Archive for the ‘Boy Scouts of America’ Tag

What is a Scouter?   Leave a comment

Posted October 29, 2013 by henrymowry in Scouting

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Idiots Masquerading As Boy Scout Leaders   Leave a comment

Goblin Valley State Park, Utah. Photo by  Don Paulson.

Goblin Valley State Park, Utah. Photo by Don Paulson.

Did you see the news coverage this week of the “Boy Scout Leaders” that destroyed a rock formation in Utah’s Goblin Valley State Park?

The images were disgusting. The idea was disgusting. My quibble, here, is the headline of “Boy Scout Leaders” getting the blame for destroying a rock formation in a state park.

Two guys, named Dave Hall and Glenn Taylor, were indeed part of a Varsity Scout outing into the Goblin Valley State Park in Utah this past weekend. There were 2 other adults on the outing (I don’t know which were Boy Scout leaders, and which were just adults on the outing) and the Team of 8 Scouts, ages 14 and 15. The Scouts were “playing” among the hoodoos in this park, which are typified by the picture, right. Varsity Scouting is a program of the Boy Scouts of America, intended for older boys.

The “leaders” noticed that one hoodoo was barely balanced, and about to break apart. They saw this as a safety issue, and decided to unbalance the hoodoo to end the hazard. They didn’t consult any park rangers, geologists, or any other responsible adult. Unfortunately.

Their gleeful video went viral, showing them destroying this rock formation that was originally formed millions of years ago.

Today, Mr. Hall and Mr. Taylor are receiving death threats because they destroyed this rock formation.

Their behavior, obviously, is reprehensible. My point is that in NO WAY do they represent the Boys Scouts of America. Here’s what I see:

  • Adults not in uniform, which indicates they are not following Scouting principles.
  • Adults not following required Boy Scout training to “leave no trace” in the wild.
  • Boys not present at all.
  • A video posting that was originally intended to aggrandize the adults … which were not supervising their boys when they made the video.

At this point, I don’t know if these 2 adults had followed any rules of the Boy Scouts of America on this outing. They may have been registered, trained leaders … or not. The evidence I do have says they were not following training that is required for registered leaders of every outing sanctioned by the BSA.

Were they really “leaders” or were they just adults tagging along on the outing? I don’t know. But I do regret their actions, and regret that their actions have reflected badly on the Boy Scouts of America that they truly do not represent.

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4:14pm PDT, 10/21/13

UPDATE: BSA ejected both adults from membership in the organization. Apparently, one of the men was a unit leader and the other was simply a registered adult. From NPR.com: Boy Scouts Eject Leaders Who Toppled Ancient Rock

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Huffington Post: Boy Scout Leaders Topple Ancient Rock Formation In Utah’s Goblin Valley State Park

Salt Lake Tribune: ‘Goblin’ topplers say they are receiving death threats

BoingBoing.net: Boy Scout Leaders Destroy Ancient Formation In Utah’s Goblin Valley

Creating an Eagle Court of Honor   1 comment

Roy Rogers, appearing at an Eagle Court of Honor in Pennsylvania in a1950.

Roy Rogers, appearing at an Eagle Court of Honor in Pennsylvania in 1950.

The Eagle Badge is the highest award in Scouting. It is the fulfillment of years of preparation, countless events and activities, and affirmation by adults that the Scout is worthy of this great honor. When a young man achieves something that important, they deserve special recognition.

That recognition is typically done at an Eagle Court of Honor (ECOH). These are often hosted by the Eagle’s family, though they are also hosted by the Scout’s troop – especially if multiple boys are receiving the award. There is no requirement that an Eagle have a special presentation at an ECOH. It is traditional, though.

Another tradition is that the ECOH is often personalized for the boy. That can strike fear into the hearts of parents, that are often not active Scouters and don’t know where to begin. So, start here!

There is no “official” ECOH. There are no elements that must be included, though many troops and even councils have traditions that most will want to be included. That’s fine … there is still a lot of room for personalization.

I had the pleasure of creating 2 ECOHs for my 2 sons (well, 3 sons, as you shall see). When I developed the scripts, here were my priorities:

  • It’s about the boy, and the event must reflect his interests. He must approve the script.
  • It should be a Scouting event with maximum attendance of family, Scouts and friends (in that order).
  • It’s an entertainment event, so it should be something the audience enjoys.

I recently emcee’d an ECOH for the Kasman family. Marty Kasman is an Eagle Scout, as well as a recipient of the Silver Beaver and Silver Antelope. He wrote the script for his son Daniel’s ECOH with these priorities:

  • Inspire younger boys
  • Demonstrate the good that Scouts do

There are many resources below that will guide you in preparing for the ceremony.  Here are a few observations and tips that I encourage you to consider:

1. Schedule the event when it’s most convenient for the people you want to be there. If the ECOH is scheduled at the regular troop meeting time, you’ll probably get a lot of boys … but weeknights are difficult for family and friends to travel any distance to attend. Weekends are always best for them (and worst for the boys).

2. Don’t do the same old tired ceremony that the boys have seen many times. A little creativity goes a long way. Remember, it’s an entertainment event.

3. The boy(s) being honored should be as involved in the creation of the event as they want to be. Some boys will want to be very involved, though few are really capable of writing a complete script.

4. The ceremony should reflect the boy. In Christopher’s case, he was the Senior Patrol Leader (the boy leader of the troop) at the time, and had been helping do Scout campfires since he was in Cub Scouts. It was perfectly natural that his ECOH should be a campfire event, complete with singing, storytelling and S’Mores. Michael, on the other hand, teamed up with his buddy Lyle (my honorary 3rd son), and they wanted their event to be a party. Their ECOH had a “normal” ceremony … and was followed by a dance with actual girls in attendance (go to a few ECOHs and you’ll see how unusual that is!). I haven’t seen either of those ideas done as an ECOH since.

5. If you have non-Scouters attending that don’t know what an ECOH is, make sure you have a friendly emcee that will explain what’s going on as it happens.

6. Special appearances by treasured Scouters are very popular with the guys in khaki. At Christopher’s event, I was able to present a district award to a Scouter who had coordinated Christopher’s Eagle project for a local park (where Christopher now works!). This Scouter happened to be celebrating his 60th year as an Eagle Scout, and the ovation when he was introduced brought tears to his eyes. Make memories.

7. Have a good photographer on hand that is not an immediate family member. You know how much I love photography. I failed at capturing ECOH memories in photographs. Twice.

8. One traditional element that makes very little sense to me is gathering letters of congratulation from VIPs. If you request a congratulatory letter far in advance, you can generally get them from mayors, senators, celebrities – even Presidents. Here’s my question: does your son really care if he has a form letter from a congressman in a notebook on a shelf that he’ll never look at again? If so, great. If not … put your efforts into more productive pursuits.

9. Every ECOH these days seems to include a slide show of photos from the Eagle’s Scouting career. Those can be fun … for a few minutes. Three minutes, great. Five minutes … uncomfortable. Anything longer than that really doesn’t matter, because you will have lost most of your audience.

10. Use your resources … other adults from you son’s patrol and troop will be happy to help you pull this event off. Non-immediate family members, too. Don’t try and do it all yourself, because you will make yourself crazy. And why would you do that on a day made for celebration with your son?

More

Christopher Mowry’s ECOH Script

Eagle Court of Honor Handbook

MacScouter’s ECOH Handbook

EagleScout.org’s Court of Honor

Eagle Scout Mike Rowe’s Speech At The 2013 National Jamboree

Red Fox James   2 comments

I subscribe to the SHORPY historical photo archive RSS feed. They have a variety of 20th century photographs … Adam West on the Batman set, beach goers at Atlantic City in the 1920s … you never know what photo they’re going to share each day. The feed is free, and they sell high quality prints of the photographs in the archive.

Subscribe to the free feed here.

They delivered a photo of Red Fox James who was identified as a Blackfoot Indian … and it looked like he was wearing a Boy Scout pin. In a photo dated 1915! This was a story I had to learn. Here’s one picture … click on it to see it full size.

I can’t identify the medal on the ribbon; don’t know if that’s a BSA award or not. He is wearing what looks like a Tenderfoot pin, and has a “BSA” pin on his hat. I believe BSA was worn on the collar by leaders in this time period … uniform experts, please correct me if that’s wrong.

Red Fox James, a Blackfoot Indian, rode horseback from state to state seeking approval for a day to honor Indians. On Dec. 14, 1915, he presented the endorsements of 24 state governments at the White House. There is no record, however, of such a national day being proclaimed. (Library of Congress)

Red Fox James, a Blackfoot Indian, rode horseback from state to state seeking approval for a day to honor Indians. On Dec. 14, 1915, he presented the endorsements of 24 state governments at the White House. There is no record, however, of such a national day being proclaimed. (Library of Congress)

James rode “his famous Indian pony” throughout the country in 1914, and then again in 1915, to inspire support for a designated “American Indian Day.” He met with citizens all across the country, and frequently met with Scout troops during his journeys. He spoke to a gathering of 35,000 people in New York … he was trying to build a groundswell of opinion before mass media would have made his work much easier.

24 Governors signed James’ petition proposing a new holiday called “American Indian Day” be added to our calendar. James presented the petition to President Wilson in 1915. Unfortunately, there’s no record that Wilson ever acted upon the plea.

James had a colorful history, as one might expect from someone that became a celebrity in an era when Indians could not be US citizens. He did not live on a reservation; rather he was raised in white society. He went by many names, and at various times claimed to be graduated from the University of Oklahoma, went by the name Reverend St James, and raised over $15,000 for the American Red Cross in the early part of the 20th century – a very significant sum!

In January of 1915, James helped found the Indian Scouts of America, which was a part of the Boy Scouts. He was designated as “Acting Scout Master” according to the record of the event, which you can view here. He was a part of the founding of another organization, the Tipi Order of America, for non-Indians to learn about the Indian culture. That organization (you can find references that use both the Tipi and Teepee spelling) eventually transitioned into an adult fraternal organization.

1915, Red Fox James at the White House. State, War & Navy Building at far left. Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative.

1915, Red Fox James at the White House. Note the “Be Prepared” pennant. State, War & Navy Building at far left. Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative.

More

Native American Heritage Month

The Star & Sentinel, 12/08/1914

Biographical Background For Red Fox Skiuhushu

Examiner.com – Origins

Bureau of Indian Affairs

Quarterly Journal of the Society of American Indians

The Search for an American Indian Identity: Modern Pan-Indian Movements

Jamboree # 1   Leave a comment

The first Boy Scout Jamboree was held on the Capitol Mall. Here, a picture from SHORPY – Boy Scouts sightseeing on Capitol Transit buses, Washington, D.C. May 1937.

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Some Pictures From A Brownie

The President and the Boy Scouts   Leave a comment

Gerald R Ford, Eagle Scout, 1929

Gerald R Ford, Eagle Scout, 1929

Every President since its 1910 founding has served as the honorary chairman of the Boy Scouts of America.

Teddy Roosevelt, newly ex-President in 1910 was given the unique title of “Chief Scout Citizen.”

5 Presidents, or half of the Presidents that could have been Scouts, were actually Scouts:

John F Kennedy, Star Scout, 1930

John F Kennedy, Star Scout, 1930

John F Kennedy, the first President born in the 20th Century, was the first who was a Boy Scout as a youth. He rose to the rank of Star.

Gerald Ford was the first and only Eagle Scout to become President.

Bill Clinton and George W Bush were both Cub Scouts.

Barack Obama was a member of the Indonesian Scout Association; he was the equivalent of a Cub Scout.

The link below chronicles the support of Scouting rendered by all Presidents, from Teddy Roosevelt forward.

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Scouting.org: Presidents Fact Sheet

Being A Scout Is Expensive   7 comments

Being a Scout is expensive. I’ve seen the parent walk into the store with camping gear and plunk down the plastic to buy their young man whatever he needs.

But that’s not doing it the right way.

Here’s another approach, which I read courtesy of Ed Darrell over at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub: a letter from a future President asking for more allowance.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy was our first President who was a Scout as a youth. He rose to the rank of Star Scout, and later served on the Executive Board of the Boston Council of the Boy Scouts of America.  Here’s a (very poor) picture of him as a Scout.

John F Kennedy as a Scout in 1930.

John F Kennedy as a Scout in 1930.

President Kennedy receiving Boy Scout greeting - December, 1962 (photo courtesy John Loengard, Life Magazine)

President Kennedy receiving Boy Scout greeting – December, 1962 (photo courtesy John Loengard, Life Magazine)

President Kennedy described Scouting:

“For more than 50 years, Scouting has played an important part in the lives of the Boy Scouts of this nation. It has helped to mold character, to form friendships, to provide a worthwhile outlet for the natural energies of growing boys, and to train these boys to become good citizens of the future.”

A Scouting Family

President John F. Kennedy Visits with the Boy Scouts’ “Scouting Family of the Year”, February 8, 1962.

President John F. Kennedy meets with the Fair family, a representative family selected as “Scouting Family of the Year” by the Boy Scouts of America, in conjunction with Boy Scout Week. L-R: Grant, Bill, and Bob Fair (order undetermined); Martha Fair; President Kennedy; Jane Swift Fair; Harry G. Fair. Fish Room, White House, Washington, D.C. Photographer: Robert L Knudsen.

I am an Eagle Scout   8 comments

August 1, 2012 is the 100th anniversary of the first Eagle Scout Board of Review.  I am proud to be an Eagle Scout.

There are great resources to explain the Eagle award and what it represents.  One President of the United States earned the award … as did the first man on the moon, a current Supreme Court Justice and many, many more noteworthy individuals.  I celebrate their accomplishment, and ask you to consider a few facts about Eagle Scouts:

  • They are significantly more likely to have worked to solve problems in their community than non-Scouts.
  • Eagle Scouts are 55 percent more likely than non-Scouts to have held a leadership position at their workplace.
  • They are more likely to be active readers.
  • Eagles are 72% more likely to attend live entertainment events than non-Scouts.
  • Eagle Scouts are 100% more likely than non-Scouts to have a designated family meeting place in the event of an emergency.
  • Eagle Scouts are 45% more likely than non-Scouts to agree they always treat people of other religions with respect.
  • Eagle Scouts are 34% more likely than non-Scouts to have donated money to a non-religious institution or charity in the community within the last month.

Teaching my children to live a life in service to God, family, community and country was of paramount importance to this parent.  Scouting focuses on those core values in an environment of personal achievement, comradery and FUN.

About 2% of all Scouts attain the rank of Eagle. That has trended up recently, with about 5% of all Scouts earning the award in 2008.

Of course, Scouting is about outdoor activities … and Scouts are known to be strong environmentalists.  They know how to tie knots, go camping and build a fire.  Don’t think for a moment that becoming an Eagle is about those things.  Learning outdoor skills is just one of the methods used by Scouting to build knowledge and leadership in young men.  However, those skills are not the key result of the program.

My sons are both Eagle Scouts, and it’s had an important impact on their lives.  For one example, both Michael and Christopher got their first jobs as a result of their Scouting experience.

Christopher actually learned of a job opportunity with LA County while leading a Scout outing.  He got the job, and he’s been promoted by the County several times since; he’s currently a Recreation Supervisor and in charge of 12 natural areas in northern LA County.

The cloth badge is sewn on the shirt; the medal can be worn in its place on more formal occasions. Once a boy turns 18, he no longer wears the badge or medal on his uniform.

Michael didn’t know Scouting was important to his job with Rocketdyne until one day at lunch.  Some co-workers were talking about what they would do if they were washed overboard at sea (Note: rocket scientists often have odd conversations).  One of his peers calmly related that he would inflate his clothing – a technique learned by all Eagles as they complete the Swimming merit badge. All of Michael’s peers were amazed to learn that everyone at the table knew the technique … and, further, all were Eagle Scouts.  Apparently a degree in engineering from a prestigious university was only one thing recruiters were looking for!

To become an Eagle Scout, each young man must complete over 300 separate requirements.  They must earn 21 different merit badges, and complete the requirements to the satisfaction of an adult expert in that field.  They must demonstrate leadership by planning, inspiring others, and working with them to complete a service project of benefit to their community, church or school.  On six different occasions, they must stand before a board of review made up of community leaders, and demonstrate the Scouting spirit and leadership skills required to wear the different rank badges they must earn on the trail to the Eagle badge.

Eagle Scouts will know how to camp – and they’ll know what to do in a nuclear emergency, too.  They’ll have written a letter to their congressman.  They’ll know how to take care of money.  They’ll know first aid for a broken arm and a cut finger.  They’ll know the best knot to tie down a friend’s suitcase on a roof rack, too.

Once a young man has earned the award, they are an Eagle Scout for life.  I earned my Eagle in 1972 while in Troop 58, Maitland, MO.  I earned merit badges in Salesmanship and Journalism, which proved to be directly relevant to my success in my chosen career.  My Eagle Scout service project was developed in conjunction with the Graham Community Betterment Association in Graham, MO.  I actually assigned the street numbers to all of the buildings in Graham, and communicated their new street addresses to each resident and business owner in Graham (population 213!).

I know two keys to my success were my Scoutmasters, Eddie Hillman and Franklin Hardy.  Most important, however, were my Mother and Father.  Dad drove me to Scout meetings every Tuesday night.  Mom helped make sure I got the requirements done — I distinctly remember some gentle, uh, encouragement, to get my Eagle Scout service project done.  They got me there, and I am an Eagle Scout.

Here I am at the Pony Express Council Eagle Dinner in 1972. I’m wearing the Explorer uniform of the Camp Geiger Staff, which I proudly served on in 1972 and 1973.

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