The Philmont fitness challenge begins!

•April 25, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Last Monday I revealed my first ticket item for Wood Badge was to lower my blood pressure to BSA standards for high adventure activity.  This is one of the requirements if you want to take the Philmont Leadership Challenge.  Another requirement is that you must have attended Wood Badge for the 21st Century and have your ticket completed.  I had wanted to complete it this fall, but had to push that date back to 2012.  And there appears to be quite a bit of interest from others in our social networking community to make it a meet-up of sorts.  It certainly would make for a fun trek, being on course with so many like-minded individuals.

So today is the day – the training, the diet, the routine – it all gets started with a visit to my cardiologist.  My hope is that he’ll adjust my medication and get me on a diet and exercise program that will significantly lower my blood pressure over the next 12 months.  The cardiology center where my doctor’s office is located offers a variety of programs to encourage a healthy lifestyle.  They have cooking classes, yoga classes, a complete gym – everything I might need to get this thing under control.

Of course, it will all be for naught if I can’t keep up my motivation and stay on track.  So, I’ll ask for a little encouragement from this community.  I’ll post my progress periodically starting tomorrow with the doctor’s initial findings.  Hopefully this will be the time I can finally focus and get myself in a healthy place.

YIS

Mike

Scouts Own: Easter

•April 24, 2011 • Leave a Comment

For Scouters of the Christian persuasion, today is one of the most important days of the year.  And there are a good percentage of us who are Christian.  But not all of us.  So how do we celebrate a day like today within Scouting?

I have my own ideas on this that I’ll share here shortly.  But at the risk of opening a can of worms and spawning a barrage of hate mail (especially on Easter) I think I’d rather toss it out as a question.  There is this whole notion of non-denominationalism.  Is Scouting truly non-denominational?  Or is it non-secular?

The former would indicate that there is not one denomination that stands out.  But you can have non-denominational Christianity.  For instance, there is a sunrise service today at Red Rocks Amphitheatre just outside of Denver.  Now, if you’ve ever been to Red Rocks, you can only imagine that sunrise from this venue is an awesome event.  And the service is non-denominational.  But it is very Christian.

So what is non-secular.  Well, by definition, secular is the very opposite of religious.  So non-secular would be religious.  But not of any specific religion. That’s what Scouting is.  It embraces all religions and celebrates them all.

So do we celebrate Easter?  Well, if you are in a Christian unit, like one sponsored by a Catholic church and all of your members are Christian, then I say, yes.  But if you are in a unit sponsored by a Catholic church with a Muslim Scout, then I say, no.  You acknowledge it and express the importance of it in the Christian community, but you do not put it above the beliefs of another as more important or better.  Because we all have the right to believe what we want to believe.  That is the reason we live in this country.  And Scouting supports these ideals.

I truly hope I have not offended anyone here.  I am Roman Catholic and for me, this is the holiest of days.  But I understand that there are other Scouts and Scouters who don’t follow the Christian doctrine.  And their beliefs are as valid and important as mine.  So, while I would hope that they would acknowledge that this is an important day for Christianity, I would want them to know that their holy days are just as valid and important.

Happy Easter.

YIS

Mike

On the topic of blogging…

•April 23, 2011 • 1 Comment

So the thought crossed my mind today that I really didn’t have a topic to blog about.  You see, I’ve put myself up to this challenge of producing a blog a day of hopefully useful and meaningful information – something to spark a discussion or to answer a question.  But today I drew a complete blank.

Friday was all a buzz with talk of the Philmont Leadership Challenge.  Arlen Ward, Phil Peck, Scouter Adam and myself (and a few others) all throwing our hats into the ring (more or less) to take it up in 2012.  Plenty of time to prepare.  It was actually going to be a ticket item for me but I was informed that I needed to have my beads before I could attend. All of these gentlemen have great posts so I won’t bother you with another other than to say if you’ve completed Wood Badge for the 21st Century and you’re looking to take it to the next level, put it on your calendar for 2012.  They don’t call it a challenge for nothing.

So today was mostly about housework.  Last November we purchased our first home.  And it couldn’t be more perfect for us.  But we bought it from the original owner who had lived in it for 45 years.  And she had made some improvements, but not where I would have spent my money.  For instance, all of the windows are original, single-paned and terribly drafty.  It gets ridiculously cold here in Colorado.  I don’t know how they survived with these windows.  When it was -17F overnight this past winter, the house barely got above 50F inside.  Thank goodness for electric mattress pads!

Long story short, one of our first major investments is in windows.  So the installer was here today finishing up a few in the basement.  Next investment will be in a fireplace insert for the basement.

The sprinkler system was on the agenda today as well.  Most of the heads are the original brass.  So I have been zoning the yard and replacing / fixing where I can.  My Wolf (Aiden) had a great time putting the flags down as I turned on each zone.  He got drenched!

Ok, so where did Scouting come in to play?  Day Camp.  I have an incredible Program Director for my Day Camp this year and she is going all out to make it an awesome camp.  I really can’t say enough about her creativity and dedication.  I mean, it’s really all about her.  I just have to make sure all of the i’s get dotted and t’s get crossed.  She has to make sure the program is fun and educational and meets achievement and elective requirements.  WOW!  Do I have an awesome Program Director!

I may need some suggestions on how I can recognize her at camp.  It has to be grand and showy and deserving of a great team player.  Any ideas you have would be welcome (she doesn’t read this blog).

So it’s a calm, peaceful Holy Saturday, as it should be.  Getting prepped for Easter.  We’ll have some family over, just not sure who, yet.  And still, there’s always room for Scouting.

YIS

Mike

Working my ticket: #5 – Scouting goal (District)

•April 22, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Ah! The last of the ticket items! Personal, Family, Diversity, Scouting (Pack) and now Scouting (District).

This is the only ticket I came into Wood Badge knowing I would have to complete. Now, really, that’s a no-no. You’re not supposed to have any preconceived ideas when you get to Wood Badge. In fact, we go out of our way not to spoil the experience or set expectations, other than to affirm that it is the BEST TRAINING you will ever get as an adult leader. But, if you know you have to work your ticket, it’s hard not to have something in mind when you get there.

OK. So I knew ahead of time that this would have to be a ticket item. But I didn’t make it easy…

If you don’t know already, I have stepped up to be the District Day Camp DIrector this year. It’s a position I mostly fell into after our key staff from last year became unavailable. I had made it known last fall that I was interested in being involved so that I could get a feel for how everything worked. I was only a helper last year. But when your DE calls and wants to have a sit-down to discuss Day Camp, you kind of know you’re in for more than you bargained for.

But did I mention I got a free pass to Philmont?

At any rate, I have the position, and like everything I do for Scouting, I’m giving it my all. So to the ticket item.

Anyone who has ever run a Day Camp (and I would LOVE to here from you if you have) knows that the registration process and keeping track of the Cubs can be a challenge. Especially when it comes to the health forms and making sure everyone at camp has one and we can find it. I want to use technology to help streamline and facilitate that. Here’s my plan:

1) All Cubs get a lanyard and we assign a QR code to the Cub;
2) When a Cub arrives or leaves, we scan their QR code and that marks them in or out;
3) Part of the routine of reaching a station includes scanning in at that station and filling their water bottle;
4) Maybe even scanning stations at the port-a-potties – what kid wouldn’t want to scan his badge at every opportunity?

So all of that sounds great and maybe even fun. But here’s where the rubber really meets the road. What if, when a Cub has to go see the Medical Officer, they just have to scan his QR code and up pops his medical form? No more digging through piles of paper to find the information and the treatment can begin immediately. Especially when you have a sting or bite or allergic reaction – every second is critical.

Another challenge. Man! Do I love challenges! But I think this could potentially have wide-ranging implications. And it could benefit a lot more than just my district. SO I look at this as being a fairly substantial goal. And one that will give me much satisfaction to see completed.

So there you have it: My five goals for Wood Badge for the 21st Century. Certainly not nearly as many as was required in the older versions of the course. But enough for me, none the less. I will definitely be working diligently on these to complete everything before the end of the year. I am really enjoying every part of this process.

I can’t stress it enough: If you haven’t been to Wood Badge, you owe it to your Scouts and to yourself to do it NOW! It is life-altering.

YIS

Mike

Working my ticket: #4 – Scouting goal (Pack)

•April 21, 2011 • Leave a Comment

OK. Personal, Family, Diversity done.  My fourth goal for my Wood Badge ticket is a Scouting goal.  In particular, this one is devoted to my unit, Pack 92.  We are a bit of a fledgling pack – affiliated with a long-standing troop, but without our own history.  As I thought about this ticket, I decided we needed a way to develop our legacy.  My solution was to create a written transition plan for all of the adult leaders.

This is possibly one of my easiest goals.  I just need to solicit contact information from the current leaders for all of the activities they’ve run this year and then funnel it all into one resource. I’ll build 3-ringed binders and hand them out to all of the current and incoming leaders.

But there’s more to it than that.  A leader who is finished volunteering their time should look to the current contingent of adult leaders and parents and try to secure another person to their position.  So, part of the plan involves how to groom a replacement.  While this may seem difficult, it remains one of the easiest things to do – show them the Leader How To’s (what we used to call Program Helps)!  This demonstrates, in no uncertain terms, how to run a den meeting or activity from start to finish. If they follow this framework, they will have everything they need to lead a succcsessful den.

I’d really like to say they have everything they need to be an effective leader. But that is, unfortunately, a bit presumptive. It doesn’t give them the drive, commitment and enthusiasm a great leader needs. It gives them the means but not the end. I really wish all leaders were great leaders. And I really admire and appreciate their dedication. But sometimes their role needs to be somewhere else, perhaps on the committee. But now I’m on to another blog….

This one’s pretty much in the bag. But it is a really important and worthwhile goal. So I can accept the relative ease of it knowing that it will make a profound impact on my pack which, after all, is the whole point.

YIS

Mike

Working my ticket: #3 – Diversity goal

•April 20, 2011 • Leave a Comment

The third goal on my Wood Badge ticket has to do with Diversity. If you’ve been following along, the first goal was Personal and the second was Family. This one presented a completely different challenge than the previous two.

Diversity is a word that so often is used to describe ethnic or racial differences that we almost inherently assume it to mean only that.  But the term simply means “variety” or “being composed of differing elements” and so we must look beyond the obvious to what it truly means to be diverse.

Now, I’m not going to get into a dissertation on diversity at this point other than to say that there is much to consider.  And what it really boils down to, for me, is understanding, acceptance and inclusiveness.  So this is my jumping off point.

As a trainer for the district I am asked to present topics which are part of the required leader training (e.g. Cub Scout Leader Specific, YPT).  With almost everything we’ve been teaching face-to-face now being offered online, not to mention the new training requirements being handed down by National with certain training becoming a prerequisite, we have seen a significant drop in attendees at training offerings. The one exception, of course, is SM / ASM which is not available online… yet.

It probably, then, does not come as a surprise that I saw an opportunity to include this topic in the list of courses we make available to leaders.  Offering it would make use of some of our idle staff and it could be taught at our regular training times.  As it is, the district has its training dates set through 2013.  And if the numbers continue to drop, there will be little need for all of those sessions.

So I set my goal to develop a course syllabus, 60-90 minutes in length, on the topic of diversity and to present it to the District Training Chair for consideration. The key here is that my goal is complete by creating the course, not by teaching it. So if it is not something the district decides to use, that doesn’t keep me from meeting my goal.

As I began to think about how to approach this task, I decided it would be nice if this course could also be presented at the unit level, perhaps by a Pack Trainer at a monthly Leader Meeting.  That would help educate the local leaders on the subject.  It would also require a condensed version of the material.  I was also thinking of incorporating a few exercises so that the course is as entertaining as it is educational.  So, I have my work cut out for me.

As with all of the Wood Badge goals, the level of difficulty of the goal, I think, really reflects your dedication and commitment to what you learned on course.  It would not be in the Wood Badge spirit to set five goals that you could bust through in a couple of weeks.  These goals are an introspective and are meant to be opportunities for growth.  So, without trying to kill myself, I’ve attempted to step outside of my comfort zone and to really push myself to become a better person.

Ah… Wood Badge.

After I’ve completed this goal I will gladly make the materials available for anyone who is interested.

The last two goals are geared toward Scouting and we will touch on those over the next couple of days.

YIS

Mike

Working my ticket: #2 – Family goal

•April 19, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Day two of my ticket posts.  Day one my goal was personal.  Today, the second goal on my ticket has to do with family.  I knew this would be a good one.  I chose to spend 20 hours a month with my two boys (one or the other or both) engaging them in a coaching or mentoring activity.  Whether it be playing a game of chess or working on a project together, the point is to spend meaningful, quality time with them.

It seemed somewhat strange when I first decided on this goal.  I mean, I think I spend a lot of time with them already.  But when I really started to discern what it was I wanted from this goal, I realized I don’t spend as much time as I would like.  There have been too many times when I was hunched in front of a computer trying to fix a pressing issue at work and had to postpone playing catch or running to the park.  I can’t get any of those chances back.  So now I go out of my way to make sure the time is there.  And the time is theirs.

But it is turning out to be a little harder than I thought it would be.  There are only so many hours in a day.  I get to see them only briefly in the morning. But there is more time in the afternoon.  Aiden and I spend a good 90 minutes each day after school before Mom and little brother get home.  And then I end up moving the things I do for myself (like this blog) to early in the morning or late at night.  I have to consciously try to make sure I’m available as much as possible when the boys are home and awake. Of course, Philmont this summer will also be a great time to rack up some quality time. And it is definitely something to look forward to.

So that is number two of five.  Next up: Diversity.

YIS

Mike