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Happy Birthday Boy Scouts of America February 8, 2010

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Hello fellow Scouters,

We live in a society that is increasingly moving indoors. Kids rarely play outside all day (unless it’s some organized “play time”). And families seem be spending less time together in the outdoors, doing activities like camping.

And although our schools seem to be teaching our children better than they did when I was a student, they don’t seem to be developing leadership traits. Do our high schools and colleges spend time developing the next generation of leaders for our country and for our companies?

Instead of belonging to an outdated “old school” organization, we are part of a youth organization that is even more vital and necessary than it has ever been. And after a couple of decades of “out of focus” leadership, it appears that the current BSA leadership knows what a great program has and what to do to make this organization even more successful.

The times in which we live have made me really proud to be apart of the Boy Scouts of America. So with much thanks I wish a happy 100th birthday to the Boy Scouts of America! And of course, happy 80th birthday to the Cub Scout program. Scouting is fundamentally good for a boy, and I thank you for what you do for our sons!

In Scouting,

 - Scouter Jeff <><

Scout Songs on Youtube July 18, 2009

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Hello fellow Scouters,

Songs are an important part of the Scouting program. Hopefully you CubsSinging are a pack that sings Scout songs. If you aren’t singing, you are missing a wonderful part of the Scouting program. I have a feeling that this is one of the toughest areas for a leader to do if they (like me) aren’t a good singer.

You don’t need to be a musician or have a decent voice to bring songs to your Scout meetings and campouts. Thankfully the boys are very forgiving in this matter, and if you are worried about what the parents think – then make them a song partner! And don’t forget your parent survey forms – we had a mom in my den who sang at her church, and was our song leader until she moved away.

One of the difficulties of songs is knowing how the melody goes. That’s where Youtube.com can come to the rescue! Just do a search for your favorite Scout song, and there’s a chance that someone recorded this at a meeting or campout and has posted a video on the site.

If there’s a song I want to learn, and it’s on Youtube, I will download the video off of the site and put it on my iPod.  (I use a 3rd party software for this - look for “Youtube download software” as a Google search or at Download.com for help with this). Then I will listen to it in the car and even sing along until I get it down. Yes, I sing in the car – there, I said it :-)

As an example, here are some of my favorite Scout songs on Youtube:

Ghost Chickens in the Sky - this might be tough for the younger guys to sing.

Crazy Moose Song - a favorite of mine, and this rendition rocks!

Scout Vespers - I’m not sure I like how this version ends, however.

Mother Gooney Bird - our pack sang this one all the time.

The Grand Old Duke of York - I’d never try this choreography, though!

Now the video quality of these are usually poor, and you might not get the whole song, but you get to hear the song sung the way (hopefully) it’s supposed to be sung.

Here are a couple of sights you can go to for listing and lyrics of good Scout songs:

Macscouter.com/songs/

Scoutsongs.com

Boyscouttrail.com/songs.asp

Official BSA Cub Scout Songbook at Scoutstuff.org

Don’t forget the three rules of fun Cub Scout songs:

  • Whenever possible, sing the song three times
  • Sing the song louder each time
  • Sing the song faster each time (the last time is usually too fast to hear)

But if you are singing a Scout song – beware! You could end up on Youtube!

In Scouting,

 - Scouter Jeff <><

Dutch Oven Cobbler Recipe June 5, 2009

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Hello fellow Scouters,

One of my favorite camping activities is dutch oven cooking.  We DutchOvenDessertconverted one of my favorite desserts to make in a dutch oven. It’s a fruit cobbler dump cake that is easy to make and comes out great! When I was a Cub leader I was able to impress the Boy Scouts with this dessert on a campout! Here is the recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1 can of cherry pie filling
  • 1 can of crushed pineapple
  • 1 box  of yellow cake mix (not the pudding-type)
  • 1 cube butter
  • 1 small package of chopped walnuts

Directions:

  • Dump both cans of fruit on the bottom of a foil-lined 12″ dutch oven (spray with pam cooking spray before lining with tin foil).
  • Spread the yellow cake mix evenly on top of the filling (just pour it right out of the package).
  • Dice the cube of butter in small chunks and drop it as evenly as possible on top of the cake mix.
  • Sprinkle the chopped walnuts on top of the mix.
  • Cover and bake around 350 degrees for about 45-50 minutes – you want the top of the cobbler brown and bubbly, and not too dark. (I use 22-23 briquettes, with around 9 underneath the oven. I don’t replace them during cooking).
  • Rotate the oven AND the lid every 15 minutes.

The butter melts into the cake mix and it comes out so good. As you can see it’s a very easy dessert to make. While it’s baking the scent of pineapple and cherry starts to flow around you. I think I’ve had a request to make this at every campout I’ve been on.

Instead of cherry pie filling you could add a can of blackberries – it tastes good with them too. And you can try different fruits to suit your taste, even fresh fruits. (If you use fresh fruit you should mix them with a little sugar first.)

Top it off with some whip cream and you are set for the evening! And if you can smuggle some vanilla ice cream to the campout, this is great a-la-mode.

As I’ve blogged about before, you can make pretty much anything you bake in an oven at home. Here is a link for getting started with dutch oven cooking:

Getting Started With Dutch Ovens

Enjoy!

In Scouting,

 - Scouter Jeff <><

2-Liter Bottle Bowling June 2, 2009

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Hello fellow Scouters,

Cub Scouts love to bowl, but an outing to a bowling alley can Soda_Bottle_And_Ballbe expensive. But with enough 2 liter soda bottles, a ball and a flat surface, you can bring a bowling alley to your meeting!

When I did this at a den meeting, I set up two lanes, with a wood 2×4 as a divider between the lanes. I used 10 bottles per lane, with a rubber “four square”-type ball for the bowling ball. A fence at the end of the lane was a backstop, with enough room between the end of the lane and the backstop for the pin-setting volunteer to stand. I used blue painter’s tape to mark off the rest of the lane. For my Webelos, my lanes were approx. 10′ long.

Some tips for this game: First, the bottles fall over with little effort. But if you add a cup of water to the bottle, that will give them enough bottom weight to keep them from falling over too easily. Also, by adjusting the length of the “alley”, you can make this game age-appropriate. And bringing a clipboard is a good idea for score keeping. Finally, this game could be played indoor or outside, or even in a garage.

Here are the blank score sheets that I used for this game.

 bowling_scoresheet.jpg (Please e-mail me if you would like a pdf version of this score sheet).

I had two lanes going, to keep the wait-time down (with only one Soda_Bottle_Bowlinglane, this would have been a meeting bottleneck, which as I’ve blogged about before is something you want to avoid). To run this game, I had 3 other volunteers. I had two “pin setters” that would stack the pins and make sure the balls didn’t go into the other lanes. Me and another parent were the score keepers, although you could do with only one score keeper. A den chief would be a great resource for this game, either as a helper or even setting up and running this game (with assistance, of course).

This made a great game for a den meeting. When we did this as Webelos, I had two parents set up the game in the front driveway, while me and another parent taught a Readyman lesson on the back patio. When we were done with the lesson, we went to the front and found they had done an awesome job of setting up a two-lane bowling alley. They even made those lane “hash marks” with the tape! This was a game that the boys didn’t want to stop playing.

Along with a den meeting game, this can be used as a pack game, a gathering activity, a summer camp game, etc. This game can be set up and played anywhere that you have a flat surface. So start collecting your soda bottles now.

Have fun!

In Scouting,

 - Scouter Jeff <><

The Candy Bar Game February 13, 2009

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Hello fellow Scouters,

There are so many den games on the Internet, and sometimes it is candybardifficult to know if a game is fun or not. I personally like to hear about fun games that have been played in a den meeting. At this week’s den meeting, my Webelos II Scouts played the Candy Bar Game, that was featured in November’s Baloo’s Bugle (courtesy of the Capital Area Council). See the link on the right to visit Baloo’s Bugle.

The boys played for over 20 minutes, and I had to end the game so dicewe could go home – and they wanted to keep playing! It’s a fun game to play for the older boys. As with all things, remember Age Appropriate Activities – I think Tigers would be too young to play this. I wrote the dice roll results on a large sheet of poster paper, so the boys could easily see what move resulted from their dice roll. Once the game started going, I was able to step back and offer limited assistance. The game seemed to run itself. If you are looking for a fun game for your den, why don’t you try this out?

Here’s the information from Baloo’s Bugle for this game:

Candy Bar Game

Capital Area Council

Objective: Each person tries to get as many candy bars as they can.

Materials:

2 Candy bars for each player or couple

1 brown lunch sack for each player or couple

Timer, Wood die

Bowl, Good Attitude

Timer: Set timer in another room, so no one can watch to see how much time is left.  A stop timer is perfect.  Most families play for about a half-hour.  After playing a few times, you will know how much time needs to be adjusted.  It’s fun to vary the time from each game to keep them off guard.

Preparation: If using this game for a party, assign each person to bring two candy bars.  Take the candy when they arrive.  One person (mother, father, or party leader) places two candy bars in a brown sack.  Fold down the top of each sack the same.  If there are extra bars, place them in a bowl.  Place a mark, (x) on the bottom of one of the bags.

Starting the game:

1.       Have everyone gather in a circle.

2.       Place bowl inside the circle.

3.       Each person or couple picks a sack out of the center.

4.       Explain that each sack contains two candy bars and no one is to look until directed to do so.

5.       Each person looks into their own sack but does not tell what kind of bars they have.

6.       Everyone closes their bag.  Players may look inside any sack that is their own during the game.

7.       Who goes first?  The player with the mark on the bottom of their sack. That player rolls first then follows to the left.

Roll Die: A player has to follow what has been rolled.

1.       Take the Bowl: If rolled the player takes all the bars.

2.       Trade sacks: Player picks another player to trade sacks with.  Remember: You want the most candy

3.       Lose a turn:  Lose next turn.

4.       Add Bar to Bowl: The player takes a bar from his sack and adds to the bowl.  Don’t let people know your sack is empty.  This might help out when trading. If you receive an empty sack don’t say anything. Just hope you can pass is off

5.       Double take: A player who rolls this takes one bar from the players on his left and right.  If the player is out of bars, you’re out of luck.

6.       Guess a Bar: Players need to watch bars and sacks as they are exchanged.

        When rolled a player says a person name and tries to guess the candy bar in their sack. The players only need to answer with a yes or no.  If the player asked has the bar, he must give it to the roller.

Ending the Game: When the timer goes off everyone keeps the sack that they end up with.  If a player has rolled the die when the timer goes off, that player may complete his turn. At this time any bars left in the bowl must be rolled for.

 

-

 

Enjoy!

In Scouting,

-Scouter Jeff <><

Compete with Scouting December 25, 2008

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Hello fellow Scouters,

I hope you all had a great Christmas. As Scout leaders, we are in a competition - we are competing with finishlineother youth programs for the increasingly divided time of parents and children. This is not news, as we deal with this all the time. Since this is the time of New Year resolutions, here is one to consider: Let’s face this challenge head-on by making the Scouting program we oversee the most fun we can this coming year.

Those of us in private industry understand competition. It’s a challenge we face every day. Other companies court our customers. They can make more technologically innovating products. They can make cheaper products. But competition brings out the best in a company. A company cannot rest. It must continue to innovate, look for efficiencies, and open up new doors in sales. And we as Scouters can learn from this – competition can make our programs better. We can face the challenge of other youth programs head-on by making the great program provided by the Boy Scouts of America the most fun event that your boys will have in a week. Our goal is for little Johnny to say “I can’t wait for Tuesday to get to the den meeting!”

Here are some suggestions to help:

Games – every meeting should have a fun game. Don’t sacrifice game for the advancements. It’s important to work towards the ranks, but it can’t be the end all – rank advancement is a method of Scouting, not a purpose. There might be times when you, gasp!, only have time for a game. And that’s OK (provided it’s not every meeting). As I have said before, plan your meeting around a game; don’t plan a game for your meeting.

Advancements – we don’t want to go too fast towards completion of a rank, but we don’t want to go too slow either. So work at a pace so the boys will understand what they are working on, but won’t grow bored. And consider the mind of the boys we have. If a requirement would seem slow or boring to your Scouts, and you can’t figure out a way to liven it up, then either skip it or have the parents do it at home.

Just say “No” to lectures - always take the requirements and make them fun and interesting. Don’t ever make it a lecture. The boys shouldn’t be sitting down and listen to us speak. If there is a time where a requirement asks us to discuss something, then have a box of cookies to pass around while we discuss. And make the lecture’s time end by the time the cookies have made it to the end of the group. And make it an interactive time where they are discussing and asking questions (and munching on cookies).

Outings – get outside of the meeting place. Have den outings. Have Webelos den campouts. Go hiking. We can have outings that don’t meet a requirement in the book, but are just fun and interesting place to see. Go places. See things.

Don’t do it alone – if we have a den of 8, then we have 7 other parents who can assist us. Don’t be afraid to delegate and ask for help. Learn to take your program and give out pieces of it so you aren’t running the whole show. The Tiger program has the shared leadership function, where every parent is supposed to be a leader. We often make the mistake when we become Wolf scouts by having one or two leaders take over and do it all, with the parents moved to the sidelines in a spectator role. Consider assigning tasks to parents. Have parents rotate bringing a game or craft to the meeting. Have a parent in charge of tour permits. Have a parent scout interesting places for outings. Creating a fun program can take work, and it’s best to share the load.

Get a Den Chief – our Scouts will always look up to an older boy. A Den Chief can be a great addition to the team. He can help in games or crafts, and he will serve as a good role model for the boys.

So as Scout leaders, our charge is to Keep It Simple, Make It Fun. Competition is not a threat to our programs, it’s an opportunity to make our programs better! It’s okay if our boys are in sports and other activities. If our Scouting program is fun, they will stay because they don’t want to leave.

(This is written primarily for Cub Scout den meetings, but can be applied to pack meetings and outings.)

How are you attacking the challenge of divided interests? Please leave what you do to make your program fun in the comments section.

In Scouting,

-Scouter Jeff <><

Thank You Cards November 20, 2008

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Hello fellow Scouters,thank-you-cs

Happy Friday to you! Hopefully whenever you have an outing with your unit you file a tour permit. You know it’s required by Scouting for any meeting  outside of your normal den / troop meeting place. But if you have an outing where someone helps you in any way, I would suggest something else that could be considered required: A Scout thank you card.

Whenever my den has an outing where someone helped us in any way, I have all the boys thank-you-bsthat attended sign the card. I also try to get a picture of the boys with the person or persons that helped us with the outing. Then I write a note of thanks, and mail it along with the picture of the boys and the individual. And not just for outings. If someone comes to our den meeting and gives a presentation, they will get a picture and thank you card. You can pick up these cards at your local Scout Shop, or at the on-line http://www.scoutstuff.org/. Or consider having your boys make them. If a person is willing to help out scouts in any way, I’m sure they would love to get this in the mail.

(Always use caution when sending out pictures of your den. Case in point: We went to City Hall in our town about a year and a half ago. We met the mayor and led the Pledge of Allegiance at the beginning of the city council meeting. Fast forward to about a month ago. The picture of my den with the mayor showed up in the newspapers and campaign flyer mailings for his re-election! We never were asked if it was OK to have the picture of our sons used for this. He won re-election, so maybe we helped.)

It’s a good way for scouts to give goodwill, as the Law of the Pack states. And it’s a good way for a scout to be courteous, as the Boy Scout Law tells us.

In Scouting,

-Scouter Jeff <><

Fire-free Smores November 14, 2008

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Hello fellow Scouters,

Happy Friday to you! As you know, it’s just not a Cub Scout campout without smores. There’s something about the combination of chocolate, roasted marshmallow, and graham crackers that can’t be beat. But what if you don’t have a campfire? What are you to do?

Here in southern California, we get dry spells in the fall (called Santa Ana’s), and we have campfire restrictions. There’s nothing like sitting around the fire ring staring at a lantern in it! Sometimes, when it’s real dry and windy, we can’t even use hot coals (so no dutch ovens). But that doesn’t mean we can’t have smores!

It’s easy to make a smore with no fire or heat. You still use your chocolate, and you still use marshmallowcreamyour graham crackers. But instead of a marshmallow, you get a jar of marshmallow cream and substitute a spoonful of marshmallow cream for the roasted marshmallow. It tastes the same, and it still gets your child’s clothes and sleeping bag sticky. It’s not warm like a marshmallow right out of the fire, but a cold smore is better than no smore.

You can even use this outside of camping. Going to the beach for the day? Hosting a day-camp? Need a snack for a pack meeting? Now you can have smores and not have to worry about fire or marshmallow forks.

Enjoy!

In Scouting,

-Scouter Jeff <><

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