Welcome to the LDS Scouter Blog. We hope to provide you with valuable information, share useful resources and maybe even improve some attitudes and Ward Scouting programs. The recommended way to use this blog is to start with the post, "Why I started this blog." Then browse through the post titles in the archive (found in the sidebar) for topics of interest.

Saturday, November 16, 2013


Just by way of information, the Young Men General Presidency has decided to take down all links and references to the booklet, "Scouting in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." The booklet is outdated, and they would prefer that everyone refer instead to the latest edition of the Church's Scouting Handbook (a.k.a. the "Green Book"),which can be found on the Church website, downloaded from here, or located in the gospel library app under Other > Leadership > Guidebooks. (This information came through communication with the LDS-BSA Relations Office. They have asked that all links to the Scouting in the Church booklet have been removed. If you come across any on this website that I missed, please let me know.)

Sunday, October 20, 2013

So, you're a new Den Leader... (Scoutmaster, Varsity Coach, etc.)

"Many have said that, 'Scouting is for the boy.' In reality, it is for the adult. Boy Scouts of America provides the training, programs, and resources necessary to help adults effectively prepare young men for today and their future." - Young Men General Presidency, May 2010 LDS-BSA Newsletter

I have probably posted that quote before. It is one that I really love, because I know from experience just how true it is. I was reflecting on my past and realized just how much I have grown and changed in the last ten years. I am sure much of that has to do with being a mom and wife - growth is essential in those positions - but I know that a good part of it also came through involvement in Scouting.

I believe that coming into a Scouting calling willingly, especially being open to training, learning from the boys and enjoying yourself, will make growth more easily attainable. You will become a better person, closer to the person God has in mind for you. Initially, I was not so willing, but I guess becoming more enthusiastic, as well and being more open to learning and growth, were some of the first ways Scouting helped me grow.

In fact, I would say I was compelled by our committee chair more than anything to go to training the first time. Since then, the more training I have taken, the more I like it, and the more helpful I have found it (in fact, as many have said before me, I learn even more when I am the one teaching the training course). Trainers' EDGE especially helped me with teaching and presenting skills I use outside of Scouting just as much as in it. Of course, I think I grew a lot attending Wood Badge, and while I have been working on my tickets. I definitely have seen that change in others who attended that same Wood Badge course, just as I have seen fellow den leaders change after attending Leader-Specific Training.

I cannot emphasize enough to new Scout leaders that the two best things you can do for yourself and for your scouts are to have a good attitude (or at least do your best to have a good attitude) and attend training. Then attend more training, roundtables, University of Scouting, etc. (And please don't think, "I was a scout; I know what I'm doing.")

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Book Cover v2.0 (duct tape!)

Ever since I found this post last year about doing a duct tape wallet as a Webelos Craftsman project, duct tape has been a favorite medium, especially when it comes to Cub Scout things. We have several rolls of colored and patterned duct tape now (we buy them whenever we see them on sale; we also found some at the dollar store), which came in handy when we made "recycle regatta" boats. It was also one of the best things I brought with me to Wood Badge (I should have brought the Ductigami book with me too).

Inspired by another project in Ductigami, here are instructions for making a book cover for a scout book. I used a Webelos book, because I think this would also make a good Craftsman project, as well as passing off the book cover requirement for either the Art pin or the Reading and Writing pin (you could even make coordinating bookmarks from duct tape; then they could pass it off for BOTH pins). I am sure Boy Scouts would enjoy the project just as much.

Creating a duct tape sheet is the basis of most duct tape projects. For my book cover, I used a measuring tape to measure around the whole cover (front back and spine) of the book, then added 6" (3" for each flap). For a larger book, you may want to add as much as 8". The height of the sheet is just a little taller than the book. For my Webelos book, this came out to 18"x8".

Cut several pieces of duct tape a little longer than your sheet needs to be (so you have some extra to trim off at the ends - my strips were 19"). Lay one of those strips face up on your surface (a clean cutting board is a good place). Lay another piece face-down, overlapping the first about halfway.:

Now carefully fold down the exposed half of the first piece. This gives you your top edge:

Pull up what you have so far and flip it over.

Add another piece, again this will be face-down and will overlap the facing-up exposed portion.

Continue to "grow" your piece in this way, by pulling up the piece and flipping, then adding a new piece, until your sheet is a little taller than your book. Fold over the last bit of sticky on the bottom to create a nice edge, just like you did on the top. Trim your sides down to size.

Now wrap your sheet around the book to see where the folds will be.

Remove the book, and fold pieces of tape over the ends of each flap, trimming as needed.

When all four corners are taped up, your cover is ready!

You can add a pocket - or more - for holding a Faith in God book, Duty to God book, pen, merit badge cards, whatever you think would be handy. All you need to do is create another sheet the size you want your pocket to be (mine was 4"x5"):

And tape it onto the book cover:

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Celebrating! (Giveaway)

This giveaway is closed. Congratulations to Fishgutts!

I do not think I have ever done a giveaway on this blog before. When I realized this week that this blog is three years old, I thought it was about time, and a three-year anniversary is as good a reason as any. This blog has evolved over the last three years, I have learned some things, I have made some great friends, and I hope that we have helped some people.

I also try not to promote myself on this blog, but I am so excited about my new Wood Badge fabrics that I thought they would be just the thing to give away, so please forgive me for self-promoting this one time.

The winner of this giveaway will be able to choose one of these Wood Badge stuffed critters:


A fat quarter (basic cotton) of one fabric from either my Wood Badge fabric collection or my Derby Cars collection

Derby Cars Fabric


A small decal (5") of your choice of Wood Badge critter.


One entry per person. To enter, simply leave a comment before Friday, September 27th, noon (PDT).

I must have some way to contact you. If I do not know your e-mail address, and it is not in your profile, and you do not leave it in your comment, you will be disqualified.

Open to U.S. residents only.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

A Century of Honor

If you have not seen it yet, there is a website for the celebration of 100 years of LDS Scouting. It has links about the museum exhibits, a couple videos and information about a broadcast coming up on October 29. The broadcast will be on the website as well as at church buildings. This could be an opportunity for community outreach by inviting other Scouters in our communities to celebrate Scouting history with us.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Church History Museum

We were in Salt Lake last week, and I was able to take the boys to the Church History Museum to see the Norman Rockwell exhibit and the exhibit about Scouting and the Priesthood. If you get a chance to check out these exhibits, I highly recommend it. They are very well done. (Unfortunately, I did not have my camera with me that morning, but I did snap a few pictures with my phone.)

My favorite thing about the exhibits is that they have pamphlets for both Cub Scouts and Boys Scouts to help them earn awards using the two exhibits. The Cub Scout booklet is specifically aimed at the Rockwell exhibit. After looking at the exhibit, discussing it (using questions from the booklet) with a parent or leader, and creating a composition according to instructions, a Cub can earn both the Art Belt Loop and a special patch that can be purchased at Great Salt Lake Council service centers. For Boy Scouts, there are two booklets: Scouting Heritage and Art, which guide a Scout in activities to help him earn the respective merit badges (some activities can be done at the museum, and some will need to be done at home). You can find these materials upstairs with the exhibits or ask one of the very helpful museum workers about them.

The exhibit about Scouting and the Priesthood is especially impressive the way it was put together. It is interactive, with a place children (or adults) can write or draw about a good turn they have done and pin it to a board, as well as design a neckerchief. There is a display about the Unknown Scout and Boyce with a little audio thing (this and the bugle were my youngest's favorites). There are interactive knot-tying and flag signaling stations, and there are several other things to look at and do to experience the history of Scouting in the Church.

(Warning: There is also an exhibit right now to go with the Primary's Book of Mormon celebration that is on par with any children's museum we have been to, and it comes right after the Scouting and the Priesthood exhibit. If you are visiting the museum with younger children and you do not want to spend all day there, make sure to steer them toward the Rockwell exhibit before they see the Book of Mormon area. Otherwise you might have difficulty extracting them. If you brought a second adult with you - which I did not - sucker him/her into taking the kids through the Book of Mormon area while you enjoy the Rockwell exhibit in peace.)

The Norman Rockwell exhibit includes paintings Rockwell did about Scouting and Boys Life covers by Rockwell. There are discriptions and bits of history around the room as well. There are even a couple of interactive screens where you can draw or look at Rockwells (playing with these screens was my middle son's favorite part). Of course, being in a room with actual Rockwell paintings was amazing enough and the focus of the display; fancy interactive activities were not so important here.

I consider both exhibits to be those "once in a lifetime" experiences. The Rockwell exhibit runs through the end of this year. The Scouting and the Priesthood exhibit will be up until October of next year.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Uniform Library

We have been running a uniform library for over a year now. It has made it possible for us to require the boys to wear uniforms, because if they cannot afford a uniform themselves, we can provide one for them. This is something we do personally, but you can also set up a uniform library on a unit or ward level, or I have even heard of districts or towns with a uniform exchange program. I wanted to share how we run our library, what to expect and what has worked best for us.

The first thing you ought to know when setting up a uniform library is not to expect to get all of the uniforms back. It helps to track the uniforms carefully, keeping a list of everything that goes out. We also sew tags inside of each uniform, with our family name or the pack number on them. (You can make your own with printer fabric or get a swatch with sixteen tags here for $5, plus shipping.) People are generally well intentioned and want to give the uniforms back when they are done, but I find they forget. I often have to keep track of the boys or leaders who leave the program, and go to the person or parent and ask for the uniform back. Sometimes I have to ask a few times. The uniforms we have not gotten back were ones loaned out to people in other wards or people who moved.

For the above reason, you need to obtain the uniforms as cheaply as possible. It helps when people in your unit are willing to donate uniforms as the boys outgrow them. You may also need to be less picky about uniform library shirts. Shirts that are long-sleeved, have glue spots on them or are without collars tend to sell a little more cheaply on ebay. A troop in need may decide to go a little "retro" and obtain the older green shirts, as these often sell for a lot less than the newer tan ones. Have everyone you know keep an eye out at thrift stores. You never know when you might walk in and find a uniform jackpot where you have never seen uniforms before. This happened to us recently when we went into a local thrift store and spotted two Cub Scout shirts and a Boy Scout shirt all hanging together toward the front of the store. Never having sold any before, the lady at the register charged us $1.50 a piece for them. Score!

Not wanting to redo the library everytime we move, any uniforms we purchase, belong to our family. Any uniforms donated to us by other people belong to the unit that they are in. When we were part of a "quad-pack" (four wards' Cub Scouts meeting together), if someone donated a uniform, we wrote their pack's number on it, and when the quad-pack broke up, we gave those uniforms to the corresponding wards. We keep all of the uniforms together in one tote, with the labels and list to keep track of everything.

Despite the difficulties, the cost, and the missing uniforms, I am glad we started our uniform library. It is really a nice thing to have. If you have any experience with a uniform library or uniform exchange program, please tell us about it in the comments.

Sunday, August 18, 2013


The first day of Wood Badge, I was in a really bad mood. Sunday afternoon, we had had a committee meeting that had not gone well. I was upset about it for the next two days (fortunately, on Tuesday, I remembered during a class that I had both the unit commissioner for our pack and the assistant district commissioner sitting right behind me; I was able to talk with them at lunch time, which cooled my simmer considerably). Something had also happened with my family Sunday night that left me feeling doubly rotten the next day.

Like I said, Monday, starting Wood Badge, I was in a really, really bad mood. Then I found out I was a Bobwhite, which did not improve my outlook at all. (Prairie Chicken?!?)

Something happened shortly after that, though, that changed everything. My patrol elected me as our first “patrol leader of the day.” Something about being put in that position gave me a feeling of ownership and responsibility and made me decide that if we were going to be Bobwhites, we were going to make being a Bobwhite something to be proud of.

By that evening, our patrol was feeling unified and showing off our Bobwhite pride. By the end of Day 2, I really felt we could hold our heads high, having shown everyone what it meant to be a Bobwhite. By the end of the week, I could not imagine being anything but a Bobwhite.

One of my favorite moments all week was the final time we sang The Song and we were joined by the staffers who had been in those same patrols when they were in Wood Badge. I felt a great sense of pride as we were joined by several staffers I had come to admire over the course of the week. Logically, I knew that patrols were assigned randomly and did not really mean that much, but there was such a great sense of belonging to know I share something – my Bobwhite-ness – with so many great people.

When a boy puts on a scout uniform, when he walks into a room where others are wearing that same uniform, does he experience a similar sense of belonging, of sharing something important? How much more, even, does that feeling grow when he sees adults he admires and respects wearing that same uniform?

Then, when that boy is given a real leadership role within that group of boys, overseen and guided, but not controlled by those adults he admires, I can now imagine better than ever how that sense of belonging grows into a feeling of ownership and responsibility. That is an opportunity every boy deserves to experience.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

So you're going to Wood Badge (or thinking of it)...

First off, it was requested that I remind everyone that Wood Badge is not just for those currently in Scouting. The leadership topics taught will benefit you at home, at work and in other leadership callings. Whether in Scouting or out you will not regret attending Wood Badge.

Once you are signed up and looking forward to your Wood Badge experience, my biggest piece of advice is: Relax. You remember how anxious I was before going? I also spent a good part of the week anxiously not looking forward to Friday. A large part of my anxiety was rooted in the "overnighter" (also referred to as the "outdoor experience"). Some was also related to the service project, as well as the group presentations, all of which happened on Friday.

Guess what? That was the fun part. Partway through the day on Friday, I realized that the hard stuff was all over, and pretty much everything left was fun, especially the overnighter. I probably could have enjoyed the rest of the week even more had I not been so worried about things that were not worth worrying over. (I should note here that I have heard that the outdoor experience is handled a little differently on courses that span two weekends rather than a full week, so I cannot speak to that, but I am sure it is just as fun.)

Which brings me to my next piece of advice: Have fun. At Wood Badge they will keep you super busy and throw lots of information at you, but you can, and should, have fun with it. Do not stress out about getting everything right. They emphasize all week long to do your best, and that is all you need to do.

Piece of advice number three: Take a few minutes at the beginning or end of each day to reflect. Think over the day's experiences, and look through your binder to get a preview of the next day. I was glad I had my little Wood Badge journal to write some things in. I definitely recommend writing down your thoughts and experiences every day, because the week is packed so full that it is very likely that by the end of the week you will have forgotten what happened at the beginning. I also found my small notebook a handy place for writing down song and cheer ideas whenever they occurred to any of us.

Piece of advice number four: Rely on your patrol. That is what they are there for. The guys in my patrol were great. They helped me with the camping and outdoorsy stuff. They did most of the cooking. In fact, as long as I kept coming up with songs and cheers and doing most of the crafting, they were happy to do pretty much everything else. We tried to use each person's talents where they were most effective. Of course, we also each got a chance to do a little learning and growing in new areas, taking turns with the various leadership positions, but we were always there to cover for each other.

Finally, what helped me the most was the advice my buddy Fishgutts posted in the comments a few weeks ago: Ask yourself what they are trying to teach you. Throughout the week you will have many challenges thrown at you. The most important thing is not how well you do but what you can learn from it. I was really grateful for this piece of advice and tried to remember it all week long. It came in handy.

I have tried to make this the post I wish I had read before my Wood Badge experience, and I hope it helps others, especially to not be afraid of Wood Badge. I cannot say enough that it can be one of the most amazing weeks (or two weekends) of your life. If anyone else has any advice, questions or comments, please add them to the discussion.

I also want to add the plea that if you live in the Nevada Area Council, please try to attend Wood Badge in-council if you can, rather than going to another state. Not only do we need the attendance numbers, there are a couple of unique things that I think make NAC Wood Badge the best (I do not want to spoil the surprise, so you will just have to trust me). I know there are others who disagree with me, but I am convinced our council has the best Wood Badges. ;-)

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Fresh from Gilwell

Someone asked last week if I would share my reactions and impressions after my Wood Badge experience. I can tell you it was everything everyone said it would be. I really saw people change and grow over the course of the week, right before my very eyes. I may even have done some growing myself. I definitely learned some things. I made friendships that I do hope will continue for the rest of my life. The people there who I already knew, I grew even closer to. It was an incredible experience that really is hard to put into words.

So I have to say more emphatically than ever, if you have not yet been to Wood Badge, go. You will not regret it. Do it for yourself, you family, your ward and stake, and your Scouting program. Even Cubbers will benefit hugely from the experience. In fact, a good portion of the people I met there were Cubbers, and they got at least as much out of it as the leaders of the older boys. I even heard several of them say they hope to serve on a Wood Badge staff in the future.

Some of the lessons I learned this last week included: What you want is not always what's best for you (I already knew this, but I was reminded of it in a big way). One person really can make a big difference, with help (that may sound almost like a paradox, but trust me, it isn't). Be observant. The stature of a Bobwhite is no indication of character (although my Bobwhites were anything but small in stature - inside or out).

I will post more about Wood Badge, what to expect and that kind of thing next week, but for now I only have one more thing to say:

I used to be a Bobwhite, a good old Bobwhite too... so I'm going to work my ticket if I can!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Preparing for Wood Badge

As I packed my bags this week, I also tried to prepare myself mentally, taking the advice of the pre-course paperwork I received by taking some time for reflection. I was feeling pretty anxious, so I decided to take some time out from my "To Do" list to sit down and begin my "Wood Badge Journal."

I selected a small notebook I thought would be appropriate to carry around with me taking notes in during the week, both during classes and of my reflections, thoughts and feelings about my experiences. I started my journal by listing the reasons I was feeling anxious. The next page I filled with reasons not to be anxious. Then I filled in my answers to the twenty question pre-course assignment. I had already thought about these a couple of times and written some answers down elsewhere, but I wanted to go through them one more time and get them all written in the same place my other reflections would be going.

After all of this I was feeling much less anxious. I had also read a few blogs and comments online, which inspired me to write a list of questions for myself - things I want to get from the experience. This is similar to the approach we have been told to take to General Conference. I put and extra effort into doing this during the last conference, listening with specific questions in mind I would like answered, and I found it so effective, I actually took notes on some of the talks for the first time ever (which I wasn't planning to ahead of time). So I filled a page in my Wood Badge journal with questions, in the hopes that having that focus will help me to get more out of it.

As I completed these things, I realized that this was the real preparation I needed. The things I carry in my pack next week are probably not as important as the thoughts and intents I carry with me. Off I go!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

"Just in Cub Scouts..."

In a recent conversation with my DE friend, he said something that has had me thinking about it ever since. As someone who has lived mostly in the Midwest, he has had an interesting time adapting to the culture since moving here a little over two years ago, and there are many things about Church Scouting that drive him crazy. This one really took me off guard, though, especially coming from a professional Scouter. He made the comment that we don't focus enough on primary. He feels there is a very big imbalance, with all the focus on youth 12 and up. He believes Cub Scouts is important for getting the boys started in Scouting.

He is not the only one I have heard this from. More than once our Council Commissioner has made comments about how Cub Scouting is the best/easiest way to recruit/do missionary work. He talks a lot about how easy it should be to have those Cubs bring their friends to meetings with them. I have heard that something like 90% of Boys Scouts started as Cub Scouts (don't remember the exact figure).

When boys are Cub Scouting age, they are much more open to joining scouts and many of the things associated with that. If they participate in a good Cub Scout program, they are more likely to continue on and enjoy Boy Scouting. If their program is a disappointment or they do not attend Cub Scouts, they are very unlikely to have any interest in participating in Boy Scouts when they are older.

My own personal observation is that when this happens within the Church, the boy not only has no interest in participating in weekday activities, he does not seem to feel a part of his quorum on Sunday.

I think it is important to have good programs all the way through, but it really does need to start in Cub Scouting. As a unit commissioner, I recently met with a Charter Rep for one of the other wards nearby. He is the bishopric member assigned to both Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts (I know different wards do this different ways; some have the charter rep focus on Boy Scouts and the other councilor focus on Cubs, and some have just one do both). He confessed that he did not pay much attention to what was going on in the Cub Scout program. He was very busy, and he trusted that the committee chair and primary were taking care of things and it was best if he just stayed out of the way. I wonder whether he would ever take that same approach with the youth programs.

What do you think? Do we often de-emphasize the importance of Cub Scouts in favor of programs for the older youth? Is it "just" Cub Scouts, or should it be regarded on the same level of importance as any of the other programs? I know the age group of around 12-25 is considered "high risk," but does the foundation for or prevention of that risk actually begin earlier?

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Back to Gilwell

Last week I heard from the course director for our council's Wood Badge course for this year. Regional/national have approved the course going forward, even though we are not quite at 30 yet. (I hear we are close, and there is still a week left to register). Yes, you read that right. Our council, which covers everything in Nevada besides the Las Vegas area, plus a little of California, only has one Wood Badge course a year, and it needs special approval, because there is so much trouble getting the required minimum of 30 participants. This year, when I can finally go, they have been especially anxious about whether it would happen.

I received my packet of info and forms, and I am working on getting those filled out. In three weeks I will heading for a week of adventure and learning. Pretty exciting. I know the course director and several of the staff, and the DE tells me it looks like it's going to be a really good one, so I am looking forward to a great week.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Church statement on the BSA

If you haven't yet, head on over to the Church website to read the official statement made this week about the BSA.

Does that sound to you like they are saying the Church has plans to stay with the BSA, regardless of how the vote turns out?

It would be nice if that were enough to turn the doubt of those who have only been half-way been doing a job, due to the conviction the relationship was only temporary. However, deep down, I know those same people will merely find other excuses for treating Scouting as something less than a “real” Church program.

(If I sound a little bitter, it is because I had a bitter conversation with someone in our ward last week. In actuality, I am very excited by the statement.)

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Teaching in the Savior's Way

I admit, as I am not currently a teacher of youth, I have not paid a whole lot of attention to the new curriculum. However, I was on the Church website this morning reading about it, and I felt the Spirit so strongly, I wanted to share my testimony of this teaching method with you.

This is not a new method, but it can be very difficult to get the hang of for those of us who have spent our lives in the classroom model of education. Obviously, the Savior used this teaching method in His time, but there have been examples of it in recent times as well. Neil Flinders called it, "Agency Education." BYUI calls it their, "Learning Model." Baden-Powell called it, "Scouting."

Is that an exageration? I really do not think it is too far from the truth. As I read through the points in the outline here, it struck me how similar they are to the points made in Trails to Testimony. I believe as Scout leaders and other leaders of youth combine what they learn in training and what we can learn from this teaching method, as it is being given to us by Church leaders, they will see how well the two compliment each other, how they share many aspects, as well as how they can enhance each other.

These are some of the thoughts I had as I read through the points summarizing the way the Savior taught, as they relate to Scouting:

"He loved them, prayed for them, and continually served them... He knew who they were and who they could become." It really does make all the difference in the world when you think of each boy individually, what his needs are, what his strengths are. And we should always be focused on helping the boys "become." My favorite thing about the "Capturing the Vision of Scouting" Ensign article last year was the pictures. There were three or four pictures of young men in outdoor experiences having their pictures taken. On the camera each time was a picture of the missionary the boy could become.

"He prepared Himself." Leaders of youth need constant spiritual and temporal preparation to be successful. I noticed throughout the church website an emphasis on leaders nurturing their own habits of daily prayer and scripture study. Remember the most important of the "four T's" is Testimony. How can we expect to be good examples and mentors without a strong foundation in the gospel? The second most important T is Training. Being well prepared includes ongoing training, as well as carefully preparing for each class, lesson or activity.

"He used the scriptures..." Do we find opportunities to use the scriptures in Scouting activities? Why not? Draw on the experiences of Nephi and Moses. Help the boys "liken them" to their own lives. Help them see how the courage of Abinidi, Ammon and Moroni relates to them.

"He shared simple stories, parables and real-life examples... He asked questions that caused them to think and feel deeply." Scout leaders have the opportunity to share real-life experiences with their boys, then use reflections to help the boys learn to glean eternal truths from those experiences. A few good questions after an activity can help the boys learn to feel and think deeply.

"He trusted them, prepared them, and gave them important responsibilities to teach, bless and serve others... He invited them to act in faith and live the truths He taught... In every setting, He was their example and mentor." If those three sentences do not perfectly describe the role of a Scoutmaster, I do not know what would.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

What I Should Have Said

We all have those, "what I wish I'd said" moments. Mine last week happened when I was doing my unit commissioner duty, visiting another pack's committee meeting.

This summer's Wood Badge course came up. I did not expect anyone would be jumping at the chance to go, all of them being women and Cub Scouters, but when one of them started giving those same excuses, I had to counter her arguments.

"But that's not for us; it's for the men. I mean, we just do Cub Scouts. They don't go camping."

"Nope, it's for us too," I told her. "I'm going."

The conversation went on, but later, as I thought it over, that is where I think I could have said more. It occurs to me now that she was probably thinking, since this training is a week long camping experience, that it is all about learning camping skills. I wish I had mentioned that outdoor skills may be part of it (having not been, I do not know for sure, but I am assuming that since that is what IOLS, OWLS, and BALOO are for, that is not the main point of Wood Badge), but the focus is leadership and cooperation.

I forget sometimes that most people think of Scouting as learning scoutcraft skills, and that is it. I wish I had taken this as an opportunity to point out that what Scouting is really about is teaching leadership and self-reliance. It is about spirituality and citizenship as much as it is about life skills. I cannot think of any better way to teach all those things to young men than sticking them out in the wilderness for a week, where they have to eat the meals that they planned, prepared, cooked and cleaned up after themselves. They have to rely on themselves and each other for many things; food is just one example.

It is not my impression that Wood Badge is a survival course, but I can see where someome might think that. Hopefully, next time I can do a better job dispelling the notion.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Happy Birthday BSA

I have no doubt that Baden-Powell was inspired, as were those who founded the BSA, in creating and bringing this program to our boys.

This year also marks the 100 year anniversary of the LDS Church becoming the first nationally chartered orginization with the BSA.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Putting the Fun in Scouting

To follow-up on my post last week, I just finished a great book called, I Thought Scout Uniforms Were Fireproof: Putting the Fun in Scouting.

The first thing I liked about it was that it was not a big book. It was a quick and easy read that I could pick up and read a chapter in whenever I had a free minute.

Despite the size, however, it contained tons of ideas and tips for making Scouting activities more exciting and enjoyable for everyone involved. The book was arranged by topic - for example, there was a chapter on cooking, one on the patrol method, one on winter camping, etc. Each chapter had some humorous anecdotes to illustrate the point and leave the reader wishing he/she were in the troop that was having so much fun.

The book was written by an LDS Scouter and was based on Boy Scouting experiences. However, LDS terms only came up a few times and were not related to the points made, and those points could be applied to other levels of Scouting. I found myself thinking of many ways the ideas could be utilized in a den or pack. This book would be useful to any Scouter on any level.

In fact, I felt like I had gotten more out of reading this small volume than other longer books which focused more on the nuts and bolts of the program.

One thing that did not sit right with me was that there did not seem to be an emphasis on letting the boys run the troop. The book made it sound like the leaders were doing all of the planning. It would have been nice to have some clues about training your patrol leaders to do this stuff. (On the other hand, this could just be due to my lack of experience in Boy Scouting. Obviously, as a Cub Scout leader I do get to plan all of my activities.)

As always, this book is no replacement for training, but I think it is a must-have for anyone who wants to be a better Scout leader.

(It's also available in Kindle version.)

Thursday, January 24, 2013

A Quick Pinewood Derby Story

As a family who has been involved in Cub Scouting a long time, we have been involved in a lot of pinewood derbies. One memorable one was a pinewood derby we put on for the local Boys and Girls Club a couple of years ago as part of the ScoutReach program. Over two or three months' time we showed up at the club's meeting place once a week and helped any of the kids who wanted to make a car. Then we had a day where we brought the church's track, and they could show up and race their cars.

My husband, of course, could not resist making a car for himself. He also helped our oldest, who was five at the time, make a car, and he cut a quick car for our toddler. Something happened at the race that made my son angry, and he was upset about it for quite a long time.

This week our oldest will be racing in his first pinewood derby as a Cub Scout. As we worked on his car, we ended up talking about previous cars he has made, and the race at the Boys and Girls Club came up. He said something like, "I was upset about ____, but now I know that I was a winner, because I did my best."

I know even in the short time he has been a scout, it has helped him develop such a mature attitude. I have heard him say more than once, "A scout wouldn't do that." I am thankful to have a program that will help all my boys do their best and aim high, and I am thankful I get to be involved in helping other boys do the same.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Fun With A Purpose

I got a call from someone in our stake asking whether I know who it is who teaches the Cubs about archery and BB guns at Day Camp. She is planning girls' camp and wanted something fun and different for the girls to do. She told me, "I thought, if the Cub Scouts can do it, why can't the Young Women?"

In a meeting with our ward primary president recently, she asked whether we could turn Pinewood Derby into a ward activity. "As long as the boys have a chance to race just with each other," I told her, "You can do whatever else you want with it." I have always thought Pinewood Derby would make a great ward activity.

People know scouts have a lot of fun. When I was a young woman, I know we wanted to do the kinds of activities the boys were doing. Lord Baden-Powell designed Scouting to be a "game with purpose," and we still use the phrase "fun with a purpose."

If so many people want to have fun like the scouts are having, why are people so reluctant to accept callings in scouts or work with the scouts?

I think one reason is that people are scared of being in charge of a group of boys. I like this post about the stigma associated with groups of boys, and more specifically scouts. I admit, being good with boys does take practice, but in my experience, it is a lot easier when you allow yourself to have fun with the boys.

I have also found it helps when you understand the purpose. When you really understand the potential Scouting has to affect young men, when you understand Scouting's purposes and goals, when you remember this is the program the Lord has chosen to prepare boys for the priesthood, to prepare young men to be missionaries, husbands and fathers, you will be a more effective leader.

How do you get to that point? Prayer, study and time. And loosen up. Let yourself have fun with it.