Thursday, July 23, 2009

National Scouting Museum

Just received an email that the National Scouting Museum has joined the blogosphere.

Glancing at the various programs they are offering, like Summer Advancement Trails and Museum U's merit badge courses (American Cultures, Communications, Citizenship in the World, Computers and Personal Management merit badges), make me wish I lived a lot closer to Texas!

They are also tweeting now.

Stop by and take a look--this online museum is free!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


OK, what do you get when you get too many of your life's threads tangled up?

Even more reason to bring my laptop to camp in a few weeks...

Monday, July 13, 2009

Scouts get the EDGE

The new BSA rank requirements will have the Scouts using EDGE to train less experienced Scouts.

EDGE is taught in the National Youth Leadership Training course. This is offered in councils all across the country.

EDGE stands for: Explain, Demonstrate, Guide and Enable

Explain--tell the Scout what you are going to do, how you will do it, and why you are doing it. Good time to discuss safety.

Demonstrate--do it! Show the Scout how to do it.

Guide--help them do it. Encourage, coach, lend a hand.

Enable--have them do it on their own. Make sure you tell them that they have the skill now and that they should use it.

And in keeping with the new rank requirements, EDGE another Scout.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Homeschooling and Scouting--Part 2

Previously, we covered what homeschooling is and how Scouting should be looking at this group.

As promised at the end of that post, now we need to look at why homeschoolers don't "just join" Scouting.

Already busy
  • Already committed to a large number of activities. Sports, clubs, teams, church youth organizations.
  • Volunteer service: pregnancy centers, Red Cross, local fire and rescue squads, BSA's own Explorer units.
  • Organizations and churches have figured out that homeschoolers are available during the day! Many homeschooling families can tell you stories about being asked constantly to "help out (or join us) since you are home all day anyway"...
  • Their church doesn't support Scouting. I've seen this in Protestant and Catholic churches alike. "Scouting isn't Catholic enough to be part of the parish." "Scouts don't focus enough on Jesus!"
  • Competition from "similar" organizations. Do you know how many there are out there? 4-H, American Heritage Girls, Royal Rangers, Knights of Columbus' Squires, Civil Air Patrol, and more.
Special Homeschooling Concerns

OK, a couple of blunt answers:

Kids in public and private schools don't often reflect the values homeschooling families want their kids exposed to. This is a major factor in why they homeschool. Bad language, sexual influences, drugs, bullying (30% of kids are exposed to this), social programs, drinking, absense of religious values, teen pregnancy and more. Not to say that homeschooled kids as a whole don't have these issues in their lives, but the incidence is significantly lower.

Better education. Study after study shows that regardless of a homeschool families educational background or economic level, their kids out-perform public and private school kids. It also takes less time to accomplish, and kids receive a greater depth in material. If the average school child is a "50" from 1-100, homeschooled students consistently score in the low 70s as a group.

Homeschooling culture

When we started homeschooling, it was widely viewed with suspicion. The laws were not widely understood, and social workers, the police and truant officers were a common threat by the schools. According to Home School Legal Defense at the time, the number one person likely to turn in a family for "not sending their kids to school" were the students grandparents. Education of the child services departments and law enforcement agencies across the nation have caused the number of these contacts to drop--but they still happen all over the country, despite being legal in all 50 states.

When the government and your own family may be against you, it makes you a little skittish about joining "them" in activities like Scouting. Your attitude will be everything. If they trust you and your program, you will see a lot of kids headed your way.

How can you reach these families?
  • Be honest in your assessment of your unit and program. Does the description of a typical homeschooled student fit in with your unit? We have primarily a homeschooled units, with a few public school students mixed in. But they are "birds of a feather", so it works. We don't recruit at the public school round-ups, but rely on word of mouth.
  • Be knowledgeable about the Lone Scout and Lone Cub Scout programs through the BSA. Even Scouting on your own is better than no Scouting. Help a potential Scout by being a Lone Scout Counselor.
  • Offer a socially safe environment. If Timmy Tiger comes home with the "new word" he learned at Scouts, you will have a problem.
  • No bullying or hazing. Stop it as soon as it starts.
  • Be a Scouting unit! If you are a play group or an after-school hangout, you aren't offering the active program they are looking for.
After re-reading some of this, homeschooling sounds a little "exclusionary". And it is. We have personally homeschooled for 18 years so far--and only 16 more to go! I've run across all stripes of homeschoolers, and my views are based on the thousands of homeschoolers I've observed over the years.

They tend to be great families and great Scouts. More of them need the chance.

Do you have homeschooled Scouts? Any luck with recruitment? Does your council have a contact person that "gets" homeschooling to help you? Share your comments below!

New BSA Rank Requirements Coming

[Image from!]

There are several new requirements for Tenderfoot all the way through Life coming, effective 01 JAN 2010.

According to the website, it appears that they will be in the new Scout handbook coming in August.

New Requirements:


  • A Scout must teach another person how to tie a square knot using the EDGE model (explain, demonstrate, guide, and enable). He must also be able to discuss four specific examples of how he lived the points of the Scout Law in his daily life.

Second Class

  • A Scout must discuss the principles of Leave No Trace and explain the factors to consider when choosing a patrol site and where to pitch a tent.
  • He must explain what respect is due the flag of the United States.
  • He must again discuss four examples of how he lived four different points of the Scout Law in his daily life.
  • He must earn an amount of money agreed upon by the Scout and his parents and save at least 50 percent of it.

First Class

  • An additional requirement to the 10 separate troop/patrol activities states he must demonstrate the principles of Leave No Trace on these outings.
  • He must discuss four more examples of how he lived the remaining four points of the Scout Law in his daily life.


  • A Scout must use the EDGE model to teach a younger Scout a specified skill.

Star, Life, and Eagle

  • Troop Webmaster and Leave No Trace trainer are two new leadership positions.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

June Tweets

These were the 10 most popular tweets for @Scoutsigns in June:

1., tasty and funny! Anyone else going
camping this weekend?
356 Clicks
2. and Scouting
38 Clicks
3. Immunization Exemption Request
form New form and great
solution to a common problem.
24 Clicks
4. enough to transport the Royal Marines,
good enough for Scout camping...
17 Clicks
5. JUN is coming up-- Clicks
6. Scouts of America Rolls Out New National
Website Style | -
News, Opinion, Advice
15 Clicks
7. essay on the Boy Scouts!
13 Clicks
8. Patrol Box #17
12 Clicks
9. Scouting Twitter List is Ready!
11 Clicks
10. Speaker Clicks

Which tweets did you like best? Comics are apparently a hit! And what about that beach assault from the Royal Marines? Worth the long video! The Twitter List (May) and the essay (April) tweets are still hanging in there.