group or cause. “Well, what happened over e-mail, you ask?” The Blue Ridge Council, Jamboree Troops have decided that for the 100th Anniversary of Scouting, we want to present ourselves in the Centennial Uniform. This uniform was introduced in 2008 and has been optional for Scouting units since it’s inception. Now comes the point. Because the Jamboree Troops have made this uniform decision, some participants (parents), have become “Crusaders” against the cause! I’m not attempting to debate the issue here.

My Scoutmaster Minute is focused on the Crusader behavior. One Dad wrote in e-mail, “Seems to me that the goal of Scouting seems to take a back seat to the moneymaking game.” Well, I was offended by this comment and I will tell you why. The goal of Scouting is to teach Character, Citizenship and Fitness. This e-mail was sent to all of the participants of our Jamboree Troop. Wow, every kid and every parent was influenced by this “Crusader” style e-mail. As a matter of fact, this e-mail was not even the instigator to the discussion. So, more emails, more Crusader behavior, was exchanged for all to read! And you know what? I know this Dad fairly well. I believe he would never say these things in a one-on-one conversation.

Have we lost our ability to communicate? What are we teaching our kids? Are we demonstrating Character and Citizenship in our communication? Have the communication tools we have grown to love made us lazy? Inappropriately aggressive and bold? Are we using our communication tools to promote our common goals or for rhetoric against the “opposition” of our opinions?

Scouting is a great program. My face-to-face with this Dad will include a discussion of our common goals and the use of our “communication tools” to build upon those goals as opposed to “Crusading” against the cause because it is easy!

Stand up for what you believe! Speak your mind! If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything! Yes, these are things we want our kids to do. But our actions should demonstrate how to do it right in every situation, even when we have the desire to “Crusade” against the cause.

Bill Edge is the Scoutmaster for Powdersville Troop 210.
Here is where you can see this article at the Powdersville Post site.

Scoutmaster Minute

posted Mar 6, 2010, 6:38 AM by Ralph Heredia

Today I received an e-mail from a Dad whose son is very excited about joining Scouting. He asked about the commitment required through Scouting, because they had another child with special needs. I was moved by the question, because I, too, have a child with special needs.

I thought back on our Scouting journey and recalled several special moments that would not have happened, if not for the Scout Law being lived by the boys. I recall our first camp-out that included a 5-mile hike. My son was weak and unsure about carrying his pack, but was determined to persevere to “fit in” with his peers. His balance was off, he was slow and could not navigate the rough parts of the trail. This was his first Boy Scout camping experience, and I knew he was miserable.

I recall one moment where the entire Troop was stopped at a crossing where my son was trying to step down a steep grade, over a fallen tree, on a rocky slope. I felt embarrassed and knew he was struggling. I started forward to assist, then I saw one of the older boys take his hand. He coached my son through the obstacle… a slow, painfully frustrating exchange of commands and actions… or inactions…that had me wanting to intervene. I wanted to just lift him up and set him down on the other side of the obstacle, but I watched. I watched this mild mannered coach, who could not have been more than 14-years-old, patiently work with my son on every step. Then, once past this barrier, all of the boys offered encouragement and praise.

Wow, mark this moment! The mild mannered coach later became an Eagle Scout and has graduated from high school. This event was probably not even significant to my son, but I was changed that day. I saw through my son’s eyes that Boy Scouts are Helpful, Friendly, Courteous and Kind.

Fast forward six years later. I am on a sailboat in the Florida Keys with my son, another leader and his son, two other boys, and the Captain. Six days in the Keys exploring the High Adventure of Scouting. After about three days… and hot nights on deck, the quarters become very tight. However, what an opportunity to get to know one another.

I struck a conversation with one of the boys about how he and my son interact outside of Scouting. I was astounded at the answer by this 16-year-old. This boy and my son don’t claim to have a lot in common. They don’t hang out together and other than through Scouting, I don’t think they have a lot of interaction. However, this young man had a profound admiration for my son, a special relationship that was very “brotherly,” a protective spirit, and defensive posture toward anyone who demonstrated ill will. It dawned on me that the Scout Law was alive and being lived by these boys.

My son turned 18 this week — a milestone in our lives. Many stories of Scouting’s influence can be told, but the one’s that make me proud are the stories of personal interaction. Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, and Kind are alive and well.

Scouting is about Character, Citizenship, and Fitness. Our charge is to be inclusive. I have many stories I can tell my new friend, who is curious about the commitment of Scouting and what impacts it will have on his family and special needs child. My advice will be that the commitment of Scouting is a life long covenant to the ideals of Scouting, the Scout Oath, and Law.

Indeed, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, and Kind are alive and being practiced by today’s youth. Sometimes, it takes the engagement of a person with special needs to make us “regular” folks see the gift.

Bill Edge is the Scoutmaster for Powdersville Troop 210, which meets at Bethesda United Methodist Church in Powdersville.
 

Scoutmaster Minute — The Holiday Spirit

posted Feb 6, 2010, 12:52 PM by Ralph Heredia

 
Holiday Spirit… giving gifts, helping others, hanging decorations, Christmas songs playing in every store, joy, peace, love, family, friends, co-workers, eating, gathering, shopping, spending, traffic, crowds, long lines, credit cards, parking lots, rude behavior, road rage, frustration, pressure, attitudes…STOP!

Holiday Spirit. Holiday. Holy Day. A day dedicated to religious observances or to a religious festival. Although we are reminded each year of the significance of the Christmas holiday, do we really stop to think about what it means? Whether you are a Christian or not, in our culture the Christmas holiday is a special time that has been dedicated for us to observe the birth of Christ. If we take some time to reflect on our thoughts, behaviors, relationships and actions, we may find that we have missed opportunities throughout the year to have a positive influence on those around us. The holiday season should represent an opportunity to remedy any gaps we have created. It is also an opportunity to demonstrate the behavior that we would like others to exhibit. Behaviors are contagious. A good deed is often returned by another good deed and a smile is met with another smile.

So what is the Holiday Spirit? One of the requirements for every Boy Scout rank advancement is to demonstrate Scout Spirit. This requirement is assessed by the Scoutmaster and is one tough requirement to measure. Anyone who works with kids knows that some kids have a lot of spirit! Sometimes that spirit is not always directed in a positive manner. So, in Scouting we have many opportunities to interact with boys that have lots of spirit.

Fortunately, we have tools that help guide our actions and become the measure for assessing Scout Spirit. I have found that these tools are universal and not constrained to just the Boy Scouts. The Scout Oath teaches us to do our best, to do our duty to God, our country and to ourselves. The 12 points of the Scout Law give us tools to deal with just about any situation we are thrust into.

The Boy Scout motto is “Be Prepared”, a message that helps us plan ahead and gives us a good dose of healthy feedback when something happens that we did not prepare for. And the Boy Scout slogan is “Do a Good Turn Daily”. Remember the contagious behavior (good deed and smile) I mentioned above.

So, if Holiday Spirit can be compared to Scout Spirit, then during this dedicated time of observance, we have the tools to deal with the stresses of the season. And if we truly commit to live by the Scout Oath and Law, our thoughts, behaviors, relationships and actions will be guided by these principles. Imagine if we all were committed to these principles! Would we have better relationships, better communities, a better world? So, think of the Holiday Spirit as the result of practicing our tools for dealing with the stresses of the season! The Holiday Spirit is the result of OUR actions. The re-payment for our good deeds and the return we get when we practice our fundamentals. It’s a great lesson for us adults, but think about the impact we will have on our kids if we practice the Holiday Spirit every day of the year!

As we approach the holiday season, look for opportunities to practice the Holiday Spirit. See if your rewards are not re-paid many times over!

Bill Edge is the Scoutmaster for Powdersville Troop 210.

100th Anniversary

posted Feb 6, 2010, 12:47 PM by Ralph Heredia

As seen in the Powdersville Post.

 
On Monday, Feb. 8, 2010, the Boy Scouts of America will be 100 years old!

The Boy Scout movement was founded in 1907 by British General Lord Robert Baden-Powell. And on February 8, 1910, a Chicago businessman, William D. Boyce, helped start the American Boy Scout movement based on the “Good Turn of an Unknown Scout.”

I would like to present a re-print of passage from my old Boy Scout Handbook titled The Story of a Good Turn (BSA Handbook, Ninth Edition, February 1979), and has been repeated in subsequent editions of the Boy Scout Handbook.

**************************************

The Story of a Good Turn

One day in the fall of 1909, the great city of London was in the grip of a dense fog. An American businessman, William D. Boyce, stopped under a street lamp to locate himself. Out of the gloom a boy approached him and asked if he could be of help.

“You certainly can,” said Boyce. He told the boy that he wanted to find a certain business office in the center of the city.

“I’ll take you there,” said the boy.

When they got to the destination, Mr. Boyce reached into his pocket for a tip. But the boy stopped him.

“No thank you, sir. I am a Scout. I won’t take anything for helping.”

“A Scout? And what might that be?” asked Boyce.

The boy told the American about himself and his brother Scouts. Boyce became very interested. After finishing his errand, he had the boy take him to the British Scouting office. There the boy disappeared.

At the office, Boyce met Lord Robert Baden-Powell, the famous British general who had founded the Scouting movement in Great Britain. Boyce was so impressed with what he learned that he decided to bring Scouting home with him.

And so, on February 8, 1910, in Washington, D.C., Boyce and a group of outstanding men founded the Boy Scouts of America. Ever since then, this day has been known as the birthday of Scouting in the United States.

What happened to the boy? No one knows. He was never heard of again, but he will never be forgotten. In the British Scout Training Center at Gilwell Park, England, a statue of a buffalo was put up in honor of this “Unknown Scout”. His Good Turn helped bring the Scouting movement to our country. One Good Turn to one man became a Good Turn to millions of American boys. Such is the power of a Good Turn. You never can tell….

**************************************

While this story is true in its essence, the details vary among true Scouting historians. But one thing is not debated, the movement of the Boy Scouts of America was significantly influenced by Mr. Boyce’s encounter with that unknown Scout.

“Do a Good Turn Daily is more than simple good manners. It is a special act of kindness,” says the current Boy Scout Handbook. But it truly is more than that. A Good Turn can become a life changing habit. I am reminded of the 2000 Movie, Pay it Forward, where 12-year-old Trevor McKinney believed in the goodness of human nature.

Like many other kids, he was determined to change the world for the better. In countless Boy Scout Troops across the world, the practice of Do a Good Turn Daily is being taught and encouraged.

But you don’t have to be a Boy Scout to perform a Good Turn daily.

One point that we all can internalize is that when the hand of a Good Turn is extended toward you, take it, cherish it, and pay it forward. You may never know the life you may be changing with your simple act of kindness! Heed the Boy Scout slogan, Do a Good Turn daily.

Bill Edge is the Scoutmaster for Powdersville Troop 210.

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