Membership Policy thoughts

rockgoldI was asked today via email (Thanks for reaching out and wanting my opinion) to share my thoughts and opinion on the newest policy change in the BSA.  That would be the Gender Identification policy and the fact that the Boy Scouts of America now open it’s membership to everyone regardless of sex or sexual orientation.
Ok.. I am going to do my best to express my opinion on this while supporting the Boy Scouts of America and give my thoughts on the issue in general.
First let me say that I do in fact stand with the BSA on this issue and policy change.  That may or may not turn you off.. but it is what it is.
Second let me state that in my opinion this policy change or clarification of the membership requirement will not really have that big of an impact on Scouting.  As much as the “Gay” issue did not really move the needle, the gender identification allowance will have about the same impact.  That is my opinion and mine alone.
I am not opposed to the opening of the doors to everyone and think that this move, while not popular in conservative circles is a gateway to opening our membership up to being COED in all programs of Scouting.  Again, I have no insight, just thoughts.  I am not opposed to a COED program either.
Having said all of that, we will have to learn and be proactive in how we deliver the program.  Logistics issues will be affected for sure, but the leaders of our organization are going to have to put together reasonable measures to maintain the program while integrating the COED aspect.
We do not have to rediscover the wheel here, we are one of less than a handful of Countries that are not COED, so we can learn from our brothers and sisters in Scouting across the globe.
The Boy Scouts of America has always kept up with or got in front of social issues.  The organization can not and will not survive by living in the past.
The Moral dilemma.  Scouting’s hallmark is found in the Oath and Law.  It is where we establish our code of conduct and our shared values.  Morality in its essence comes down to the difference between right and wrong.  That is pretty clear.  It has nothing to do with religion or faith.  Right and Wrong.
I tend to live in the world or reality.  Reality dictates that we accept things on realities terms.  The reality of the Scout Oath and Law is simply that we live by the Golden Rule, again, not necessarily a religious concept as everyone can understand and live by the simple idea of treating others as we would like to be treated.
So now we have to decide if that applies to everyone or just the people that are like you.. or us.
I am a conservative guy.. but the more I think about the way we treat people, the more I understand the golden rule.  I think that is an important part of “Help other people at all times” too.
Now lets talk about science.  There are male and female members of our species.  Black, white, or what ever, nature has maintained that in order for us to survive as a species we need men and women.  X and Y chromosomes decide whether or not we are male or female.  The discussion of what we “identify” as is a discussion I do not understand.  Identification is a mental thing not a physical or scientific issue.  We are what we are.  If you are born a male, you are a male etc.  How you feel about that is not a gender issue in my opinion.  I feel like a millionaire until I check the bank statement and reality sets in.
I can identify as old man, and some days I feel that way, but then I look at my drivers licence and it says that I am only 51.  Again, I do not wish ill or will not treat anyone bad because of their feelings, I just do not understand it.
The issue as it applies to Scouting is simple to me.  Boys are boys and girls are girls and that is how they will be treated.  We will have to learn how to accommodate the arrangements, but we treat it like we treat things now.  With respect and keeping the individual safe.  If we have a young man that “identifies” as a young girl, then we use the Patrol method and make sure the Scout has a great experience.  Showers will have to be arranged as well as restroom accommodations.  Most camps are single seaters anyway.. but we will have to be sensitive to the needs of the Scout.  Just like we do now.
I do not think that Biology changes with feelings.. but that is my opinion.. and I guess the opinion of science.
But we are talking about the person.  The person has feelings and as long as they agree to live within the values of the Scout Oath and Law.. I do not have a problem with it.
That goes for everything.
I care less about how you feel and more about how you act.  That is a good moral position to be in I think.
Some may argue that this is a moral issue.  I would argue that it is how we treat people and that is the difference between what is right and what is wrong.
I think that this policy change or clarification of the membership policy is in keeping with the tradition and spirit of Scouting.
We do not discriminate based on well… anything… as long as they agree to live the Scout Oath and Law.
To me it is that simple.
If you want to learn more about the membership policy.. check it out at the BSA site.
I thank you all for allowing me to express my opinion.  I know that there are going to be some.. maybe many that disagree, and that is ok with me.  We can still be friends.
I wonder what the discussion was like when the BSA opened it’s doors to African American boys?  Think it may have gone like today’s policy changes.
Like we teach in Wood Badge.. Change is constant and Change is inevitable.  Change is going to happen no matter how much you dislike it.  As long as we move into the future with the goal of preparing young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Scout Law then we will survive.
Thanks again.

Have a Great Scouting Day!


A Scout is Trustworthy

It is bad form to define a term or word by using the word or term.  When we ask a Scout what is meant by being Trustworthy it is almost a cop out for the Scout to answer “One that is worthy of Trust” or some one worthy of being Trusted.
Merriam-Webster defines Trustworthy as worthy of confidence : dependable.  Words that describe the actions or attitudes of someone deemed to be Trustworthy.
Reliable, Dependable, Honest, Deserving of Trust are a few more words that I think of when we talk about being Trustworthy.
For me it all comes down to actions.  Those tangible things that we can see and feel or read and process in our minds that lead us to put our Trust in someone or an organization.
We had an interesting discussion a few days ago with a Scout.  The discussion led to Character and how we judge the character of a person or group, in particular the discussion was about the Media.
How do we know what we can trust?  The Scout asked me.  What is credible and honest in today’s media?  How do we define in today’s media what is true or as they now say “Fake News”.  This young man explained that they were having this discussion in School that day and felt as though the teacher obviously had a certain bias for one side of the media.
Again, I led the conversation to what we believe character looks like.  What is the expectation of a Scout in our community.  Does he tell the truth?  Does he demonstrate leadership?  Does the Scout stay out of trouble?  When he makes a commitment does he follow through and complete the task?  Does he treat others with respect and dignity?
I am sure that we can go on and on.. the bottom line is simply this, are we dependable, worthy of peoples confidence, honest and deserving of trust.
So how do apply that standard to the media or society in general.  It appears that it depends on how you define character.  One side is “Fair and Balanced” while the other side is “First and Accurate”.  So who is right?
What is “Fake News”?  What are “alternate facts”.  The issue has become so clouded that we are getting to a point where we are hard pressed to accurately determine who is being Trustworthy.
This is a great lesson for our Scouts.  No matter which side of the spectrum you find yourself politically or socially.. The fact that no matter what you claim to believe the one thing that we can agree on is that the media is perceived as suspect.  In the discussion of Trust and Trustworthiness, we can agree that it is hard to believe either side because they are creating doubt in their character.  Both side make the argument that “They are right”, but we all know that the truth must be somewhere in the middle.  Gone is the idea of a clear “right and wrong” when it comes to some social issues and media influence.
I am not sure what the fix is, but I do know that when I discuss this with Scouts it is a great case study in what we look for in defining “Trustworthy”.
A Scout is Trustworthy.. so yeah… Worthy of Trust.  We must do everything not to take that away from how people view us as Scouts.
I am curious to know what you think.
Leave us a comment.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Perfect Scouting Weekend

capelookoutFirst let me start with an update…In the last post I wrote about a change in the Order of the Arrow terminology as it applies to the Ordeal.  It was suggested at our recent Lodge gathering that the Ordeal was changing to “Induction”.
A day after I posted that I received an email with some clarification to the change in the title.  There is NO change coming.
“Brother Jerry,
Your blog post just wound it’s way to me from friends in the Order. Just wanted to give you the heads up that the change of “Ordeal” to “Induction Weekend” is just an unfortunate instance of poor communication from a youth trainer at NEXT.
To be clear: this change is absolutely not happening. The term “Ordeal” is absolutely NOT changing to “Induction Weekend.” This rumor began back at NEXT this past August. There was a session where attendees were encouraged to think about aspects of the OA program in a different light as an intellectual exercise, and several scenarios/ideas were presented. One of these scenarios that was discussed was this concept of changing the word Ordeal. Bless his heart, but the youth sharing this prompt to the group very very inelegantly and poorly framed it as an actual idea being considered by the National Committee, rather than a mere starting point to explore why and how we do things, as leaders, in our lodges.
I’ve actually communicated directly with a member of the National Committee on this topic. I can categorically say it is not happening.”
So, I hope that clears some things up regarding that…

Now, a Perfect Weekend of Scouting.
We all know that Scouting is a Game with a Purpose.  We play that game at every meeting, outing, camp out, and ceremony.  It is important that first, we know what the rules and guidelines are of the game.  And Second how to play it and make sure it is being played correctly.
As we meet with our Scouts and go with them on our monthly camp outs it is important that we make sure that we are introducing opportunities for the game to visible and we meet the objectives of the game ensuring that the Scouts understand the purpose and meaning of what they are doing or did.
This weekend was a “Perfect” weekend of Scouting.  Our Troop went camping on the Oregon coast to a gem of a camp, Camp Clark.  We arrived around 9 PM on Friday night and the Patrols found themselves a place to set camp.  Saturday morning we awoke to an overcast, but dry and warm (ish) day at the beach.  The Patrols cooked breakfast, got cleaned up and readied themselves for a hike.
We hiked out to the end of Cape Lookout and back to camp.  8.4 mikes with the first couple miles straight up hill.  It was a challenging hike and pushed many Scouts beyond where they thought they could go.  As with most hikes, the pay off was the amazing views.  Sitting on the end of the Cape, hanging out with their Patrols I smiled as I watched them celebrate their accomplishment.
Our First year Scouts needed this hike to complete the 5 mile requirement for 1st Class.  I told them we needed to 8 miles to get to 5.  They didn’t understand until we got to the 2 and half mark and I said that we could turn around now.  Their Patrol leader said that they wanted to see the end of the Cape.  So we talked about why we hike.  The views, fitness, and of course to get somewhere.  So they pushed on.
On the return to camp we found an amazing view point.  We stopped and took time for reflection.  I reminded them of the game we were playing and what the score card looked like for today.
Character.  They pushed themselves and found that they could go farther than they thought.  For the older Scouts, they showed character in helping the younger guys and encouraging them along the way.
Citizenship.  The hike and camping gives up great opportunities to be good stewards of the land.  They had the opportunity to be helpful and Courteous along the route.  And at the Troops campfire on Saturday night, we retired a couple American Flags that have served our Country well.
Fitness.  The hike allowed us to get some good exercise in.  The meals they prepared for their Patrols  were healthy and encourage good eating habits.  And keeping themselves clean as well as looking out for their Patrol mates is good practice for healthy living.
So the score card for the game is a Perfect one.  A Perfect weekend of playing Scouting’s game.
We had four Webelos on the outing with us also.  They did everything the Troop did this weekend.  They ate with a Patrol, hiked with the First year Scouts and camped with their Den Chief and his Patrol.  They had a fantastic time and now look forward to their first camp out with the Troop after they cross over.
This weekend was the kind of weekend that make you want to come back for more.. the reason we stay with Scouting.  We know that Scouting works and that the game with a purpose is meaningful and makes a difference.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Changes in the wind…

OA1Don’t you hate it when your computer crashes and you lose everything?  Yep it happened to me last week and it’s been virtually catastrophic for the blog and much of my Wood Badge prep.
But we will rebuild and get back in the electronic saddle.

This weekend was spent at our Order of the Arrow Lodges Native American Arts and Ceremonies Seminar.  A great weekend of fellowship and preparation for the upcoming “Cross over” season.  Regalia building and practice for the ceremony teams fill the weekend as well as just hanging out with friends from around the Council.
During one of our sessions there was a report from a recent National meeting of the OA.  The take home points were the up coming changes to the Order of the Arrow.  I did not get all of the changes, but there were two that caused lots of discussion.
First, the “Ordeal” ceremony is no longer called an Ordeal.  It has been changed to “Induction” ceremony.  The reason was the “Ordeal” conjures up feelings of fear and is scary to some of the newer Scouts (More so their parents).  I dislike this change, but will comply as I see the writing on the wall.
The other point was that the emphasis is no longer on the “Order of the Arrow”, but more focus is being given to “The Scouting National Honor Society”.  This I don’t have to big an issue with as again… the writing is on the wall for big changes in the conduct of the Order.
Brotherhood, Cheerfulness, and Service is still and always will be the purpose and intent of the National Honor Society of Scouting, but we will start seeing a shift away from the Native American Themes.  I really don’t have a problem with that either.  We can keep the message and program without dressing up like Native Americans.  I am less concerned with the idea that someone is offended as I think that all comes down to the intent and respect given to the Native Americans we try to honor.  Being an organization that fosters membership in an Honor Society tasked with Servant leadership and serving our fellowman with an attitude of cheerfulness is the main thing and we can do that in any costume or none at all.
It will take time and I am sure that we will lose some folks on the way.. but in the end it will add to the strength of our message.  We need to focus on Inducting the right Scout that has a spirit of being a cheerful servant leader.  It may mean that the Order of the Arrow will shrink a little at first.  That too is ok as long as we keep the main thing in the forefront of why we need the OA.
E Urner Goodman’s vision and legacy will remain in tact as long a we do not forget why we exist.  At NOAC in 2015 we rededicated the vision with “It starts with Us” and Daring to do.  A call to action to serve on another.  It does not take a head dress or the legend of Uncas to move that point along.
As we change we will create a new way of sending the message, new ceremonies, and new themes to move the Order along.  It will take patience and time.  It will take leadership and a spirit of a cheerful servant.
I’m in.
I still don’t like that we cater to the over sensitive that get their feeling hurt because someone expects them to work and serve and think about why you are a member of the Scouting National Honor Society.. but I am not willing to throw the baby out with the bathwater over a name change.
What say you?

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Talking about Lanterns

Sorry about all the videos lately.. but sometimes (When I am lazy).. this is a great platform to get some information out there.
This time we are talking about lanterns. There are many types out there and they all seem to shed some light on what you are trying to do out in the woods.
From candles to Coleman we have lots of choices out there to meet your camping needs.
Enjoy this video I shot about 3 years ago. Hope in lights up your day.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Sleeping Bag storage

In this Saturday Quick Tip video.. I show a quick and easy way to store your sleeping bag.
Your sleeping bag is an essential piece of gear.  Part of the “Big 3”, your sleeping bag is a piece of gear that you count on when you are in the woods.
Taking care of your sleeping bag or quilts will take care of you.
If you have suggestions on how you take care of your sleep system.. leave us a comment and share your ideas.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Mountain Hardwear Bandito Gloves

A little gear review of a nice pair of gloves.
If you are like me you are looking for gear that works.  My hands typically get real hot when I am hiking, a heavy glove is too much and a real light glove is not enough.  The Mountain Hardwear Bandito glove is as the baby bear discovered.. just right.
This glove provides protection from the elements of rain and wind and keeps your hands comfortable.
It is a mitten and a finger less glove perfect for hiking and doing camp chores and setting up camp on a chilly day.
Let me know what you think and what kind of gloves you use.

Have a Great Scouting Day!