Making Older Scout Advancement and Leadership Opportunities Possible

scout-1

Kevin V. Hunt

Scouting Historian, Author, Blogger, Speaker, Scouting Veteran, and Camp Director

We have been talking (in these blogs) about the announced changes in LDS Scouting relative to the older boys.  I have talked extensively about the program planning function and how this will ever be key in creating an effective program for our older youth.  I would like to change gears a bit now to talk about how we might all work together to assist boys ages 14-17 still “be Scouts” and how we might help them become Eagle Scouts.   And I apologize that this blog is a bit longer than it maybe should be.  I will soon head to Scout camp for the summer so my blogging time is a bit limited as I anticipate a summer with little or no internet capabilities.  So, bear with me …  (Read it in installments if needed!)

Admittedly, the new look of older Scout programs will be a rather major challenge for us to face.   But, with our united efforts, it will still be possible.

The Original First Presidency Letter stated: “… Young men over the age of 14 who desire to continue to work toward the rank of Eagle Scout … should be encouraged and supported in their efforts and should be properly registered as Scouts.  Adult leaders who are assisting with merit badges or rank advancement with older boys should also be registered and completed required training.”

Following the announced changes, a Questions and Answers section was added on LDS.org about the upcoming changes.  One question says,

”What if my son is 14 or older and still wants to earn his Eagle Scout? According to LDS Public Affairs, any Latter-day Saint young man over the age of 14 who “desire(s) to continue toward the rank of Eagle will be registered, supported and encouraged.” These young men will need to be registered with the BSA in order to work toward the recognition.”

In the aftermath of the LDS decision about Varsity and Venturing, the Deseret News published statistics that were rather interesting.  These statistical charts showed that the average age of youth achieving the Eagle rank nationally in the BSA is 17.3 years.

The Utah National Parks Council (located in a nearly all LDS Utah council) wrote on this subject and gave other interesting statistics:  “We look forward to providing Scout programs to all interested youth, including those age 14 and older who want to continue participating or are on the trail to Eagle. Of those who earn the Eagle Scout award in our council, 93% complete the requirements at age 14 or older and 67% attain the Eagle rank after age 16.”

Pretty daunting news.  And with the coming changes, this means that we will all have to work harder to make it happen – and probably earlier.  So, what are we to do?  What is to be done?  How can the boys remain as Scouts and how can they achieve their advancement – and particularly the leadership requirements.  All good questions!

Well, I have had a few thoughts on the subject – and which I would like to share with you now.

First …  at the time of the annual BSA rechartering with the Church, the person in charge of completing the charter process should take extra care to contact each and every one of the boys turning 14 after January 1st (and their parents).  (This will be an ongoing question critical in the first year – but to be answered each successive year.)  Each boy should be willing to make a commitment right then about whether or not they want to be Eagle scouts.  And this will be kind of a major decision for them.  Do they want to follow the family and church tradition?  Or are they going to say that they are done and satisfied where they are?  All boys wishing to continue their Scouting connection (and adults who work with them) will still need to recharter with the troop.  That will mean new applications for all older boys.

It is very important that the registration remain current without any break.  If there is a lapse, they may not be able to ensure that they have tenure and leadership for the necessary time.  Boys can’t wait until they are seventeen plus and then suddenly reregister to become a “death-bed eagle” before they turn 18.  One of the saddest days of my life was having to tell a Scout in such a situation that it just was not possible for him to complete his Eagle award requirements before he turned 18.  He was a sad young man.

Another key for the leadership requirement – and tenure – is to remember that the time for these can start as soon as the Scout has earned his Star or Life awards.  Remember too, that a Scout needs to have six months between Star and Life and again from Life to Eagle.  But say a young man gets Life three or four months before his 14th birthday.  That three or four months can count toward the next rank IF the Scout is both registered and in a troop leadership position.  So, it is rather critical to make sure that every young man is in a troop leadership position.   Good record keeping is paramount.

Another key will be working with the council to make sure that all of the current advancement records – from whatever unit – are all transferred to those registered in the troop – after the rechartering decisions.

For many years I have been the advancement chairman for all three units – Scouting, Varsity and Venturing – in my own ward.   And I believe that we have a pretty strong Scouting program and support in our ward.  We have a fabulous 11-year Old Scout leader in Jonathan Nichols.  That guy is a saint!  He has worked overboard to ensure that each boy (who wants to) graduates from his program as a First Class Scout.  And the Scout troop leaders have also been great.  Most of the boys graduate from Deacon/Scouts as Star or Life Scouts.  And then they all struggle to get the other requirements completed.  A few boys get it done about age 15 – which is excellent.  And still, like the National BSA statistics, the majority still get ‘er done when older still.  And this is always a challenge … since by that time, the “fumes” have all kicked in (that’s car fumes and perfumes) and this makes for a major impact on the boys and their advancement.

As I conduct Scout board of reviews for our Scouts, I always ask them two or three questions at the end of each review.  One is “If we pin this badge on you at the court of honor … will you feel that you have EARNED the badge?”  (And discussion follows.)  And the other question (usually just before the “have you earned” question) is “Do YOU WANT to be an Eagle Scout?”  And then there is a follow-up question to that.  It is, “Whose job is it to make you an Eagle Scout?”

This questions kind of shocks some of the newer kids.  We then talk about how parents, leaders, and others can assist them, but in reality, it is their own personal decision to become an Eagle Scout – and it is their own personal duty to take charge and make this happen.

So, in light of the coming changes, it still boils down to this.  Does Johnny, himself, REALLY want to be an Eagle Scout?  And in spite of changes, is he willing to do anything that may be required (even acting independently) to make it happen?  (And we can’t rely simply on over-zealous mothers to make Johnny an Eagle Scout!)

After that decision time, older Scouts can push themselves forward to make it happen.  But, we have seen that often this doesn’t happen on their own.  It will take help from all of us to achieve the goal.

Next then, is that it will probably take a strong advancement person or someone else to help the youth stay on track.  The advancement chair can (as always) continue to encourage and talk with the boys individually in the hall etc. to help motivate and inspire.  Being ready with the updated advancement records of merit badges and rank dates can be very helpful.

That brings us to the subject of how to stay in the troop and how to achieve leadership requirements.

I guess this is a time to share my own personal experience.  I earned my own Eagle Scout award just before I turned age 14 (and so did my four Eagle brothers – and I admit that I didn’t have to be prodded by Mom and others to do it).  As per the church system, I moved up into the next upper level – Venturing Exploring (that was before Varsity Scouting).  In that program we had grandiose plans.  We planned to go to Hawaii.  But, after all of that planning – and a steady diet of basketball – we ultimately didn’t even make it to the giant Arizona metropolis of Sunflower, Arizona.

I lasted only about six months in that do-nothing program.  I then made the choice to go back to the Scout troop and remained there until I went on my mission.  Now, I know that I was a bit unique, but it was a glorious time for me.  I conducted merit badge classes for my younger troop brothers.  I kept the troop records.   I became the troop’s Junior Assistant Scoutmaster – a fabulous title and truly wonderful job for an older Scout.  I served more like an adult in the troop.  I did not report through the SPL but he reported through me to the Scoutmaster.  I have already blogged recently about how I became the catalyst to take our entire troop from Arizona up to the National BSA Jamboree in Farragut, Idaho.  I became the Webelos Leader – and then 11-year old Scout (Blazer) leader when legally too young to do so.  And it was all a grand experience for me – and my fellow Scouts.  I loved the leadership opportunities.

In our upcoming situation, I believe strongly that the Troop Guide position is perfect for some of our LDS older Scouts.  This BSA position counts for Eagle advancement and is actually quite flexible in its job description.  And you can have every boy – if needed – be a Troop Guide.  It is flexible enough that you can use the position – and the boy – to help meet the needs of the older Scout himself – as well as other Scouts in the troop while getting in his own leadership requirement time).

Now you have probably not even heard of this Troop Guide position because it really has not existed in the LDS church – because all of our boys have moved up to Varsity and Venturing at the specific ordination ages – and thus have by-passed the Troop Guide opportunity.

The Troop Guide is a fabulous position but no one knows about it.  The way it works, an older Scout is registered with the troop.  And he is assigned a patrol – either a new-Scout patrol or even an older-boy patrol – or he serves at large in the troop to multiple patrols.  He is an instructor.  He is preassigned specific troop or patrol meetings to teach Scout Skills – or even merit badges.  He does not have to attend every troop meeting but would be there at least once a month – but perhaps more.  (If this is to occur, the troop meetings may need to be on a night other than the Teacher/Priest meetings so that he can go to both – or he would have to miss his Teacher/Priest meetings when assigned as an instructor in the troop.

The Troop Guide can be found with various job descriptions on-line as I found after spending an evening researching it in preparation for this blog.  Again, I believe that it is a flexible position that you can mold any way that you wish.   Here is a description that was written for a Scout with other older Scouts in an older boy patrol.  (And again, every one of the older boys can be Troop Guides and be given specific tasks or roles.)

  • Create activities that are fun and interesting to the older boy patrols.
  • Work with ASM for the Older Boy Program in selecting merit badges to work on at weekend campouts.
  • Attend Patrol Leaders Council (PLC) meetings.
  • Prevent harassment of new Scouts by older Scouts.
  • Refresh older boy patrols in the basic Scout skills.
  • Regularly attends troop meetings, troop campouts, and troop events during his service period.
  • Set a good example.
  • Enthusiastically wear the Scout Uniform correctly.
  • Live by the Scout Oath and Law.
  • Show Scout spirit.

The Troop Guide description for an older boy assigned to a New Scout Patrol is very similar:

  • Help all first year Scouts earn advancement requirements through First Class (serving in a role similar to a Cub Scout Den Chief – but assigned to the 11-Year Old or New Scout Parol
  • Help older boys who have not completed First Class – assigned to help specific Scouts needing his individual help (probably on a hike or a meeting separate from the troop.  (Two older Scouts – Troop Guides – could also be assigned together to one or multiple Scouts interested in advancing)
  • Advise patrol leader on his duties and responsibilities at Patrol Leaders’ Council (PLC) meetings.
  • Attend Patrol Leaders Council (PLC) meetings with the New Scout Patrol Leader.
  • Prevent harassment of new Scouts by older Scouts.
  • Help Assistant Scoutmaster train new Scouts by older Scouts.
  • Guide new Scouts through early troop experiences to help them become comfortable in the troop and the outdoors.
  • Teach basic Scout skills.
  • Regularly attends troop meetings, troop campouts, and troop events during his service period.
  • Set a good example.
  • Enthusiastically wear the Scout Uniform correctly.
  • Live by the Scout Oath and Law.
  • Show Scout spirit.

So, in summary, the Guide would be a leader kind of between the Patrol Leader and the adult leaders.  He could work specifically with the new Scout patrol – and in this role (kind of like a Den Chief – but to older Scouts) he would teach and train Scouts in specific Scout skills.  He could do this with a group or with a couple of boys on their own.  He could be perfect to work with two or three boys who are behind and need some individual attention.  He could be preassigned to teach specific skills at troop meetings or campouts. If on a camp-out, he should not be there to goof off but again to teach specific skills, be the example, wear the uniform, etc.

If you have a group of these older Scouts, they could be their own patrol in troop meetings and on outings.  Of if you have only a couple of them, let them cook and hang out with the adults.  Plan ahead and give them specific leadership tasks.  With advance notice, they can plan ahead and be prepared to be a true teacher and guide.  The Troop Guide is flexible enough for the troop to kind of custom design a role for each young man – with definite things that they should accomplish in their service – new Scout patrol, scout skills training at troop meetings and/or campouts, or by individual assignment to specific Scouts.

Older Scouts can also attend Scout Camp (again not as a goof off – but as a troop leader).  And older Scouts can also be encouraged to attend NYLT and other youth leadership training opportunities through the council and the troop.

Another idea that I have been toying with is to be a catalyst – to start my own “Super High Flyin’ Eagle Battalion troop.  In such a troop, I could invite any and all older boy Scouts (from all around our town) who very seriously have decided they want to become Eagle Scouts.   I am still thinking of this option since it could be real fun with a team of die-hard dads who loved Scouting and want to give their sons the opportunity to also achieve the Eagle Scout Award.  I haven’t committed to this yet, but it is making me think and dream a bit.

I hope that these ideas may be helpful to you.  I would welcome comments about your own thoughts and how to make a success of the coming opportunities.  Let’s all take a personal interest in the older Scouts and give them opportunities to be true leaders – using the skills and training they have already received as Scouts.  Help each young man customize a plan for his leadership requirements and the growth of him and his fellow Scouts.  It could be exciting!

Best wishes along your Scouting Trails …  Kevinthescoutblogger

See this link for an introduction to Kevin the Scouting Trails Blogger.  Blogging articles have excerpts taken from Kevin’s many personal journals and Scouting Trails books including “MR. Scoutmaster!”, “Keys to Scouting Leadership,” “Gnubie to Eagle Scout”,  and others at his Scoutingtrails website.  Connect with Kevin and read his articles on Scouting blogsites such as The Boy ScoutThe Scouting Trail and the Voice of Scouting.  Feel free to comment on anything you read!  Find Kevin on Facebook at:  Scouting Trails Books and Blogs.

To explore or buy Kevin’s books on Amazon, go to: amazon.com/author/kevinhunt

Contact Kevin directly via email: kevin@scoutingtrails.com

@ 2017 Kevin V. Hunt

 

 

 

 

Young Men Program Guidelines – What to do Now?

scout-1

Kevin V. Hunt

Scouting Historian, Author, Blogger, Speaker, Scouting Veteran, and Camp Director

Well, the LDS Church recently announced that it will no longer support Varsity Scouting and Venturing for our church older youth.  So, what are you going to do with that news?  What to do now?

Recent changes are coming for Varsity and Venturing youth in the LDS Church.  See my blog of last week entitled:  Major Changes for LDS Varsity Scouts and Venturers.  In that blog, I quoted the Church’s published Teacher and Priest Guidelines which accompanied the First Presidency Letter which announced the changes.  That document provides many basic guidelines for Priest and Teacher activities.  Those guidelines can be the basis for all of your activities and programs for the older boy – now and after January 1, 2018 when the changes become effective.

The “new program” is very simple.  The General Young Men Presidency has given some basic principles to guide our program planning.  They say (on LDS.Org) at that as adult leaders and advisers of young men, our purpose may be summarized as:

[To] Help young men become converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ, magnify their priesthood duties, and prepare to fulfill their divine roles.  

So, that is our goal or objective.  Then to achieve that purpose, Young Men leaders are invited to focus on three principles:

  1. Be with them.
  2. Connect them with heaven.
  3. Let them lead.

The General Young Men Presidency then said, “As we apply these principles in our Young Men activities, we will strengthen the young men of the Church.”

If we are going to accomplish these purposes and principles, then we need to plan and implement effective activities for the Young Men.   And that brings us right back to program planning.  It always seems to come back to this.  In order to achieve the stated goals and objectives with our youth, we need to plan activities and events so that we can be with the youth, help connect them with heaven and to let them lead. So, with this in mind, we can’t hit the program planning function hard enough.  It really is the crux of the whole youth program – whether for boys or for girls – or for whatever age.  Program planning is simply the KEY to success.

Also in last week’s blog, I shared some links for program planning.  I again invite you to peruse those.  And as an aide to your program planning, this week, I introduce a simple YOUTH PROGRAM PLANNING WORKSHEET.  (Click on the link and the PDF Excel spreadsheet will open up.) Again, this is quite a simple form.  It is designed to get you through a quarter of the calendar year.   (You can have a quarterly planning meeting – but a better idea would be to stage an Annual Program Planning Conference.   And if you’re planning quarterly, a “rolling” quarter plan is best:  Always be working on three months – this month, next month and the one after that.

To use the form, list the dates (Mutual nights, other nights, and weekends) within the quarter that you want to stage events or activities.  Then define a purpose for the gathering.  Next, choose an activity to be done.  Then put some people in charge of planning and motivating the rest of the group.  And finally, list the best resource for each event.  This could be the Scout Handbook, a merit badge book, the “Faith in God” booklet, the YW “Personal Progress” booklet, or the Youth Activities section at @LDS.ORG.

If you train and motivate and inspire your youth (and the youth leaders of each quorum or group – not the advisers), you can easily plan a full activity program that will be fun and exciting while meeting the program guidelines and objectives as outlined by the church.  And you really don’t have to have a “new program”.  All you need to do is to implement what you already have at your fingertips.  Just start planning and some great things will happen with you and your young men (and/or young ladies).  And in the process, you will have many opportunities to BE WITH THEM, to CONNECT THEM WITH HEAVEN and to LET THEM LEAD.  That’s what it’s all about!  Get planning to do it!

Best wishes along your Scouting Trails …  Kevinthescoutblogger

See this link for an introduction to Kevin the Scouting Trails Blogger.  Blogging articles have excerpts taken from Kevin’s many personal journals and Scouting Trails books including “MR. Scoutmaster!”, “Keys to Scouting Leadership,” “Gnubie to Eagle Scout”,  and others at his Scoutingtrails website.  Connect with Kevin and read his articles on Scouting blogsites such as The Boy ScoutThe Scouting Trail and the Voice of Scouting.  Feel free to comment on anything you read!  Find Kevin on Facebook at:  Scouting Trails Books and Blogs.

To explore or buy Kevin’s books on Amazon, go to: amazon.com/author/kevinhunt

Contact Kevin directly via email: kevin@scoutingtrails.com

@ 2017 Kevin V. Hunt

 

 

 

 

All in the Name of High Adventure

scout-1

Kevin V. Hunt

Scouting Historian, Author and Speaker, Scouting Veteran, Camp Director

One of my previous blogs introduced the Fun, Adventure and Romance of Scouting.  In that blog I quoted one of my BYU Professors who liked to discourse on this Subject.  “Adventure,” he said, “Is when you do something for the first time.  “Fun” is when you repeat the adventure and still enjoy it.  And “Romance” is the Spirit of Scouting, the classy experiences that tie you to the program. Romance keeps you coming back for more fun and adventure.”   I decided to write about a recent activity that I participated in with my wife and youngest daughter.  One could say that it was “all in the name of high adventure”.

Our adventure began the day after Christmas.    My wife and I were both off of school for a couple of weeks.  We left our home in sunny Arizona (65 degrees) and headed through Utah and Idaho to take our youngest daughter, Larissa, up to attend college at BYU-Idaho.   I don’t know if taking the daughter to college was an adventure or fun by the above definition.  It was not the first time for such an event.  She was the seventh child that we have sent off to college.  And we have sent off the same number of missionaries.  And I might add that it doesn’t get any easier sending the kids off – even with the numbers.    (As a side note:  one son graduated from Dixie College in St. George, one son graduated from Ferris State University in Michigan – and four daughters maintained a very strong tradition as they all followed their mother to Snow College. Another son also attended college – but he went to Arizona State University close to home.   Four children have B.S. degrees and two daughters have A.S. degrees – so far.)

The adventure came more because of the weather.  It was kind of crazy for an old Arizona desert rat.  In another previous blog, I shared information about the Crazy Arizona Weather.  You might enjoy reading that blog if you haven’t already – so you’ll know where we were coming from.  December weather in Arizona is usually pretty nice and this year was no exception.  And while we were enjoying our winter, we sought out the extended weather report for Utah and Idaho.  My wife was very meticulous in this task – almost to obsession.   She checked all of the possible routes – including Highway 89 which we generally prefer (through Flagstaff and Jacob Lake).

Our trip to Utah and Idaho soon grew into an adventure.  I am not sure that it would be classed as fun – and I am certain that it wasn’t romance.   It wasn’t fun – doing something for the first time – and it was not an adventure that was still fun.  But, we pressed on.  We were able to go up our chosen route and got to see our son and his wife and children in St. George en route for a couple of days.  The trip on to Salt Lake City was pretty pleasant and “normal”.  The snow that hit with a vengeance on Christmas Day had kind of stabilized – though we saw results of it everywhere we went (including in Flagstaff and Jacob Lake) but the roads were still passable and okay.

The true adventure (if that is what you would call it) came as we traveled in the darkness on Interstate 15 toward Idaho Falls (where we would stay with a daughter and her family).  As we pulled into Idaho Falls early that night we saw the snow banks everywhere and rejoiced that the roads were still clear.  And we were in complete shock as the temperature was a chilly seven degrees.   We survived the trip and made it safely to our daughter’s home.  We were glad that they had reserved us a space for our car in their garage – since we wondered if our Arizona car would survive otherwise.

snow-in-idaho-falls-010117

Snow in Idaho Falls, Idaho January 1, 2017

As we traveled the freeway toward Idaho Falls that night, Lou and I (almost simultaneously) both began to remember back to a former day – and a true winter high adventure – or a couple of them – along the same route.  And both of these were Scouting adventures.  (I don’t know what happens to the “adventure” when “high” is added to it.  Does that talk of altitude or added exhilaration in the adventure?)

Anyway, the first winter high adventure outing happened just three months after Lou and I were married (back in the dark ages).  In those days the Lake Bonneville Council (Now Trapper Trails) sponsored a winter high adventure “super activity” up at West Yellowstone (Montana).  This was for Explorers or Venturers and even Varsity scouts.  Traditionally, this was staged on the days following Christmas and through New Year’s Day.   And with the Scouts, there was often room for some adults to join the party.  So, Lou and I were able to tag along for the ride.

Again, my journal records the details of that high adventure trip:

December 27th,

We continued north through wind and snowy roads to West Yellowstone Park.  We will be snowmobiling from here tomorrow.  Delose Conner – the Camp Loll Director – and his staff were already there – after riding all day today.  We spent the night in the “Three Bears Lodge”.   (I had served with Delose as his Assistant Camp Director that summer – a few months before – so I knew all of these Camp Loll staffers and they were my friends, too.  We had a wedding to attend yesterday or we would have been on the machines with them today.)

 

snowmobiling-3-bear-lodge-in-snow-from-trip-adviser

Three Bear Lodge – Photo Courtesy of TripAdvisor

 

December 28th

We ate breakfast this morning at the “Three Bears Restaurant”.  At 9:00 Am we met in the parking lot and were assigned our snowmobiles.  We were dressed in three or four layers of clothing – including a snow suit.  We wore knitted face masks – plus a sock cap.  We also had our own gloves inside the large mittens which were given to us.  LouDene and I rode together on machine #157 – a Pantera – made by Arctic Cat.

pantera7000ltd_blk_2016_dec

Arctic Cat – Pantera

We could only take driving for a short time so had to keep switching places.  It was at this time right at 50 degrees below zero – when accounting for the “wind chill factor”.  [I am surprised that we could still be alive in that kind of weather.]  While on the back, our hands could get relatively warm (but that is an interesting statement).

snowmobiling-buffalo-herdWe saw two herds of buffalo, many elk herds and a very large bull elk.  The trees and everything was snow-covered and the sky was overcast.  We stopped at Madison Junction for a few minutes to warm up at the fire and to use the restrooms.  We continued onto Old Faithful in Yellowstone Park.  old-faithful-geyserWe saw the Old Faithful geyser spout off steam and water.  We stayed in the lodge for nearly two hours warming up and eating out box lunch.  A girl from post 97 (in my Mt. Ogden Scouting District) had back problems to this delayed us.  The post advisor and I knelt in the corner and gave her a priesthood blessing.  She improved greatly and rode back on the snow transport.

Lou Dene was driving the machine and hit a bump wrong.  The machine dumped us in the snow and then kept going for about 40 feet.  It ran into a tree and dented the front grill on the machine and broke the front windshield.

We didn’t get back until after dark.  We enjoyed the trip – despite the cold.  We traveled a total of 60 miles by the machines.  It was quite the trip.  It was ONLY 10 degrees below zero when we returned.  We were happy to go to bed at 8:30 PM after eating dinner in the lodge.

December 29th

The temperature this morning was 51 degrees below zero.  Our truck would not start because our battery and gas lines were frozen for a few hours.  [And this was the case for probably every vehicle in town.  So, the mode of the few automotive places in town was to tow vehicles to their garages and where they could sit for a while to warm up.  Such was the case with us.  We had to wait our turn to get towed.]  So, we stayed in the motel room for a few hours.  LouDene watched TV and I read a few chapters from 1 Chronicles.   We just about froze ourselves each time we went outside.  Finally Tim Chamberlain, of the council staff, towed the truck to the service station with the council van.

The men at the station were slower than molasses so they didn’t get the truck going until about 7:00 PM.  They put it in the garage – which warmed up the oil, gas lines, etc. and connected an electric battery charger to it and then it started right up.  [So, then we had a choice to make.  It really was too late to be starting a long trip – in the snow – toward Ogden.  But, if we stayed overnight, then we would likely face the same kind of day tomorrow.  We finally opted to go for it.  So, we ate dinner and then departed south – even though it was late and was still snowing.  We drove to the home of Lou’s sister in Pocatello and spent the night – although they were gone at the time.

As if that trip was not enough high adventure we decided to make the trip two winters later.  (Probably gluttons for punishment – but we did it.)  This time I recruited or invited volunteers from my Mt. Ogden District to join us on the adventure.  And many folks were intrigued and signed up to go with us.  Again the journal details the adventure:

December 30th

LouDene and I and our daughters – Jackie, a 15-month old toddler, and Jenae, a 1-month old new-born – left Ogden at 7:00 AM and met Ron Smith, Bill, Clara and Larry Larsen, Russ Myers – with his wife, Barbara, sister Laura  and LeDeen Bartshchi – at the 31st Street freeway entrance.  We caravanned together to West Yellowstone, Montana.  Tim Chamberlain (formerly on the Ogden Scout staff) rode with us as far as Idaho Falls.  It was fun to talk to Tim again.  He is always an interesting talker.  He drove a lease car to Ogden and needed a ride back to his current home in Idaho.  We ate lunch in Idaho Falls.  We arrived in West Yellowstone about 2:00 PM.  We got checked into the “3 Bear Lodge” motel.  Others of our district met us there and they included Wade and Eulalia Combe and their son, Robert, and daughter, Jana, Rich Ordyna and his wife, Phil and Dionne Halverson, and Wyatt and Karen Pectol.  We all plan to go snowmobiling tomorrow.

We ate a nice meal at the lodge restaurant.  We then had an orientation meeting and then had the rest of the evening free.  Lou and I watched a movie – called “The Mating Season”.  The movie had a couple of bad inferences but was basically pretty good.  All of the time we watched the movie we tried to get the girls to sleep.  Jackie thought that there was too much action for sleeping and Jenae was quite sick and had trouble breathing because of her cold.  I gave her a priesthood blessing in hopes that this would help her to rest better.

There is hardly any snow here and the temperature is warm – not at all like the trip we made just two years ago.  That trip was a real joke – with snow everywhere and 50 degree below zero weather.

December 31st

We ate breakfast at 7:00 this morning.  After an hour or so we were ready to head out on the snowmobiles.  It took a few minutes to warm them up and then we headed out for the day.   LouDene stayed at the motel with the girls since we didn’t have anyone to leave them with.  I rode with a kid named Rob Godfrey.  He just returned from a mission to Japan and is on the trip as an adult with the boys from the Ogden 55th Ward (also from my district).  There was an add number of people in each of our groups so they had us go together.  Ray Chase, of the council staff, was the guide on our trip.

We headed south with Two Top Mountain as our destination.  We traveled all morning making occasional rest stops.  Rob and I traded off driving throughout the day and it worked out quite well.  We visited along the way also.  He was a sharp kid. [I say “kid” but I was only age 26 then myself.]

snowmobiling-photo

Rob Godfrey snowmobiling

snowmobiling-4

We stopped for a box lunch at Idaho Big Springs Resort.  Several people from Morgan – including Bob Peterson, Jerry Betournay and Larry Newton were there.  We then went to Two Top Mountain.  The trip was beautiful.  They let us go on our own for a half hour or so.   Rob and I went up and down the mountain several times.  He was a good driver so could go quite fast.  We did hit a small tree and were worried that we had damaged the machine.  We were very lucky and didn’t hurt it at all – since any damage that we did we’d have to pay for ourselves.

From Two Top we could see about 200 miles in each direction.  The Teton Peaks were visible to the South were really beautiful.  snowmobiling-3-on-two-top-mountainThe snow had banked and froze around the trees and this was also beautiful.  We could not have had better weather.  It was sunny and very warm.  I didn’t even have to wear gloves most of the day.  (This was markedly different from the last time we were here.)  All in all, the trip was really super.

We got back to the Three Bear Lodge about 6:00 Pm after traveling about 75 miles.  Lou and I and the girls then headed over for dinner at the restaurant.  And since it was New Year’s Eve, we decided to have a little party with everyone who came with us.  We went to the conference room in the Tipi Lodge.  Everyone but the Larsens came for a while.  We played “Aggravation” and “Uno”.  I spent some district funds and bought all kinds of crackers, cookies, candy and pop.  We all ate until we could eat no more.  We managed to stay until about 10:45 PM.  Everyone was too tired to go until the new year.

January 1st,

We ate breakfast at the Three Bear Restaurant and said goodbye to everyone.  We then packed and made preparations to head for home.  We decided to again travel with Russ Myers and his three-woman harem.  The drive south was beautiful.   We saw Two Top Mountain where we went yesterday.  The sky was clear and blue until Malad where we hit dense fog.  We had bad fog until Ogden.  We could hardly see in places.  We arrived home about 4:00 Pm.  We really enjoyed our trip.  It was fun!  I was glad that we went up there.  (But I felt miserable with an aching back – from my snowmobiling, a splitting headache, and a cold – so we went to bed at the unheard of hour of 8:15 PM.

Wow!  Those trips were real “high adventure”.    They truly were!

I close this blog with a high adventure story from my own mother – and which I have often quoted.   Dad always took me and my four brothers (and sometimes the two sisters) up deer hunting.  We went in Utah and in Arizona – often in the same trip.  And our Hunt family hunted in the same grounds – south and a bit west of Enterprise, Utah for 6 generations and 45 years.  (I just went along for the marshmallow roast but those were grand times!)  Anyway, this one year as we headed to Utah, the weather was projected to be really bad – and it kind of was.  We had this neighbor lady who had nothing else to do but worry about what was going on with the Hunt family across the street.  And so, as we were gone, she would come over every few minutes to visit with my mom – and each time would give her an updated and even worse weather report – adding the thought, “What if they …”  Finally my mother needed to silence her.  She called her by name and said, “Mrs. L., if they didn’t think that something like that MIGHT POSSIBLY HAPPEN TO THEM, they wouldn’t have gone at all.”  My mother had vision.  And she was a super Scout mom too!  And she looked good flying those five miniature Eagle pins in flight formation on her shirt!

Oh, and we did make it back from our recent adventure trip (or whatever it was) from Idaho.  We did have to leave a day or two earlier – because my wife learned about the projected snow that was coming.  We had snow in Idaho and clouds in Utah – but the roads were clear.  And we were successful in getting our daughter up to College.  Larissa is used to adventures – even Scouting adventures.  She was on staff with us at the Jack Nicol Cub Scout Camp in Colorado and literally flew out from the camp for her mission to Minnesota (where she had an adventure with the snow, ice and cold).  She spent this past summer with us at Scout Camp New Fork in Wyoming – as our climbing director and It was Quite the Summer at Camp New Fork 2016.  And so now, she begins her own new adventure … and maybe some fun … and who knows … maybe some romance (but she is in bit of a panic about that first kiss)!   And this time we – now just Lou and I – did return home via Las Vegas – since snow really was projected for Flagstaff and Jacob Lake.   It was not surprising but wonderful that we came home to beautiful blue skies.  (Kind of rough … but I guess someone has to do it!)

Ah, the “fun, adventure, and romance of Scouting!”   Yes, … Scouting high adventure!  The opportunities are endless!  Let’s get all that we can!  It can really put the “high” in Scouting for all of us!

Best wishes on your own Scouting [high adventure] trails …

Excerpts taken from Kevin’s many personal journals and Scouting Trails books including “MR. Scoutmaster!”, “Keys to Scouting Leadership,” “Gnubie to Eagle Scout”,  and others at his Scoutingtrails website.  Connect with Kevin and read his articles on Scouting blogsites such as The Boy ScoutThe Scouting Trail and The Voice of Scouting.  Feel free to comment on anything you read!

Facebook:  Scouting Trails Books and Blogs

To explore or buy Kevin’s books on Amazon, go to: amazon.com/author/kevinhunt

Contact Kevin directly via email: kevin@scoutingtrails.com

 

 

Having Fun with the Planned Program

 

scout-1

Kevin V. Hunt

Scouting Historian, Author and Speaker, Scouting Veteran, Camp Director

I’ve been writing about the program planning process – and have used some specific plans and programs established with my Varsity Scout team.  I talked about the annual program planning conference and then most recently about organizing the group – adults and youth – to make the plans happen.   With the plan in place and the group working together, the remaining action to take was just having fun with the planned program.

We had a great time in Varsity Scouting that year.  We had a variety of fun activities which we all enjoyed.  One time the guys came to my house for ice cream and to celebrate the birthday of one of the boys.

We went to Salt Lake City and toured the new Jordan River Temple.  We served at a Christmas party put on by the Kiwanis Club for kids of the community.  We held our own competition in many of the Varsity Games events.  We went to the Elk’s Club and presented a flag ceremony at one of their meetings.  Once we went and heard a live broadcast of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

One time we got all of our Varsity Scouts and their dads together.  We all went down to Salt Lake City again.  We first went to the Spaghetti Factory in Trolley Square for dinner.  Then we all went to the annual general conference of our church.  This was a very special experience for everyone.

One boy received his Eagle Award while on our team so this was exciting.  We held a special recognition for him.

klondike-derby

On some other occasions we went ice fishing on a frozen lake and attended the district’s Klondike Derby.  We all froze on both occasions but looking back it it, we can say that it was fun.

We had a service project one night and we did a clean-up of the yard surrounding the council service center.  Another time we did the same thing in the yard of a widow lady in our area.

One experience was a real eye opener for our guys.  We decided to visit a church service of a different denomination.  Before visiting the church, however, we called the minister to make prior arrangements.  I found it interesting that three different ministers all told us that they did not want us to come to their church.

Finally though, we found a minister who said they’d be pleased to have us come to their services.  So one Sunday evening we made the visit to a very small little church on the other side of town.  It was an all-black, Pentecostal Church.  The boys were a little apprehensive about the coming experience but I assured them that we’d have no problems.

As we arrived at the little church, we were met by the Black minister.  You would have thought that we were all his long-lost sons.  He welcomed us with open arms.  He was obviously thrilled to have us there.

church

All of the other members of the congregation also came up and said how pleased they were that we’d come to their church.  As the minister started the services, he again made a big deal about our presence there.  He had each one of us stand to introduce ourselves.

The boys soon felt at home and we had a great experience with those special people.  My guys really enjoyed the evening.  We left with a new appreciation for our black brothers and sisters and the beliefs of this particular group.  The boys talked of that experience for many months to come.

Another fun activity that we had as a team was a mother and son progressive dinner.  The boys planned the menu and were all excited about the scheduled “dates” with their moms.  The mothers too, were excited since they’d never had an activity of this type with their boys.  We decided to have spaghetti as the main course.

Altogether our group of boys and moms numbered about ten people and since we had so few boys, we all had food assignments.  Also, one of the courses of the meal was scheduled to be eaten at each home. One family was assigned to bring hors devours, another the salads, another had snacks for during the movie and another family was assigned dessert.

One family had twin sons.  Since they had two sons, we thought they could handle two assignments, the garlic bread and the spaghetti.  The family, whom we’ll call the Doles (and the names have been changed to protect the innocent) were outraged at this extreme unfairness we put upon them.  Though they were fairly well off, they claimed that it would be a financial burden on them to provide “so much”.

Finally I volunteered to have the bread and spaghetti at my own home even though it was not real convenient to do so.  My wife was pregnant and due at the time the activity was to be held so I had purposely held off planning for any of the meal to be at our home.  As it turned out, my wife and our third daughter came home from the hospital the very day of the event.  She graciously made the bread and spaghetti for us.

The night of the big event came.  All of the mothers and sons participated.  The Doles (appropriate name, huh?) were, of course, there to help eat their fair share of the food even though they now had it arranged perfectly so that they didn’t have to bring any of it.  All three Doles “pigged out” and acted unaware of the inconvenience they had caused my family.

Anyway, we all had a very pleasant evening.  The boys and mothers all had a great time and got to know each other better through the activity.

The program I have outlined will work just as well for the Venturing program (or any youth group – for that matter) as it does for Varsity Scouting.  The only difference is that Venturing has experience areas rather than the five program areas of Varsity Scouting.  The principles, however, are the same.

Best wishes along your Scouting Trails …  Kevin

Excerpts taken from Kevin’s many personal journals and Scouting Trails books including “MR. Scoutmaster!”, “Keys to Scouting Leadership,” “Gnubie to Eagle Scout”,  and others at his Scoutingtrails website.  Connect with Kevin and read his articles on Scouting blogsites such as The Boy ScoutThe Scouting Trail and The Voice of Scouting.  Feel free to comment on anything you read!

Facebook:  Scouting Trails Books and Blogs

To explore or buy Kevin’s books on Amazon, go to: amazon.com/author/kevinhunt

Contact Kevin directly via email: kevin@scoutingtrails.com

 

Organizing to Implement the Program Calendar

 

scout-1

Kevin V. Hunt

Scouting Historian, Author and Speaker, Scouting Veteran, Camp Director

Organizing the group to implement the program calendar is a key function to be completed after your program planning conference.   You went through the effort to plan your program and now it will take additional effort and planning to make it happen.  Rally your team together and go for it.

In these blogs we have been talking about  the planning conference and how effective it can be to get you moving with your program.  That was true with the Varsity Scout team that I’ve been sharing with you.

You can see that our team had made some good progress within a short time.  We had a trained committee of parents who were ready to be put to work.  We had a list in hand of the resources and the program capability to be found within the adults of our organization.  We also had developed a one-year calendar of exciting activities.

For a more detailed description of the Annual Program Planning Conference you might wish to refer to PLANNING FOR SCOUTING PROGRAM also by the Kevin the blog author.

Within a day or two of our planning conference I typed our calendar for the entire year ahead.  We had previously scheduled our next “parents meeting” where we planned to share with them the boy-built calendar.

At the next parents meeting we distributed copies of our yearly calendar to everyone present.  This served two purposes:  First, it showed our activities and that we had a going program.  Secondly, it committed us all to the program and to our calendar.

After distributing copies of the calendar we discussed it in detail.  We listed the activities and categorized them into the five program areas.  Every activity on the calendar was assigned specifically to a committee member.

The committee member (Program Supervisor) and youth counterpart (Program Manager) were then given the task of making arrangements for each of their activities.  They were to reserve the facilities, locate the needed equipment and plan promotion of the event.

You probably think this all sounds almost too good to be true, perhaps like a fairy tale dream that everyone would hope for.  The neat thing is that it worked!  We all had a great time making it work and just being a part of it all.

After the annual program calendar was built, we focused on a three month period only.  Within the three month period ahead, we made a more concrete plan for our activities.  This then became our pattern the rest of year.

Each month as we met (both youth and adult groups) we dropped the previous month and made more definite plans for the new third month of our calendar.  As the third month was added to the three month block, the adults and youth managers started making their specific plans for the month’s events.

By the time that the activity was one month away, the final details of the activity were announced.  That’s when we knew the exact time, the meeting place, what to bring, and what we’d do.

As mentioned earlier, I was able to just sit back and watch all this happen but of course I was always there to lend support or to give additional training as needed. A few times things fell through the cracks but overall our program worked very well.

I bragged about our team committee and boy organization throughout the district.  I now could talk with conviction as I told others how the program was working for us.

Naturally we had to make occasional minor program changes when other groups (church, school, etc.) failed to plan ahead as we had done.  We had to sometimes adjust to their schedules.  This was a little disturbing since we had done our homework and they hadn’t.  Overall, however, we worked our plan and it worked for us. It is a good system and I would recommend it to you.  I have used my own Varsity Scouting team as the example for this blog but the same principles will work with any Scouting program – or any other organization for that matter.  So, get your calendar, get organized, and go for it!

Best wishes along your Scouting Trails …  Kevin

Excerpts taken from Kevin’s many personal journals and Scouting Trails books including “MR. Scoutmaster!”, “Keys to Scouting Leadership,” “Gnubie to Eagle Scout”,  and others at his Scoutingtrails website.  Connect with Kevin and read his articles on Scouting blogsites such as The Boy ScoutThe Scouting Trail and The Voice of Scouting.  Feel free to comment on anything you read!

Facebook:  Scouting Trails Books and Blogs

To explore or buy Kevin’s books on Amazon, go to: amazon.com/author/kevinhunt

Contact Kevin directly via email: kevin@scoutingtrails.com

 

The Annual Planning Conference Makes for a Great Program

scout-1

Kevin V. Hunt

Scouting Historian, Author and Speaker, Scouting Veteran, Camp Director

For years, I’d been telling leaders how to make the annual planning conference so that it was fun, rewarding and beneficial for all.  I knew that the annual Planning Conference makes for a great program.   Now I was a Varsity Scout Coach and it was time to again put the planning conference to the test.  It was fun to actually test with my own guys the calendaring process that I’d been teaching all along.

Before I get going, I want to say that the program planning principles that I am about to introduce will work for Cub Packs, Scout Troops, Varsity Teams, Venturing Crews, and any other youth, civic, or church group.  I invite you to give them a try.  Your program will be wonderful and great things will happen in the lives of others in groups you are a part of.

I wanted our planning conference to be in a retreat type setting where the boys would not be distracted by paper routes, home, and other activities.  Having an “in” with the Scouting Council, I arranged to use the Camp Director’s cabin at Camp Bartlett. Bartlett was about two hours away and it provided some excitement and adventure not found in our normal camping areas closer to town.

cabin-for-program-planning

The “Dream” Cabin for your planning retreat

The cabin provided a comfortable setting for our training sessions.  It was also secluded enough that we could meet without being disturbed by others.  It also provided a variety of program resources for our added enjoyment.

One of my bosses wanted several things taken up to the camp after he learned that I was going up there.  He asked that we drive the council’s van up with the supplies.

We had a terrible time just getting out of town.  As usual the … van wasn’t quite up to par.  It seemed it always worked great until you needed to use it.  After a flat tire and other trauma en route, we finally arrived up at camp about ten o’clock that night.

We got into the cabin and there was plenty of room for all of us.  The warm heater made it nice and cozy even though I discovered, to my dismay, that in the rush of everything, I had forgotten my sleeping bag and would be spending my night on the couch without it.

Even though we arrived kind of late, my friend George, who was my assistant for that couple of months only, and I met with the guys in an orientation session.  We reviewed our plan for the conference; our purpose in being up there and what we hoped to accomplish through our retreat.  The guys were mellow and real teachable.

I’ve since been on several planning retreats of this kind and find the Friday evening of the experience to be a good time to train the guys in the basics of the program and to review with them their individual responsibilities within the team organization.troop-organization-chart

After the short training session we had some fun.  We had a brief campfire program (without the fire) and sang a few songs together.  We topped the evening off with a feast of “S’mores”.

We culminated the evening by kneeling in a circle for prayer together.  This, in itself, was a beautiful experience.

I was glad to learn after the evening’s activities that George had brought along an extra blanket which he said he didn’t need.  Even with just the one blanket, I was almost too warm there by the heater.

Normally on a hike it is best to let the guys do all of the cooking and clean-up after meals.  With this retreat experience, however, we wanted the boys to relax and kick back a little.  We really wanted the experience to be something they’d remember.

planning-conference-foodConsequently, George and I were up early cooking bacon, hot bisquits and eggs with all the other trimmings for breakfast.  The boys soon awoke to that wonderful smell of sizzling bacon.  They were dressed and ready to devour the food the second that we had it ready for them.

From our orientation the night before the kids knew we were there to work and that if we got the work done in a timely manner we’d have some time for hiking and fun later on.

We impressed the boys with the fact that by taking the necessary time that morning to plan the calendar for the coming year we’d have a super year packed with fun activities.

We started our first group session right after breakfast.  George did the dishes as I met with the guys.  We had a real brief overview of the Varsity Scouting program and it’s five areas of program emphasis.  We organized the team around those five areas – just as we had earlier with the adults.

Each boy on the team was given a leadership position of some kind.  One boy became the Team Captain, and since our group was so small, he was also the Squad Leader.  All of the other boys were Program Managers over one or more of the five Varsity programs.

Prior to the planning retreat I’d polled each of the kids with a survey to see what kind of activities they’d enjoy doing.  On the list I’d put anything and everything I could think of in the way of activities  They then simply made a check mark by any of the activities they personally would sometime like to do with the team at some time.

I had even obtained this list from the couple of kids from our church organization who were not currently actively involved with us.  I used their interest sheets that morning as we started the calendaring process.

I had also made a composite tally of all of the survey sheets so that I knew the activities which a majority of the boys wanted to do and also those in which no one had expressed interest.  I didn’t make these results public but I knew what they were and could thus interject them at appropriate times in the calendaring process (but done in such a way that the kids thought they were their own ideas).

Prior to the start of our morning session I mounted five large sheets on the walls throughout the cabin.  On each sheet was the name of one of the five program areas for Varsity Scouting.  There were sheets for Advancement, High Adventure Activities, Personal Development, Service, and Special Events.

I then had the guys start telling us activities they’d like to do.  I said, “Just start throwing ideas at us as fast as you can.”  Since they had done my interest survey just a couple of days earlier, they brought up many activities from that list plus many others.

By this time, George was done with the dishes.  He and I started writing activities as fast as the boys could come up with them.  As they mentioned something, we added it to the appropriate chart in whichever of the five program areas it fit best.  We did not censure any of the activities suggested by the boys but let them put anything they wanted on the list.

One more thing that we did prior to the conference was the completion of the resource survey sheet which I alluded to in the chapter on Resources.  We had taken time in one of our church meetings and had all of the men and women present complete the survey.  On the survey, people checked or listed their professions, hobbies, or special interests, contacts and other information that could be helpful to us.

After a perusal of the resource sheets it was quickly evident that the sky was the limit.  With all of that “program capability” we could have great activities for two or three years or more and still not do them all.  Again, with these sheets I could interject some program ideas into the brain- storming conversation as desired.

We let the guys name all of the activities they could come up with.  When we had exhausted their imaginations we halted that part of the program.

By this time the guys were ready for a break.  George taught them how to make sling shots and they had fun pitching rocks with them outside for a few minutes.  After running around and getting some fresh air, they were ready to plow into it again.

When George got the guys rounded up and back in the cabin they were greeted with large calendars I had posted everywhere.  While they were out I had posted a two foot square calendar for each month of the coming year.

Back at home I had previously listed other activities on the calendars in various ink colors.  Shown there were key dates of activities for our church, their school, holidays, hunting seasons, community parades, Etc.

I always have to get a song in there somewhere, so after a rousing song or two we were ready for action.  I pointed out the calendars and said that we now needed to determine specific dates for some of the activities we had listed on the other charts earlier.  We reviewed again the five program areas and stressed the need to build a program with activities from each of the five areas.

When calendared with the other church, school and civic activities it worked out that we could do one activity from each of the five areas within a three month period.  The Personal Development area did get a little more space than the other areas since it really is made up of the five additional sub-areas of Spirituality, Leadership, Citizenship, Social Attributes, and Physical Fitness.

As the guys decided upon an activity, we wrote it in big letters into the calendar.  Here again, I was able to get the kids to add a couple of the activities in which some of the inactive had expressed an interest.  I had suggested a couple of their ideas in the earlier discussion.

The boys very quickly realized that they had to be fairly selective in choosing the activities we would do.  There was no way there would be time to do everything on the lists.  They had some good discussion about which activities would be the most fun.

By this time I was in kind of a back-seat role.  The Team Captain was guiding the team and moderated the discussion.  I was just the secretary recording their decisions.

Within a short period of time we were done with the calendar.  We’d planned some great activities and the boys were excited about what they had done.  “Hey! This is going to be a great year!” one of them said.

The boys were also a little frustrated.  There were so many things that they wanted to do that were still on the original lists and with no time do them all. “Oh, well! There is always next year,” I told them. In fact, I had to restrain them a bit so that they wouldn’t over-calendar with more than we could all handle.

With the calendar complete, we sent the guys out under the Captain’s leadership to do a short service project for the camp.  They also took a short hike down into “Mosquito Valley” to try out their slings again.  George and I had a hearty lunch ready as they returned.

We had now accomplished our task and were ready to return home.  Our conference had been a grand success.  We had pulled together as a team, we’d had an activity from all of the five program areas, and we had planned some exciting programs for the coming year.

In addition, the guys knew their team organization and where they fit into making it all happen.  They knew that now they’d go back home and would work on the specific activities that fell within their program manager responsibilities of the five program areas.

After the heavy lunch the guys soon fell asleep as we trekked home.  We’d worn them out!  George had the job of talking to keep me awake as I drove.

Best wishes along your Scouting Trails …  Kevin

Excerpts taken from Kevin’s many personal journals and Scouting Trails books including “MR. Scoutmaster!”, “Keys to Scouting Leadership,” “Gnubie to Eagle Scout”,  and others at his Scoutingtrails website.  Connect with Kevin and read his articles on Scouting blogsites such as The Boy ScoutThe Scouting Trail and The Voice of Scouting.  Feel free to comment on anything you read!

Facebook:  Scouting Trails Books and Blogs

To explore or buy Kevin’s books on Amazon, go to: amazon.com/author/kevinhunt

Contact Kevin directly via email: kevin@scoutingtrails.com

 

Helping Pioneer the Varsity Scouting Program

Picture1

Kevin V. Hunt

Scouting Historian, Author, Scouting Veteran, Camp Director

DON’T LET HIM STOP YET!  Those are my words of challenge to all leaders of the older young men in Scouting.  The Boy Scout troop was (hopefully) a great experience for the Scout.  He had opportunity to try new things – to go camping and hiking and to learn many of the wonderful skills of the outdoors.  He had opportunity to advance in rank and experience.   There are some really exciting Scouting programs available for the 14-20 year old young men (and some ladies too).  It has my opportunity to be involved with Varsity Scouting, Exploring and Venturing.  And it was great fun for me as I had opportunity helping to pioneer the Varsity Scouting program.VARSITY SCOUTING LOGO

For many Scouters and parents the big challenge comes after Johnnie has been a Scout for a few years and begins to get bored with the regular Boy Scout program.  What do we do with him to keep him challenged enough to stay with Scouting and to keep him motivated to finish those last few requirements for that Eagle Scout Award?

By the time a boy reaches the age of fourteen or fifteen his world begins to change drastically.  He is ready for new horizons.  He’s ready for high adventure beyond that available in a Scout troop.  He starts to get interested in girls and begins to live for the day he’ll get his driver’s license  (beware of the “fumes” – perfume and car fumes!)  Generally, too, he’ll have a job by this time.  It is also a time of intense emotional and physical change for him.

With all of these changes in his life, it is no wonder that he wants a new challenge.  Well, there is such a challenge available to him through the Varsity Scouting, Exploring and Venturing programs of the Boy Scouts of America. These are all exciting programs that have much to offer him. Though often misunderstood, the programs when properly implemented, can be all a boy needs to keep his Scouting interest during those traumatic middle teen years.

VENTURING IMAGE

Venturing is now the main program used for older youth (age 16-20) and is the one used by the LDS Church.  Exploring is still a viable program but focuses on career oriented programs (like police, fire, emergency rescue, and more).  Youth can actually be a part of multiple units (i.e. Venturing and Exploring).  Varsity Scouting is for boys ages 14 and 15.

Having worked with all three programs I can testify of their greatness.  All of the programs – Varsity Scouting, Venturing and Exploring were developed with the older teenage boy in mind.  Each program has the potential for advanced high adventure activities, sports, career exploration, social and cultural activities, and growth opportunities in spiritual and personal development.

As the Varsity Scouting program came into existence, I was able to serve immediately as a Varsity Scout Coach.  I served on the council committee for Varsity Scouting.  For many years I was the district and council training chairman for Exploring.  Later I served as Young Men President for a few years and helped implement the new Venturing program – while also staging district and council training for the new program.

I know that these programs can be the viable link needed to keep our young men on the right track.  People who say that the programs do not work, have not really implemented them as designed. Many people are apt to brush these programs off saying that they don’t meet the needs of teenage youth.  I don’t believe this.  I know that they’ll work in the lives of boys when given as much attention as the other Scouting programs.  I see them as great programs with unlimited growth potential for the young men.

As a Professional Scouter, it was my special privilege to work very closely with the Varsity Scouting program almost from its inception.  In fact, I attended my first training program on Varsity Scouting while still a Senior at Brigham Young University.  At that point, I already had a contract to work with the Lake Bonneville Council (now the Trapper Trails Council) in Ogden, Utah so they invited me to attend the Area kickoff for the new Varsity Scouting pilot program.

I was elated as I learned more of Varsity Scouting.  They made a believer out of me the day of that course.  I came away excited and happy to be a part of this grand new opportunity for fourteen and fifteen year old boys.  Talk about potential!  This program was packed with it.

The day that I started my professional Scouting career was also the day that Varsity Scouting was implemented as a designated “pre-pilot program” within the nine Scouting councils within the Mountain West Area.  It was great fun to be a part of that special program right from the beginning.  (And later after the Mountain West Area saw results of the program, it became a National BSA pilot program and ultimately became a full program of the Boy Scouts of America.)

SLIDE 35 slide show_Page_039

Kevin Hunt and Varsity Scouting in Ogden, Utah

I took an immediate interest in the Varsity Scouting program and soon found that I could play a vital role in helping to mold and shape the new program.  There were still some gaps in the program and this left room for creative work and thinking to get the program off and running.  I found that many of my ideas could find their way permanently into the program.  In fact, I feel that I was able to put my fingerprints on the finished Varsity Scouting program that eventually became a full program of the Boy Scouts of America.

Not to brag or anything but it was my district that held the first ever, Varsity Scouting Youth Leadership Course.  We took the course outline and had some real fun with it.  With Richard Moyle, my fabulous Varsity Scouting Chairman, we staged that first youth leadership course with just five boys.  While conducting the course for just a small group presented some additional challenges, it worked well enough to prove that the concept would work.

I didn’t realize until a few months later that my district had held the first ever Varsity youth leadership course.  I went to an area meeting to hear more about Varsity Scouting and the subject turned to the youth leadership course.  They asked who had used the course and I was the only one in the room that had.  My comments and evaluation became the base for future development of the course content.  When I returned to my district I made sure that I complemented Dick and his team for a job well done.  [And incidentally, Richard Moyle was one of the all-time great geology/geoscience professors at Weber State College … and you can read of him here:  Richard Moyle at Weber State College]

Since it was a brand new program we were often a little frustrated that we didn’t have all the Varsity Scouting resources we needed or wanted from the National Office.  We didn’t lament for too long, however.  If it didn’t exist we went to work to create it.  One example was the badge of office for the uniforms of Varsity Scouting leaders.  Once the new redesigned Scout uniform (with orange epaulets for Varsity Scouts and Scouters) came into vogue there was a need for shoulder patches for the leadership positions of the program.

In reviewing available materials from National we found no patches for Varsity Coach, Captain, Squad Leader or any of the Program Managers.  We quickly designed our own patches for use just in our Council.  I worked with the Council Varsity Scouting Committee in the development of the much needed patches.  We drafted a number of ideas and finally settled on one that we thought looked attractive.  One of the volunteers created the basic patch and did a great job on it.

VARSITY SCOUT PATCH

Varsity Scouting patches created by Scouter in the Mt. Ogden District – and later marketed by the BSA

It then became my task to get the patch design into a final form that would work for each of the various Varsity Scouting team positions. We decided to use a uniform format on all the badges.  The Varsity Scouting emblem was put in the center of the badge and then the specific position title circled the emblem.

I took our finished design to a patch making place in nearby Salt Lake City.  Through their special air-brush technique the place soon had a beautiful and colorful patch which we sold or gave to our Varsity Scouting leaders.  I retained for myself, the very first Varsity Scout Coach patch as it came off the press since at that time I was serving as a Varsity Scout Coach.

Somehow, copies of our new patches found their way to the creators of Varsity Scouting and then eventually to the National Office.  I was delighted a couple of years later to see that the patch designed by the National Office was the exact design which we had created.  The air-brush technique was no longer used but was instead an embroidered version of our design.

It was a neat feeling to know that I had helped mold the national Varsity Scouting program.  It is not often that one gets to be a pioneer of something new and exciting like Varsity Scouting.

Another way in which I was able to be a modern pioneer was through the Varsity Games, a series of games and competitions designed specifically for the fourteen and fifteen year old boy.  That first year that Varsity Scouting started we decided that we needed a big event to help provide some program for the boys.  We felt that the Varsity Games could be the impetus for great things in the lives of the boys of our council.

Again, at that time I served as one of two Council Advisors to the Varsity Scouting program – with Tom Bird – and the Council Varsity Scouting chairman – Gerald TayloVARSITY GAMESr. So, it became our task to create and implement the Varsity Games.

That first year, our Varsity Games were somewhat small and featured only a few events.  We did have competition in about ten areas, however.  The games were held on two Saturdays in different locations throughout our large council.  We had only forty four boys participating but those who did participate had a great time and the word passed around quickly.  We used those first games as the springboard of even better competition in the years to come.

Another great adventure for our Varsity Scouts was our council’s annual Mountain Man Rendezvous.  This Rendezvous also began in the Lake Bonneville Council and it generated some really great enthusiasm for Varsity Scouts and their leaders.  The first Rendezvous was held at the Fort Buenaventura in Ogden.  But, we soon outgrew that great place and moved on to other sites.  Each summer we gathered our Varsity Scouts to the beautiful Bug Lake in northern Utah.  Don’t worry if you’ve never heard of the place.  None of us in the council had ever heard of it either until we had the Rendezvous there.

And in recent years it has been my privilege – usually as a Dutch oven chef

MOUNTAIN MAN RENDEZVOUS CHEF KEVIN

Dutch Oven Mountain Man Chef Kevin Hunt serving his banana chocolate chip cookies

– to be a part of the Mongollon Mountain Man Rendezvous held every other year in the Mesa District of the Grand Canyon Council.  From those early Utah beginnings, the Rendezvous has become a major program feature for Varsity Scouts everywhere.  And what a great program it has become!

The Varsity Scouts came to the Rendezvous prepared to rough it to the hilt.  Where possible the boys dressed the part of mountain men.  MOUNTAIN MAN RENDEZVOUS TEAM ATTIREThe Chief Mountain Man was a member of our council’s Varsity Scouting committee and he and his team planned some great activities for the boys.  (And dressing in the greatest of Mountain Man regalia is still a big part of the Rendezvous tradition.)

As Northern Utah Scouts arrived, they were treated to large bowls of hot venison stew which had been cooking over a fire.  The Friday evening campfire programs featured tales of the Old West and the many real mountain men who had held their own rendezvous near the same area over a hundred years previously.

DUTCH OVEN STEW

Dutch Oven Stew

Saturday’s events featured canoe races on Bug Lake. I think that they had to portage their canoes since the lake was not deep enough for paddling.  They also had a mountain man relay, fire building using primitive methods only, axe throwing (done under very controlled circumstances) and many other exciting events.

One year the Rendezvous was held while our camp was in session.  It was on a Friday and Saturday night and I sent all of our fourteen and fifteen year old boys from my staff down to the big event at Bug Lake.

They were of course, elated that they were able to attend.  All of the staff who were too old for the experience came over to my cabin for games and home make ice cream.

It was a real pleasure to work with Ernie and Gerald, of the Council Varsity Scouting Committee, as together we worked to make the Varsity program more successful each succeeding year.  Those were great days.

In talking about those who helped pioneer the Varsity Scouting program I must make mention again of Richard Moyle, Paul Warner and others who worked overtime in our district to make it happen.  Their energy, enthusiasm and commitment to the program was felt by all of the Varsity Coaches in our district.

As a professional Scouter, I often had occasion to be with Dick in the promotion of Varsity Scouting.  Together we trained many people in the mechanics of the Varsity Scouting program.  I met informally with several Varsity Coaches, Scouting Coordinators and others.  In addition, I served on staff for formal training courses on the subject.

It really was an exciting and wonderful time helping pioneer the wonderful Varsity Scouting program.   And as the pioneers, it was exciting to see our efforts take shape – and to become the catalyst for even great Varsity Scouting adventure.  I can honestly say that the Varsity Scouting program – WHEN PROPERLY IMPLEMENTED – can become one of the greatest adventures of his/their Scouting career for our young men.  I recommend the program highly to all.  Just jump in and go for it.  Use the program as it has been designed and you (and certainly the Varsity Scouts in your program) will have some exciting adventures, will grow in the Priesthood and in the Scouting program – and wonderful benefits will come of your dedicated efforts.  The boys deserve so much more than just a basketball program!  I challenge you to learn the program and to implement it fully.

Best wishes along your Scouting Trails …  Kevin

 

Excerpts taken from Kevin’s many Scouting Trails books including “MR. Scoutmaster!”, “Keys to Scouting Leadership” and others at his Scoutingtrails website.  Connect with Kevin and read his articles on Scouting blogsites such as The Boy ScoutThe Scouting Trail and The Voice of Scouting.  Feel free to comment on anything you read!

 Facebook:  Scouting Trails Books and Blogs