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sermon – Veterans’ Weekend

BSA Camp Constantin dining hall — displaying service flags for Veterans Weekend 2023

This weekend’s service first thanks and looks closer into the calling of those who serve in our military, concluding with the poem “It is the Soldier” by Charles Province. The message then explores an interfaith view on Ephesians 6 “the Armor of God’ that we are called to ‘suit up’ with in order to be on active duty as people of faith within the world.

Devotional message (10-12 minutes)

Worship Handout (total program 20-25 minutes)

To all the veterans out there and their loved ones — thank you for your service.

Connect with Today’s Scouting Movement

Today’s Scouting Movement isn’t just monthly campouts from yesteryear – sure, our Boy Scout Troops camp almost every month, but they do it to help young leaders learn to lead: planning meals, organizing tasks, encouraging teamwork, and teaching new skills (to each other).

Scouting today also has full programs around STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). And Scouting is co-ed starting at 14 through its Venturing program. Some of the methods have adapted with the times, but the goal remains the same: character development of youth.

  • If you regularly read this blog, thanks!
  • If you found this blog through one of my reach outs via email / twitter, thanks!

Here are some ways that you can help:

If you have any skill, hobby or vocational aptitude, there is likely a merit badge that you could teach in your local area for a half-day, even once per year. With over 130 merit badges, its almost guaranteed that you know a good bit about at least one. Tomorrow’s leaders need mentors today, so please help.

Or maybe you work at a venue that Scouts would want to come and visit – or your organization would consider to hosting a Pack, Troop, Crew, or Explorer Post?  Please let us know.

Additionally, Scouting is a volunteer-led movement … with many parents being supplemented by local volunteers (for merit badges, but also activities or venues). Every Pack/Troop/Crew needs a helper, called a Commissioner, as well as just other adults to help with background tasks, so that the youth can have a great experience. Every city or “district” needs extra volunteers to help on even a small committee or activity team. These are just a few ways that you might plug in.

Easy ways that you can plug-in:

  • Many schools and churches host a Scouting program – as your youth minister or PTO/PTA representative.
  • Or put in your zip code at to find a unit near you.
  • Or Bing/Google search for “Boy Scouts of America council” and the name of the large city closest to you, to find out how Scouting is serving your local community. Look for a webpage talking about your local “Council” and they can help you plug in.

If none of those work for you, leave me a comment (private) on this post, and I’ll personally help you figure out how you can connect/reconnect with Scouting.  And hey, if you don’t have any time but perhaps you can help financially, that’d be great too. Most Councils have a way to receive one-time or recurring donations. Here is a link where I serve.

No More YPT Hassles

Like most other things in adult life, paperwork always seems to be what ‘gets in the way’ – and when it comes to recharter or wring-out, encouraging well-intentioned and actively serving adults to renew their YPT training used to be arduous.

But in 2015, YPT management is much easier due to the new Scouting Tools:

1) REPORTING: Unit Leaders (Key-3 and their Commissioner) can now run a report that shows when everyone’s YPT will expire. Check out my earlier blog on exactly how to run the report.

But there are two other big advancements (pun intended) worth noting:

2) NOTIFICATIONS: Any adult whose account has their email address registered will be notified when their YPT is about to expire. So the easiest thing that a leader can do is print out the email roster for their unit from and ensure that everyone has an email address registered in the system.

So, now both the unit leaders and the adults have multiple ways to find out if their YPT is ready to expire. And if the adult takes the online YPT training, it will automatically update in the system. But what about those who take YPT in-person? You folks get good news too!

3) TRAINING UPDATES can now be done by your unit key 3 – they can add training to any of their adults’ records, if the adults bring proof of participation.

How to Update Someone’s Training Record

– Log in in as one of the Unit Key-3 or as a Unit Commissioner

– Go to Training Manager on the upper-left corner’s pull down list of Scouting Tools

– Look on the top of the right-pane of the screen and click on the small certificate with a green add symbol (the leftist most icon of the three).

– On the Add Training screen are three pull-down options:

  • Program – Cub Scouting, Boy Scouting, Venturing and Other (e.g. YPT)
  • Course – pull down and search for the course that the adult showed proof of attending
  • Date – what was the completion date of the course

– With the class information entered, you can add one or more adults.

  • For YPT, you’ll likely only have one adult to enter
  • If you are an instructor, you can enter several participants at one time

– And click [SUBMIT]

You’re done!!  Note, even as a Key-3 leader or Commissioner, you cannot enter information about your own training. A Scout is trustworthy, but … 🙂

Hope this was helpful,

November is time for Wring-Out !!

It used to be that “R&R” used to mean rest and relaxation … but if you are a Committee Chairperson or Advancement Coordinator, then R & R stands for Recruitment and Recharter. For many units, your main recruiting efforts are complete and rechartering is “months away” — so you can take a break, right?

In reality, like the old academic adage, there are really three R’s:

  • Recruiting
  • wRing-out
  • Recharter

November is Wring-out and if done right, wring-out is the single most important thing that you can do to ensure an easy recharter in a few months.


Wring-out is to ensure that everyone in your Pack/Troop (Crew/Team) is registered with the BSA (and vice versa) — it’s a simple comparison between your list and BSAs.

And it really is simple; just take whatever list you use — a DOC, an XLS, a Packmaster/Troopmaster export, etc. — and send it to Council via your Commissioner. They will compare it with what is on the BSA system and then follow-up with any discrepencies. Important hint — while this may be obvious, the only list/roster that you should not use is any kind of export from a BSA system (e.g. … because that is the same database that the Council will use.

RECHARTER PREP that could not be any easier

That being said, this is a great time to try out the new tools. You are certainly welcome to compare the lists and do your own wring-out comparison, but more importantly — look at the YPT report. One of the best new features in the BSA My Scouting site is a YPT aging report that tells you when every adult member’s YPT will expire. This is huge because the single hardest part of recharter is chasing adults to re-certify.

To gain access to the awesomely helpful YPT feature:

  1. Log in to as a Unit Key-3 member
  2. From the upper-left corner, pull down the list and select the “Training Manager.” Note: if you are also registered as a District or Council team member, you may have extra options, but under the banner of your unit, there is a “Training Manager” link.
  3. The pie-chart on the right is the YPT aging report, showing:
    1. Green – % of adults whose YPT is valid for at least 90 more days
    2. Dark Red – % of adults whose YPT will expire in less than 30 days
    3. Bright Red – % of adults who have never taken YPT


There are two blue buttons on the top of this window:

The right button changes the view from a pie-chart to a more detailed aging report

MyScouting-YPT-aging-listThe left button is where all of this gets HUGELY HELPFUL

You can now generate a report of whose YPT will expire.

KEY POINT – Recharter will happen sooner than you think, and only thing less pleasant than chasing down volunteers’ YPT renewals during the holidays to be the volunteer being badgered to recertify. So, do them and you a big favor — pull your report and give then November to recertify before the holidays get busy.

If you do the hardest part now (while it isn’t that hard), then recharter is a few signatures and cutting a check (give or take).

How to get more adults to serve in your Pack

As Pack leaders are starting to think about the next school year, many often lament or hope for an influx of new adult volunteers to help the Pack run.  So, how do you do that?

Register them

That isn’t meant to be trite or over-simplistic, but the process starts on the first night of School Night for Scouting (SNfS) or whatever you call your Fall recruiting event. When the new families come to sit down, every seat should have stacks of:

  1. Information about Scouting
  2. Information about your Pack, including calendars for the first 60 days, new uniform details, and key contact information
  3. A Youth Application
  4. An Adult Application

Most folks, when they get a stack of papers and they are “ready” (most are or they wouldn’t be giving up an evening at home) to join will start filling out whatever paper is in front of them because they haven’t figured out that it is optional. This isn’t trying to trick them; just start with the assumption that every adult will join, until proven otherwise. If you only expect a new Den Leader and Assistant, and maybe a Committee Member, per table, than you will be lucky to get that and not much else.


But it costs an extra $20 dollars?

Yes, it does. It also emphasizes from the very first interaction that they are expected to be involved, and it helps with a little more commitment on the whole family to participate in Scouting. By the way, it also protects them with BSA insurance on any Pack or Den event that they go on, since many will be bringing their kids – and that insurance can be a life saver (see earlier blog).


Some of our families can’t afford even the minimum

I respect that, but many Councils and Packs have extra scholarship dollars. If your Pack is in an area that consistently needs that, consider adding $2 to all annual dues. But dropping the adult fees (and the adult’s service to the Pack) is not a good way to reduce the investment, since the Pack will be growing to serve the boy either way.

One of the key tenants of character building is self‑reliance, so if a parent will likely have financial needs throughout the year, it is even more important that they help contribute to the Pack by serving as a leader. Maybe something as simple as a helper for Blue & Gold, or selling snacks at the Pinewood Derby, or as an assistant Den Leader.

Start with some assumptions:

  • Most parents will fill out paperwork, if it is put in front of them
  • Most of those parents will help out if specifically asked (start with small jobs)
  • Most parents in financial-need will “pay in service” until you tell them that they don’t have to
  • Push the scholarships – don’t reduce the price

Some readers might be defensive by now, but I would offer that Scouting has value that far exceeds the cost. Similar to sales businesses, don’t drop the price — because that diminishes the perceived value and it reduces your customers’/participants’ commitment to the program. Instead, make that same effort to over-articulate the value of Scouting – all that the boys will get out of it, all that the families will get from it, and how cheap it is compared to alternative youth programs.


Suggested Do’s and Don’t

Don’t just enroll the kids at SNfS – or you will perpetuate your lack of adult-involvement problem. It is inordinantly harder to recruit them later, and you’ll never get as many as there were at SNfS.

Don’t take the adult applications at SNfS without processing them. Some Packs take the applications and file them until the adult is slotted to a role – DON’T. First, the adult application has SSN’s and other personal information, so Pack leaders should process them and get them out of their hands and into Council, as quickly as possible. Secondly, everyone can be Committee Members until proven otherwise. You can always turn them into Asst. Den Leaders later, but get them into the system and then figure out in what way(s) that they can help.

Don’t let them leave with their applications to “think about it” – as described in my earlier SNfS blogs, have a sign-up sheet as they first enter, with phone numbers and email addresses, so that you can later reconcile they applications to those that attended. Even if they appear hesitant, try to “sit” on the applications (youth & adult) and then help them finish them when they return.


Most Importantly – BELIEVE that Every Parent Can Serve

There are 40+ Cub Belt Loops covering almost every hobby and sport that an elementary-aged kid would likely have any interest in, along with twenty in-depth Webelos pins and a nearly infinite amount of supporting activities that support the Tiger go-see-it’s and the Wolf/Bear modules.

It is hard to imagine a case where every single parent doesn’t have a little something that can be applied to helping somewhere in the Pack – and if all that fails, there are lots of small (and large) roles on the committee for functions throughout the year. The problem isn’t that the parent can’t help, but that no one has helped them discover where they can. But you, as the current Pack Leaders have to believe that.


Closing Thought

Processing a bunch of new adult applications, explaining the process of Scouting and adult involvement repetitively, and then digging to find the right role for them … it is a lot of work, but it is far less work than carrying the Pack on the shoulders of just a few overworked volunteers.

A Week-Long Wood Badge is Hard!

I am excited to be heading to the Wood Badge course held annually at Philmont in August – hosted by Circle Ten Council but available to Scouters nationwide!!

But in seeking out folks to come with me, everyone seems to say the same thing:

  • I want to do Wood Badge, because I know it will benefit me
  • Doing it at Philmont sounds awesome!
  • But taking a week off is hard…

And I admit that it can be hard – but admittedly, I chose the week-long version instead of two weekends strictly because it would be easier logistically.  Here is my reasoning:

Wood Badge is designed around a six day experience, which can be divided into two three-day weekends – but the reality is that it ends up being a 23-day deal – here’s why:


The first work week — you’ll likely have your regular day-job Monday-Thursday (and squeeze in those Friday commitments early) … and then you’ll drive Thursday evening to your camp, or kick off extremely early Friday morning.

Either way, you’ll spend three great days doing Wood Badge part I on Friday, Saturday, Sunday (they are full days) – and then drive home Sunday night.


The second week, you will have a full week of work, but without the restful weekend in-between.

Most Councils then have an off weekend, but there is some project work to do with your patrol … so plan for a half-day of collaboration during that weekend with your patrol.  Throw in some honey-do’s, maybe church and two weekends’ worth of errands and those 48 hours will fly by.


For the third week, you are back to work for Monday-Thursday … before driving back out to the campsite.

You’ll finish the second amazing part of the Wood Badge experience over Friday, Saturday and Sunday … drive home that night.

And then have another regular five-day work week…. all of which has been consecutive.



In all, you’ll likely have taken four vacation days = two Friday’s off and hopefully two Monday’s afterwards to rest up.  Your heart will be full … your mind will be spinning … but your body will be tired.

OR … take a fifth vacation day … go to someplace where you’ll need a light jacket in August … and do the entire experience uninterrupted.


To be clear, regardless of the location or format, Wood Badge is an amazing experience that will make you a better employee, a better Scouter and likely a better teammate in all of life’s journeys.  The hard part is simply deciding when to go – and some folks can’t take that many days in a row. 

But as for those vacation days, while most folks take personal days for the Fridays & Mondays, you’d be surprised by the number of employers that will support you going for a week as “Personal Leadership Development” instead of as vacation.  Here is a leadership overview which may help in your conversations at work.

I hope that this was helpful – and maybe I’ll see you at Philmont in August,

Emmaus for Scouters – Wood Badge for Christians

Are you ready to take the next steps on your journey in either Christian Discipleship or Servant Leadership?

If so, there are two remarkably similar volunteer/lay-led retreat programs that I hope that you will consider.

Wood Badge is advanced leadership training for adults in the Boy Scouts of America. It truly is “leadership” training that is simply delivered in a Scouting setting, because the foundational principles that help Scouts grow as leaders can help adults, as well (

The Walk to Emmaus is a non-denominational Christian experience, intended to truly fan the flames of the Holy Spirit in ways that many people describe as being almost as powerful a catalyst in their walk as their initial surrendering to Christ (


To be clear, Wood Badge is not Christian-centric, nor are there any other direct connections between the programs. My hope is that by sharing some parallels, those that may have realized the blessings of one might consider the other. Download this flyer to see more about how the programs compare.

Both are a retreat, in order to help you truly focus on your own growth – you will come back changed!

  • Wood Badge is six days, or two 3-day weekends
  • Emmaus is one 3-day weekend

Both use small groups to help you build life-long bonds as you experience new ideas together.

  • Wood Badge uses Patrols — “I was in the Beaver Patrol of Circle Ten Wood Badge 94.”
  • Emmaus uses Table families — “I sat at the Table of Paul on Dallas Emmaus Walk 113.”

clip_image004Both are structured curriculums that are delivered in your local area by volunteers who have been where you are.

  • Wood Badge curriculum is from the Boy Scouts of America, but then taught by a volunteer staff.  Each lesson has key points that are consistent but then adapted by the personal experiences of the speaker.
  • Emmaus curriculum comes from the Upper Room and is then taught by a lay-led staff, with a handful of clergy. Each lesson has key scripture and core ideas that are then adapted by the personal experiences of the speaker.

Both have opportunities to re-experience and refine your learnings while serving in future events.

  • Recent Wood Badge graduates can serve as Troop Guides for new participants or behind the scenes as Scribes or Quartermasters; and in later courses as SPL, ASM’s or Scoutmaster in future courses.
  • Recent Emmaus pilgrims can serve as Table Leaders for new pilgrims or behind the scenes in the “Outside” or “4th day” teams; and in later weekends as ALD’s or Lay Director in future courses.

Both foster communities for fellowship, but are intended to better equip you to serve those in your normal world.

  • Wood Badge graduates are recognizable by the wooden beads on their uniform, but it is not a clique. The purpose of WB is to grow leaders that can then go serve their Scouts, their families, their churches and their workplaces.
  • Emmaus has reunion groups and other fellowship events, but the purpose of the Emmaus experience is to help you grow as a Disciple of Christ and leader in service to God, your family, church, and the world.

CALL TO ACTION: If you are a Christian Scouter who has experienced the blessings of either of these programs, then you know how powerful they can be. Please consider taking the other journey as well. Search the web for “Emmaus” and your local major city … or ask about Wood Badge from your BSA Council representative.

And if you want a truly remarkable Wood Badge experience – consider taking Wood Badge at Philmont!!  Each year, Circle Ten Council hosts a course that is available to all Scouters.  Check out for details about the August 2014 course.

Personal blog of the Holy Spirit on the Hill

When we are blessed, we are obligated to share not only the blessing but how the blessing occured, as well

Whether a miracle is visible for miles and observed by hundreds or is seen and felt in the heart of just one, it seems impossible to deny that a supernatural force of provisioning and care isn’t at work every day. But it is important that when divinity bestows an act of grace, intercession or prophetic wisdom; that the benefactor must become a witness, so that others’ faith can be bolstered, so that others’ prayers can be validated as answered, and so that all of us can be affirmed with each other that our God continues to be amongst us. In other words, Grace fell upon my shoulders last weekend, and so I am obliged to share that moment.

Setting the Stage

It was supposed to be just another Scouting weekend, with all of our local troops camping together. All day, I knew that I was supposed to preach the next day for our camp’s worship service, and just couldn’t find my normal passion or excitement to even peruse my sermon file for what I would speak on. All afternoon, I had been heartbroken over a Scout parents’ story of struggle that their son was going through. They were going through an unimaginable parental crisis as their Scout realigned his lifestyle, and I felt so helpless other than to assure them that God was in it. The words felt so empty, and yet I knew it was all I could say.

The Holy Spirit was in the Wind

On Saturday night, I was sitting in the dark on a hill that was overlooking a Scouting campfire. A persistent wind was blowing in from the lake, as we were on a peninsula, when all of the sudden, I found myself listening inward instead of watching outward. I truly felt “quiet” – not as in what my ears could not hear, but in my shoulders relaxing, and my mind that wasn’t multitasking, and my heart that wasn’t racing – I felt “quiet.” And then I heard the echoes of several explanations of “The Prodigal Son” as it had been expounded to me in numerous settings. And then I realized that while I was hearing the words that had been used over years past, it was in my voice. The words kept coming and I understood that I was hearing what I needed to say. It was all that I could do to take care of a few minor obligations so that I could run to my laptop and feverishly type into the night.


CLICK HERE to read the sermon on The Prodigal Son, which I cannot claim to have come from me.


Who else was in the story?

It was easy to see the struggling Scout who was recently redeemed (and his parents) in the story of the Prodigal Son, but after I finished typing it, I saw others:

  • I saw a Scout who had been astray and confronted with it; and truly turned around. He is just winding up from being his Troop’s leader, as his journey “back” is complete – and I wonder if that isn’t how the prodigal son might have been in the months after returning to his father.
  • Another Scout had finally been elected to the OA, after having been passed over – and I saw in him the older brother in the parable who believed himself faithful in everything he did, and yet not rewarded for it. There were other Scouts whom I could foresee as still serving without reward.
  • And then I saw myself: As the father, who is looking on the horizon in hopes for his family; As the older brother faithfully toiling away (or at least I hope so); and as the prodigal son, perpetually on my redemption journey but nowhere near “arrived” where I feel worthy for anyone celebrating my return as being complete.


I do hope that each of those that folks listed above, including me, and the other 400 folks that heard the sermon that morning, each found themselves somewhere in that story – perhaps with some experiencing a gentle nudging back into their Father’s Grace.

Thanks for reading.

JTE Commissioner Impact Survey – now in Beta

I am working on a research project to quantify Commissioner Service impact on overall unit health and JTE attainment.

To accomplish this, I am using an online survey that is intended to understand and quantify the role of BSA Commissioners in service to units, including their impact on JTE recognition, their areas of contribution to the units, and the frequency and methods that are most effective. Within the Council, three different groups of individuals are being asked to participate, including:

  • Administrative Commissioners (e.g. District Commissioner or ADC)
  • Unit-serving Commissioners (including UC’s, RTC’s, ADC’s and DC’s)
  • Unit leaders, such as Scoutmaster, Cubmaster or Committee Chairpersons


The online survey can be completed in less than 10 minutes — with 7 demographic questions which will then branch you to a series of between 8 and 24 additional questions, based on your role and unit activities.  Your honest and thorough participation is gratefully appreciated, as it will help all of our Commissioners serve all of our Scouts better. Thank you for your time.


Feedback is a Gift” and “A Scout is Helpful” = Your Participation is Requested (please try it out)

The online survey will be released to a broad range of Circle Ten Council respondents in April, but the survey is live now in order to gain feedback.  Please consider spending a few minutes going through the survey from the mindset of either a unit commissioner or a unit leader.  Feedback can be left in the final survey question or emailed via this website.  Thank you for participating in this Scouting research project.

DDCC – District Den Chief Coordinator (idea)

Here is an idea that I would like feedback on: a district (or sub-district) den chief coordinator (DDCC).

As a former Cubmaster/ASM and current Commissioner, I am a huge fan of Den Chief’ing, when it is done right:

  • The Cub Scouts see an ideal example of what staying in the program looks like
  • The Cub Leader gets an extra set of hands and ideas
  • The Troop gets an ambassador to the Packs that may join them
  • The Boy Scout learns leadership

But there are challenges that have to be managed:

  • Ensuring that the Boy Scout acts as a “leader” and not just “a big cub to be handled”
  • Ensuring that the Boy Scout participates and is able to receive coaching, just as they would if they were serving within the Troop
  • Ensuring that every Den gets a Den Chief (that wants one) and that every suitable Boy Scout gets an opportunity to serve/lead/learn.

As an Asst. District Commissioner, I serve 5 troops and 9 packs. At a minimum that would be 36 Dens (Wolf, Bear, Web1 and Web2 times 9 packs) that need Den Chiefs, but there are likely more like 45 dens in my service area. While I have helped many boy scouts find packs and vice versa, and am sure there are lots of other 1:1 matchups going on, I’d like to try something new:

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