Scoutmaster’s Minute

Here are the Scoutmaster minutes I’ve given.   They are in reverse chronological order; most recent at the top.  They are from many places and I didn’t track where for most of them.  My apologizes in advance for not citing original sources.

I try my best not read my Scoutmaster minutes.  So what you see here is what I intended to say, and likely not how it actually came out.

Scoutmaster minutes from Greg Ostravich, the Scoutmaster before me, are below mine.

– Mark Borchert

2020-08-17 The Beauty of Forest Fires

We have been hearing the news about the all fires in Colorado.  I have never had to be evacuated for a fire, I can’t imagine how that must be.  Even worse, seeing your home or business burned to the ground would be devastating.  Fires are a symbol of power and momentum. In fact, there are few things in nature as mighty as the white-hot intensity of a forest fire. Once they gain momentum, these vicious fires can consume hundreds of square miles, leaving behind a trail of destruction and scorched earth.

Not exactly the symbol of beauty. You don’t see famous paintings by Van Gogh or Monet charred land.

Yet there is something special and purposeful in fires. Not only do they make amazing sunsets, forest fires are an important part of nature. They clear out the old and make way for the new. They reset the conditions so new life can form; often removing previously restrictive limitations.  You may not have known this, but usually when a fire is caused by natural means, like a lightning strike, firefighters only fight to contain it to keep it from burning down structures and threating human lives.  They won’t necessarily put it out, but let it burn until it goes out itself.  It is nature’s way of resetting itself.

Some plants may thrive since they no longer must compete for sun with the previously tall and dead trees that hoarded the light. The roots in the soil from burned trees will rot and become fertilizer for new growth.

Sometimes we go through problems in our lives that seem destructive, like a fire.  We all have had challenging times.  And during those times, it is sometimes hard to see what good will come out of it.  But if you look back on things afterwards, you can often see how maybe this or that which was good happened for you, and it wouldn’t have unless you went through those tough times.

So as you learn your fireman chit, I am not suggesting you take your new found skills and start things on fire!  I’m just saying that sometimes when things are tough, it’s for a reason and things will get better.

2020-08-10 Get a buddy

An Eagle Scout from our Troop, Ethan M. had this to say at his Eagle Scout Board of Review:

“Make friends in scouts as it helps you push each other and you might get there faster.”

This rings true for me in a lot of ways.  I got through my Master’s program because I went through it with a friend of mine.  I enjoy scouts so much better because I have made so many friends here.

Scouts, I encourage you to get buddy in scouts.  Find someone who has the same goals as you, wants to advance at the same rate as you.  And then push each other to go forward and do scouts.  You will enjoy it more and get further than trying to do it on your own.

2020-08-03 The next 20 feet

Driving your car through a dense morning fog, your visibility is about the same as trying to read a textbook through wax paper. Even with your fancy LED fog lights, the intersection that’s less than a block away is nothing more than an opaque blur. In this scenario, just like in life, you have a few options at your disposal.

You could stop your car altogether, waiting patiently for the fog to clear. But what if the fog turns to rain a few hours later, and then hail after that? Staying stuck on the side of the road of life is no way to reach your destination. Standing still out of fear while others zing past on the highway is like asking your GPS navigation system to route you directly to Regretville.

Another option is to barrel ahead at full throttle. While there’s a slight chance that you’ll arrive early to your breakfast meeting, there’s a much higher probability that you’ll end up in a ditch. Reduced visibility hampers your ability to react to changing conditions, which makes the forge-ahead strategy particularly dangerous.

The best approach, in my humble opinion, is to proceed with caution and focus on the 20 feet ahead of you right now. On high alert for shifting circumstances, you remain grounded in the moment and ready to react. As you safely conquer the first 20 feet, the next 20 that were previously a blur now come into perfect view. You proceed deliberately and purposefully, 20 feet at a time.

In the midst of a global pandemic, political turmoil, and economic instability, how should we move forward in our current state of heavy fog? Twenty feet at a time. Freezing like a deer in headlights could actually be just as risky as blindly racing ahead, with neither approach likely to deliver you safely through the haze. In these times of heightened uncertainty, we need to remain present, aware, and ready to course-correct as new information emerges.

We’re all feeling stressed about where the road may lead. But the best countermeasure to our smog-filled times is to slowly and deliberately tackle the next 20 feet. The clouds will eventually clear and there will be sunny days ahead. In the meantime, let’s proceed thoughtfully… one 20-foot stretch at a time.

From <>

2020-07-06 Pay it Forward

Most of you have heard the term “Pay it Forward”.  The basic idea there is that if someone does something kind for you, instead of repaying that person back you instead pass it on and do something kind for someone else. This seems like a basic concept, and I would venture to guess that you all do it to some degree.

One way I pay it forward is to be a Scoutmaster of Troop 873. I have mentioned to this some of you before that I am a Tenderfoot scout.  That is as far as I ever got in the three years I spent in Troop 498. I never held a position of leadership in the troop, only did a handful of merit badges and camping trips. My family situation at the time made it hard for me to get everything I could have out of scouts, and eventually I lost interest as I started working more.  However the time I spent in scouts is something I still remember.  Despite my less than stellar scouting career when I was younger, I knew that it was a program that I wanted my kids to be a part of.  Fast forward to when my oldest was ready to be cub scout.  I don’t know why I didn’t realize this before I joined my son in to Cub Scouts, but it was when he was a Tiger that I realized the parents actually ran the program.  If it wasn’t for all the parents already involved, there would not have been a program for my son to be a part of.  Everyone there was putting their volunteered time and efforts in to making a program for my son.  So eventually I got involved as well and started paying that kindness forward by helping provide the program to other kids besides my own.

When my oldest got to Boy Scouts, I learned that the same concept applied, even if slightly different.  The concept of the parents being there to provide the program to the Scouts is still a huge part of it.  Scouts won’t run without the parents being involved.  But there is the other aspect of it that Boy Scouts has over Cub Scouts in that the boys in the troop are the ones that are to be leading the program. Everyone of the scouts in this troop is here today because scouts before them have put their efforts and talents in to guiding, shaping, and running the program.  Just the same as with the parents, Scouts won’t run without the boys being involved.

This next part is for both the scouts and the parents.  As we start this new period of leadership in the troop, some of you may think that leadership is a task that you would never do, because you are too busy, think you don’t have the talents to do the job, or are already involved with other youth programs. I myself think I am too busy and don’t have the talents to do the job the way I would like to do it. I never had any intention of ever becoming a Scoutmaster, but here I am.  I’m here because I’m paying it forward.

In encourage all of you to “pay it forward.”  We hope and expect that all of us end up being good citizens and good people. And we all hope and expect that Troop 873 will provide a good solid program for all that are involved.  However both scouts and parents, we have to provide the example and step up to make this happen. We need both scouts and parents to step out of their comfort zone and consider a leadership position. And not just to fill a role, but to own that position of responsibility. Do what it takes to make this program great, the scouts that are just coming in to the troop, as well as the scouts who have yet to join over the coming years, are relying on you. Troop 873 is not ran by professionals, not ran by career scouters who have been doing it for decades, it is ran by the boys and parents who are in the troop right now.  So we need you.

Scouts, I’ll close by saying I challenge all of you to remember this when you have children in Scouting. Step in to help out, and pay it forward!

2020-06-22 Super Mario Effect

I’d like to talk about how we approach problems sometimes.  Often problems come at us and we take them on at face value.  We decide to only address the issues as they are presented to us, and sometimes we don’t’ try to look at the problem from different angles or perspectives to see if there is another way to solve things.  This is sometimes referred to as “thinking outside of the box”.  But that is a tired expression, it gets used too much I think.  So I’m going to talk about that same concept, but in a different way.  I guess you can say its an approach to the saying that itself is “thinking outside of the box”.

Sometimes you just have to find the right way of framing the learning process. How much more successful could you be if you didn’t have to worry about failure? If you reframe your challenges, it can make all the difference.

Here is an experiment.  I’ll admit, I’m not the original author of what I’m about to show you, I’ll give credit to him at the end.

Let’s say I gave you a test and it had instructions on it that you would carry out, and to do that, it had sort of buttons like this. And the instructions would say something like, “Push button 3 for 5 seconds” and then, “Push button 6 for 1 second,” then, “Push buttons 3 and 5 for 6 seconds,” and so on. And unless you carried out the instructions on page one exactly, you couldn’t see the other 32 pages of the test. You can retry page 1 as many times as you wanted to, but until you got it right you couldn’t move on.  And if you mess up in later pages of the test, you might have to come back to this page and start over again.

Super Mario Effect powerpoint

How many of you would want to take that test for an hour?  Or even for 5 minutes?

Now suppose I change the word “test” here to “game,”

And I rotated this so that instead of following the instructions top to bottom, you followed them from left to right.

And instead of arranging the 6 buttons like this, I shrunk them and moved them here

And then I gave it a cool paint job

and maybe different button styles.

And then instead of using words, I changed the tasks so you didn’t have to read them, instead you could get feedback visually on if you were doing it right by showing you something like this.

Note the output is the exact same: you have to push these buttons in a very specific manner to move on to the next page or level, as it were.

So this…, and this… are exactly the same thing.  But which test do you want to do?   One I might have to pay you for to take, and one you might pay me to take.

But by reframing problems and the learning process and focusing on the cool end goal, the fear of failure is often taken off the table, and learning just comes more naturally.

I’ll close with this thought.  Check out this cartoon. The top is what we want our problems to be.  It would be great if our problems had an easy path to resolution.

But the bottom is much more realistic.  You can look at the bottom picture as your problems being hard to accomplish because of all the things in your way.  Maybe you are riding that bike and after the first hill you crash your bike and break your elbow.  It happens, but know that that’s ok.  You can learn from it and retry your attempt. Figure out how to make it fun so that it is not a problem, but a challenge.  And then, challenge accepted.

But then something happens. Maybe it’s a really bad grade on a test or a meeting with a client that goes horribly wrong. Maybe it’s a bad breakup. Maybe we miss a wide-open shot. Some kind of green shell hits you. And so, at that first setback or sign of failure, doubt creeps in. We tell ourselves we’re not good enough or we’re not smart enough. And yet, if the bottom rectangle here is a game where now your bikes crash and you have to get your bike across to the flag, it’s not, “Oh, I hit these rocks. I’m just going to leave my bike here. I’m not good enough,” and you quit and walk away. You see that flag to the right, and you’re like, “Nah, what did I just learn?

I need to give credit to these slides to Mark Rober, a YouTuber who did this as part of a Ted talk.

2020-06-15 Butterfly

Everyone knows that a caterpillar forms a cocoon and transforms in to a butterfly.  In the process once the butterfly is ready to emerge, it opens a small hole then struggles to get out.  I read once if you cut the hole larger so the butterfly can pass through the opening easily, the butterfly emerges with problems.  The wings don’t become strong enough to allow the butterfly to fly.  And it has a body that is far too big to permit its undeveloped wings to lift it.

As it turns out, the butterfly needs the struggle to squeeze its body through the small opening. In the struggle, the wings gain strength and the body becomes smaller. Without this struggle the butterfly never develops into a beautiful insect that could fly from flower to flower. In fact, it dies quickly, never able to develop.

Sometimes you, like the butterfly, will find yourself struggling to make it through a difficult assignment or decision. What will happen if someone older steps in and does it for you? What will happen if you let someone else carry your load? If you work hard, you can emerge a stronger and better person prepared for an even brighter future.

From <>

2020-06-08 Things haven’t gone as planned

My life can be summed up in one sentence.  It didn’t go as planned, but that’s ok.

Talked about me almost moving out of Highlands Ranch before I even started scouts.  Had I done that, I never would have met anyone, been a scoutmaster, cubmaster, etc.

I don’t know about you, but my life has not gone the way I thought it would go. If it had, I’m not sure exactly where I’d be, but it would not be here—

“Life provides every opportunity to get it right.” We can start over. If we have failed, we can always try again.

You are exactly where you’re meant to be.

2020-06-01 National Creativity day

It turns out, this past Saturday was National Creativity Day. Who knew? While I think it’s terrific that we have a holiday to celebrate the universal human gift of imagination, it made me think that everyday should really be National Creativity Day.

We’ve been led to believe that for something to count as creative, it has to be a masterpiece. A painting by Picasso, a song by Beyoncé, an invention by Elon Musk. While these are all creative works, their magnitude can convince us that our own creative acts don’t matter.

The truth is, reorganizing your desk drawer in a better way is creative. So is developing a better presentation on a sales call, discovering a way to boost efficiency by 1.2% on a manufacturing line, or reframing the questions you ask during a job interview. The point is, you don’t need to have your work featured in the Louvre to be a creative person.

While I enjoy legendary works as much as the next guy, I’m even more impressed with everyday creativity. Small, daily acts that are accessible to each of us. These bite-size creative actions deliver two oversized benefits:

  1. Smaller ideas can absolutely create real value, especially when there are a lot of them.
  2. The more you practice, the better your creative skills become.

Stop worrying that you don’t stack up to DaVinci. Instead, realize that we’re all creative beings and can practice our skills on a daily basis. We’ll enjoy real momentum as small ideas start to take root, while we’re expanding our creative capacity to tackle bigger and bigger ideas over time.

We’ve probably all heard of ‘random acts of kindness.’ To get started with your own daily creativity, try this experiment: For the next seven days, see if you can do three random acts of creativity each day. Maybe you order the pepperoni under the cheese on your next pizza delivery. You might try brushing your teeth with the other hand or sitting in a different spot at the dinner table. Maybe you invert the standard agenda on your next Zoom call or try a divergent approach when sending a client email.

Easily accessible and low risk, practicing random acts of creativity will focus your mind and sharpen your skills. The approach can serve as a terrific starting point, helping to take your creative game to the next level. Plus, you may just make the world a little better while you’re at it.

In these challenging times, let’s seize the opportunity to inject some creativity into the mix. Practice random acts of creativity to build the muscle and make it a habit. Before long, every day can become your own National Creativity Day.

From <>

2020-05-11 Llamas

So this lockout has trying on all of us.  Not being able to live outside like we normally would is interesting to say the least.  We have missed out on camping, a Court of Honor, Eagle projects, and the list goes on.

Scientists are scrambling to find a cure.  Nearly every lab on the planet is working around the clock to invent a treatment or vaccine. While most take a traditional approach to medical discovery, researchers in Belgium are pushing the creative boundaries.

They are turning to a llama named Winter.

They have found antibodies in llamas that have a unique ability to help humans neutralize various viruses.

It is still in early testing with Winter and her llama friends and the treatment appears to only provide temporary defense to humans. I want to stress that nothing is proven yet, it is still being researched.  But still, the idea of thwarting the spread of this hideous virus – even for a few weeks – is excting as being able to go camping this summer.

So who would have thought to look at a llama for help?

Think of a “llama” solution as the unexpected, weird, unorthodox, oddball, creative approach to solving a problem. In most cases, you’ve probably already tried the obvious tactics. If the problem persists, give a “llama” a try. Ask yourself – what is the most bizarre idea I can come up with? What is a way to attack my challenge that is so non-traditional, most people would laugh at me for suggesting it?

Pushing your creative thinking to llama-level may be just what the doctor ordered.

2020-05-04 Perfect is not the enemy of good

Has anyone ever watched “The Good Place” If you have, you know Chidi. Chidi has a flaw that effects him in the show, what is it?

Crippling indecisiveness. He is practically incapable of making quick decisions, needing to deliberate over and over again even the smallest things.

I am facing a problem at work right now.  I have taken on a new role where I know almost nothing about, and it is not helping me be productive.  I am usually the guy who knows what he is doing and can contribute effectively.  But in the role I am in now, I feel completely lost.  It is making it hard for me to make the decisions I need to in order be productive.  I want to know more about my job before I start putting my foot in my mouth!

But I was told my boss that I need to venture out and take some risks. Do things I think might be the right direction, even if they are not exactly what I am supposed to do.  Basically he is encouraging me to take risks even if I may be completely wrong.

“Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”  And it’s better to get something done imperfectly than to do nothing perfectly.  Don’t be the person who has to evaluate every option before they make a choice to help ensure I’m making the best possible choice.

2020-03-30 First virtual Scoutmaster minute

Thank you to all of you who joined tonight’s virtual troop meeting. It was fun and gaming for some, maybe confusion and frustration for others. Maybe also an exercise in patience and learning how to use the mute button. I could tell that the format and the content didn’t quite work well for everyone, but hopefully it was still a learning experience for all. While tonight was just an online social event for the troop, it was good to see everyone come together despite not being able to meet in person. And it was more than just games, there was even a good discussion about school and how everyone is coping with online classes. Hoping our next virtual troop meeting is even better.

Times are definitely different at the moment. Just a month ago, none of us would probably have appreciated the thought of being offered a roll of toilet paper. Or spent time trying to come up with songs to sing to help wash your hands longer than a scout at summer camp. We are doing our best to cope with this new normal, while still hoping that it is not the normal for very much longer. Unfortunately they never covered this situation in my Scoutmaster training. So I’m flailing myself on what to do and how to handle things. But I’m doing my best, trying to figure it out. Just like we all are. I’m trying to figure out how do things now that are beyond my ability, and that includes “Virtual Scoutmaster” at the moment.

As you all adjust and adapt to the events in the world around us, remember the core values we live to in Scouting still apply. We still need to live the principles of the Law, “cheerful” comes to mind as one that I think is especially important right now. We need to abide by the Scout Oath, keeping yourself physically strong and mentally awake is still a thing we can all do. Doing a Good Turn Daily is something that will really help out your parents right now. Be Prepared does not mean buying out all the supplies at the store so others can’t be prepared as well. And we can even add a line to the Outdoor Code for the time being, “As an American, I will do my best to… Be six feet away from others.”

2020-03-09 What can I give

“We must change boys from a ‘what can I get’ to a ‘what can I give’ attitude.”

Why do you come to scouts?  What is the main reason you are here?  Whatever you are getting out of scouts, I commend it.  However getting without giving is not a habit we should be having.  Think about why you are here.  Think about what you are getting out of it and what you got out of it already.  Then realize that all that you have got out of scouts, are things that any scouts who has not yet achieved what you have, needs those things too.  The key to giving is simple: add value first without any expectation of receiving anything in return. Do this with enough frequency and you’ll get way more than you give.  I honestly don’t want to see any of you not putting your all in to scouting while you are here.  If you are not advancing yourself, advance someone else.  Get to know everyone, help everyone.  Adults, this works for you too in your work life.  Those who have the experience know that it’s the people who help others that advance their career.

2020-02-17 Patrol Spirit

I’m sure all of you Scouts have played team sports, so you know what teamwork means. Most football fans see a touchdown run and say, “Wow! Isn’t that guy a great runner?” Maybe he is, but if you have played football you that what really made the great run was the blockers on the line and in the secondary. Teamwork made the touchdown. not just one guy’s talents. Patrols are the same way. If you win one of our inter-patrol contests, or if you have the best campsite at a camporee, it’s not just because one guy is such a great Scout. It’s patrol teamwork. The secret of patrol teamwork is have every member do his job, whatever it is. If one Scout goofs off, the patrol suffers. If every Scout does his part, the patrol is bound to be a winner. The winning attitude is what we call patrol spirit. Is your patrol a winner? I’m not asking whether you win every contest. I’m asking: Is your patrol doing the very best that it can and is every member contributing? If your answer is no, then ask yourself: “Am I doing my very best? Do I have real patrol spirit?”

2020-01-13 Key to Scouting

(Hold up a car key)

I have here in my hand a key – a small item as you can see.  Yet it will open the door to my car, and when properly  placed  and  turned  it  will  start  the  engine.    With  this  little  key  I  can  visit  faraway  places,  see  wonderful sights, and do so many things that were impossible a generation ago.  Is it any wonder that I always carry this key with me?

(Hold up a copy of The Official Boy Scout Handbook)

Your Boy Scout Handbook is a lot like my car key.  It is a small item, yet it will open the door to Scouting and will speed you on your way to adventure.  Sure, you probably could get by without using your handbook.  I could get by without my car key, too, but I’d have to walk and it would be slow. I certainly wouldn’t get to see all those places I can reach by car. Let’s not leave our key behind as we enjoy Scouting. Use your handbook regularly.  Take it with you to meetings and on hikes and camping trips.  Let your handbook open the door for you.

2019-12-16 Learn from playing video games

What have you learned from playing video games?

When I was a kid, video games didn’t have unlimited lives.  We generally got about 3 chances at things before the game was over.  If we were lucky we would get an extra life.  Now days, how many times can you fail in a game and still move on?

If you come up to a boss figure, your first approach is to do what you know right?  How many times do you defeat a boss character on the first try?

It’s more like figuring out the best tricks to helps you get better faster. Studies show that people who play video games are faster at making real life decisions.  I didn’t have a scoutmaster minute for tonight.  My life has been busy lately.

I looked at about a dozen ideas tonight.  Each time I didn’t like it, like I failed beating the boss.

Did I win?  Well, if you get something out of this I did.  I know I learned that I even in a pinch I can come up with something.

2019-12-09 Holiday Spirit

Christmas and Hanukkah are, for the most people, the most joyful holidays of the year. The holiday parties, the exchange of gifts, and the brilliant lights of the Christmas trees make a guy glad to be alive at this season.

Sometimes we forget that these holidays are really religious festivals. It’s well to remember that the real holiday spirit is cast by the Star of Bethlehem and the Hanukkah candles, reminding us of the miracles in times past.

In the 12th point of the Scout Law we say that a Scout is reverent. That doesn’t mean that he has to go around all the time with a long face or with hands folded in prayer. It means that he does his duty to God, which includes doing things for God’s other creatures. We’ll be doing that later this month with our troop Good Turn. Now remembering that a Scout is reverent, let’s close with the Scout benediction.

2019-12-02 Raise your hands

Raise your hands as high as you can.

Now raise them 1 inch higher.  Who was able to raise them higher that last time?

When I asked the first time to raise why did you hold back?

Were you scared of what you might look like?

What does it tell you about yourself?

Does it mean that you can always do better?

I bet if you push a little harder in the things you do, you can do better.

2019-11-18 Scouting is an experience

I can stand up here and talk about all the trips we have been on, the camping we do, the community service we engage with.  I can tell you how much fun merit badges and rank advancements that happen.  I can talk about any part of the scouting program as it relates to Troop 873 that you want to know.  But I won’t, if you want to talk to me about that see me before you leave tonight.

Instead, I want to tell you about how scouting is an experience.  It’s personal for the scout.  It is a social event for all the friends that get together during meetings, or at midnight signing up kids for merit badges for summer camp. It is a family event for everyone in the house as there are plenty of events for everyone.

Scouting is different for everyone. For me not only is scouting about getting a solid foundation for my kids, but it was getting to know all the other kids, the adults.  Getting to know the community.  I love the fact that I can help these young men shape their future. I love seeing these kids learn and grow, and being a part of it with them.  I love the fact that I have a hard time going to King Soopers or Target and not running in to someone I know from scouts.   And I love the memories I have from scouts.  Even the memory I have of breaking my arm during a campout or jumping in to 53 degree water when air above the water is about the same temp.

As those of you visiting us tonight check out our troop and others, know that wherever your scouting journey takes you, you will you will be tired, get wet, get hungry, get cold. You will make mistakes and you will get frustrated. You will try to start a fire with wet wood.  You will forget your jacket on a March campout, or leave your shoes outside your tent and it will rain overnight.  Every Boy Scout in this room has a story like that am I right?   It doesn’t matter what troop you join, it is inevitable.  But through it all you will learn, you will laugh, and you will make memories. You will learn, grow, lead.  And you won’t regret any of it.  Boy Scouts will take you on an adventure of a lifetime.  That goes for the scouts in this room as well as each parent.  Don’t miss out on it.

2019-11-04 Oxygen Mask

Flight attendants always tell you that, in the event of an emergency, put your oxygen mask on first before helping others. It’s a good metaphor for life. If you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t be a good partner, friend or colleague.

What this means with regard to your career is to take care of yourself.

Be healthy.

Be happy.

Be organized.

Be knowledgeable.

Be calm.

Be content.

Often, it begins with saying “no” to others and “yes” to yourself.

Put your oxygen mask on first.

2019-09-09  So sue me

I read an article the other day about a car dealership.  The article was about how they provided terrible service in their service department, so bad in fact that they got sued a lot.  This was an article written by the law firm that represented them.  As you can imagine they had nice steady business from the car dealership.  Then all of a sudden, there was a huge drop in lawsuits.  They just stopped getting sued.  The law firm wondered why, maybe they finally started giving better service.

What turned out is that they hired a new service manager.  The car dealership still probably provided the same cruddy service, but when the law firm asked the new service manager why the drop in cases, his response was it was probably because of what the prior service manager would say whenever customers complained about bad service. He told me that the service manager would say to disgruntled customers, “So sue me.” And they often did.

“Wow,” I thought. “What do you say to the customers?” I asked. he replied, “I just tell them to get lost.”

Now that isn’t great customer service either, but lawsuits dropped dramatically under his management with no essential difference other than word choice in the operations of the service center.

I’m not advocating that you tell people to get lost.  I still think the new service manager is being rude.  But a simple choice of words that conveyed essentially the same sentiment, caused different reactions in people.  I would add that how you say it is also a huge factor.  Just something to think about as you go through your day to day.  Maybe sit back at the end of the day and consider what you said to various people and think if you had said things differently, could the outcome have been different.

2019-08-19  My fails (Court of Honor)

How many of you have failed in your life?

I try to put more in to my scoutmaster minutes for Courts of Honor.  I have done videos, (although both times I tried a video they failed – Vladimir Putin’s walk, Who Framed Roger Rabbit video)

Tonight I failed on this Scoutmaster Minute.  I tried to come up with something cool…  ….  like lasers.

I even started a SM about winning the lottery and paraplegics, and liver and onion ice cream – decided it wasn’t good enough so you will have to wait until I polish that one a bit more.  And I just couldn’t do it.

I told some scouts this weekend that I enjoy watching them fail on campouts.  Remember me saying that?  On the surface that sounds like the German word schadenfreude  – taking pleasure in other people’s misfortune.

Saying that got me thinking about this Scoutmaster minute and how I was failing.  Then I thought about some of my other failures that I decided to share.

My fails

  • (Describe my Cubmaster fail with Galen)
  • (Describe my Board of Review fail with Ryan G.)
  • I failed Sam P. this weekend promising him we had hash browns in the trailer we could use and we didn’t.
  • Another failure is a eries of bad decision making led me to breaking my elbow last year.

Sometimes I like to think of my failures as God’s way of chipping down my ego because who knows where’d I be if I didn’t keep that in check.

Good decisions come from experience

And experience comes from bad decisions

Really what I think about failure is it gives me resiliency.  I like to think that from my failure to come up with a scoutmaster minute that would cause you all to give me a standing ovation, instead I conveyed a little bit about me,

I have a lot of failures, but I don’t have many regrets.  One I still have is giving a toilet plunger to some good friends of mine as a wedding present when I was maybe 20 years old.  That is a whole nother story you can ask me about sometime.

There is more to each us than the bad decisions we make.

2019-08-05 – Forced Handicap

Here is a term you probably never heard of, or never realized it had a term, “Forced Handicap”.

Athletes train with ankle weights or in high altitude climates.  If playing a sport like golf or bowling you may get an artificial points advantage when you start to help even the playing field.

How many of you have procrastinated on an assignment at school only to cram it in last minute?  You had plenty of time to work on it, but yet you waited until you had limited resources (time) to work on it.  Were you able to pull it off?

Teams often perform at their best when coming from behind, with just a few minutes left on the clock.

Being in a situation where you have limited resources sometimes brings out the best in you.  When I took over as Cubmaster many years ago in Pack 872, I had a very limiting resource.  The desire to get up in front of people and kids and be the emcee.  I didn’t want to be the face of the pack.  That was very limiting!  But I took the reigns and pressed on not knowing what I could achieve.

You tonight may have had limited resources in your patrols as you tried to figure out things you were supposed to do.  Did it stop you?  Do you think you have a good plan for accomplishing the things you need to for your patrols?  Next week is patrol Olympics.  That success of that event will leverage highly on you all, even if you have limited resources to plan it.  How are you going to handle that?

2019-05-06 Why are you in scouting?

You know, there are more than a million Scouts in our country. Ever wonder how many of them will stay in Scouting and climb to the top?

Tell me, why are you in Scouting? So many boys enter Scouting for just one reason—to have fun. If you think that’s the only reason you’re in Scouting, believe me, there are other good reasons, too. Sure Scouting is fun. But a lot of other things are fun, too.

If you’re just looking for fun, you can play all kinds of indoor and outdoor games, go to the movies, watch television—or a thousand other things.

Scouting must be more than just fun for you. It must be a way of life, a law and an oath to which you are loyal.

Unless you try to live Scouting, you’ll find that other kinds of fun are easier and you’ll quit.

The loyal Scout is dedicated to the Scout Oath and the 12 points of the Scout Law. He has a deeper reason for sticking than just having fun. He sees the importance of learning the Scout skills, of developing himself so that he can be prepared to face anything that comes. He wants to grow to be a real man. That’s why he’s loyal. That’s why he sticks with it.

I hope you won’t ever quit until you’re up before a court of honor someday to get your Eagle Scout badge. That will be one of the biggest days of your whole life—and mine too.

2019-04-15 Two kinds of people (Court of Honor)

Those who make your life easier — and those who make it harder.

Those who leave you feeling up — and those who leave you feeling down.

Cheese on their burgers, no cheese

Coffee drinkers, tea drinkers

Those who get tax refunds, those who still need to pay more.

Camp Alexander – Those who like the smell of Axe bombs, and those who don’t.

Those who listen when others are talking — and those who wait when others are talking.

THREE kinds of people in the world: those good at math and those who are not.

The truth is you need both of all of these.  Who we are meant to be can be influenced by the people we interact with, the places we go and the experiences we have. All combine to teach us the lesson.

Sometimes you are all those 2 kinds of people as you seek balance in your lives.

One of the greatest challenges in developing as a leader is to understand how to use people’s differences as a tool in leadership. It’s ok for someone else to be different than you.  In fact that is a very good thing.

My challenge to you tonight isn’t to figure out which one of the two people you are in all things I brought up, but how are you going to use the knowledge that there are two kinds of people in just about everything to be a better you.

2 Kinds of People

2019-04-08 Was Humpty Dumpty an egg?

Some have said the nursery rhyme was intended as a riddle. The answer to the riddle, of course, is “an egg”—something that, if it rolled off a wall, could not be mended by any number of people.  There are other theories about what Humpty Dumpty was about.  I’ve read that it actually referred to a cannon at a famous battle.  Another popular theory is that Humpty Dumpty represented King Richard III.

A book by Lewis Carrol called ‘Through the Looking-Glass’ (sequel to Allice in Wonderland) is the first time he was depicted as an egg.

The forbidden fruit mentioned in the Book of Genesis is never identified as an apple.

Also nowhere in the bible does it say there were three wise men.

The fourth Wiseman brought a fruitcake, so that is why no one remembers him.

My point is, question things.  Be inquisitive.  Research for yourself. When you see a story on social media, especially if it is presented as a meme, do your research before you believe it.  And especially before you comment on it.  And by research I don’t mean find one other link that supports your story.  Try hard to find the opposing views and see where they get their information.

2019-04-01 13th point of the scout law

What are the 12 points of the Scout Law?  Fast!  Say them as I point to you.  Go.

Rapid fire through the 12 points pointing at kids and then point at the 13th kid.  They will freeze.  Say you are going to try again.  When they freeze the next time talk about everyone should have a 13th point of the law for themselves. 

I think there are lots of possibilities.  My 13th point is often A Scout is Respectful.  Meaning you don’t talk back to your parents, you don’t mess around when others are talking.

Maybe A Scout Owns It meaning they take ownership of the things they do to make it better).  Then ask them to think about it for a bit and fire through again once or twice.

  • Hungry
  • Humble
  • Respectful
  • Tolerant
  • Resourceful (MacGyver)
  • “Not a fool”
  • Diligent
  • Punctual
  • Hydrated!

2019-03-18 Attitude of Gratitude

What is gratitude – thankful?  Yes.  I would say it is more than just saying Thank you.

More than that.  I like to think that the result of gratitude is saying thank you. Or showing gratitude is saying thank you.

Appreciating life as it is and recognizing what has enabled it to be that way.  It is a focus on the current moment you are in, and realizing why you are here.

What is gratitude?  The feeling you get for your parents maybe when they bring you to scouts, or to a friend’s house.  It is knowing that you appreciate what your patrol leaders, SPL/ASPL, or the adults in the room are doing to make tonight and scouts possible.  Maybe that untold feeling you have inside for your friends for making tonight fun, assuming you had fun tonight.  You can even feel gratitude towards yourself.  Maybe you have been working hard in school, or achieving that next rank in scouts.  And you feel gratitude towards yourself for getting yourself there.

The result of that gratitude is saying thank you to all those people.

If you can practice and realize more gratitude in your life, you may do a lot for being able to handle the stressors in your life.  Appreciating the life you have can be hard when you are experiencing stress.  It is difficult to see the good things in life when you are going through something tough.  Sometimes you have to work to notice the things that are going good.

This is a way to practice gratitude (not the saying thank you part).

At the end of each day either think about or even write down all the things you are thankful for.  Maybe there are big things, you are thankful for a present you got.  Or maybe you got to go out to eat to a restaurant you wanted to go to. Maybe someone made you a cup of coffee. Maybe you got a compliment on the shoes you were wearing.  If you write it down, look at your list.  You might be amazed at how many things happened in the day to be grateful for.  Do it every day. The more you do it the more you will realize all the good things that people do for you, and it will be easier to recognize.  You might not go up to everyone and say thank you.  There are people responsible for tonight’s meeting that you may never meet.  The school staff, janitors, all the people at BSA that made scouting possible, (like the program, the books, the uniform, the people that built the camps you go on)  I can promise you though that if you practice recognizing what you can be grateful for in your life, gratitude will become your attitude.

2019-03-11 To-Don’t list

Who here keeps a to-do list to track the things they need to do?  How many have more than one?  I do.  I have a to-do list for scouts, for work, for home, for my yard work.  I need an item on my to-do list to find all my to-do lists.  And keeping all these to-do lists is compounded by the fact I have a phone!  Now I can update my to-do lists from anywhere. No longer do I have to wait until I get home and pull out my notebook to add something to the list.  I can even command a little black device in my house to add things to my to-do list just by speaking to it.  Alexa, please add “come up with a decent scoutmaster’s minute” to my to-do list.  Still not sure how smart this idea is but I have set it up so that my wife can electronically add things to my to-do list.

Here is a suggestion though to maybe shorten your to-do lists.  Maybe come up with a to-don’t list.  What does that mean.  It means think of things you are going to stop doing.  Maybe stop things like:

To-don’t: Mindlessly engaging with screens. We live in a society that it can be argued that you have to have a screen in your life in some way.  Homework, communication, etc.  I make a living looking at a screen.  But maybe by saying you won’t mindlessly engage with a screen means you only get on a screen when you have a specific need or plan to be on one.  You don’t get in front of a screen just to watch youtube videos when your mom is telling you to do your homework and you are telling her you are doing it.  Just maybe.

To-don’t: Helping everyone that asks.  This one is counter-intuitive for me.  I am a guy who rarely says no when people ask me for help.  I truly enjoy helping people.  But perhaps I need to consider saying no every once in a while.  I need to say no when someone asks me to help them with something I have no idea what they are asking.  I need to not spend time researching things for others just because they asked me, let them research it themselves maybe.  In a tactful way of course.  (Ever heard of Let Me Google That For  That site is doing this without a lot of tact.

To-don’t: Stop gossiping about your friends, or making assumptions about them when you don’t have all the information.  We all human, we all have things going on in our lives.  Everyone is struggling.  You can never truly be in someone else’s shoes 100%.

I don’t know, there are many other possibilities.  I’m adding “Make a to-don’t list” to my to-do list though.

2019-03-04 Twenty Dollars

Hold up a $20 bill and ask “Who would like this $20 bill?”

As hands go up, “Girst, let me do this.”

Proceed to crumple the 20 dollar note up. Then ask. “Who still wants it?”

“Well, what if I do this?” Drop it on the ground and start to grind it into the floor with your shoe. Pick it up, now crumpled and dirty. “Now, who still wants it?”

Hands will still go into the air.

“My friends, you have all learned a very valuable lesson. No matter what I did to the money, you still wanted it because it did not decrease in value. It was still worth $20. Many times in our lives, we are dropped, crumpled, and ground into the dirt by the decisions we make and the circumstances that come our way. We feel as though we are worthless; but no matter what happened or what will happen, you will never lose your value. Dirty or clean, crumpled or finely creased, you are still priceless to those who love you. The worth of our lives comes, not in what we do or who we know, but by …WHO WE ARE.

You are special – don’t ever forget it.”

2019-02-11 Metrics that Matter

We all have our ideas of what we think matters most in life?  And those things change from time to time, from day to day, even moment to moment sometime.  We often measure ourselves on things like how much homework we are getting done, or how many likes we are getting on our social media posts.  Does anyone measure themselves on how they are doing in rank advancement?  Or how much they help out around the house?

These are all metrics essentially.  And it’s easy to keep up on some metrics. It’s hard to keep up on others.  Does not keeping up on things sometimes get you down?

Despite incredible advances in technology and a booming economy, it seems our overall happiness and wellbeing has plummeted.

Makes me wonder… are we measuring the right things?

Anyone know what GDP means?  I ask that in order to make a comparison to the tiny country of Bhutan. Located high in the Himalayans between China and India, these 750,000 citizens beat to their own drum. Their key metric isn’t coal production or lumber output, but rather GNH. That’s right – Gross Domestic Happiness. According to the official governmental website:

“Gross National Happiness, or GNH, is a holistic and sustainable approach to development, which balances material and non-material values with the conviction that humans want to search for happiness. The objective of GNH is to achieve a balanced development in all the facets of life that are essential for our happiness.”

They have modern technology, internet and cell phones, but they also value community, health, psychological well-being, time use, cultural resilience, and environment. They balance their time with fun and work.  Their balanced approach to measurement has the country focused on more than just the financial bottom line.

There is a lot of fascinating things to read about with Bhutan.  I encourage you to look it up.  And consider what metrics matter to you.  Is it happiness?    And when your happiness levels are high, you elevate those around you as well. Win-win.

2018-01-14  Things are going great!

Sometimes things go great.  Everything falls in to place and life is grand. We have all been there.  But sometimes things don’t always go as planned.  Or go the way you think they should. Things go wrong sometimes.  And when they do it can be hard to cope with what is going on.  Sometimes things get broken and they don’t get put back together the way they should.  Sometimes things break in our lives and they stay broken. We have all probably had those experiences as well.

What I want to say is when things get tough and don’t go as you want them to, know that you can get through the bad times by knowing good times will come again, you just need to keep looking for them.  Know that no matter how hard things get, you always have people that love you.  You have parents, you have friends, you have everyone here tonight in scouts.  You always have someone you can turn to, to talk with, get support from. Life is precious. Your lives are precious. Don’t ever think differently. If things are ever going so bad for you that you think no one can help, that is when your people are there for you the most. For most of you this Scoutmaster minute may seem a little off or depressing. But it needs to be said. If I am striking a personal cord with any of you, please reach out to me. I’m here for you.

2018-01-07 Skip the Resolution; Go With a New Year’s Theme instead

The last week of December marks the creation of uncountable New Year’s resolutions. By the end of next month, however, the vast majority will be broken. So many of us resolve to change, only to have those commitments meet an untimely death. A single, small temptation can lead us astray, causing us to conclude that our resolutions are anything but resolute. Better luck next year, we tell ourselves, as we regress to our old ways.

A key problem with resolutions is their all-or-nothing nature. These immovable rules suggest that any deviance from perfection is an act of total destruction. Since few of us are perfect, we slip once and then terminate our commitment to change. To combat this trap and enjoy meaningful progress, I suggest you set a New Year’s theme instead.

Your theme isn’t a rigid, binary, unrealistic promise but rather a direction that can be sustained over the next 12 months. Last year, my theme was Health. There were moments that I ate peanut M&Ms, to be sure, but I also managed to read several books on the subject, listen to dozens of podcasts, drop 20 pounds, and reduce my lipid profile by 40%. If it was a weight loss resolution, I’d likely given up after the first bite of a hot pepperoni pizza (my weakness). Since it was a theme, however, I realized that each decision on each day was a guilt-free, independent opportunity to align with my broader objective.

This year, my theme is learning. I’m breaking it down into three learning areas: performance and storytelling, innovation and corporate growth, and most importantly, parenting. I’ve then broken each learning area into actionable steps (read certain books, practice certain skills, align with certain mentors) so that my year will end up productive despite the inevitable missteps I’ll take.

Your theme could be a personal one such as compassion, kindness, better listening, or helping others. Or your theme may be a pragmatic business skill such as finance, PowerPoint mastery, or enhanced communication. Your theme may center on a passion or hobby such as music, art, or fly-fishing. Simply put, a single theme for the year has a far better probability of delivering the progress you seek compared to those vapid resolutions that most of us quickly dismiss.

Once your theme is established, brainstorm rituals, reinforcements, and rewards to keep your theme front and center. Share it widely, as your public pronouncement creates its own accountability mechanism. Allow your theme to seep into daily life, and mastery will soon follow.

Here’s to your tremendous success in the New Year, and to hoping your annual theme serves as a powerful guidepost along the journey.

2018-12-17 Vladimir Putin’s walk (Court of Honor)

We are what we repeatedly do; excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.

– Aristotle

As most of you know, I broke my elbow about 4 months ago during an outing.  While it was healing, someone told me I walked like Vladimir Putin, the president of the Russian Federation.  That intrigued me so I looked in to it.

I’d like to show a video of him.  Now while I broke my left arm, I’d like you to pay particular attention to his right arm.

What did you notice?

From my research, it seems Putin has never talked about his arm swing.  But someone did a study on the matter and published it a medical journal. Their hypothesis was that Putin was once a long time member of the Soviet Union security agency, the KGB. 1975 to 1991.  While a member of the KGB, he was given specific training on how to hold his weapon.  So the theory goes that it was so grilled in to him during training, he just always now walks like that.  I guess it could be that he thinks it looks cool.  Well, the study went on to find that other Russians who had gone through the same training had similar ways of walking.

He was in the KGB for approximately 16 years.  And now it is about 27 years later, and he still walks without swinging his right arm like most people do.  Can you imagine having something like that ingrained so deeply in you that it affects you for the rest of your life?

Let’s tie this in your lives.  What do you do so often that it becomes ingrained in you like that?

What kinds of things do you want to be so ingrained in you that you will be like that someday?  What good habits do you want to continue?  What bad habits do you have now that you want to stop?

Why do you think we say the Scout Oath, Law, and Outdoor Code at every meeting?

It has been said that those who want to start or stop a particular habit that for reasons that are aligned with their personal values will change their behavior faster than people who are doing it for external reasons such as pressure from others.

Second, you don’t have to be perfect. Making a mistake once or twice has no measurable impact on your long-term habits.

2018-12-10 Be careful of what you do online

How many of you have smart phones?

How many TVs do you have in your home?

Your parents had it different.  Parents, who had a single b&w TV in their house growing up?

Who had corded phones in their house?

You guys have it different.  You have instant access to information, to communication, to your family and friends.  It is way different than what your parents had right?

Well, along with that, you have added responsibility.

Kylar Murray is a Heisman Trophy Winner. Arguably the most prestigious award in college football.  Anyone know why he is in the news recently?

He is 21 years old now, but when he was 15 years old he made some tweets that were not so nice. Those tweets came to light when he became a Heisman Trophy Winner.  6 years ago he made those tweets.  And now it is affecting his life.  When you do things online, they are permanent.

These are things your parents didn’t have to worry about.  Be careful of what you say online. Is there anything you say that you might have to apologize for later?  Maybe after winning a Heisman Trophy.  But also maybe at a job interview?

2018-12-03 The Ferris Bueller Trap

As individuals in the developed world, we each make around 30,000 decisions per day. Ranging from small choices such as which hand to use when grabbing a napkin, to much larger ones such as how to draft a proposal to win that big new client, the choices we make dictate the outcomes we enjoy. Each of our lives is comprised of the thousands of decisions weve made over the years, with our success being determined by the combination of these selections. Simply put, we are what we choose.

Unfortunately, there are too many traps that lead our decision-making astray. Conscious and unconscious biases can lure us into making unproductive – or even destructive – choices. Even a small percentage of improvement in overall choices can yield gigantic gains in our lives. To do this, he’s uncovered a number of traps and their corresponding solutions.

We all remember the delightful movie in which Bueller threw caution to the wind and followed his every impulse, regardless of the consequences. He had the day of his life to be sure, but presumably the aftermath wasnt nearly as pleasant. To a degree, we all have an inner Ferris Bueller. That untamable spirit who wants to savor every moment and live on the edge.

In contrast to freewheeling Ferris, we also have an inner Dr. Spock: the pointy-eared, uber-logical Star Trek character with impeccable reasoning but no sense of humor. Given any choice, Bueller would take the impulsive, pleasure-seeking route while Spock would take the safer, yet perhaps overly conservative and less-fun option.

Back to decision-making, we can easily fall victim to making bad choices when we over-emphasize Bueller over Spock, or vice versa. Like the mythical shoulder angel and shoulder devil whispering in our ears, these two contrasting voices must be balanced when making our most important decisions. Prioritize one over the other, and you find yourself falling victim to the trap.

The next time you face a decision – big or small – first ask what the living large Ferris Bueller would do. Next, consider the logic and reason of the encyclopedic yet robotic Dr. Spock. When you carefully consider each perspective and look for balance, you end up making better choices and in turn, living a better life.

While I’m not sure who would win in a boxing match, both can help you win in your own endeavors. Embrace the powerful perspectives of both characters in order to find balance and achieve better results.

Anything less would be illogical.

2018-11-12 Best things start with S

The best things in life start with the letter S.

  • Sunshine
  • Sleep
  • Singing
  • Sprinkles
  • Spizza
  • Sdonuts
  • Stacos
  • Scouts!

As you are looking to join a boy scout troop, I encourage you to do your homework.  Not all Troops are the same.  Not only are the scouts different, but the leadership, the program, how things are ran, the communication, etc.  But regardless of where you go, the scouting program is one of the best things in life.  It will set you up with skills that you just can’t get in other ways.  So while I’m partial to Troop 873 for obvious reasons, I encourage you to join somewhere.

2018-11-05 Junk Food

You  all  know  what  junk  food  is  –  stuff  like  potato  chips,  soda  pop  and  candy.    Probably  you’ve  heard people say it’s not good for you.

I don’t think that’s really true.  Even junk food has some food value.  But it is true that a steady diet of junk food is not good because you don’t get a balanced diet of vitamins, minerals and protein that you need to grow.

We  have  what  you  might  call  junk  food  in  troop  meetings.    They’re  the  games  we  play  just  for  fun  –  not learn any special skill but just because we enjoy them.  There’s not a thing wrong with “junk food” games, and I hope you enjoy them as much as most of you do real junk food.

But they’re not all of Scouting.  In our troop activities we try to give you a balanced diet of Scouting, with some instruction skills and plenty of chances to advance in rank and to learn useful things.

Take advantage of those chances.  Don’t just enjoy the junk food and leave the rest of the meal.

2018-10-15 Value your conscience

It may seem funny to say so, but you’re very lucky that is hurts when you hit your finger with a hammer.  If it didn’t hurt you could be in big trouble.

It’s a rarity when a person can’t feel pain, but it does happen.  There is a girl in the UK I read about that can’t feel pain.  For some reason, her nerves, did not signal pain to her brain.

If you think she was lucky, think again.  The problem could cost her her life.

Imagine being seriously burned by a red-hot oven door, and not knowing it until being pulled away by someone.

So  it  is  clear  that  physical  pain  can  save  us  from  mortal  danger.

How about emotional pain?  It never feels good.  But it has happened to all of us at some level.  It helps us grow in our relationships, makes us stronger on the inside.

But  there  is  another  kind  of  pain,  too, and all of us here can feel it.

It’s a spiritual or moral pain, and it’s called conscience.  The conscience is one of our greatest gifts.  Without our conscience, we would not know enough to keep from getting burned in even more serious ways than that English girl.

So as the old saying goes, “Let your conscience be your guide. ” It will help you to know whether you are following the Scout Oath and Law.  You have no better friend that your conscience.

2018-10-01 YaGoddaWanna

What’s the magic word?  Please, Thank you, Abracabra?

Have you ever heard the magic word “YaGoddaWanna”?

It’s a word that has magic abilities really.  When you understand the meaning of the word, it unleashes immense strength and abilities; it makes your mind more clear; it makes your imagination run wild with ideas.

It helps you accomplish great things really.

To earn good grades, you gotta wanna earn them. To become an Eagle Scout, ya godda wanna be one. The main reason people don’t succeed at something is because they don’t really want it bad enough.

2018-09-17 A wise man once said nothing

There are times when the best reply is no reply. Silence can be an answer in and of itself. Not every rude comment, snide remark, or sarcastic question deserves a response. In fact, very few of them do. Don’t feel obligated to respond to someone simply because they want a response or are trying to push your buttons.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not talking about being rude to people or being aloof. I am talking about being wise and considering your words and your response. If your response will not help the situation, why reply? There is an old proverb that states, the wise man does not argue with a fool. This is good to remember.

I am not much into debates, petty arguments, or trading insults. In fact, as a rule, I am not going to waste time on such things. Although there are times when someone does need to be put in their place, these times are not every time someone opens their mouth or says something incorrect.

Say what needs to be said, don’t say what doesn’t need to be said, and be wise enough to know the difference

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2018-08-20 It’s not how much you know, it’s about how much you care (Court of Honor)

Who thought that was rude of me?  Coming up here while on the phone like that?  Here I am supposed to be focused on delivering mind shattering words of wisdom and instead I’m completely focused in my own world, ignoring all of you.  Have you ever experienced something like this before?  Has anyone ever been guilty of this before?  I know I have.

There is quote that has been attributed to many people over the years, including President Roosevelt.  So not sure exactly who said it, but goes like this, “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.”

Your boss can know everything about a particular project, but do you really want to ask him if you don’t think he or she cares about the success of a project?  Your teacher can know everything about a subject, but do you listen in class if you don’t think he or she cares if you succeed as a student?

I can know all the amazing things in the universe yet when I stand here to deliver my scoutmaster minute, if I don’t show that I care, are you going to believe a word I say?

If you have ever had a one-sided conversation you probably have experienced the feeling that the other person really didn’t care about you, they cared more about telling you about themselves and what has happened or is happening to them now. No matter what topic you bring up, instead of listening and asking questions, they immediately try and talk about a similar situation in their own life, or they try to center the discussion back on to their own story.  Makes you roll your eyes a bit doesn’t it?  Not saying talking about similar experiences is a bad thing, but when it is the only thing you talk about, it becomes annoying to others.

Taking the quote a step farther, I have heard it said that “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care about you.”  If you want people to care about you and what you have to say, care about them.  So the next time you find yourself taking with someone or a group of people, try committing to listening, asking questions, being curious enough to show that you really do care, and that you care about them personally.  Don’t get distracted by technology and other interruptions.

If we take the focus off ourselves and place it on other people and it will do wonders.  Try it and see.,253742?

2018-08-06 Back it up!

Hold up a ten or twenty dollar bill for all to see, and ask the Scouts what it is, what it’s worth, and why is it worth so much.

– The bill is really just a piece of paper. It has no value. But, it has been created and certified by the U.S. Government to be worth ten (or twenty) dollars and can be exchanged for ten (or twenty) dollars worth of goods or services. It is Backed Up by the strength of our government. Without that power and trust backing it up, the bill would be worthless.

Hold up a First Class or higher badge of rank.

– Look at this patch. It’s just a piece of fabric and by itself hardly worth much. But, it’s valuable because we know it represents years of learning, leading, and serving. It is backed up by the efforts and commitment made by the young man that wears it.

– When you receive your own patch like this, you will know that the patch itself is not that important. How you back it up is the important part!

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2018-07-16 Scientist and the frog

There was a scientist, who once started experimenting with a live frog on a dissection tray.

He first cut off one front leg of the frog and yelled “jump”.. obviously terrified with a leg amputated, the frog jumped to save himself..

He grab hold of the frog again and cut off another front leg and yelled “jump”… The frog jumped with all his might with two strong hind leg.

The scientist again grab hold of the frog and now cut off one of its hind leg.. and again yelled “jump!” The frog with a lot of difficulty tried jumping with one leg.

Now the scientist chopped off the last leg.. and yelled.. “Jump!” ..the frog didn’t move.. He called a little louder, “Jump!!” the frog didn’t move.. he yet again shouted with all his might “JUMP!” But the frog didn’t move a bit.

The scientist was very happy that his experiment was successful.. he scribbled the inference from the experiments in his diary which read.. “a frog goes deaf when all its 4 legs are chopped off”

You can do all the hard work, but that doesn’t always lead to the right results.  You have to use your brains to understand what is actually going on!

2018-07-09 Imagine you had $86,400

You have $86,400 in your bank account and someone stole $10 from you. Would you be upset and throw all of the $86,390 away in hopes of getting back at that person who took your $10? Or move on and live? Right, move on and live.

See, we have 86,400 seconds in every day so don’t let someone’s negative 10 seconds ruin the rest of the 86,390. Don’t sweat the small stuff, life is bigger than that.

You must live in the present on today’s deposits. Invest it so as to get from it the utmost in health, happiness and success!

The clock is running!! Make the most of today.

2018-07-02 Archery

Who did archery at summer camp?  Any camp?  Or ever done archery?

If you shoot six arrows at the target how many do you think will hit the bull’s-eye? Before you answer; an archer shooting in Olympic-level competition gets about 70-80% of their arrows in the bull’s-eye.

Where do you aim when you shoot your arrows?  Upper right hand corner of the target? The third circle in the target? Or the bull’s-eye?

Of course you are going to aim at the bull’s-eye on the target! And you will keep aiming at the bull’s-eye whether your arrows hit it or not, right?

You all have goals you are shooting for right?  What are some of your goals?  By a show of hands how many of you are aimed at becoming an Eagle Scout?

I saw a lot of the younger Scouts hands go straight up, you older Scouts were a little slower. My guess is that you older Scouts are a little doubtful if you can make it, because you haven’t hit the bull’s-eye with every arrow.

Maybe you are discouraged because you aimed at some goals and missed. As you get older experience may lead you to think since you can’t really hit the bull’s-eye very often anyway,  it’s not worth aiming.

Aiming is important in archery, and focus is important in life. We can all too easily talk ourselves out of having aspirations or goals because we doubt that we’ll be able to achieve them.

Don’t give up, don’t lower your sights, keep aiming at the bull’s-eye!

2018-06-11 – Stick out your tongue and touch your nose

Everyone stand up! Parents also! Now I want to see how many of you can stick out your tongues and touch your noses.

Most will try to touch their tongues to their noses. It is a very funny sight. After about 30 seconds to a minute, intervene.

You are doing it the hard way. I’ll show you the easy way.

Stick out your tongue and simultaneously touch your nose with yourfinger.

See, you were all doing it the hard way!  Sometimes it take creative thinking to solve a problem!

2018-05-14 – Be Arrogant

What would you think if I gave you the advice that you should be arrogant?

Do you think that is good advice?  What does arrogance mean to you?  Sounds like bad advice right?

Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying you should go out and act condescending to everyone. (Yo, I am smaaart, and all of you are worthless!!!). No, here is what I mean.

Who has heard the saying before, “if you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re probably right”?

It doesn’t mean that if you tell everyone you can do better or tell everyone you can’t, you’re right does it?  That’s what everyone thinks initially about being arrogant.

When you believe you can do something, you aim higher, and you gain confidence in yourself to get things done.   Often times the number one reason people don’t succeed is because they lack the belief in themselves.  I don’t mean that if you think you can shoot baskets better than an NBA player that means it will happen.  No, of course not.  But if you believe that you can be a good leader, or believe that you can do better in school, what happens is you start striving for that.  You are setting yourself an internal goal.  You are being arrogant internally.

And your belief will be one of the most decisive parameters in your achieving success.

So what I’m saying is be arrogant internally.  Think to yourself, yeah, I can do that.  And yeah, I can even do it better than the next guy.  Create that inner drive to do the things you want to do better than others, and believe you can do it better than others.  Just be sure to know the balance of internal arrogance and external.  You don’t want to go around telling everyone you can do it better than everyone else.  But believe inside you can do it better and it will more than likely start happening that way.

I bring this up because we are starting a new PLC term in July.  You want your PLC to believe they can effectively lead the troop right?  And you want them to be good at right?  You want them to have some arrogance in what they think they can accomplish without acting arrogant about it.

2018-05-07 – Don’t be just a taker or just a giver

Tonight was about giving back.  But I wanted to take a moment to talk about that.

There are those that just take, and those that just give.  And there are even those that believe that just because…they should get.  That last one is called entitlement by the way, your parents may have used that word from time to time at your house, I don’t know.

Life doesn’t work like that.

Don’t be just a taker or just a giver.  And don’t be the one that expects to get just because.

Be the person that finds balance among it all.  Give all you can in life.  Whether it be with your time or your talents.  And when you do what you will get back is amazing.  You will get success, you will get friends, you will get respect.  Those are the things you want to take, and that is what makes all the giving worth it.

2018-04-16 – Bumping the lamp (Court of Honor)

How many of you have seen the movie “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”?  Now I know many of you were not alive in 1988 when it came out.  It was a breakthrough movie at the time it came out as it was the first full-length movie to combine animation and live-action scenes throughout the entire movie.

With the technology we have today it is hard to appreciate how technologically advanced the movie was at the time.

There is a particular scene in the movie I want to show where the private investigator of the move, Eddie Valiant, drags Roger Rabbit around the room. As he does so, he hits his head on the lamp multiple times, causing it to swing around the room casting waves of shadows and light as it does so.

Link to video

The story I read about this scene looks like this.  Originally it didn’t have the swinging lamp gag.  However after the director watched the scene with the rough animation he decided that it would be funnier if they had Eddie continually bang his head on the lamp.

So the scene was reshot with the lamp gag added. The animators had to re-draw all the frames that had Roger in them and account for the dynamically shifting light. Roger had to be lit and shaded to match the lamp and then the appropriate shadows from Roger in the room added as well.  A tremendously arduous and detailed task.

As the story goes, the incredible attention to detail when drawing the shadows is something that the animators added of their own accord. It is believed that no one would have noticed if Roger’s dynamic shadow wasn’t perfectly in sync with the lamp, and that this extra detail was almost superfluous. This was long before computer animation was mainstream, audiences had no expectations for this level of realism. What compelled the Disney animators to pay special attention to something that would barely be consciously noticed?

So Disney uses this story as an example of how their animators go the extra mile when paying attention to details. Details that the audience might not notice. Details that if left out would not have affected box office revenues one bit.

So even though it is likely no one would notice, they did it anyways.

“Bumping the lamp” is just an expression that is used to explain that you care a lot about the things that you create and that you are prepared to go to great lengths to do it right, even though the reward for it will likely be that no one notices.

In the work we do whether it be in school, scouts, or work, there will always be small details and things that have room for improvement. But how do you decide which details matter? When you work on the small details is it because you think others will notice it and appreciate it?  Should we only pay attention to the details when it has a measurable and significant effect?

No. You do it for yourself. Because it’s who you are.  My dad taught me that if something is worth doing, it is worth doing it right.  So as you go through life, find the opportunities where you can “bump the lamp”.

2008-04-09 – Road test yourself

If you want to test out a new car design, what is better, to test on a smooth, flat road or test it in multiple conditions?  Did you know that car manufacturers try out their new models on some of the worst roads in the world? They can’t find any ordinary roads that are bad enough for the purpose, so they build special tracks with ruts, bumps, and potholes that are incredibly bad.

Now why do they do that, do you suppose? That’s right, they want to give their cars the toughest possible test so that they can learn about the weak spots. The idea is that they will fix the weak spots before the cars go on sale.

Are you like a new car model that never was tested? Are you cheerful when the going is easy but a grumbler and griper when there is trouble? Are you like a shiny new car that falls to pieces when it gets a tough road test? Or have you road tested yourself and learned from the road bumps and potholes in life and can now handle them better?

In a way, Scouting is like a road test.  We challenge ourselves with rugged backpacking trips and other adventures to see whether or not we can take it. As Scouts we like to find out what our limits are, and if we find weak spots, we try to correct them. That way, we’ll be ready for life’s bumps and potholes. Then people will say of us, “Those guys can take it”

2018-04-02 The Batman Effect

What would you do if you were Batman?

According to a 2016 study researchers did a study on 4 and 6-year-old children. They assigned all of the children a boring task on a computer.

The children were told to work as long and as hard as they could—and they were warned the task would be boring. But, they were also told they could take a break whenever they wanted to play a fun game on a tablet.

The children were divided into three groups:

Group 1) Researchers instructed them to periodically ask themselves, “Am I working hard?”

Group 2)  Researchers instructed them to refer to themselves in the third person. They periodically asked themselves, “Is ______ working hard?” (they filled in the blank with their own names).

Group 3) – Researchers instructed them to pretend they were a hard working character like Batman or Dora the Explorer. They were given a prop, like a cape, to remind themselves to act like their character. Then, they were told to periodically ask themselves if their character was working hard, such as, “Is Batman working hard?”

The children who referred to themselves in the first-person took the most breaks and struggled to get through the task.

The children who referred to themselves in the third person did a little better—most likely because they were able to separate themselves from their emotions by referring to themselves in the third person.

The third group performed the best. Researchers suspect taking on the characteristics of a hard-working character gave them confidence that they could keep going. They were almost unstoppable.

So, do you think if you were in a tough situation, could you imagine yourself as Superman?  Or how about someone real, like Thomas Edison, Einstein, or Elon Musk?  How about a sports figure like Peyton Manning?  Maybe Oprah is your gig.

Brain science tells us that when you put yourself in a new role, boundaries you previously had in your mind can melt away.  Just a simple shift in mindset can yield better results.

So next time things are tough for you, embrace your inner batman.

2018-03-12 – You don’t type alone

It is estimated that there are about 6 billion text messages sent every day.  There are about 7 billion people on earth.

We text the equivalent of the complete works of Shakespeare every day.  18,000 times!  And that is just texting, does not include keyboard typing.

They also say that E is the most common letter in any language, but not the most commonly typed key on a keyboard.  Any guesses?  The spacebar.

If you assume that about 350 million people are typing about 10-15k keystrokes a day and add that to the number of people texting, you can do so math to figure out that at any given second here on earth, the space bar is being pressed 6 million times.  It’s been timed, pressing the space bar takes about 1/6th of a second.  So what that means is when you press the spacebar on your keyboard or phone, then about 600,000 other people also pressed the space bar at the EXACT same time as you.

So, if you ever feel alone, just give yourself some space.  (haha) and know that over a half a million people are doing the exact same thing.

And if you ever feel you need help with those problems, know that out of those half million people, there are an amazing amount of people who are right here living life with you.  And those people want desperately to help you.  They might be reaching out to you because they see you need help.  Don’t build walls and block them out when that happens.  Or don’t be afraid to reach out to them.  I guarantee each and every one of you has enough love surrounding you there is no shortage of people that want to genuinely help you.

You Don’t Type Alone.

2018-03-05 – A scout is clean

Scouts, imagine these cups being cooking pots.  Which would you rather have your food cooked in?

Neither one is not a bad answer. We wouldn’t have much confidence in a patrol cook who didn’t have his pots shiny both inside and out. But if we had to make a choice, we would tell the cook to use the pot that’s clean on the inside. The same applies to people.

A Scout of course, should be clean inside and out. It’s one of the points of the Scout Law after all.  Most people keep themselves clean on the outside. Water, soap, and a toothbrush takes care of the outside.

But what do I mean by keeping clean on the inside? Could mean keeping our minds and our language clean.  It can also mean keeping your body healthy.  I would argue that it is more important to you that your inside is clean than the outside.

Part of the Scout Oath, “morally straight” means to live your life with honesty, to be clean in your speech and actions, and to be a person of strong character.

It takes your will and determination to keep the inside clean. You can do it by following the Scout Law and the example of the people you respect – your parents, your teacher or a good friend who is trying to do the same thing.

2018-02-12 – The Dirty Little Secret Of Overnight Successes

Who here plays Angry Birds?  That game was the software developer’s 52 attempt.

How about WD-40?  Norm Larsen wanted to develop a line of rust-prevention solvents and degreasers for use in the aerospace industry. He succeeded at the goal, Water Displacement, on the 40th attempt, hence the name..

Bubble wrap was created in 1960 in an attempt to make a trendy new textured wallpaper. This was a total failure, as was a later attempt to market it as housing insulation. When the wrap was eventually used by IBM to package a newly launched computer during transport, it suddenly became an overnight success.

Dyson vacuum cleaners.  Dyson had over 5,000 failed prototypes before perfecting his revolutionary vacuum cleaner. Then he couldn’t find a company that wanted to make it for him, so he started his own manufacturing business.

Failure is part of the process.  Everyone felt like they have failed at one point or another.  When you stumble, it’s tempting the throw in the towel and accept defeat. There’s always an attractive excuse waiting eagerly, hoping you’ll take the easy way out.

But be smart about it and realize it is part of life and learn from it.  Don’t waste time sulking, just pick yourself back up and get back to work.

Don’t cave to your mistakes, embrace them. In fact, mistakes are simply to the portals of discovery. There’s an old saying that “every bull’s-eye is the result of a hundred misses.” So the next time you feel the sting of failure, just realize you’re likely one shot closer to hitting your target.

2018-02-03 – The Meatloaf

I heard a story once about a Meatloaf.  A dad is making meatloaf with his son; something they have done many times.  As part of it, the two chefs cut the ends of each side of the meatloaf before putting it in the oven. One day, the teen asks, “Dad, why do we cut the ends off the meatloaf before we put it in the oven?”

Taken by surprise, the dad began to think. He had no good reason, other than that’s how his own mother did it and that was the way he learned. Together, the two called up grandma. “Grandma, why do we cut the ends off each side of the meatloaf before putting it in the oven?” After a brief laugh, the Grandmother admitted that she didn’t know the answer either. It was the way her own mother taught her. Tradition. It turns out her mother was living in a nearby nursing home, so they all went to visit.

Upon hearing the question, the 98-year-old great grandmother roared with laughter. “I have no idea why you are cutting the ends off the meatloaf! I used to do it only because I didn’t have a big enough pan!”

We define a “Meatloaf” as an out-of-date tradition. A system, process, or belief that may have made sense in the past but no longer has relevance. Unfortunately, most companies are filled with Meatloaves. By awakening your curiosity, you will be amazed at how many you discover.

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2018-01-08 – Imagine yourself in 50 years

Here is a thought experiment:

Imagine yourself in 50 years. You’re in your early 60s, have had a good career.  You’re sitting on your couch, having just watched the State of the Union holographic address by President Kardashian or maybe President Zuckerberg.

You begin to ponder your life. The career successes, how you’ve been able to provide for your family. You’ll think of all the great moments with your family and friends. But then you start to think about all of the things you wished you had done just a little differently, your regrets. I can guess at what they might be.

You will wish that you had spent more time with your children. That you had told your spouse how much you loved them more frequently. Maybe that you could have even one more chance to hug your parents and tell them how much you appreciate them before they passed. That you could have smiled more, laughed more, danced more and created more. That you better used the gifts you were given to empower others and make the world better.

Ok so maybe thinking 50 years in the future is a bit much for your age group.  Those adults in the back may be able to appreciate this thought experiment more.

So let’s instead think the next 2-5 years ahead.  And let’s narrow the focus to the things that are more relevant to you now.  Scouts & school are probably more appropriate for you guys.  So as you think about that, think about how you can make changes now to how you approach life.  What can you do now to improve your school life in the next few years?  Commit to study more?  Change your habits to study first, play second maybe?  Both of those things will help you do better in school.

Now for scouts.  Think about what you can do to make scouting more fun, more productive, more memorable for you in the next 2-5 years  There might be some things that you would like to see the troop do or change.  Know that you have the power to help enact change in the troop.  You can talk to your patrol leaders and in turn they will bring your ideas to the PLC.  We have a process to help make your ideas a reality in the troop.  But it takes you to start the conversation.

2017-12-04 Your Label

Smart shoppers read the labels when they go to the supermarket. Product labels tell them a number of things:

Whether the can or package contains beans, corn, flour, or pork chops; what ingredients it contains; what it costs; the weight of the product. The label also carries the trademark of the packer or manufacturer. You may learn a lot by reading labels.

In Scouting, we carry around our own labels. The uniform itself is a kind of label. It tells people that we are Scouts and that we are trying to live by the Scout Oath and Law.

If they know anything about Scouting, the badges we wear are labels, too. The badges describe some of the ingredients that make up your package – how far you have progressed and whether you’re now a leader in the troop.

How well does your label describe the contents of your package? Can it be said of you: “The enclosed package lives up to the Oath and Law? He is prepared to help in emergencies and does a good turn daily?” And is it true that the badge of rank you wear honestly reflects your Scouting skills? I’m quite sure it does because we don’t give badges in this troop to Scouts who haven’t earned them.

Wear your label, your uniform and its badges, proudly. And remember that it tells a lot about you and about your pledge to the Scout Oath and Law.

2017-10-16 – Achieving a goal

– If you had to eat an elephant, how would you approach it?” The answer is simple: One bite at a time.

Have you ever had an assignment or task that was so large that you were overwhelmed with the size of it and didn’t know where to begin?

— Whether it’s climbing to the top of a mountain or advancing to the next rank in Scouting, when we’re faced with large and complicated task, we should plan our action, get started, and take one step at a time. Sure, we can keep our eye on the prize; but we need to remember that when there’s such a long path to travel, we can proceed little by little, step by step, one bite at a time. In this way, with persistence and dedication, eventually we’ll achieve our goal.

When you are faced with such a task, ask yourself this question, “Just like eating an elephant, you would go about doing the big assignment one bite at a time.

Greg Ostravich’s Scoutmaster minutes:

4/17/2017 – Don’t Be Afraid to Fail

You’ve failed many times, although you might not remember.
You fell down the first time you tried to walk.
You felt you almost drowned the first time you tried to swim, didn’t you?
Did you hit the ball the first time you swung a bat? Heavy hitters, the ones who hit the most home runs, also strike out a lot. Babe Ruth struck out 1,330 times, but he also hit 714 home runs. R.H. Macy failed seven times before his store in New York caught on. English novelist John Creasey received more than 700 rejection slips before he published over 600 books. Thomas Edison made reportedly 1,000 or 10,000 – I’ve seen two different numbers reported, unsuccessful attempts at refining the light bulb.  Nobody remembers the failures; just the success after Edison persisted.  Michael Jordan lost almost 300 games (more than many NBA players have court time in) and missed over 9,000 shots.  He was given the ball 26 times for a game winning shot and missed.  Does anybody remember Jordan as a failure?

— We shouldn’t be worried about failure. We should be concerned about the chances we miss when we don’t even try.  Wayne Gretzky said it best.  The Hockey Hall of Famer who was called “The Great One” was reported to have said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

4/10/2017 – Crab Behavior Minute


It is interesting how crabs think and work together.

I’ve gone crabbing on the west coast.

You can put a crab in a bucket about 12 inches deep and it will easily reach up over the lip of the bucket and succeed in climbing out.

But an interesting thing happens when you have 2 or more crabs in the same bucket.

As the first crab reaches up to pull itself out and starts to succeed, the other crabs reach up to pull the other crab back into the bucket.

They will each take turns trying to climb out while the other crabs spend their time pulling the crab that is having success back down into the bucket.

Do you want to be a crab?

4/3/2017 – An Hour of Your Time Minute


When Mr. Smith came home from work, little Johnny ran up to him and asked, “Daddy, how much do you make an hour?”

Very tired from a long day, Mr. Smith replied, “Come on, Johnny, I need to just relax for a minute. Ask me later.”

After dinner, Johnny came up to his Dad again, “Daddy, how much do you make an hour?”

“Johnny, it’s not polite to ask people how much they make. But, I make thirty dollars an hour. Why do you want to know?”

“OK, Daddy. Could you loan me 15 dollars?”

“What? You just wanted to know what I made so you could ask for some?

Go to your room!”

After a while, and feeling guilty for getting upset, Mr. Smith went to check on his son.

He thought, “Maybe I was too harsh.

Maybe Johnny wants to buy something.”

Opening Johnny’s door, Mr. Smith said “Johnny, here, I have the 15 dollars you asked for.”

“Really?!? Thanks, Daddy!” Johnny took the money and opened his little savings bank to pull out a small pile of dollar bills and coins.

“Now I have enough. I have $30!”

Holding out the money in his hand, Johnny said, “Daddy, would you sell me an hour of your time?”

3/13/2017 – Advancement – One Step At A Time Minute


Take 10 seconds to answer this question to yourself:

‘Why am I in Scouts?’

(time off 10 seconds on your watch.)

Would anyone like to share one reason with the troop?

Common answers are: To Camp, It’s Fun, and To Be an Eagle Scout.

If one of your main goals is to become an Eagle Scout, then picture this. Let’s say that where I am standing right now is the Scout rank. Over there (about 15 feet away) is the Eagle rank. I’m going to reach that goal.

(Stretch your foot toward the goal as far as you can, do the splits. 🙂 That doesn’t work, so keep your feet where you were standing, lay down, and stretch your hands as far as you can toward the goal. Still doesn’t work. Ad lib that you’re trying as hard as you can to reach it but it’s too far away. Stand up. Take a running jump to see how far you can go. Still don’t make it.)

As you can see, I just can’t make it – the Eagle rank is too far away. I can give up – OR, I can adjust my goals. Instead of shooting for Eagle right now, I will shoot for Tenderfoot rank by [September 1 or whenever]. (Take a big step forward to Tenderfoot.)

Then, I’ll learn more skills to reach 2nd Class by [February 1] – step forward. Then, 1st Class. Then, Star. Then, Life.

Finally, I can reach that goal I couldn’t get to when that was all I was interested in.

A Chinese saying is, ‘A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.’ Know where you want to go and start stepping.

3/6/2017 – A Good Big Brother Minute

This Minute is meant for Boy Scouts.


Looking out for others.


Upon graduation from college a few years back, a young man received a gift from his older brother. It was a shiny brand new Corvette – the car of his dreams!

One morning as he approached the car he saw a young boy about 11 or 12 peering through the windows into the car.

“Is this your car?” the lad asked when he noticed the man.

“Yes it is!” the man responded.

“Wow! This is a nice car!” remarked the lad, “How much did it cost?”

“I don’t know.” answered the man.

“It’s your car, but you don’t know how much it cost?” exclaimed the young lad.

“No,” stated the man, “you see, my brother bought it for me.”

“I wish…I wish…I wish” stuttered the boy. The man thinking he would say, I wish I had a car like this. “…I wish I was like your brother!” finished the boy!

Amazed at the boy’s response, he offered to drive him around the block. As they were driving, the lad asked if he would drive him home. Thinking he wanted to show off that he was riding in a new car to his friends, the man agreed.

They drove more than a few blocks to where the boy lived and as he turned onto the street the man noticed that it wasn’t the best kept neighborhood. The houses were dirty and broken. He pulled up in front of the boys house.

“Please wait,” the boy yelled as he ran into the house! “Oh, he’s probably going to get his family to show off the new car”, the man thought to himself with a smile.

Then the front door opened and out came the young lad. In his arms, he carried a small crippled boy, probably about 5! The lad brought him out to the car, and stated as he hugged his younger brother, “See, just like I told you! It’s a brand new car! And someday, I’m going to buy you one just like it!”

How unselfish this boy was…to be the kind of brother that looked after others first – to be more concerned with helping than having.

2/13/2017  – YaGoddaWanna Minute


This was told by me to someone else who lived in Seattle:

In the great NorthWest where I grew up, I met a mountain man and he knew how to get many things done with very little resources. He had almost nothing to work with, but accomplished great things.

Whether the task was to build a fire underwater or stop a waterfall from falling, it seemed he could take care of it. I was so amazed to see the things he could do, I finally asked him how he did it.

He told me that a long time ago, he had found a magical solution to nearly all challenges that came along. He said it was all contained in a single, ancient word that had mystic powers. When you understand the meaning of the word, it unleashes immense strength and abilities; it makes your mind more clear; it makes your imagination run wild with ideas.

Well, of course, I could hardly contain myself and I just had to know what this powerful magic was. I pleaded with him to tell me and he finally agreed.

He said the word is, ‘YAGODDAWANNA’.

In order to accomplish anything, whether it is small or big, easy or difficult, trivial or of utmost importance, in order to be successful, you’ve got to want to do it. To earn good grades, you gotta wanna earn them. To become an Eagle Scout, ya godda wanna be one. The main reason people don’t succeed at something is because they don’t really want it bad enough. By really wanting something, you come up with ideas, make plans, and then do it.

Remember, to do something YaGoddaWanna do it.

2/6/2017 – A Chain Minute

A Chain Minute


a length of chain


You’ve heard the saying “A chain is only as strong as its weakest link”. That’s absolutely true. With this chain, I can pull a car or lift a heavy load – I can perform many tasks. But, if I try to lift something that is too heavy, one of the links will break – the weakest link will let down the rest of the chain.

In Scouting, each scout works on personal advancement to strengthen himself and improve his skills. Personal advancement increases the strength of each link in our chain so we can accomplish more.

But, there will always be a weakest link. No matter what the task at hand, some person will be less skilled than the others. Someone will not be able to tie a certain knot, or kindle a fire, or hike as fast, or recite as well as the others. At some point, each of you will be a weakest link – I guarantee it! Being the weakest link is not a shameful thing – it is an opportunity for improvement.

One of the best things about Scouting is that our “chain” is better than a simple metal chain. When we have a task to do, we are not really limited by our weakest link. The other stronger or more skilled or more experienced links support the weaker links. They help them, teach them, and guide them. As a result, we accomplish much more than if we each just did our specific task and left the rest.

Do your best to not be the weakest link – for yourself and for your patrol and for your troop. Learn skills, take on challenges, grow! But, be aware that around here the weakest link one day might be the strongest the next – and the strongest may be the weakest.

1/9/2017 – What is the real reward?

Notes: Recognitions and awards are fun, but what is learned and taken to heart is the real reward.

There was once an Indian village on a wide open desert in the Southwest. A few miles across the desert is a high mountain, towering up out of the desert.

One day, the Chief gathered all the young boys that were not yet braves to him. He said; “It is time for you to all climb the great mountain. Tomorrow morning, start right after breakfast, and go each of you as far as you can. Then when you are tired, come back; but let each one bring me a twig off a tree from the place where he turned back.”

The next morning, away they went full of hope each feeling that he surely could reach the top. But soon the first returned slowly back, and in his hand he held out to the Chief a leaf of cactus. The Chief smiled and said, “My boy, you did not reach the foot of the mountain, you did not even get across the desert.”

Later, a second boy returned. He carried a twig of sagebrush. “Well,” said the Chief, “You reached the mountain’s foot but you did not climb upward.”

The next had a cottonwood spray. “Good”, said the Chief, “You got up as far as the clear springs.”

Another came later with some buckthorn. The Chief smiled when he saw it and said: “You were climbing; you were up to the first slide rock.”

Late in the afternoon, one arrived with a cedar spray, and the old man said, “Well done. You went half way up and reached the forest.”

Before sunset, one came with a switch of pine. To him the Chief said, “Good, you went to the high forest; you made three quarters of the climb.”

The sun was down when the last finally returned. His hand was empty as he approached the Chief, and the other Indian boys began to laugh and tease that he had not even tried the climb.

But his face was radiant, and he said: “Great Chief, there were no trees where I climbed; there were no twigs, but I saw the shining sea far away.”
Now the old man’s face glowed, too, as he said aloud and almost sang: “You have been to the top. It is written in your eyes, and rings in your voice. My boy, you have seen the glory of the mountain. You need no twigs for proof.”

12/12/16 – UnSaying My Words Minute

(I gave a similar speech for this in terms of an old Jewish story)

Think about the impact of your words before you say them. You can not take back something you’ve said.

Once there were two Indian boys that were very good friends. They explored, fished, and hunted together. They were both great athletes and well-liked by all in their tribe.

In their village, there was also a young girl that they both began to like and compete for. One of the boys, out of jealousy, told the girl that the other boy had done something very bad which would disgrace him and his family. This was completely untrue.

Afterwards, the boy felt ashamed of what he had done. He told the girl that he had lied and he apologized to his friend for what he had said.

But, as he walked around the village, he could hear others repeating the false words he had spoken about his friend. Very troubled by this, he went to the tribal medicine man for advice.

‘How can I undo this terrible thing I have done?’, he asked.

The wise man told him, ‘Shoot 3 ducks and 3 geese. Pull off all their feathers and put them in a leather bag. Bring me the bag and the birds.’

The boy did this. He gave the birds to the wise man and the wise man said, ‘Now, take the bag of feathers to the top of the great mountain, open it, and shake out all the feathers. Then, return here.’

The boy climbed the mountain, released all the feathers into the wind, and returned to the wise man.

The wise man said, ‘Now, go back up the mountain and pick up every single feather you released and put them back in your bag.’

The boy replied, ‘But, that is not possible. The feathers have blown far away. I can never recover all of them.’

The wise man said, ‘So it is with your words.’

12/5/2016 – The Dollar Bill Minute


(Have two crisp, new dollar bills. Hold one up to show)

Can you all see this dollar bill? Pretty nice looking, isn’t it? See how its crisp, clean, and neat? Who would like it? I’m going to give it away to someone, so raise your hand if you’d like it.

OK, before I give it away, let me do this.

(crumple the bill up into a small ball)

Who still wants it?

OK, just a second.

(drop it on the ground and grind it with your foot)

Who still wants it?

(hold the crumpled bill in one hand and the second clean bill in the other)

One of these bills is good looking, clean, and nice to look at. The other is kind of grimey, crumpled, and not too pleasant.

But, neither is more valuable than the other. Their worth is not based on how they look. Like these dollars are valuable because they are dollars, people are valuable just because they are people, not because of how they look.

Oldest Eagle Scout Minute  – 11/21/2016

How old do you think the oldest person was to receive his Eagle Scout rank?

A boy joined the Cub Scouts in 1928. Over the next few years, he moved on to Boy Scouts and fulfilled all the requirements for his Eagle rank. But, then something called World War Two happened and he joined the Navy, putting his country’s needs before his own.

When he returned from war, he put his family’s needs before his own and raised his children.

As an old man, looking through his childhood objects, he located his Eagle Scout documents.

In the summer of 2007, he was finally awarded his Eagle Scout rank, at the age of 88 years.

Now, don’t expect to receive your Eagle when you’re 88 – you have to finish before you turn 18. But, this man had put Scout Spirit to work in his life – duty to his country and others before himself – so he was recognized for it.

He had earned Eagle as a young man. He hadn’t received a medal or a certificate. He had taken the values and spirit of what it means to be an Eagle Scout to heart and lived it out. That is something we can all strive for, no matter our rank or age.

11/14/2016 – Big L and Little L Minute  

Which position leads in this troop? (answers spl, maybe scoutmaster)

Anyone else? (answers aspl, patrol leader, scoutmaster, …)

OK, those are the Leaders of the troop, the guys that run the show, the guys with the cool patches, the guys in control.

This is an ‘l’ (hold right index finger up vertically)

This is an ‘L’ (stick right thumb out horizontally)

Do you see the difference?

This ‘l’ is a Little L.

This ‘L’ is a Big L.

(from now on, make the Big or Little L sign as appropriate)

This is a key difference, especially when we’re talking about leaders. The ones you mentioned are ‘L’eaders – guys in a position of leadership. You think of them as ‘l’eaders because of their position.

But, a ‘l’eader is someone that leads because some leadership is needed, not because he is in a position. A ‘l’eader is proactive – he sees a need and takes care of it. A ‘l’eader steps up and makes decisions.

All of you can and should be ‘l’eaders, whether or not you’re a ‘L’eader.

So, basically:

  • ‘L’eaders don’t always ‘l’ead.
  • ‘l’eaders aren’t always ‘L’eaders.
  • the ‘l’eadership of this troop is not limited to the ‘L’eadership.
10/17/2016 – A First Class Scout Minute

As I look around the group, I can see that some of you are wearing a First Class rank patch. That marks you as having earned the rank. But, I was wondering about what makes a scout a First Class scout – what marks someone as having really reached that level of maturity?

Here are three things:

  1. How you regard yourself. A First Class scout has a high code of conduct. He just won’t allow himself to act in ways he knows are not right. I can tell a First Class scout by the quality of guy he is.
  2. Your attitude toward others. He likes people and is concerned more with them than with himself. He really enjoys looking for that Good Turn to do each day and he’s the kind of guy you like to have around.
  3. Your vision. A real scout looks to the future, to the next campout, to the next merit badge, to the next school year, planning on how to succeed and determined to Be Prepared for what is coming.

When you are sure of yourself, concerned for others, and ready for new adventure, then I’d say you’re a First Class Scout!

10/3/2016 – Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! I bet you’re a little confused right now; we’re not even in November yet, let alone December.

But in the Jewish Calendar today is Rosh Hashanah; the Jewish New Year. The year in the Jewish calendar is 5777.

In our faith that means special foods like Apples and honey, and honey cake for a sweet new year; but it also means it’s a time for reflection. A chance to apologize to those we have wronged throughout the year and a chance to set goals about what we’d like to accomplish for the coming year.

I’d like to ask everyone; scouts and adults alike; to think about goal setting.

We don’t have to wait until January 1st to have New Year’s resolutions or set goals around what we’d like to accomplish. Set a goal for example in your personal life, in scouting, in school, in sports if you’re an athlete at school or on a club team, or at your job.

Scouts – maybe that’s a goal around reaching Life or Eagle rank in 2017, or camping nights for OA or the Camping Merit Badge. Maybe it’s signing up for or staffing Big Horn. Maybe it’s a goal to complete 3 unfinished merit badges. Maybe it’s a goal to decrease your Cross Country time, take a few strokes off your golf game, or a wrestling goal of learning a new move to use in a match. Maybe it’s setting a goal to bump your test scores up and go from a B to a B+ in one of your classes. Maybe it’s a goal around saving money both for your savings account; and for something cool you’d like to buy.

Adult Scout Leaders – Maybe that’s a goal around training. Maybe earning your WoodBadge, taking Wilderness First Aid Training, or taking other required training on-line. Maybe it’s a goal around leading an activity you haven’t done before but would like to learn about. Maybe it’s a goal around becoming an Ordeal Member in Order of the Arrow, or Sealing your membership by becoming a Brotherhood member.

Adults – maybe it’s a weight loss goal; eating healthier and eating out less, a training/exercise goal, or a self improvement goal around your job. Maybe it’s a goal around reading 12 new books a year. Maybe it’s a goal around becoming financially more secure; paying off debt; or saving for something the family needs.

There’s always room for improvement for all of us and I hope you find a goal to stretch and improve yourself in the coming year.

Let me close by wishing you all a sweet New Year.

9/19/2016 – Doing Silly Tricks

The moral of this story is that while growing up we learn stupid tricks that don’t serve us in our current situation. We need to recognize them and let go of them.
It teaches the scouts about how our actions are viewed by others.

There was a small bear that lived in the woods with his mother. His mother had taught him to find food: grubs in logs, berries on the bushes, salmon in the stream etc.

One day a traveling circus was camped near the woods and they trapped the small bear and took him away in a cage. The trainer taught the bear many tricks. Every time bear properly performed the tricks he was rewarded with treats. The little bear became used to the people and his captive life.

One day the trainer accidentally left the cage door unlocked and the little bear wandered off. The little bear laid down and slept for the night. When he awoke, the circus was gone. He discovered that he was right back in the woods where he was born and he was hungry. So he stood on his head and waited for food, but nothing came. He tried rolling over, but still nothing. He tried all the tricks he had learned but nothing.

The other animals of the forest watched all this with quite some amusement. Finally a squirrel asked him what he was doing. The little bear told the squirrel that he was hungry and was doing tricks for food. The squirrel showed him a berry bush and told him it’s time to stop doing silly tricks and start taking care of himself.

9/12/16 – Cross Your Arms Minute

There are many ways to accomplish a goal.
Follow your leader’s plan.

Ask everyone to stand up.
Ask everyone to relax and fold their arms.

Say, “Now, don’t move. Look at which of your hands has the fingers on top. Is it the right or left hand?”

Ask them to re-fold their arms with the other hand on top.

How does that feel? weird, different, awkward?
Which way is ‘Correct’?
Which way is ‘Wrong’?
Which way accomplished the goal of ‘Fold your Arms’?

Every scout here is different and has different ideas on how to accomplish goals we set.

A leader’s job is to take those ideas and decide to use the one that fits their style best.

And, then the scout’s job is to support the leader, doing their very best to make the plan succeed. It may not be the exact way you would do it, but if it meets the goal then it is a good plan.

Note: This happens with the SPL for example deciding how they want to do things. If it gets the job done we go with that. It doesn’t have to be “my way” as the Scoutmaster.

8/15/2016 COH – Words To Live By – a true story Minute  

Robert Louis Stevenson, the famous author of Treasure Island and Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde suffered throughout his short life from respiratory illness and he spent many years looking for a climate that would cure him. He died of tuberculosis at the age of 41 and is buried on Samoa.

In spite of his considerable suffering he had twelve positive attitude tips that he lived by that I would like to share with each of you. They are still incredibly good rules to live by.

  1. Make up your mind to be happy, learn to find pleasure in simple things.
  2. Make the best of your circumstances. Everyone has problems. The trick is to make laughter outweigh the tears.
  3. Don’t take yourself too seriously, Don’t think that somehow you should be protected from misfortunes that befall others.
  4. You can’t please everybody. Don’t let criticism worry you.
  5. Don’t let your neighbor set your standards. Be Yourself.
  6. Do the things you enjoy doing but stay out of debt.
  7. Don’t borrow trouble. Imaginary burdens are harder to bear than the actual ones.
  8. Hate poisons the soul, so don’t carry grudges, avoid people who make you unhappy.
  9. Have many interests. If you can’t travel, read about new places.
  10. Don’t hold post mortems. Don’t spend your life brooding over sorrows and mistakes.
  11. Do what you can for those less fortunate than yourself.
  12. Keep busy at something. A busy person never has time to be unhappy.

As each of you lives your life, remember his advice. Your attitude towards any given situation you encounter will almost always affect you far more than the situation. Attitude is everything in life.

8/8/16 – Flea Training Minute

I’m sure you’ve heard of a flea circus. That’s where tiny little fleas are trained to perform amazing tricks. But they’re too small to really see, so it’s kind of silly.

But, people do supposedly catch fleas and train them. And, those people have observed a strange habit of fleas while training them.

Fleas can jump extremely high (that’s how they get from animal to animal) so when a flea is caught, it is put in a jar. Without a lid, its simple for the flea to escape by just popping right out of the jar. So, the flea trainer quickly puts a lid on the jar.

When the flea jumps, BANG, it hits the lid and falls down. Over and over, the flea will jump and BANG hit the lid. Until, after some time, you can see that the flea is jumping just almost to the lid, but not quite. He jumps and jumps, not quite hitting the top, but jumping as high as he can.

Now, that seems like a pretty smart flea to me. But, what’s strange is to see what happens when you take the lid off. The flea continues to jump just almost to where the lid was. It won’t jump any higher.

The flea hit a limit to what it could do. He decided that he could not go any higher and then never tried to improve. Even though the limit was gone, he was stuck in a rut – doing just what he always did and not challenging himself.

If you find that you can’t do something today, don’t assume you will never be able to do it. Try it again tomorrow or next week. You might hit the lid occasionally but you won’t be held back any imaginary limits that you outgrow.

8/1/2016 – 12/3 – the Guide Rails of Scouting

Do you know what guide rails are?

In orienteering they are the things that keep you on course; to know you’re headed in the right direction.  Examples are man-made features like power lines and roads, or natural things like streams.  Another example is on a railway; a guide rail keeps the train on the track.

Did you know we have guide rails as scouts?

Some great examples are the Scout Law, Scout Oath, and Motto.

They can be used to help keep us on-track or on-course in doing what’s right.

Our former Scout Master David Gilfillan used to say, “When in doubt, run the 12.”

What he meant was to repeat the Scout Law to yourself and see if whatever action you’re about to take fits within the 12 points of the Scout Law.  

When you don’t know what to do, repeat the Scout Law and Scout Oath.

The twelve points of the scout law, and the 3 promises of the scout oath: Duty to God and country, Duty to other people, and Duty to self, will guide you to make the right choice if the choice you are making fits within these guide rails.

Just remember this:

12 / 3 it matters to me, all the way and every day

Now I want everyone to repeat it after me.

12 / 3 it matters to me.


All the way and every day.


Now you repeat the whole thing.

12 / 3 it matters to me, all the way and every day

See you next week.

5/16/2016 – Smilin’ in the Rain

A long time ago a joker said, “Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.” That isn’t. really, true anymore because the scientists can seed clouds with chemicals to make rain fall- if there are clouds, that is.
Soon we’re going to be outdoors, possibly in foul weather, for Summer Camp, our upcoming Rafting Trip, and for one of our backpacking trips. On our recent Eagle Scout Project for Ryan it as sleeting and raining, and for Matthew’s it started to rain as we finished.  On any of our trips it could be sleeting, snowing or raining cats and dogs while we’re out there, but we’ll be there just the same because this is not a fair-weather troop.
It may not be as much fun as being outdoors on a sunny summer day, but it’s part of outdoor life, and as Scouts we belong outdoors. As long as you have a poncho or other rain gear, warm clothes, and a pair of dry socks and underwear in your pack, you can enjoy bad weather.
At least I hope you can. I like to see Scouts smiling in the rain because a real Scout is cheerful even when things aren’t 100% perfect.
The weather, and life, aren’t always predictable.
One of the lessons you should be learning as Scouts is to be prepared for foul weather as well as fair.
So the key words for this month’s rafting trip and next month’s Summer Camp are “Be prepared” and “A Scout is cheerful.”
If you follow that advice you’ll have a fine time, no matter what the weather.

Note: I made a few modifications to make it more specific to our troop.

5/9/2016 – The Two Knapsacks

Perhaps you’ve heard some people say that life is a hike between the cradle and the grave. For some, it is a long trip of many moons. For others it is a short trip that ends unexpectedly.
But all of us are equipped for life’s trip with two knapsacks – one to be carried on the back, the other to be carried on the chest.
The average hiker on the trail of life puts the faults of others into the knapsack on his chest so that he can always see them. His own faults he puts into the sack on his back so that he cannot see them without special effort. He hikes through life constantly noticing the faults of other people but usually overlooking his own faults.
Scouts, this pack arrangement is bad because no one can have a successful life just finding faults with other people. It is the man who can see his own faults and who strives to correct them who enjoys the hike through life the most and finally enters the Happy Hunting Ground with thanksgiving.
Let’s place the knapsack with our own faults upon our chests and put the bag with other’s mistakes behind us. That way, we’ll have a happier hike through life.

5/2/2016 – Criticizing Others  

An American Indian saying goes: “Before you judge someone, walk a long distance in his moccasins.”

Settlers changed that to “Before you judge a man, walk a mile in his shoes.”

What does that mean to you?

When you notice someone doing a job poorly, maybe it’s cooking a meal, or lashing a camp gadget, or leading a meeting, it’s awful easy to point out their failures. It’s easy to giggle when a scout forgets how the Scout Oath begins, or criticize another scout making mistakes in a skills instruction, or talk to your neighbor when you don’t respect the leader of a meeting. It takes much more effort on your part to try to help the situation.

Before you make life difficult for that guy on the hot-seat, try to imagine yourself there. Could you do better? Sure, you could, but how? Would you plan better? Would you talk more clearly? Would you make everyone pay better attention? Whatever ways you can see that scout might improve, those are the things you should help make happen.

I see this often in this troop. A young scout will timidly start to lead the troop in the Scout Law and an older scout’s louder, deeper voice will support him. Two scouts will step in with a new game when the one responsible for the game doesn’t show up.

I even see scouts working to stay quiet and attentive while an old man drones on. 🙂

Patience and understanding are two virtues each of us can work on. They are inherent in being helpful, courteous, and kind.

4/18/2016 – Everybody’s Canoe  

A young Indian was busy carving a canoe out of a log. As he worked, members of the tribe passed by. Everybody had a piece of advice to offer the young man.

“I think you are making your canoe too wide,” one of them said. The young brave, wishing to show respect for the advice of an elder, narrowed down the canoe.

A little later, a warrior stopped by. “I’m afraid you are cutting the stern too full,” he said. Again, the young brave listened to his elder and cut down the stern.

Yet another adult stopped, watched awhile, then said, “The bow is too sheer.” The young brave accepted this advice as well and changed the line of the bow.

Finally the canoe was complete and the young brave launched it. As soon as it hit the water, it capsized. Laboriously he hauled it back onto the beach. Then he found another log and started all over.

Soon, a member of his tribe stopped by to offer some advice, but this time the young brave was ready.

“See that canoe over there?” he asked, pointing to the useless craft on the beach. “That is everybody’s canoe.” Then he nodded at the work in progress. “This one,” he said, “This is MY canoe!”

4/11/2016 – Scout Handshake Origin

Our Scout salute and handshake are ancient signs of bravery and respect. The normal right-hand handshake comes from the times when men carried weapons such as swords or guns for their own protection. When they met one another, there was an uneasy moment as each watched the other’s right hand. If it went to his sword or gun, there was a battle, but if it went to his hat it was a salute of friendship or respect.

The handshake is similar – outstretching your right hand shows it is empty and you are friendly.

The left-hand shake comes to us from the Ashanti warriors whom Baden-Powell met long ago in Africa. He saluted them with his right hand, but the Ashanti chieftain offered his left hand and said: ‘In our land only the bravest of the brave shake hands with the left hand, because to do so we must drop our shields and our protection.’

4/4/2016 – Two Seas

The Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea are two bodies of water in the middle east – I expect you’ve heard of them.

The Sea of Galilee is full of fish and is surrounded by lush vegetation and trees. It is a living body in every sense.

There is nothing living in the Dead Sea – no fish – the sea is stagnant and dead.

The difference between these two seas is that the Sea of Galilee gives up its water while the Dead Sea only takes in water. For every gallon of water that flows into the Sea of Galilee, a gallon is passed on downstream. It is constantly renewing itself. It gives as much as it takes.

The Dead Sea, on the other hand, only takes. It gives up nothing. The water there is never cleansed. It just stagnates.

Some say there are two kinds of people in the world – those who give of themselves (who help people at all times and contribute their time, money and energy), and those who only take. I bet you can guess which one has a fresh, healthy life and which leads to a stagnant dead end.

Which kind will you be?

3/21/2016 – Never Give Up – a true story

On July 25, 1962, fourteen year old Monroe County Boy Scout Dennis Churchill was fishing on Lake Erie with four companions when a sudden severe storm capsized their boat six miles from shore.

Dennis put on a life jacket then left the others clinging to the boat while he swam for help. With thunder and lightning crashing overhead, high winds gusting and waves six feet high washing over him, he swam for four hours through the storm before finally reaching shore near the Dundee Cement loading docks. He summoned help then went back out on the lake with the Sheriff’s Department to find the overturned boat.

Dennis was credited with saving four lives that day including his own. On January 31, 1963 he was awarded the Gold Honor Medal by the National Council. Out of the more than 75,000 Monroe County residents that have been members of Scouting since October 16, 1911, he is the only one to ever receive the award. There were only 19 Honor Medals awarded in the nation during 1963 from a national membership of over 5,000,000 boys.

While Dennis was swimming through the stormy waters alone but for God, the violence of the waves literally ripped most of the clothing off those that stayed with the boat. They believed Dennis had drowned in the storm after he had been gone several hours and no help had come for them.

The wind and water took it’s toll on Dennis as he struggled to get help. He weighed but 124 pounds that day. He was in a state of total exhaustion at the end but he couldn’t give up. The lives of others were depending on him so somehow in those dark lonely moments he found the strength to keep going.

Each of you will have times in your lives where you feel alone and you will want to give up on something but you must learn to press on and do your best even if what you are trying to do doesn’t seem attainable.

3/14/2016 – Two Wolves  

An Indian was discussing life with some young boys. He said, “A battle rages inside me between two wolves. One wolf is anger, envy, sorrow, fear, greed, arrogance, lies, regret, and self-pity. The other wolf is joy, peace, hope, humility, kindness, generosity, truth, and faith.”

He said, “This same battle goes on inside everyone, even each of you.”

After a minute, one boy asked, “Which wolf will win?”

The Indian replied, “The one you feed.”

3/7/2016 – The Boy Scout Neckerchief

You new Scouts probably learned that our troop neckerchief has other uses besides looking good and showing our troop’s colors. It can be used in first aid, too.

Over the next few months, you’ll find that the neckerchief has other uses, too.

There’s one use, though, that you may not think of-and that’s to remind you of the Scout Oath. The neckerchief is a triangle, and its three corners should remind you of something you learned-our Scout Oath.

The Oath, you remember, has three corners, duty to God and country, duty to others, and duty to self. From now on, every time you put on your neckerchief it should remind you of the things you pledge each time you repeat the Scout Oath.

2/15/2016 – Disneyland Garbage  

Conservation is an ongoing chore, but if we keep on it, it is much easier overall.

Way back in the late 1950s, when Disneyland was new, there were already litterbugs – it’s not a new thing. As a matter of fact, at Disneyland, trash became a problem.

The goal at Disneyland was to have the park look brand-new every morning when it opened. That meant that every night, people would pick up trash, clean, and repair.

During the day, there were no people walking around picking up trash because there were plenty of trash cans all over. But, some people still chose to throw trash on the ground. And, that trash built up by the end of the day so there was more than what could be cleaned up overnight.

Someone decided that the only way the trash could get picked up would be to work on it all day. So, Disneyland started having people pick up trash during the day.

The results were amazing! The workers picked up far less trash than what had previously been on the ground. As it turned out, when people looked around and saw a wrapper on the ground, they were more inclined to drop their trash instead of finding a trashcan. Once workers kept those few initial wrappers picked up, almost everyone used trashcans.

Things haven’t changed – why do people leave their popcorn buckets in movie theaters? Why do smokers throw their butts out at stoplights? Because they are lazy and someone else is doing it.

If we put in some effort to keep our community clean whenever we can, there will be much less trash overall. Do what you can, when you can.

2/8/2016 – Little Deaf Frog

There was once a big group of frogs that arranged a hopping competition.

The goal was to reach the top of a very high tower. A big crowd had gathered around the tower to see the race and cheer on the contestants.

The race began with hundreds of frogs of all sizes, madly hopping up the steps of the tower.

Actually, no one in the crowd believed that any of the frogs would reach the top of the tower – it was just way too high.

They said things like, “Man, that’s a tall tower!” and “No Way any frog can hop all the way up there!”

And, sure enough, some of the frogs couldn’t even hop up the first few steps before collapsing. But, some kept hopping higher.

The crowd continued to yell, “It’s too difficult! No one will make it!” And, still more of the frogs got tired and stopped.

Now, there were only a few frogs continuing upwards. The crowd yelled, “Those steps are too hard. The sun is shining too hot. They have to turn back!” And, sure enough, all the frogs finally turned around, having failed to reach the top.

All except one – one very tiny, very determined little frog. He continued to hop, hop, hop up stair after stair until he finally found himself at the very top, all alone, looking down at the crowd far below.

The crowd waved and cheered and he waved back. Then, he hopped back down to the ground – which was much easier than hopping up.

When he got to the bottom, everyone crowded around him and asked, “HOW did you do it?” “You’re so small, where did you get the strength?” “How did you out hop all these other frogs?”

And, the frog just said, “EH? What’s that?” – he was deaf.

[To reach your goals, you need to ignore the pessimism of others and believe in yourself]

2/8/2016 – Patrol Spirit

How does a football team score?

The kicker can kick a field goal.

Or, a receiver can catch a touchdown pass.

Or, a running back can run the ball across the goal line.

OK, that’s just 3 people. Why don’t we just get rid of the other 8 players and get things done?

Of course, it isn’t those 3 individuals that actually score – it is good blocking and teamwork that makes it possible to move the ball across the line. Sure, there are outstanding players, but no matter how good they are, they need their teammates.

Patrols are the same way. If you win one of our inter-patrol contests, or if you have the best campsite at a camporee, it’s not just because one guy is such a great Scout. It’s patrol teamwork.

The secret of a patrol is to have every member do his job, whatever it is. If one Scout slacks off, the patrol suffers. If every Scout does his part, the patrol is bound to be a winner. And, each of you know at all times if you are slacking or winning.

A winning attitude is what we call patrol spirit. Is your patrol a winner? I’m not asking whether you win every contest. I’m asking if your patrol is doing the best that it can? If so, then you should be proud regardless if another patrol seems to be better – they aren’t better, just more experienced. And, as you keep trying, you gain experience.

1/11/2016 – Eight Ways Scouting is Like Star Wars

8 ways Scouting is like ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’

Posted on January 7, 2016 by Bryan Wendell in Fun

Good triumphs over evil, family matters most and all the best action happens outside.

That describes the Scouting movement. It also describes Star Wars: The Force Awakens — a little movie that I hear is doing pretty well at the box office.

Steven Toole, a district marketing chairman in the Washington, D.C.-based National Capital Area Council, came up with eight ways Star Wars parallels Scouting. He shared it with Brian on Scouting and agreed to let him post it.

It’s a great read, and it could make for a fun, thought-provoking Scoutmaster’s Minute or Cubmaster’s Minute.

Oh, and it’s completely spoiler-free.

Let’s head to that galaxy far, far away and check it out!

Star Wars and Scouting: A Parallel Universe?

By Steven Toole

As Scouters, it’s difficult to watch the latest Star Wars movie without seeing obvious parallels to Scouting. Here are a few:

  1. There’s a choice between good and evil.

Scouting helps show youth the clear path to the light side and how to avoid the dark side. The force is strong for both sides — negative peer pressure is a strong force of the dark side. Faith, self-esteem, personal achievement and goal-setting can be even more powerful forces on the light side.

  1. Family values matter.

While Darth Vader may not have been the model father (clearly young Anakin was never a Cub Scout), the latest film shows the importance of family.

  1. The best stuff is outside.

You’ll notice that nearly all of the scenes of the “good” characters take place outside, while nearly every scene of “evil” characters takes place inside. ‘Nuff said.

  1. Dream big.

Scouting is about dreaming big, following your dreams, setting goals and believing in yourself — no matter where you come from.

  1. Explore and seek adventure.

Plenty of adventure in each episode of Star Wars. The characters don’t fear taking risks and accepting challenges to achieve a higher goal. Neither do Scouts.

  1. Do your duty to country.

The Resistance fighters in The Force Awakens seem to parallel our founding fathers, who were willing to risk everything to uphold democracy and stand up to oppression and our God-given rights.

  1. STEM rocks.

Plenty of science, technology, engineering and math throughout. The Resistance uses a highly scientific approach to combat the evil First Order.

  1. Greatness comes from within.

The main character discovers an untapped inner strength. Once this character finds that strength, it’s channeled to fight evil. The dark side, on the other hand, seeks greatness by taking away from others.

Whether or not you get out to see the new Star Wars movie, these themes are obvious. With the film breaking all kinds of box office records, it’s clear that Scouting values reflect the most important values of the American public.

12/14/2015 – Holiday Spirit

Christmas and Hanukkah are, for most people, the most joyful holidays of the year. The holiday parties, the exchange of gifts, and the brilliant lights of Christmas trees make a guy glad to be alive at this season.

Sometimes we forget that these holidays are really religious festivals. It’s well to remember the real holiday spirit is cast by the Star of Bethlehem and the Hanukkah candles, reminding us of miracles in times past.

In the twelfth point of the Scout Law we say that a Scout is reverent. That doesn’t mean that he goes around all the time with a long face or with his hands folded in prayer. It means that he does his duty to God, which includes doing things for God’s other creatures. We’ll be doing that later in the month with our troop Good Turn.

Now, remembering that a Scout is reverent, let us close with the Scout benediction.

12/7/2015 – Packing Parachutes

A navy pilot completed hundreds of hours of training and then flew dozens of combat missions. He shot down dozens of enemy planes, bombed many targets, and earned a chest full of medals, along with higher ranks. He was quite proud of his accomplishments.

On one mission, a crucial piloting error allowed an enemy missile to disable his jet and he was forced to bail out. His parachute deployed and he landed safely in the ocean. As he floated for two days waiting to be rescued he had plenty of time to think back over his career.

When the helicopter finally picked him up and returned him to his ship, he went directly to the flight equipment room. He asked to speak with all the sailors that worked there.

When they were all assembled, he thanked them for packing his parachute. He explained that it took being shot down to make him understand how much he took for granted the labors of others that made his job possible – the mechanics, the flight crew, the cooks, and even the parachute packers. It took everyone completing their duties to make each mission a success.

Everyone has tasks to perform and they should do their very best no matter how glamorous or dreary the task may be. Even what seems to be the least significant task may have an impact down the road.

Someone in a highly visible role needs to appreciate those that support him.

11/16/2015 – Thanksgiving

As Americans, we have a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. We live in freedom, and most of us have an abundance of food and clothing and adequate shelter.

We are as blessed as any people in the world, but sometimes we forget that and gripe that we don’t have even more. Let’s remember that a lot of the world’s population goes to bed hungry every night in homes that few Americans would want to live in.

So it’s good to remind ourselves occasionally that we are lucky and to thank God for our blessings. That’s what Thanksgiving really is, a time to give thanks. The Pilgrims started it more than 300 years ago when they gathered to thank God for a bountiful harvest.

Today Thanksgiving is a time for family gatherings around a groaning table followed by watching football games. There’s nothing wrong with that.

But it’s important that we don’t forget the real meaning of Thanksgiving. So when you sit down with your family for Thanksgiving dinner, take time to count your blessings and thank God for them.

11/9/2015 – Tigger or Eeyore?  

Pooh, Piglet, Tigger, and Eeyore are all good pals. They play together, go on adventures, and learn things. Each of them cares deeply for his buddies.

When you think of “Tigger”, what comes to mind? What is he like?

(happy, silly, energetic, positive, not too smart, carefree, …)

When you think of “Eeyore”, what comes to mind?

(sad, slow, dejected, pessimistic)

When anything happens, Eeyore expects the worst. He expects the weather to be rainy, the shelter to be uncomfortable, the hike to be too long, the water be too warm and the food too cold. He sets his expectations way low so he is seldom disappointed, but then he has nothing to look forward to.

Tigger, on the other hand, sees fun and adventure in everything. He hops rather than walk, jumps rather than run, and bounces rather than sit still. He sees the rainbow through the clouds, notices something new at every step of a hike, and believes every minute of life is a gift to enjoy. He may not think things through, but he is always looking ahead to the next adventure.

So, who are you? Are you more of an Eeyore, plodding through life, sure that school will be hard, friends will be few, and there won’t be much fun to do on the weekend? Or are you like Tigger, ready to make every task a game, every day an adventure, and every challenge an opportunity?

11/2/2015 – Sportsmanship

We hear a lot of talk about being a good sport, but what does that mean? A good sport learns the rules so he will not violate them. He competes with all his heart, striving to outclass his competitors. If he wins, he doesn’t act smug but instead complements the losers for the efforts they made. If he loses, he should accept the fact and find out why. Maybe he can win the next time. A sportsman accepts defeat, congratulates the winners, studies how to improve, and determines to do better the next time.

“Show me a guy who’s afraid to look bad, and I’ll show you a guy you can beat every time.” – Lou Brock, baseball

“The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together, the club won’t be worth a dime.” – Babe Ruth

“You have no control over what the other guy does. You only have control over what you do.” – AJ Kitt, skier

“Honesty is a form of honor. An honorable man can be trusted with any amount of valuables with the certainty that he will not steal it. Cheating at any time is a sneaking, underhanded thing to do.

When you feel inclined to cheat in order to win a game, or feel distressed when a game in which you are playing is going against you, just say to yourself, ‘After all, it is only a game. It won’t kill me if I do lose. One can’t always win though I will stick to it in case of a chance…’

If you keep your head in this way, you will very often find that you win after all from not being over anxious or despairing. And don’t forget, whenever you do lose a game, if you are a true Scout, you will at once cheer the winning team or shake hands with and congratulate the fellow who has beaten you.” – Lord Baden-Powell, scout

10/19/2015 – That First Step

The Chinese have a saying, ”A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” There’s a lesson for us in that saying.

I’m thinking of advancement. If you come to troop meetings without ever looking in your Boy Scout Handbook all week long, and if you never ask how to pass a test or who to see about a merit badge, you’ll never advance very far in Scouting. In Scouting, and in life, the rewards don’t come to those who sit back and wait for something to be handed to them on a silver platter.

I would like to see every one of you set the Eagle Scout Rank as your goal in Scouting. As a step toward that goal, I hope that most of you will receive some award at our court of honor at the end of the month.

Whatever goal you set for yourself, remember that only you can take that first step toward it. No one can do it for you. Once you’ve taken that first step, I believe you’ll find that the next step comes easier. And the ones after that will be easier still because you are on the way along the Scouting trail.

10/5/2015 – Two Little Words

Scouts, here’s a quiz: What’s the most welcome two-word sentence in the English language?

Some of you might say it’s “We won!” Others would vote for ‘Here’s money!” But I think the most welcome two-word sentence is “Thank you.”

It isn’t used as often as it should be. How often do you use it? And how often do you say “thank you” to the people who are closest to you, your mother or father? How often do you say it to your friends or even strangers when they do something for you?

It’s so easy to forget, especially if the Good Turn is done by somebody in your family. Too often we take for granted the many things our parents and other family members do for us.

Here’s a challenge for you. Between now and next week, see if you can find some reason to say “thank you” every day to some member of your family. You may be surprised how they will react.

A simple “thank you” costs nothing, but it means much to those who matter most to you.

9/21/2015 – Erik Weihenmayer

First of all, I had a different Scoutmaster minute I had planned to give.

But then I went to Camporee and I heard an amazing speaker named Erik Weihenmayer.

This one will be a few minutes long; but it’s an inspiring story and I need to share it with you.

For those of you that don’t know who Erik Weihenmayer is, or didn’t hear his story at Camporee, he’s a mountain climber and a kayaker.  He didn’t start either activity until after an event that happened his Freshman year in High School.  He had a disease that caused him to lose his sight.  As he was going blind and feeling sorry for himself he saw a person on “That’s Incredible!” That TV show was in the 80’s and was about incredible feats.  His vision at that point was so poor he had to press his face up against the TV screen to see the show.  This particular show highlighted a runner named Terry Fox.  Terry Fox lost his leg to cancer.  But instead of giving in to what happened, Terry decided to run across all of Canada to raise money and awareness for cancer research.  Terry didn’t finish his quest; he stopped after 3,339 miles because of the cancer.  When Erik saw this, something clicked.  He decided that he had no control over his loss of vision but he wouldn’t let this incident stop him or mean that he would just give in to his blindness.  He was reading a magazine in braille about learning to climb a mountain and he signed up for it.  Then he continued to climb; summiting some of the world’s tallest mountains.  He climbed Everest and is the only sightless person to do so.  

But he didn’t stop there.  He then decided to take up kayaking.  He kayaked the Grand Canyon, including the “Lava” rapids which is the most dangerous part of the river.  He failed on his first attempt, but he came back and did it on the second attempt.

He created an organization to help people achieve and understand that there are no limits.  He talked about a man who doesn’t have arms or legs but they fitted him with prosthetics and he crab walked up Kilimanjaro, one of the world’s highest peaks and Africa’s highest at almost 20,000 ft.  Another person was a paraplegic.  With a rig he is able to climb mountains by doing the equivalent of thousands of pull-ups over many hours during his climb.

My point isn’t to say I expect you all to take up Mountain Climbing.  It’s that if these people can overcome adversity; maybe we can too.  Whether that’s a personal challenge we’re having in athletics, a goal around achieving a scout rank, or a challenge with one of your classes.

I’ll close with something Erik talked about; a spark that he felt initiated his journey into mountain climbing and happened when he saw Terry Fox not letting his cancer and leg amputation determine his destiny.

“A spark of greatness exists in all people, but only by touching that spark to adversity’s flame does it blaze into the force that fuels our lives and the world.”  

Find out more about Erik at

9/14/2015 – On the Trail

Once a long time ago a hound was out with his master trailing a mountain lion. The hound came to a place where a fox had crossed the trail, and the hound decided to follow the fox instead of the lion.

A short time later a rabbit track crossed that of the fox, and again the hound changed direction. Why should he chase a fox when a rabbit might

be easier to catch? .

When the hunter finally caught up with his hound, the dog was barking at a small hole in the ground. The hound had brought to bay a field mouse instead of a mountain lion!

How about you? Have you set your trail to achieve your ambition? Are you able to follow it, or are you sidetracked by easier trails that cross it from time to time?

Don’t be like the hound. Find out what it takes to achieve your ambition, and then get started. The best way to achieve anything in life is to set a true course for it and then stick to that trail. On the Trail

Once a long time ago a hound was out with his master trailing a mountain lion. The hound came to a place where a fox had crossed the trail, and the hound decided to follow the fox instead of the lion.

A short time later a rabbit track crossed that of the fox, and again the hound changed direction. Why should he chase a fox when a rabbit might be easier to catch? .

When the hunter finally caught up with his hound, the dog was barking at a small hole in the ground. The hound had brought to bay a field mouse instead of a mountain lion!

How about you? Have you set your trail to achieve your ambition? Are you able to follow it, or are you sidetracked by easier trails that cross it from time to time?

Don’t be like the hound. Find out what it takes to achieve your ambition, and then get started. The best way to achieve anything in life is to set a true course for it and then stick to that trail.

08/24/2015 – Yogi Berra

Yogi Berra is a retired (he has passed away since I gave this Scoutmaster minute) but very successful baseball player, coach, and manager for the New York Yankees.  Yogi has a quote that is funny but true.

The quote is “Always go to other people’s funerals, otherwise they won’t come to yours.”

It’s funny because people can’t attend a funeral, after they are dead”

It’s true because other people see your caring, your respect, your reverence.

In response, others would show their caring and respect –  and they will attend your funeral.

An Eagle Scout Court of Honor is not like a funeral, instead it is a celebration of a Scout who is earning the highest advancement rank in Boy Scouting.  But the saying could be true for scouting as well.

Always go to other people’s Eagle Court of Honor, otherwise they won’t come to yours.

Sometimes Eagle Scouts are able to return to a another scout’s Eagle Court of Honor.  However it’s really up to active members of the troop to celebrate a fellow scout’s achievements.

It demonstrates, being Loyal, Friendly, Courtesy, and Kind.

Remember,  always go to other people’s Eagle Court of Honor, otherwise they won’t come to yours.

08/17/2015  – Junk Food

You all know what junk food is-stuff like potato chips, soda pop, and candy. You’ve probably heard people say that it’s not good for you.

I don’t think that’s really true. Even junk food has some food value. But it is true that a steady diet of junk food is not good because you don’t get a balanced diet of vitamins, minerals, and protein that you need to grow.

We have what might be called junk food in troop meetings. They’re the games we play just for fun not to learn any special skill but just because we enjoy them. There’s not a thing wrong with “junk food” games, and I hope you enjoy them as much as most of you do real junk food.

But they’re not all of Scouting. In our troop activities we try to give you a balanced diet of Scouting, with some instruction in skills and plenty of chances to advance in rank and to learn useful things.

Take advantage of those chances. Don’t just enjoy the junk food and leave the rest of the meal.

8/10/2015 – 10 Tips to Get Along Minute

Here are 10 tips to improve how you relate to other people.

  1. Smile at people – it takes sixty-five muscles to frown, only fifteen to smile
  2. Call people by name – to do that, you need to learn their name
  3. Speak to people – take a chance and approach someone new
  4. Be friendly – if you would have friends, be one
  5. Be cordial – speak and act as if everything that you do is a real pleasure
  6. Be interested in people – find out what makes them tick
  7. Be generous with praise – stingy with criticism.
  8. Be considerate of the feelings of others – think what impact your words will have before you speak them
  9. Be thoughtful of the opinions of others – there are three sides to a controversy; yours, the other person’s, and the right one.
  10. Be ready to serve – helping someone strengthens that bond of friendship.
6/8/2015 – Tossing Back Starfish Minute  

You can’t save the world, but you can help individuals wherever you are.


I was walking along an ocean beach one hot summer day. In the distance, I saw a man who was doing a strange dance, bending over again and again.

As I got closer, I saw that he was picking up starfish that had washed up on the shore and was throwing them back.

I asked him, “Why are you throwing those starfish into the sea?”

He replied, “The tide is going out, the sun is hot, and if I don’t, they will die here.”

I asked him why he was doing this since the beach was miles long and there were thousands of starfish and the few he threw back wouldn’t make any difference.

The man paused with a starfish in his hand. He looked at it, then looked out at the ocean. Then, he tossed the starfish out and said, ‘Made a difference to that one.’

6/1/2015 – Actions speak louder than words


Just think about this for 15 seconds:

“What you do speaks so loudly, I can’t hear what you say.”

(On your watch, time 15 seconds off.)

Can someone share what that means to you?

When you say the Scout Law at a troop meeting and you tell a tenderfoot to “Shut Up!” so you can say a scout is “Friendly”, which does he hear?

When you tell some 2nd class scouts to work together as a patrol and then you complain about the terrible dinner your patrol had to eat, which does he hear?

When you tell a scout that everyone has an important place in the troop and then you make fun of another scout’s sloppy knot, which does he hear?

Now, take 15 seconds to look at each scout around this room. Think in your head which ones ‘say’ the most without using words – which have you noticed setting a good example?

(time off another 15 seconds.)

Good night, scouts.

5/18/2015 – Soldiers’ ultimate sacrifice

Does anyone know what is next week?  

Memorial Day. Here’s something that’s fitting for that holiday:

Sometimes we take for granted the men and women that sacrificed their lives for this country.  There were many soldiers who gave up their futures so each of us could have our own futures.  There stands a monument at Guadalcanal (in the Solomon Islands near Papa New Guinea – not far from Australia) where, during World War II, a U.S. Marine regiment was totally annihilated.  The inscription reads: “When you go home, tell them, and say, ‘For their tomorrows, we gave our today.’”

Please reflect on that next week during Memorial Day.

5/11/2015 –  Various Quotes

From this link:

Some quotes to consider:

Eleanor Roosevelt: No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.

Albert Einstein: We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them

Unknown: If you always do what you always did, you’ll always get what you always got.

Franklin Roosevelt: Never underestimate a man who overestimates himself.

Abraham Lincoln: Character is like a tree and reputation like its shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.

Abraham Lincoln: Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.

Menander: The character of a man is known from his conversations.

Jack London: A bone to the dog is not charity. Charity is the bone shared with the dog, when you are just as hungry as the dog.

Eddie Rickenbacker: Courage is doing what you’re afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you’re scared.

John Wayne: Courage is being scared to death – but saddling up anyway.

Mark Twain: Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear – not absence of fear.

Ralph Waldo Emerson: A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is braver five minutes longer.

5/04/2015 – The wise thing to do

Here’s a question to ask yourself:

“In light of my past experience, current circumstances, future hopes and dreams, what is the wise thing to do?”

This has many applications.  

Say for example you’re a wrestler and have to be within a certain weight class.  Your buddies are going out to Cold Stone for a treat.  You have to decide knowing that you have weigh-in on Monday that maybe you have a sorbet or something that won’t put you outside of your weight class.

What if you want to be in law enforcement and you are around friends who want to take illicit drugs?  Some law enforcement agencies will not hire you because of that.

This is a personal question and the answer could depend on your circumstances.  Another example: You could ask this question about playing a video game vs taking the dog for a walk.

If you only play video games for an hour a week, it may be ok to play the game instead of walk the dog.  But if you’re a person who can’t stop playing until three hours later.  Maybe walking the dog would be the wiser decision.

Based on a talk from Andy Stanley

4/20/2015 – Gossip

A Pillow Full of Feathers

A young man used to spread gossip.

He knew it was wrong but he loved the thrill and power as people were enthralled when he spread stories; some true and some not; about other people.

One day the local Rabbi got word about this young man’s predilection of sharing gossip.

He went and confronted the young man about the damage that is done by gossip and wanted to give him an example of what happens when you gossip about others.

He told the young man to go home, take his feather pillow out into the town square; cut the case open and tear out all the feathers there then return with the pillow case to the Rabbi’s office.

The young man did as the Rabbi instructed.  A cloud of feathers flew everywhere.  Some floated and stayed around the town square; some took to the wind and flew away.  He then returned with the empty pillow case.  

The Rabbi ordered the young man: “Now go back to the square and bring me back all the feathers, and stuff them back in your pillow. All of them, mind you. Not one may be missing!”  The young man stared at the Rabbi in disbelief. “That is impossible, Rabbi. There are some that are still in the town square, but some have flown away and are gone. Rabbi, I can’t do that, you know it!”

“Yes,” said the Rabbi and he nodded gravely, “that is how it is: once a rumor, a gossipy story, a ‘secret,’ leaves your mouth, you do not know where it ends up. It flies on the wings of the wind, and you can never get it back!”

The Rabbi told the young man to apologize to those he had spread gossip about and to never gossip again.

4/13/2015 – Mistakes / Regret

We all make mistakes.  We all say or do things that sooner or later we come to regret.

Here are some things that we will never be sorry for.

Thinking before acting,

Hearing before judging,

Forgiving your enemies,

Being candid and frank,

Helping a fallen brother,

Being honest in business,

Thinking before speaking,

Being loyal to your church,

Standing by your principles,

Stopping your ears to gossip,

Bridling a slanderous tongue,

Harboring only pure thoughts,

Sympathizing with the afflicted,

Being courteous and kind to all.

Author Unknown

4/6/2015 – Persistence

If you feel like you have a good idea, stick with it.

This story is an example of how persistence paid off and benefited the country as a result.

In the late 1950s, the United States was about to add two more territories, Alaska and Hawaii, as states to the union.  

This presented a small problem to Congress.  You see, Congress is responsible for the design of the flag, and how the white stars appear on the blue background.  With 48 states, it was easy to show the 48 stars as six rows with eight stars in each row.  But how do you add two more stars and still have a respectable pattern?  A teacher in Lancaster, Ohio gave this problem to his class as a school project.  A student by the name of Robert Heft had an idea.  He thought that if the pattern alternated between a row of six stars followed by a row of five stars there would be regular and symmetric patterns.  Altogether there would be 5 rows of six stars and 4 rows of five stars, giving a total of 50 stars.

Robert Heft spent hours sewing stars onto a piece of cloth.  He turned his project in, however, his teacher was unimpressed and Robert got a B-minus for his efforts.  But that didn’t stop Robert.  He knew he had a good idea, so he sent his design to his congressman.  Congress liked his idea, and as Alaska and Hawaii became the two newest states, the U.S. flag bore the design of Robert Heft, a schoolboy from Ohio.

3/16/2015 – Morally Clean

A Scout is morally clean, and being clean is a choice he must make.  It isn’t something that happens all by itself.  He either chooses to be clean, or he chooses not to.  If he chooses to be clean, he must keep filthy and corrupt things out of his life.

All the water in the world,

However hard it tried,

Could never sink the smallest ship,

Unless it got inside.

All the evil in the world,

The blackest kind of sin

Could never hurt you one least bit,

Unless you let it in.

Author Unknown

3/9/2015 – Working Hard – Persistence

A Scout must learn to work hard.  Lessons can be learned from hard work.  Those who can work hard and finish what they start are the same ones that win “life’s victories.”

FYI: People that don’t know about this hard work will call those people “lucky.”

Stick to your task till it sticks to you

Beginners are many, but enders are few.

Honor, power, place and praise

Will come in time to him who stays.

Stick to your task till it sticks to you

Bend at it, sweat at it, smile at it too.

For out of the bend, the sweat, and the smile

Will come life’s victories, after a while.

Author unknown

3/2/2015 – Scout Oath and being positive

In the scout oath, a Scout promises to keep his mind mentally awake.  The statesman Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1818, novelist and British prime minister) expressed it this way when he said, “Nurture your mind with great thoughts, for you will never go any higher than you think.”  A related quote I’ve heard is something like this, “If you think you can, you can. If you think you can’t, you won’t.”

2/9/2015 – Be Kind

A Scout is kind in word and in deed, and for good reason.

Aside from the fact that it is good to get along with others, this short poem explains some personal reasons why we should show kindness to others.

Be careful of the words you say,

And keep them soft and sweet.

For you never know from day to day,

Which ones you’ll have to eat.

2/2/2015 – Distractions

Wherever you are – be there

I once heard a speech about being present; I think it fits for a current challenge we have in our troop.  

Let’s use an example to explain what I mean; when I say, “Wherever you are be there.”

I know the Broncos weren’t in the Super Bowl but imagine they were.

If  Peyton Manning was getting ready to go in and he was on his phone doing his personal banking or playing “Trivia Crack” would you as a Bronco fan be a little concerned about his focus and that he might not do a good job?

What if your airline pilot during the pre-flight check list was busy talking with his buddies and ignoring the work he needed to do before he flew you to your destination?

This is what I mean by wherever you are; be there.

This is true of not only my examples; but for everybody here including parents and scout leaders.

In my examples if you’re Peyton Manning your only focus should be Football when you’re in the field of play and the airline pilot needs to focus on activities related to flying the plane.

This also means when you’re at school you should be focused at school.

When we’re at work; we need to focus on work.

When we’re at home; we need to focus on things there.

And when we’re at scouts; we need to focus on scouting related activities.
We get that you have friends here; and certainly you’ll be hanging out and socializing with them.  However. You’ve got time to play video games at home and let’s leave the gaming for outside of our scouting meetings.  It will also set a great example for the scouts soon to join our troop.  Wherever you are? Be There.

1/12/2015 – Trustworthy

A Scout is Trustworthy, and a big part of trustworthiness is honesty.  Sometimes it is hard to be honest, such as when you must take a test you haven’t studied for.  At times like that it is even more important to be honest.  A science professor at a local university gave a test at the end of each chapter; and included a short thought at the bottom of the test page.  On one particular test the message read: “You are taking two tests today; one in physics, and one in honesty.  There are many good men and women in the world that cannot pass a test in physics.  So if you must fail one of these tests, it is better to fail the physics test.

January 5th, 2015 – Guide Rails

Do you know what guide rails are?

In orienteering they are the things that keep you on course; to know you’re headed in the right direction.  Examples are man-made features like power lines and roads, or natural things like streams.  Another example is on a railway; a guide rail keeps the train on the track.

Did you know we have guide rails as scouts?

Some great examples are the Scout Law, Scout Oath, and Motto.

They can be used to help keep us on-track or on-course in doing what’s right.

Our former Scout Master David Gilfillan used to say, “When in doubt, run the 12.”

What he meant was to repeat the Scout Law to yourself and see if whatever action you’re about to take fits within the 12 points of the Scout Law.  

When you don’t know what to do, repeat the Scout Law and Scout Oath.

The twelve points of the scout law, and the 3 promises of the scout oath: Duty to God and country, Duty to other people, and Duty to self, will guide you to make the right choice if the choice you are making fits within these guide rails.

Just remember this:

12 / 3 it matters to me, all the way and every day