The Unknown Scouter2024/01/240 Comments

Jan./Feb. 2024 TLC

Date Activity
1/27 Ice fishing day trip
1/29 Advancements, practice for Webelos night, plan menu for Feb. activity
2/4 Scout Sunday 10am
2/5 Webelos Night: First Aid
2/6 Webelos Night: First Aid 6:60pm@ Community Grace Church, 78th and Wadsworth
2/8 Grocery shopping for Feb. activity 7pm Walmart 72nd and Sheridan
2/9 - 2/11 2/9 5pm Wolford Reservoir winter camping, ice fishing, sledding
2/12 6:30pm TLC, 7pm Hike local trails (weather permitting)
2/19 8am-4pm President’s Day Scavenger Hunt
5pmTroop meeting - SPL nominations
2/26 Swim night

Monitor the troop Google calendar for updates and specifics

Ray2024/01/240 Comments

Wow, it has been awhile.

It seems I post to this blog at the beginning or end of the year, and sometimes there's something in-between. Last year, there was nothing in-between.  I'll try to post here more often as stuff warrants.

First of all, welcome to 2024!  Our scouts have a great program planned for this year, and we look forward to seeing that all unfold for them over the next 12 months.

Last year, someone read my blog entry and determined that Troop 324 is a military-styled troop.  I looked it over: all it asked for was for folks to be courteous and respectful to each other, to the aims and methods of the BSA (which includes uniforms), and to the Scout Law and Oath.  If that's militaristic in your mind, do yourself a favor: don't join the military.  All we ask is that we all work together to be Scouts, to learn what's offered, have fun, and to make smile-worthy memories.


  • Summer Camp is coming!  Please, as soon as possible:
    1. Get registered with our troop if you're not.
    2. Ensure that your YPT is current.
    3. Sign up for Summer Camp and get paid up.
    4. Start camping with the troop on our regular weekend activities. You need to see how we work, and we need to see how you work. Even if you were a Scout in your youth, camping as a Scouter is a totally different thing. Read The OFFICIAL Troop 324 Incomplete Guide to Summer Camp for Adults. It's a short read, it's fairly entertaining, and it will make this easier for you and for the rest of us.
    5.  Get your IOLS training done if you haven't already (see the Greater Colorado Council calendar, starting in April).
    6. Complete the SM/ASM position-specific training: navigate to > My Training > Scouts BSA > Scouts BSA - Scoutmaster Position Specific Training.
      And please do these things in that order!
  • Dues and recharter payments are due. Please see the Payments page for more information on amounts and convenient payment methods.
  • Sign up for our troop calendar and e-mail list (select "Send Anyway" - these links just leave our web provider's domain to go to external services, namely Google calendar and MailChimp.)
Ray2023/01/020 Comments

A note from your Committee Chair

Right before I left for Chile, and almost immediately upon my return, I heard from a few Scouts and Scouters venting about their discontent with the troop since we resumed in-person Scouting after the Covid-19 lockdowns. Some of it was about personality conflicts. Those are not actionable. If Scouts do not like each other, that is not a troop problem: it is an opportunity for growth. They will have to deal with people they do not like all through their academic, work, and personal lives.  Be helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, and cheerful and talk it through – but do not be mean to each other. Life is too short.  Adults, if you see yourself in this, it is not too late for you. Some of the venting, though, is both justified and actionable. Let us address those.

First, the Covid-19 lockdowns are over. There were things that we were permitted during the pandemic that are no longer permitted or no longer helpful, e.g., parents (once again) are not permitted to share tents with their children, the 2-year age difference rule is back, and boys & girls still can’t tent together.



“The uniform makes the Scout troop visible as a force for good and creates a positive youth image in the community. Scouting is an action program, and wearing the uniform is an action that shows each Scout’s commitment to the aims and purposes of Scouting. The uniform gives the Scout identity in a world brotherhood of youth who believe in the same ideals. The uniform is practical attire for Scout activities and provides a way for Scouts to wear the badges that show what they have accomplished.”

I have often said that I would rather have a Scout without a uniform than a uniform without a Scout.  It was especially true during the Covid-19 lockdowns: since we were all at home & not visible in the community, it was not a driving factor. This is still applicable to certain extenuating circumstances that sometimes arise: for example, when a Scout comes to a meeting straight from another extracurricular activity that left them sweaty enough to trash a uniform. Otherwise, there is no excuse not to properly wear the uniform of the day. If you need one, get one. They are available at the Scout Shop, they can be found in thrift stores, and we have a uniform bank (please donate $5 for any field uniform items you take from the bank.)  And, while we are at it, if you have a uniform that no longer fits, please consider transferring the patches to your new uniform and donating the old one to the bank! Within the troop, we even accept non-BSA pants if they are reasonably close to the BSA pants’ color. Adult leaders should also be wearing their uniforms properly. We expect everyone to keep their uniforms neat, clean, up-to-date with insignia and awards, and worn properly (tuck in your shirt!) While not an official BSA website, has some solid information on the uniform.


Several adult leaders have felt very disrespected by some of the Scouts and parents – beyond simple personality differences. So, let us be clear: everyone is expected to be courteous to each other.

  • We do not run this unit as a precursor to military service, so I do not expect to hear anyone barking and yelling at anyone else. (Exception: flag ceremonies – the caller should be loud and crisp in their commands; on the shooting range – “cease fire!” should always be loud; and as a warning when someone’s in danger – “Don’t run into that treeeee!”)
  • Burping in anyone’s face (yes that happened), foul language, name-calling, lying, talking over others, and distracting others from participation are not acceptable.
  • If help is requested do not sit on your hands and look around to see if anyone else jumps up to do it. On camp outs, especially, everyone is expected to carry their own weight and to contribute effort towards the greater good so that everyone learns, stays safe, and has an enjoyable outing. A Scout is helpful.Parents: Please model this. If the Committee or a Scoutmaster/Asst Scoutmaster (SM/ASM) asks for help, please volunteer.  There are lots of ways you can help that do not require hours of training, a registration, and a uniform.
  • When a communication comes from the committee, read it. Thoroughly.  Never assume that nothing in it applies to you. Special note: Show Ray that you read this by quietly saying to him. "I read the article about embarrassing ear odor."
  • While Scouts are at different levels of maturity, good attitude and good effort are always required. No whining! All Scouts and Scouters are expected to demonstrate Scout Spirit. We do not measure Scout Spirit by counting meetings & outings attended. It is indicated, instead, by the way the Scout lives daily life. Scout Spirit is a part of Advancement; but none of us are perfect, and a mistake today doesn’t derail your next Board of Review if you try to improve.

“Scouting provides a series of surmountable obstacles and steps in overcoming them through the advancement method. The Scout plans their advancement and progresses at their own pace as they meet each challenge. The Scout is rewarded for each achievement, which helps them gain self-confidence. The steps in the advancement system help a Scout grow in self-reliance and in the ability to help others.”

Personal growth is the primary goal of advancement. Some parents are tempted to intervene on behalf of their Scout, and in some cases, it has been unclear that the Scout has completed a requirement on their own. Don’t do that. It deprives Scouts of the opportunity to grow. Let them make mistakes and learn from them. Their SMs, ASMs, Advancement Chair, and senior Scouts will mentor them. 

All merit badges require a blue card (or equivalent) and assignment of a counselor before work starts, and require interaction with the counselor, as requirements that include the words "explain", "discuss", or “demonstrate” must be explained to/discussed with/demonstrated to the counselor. Scouts can use worksheets as notes for those requirements, but each counselor can determine whether to accept those in lieu of a verbal discussion based on circumstances.


Scouts who have a leadership position are expected to fulfill that position’s requirements. We conduct Youth Leadership Training at our meetings at least yearly. Scouts who participate in that training will know what their responsibilities are & will have some training to be successful. We also encourage sufficiently mature Scouts to attend NYLT instead of Summer Camp once they reach First Class rank. What they learn in that week changes their lives.

If a Scout fails to fulfill the requirements of their leadership position during their elected term, that term cannot be counted towards advancement. When a Scout assumes a position, something related to the desired results must happen. It is a disservice to the Scout and to the unit to reward work that has not been done. Holding a position and doing nothing, producing no results, is unacceptable. Some degree of responsibility must be practiced, taken, or accepted.

Let's have a great 2023.

Ray2022/10/170 Comments

For Cooking Merit Badge

Completing the Cooking merit badge requires that you make use of the MyPlate Plan from  Click here to get started!

Ray2022/08/290 Comments

Whose Eagle Rank is it, anyway?

Parental units: we know you're always trying to do the best by your Scouts.  We are, too. And in the process, there will be times when your Scout won't necessarily get what they want/when they want it. And believe it or not, that's essential to their growth as a Scout.

Scouting's Aims and Methods include

  • Advancement - overcoming a series of surmountable obstacles
    • According to Scouts -> Advancement in the Troop 324 By-Laws, the SCOUT is responsible for retaining all advancement records and for "Keeping Scout Handbooks current and bringing them to all regular meetings and camp outs. (You'll see why I included this in a minute.)
  • Association with Adults - watching how adults conduct themselves
  • Ideals - as spelled out in the Scout Oath, the Scout Law, the Scout motto, and the Scout slogan
  • Leadership Development - The Scouting program encourages Scouts to learn and practice leadership skills.  We provide a safe place to fail. (That's also why we sometimes let things degenerate into chaos - watch the video.)

On occasion, parents want to discuss their Scout's advancement. Sometimes, the conversation does not measure up to the Ideals of being Helpful, Courteous, Kind, Cheerful (and sometimes the language is not Clean).  The Advancement Method works - yelling at a volunteer is contrary to the method of Association with Adults.

Moreover, if the Scout is not bringing their Handbook regularly, and are not bringing their book to the Scoutmaster (or designee) when they complete a requirement, they are dropping the ball on their own Advancement.  Every Scout does it once in a while. We don't worry about that. But it's a problem when it's habitual.

This self-inflicted problem is also a self-regulating one. If they keep forgetting  or temporarily losing their book, don't worry about it. Really. Remember, we provide a safe place to fail. If your Scout doesn't get their rank advancement when they wanted it because they didn't take care of their Handbook, will it hurt them to miss a presentation at a court of honor?  Maybe - if they're close to their 18th birthday, but in that case, they should have already learned thid lesson. Failure is an excellent teacher.  Just like if they don't pack the right stuff for a camping trip, we let them enjoy one or two less-than-comfortable nights. And, no, we won't let them freeze - they'll just be chilly.

As Garth Brooks sang, "You can help them find their wings, but you can't fly for them. 'Cause if they're not free to fall, Then they're not free at all."

Just click above to listen to the song.  If you think it might apply to you, it does; if you're sure that it doesn't, then it just might.

Ray2022/08/040 Comments

Volunteer Service Opportunities

These two links lead to lists of volunteer opportunities in Westminster and Arvada. Click on the links to get some ideas for voluntary service hours for merit badges and rank advancements!

If you can think of any more, tell the troop webmaster to talk to Ray to get them added to the list!

Ray2022/06/090 Comments

BSA and Shooting Sports

I occasionally get really odd looks from people outside of (or new to) Scouting when I mention our Shooting Sports campouts and our participation in shooting sports at BSA functions.   I could never understand their surprise, so I started asking questions as to why it seems so strange.

  • Aren't they too young?
  • Doesn't it hurt them?
  • Aren't you worried that they'll hurt themselves or someone else if you teach them to shoot?

Of course, the answers are No, No, and No.  Why am I so confident?

Leaders who wish to become involved in Shooting Sports go through serious training at the hands of the Denver Area Council BSA and NRA.  We occasionally appoint line officers to help out at the range, but they are helpers to those leaders who have completed the official trainings and are so certified.

Before we even depart for the event, we've drilled the Scouts on the rules of safe firearms handling and lots of hypothetical situations. We discuss the firearms themselves, as well as the ammunition and how it works. We teach how to "make safe" any firearm that we're using - as well as a few others that we don't use, so that if they come across them outside of Scouting, they can keep themselves (and others) as safe as possible. And we repeat. And we repeat. And then? We repeat. 

We typically have programs for .22lr rifle, black powder rifle, 12 gauge shotgun and archery, but we will only open ranges if we have space and properly-certified personnel to safely staff them.  If we don't, then we don't open that range.  We might need to alternate activities over the course of the day to allow youth to enjoy each of them. (Hint: we can always use more certified folks!)  All of the firearms are single-shot: rifles are usually bolt-action; we allow one shotshell to be loaded into a shotgun at a time; and the black powder rifles we use are single-shot by default.  It is more difficult these days to find anything that isn't magazine-fed, so they are allowed, but only one bullet at a time can be loaded.

Fireams and ammunition are locked up, stored separately, and are kept separate on the range until it is doled out at the firing points.

I serve as a Range Safety Officer.  I keep an eye on everything, looking for any unsafe conditions or situations, and that's all I do.  If a bunny comes hopping across the range, we call a Cease Fire.  If a youth forgets where they are and starts moving the muzzle into an unsafe direction, we're on them. If the eweather starts looking hinky, we shut it down. The Instructors for the various areas are also certified as RSOs.  There are eyes everywhere. And the events are so heavily planned that if anything is out of place, we see it and deal with it immediately.

We bring a ton of safety equipment and first aid equipment appropriate to the event. We discuss the possible injuries and the first aid required for everything we do, and this is certainly no different. Most of us have basic first aid training, and many of us have wilderness first aid training and stop the bleed training.

Moreover, in the handling of real firearms, safely, they learn that nothing is as simple as what their video games portray. They learn that there is real discipline needed to operate them. But, we still have fun with them. We've had epic games of shotgun pickup; for rifle, we've shot competitively for 3- or 5-shot groups, played games with spinner targets, and had golf ball races.

And when bad headlines happen, we discuss them. We talk about the differences between who we are as Scouts and what we stand for, as opposed to idiots who misuse/mishandle firearms.

Most importantly, we teach the Scout Oath, Scout Law, Motto, Slogan, and Outdoor Code all year 'round. That includes:

A Scout is Kind.

A Scout knows there is strength in being gentle. He treats others as he wants to be treated. Without good reason, he does not harm or kill any living thing.

So, I'm not worried. Come watch us.

Ray2022/04/290 Comments

A letter to parents

I saw this in a Scouting forum and thought I'd share it, as I see parents go down this path all the time - even those who already have an Eagle Scout.

I received this email from a Scout parent:

I am new to the Boy Scout Program and I  am not getting answers to questions.

For instance my son is to bring a blue card to a merit badge event for the counselor to sign. I got a blue card from the Scoutmaster. Another parent with experience in Boy Scouts told me that they needed to be signed by the Scoutmaster, so my son took the blue cards to the next meeting but the Scoutmaster would not sign them because the counselors name wasn’t filed out. My son and I did not know that was necessary.

Is there a briefing or meeting for parents with no experience in Boy Scouts know what to do or ask ? I feel there is a lack of needed information.

I answered:

Typically we don’t have detailed briefings or meetings about this sort of thing for parents. It’s not that we don’t appreciate the role parents have in Scouting or that we want to keep them in the dark. It’s just that Scout parents aren’t the ones we want asking these sorts of questions or doing these sorts of things, we want their Scout asking and doing.

You are a bit frustrated because you feel you lack the information a responsible, supportive parent needs. Many parents feel this way – you are not alone! I want to help by giving you the most important information a Scout parent needs to know and what I wish every Scout parent understood.

Scouting is unique. It  is different from school, church, sports and other youth organizations. Understanding just what we are trying to do is not easy sometimes; in fact one of my key challenges as a Scoutmaster is talking to parents who think they know what I am talking about but they really don’t.

When it comes to the things Scouts do there are at least two things happening at once. There’s the immediate practical goal (like getting a merit badge or going camping) and the much broader (and more important) goals of developing leadership, citizenship and physical, spiritual and mental fitness.

For example; when a Scout goes camping, (s)he needs to find out what to bring, gather the gear and put it in their pack. It’s perfectly understandable that a parent may feel they need to do some or all of this for their Scout – after all that’s part of being a supportive, responsible parent right?

I wish they wouldn’t.

If a new Scout packs their own pack, they’ll forget something and maybe be a little uncomfortable (I still forget things after 30+ years of camping!) but (s)he will learn more from forgetting than they will if you pack the bag for them.What they learn from that process is one step closer to that broader goal.

At first this may seem a little harsh or make a Scout parent feel that they are not being responsible, and that’s an uncomfortable feeling for most of us.

Scouting is not just an opportunity for Scouts to do fun stuff, it’s also an opportunity for parents to learn and grow. I went through this process with my son.  It was uncomfortable and challenging at times, but ultimately it was very rewarding.

My son now works for the college he attended and he’ll tell you that one key skill many new students lack is the ability to navigate the routine things that they are used to having done for them (from laundry to signing up for classes and managing a schedule). He’ll also tell you that he learned how to look after himself and others through the process of Scouting.

What I wish every Scout parent knew is something they can’t really understand until they have been through this process. I want them to step back, be supportive, understanding, and cooperate with the process. I want them to look for teachable moments and help their Scouts figure out what to do next not by supplying answers but by asking questions.

If you cooperate with the process, if you keep your eye on the broader goal, you’ll see your Scout start to grow and figure things out for themselves. You’ll find that your job is not so much telling and doing as helping them discover answers and how to things done. Your job is not making things easier but helping them to look past the initial frustrations of not knowing. Soon they’ll learn to ask those questions of themselves, they’ll grow in confidence and ability and will surprise you as they do.

It’s hard for Scout parents to get comfortable with the idea of not knowing on purpose – but if they don’t know, then a Scout has to figure things out for themselves. When parents get uncomfortable, when their Scouts get frustrated, they go after the Scoutmaster and complain about how chaotic, inefficient and needlessly difficult things are.

I try to tell them that the Scouting process is purposefully designed to be challenging and every Scout (and Scout parent) will experience frustration or discouragement from time to time. We embrace the challenge, the chaos; we take the inefficient,  frustrating moments and turn them to our advantage to help our Scouts achieve those broader goals.

When Scouts get discouraged or frustrated, (and they will),  that’s when we need a supportive, responsible parent to step up and help them overcome the discouragement or frustration and keep on trying.

Scouting cooperates with parents who cooperate with Scouting. It gives them powerful opportunities to help their youth grow. What we do in Scouting is almost never about the immediate, practical goal. Youths don’t always understand this and I don’t expect them to, but I wish every Scout parent did.

Ray2022/04/290 Comments

Practical Scout Law stuff for youth AND adults

Ray2022/04/200 Comments

It has been awhile.

I haven't posted in a long time, so it's feeling like it's time.

This isn't an advice column.  I usually stick to Scouting topics, but sometimes I let myself write whatever's on my mind.  This is one of those times.  I was reading an article with oddball bits and pieces of wisdom that others have gathered, so I thought I'd put them here. I'll bet you can match many of these to a point of the Scout Law and Oath. Enjoy.

  • Compliment people behind their backs instead of being snarky. You'd rather be known as a good friend than as a backstabber.
  • Buy cheap tools at first and invest in better quality tools once they wear out or break. If you wear a tool out, it means you use it a lot and it’s worth it to spend more money on a better-quality tool that will last longer and work better.
  • Experience is what you get when you can't get what you want.
  • Tomorrow may not be better, but at least it’ll be different.
  • Unpack your suitcase/backpack the second you get home. Make your bed as soon as you roll out of it - even before you go to the bathroom. Small, quick wins can set the tone for your life.
  • Smile at strangers when you’re out and about - it can have some unintended, positive side effects. You never know what others are going through, and simply smiling at someone might turn their day around.
  • When you can't choose between two things, flip a coin. Then choose the thing you were hoping for.
  • Stick to the same sleep schedule on your days off as you do on school/work days.
  • If you plan to write anything - a note, a letter, a book report, a term paper, a thesis, or a novel - just start writing. Don't worry about sentences, structure, edits, or next steps. Just start and see what comes next, because you can't edit a blank page.
  • Pay bills, save, and then spend.
  • Just don't <insert_what _you_want _to_stop_doing_here> today. You can do that. Then repeat tomorrow.
  • Practice gratitude. Grateful people are happy people.
  • You're not hungry, you're thirsty.
  • Show up.  Just being the one who shows up - even if you're not the best - means a lot to everyone.
  • Don't apologize and make everything all about you: put the other person at the center and thank them.  It's the difference between, "I'm sorry I'm late," and "Thank you for being patient."
  • When you're overwhelmed and stressed out, make a to-do list. When you're in that mindset, you think, "I know what needs to be done, but I can't possibly do it all."  But when you write it down, it doesn't have to live in your brain, and you can focus on the individual tasks.
  • If you want or need something, it’s best to be direct. Don't hint, and don't make people guess. As a Cajun friend once told me, "Dem folks who don' say what dey want don' get nothin' but disappointed and disrespected."
  • Don't skimp on the things that separate you from the ground: money spent on good shoes, good tires, and a good bed is well-spent.
  • It may be tough right now, but fill your tank all the way up instead of a little at a time.
  • When you're sad, eat healthy stuff, get outside, and exercise.
  • Clean as you cook, do the dishes right away, and pick up your house for 10 minutes a day in order to keep things under control. It might be boring, but it beats having to clean for hours at a time.
  • Clean house before leaving for more than 5 days - nothing beats coming home to a clean house.
  • If it takes less than 5 minutes, do it immediately.
  • If your gums bleed when you floss, then you’re not flossing enough.
  • If you have nausea, suck on an ice cube (don't chew it.)
  • If your gut reaction to something isn’t immediately ‘yes,’ then it’s a definite ‘no.’
  • Just shut up and listen. Actually listen. I don't know about you, but I've never learned anything from listening to myself.
  • Be yourself. The less you care about what other people think and the more real you are, the more people start to love you.
  • An organized space can make you feel more in control and lessen anxiety.
  • Don't force it. If it doesn’t fit, it’s not supposed to. (That applies to more than shoes.)
  • If you don’t have anything nice or constructive to say, just keep it to yourself. 
  • Don't look for a happy life; look for happy moments.
  • Ask anyway - the worst they can say is "no."
  • Find one little thing that you love about yourself. It doesn't have to be big - it can be a freckle on your nose or something that you know you can do. Whenever you feel low self-esteem creeping in, remember that one thing that you love about yourself, and you'll start to feel better. And find a new thing to love about yourself every month.  Make a list of them.
  • Think positive thoughts before you go to bed. And then don't think. You'll get to sleep faster and wake up better.
  • Slow down while driving. It's better to lose a second of your life than to lose your life in a second.
  • There's what you need, there's what you want, and there's what you can't afford.
  • If you feel like quitting, then just tell yourself that the story doesn't end this way. Never let anyone else write your life for you.
  • Don't suffer future pain.
  • Leave your cell phone in another room - not where you sleep.
  • Before I do anything I ask myself, "Would an idiot do that?" If the answer's "Yes," then I don't do it.
Ray2022/04/200 Comments


If you're a registered leader in a scouting unit, you've undoubtedly heard at some point, "You need to take this training, because it's required."  Wouldn't it be nice to have a list of all of the training required for your scouting position(s)?

Okay, here's my nice for the day.

The charts below are in a gallery, so you should be able to drag left & right to see them all.

Ray2021/04/090 Comments

Read this. Often.

I have no idea if anyone ever reads this blog, so if you do, please let me know.

This is something that sticks in my head, and I'd like for everyone associated with this unit to at least take a look. I was introduced to this when I was in my early teens (no, I wasn't there when the speech was made - I'm not quite that old), and it changed my outlook on everything.  I was reminded of it in something I read, and wanted to bring it to you all.

Theodore Roosevelt delivered the speech entitled “Citizenship in a Republic” at the Sorbonne in Paris on April 23, 1910. The speech is popularly known as “The Man in the Arena.”

Read this out loud, not to yourself. Stand tall. Stand proudly. Don't just say the words — feel the words:

    "It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. 

    The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."

Having now read this, remember:

  • The best way to be different is to do the things other people refuse to do.
  • The best way to life the life you want to live is to stop worrying about what other people think.
  • The best way to succeed is to out-think, out-hustle, and out-work everyone else.
  • You may not be as experienced, as well-funded, as well-connected, or as talented... but you can always do more than other people are willing to do. Even when everything else seems stacked against you, effort and persistence can still be your competitive advantages — and they may be the only advantages you truly need.
    • (but don't be afraid to ask for the funding, make the connections, and develop the talents)
  • Dare greatly. Know victory. Know defeat.
  • And every day, commit to living the life you want to live.
Ray2021/03/100 Comments

Why work to become an Eagle Scout?

I'm glad you asked.  Thanks to David Garcia, Jr., we have a nifty page that describes some opportunities that come along with becoming a "marked person".

Ray2020/12/300 Comments

We're listening

Good news: Folks have been asking how the troop can take payments for things like camp outs, summer camps and recharter fees while we're doing the whole pandemic lockdown thing, and we now have that nailed down.  In the upper right-hand corner of our website, you can see a new selection called "Payments" - this will tell you how to get a payment to the troop treasurer. Many thanks to Mike Wells for setting that up!

Good news: The troop committee voted to suspend payment of 2021 dues until we can get back together for meetings and campings, which should help a lot when we consider that because of the impact of the pandemic on fundraising this year, we need folks to pay for their own recharter fees in accordance with the troop policies/by-laws ($66 for each youth, $42 for each adult.)  I have been asked, "Hey, if the troop has a positive balance in the bank, shouldn't that all go towards rechartering fees, and then ask everyone to pay their part of the difference?"  The answer to that is "No."  We need to keep a strong balance so that we can use that money to ensure that we can secure reservations with "early-bird" savings on summer camps, Klondike Derbies, Camporees, etc.  That usually involves submitting the entire balance due before every family in our troop is able to pay for their part of it. Remember, not everyone has $350 - $1500 laying around to pay for their summer camp, so being able to spread that expense across a few months can be the difference between a youth going or not going.  Also, being able to get those early-bird rates can save the average scout/scouter up to $100 annually. Considering that some families send more than one youth to a camp out or summer camp AND may have an adult going, too, it can save those families a boat load of money.

Necessary items and money are often donated by troop committee members to help with all of this, but we cannot rely on that to happen all of the time.  Scouting, compared to other activities such as sports, music lessons, STEAM clubs, and other activities, is still a really great value.  And when it comes to week-long, residential summer camps, you would be hard-pressed to find one that provides the same level of activities and amenities as a BSA summer camping program.

We aim to keep the costs of scouting as low as possible without sacrificing the quality of the program. And at the end of the day, one of our goals is to ensure that we spend every single penny of the annual troop budget on the youth and on training.  We also aim to make working with the troop as convenient as possible. If you have suggestions along these lines, tell a committee member or - better yet - join the committee!

The Unknown Scouter2020/09/210 Comments

Merit Badge: Citizenship in the Nation

Hi folks,

It has been suggested that this presidential election year would be a good time to do the Citizenship in the Nation merit badge.  I agree whole-heartedly. 

A merit badge is a lot of fun.  It can entail a lot of work.  But failure to follow this sequence can invalidate all of the work done on the badge.  Don’t blow it – follow these steps. This is written with the idea of working the merit badge at T324's troop meetings, but the general process is THE process for merit badges throughout the BSA.

  1. Get a blue card from the Advancement Coordinator (Chuck) and get the Scoutmaster (Bear or Christina)  to sign it.
  2. Talk to the Advancement Coordinator (Chuck) to get a list of counselors – subject matter experts who have specialized knowledge and are willing to help you.  (In this case, it's me (Ray).)
  3. At a meeting in the near future, I will explain what is expected and will start helping you to meet the requirements. At this point, you should discuss any work that you have already started or completed.  In general, it’s best to wait until you’ve spoken with your counselor before starting any work.
  4. Most of our discussions will be at the Troop Meetings. If we need to have a conversation by email, then make sure that every email is also CCed to your parent and to the Scoutmaster. If by phone, then make sure the call is made in the presence of your parent, and is done while on speaker. We will NOT use social media channels, including (but not limited to) Facebook, IM, Instagram, or anything else. If in person, it will be at a troop meeting; if a meeting outside of a troop meeting is necessary, your parent must be present, and any meeting will be in a public place.
  5. Once you have a counselor (for this one, that's me) and understand what you need to do, get to it!  Read the pamphlet for the badge (see the end of this blog entry) and ask the counselor if you have any questions as to what you need to do. Don’t waste your time or the counselor’s time: complete all requirements exactly as directed in the pamphlet – for example, if it says, “show or demonstrate”, that’s what you need to do, you cannot just talk about it.
  6. Contact the counselor again to be tested on each requirement to make sure that you know your stuff and can do/have done everything required.
  7. Get the requirements initialed and the blue card signed by the counselor, and then go talk with your Scoutmaster about it.  Make a copy of the blue card for your records, and then give it to the Advancement Coordinator. 
  8. Get your badge at the next Court of Honor!

If you wish to take this badge, go to the Troop Google Drive and download the Citizenship in the Nation Pamphlet.   I looked all through the pamphlet and saw nothing to prohibit me from scanning it and posting it, so I did.

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