Archive for October 2012

The Role of Parents in Scouting   Leave a comment

A tough campout for parents is to accompany their son on their first Boy Scout camping experience.

They find that the rules have changed.  No longer are they in charge.  No longer are they primarily responsible for their son.  No longer do they set up the family tent for Mom, Dad, their son and other children.

Instead, a boy is in charge.  The parents are “encouraged” to take a break, and let the boys do it.  And that is often very, very hard — for the parents.

Scouting begins for many as a Tiger Cub.  Your son is in first grade and a flyer comes home from school.  Your son can join Scouts!  You’ll go to a recruitment night, and there you learn that you’ll join Cub Scouts with your son … he must have an adult partner in Tiger Cubs.  You’ll go to his Den meetings every week or two; you’ll go on outings with the other Tigers and their adult partners.  It’s a blast.

Velda signed Christopher up for Tigers while I was on a business trip.  I had left Scouting when I went to college in 1974 … I had never even heard of Tiger Cubs in 1989!

What I soon discovered is that Scouting had expanded the program to include first graders.  At the time, I was traveling extensively for my job, so Velda was Christopher’s adult partner and attended most of the meetings and monthly field trips.  She loved it almost as much as Christopher did:  he had a wonderful time!  I attended a couple of meetings, and I remember feeling a little lost.  Pack meetings helped get me in the swing of things, though, and by the next year, we were ready to volunteer our time to build the Pack up.

Cub Scout campouts are about families. This campout was in the Sequoia National Park at Camp Wolverton. I’ll never forget the Cub Scout’s big sister that thanked me: she had never been to a real campfire before.

Velda became a Den Leader and I became the Pack Treasurer.  We were all in, having fun with the kids, planning events and making sure the boys — including our sons — had a fabulous time at every meeting.  For the youngest boys, that is especially important.  Cub Scouting is a family event.  Velda was the Wolf & Bear Den Leader for both of our boys; I was the Webelos Den Leader, Committee Chair and then Cubmaster.  The Pack grew from 9 boys to 60+ boys.  We did many, many campfires and campouts.  Our garage had a permanent table and benches for the twice-a-week Den meetings.  As I said, we were all in.

As the boys grow from Wolf to Bear to Webelos (2nd to 3rd to 4th grade), the parents’ role does subtly change.  At the beginning, parents are with their son at every meeting, every event.  As the boys enter third grade and begin work on their Bear badge, parental attendance often becomes more optional.  Note that their participation is not an option, but there are times they can physically miss a meeting.  The Pack provides trained, adult leadership — and backups — to make sure that the boys are motivated, educated, entertained and well supervised.  The boys will spend time with their peers and learn to follow Akela … their leader.

At the same time, parents will contribute in the way they can best contribute.  Some are Den Leaders or assistants … and some help to set up the chairs before a meeting.  Helping set up meetings or bring snacks are also important tasks that help make the Pack run smoothly.

The boys in Cub Scouts learn a dizzying array of skills.  They will learn how to be responsible.  They’ll learn first aid.  They’ll learn about our country.  They’ll even learn how to communicate with their parents.  And, they’ll get to do Scouting stuff, too:  sing songs, camp out and build campfires.  The boys will have a GREAT time, and they’ll do it with their family.  My daughter still says she was a Cub Scout — she went to every Den Meeting, she went on every outing.  Note that she is in the middle of the Cub Scouts in the campout picture, above.  Cub Scouting is about family.

Every Cub Scout learns the motto:  Do Your Best.  And they have fun as they do their best, learning how to use a pocket knife, how to tell a tall tale, how recycling works and how to bake cookies.

As the boys transition to Boy Scouts, however, they learn a new motto.  As a Boy Scout, they must “Be Prepared.”  It’s no longer acceptable to simply do their best — now they must be ready for all challenges that come their way.

And that takes us back to their first campout.  It’s five years after your little boy became a Tiger Cub, and their world has changed.

It’s inevitable, really.  Families go on Cub Scout campouts, and Moms & Dads are in charge.  They set up the tents.  They make sure everything gets done.  When the boy goes to Boy Scouts, however, that all changes.  Who runs a Boy Scout troop?  The boys.

When that fifth grade boy, 10 or 11 years old, goes on that first campout with a well-run troop, he will answer to his Patrol Leader, often a 13-year old boy, who has taken on the responsibility to teach the new Scouts in Patrol.  That 13-year old Patrol Leader, in turn, reports to a Senior Patrol Leader who is the elected boy leader of the Troop.  The SPL is in charge of the outing.  He will consult with the adult leaders of the troop when he needs to … and the adult leaders will advise him as they need to.

Boy Scouts learn a lot from adults, of course … but I have always felt they enjoy learning skills from older boys much more. That is good on two levels: both the students and the teacher are enriched by the experience.

The parents aren’t in charge.  They’re not in their son’s Patrol.  They are not in charge of the Patrol Leader or the training that their son will receive.  The parents are welcome at the campout, especially at a first campout.  However, their role is not to set up their son’s tent.  They should not camp overnight with the Patrol — they will camp in the adult section of the campsite.

One of the goals of Boy Scouting is for the boys to learn leadership skills.  They do that by leading younger boys and teaching them Scout skills.  As boys advance in rank, they will learn how to set up their own tent.  They’ll learn what makes a good site for that tent.  And they’ll learn how to cook their own meals.  And then they will teach those skills to younger boys as they join the troop.

Parents should be a part of the adult leadership of the troop.  Typically that goes in one of two directions:  the Scoutmaster and his assistants, who help the boys plan and implement the events the troop participates in, or the troop committee that does everything from budgeting to transportation planning.

As our boys joined their troop, I went along with them and became an Assistant Scoutmaster.  Velda decided that she would not formally volunteer as an adult in the troop, but she did help with transportation and other volunteer tasks as needed.

However, even as I continued to be “very” involved, I still made sure that I gave my boys plenty of room to grow on their own.  As one example, the troop did an extended Alaska trip with floating, fishing and camping.  I did not go on this outing, but both of our sons did.  They had a great time, and I’m certain they experienced things differently with me not there.

And that is a wonderful thing.  Boys need to learn to be self-reliant as they grow from 2nd graders to 9th graders.  How are they going to do that if their parents are at every outing, every event?  By not going to Alaska, I helped the boys grow up.

And that, ultimately, is the role of parents.  The Scouting program can help, as I know it did for me in Maitland, Missouri’s Pack 58 and Troop 58, and as I know it did for my sons in Pack 575 and Troop 2 in Saugus, California.

Incomes Are Going Down   1 comment

This election season, it’s a rare thing when the Presidential candidates agree, but they do agree on this:  even in an economic recovery, the manufacturing jobs are not all coming back to America.  They’ve been lost, primarily to Pacific Rim nations.  By losing these jobs, one key source of middle class income for the Baby Boom generation is, simply, gone.

Manufacturing jobs were “good union jobs.”  They were relatively high paying.  They were jobs you could build a life around, and the world-wide economic expansion following World War II has been called the “Golden Age of Capitalism.”

Union membership declined 9% from 2008 to 2011.  The recession has been devastating to unions, too.

Clothing retailers often rely on the benefit of employee discounts on clothing purchases to incentivize employees to stay.

Now, we see that retail jobs are also going away.  This recent article in the New York Times describes the machinations that today’s retailers go through to minimize their labor costs.

Sophisticated computer programs are now utilized, incorporating factors such as weather forecasts, to predict what the store traffic will be on any given day.  Most retailers routinely limit their employees to less than 30 hours a week … and if employees are not available to work their schedule, then they’ll get fewer hours in future schedules.  Employees are left with a Hobbesian choice:  get a 2nd job to make more money, but risk losing your first job if the schedules ever conflict.

Retail employee’s incomes are going down — at the least, the people working retail should not expect to earn a full-time wage.  A few managers run the operation; the hourly workers are literally at their beck and call.

I was recently surprised by how little employers owe hourly employees, even in California.  You can be scheduled for a shift of any length (1 hour?  3 hours?  4 hours 15 minutes?  No problem.)  If you are dismissed and sent home from your shift, you are generally owed for 50% of the scheduled shift (there are some exceptions, such as if the power goes out, you’re owed nothing beyond what you’ve already worked).

Most of my career has been in the radio industry, which has undergone profound job shrinkage over the last 16 years.  The industry changed because of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which President Clinton signed into law.  The industry has consolidated away from an industry with many small operators owning a few local or regional stations, to a more nationally integrated model, with groups of hundreds of stations owned by a single operator.

The banks favor the new model; they provided billions of dollars to fund the acquisitions.  To create the efficiencies needed to pay the mortgage, though, many managers, air personalities and sales reps lost their jobs.

Owners are making money, banks are making money.  Middle class jobs are lost.

What’s the lesson?  Go to school.  Get a skill that cannot be shipped overseas.  Get a job that requires a premium salary.

Don’t expect to be well compensated working retail, or doing anything that can be done faster/quicker/cheaper overseas.  Because if it can be, it will be.

Posted October 30, 2012 by henrymowry in Living Life

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Maui: The Seven Sacred Pools   1 comment

This unique destination was originally called ‘Ohe’o Gulch, but a Hana hotel operator concluded that any name that included “Gulch” might not be a great tourist draw in a tropical paradise … so the “Seven Sacred Pools” were born.  They are a part of the Haleakala National Park … but the summit is 10,023’ above you, and you can’t get there from here.

What you can do is wander around the riverside, watching people break the rules as they scramble across the rocks and  frolic in the sun.

Seven Sacred Pools

Maui: The Road to Hana   2 comments

This is no simple road trip.  But if you are fortunate enough to visit Maui, you need to go on the road to Hana.

A tropical paradise is all around you!

This trip is not about the destination: it’s about the journey.  We’ve been to Hana, and found there really was no there there.  This isn’t about going to Hana … it’s about how beautiful it is to get to Hana.

Your driver will be busy.  There are 57 one-way bridges on the Road to Hana.  The drive is not that difficult, but it does require some road etiquette (let the first one to the bridge go through first) and patience throughout the drive.  Remember a few things:

  1. You are on vacation.
  2. You are not on a schedule.
  3. People want to pass you?  Let them.  More open road for you.  It’s prettier that way.

Gypsy Guide mixed historical trivia with scenic outlook tips and directions.

A great tool that we found for our trip was Gypsy Guide, which provides a purpose-built GPS system that will direct you to the wonderful sights along the road — it even shows you pictures of famous Hawaiians and explains their roles in history during your journey.  Just the thing so I didn’t have to talk to Velda on the road; well worth the nominal cost.  JOKE.  Joking.  I love talking to Velda.  Talk talk talk, that’s me in the car.

The Garden of Eden, currently $10 per person, is a nice diversion.

Picked the unit up in Lahaina at 6:30am; it was a great addition to the trip.  $39 for the day: very cheap for a guided tour.

But back to the road.

We got a recommendation to get on the road early, so we were through Kahului by 8am, and began our day with an early visit to the Garden of Eden Arboretum & Botanical Garden.  You’ve got to admit:  it’s a pretty grand name.  It’s definitely a good side trip:  it was a couple of hours in an interesting garden, but not essential.  Spend your time as you choose (remember, it’s about the journey).

We chose to stop at every waterfall.  Particularly noteworthy were 3 Bears Falls and Wai’anapanapa State Park and its black sand beach.  Don’t miss those!

Once you get past Hana, you can continue to the Seven Sacred Pools, which are a part of Haleakala National Park if you want to see it all … or wander back and see what you missed while you were driving east.

So, the day is yours.  Wander from waterfall to waterfall (see the pictures below), fruit stand to fruit stand (we found Longans, AKA Dragon’s Eye Fruit, for the first time on this trip, and that is no small thing!), Kodak Photo Spot to Kodak Photo Spot (remember those?).

Remember:  it’s about the journey.

It’s a short walk down the path to Ching’s Pond, where we saw some locals “cliff diving” from road level down into the pool about 25′ below. Not for the faint of heart!  Note the guided tour bus … just driving by.  Not the way I would choose to see the sights!

3 Bears Falls, AKA Upper Waikani Falls, is a gorgeous 3-part waterfall in a spendor of ferns and tropical jungle. This picture was simply taken from the road’s shoulder!

This spectacular shot is my favorite shoreline picture I’ve taken in Hawaii … and I’ve practiced extensively on 4 islands!

Wai’anapanapa is the only black sand beach on Maui.

Koki Beach has signage warning of the dangerous offshore currents. Not much danger when you take pictures from terra firma, though!

The Use and Abuse of Facebook   8 comments

As a child of the late 20th century, I am very well versed in technology. I sport my iPhone 4s everywhere I go. I have an iPad, iPod, laptop, you name it. I spend a lot of time on social networking sites and I read numerous blogs. I am part of the unique “First Generation” for many of these trends. I remember what life was like before cell phones, but I also know how miserable it would be without them. I’m also part of the group of young people who has changed the norms for basic types of communication. We spend our days staring at screens and avoiding direct connections to the rest of the population. We’d rather send a text than make a call. We can chat with our best friends online, no matter where they are (as far as Venezuela!). Not all of these changes are bad…but some don’t bode well for future generations. After reading this article, I’ve found I really agree.

For the first time ever, young parents have the opportunity to post ANYTHING about their children online. They can keep Grandpa and Grandma in the loop by emailing photos or short videos. They can give their baby a Facebook page (or their dog, ew). They can invite us all to after-school show-and-tell. But when is all of this too much? When do we start to harm the child psychologically? At what point are we putting our children in danger?

Throughout the article, many parent testimonials discuss the harm in giving a child an internet presence before that child can make the decision himself. I feel like we can take this thought one step further. Once that child reaches 13 years of age (the age limit on any social networking site) and decides to have a Facebook page, he will come upon a little problem. Mom and Dad have been posting photos of him since birth. Now every photo he has ever been in is online, tied to his Facebook. Doesn’t that seem a little unfair? Usually embarrassing baby pictures are unearthed when a serious girlfriend finally comes around. Now every person he knows can see all of his baby pictures. Shouldn’t he get a say in all of that?

Let’s go one step further. Currently, employers are asking for Facebook pages in job applications. They want to see what kind of social networker you are. They’ll have access to your 21st birthday party, that trip you took to Europe, EVERYTHING. And now, they’ll see all of those photos from when you were a kid. Does an employer really need access to all of that? This is an especially scary question if you are like the father that shot his daughter’s laptop on the internet. Why is it alright to humiliate your children on the web? Where once seen, NOTHING can be unseen. That poor girl will have to live with this for the rest of her life. I know that most parents are completely innocent in posting photos of their babies. They’re cute! They’re a tiny human! Kids do hilarious things! But there is definitely a line that can be crossed.

Which brings me to my next point…safety. Do you know who has the rights to your Facebook photos? Not you. In this article about the Facebook photo agreement, I learned that the moment a photo is on Facebook, it’s out of your control. Any photo you upload can be taken by Facebook and used for ads. So that adorable photo you took of your daughter’s first day of school can be slapped on an add for backpacks and seen by MILLIONS of people all over the internet. Another interesting aspect of Facebook privacy involves sharing. If I comment on a photo of a friend, every person who is my friend can see it. The same goes for anyone who comments on my status updates or photo uploads. So what if you invite someone to your son’s band performance and they comment on the event page? If one of their Facebook friends happens to be a child molester, suddenly they know your son’s name. They know what school he goes to and that he’s in band class. With one click, this person knows enough about your son to try and pick him up from school. Scary, right? It’s 100% real. You can have your Facebook set to the most extreme privacy settings and this can still happen.

I’m not trying to call anyone out. I’m one of the BIGGEST abusers of Facebook. I’ve posted a million photos, statuses, you name it. Everyone knows about my cats and what I like to cook for dinner and the wonderful things my husband does for me. Everyone knows when I’m at work or on vacation (gonna stop doing that!).  But when it comes to that time in my life where we (my husband and myself) have to decide if we want to have children, we’ll  also have to decide how much we want the internet to know about it. It’s a scary question for something that seems so innocent. Facebook is a great way to keep in touch with everyone all at once. Maybe they’ll really crack down on privacy and safety settings in the years to come. But until then, I’m going to stop and think before I post things on the internet. In 30 years I don’t want to walk down the streets in Vegas and see a photo of my daughter on those club flyers (oh did I not mention that? Other creepers take photos of beautiful girls they find on Facebook and use them for strip club adverts, etc. FUN!), or pictures from our honeymoon on some hotel ad. I think we need to pause before we share. Does the world really need to see this? Does it need to know? Hmmm…



After this post went up, my brother-in-law emailed a fabulous booklet about internet safety for families. It’s split up by different age groups and the types of risks, so it’s easy to navigate. Definitely worth a read!

Posted October 25, 2012 by mrsmowry in Media

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It’s Lavender, Honey   Leave a comment

Shot with a Nikon D7000 using an AF-S DX Nikkor 85mm lens. f/8, 1/250 seconds. Love this macro lens!

Shot at 1/200 second, but the bee is still too fast for the shutter.

Posted October 24, 2012 by henrymowry in Photography

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That Ol’ Creepy Moon   1 comment

Shot with a Nikon D90 on a tripod. 1 second exposure, f/4.

Posted October 23, 2012 by henrymowry in Photography

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The Importance of Family Dinners   2 comments

Love the research that illustrates the importance of family dinners. This is a big idea! Your family deserves nothing less.

Posted October 20, 2012 by henrymowry in Living Life

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The Tractor and the Scarecrow   3 comments

Posted October 20, 2012 by henrymowry in Photography

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The Hay Barn   8 comments

It was where we stored hay and the corn picker. Today, 40 years later, it’s barely standing. And the hay is gone.

Posted October 19, 2012 by henrymowry in Photography

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