Bobwhite Blather

Information, Observation, and Inspiration for Scouters

No more, no less

33216_WB-2What if a high school math teacher decided that during her geometry class she would start teaching her students about calculus?

What if questions about calculus appeared on the course midterm or final exam?

In the first instance, the teacher could be trying to show her students that what they’re learning – in what to some may be a pointless geometry class – is of value further along in the spectrum of mathematics. After all, calculus does rely on many of the concepts learned from geometry.

But in the second case, the teacher is clearly out of bounds for expecting that her students should demonstrate some proficiency in limits, differentials or integrals – subject matter that isn’t required by the geometry curriculum.

Yet there are some in Scouting who apply the same practices with our Scouts. Continue reading

Q&A: SSNs, background checks, merit badge counselors

ssn_mag_200Time for a few more answers to your questions, this time about Social Security numbers on adult applications, the criminal background check and how to become a merit badge counselor.

I don’t like giving out my Social Security number. Why is it required on an adult application?

An adult applicant’s Social Security number is required on the adult application form in order for the National Council to conduct a criminal background check. This is done on every volunteer who applies for membership in the BSA. Continue reading

A Scout is Kind – even when you don’t expect it

gossip_200Over cracker barrel one Saturday night at a campout a couple years ago, as the boys were off at their patrol sites getting ready for lights out, we adults were talking about our boys. We had been watching them from a distance all day as they went about their daily tasks, and I mentioned that it was great to watch my son going about the business of camping with his patrol, helping to instruct and signing off the younger boys from other patrols, and working with his patrol to get their meals cooked and the kitchen cleaned up.

One of the other dads happened to mention that he’d seen his son in action from a distance too, but in another way. Continue reading

Motivating volunteers to commit

MotivateHas this ever happened to you? You spot a parent at a troop meeting, chat with him or her and decide they’d be a good fit for a particular task you have in mind. After discussing it, they agree to take on the job, and you give some basic direction. Later that month at the committee meeting, they either don’t show up or report that nothing much has been done. We tend to brush it off as “everyone’s busy” and let it go, but as the weeks go by, there really isn’t any further progress. You really hate to bug them – they did volunteer, after all – but something has to move forward.

Sound familiar? Continue reading

Placing process before results

checklist_200A smooth-running troop is the dream of every Scoutmaster. Every Scout doing what he should do, youth leaders firmly in charge, and the senior patrol leader taking direction from the Scoutmaster and leading the other youth.

Most troops don’t fit that image, however. Patrols seem to vary from adequately prepared to barely functioning. It can be frustrating for a Scoutmaster to not see the Scouts getting anything done.

The same can apply to the troop committee. You see committee members not doing things the way you’d do them. You’re tempted to micromanage or just do things yourself.

When this happens, it’s time to step back and understand the real aim and the best approach to let the process take its course, rather than trying to fret about the end result. Continue reading