Monday, February 19, 2018

Advice: Webelos to Boy Scouts

Advice: Webelos to Boy Scouts

It's time! BSA recommends that Cub packs should bridge their 5th grader Arrow of Light den into a Boy Scout troop in early spring. This gives them a chance to get to know the Scouts they'll be attending summer camp with. In addition, a smart Scout troop will schedule a tent camping trip just as soon as weather permits in order to get their newest boys enthused about camping.

A problem: BSA is concerned about the large number of Cubs who graduate from the pack but never make the transition to become Boy Scouts: "Don't let them miss out on the fun, adventure, and personal growth yet to come."

Advice: Successful transitions call for a partnership between the Cubmaster and the Scoutmaster -- both have to take steps to convince the Cub that the Boy Scout program is really cool, and in fact way better than Cub Scouts.

Click here for nine suggestions for what a Cubmaster can do.
Click here for nine suggestions for what a Scoutmaster can do.

Here's a suggestion: There's some special pack activity, and the Scoutmaster and some junior leaders were invited to attend. The Scoutmaster says to the Arrow of Light Cubs, "You guys are practically Boy Scouts already. Come over here and stand/sit with us."

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Upcoming Change to Advancement Tracking

Upcoming Change to Advancement Tracking

Since 2006, Troops and Packs have posted their advancement information by way of the Scoutnet Internet Advancement website. That will change soon in 2018, when units will instead create an account with "Scoutbook Lite" and post advancement information into that site. Click here for an article in Scouting Magazine that gives more details.

The Scoutbook app was created in 2013 by Shawn Jackson, himself a unit leader. He got lots of good reviews on his Facebook page from early adapters, which encouraged him to keep adding new features. Meanwhile there were plenty of other software packages out there, most notably TroopMaster and PackMaster and Troopkit.

Everything changed in 2015, when BSA National acquired Scoutbook, and everything changed a second time just now, where all units will soon be using "Scoutbook Lite" instead of Internet Advancement. This is surely bad news for all those other packages. Most likely existing units will continue to use TroopMaster, etc., because they're used to it, but expect new units to start off with Scoutbook.

So how good is Scoutbook? Scouting Magazine called it "awesome." Click here to access a promotion video with Scout leaders praising its advancement tracking, which is not just "complete/not complete", but also tracks each advancement requirement separately. The snapshot above shows how one Scout is progressing with his Climbing merit badge. The promo video shows how a Den Leader can use his/her smartphone to log in and record belt loop requirements while they're still fresh in his/her mind. The promo video also shows kids accessing the site to see their own status and then responding by posting, "I just completed another requirement on my own. Here's proof."

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Tax Deductions from Scouting Expenses

Tax Deductions from Scouting Expenses

Click here for an article in Scouting Magazine that has lots of advice on ways to itemize Scouting-related expenses as income tax deductions. (But watch for the disclaimer that the article "is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to provide... legal or accounting advice.")


Here's an extract of some of the useful information you'll find posted:

Some types of contributions can be deducted:
  • Cash/check donations
  • Property donations
  • Out-of-pocket expenses you paid to do volunteer work
  • Uniforms for leaders
  • The cost of driving to and from BSA events

Some types of relevant contributions cannot be deducted:
  • The value of your time
  • Scouting dues or membership fees
  • A contribution to a specific individual. This includes giving to the Boy Scouts and specifying a particular person or Scout as the beneficiary of your donation.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Three Rivers Events During February 2018

Three Rivers Events During February 2018

Feb 1 - TRD District Committee Meeting
Feb 6 - TRD Unit Commissioners Meeting
Feb 13 - TRD Roundtable
Feb 20 - TRD Asst. District Commissioners Meeting

Training Sessions During February 2018
Feb 11 - Scoutmaster/ASM Training
Feb 24 - Ramapo valley Cub Leader Specific Training

Other Council-Approved Events in February 2018
Feb 24+25 - NNJC Scout Ski Days 2018

Welcoming Girls into the Scout Program - Part 3

Welcoming Girls into the Scout Program - Part 3

CBS Sunday Morning did a long piece on the subject, starting with the girls who are now officially registered Cub Scouts in Portland Oregon Pack 203.

Click here to see the CBS Sunday Morning segment. What you'll see:

•  The girls in Pack 203 are clearly having a great time, while some of their older brothers look pretty unhappy. But they're willing to go with the change.

•  Switch to older Boy Scouts in Salt Lake City Troop 1262. These guys are having a great time building an igloo and getting a winter campfire going. This is the kind of activity that have defined Boy Scouts for over a century. Chief Scout Exec Michael Surbaugh said, "Kids want what we have. Outdoors and camping and hiking -- this is what we do!"

•  A little history and a plug for Eagle Scouts, citing Michael Bloomberg, President Gerald Ford, and astronaut Neil Armstrong.

•  Declining membership in the Boy Scout organization is a real problem. Scouts lost two thirds of the numbers they had in the 1970's. Surbaugh said that changes to the American family were a big factor in the decline, such as more moms in the workforce. Meanwhile, the Scouts did not adapt.

•  Switch back to Salt Lake City Troop 1262, which has mostly Burmese refugees. Their leader is a refugee from Cambodia. They were already familiar with the outdoors, since they had to hunt and fish just to stay alive. One of them said, "If not for Scouts, I would have joined a gang, because that's where all my friends are."

•  Pushback from the Girl Scouts: "We were really taken aback," said Sylvia Acevedo, Chief Executive Officer. She said that the Girl Scouts also offer the same high adventure programs that the Boy Scouts offer, plus they have "the best leadership program designed and developed for girls." She said, "We know what it takes to get girls to succeed."

•  Switch back to Troop 1262 with five new Eagle Scouts, "An honor their sisters may soon pursue as well."