Scouts and Scout Parents,
As we settle into a new school year, please allow me to review how scout meetings are planned, rank advancement is managed, and the importance of camping to advancing in rank. Meeting time on Monday nights is divided as follows: Pre-meeting, Meeting, and Post-meeting. Pre-meeting is any time before 7:15 pm. Pre-meeting is when patrol leadership council meetings are scheduled. Also, skills reviews, scoutmaster conferences (except Eagle conferences) and Boards of Review are scheduled for this time period. Post-meeting (after 8:30) is a good time to discuss projects, work on advancement issues, or projects. (Note: skills reviews and scoutmaster conferences may be scheduled for other days/times outside of meeting dates).
In an average month, we have two meetings dedicated to Troop agendas and two meetings dedicated to Patrol agendas. These meetings give the scouts time to work on items they need or want to learn, to plan activities, and to have fun. Working together as patrols and as a troop is THE fundamental strength of the scouting program. For this reason, individual activities such as skills reviews and scoutmaster conferences WILL NOT be scheduled during meeting time.
The success of these meetings requires planning by the elected scout leaders. The senior patrol leader (Thomas Sharpless), his assistant senior patrol leaders, and the patrol leaders meet once a month (Patrol Leadership Council) to lay out the goals and agenda for troop and patrol meetings for a 4-6 week period of time. The group also makes decisions regarding where and when they would like to go camping and identify service projects for the troop and patrols to consider. Patrol leaders take this information back to their patrols to consider as the patrols determine their individual meeting agendas. If your son is a Patrol Leader – please help them the importance of attending the Council meetings.
Patrols use their meeting time to plan service projects, work on rank advancement, and work on merit badges. The younger scouts will spend most of their meetings on rank advancement and learning how to plan and manage a camping trip. (By-the-way, patrols can plan camping events outside of troop events). Older scout patrols will select merit badges as a topic for patrol meetings. We have a number of adult volunteers registered to teach a variety of badges. For example, Mr. Doug Turner and Mr. Perry Walter are teaching the Personal Management badge to the Viking and Cobra patrols – an activity that takes almost 4 months to complete (click on the link to see what each scout will learn and do). (See note under Merit Badges for your opportunity to teach).
Rank advancement may require instructors (older scouts) to teach scouts skills such as knot tying, fire building, compass skills, and first aid. You will find these skills are listed in each rank as requirements in your scout’s handbook. Patrol leaders will request an instructor to come to a patrol meeting to teach skills using the EDGE method (Explain, Demonstrate, Guide, and Enable). Scheduling instructors requires planning and patrol leaders work with Assistant Senior Patrol Leader Jack Turner to schedule instructors for future meetings.
Note: These skills take practice to master. Just 15 minutes a day on knot tying and fire building can make the difference between a happy, warm and dry scout and a wet, sad and cold scout. Please take time to help your scout practice these skills at home. Scouting skills are not a “one time – learn and forget” kind of activity. These skills are tested repeated as the scout progresses through the ranks.
In order to advance, a scout must complete each requirement for that rank. Many requirements, especially for ranks First Class and below, are tied to camping. On average there are 8-10 camping events (outside of summer camp) and scouts will find opportunities to cook, hike, demonstrate navigation and survival skills. Assistant Scoutmasters will initial your scout’s handbook when those requirements are met.
When your scout has completed all requirements with the exception of a scoutmaster conference and board of review, they are ready to sign up for skills review. The sign-up sheets (we hope to go electronic soon) are in the scout office. Once your scout signs up, Scout Jack Turner will assign a senior scout to meet with your scout to do a skills review.
The senior scout is an instructor who teaches younger scouts the necessary skills to make rank. The instructors follow a check list for each rank (see this link for an example). If a scout does not know how to tie a particular knot, the instructor will work with them and note the level of skill demonstrated. The same is done for first aid knowledge, etc. Sometimes, a scout is told they need to study their skills more and return for another review. If this is the case, another review will be scheduled.
Once the skills review is complete, the instructor returns the signed skills check sheet to the advancement chair (Michele Reale and Asha Leonhardt). The chair advises Mr. Doug Krueger who then coordinates a meeting with an assistant scoutmaster for a scoutmaster conference. A scoutmaster conference takes 15 minutes or so for ranks below Star, and progresses to 45 minutes for Eagle rank. During this conference, the Scout and the assistant scoutmaster will discuss the scouts ambitions, goals, and feedback the scout may have about the program. The assistant scoutmaster will review the scout’s participation in troop activities and ask questions with the intent of exploring the scout’s understanding and practice of Scouting skills and Scouting values. If a scout has particular challenges with the program, this is a great time to arrive at a plan to manage those challenges.
Finally, three parents (and this is where your time is needed) sit on a Board of Review for the scout. We try to schedule a Board of Review on the same night as a scoutmaster conference. We need a parent for each scout to help staff a review of a scout (other than your son). A Board of Review is a time to celebrate the scout’s achievement, to assess the scout’s satisfaction (or not) with the program, and to determine that all requirements for rank advancement have been met.
Once the board has voted to advance the scout, it is time to ring the bell and receive his new rank patch. Your attendance at the troop meeting that immediately follows the board of review is highly encouraged so you may witness the recognition of your scout’s achievement!
I am excited to see so many scouts working on merit badges. There are more than 135 merit badges to pursue and they give every scout a chance to explore topics ranging from Space Exploration to plumbing. But, I encourage younger scouts to work on advancing to First class, make that their primary goal. If your scout has not achieved First Class, and he must choose between camping and a merit badge clinic, choose camping. Once First class is achieved, there is plenty of time left for merit badge work.
Camping with the troop or patrol is the time for scouts to complete requirements to plan meals, to cook meals, and to demonstrate they have the skills required to set up camp and to break down camp while respecting the principles of “Leave No Trace”. There simply is no substitute to the camping experience for learning and demonstrating these important skills. But, most importantly, camping is when the scouts have time to have fun, to work together as a patrol (Patrols are fundamental to scouting – more on that concept another time), and to create memories that will last a life time.
Note: As you see in the handbook, camping is a part of the requirements for rank advancement. We try to camp several times a year so scouts with other activities will have sufficient opportunity to camp and not slow down rank advancement.
I hope this narrative is helpful. Please email me if you have questions, concerns, or suggestions, or want to contribute your talents to this great adventure!
Now – some important announcements:
IF your scout has expressed interest in attending SeaBase next June, we must have the deposit of $150 by September 18 at 8 am. Please contact Mr. Perry Walter for more information.
The October 6 date for work on Space Exploration and Astronomy has been changed to October 7 at 4:00 pm.
Please put October 29, 7 pm on your calendar. We will celebrate Fall with a cookout for the entire family.
Troop Meetings begin at 7:15 pm. We will work hard to dismiss no later than 8:30.
Finally, if you have any prayer requests, please email the Chaplain’s Aide – Aidan Christian (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Yours in scouting,