Bobwhite Blather

Information, Observation, and Inspiration for Scouters

The part-time patrol method

half_patrolsAs a unit commissioner and Friends of Scouting presenter, I have the opportunity to visit many troops and packs and get insight into how they operate. We commissioners also talk among ourselves about problems and issues in our units.

One of the troops had an observation about a recent campout:

…the boys were separated by patrols… more boys seemed to be engaged cooking and cleaning…younger Scouts did well…we should continue this method.

While on one hand I’m happy that the troop conducted a successful patrol-method campout and has seen its benefits, I was disappointed to hear that most of their monthly “campouts” tend to be group activities: a ski trip, a merit badge clinic, a museum weekend, and so on.

This troop seems to be employing the patrol method on a part-time basis, Continue reading

Should you skew the numbers?

jte_numbers_200I heard from a pack committee chair, who asked me:

Our unit commissioner was helping me with our charter renewal and suggested that we register one of our den leaders as an assistant Cubmaster instead. He could still function as den leader, but it would make our Journey to Excellence numbers better. We’d get another 50 or 100 points if we did. Sounds like a good idea. What do you think?

Journey to Excellence is a tool for evaluating how well your unit is serving youth. It measures a dozen or so objectives and assigns points depending on whether your unit meets the objectives. It’s not perfect, but as measurement tools go, it’s pretty good. It was carefully thought out  and developed by an experienced team of volunteer unit Scouters and commissioners and is adjusted each year to improve its effectiveness Continue reading

Your Scouting social network

networking_200The rise over the last several years of social networking in the form of online services like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have revolutionized the way we communicate. Regardless of where we are in the world, we can keep in touch with our network of friends back home or anywhere else.

Networking is not new to the digital age, though. Making friends out of business associates is an art and an essential skill. Success in business is largely tied to having a network of people you can call on – and who can call on you – when the need arises.

In fact, who you know, and the connections you make, is every bit as important as what you know – and in many cases, even more so.

As a Scouter, there’s another sort of social network that you should nurture – Continue reading

More ideas for den meeting planning

denmeetingIf you’re a den leader, you realize that successful den meetings are planned in advance and have a variety of activities for the boys. The new Adventure program puts everything together so you don’t have to try to figure out for yourself how to run your den meetings. The goal is engagement, with advancement as the most visible byproduct.

The November/December 2015 issue of Scouting Magazine has a great article describing steps to planning better den meetings. In the article, Webelos leader David Kampa describes five big ideas for not only making meetings more fun for the boys but easier for you to plan. Continue reading

Making meetings less painful

committee_table_200Scouters seem to be addicted to meetings. In your unit, you either conduct meetings with the youth (den and pack meetings, for instance), or hover way in the background during troop and patrol meetings. We have meetings of our own, too – committee and leader meetings, district committee and commissioner meetings, Roundtable, and all sorts of subcommittee and planning meetings.

It seems as though our “one hour a week” doesn’t begin to include the meetings we attend, plan or participate in.

To be sure, meetings are necessary. They facilitate face-to-face communication and instant feedback from stakeholders and participants. E-mail can convey information and can be a tool for collaboration, but nothing takes the place of an in-person meeting for doing business.

And meetings are sometimes rightfully dreaded by most people who are expected to attend them. Continue reading