Friday, November 25, 2016

Happy 2016 Thanksgiving

It has been a cold and very wet Thanksgiving holiday across the PNW and it shows at camp with threatening grey clouds, wind and constant rain.  However the good news is that it regenerates our landscape that was beaten down by thousands of feet for nine weeks this past summer.  Things are green again, so that is something to give thanks about.

We are over half way being full for the upcoming season and we even have a large number signed up for the 2018 summer as well, so I am very thankful for that as well.  Of course what we have would not be possible without a dedicated and loyal staff, helpful volunteers for our work parties as well as those adults who come to camp with their troops and of course our dedicated Camp Director and Ranger.  So I think we can all be thankful for them.  I certainly am.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 21, 2016


Last week the Oregonian reported two more lawsuits filed in Portland, OR against the BSA as well as the Cascade Pacific Council for alleged abuses in the mid 1970's.  It is probably more than "alleged" as the perpetrator is currently serving time for similar offenses.  However the lawsuit is against the BSA and the local council for not protecting the victims and allowing this individual to be part of the program.  As I have mentioned many times before, protecting our youth is paramount to our program and the BSA today has probably one of the most robust youth protection programs of any youth organization in the US at this time.  The reality of the world has changed as the years have gone by and the reality that we must protect our youth from the worst of mankind has become even more apparent.  The BSA has been lambasted on its "secret files" however no one seems to realize that if the parents or guardians fail to press charges against an individual, it is hard and illegal to defame or slander another; you just try to keep that person away from the organization.  I am not blaming parents mind you, but the reality of the past is what it is.  What really annoys me is how the press seem to present "facts" about the organization which is untrue and adds to the misconception by the public as whole as to our program and how it is run.

What got me going was the statement in the article, "......and the BSA re-hired this individual to be a Scoutmaster...."  Rehired?  When did becoming a Scoutmaster equate to an employed position by the BSA?  Oh, it is work, but it is a volunteer position that is given to an adult (male or female) by the parents of the troop and sanctioned by the sponsoring agency, NOT the BSA.  When an adult joins the BSA today, there is a background check run on each individual to assure that there is not a significant issue that involves the individual but it is not as thorough as one obtaining a security clearance or being hired by law enforcement.  More importantly, it is the parents that need to be comfortable in selecting their adult leadership that will interact with their children.  The BSA sets forth policies on how we engage with children and mandates training that has to be completed every other year (every year with camp staff).  Youth protection is strictly enforced and should any question of a violation of the policy is noted, the individual is immediately removed from the program until an investigation by law enforcement (if they believe a violation occurred) and/or the council.  Once that is complete, the individual (if exonerated) can return to their volunteer position.  I have seen this enforced on several occasions and this certainly is a change from when I was a young scout.  The crux is this, the parents MUST be involved with the troop and be vigilant that their troop also follows the policies of youth protection.  This is the only way this is going to work.  I cannot tell you how many times I have received a phone call at camp from an irate parent saying "my son just called and said his Scoutmaster is being mean to him, how could you allow a man like that to be Scoutmaster?"  Of course my response is that "I" did not allow anyone to be Scoutmaster, your parental colleagues did that, talk with them.  Of course we would have to check to make sure there were no youth protection violations occurring at camp but usually it is a scout that didn't like being told what to do.  It worries me however that some parents do not get how the program is run.  That is the hard part about these lawsuits as they claim that the BSA knew about these people and still let them part of the organization.  Personally, I have a hard time believing that if someone specifically knew that a person was a danger that they would turn their back and let them do it again.  However, that is a personal thought that involves this program and not other organizations that have had abuses with children.

Luckily these incidences are more and more the exception in this organization with over 2 million youth.  Youth protection is paramount in our operation and will always be that way.  Just tired of these things popping up again and again. 

Monday, November 14, 2016

Let's All Calm Down

This past week has brought a lot of anguish both mentally and emotionally for many people locally and nationally; one being the election and the other being the loss of UW to USC.  Many of you may care about one or the other (or both).  Regardless, tomorrow will come and life will go on.

The country, as a republic, made its decision last Tuesday on who would lead our great nation.  Half of the nation "won" and half the nation "lost" and by saying lost means simply your person did not get elected.  I have heard the rhetoric at work, read it in the printed media and watched on TV; I thought I would be happy after the election just to have it over but the drama continues.  Regardless of whom you voted for I really hope that those of us who really believe in what we teach through the BSA program, that this nation is far more stronger and robust than just one person.  We understand that our government is based on a series of checks and balances that are there to assure that what occurs is best for the nation.  Will mistakes be made?  Of course they will.  Will some people feel disenfranchised?  Of course, but there are always those who think we should be going one way with others feeling we should be going the other way.  This country has weathered controversy, scandals, monopolies, civil war and many other challenges and has moved on.  In the 240 years since our birth we have had Presidents who have been slave holders, racists, misogynists, bigots, liars and many who lack any form of integrity.  Yet our nation continues on.  There are many things that I disagree with in local or state politics, many things that I vote for or against that never seem to go my way.  That is the way life is in our democracy.  We don't quit, we move on and if we feel strongly about a subject it doesn't mean it cannot come back again for a vote.  I think it is great that we are so comfortable as a nation that anyone can protest about anything and it is protected but I shake my head when those protests come in the form of violence or property destruction.  That comes at the expense of others who actually might believe the way you do.  I have faith in this country and that comes not just from personal experience and observation but through the knowledge I learned even from High School US History as well as that from being a Boy Scout.  Let's calm down and deal with the issues and facts at hand.

As for the Husky game this past Saturday......ouch!  To my fellow fans I hate to say it but we did not play well in any facet of that game.  You cannot blame missed opportunity, you cannot blame the refs, you cannot blame any injuries; USC was just good that weekend and that is that.  Many of my friends took this loss hard and I understand but I must remind them, who in the heck ever thought we would be even considered a BCS team?  At the beginning of the season we were hoping....HOPING...that we might....MIGHT...make it to the PAC-12 championship.  Well not all is lost, we still can.  However enjoy the season, it has been great so far save this last game.  Like our nation, we will move on.

What does all of this have to do with Scouting or CP?  Well first, this blog is about my ruminations more than anything else but it does relate to what we try to develop in young scouts.  Adversity is always in front of you and how you deal with it is going to go along way in how you deal with life.  Things do not always go our way but regardless, life goes on and we have to go on with it.  There is nothing to be gained by stopping and lamenting about how things should be.  Pause, reflect and move on.  Many obstacles are surmountable and the ones that are not, well there are paths around them which may take more time but will arrive at the same place eventually.  Hard to measure you greatest successes if you do not have a few losses to compare them too.

Finally, if you were watching the ESPN broadcast from Seattle last weekend, you saw the CP flag waving in the background.  I may post a picture later....but it looked good.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Waving The Flag

Thanks to the Huskies winning (so far) season, ESPN College Gameday is coming to Seattle once again for the UW/USC game which will be played at 4:30 PM this Saturday.  The only problem (for me) is that the broadcast is for Eastern time which means they will begin here at 6 AM.  That, my friends, is a long day!  However it will be worth it to have our Camp flag on national TV once again.  When the show was here several years ago for the Oregon game, the boys were vigilant and had the flag flying in the background for almost three hours.  I cannot find the picture we captured off of the broadcast where you can see it behind the broadcasters but I know I have it some where.  I think it is even posted on a previous blog during that time.  The flag you see here will be the one to look for this Saturday morning; rain or shine (probably the former).

I know that not all of you are Husky fans but it has been a fun season with them doing so well and being considered for the BCS playoffs.  Having been a fan since I was a child I have suffered decades of highs (Rose Bowl wins and a National Title in 1991) to very low, lows (a winless Willingham era).  It is nice to be on the "national stage" so to speak once again.  It has made the tailgates a little more enjoyable and it is great to see the stadium full for at least most of the games.  I don't think this is lost on our competition.  I was walking through the Portland airport a few weeks ago coming back from a trip and I was wearing my gray fleece that had the Washington "W" on it; nothing splashy, just a simple "W".  I passed a fellow and heard him remark to his friend "well, everyone is jumping on that bandwagon."  I was going to turn and say something but it really was not worth the time or effort.  People in this part of the country are die hard Oregon fans (and Oregon State) but they had a good run for some time, these teams wax and wane depending on talent and coaching.  Today, it is Washington's turn and who knows, in a few weeks it may all go away as we find it is Washington State's turn, we will have to see.

For now, I have plan for a long day.  There will be many former and current staff members who will be there and they will enjoy it.  There is something about that broadcast which is electric and it is not lost on the crowd in attendance.  Just keep an eye open for the flag.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The E-Bay Mysteries

Even though my professional life consumes the vast majority of my life and my time is spent in the engagement of my work, I still consider camp as my "home".  Although my life to this date has been a wonderful and diverse experience, camp has been the only constant in fabric that has been a part my life since the age of 10.  Before my parents passed away I would have referred it as my "second" home but as time has passed it is one of the pillars of my life that friends and colleagues from all walks of social and professional life know about me and probably have visited.  If an old college friend who I haven't seen in decades meets a current colleague of mine today, the one talking point they would have would be camp and they both probably have been there because of my friendship with them.  Even in the near future when I decide to move away from the summer program, I will always consider it my "home" even if I never return.  However I consider myself the exception and not the norm when it comes to this way of thinking.  There are many current and previous staff members who consider camp as their home away from home or even a second home.  I would imagine many camps perhaps have similar feelings from their staffs but I think there is a difference here given the history of this camp and how it is weaved in to the history of Seattle and the Pacific Northwest.

All that being said, it is "just" a camp.  The experience a scout has at camp may develop life long memories even if they came for only one week and that alone is something to be proud of but individuals go through many experiences in life that shape them, not just one thing.  Although I believe what we do is important I am not vane enough to say it is that important when you take life as a whole, even for staff members.  So it surprises me when I see things pop up on E-bay for sale and even more so makes me wonder who is selling it as well as who is buying it.  Yes, I get the thing about collectors and traders but I am not sure why anyone would be interested in some of these items particularly when I have seen things I have designed for patches or t-shirts up for auction.  I am not an artist nor has anything I designed seem worthwhile buying except for those who attend camp.  There have also been other items for sale through the years that have generated some controversy.

Years ago, a Timberline rank of the OSM popped up for sale.  It was not from the old order but an award that we had resumed presenting in the mid to late 80's.  There was much vitriol (well, not so much that, but for camp people it was vitriol) generated in response to that.  How could anyone sell a marmot award some would ask; disrespectful others would say and on and on.  Most of the comments were heart felt and I could easily commiserate with the feelings of the commenters.  Eventually the seller responded by saying her husband was awarded the rank after completion of a High Adventure trek when he was a scout and although he loved it, they were trying to sell it amongst other things as they were raising money for his cancer treatments.  That was a punch to the gut.  However it was interesting that so many people noticed it and I think that even surprised the seller who in retrospect probably would have never put it up had she had the chance again.  Through the years patches, pins, hats and t-shirts have routinely popped up every now and then.  Some of these things we well, some of these things we dole out without a second thought; why now do they become collector items and who had them and how did they get on E-Bay.  This past year we have been seeing many of our centennial patches coming on line and the funny thing is, I think we sell them cheaper at the Trading Post than what is listed on E-Bay.  These are the patches that were designed starting back in 2008 at the 90th celebration for the count down to the 100th.  The one thing I have seen recently however are copies of the "Cedar Chips" newsletters.  These are publications from the 20's through the 40's which I do not believe are readily available, at least in the condition they are presented in.  This may be from an old collection of a Scouter that has passed away which would not be surprising, but they better not be from our historical collection.  I do not think that is the case, but I am going to check to make sure.

The "mystery" may just be something fabricated by my imagination.  When I look at these things on line I know that many of them had to come in a box which sat at the foot of my desk in the office before being moved to the trading post for retail and then sold to "someone" and how that journey would up on E-Bay is just something of interest to me.  Perhaps the answer could be as easy as an estate sale moving a person's belongings along.  How this one little camp, my home,  has items wind up on an international auction site is amusing as it is interesting.  Of course it will be less amusing if some of these items are coming from our collections without our knowledge.

Monday, October 24, 2016

A Different Path For A Camp

There was an article sent to me which reported the recent business decision to sell off a BSA property in Pennsylvania to a private group that will operate it as a BSA camp amongst other things.  It was interesting in that involves the council which is run by our former Scout Executive and it is a further example of how Scouting needs to consolidate in order to maintain quality programs and facilities.  The council in question had just gone through a merger of several councils which, at the end of the day, left them with about.8 BSA camps; most of which were not being used in a manner that would support the ongoing expense to maintain.  As a result a decision was made to sell off a number of those properties and focus on the ones capable of supporting the mission and still be, at the least, cost neutral.  I had a previous post last year that supports this line of thinking.  As the Scouting program "right" sizes; you cannot run or support a camp on memories alone.   The reason why councils merge into bigger ones is that the cost of doing business cannot be supported by duplicating resources which are not supported.  The council based in Tacoma is dealing with that now even though they have not merged with another council (yet).

In this particular situation however, one of the properties are being bought by a not-for-profit corporation that is made up of Scouters and former staff member that intend to run the facility to host Boy Scouts.  There is more to this than I know, but apparently this "Corporation" was running the facility previously and was ordered to hand over the property to the BSA in the 90's but continued in a "ghost mode" until they were able to purchase it once the Scouts put it on the market.  They have (or in the process of) purchasing the land.  In the article they made references of continuing to allow scouts to have summer camp there as well as other activities through the year which other groups could participate in as well.  What bothered me a little though was how possessive some of these "Corporation" folks were of this property.  Much like many volunteers refer to a program or property as "mine", these folks seem to feel it has always been theirs.  I have mixed feelings about this however I think it is neat that a group of passionate individuals would want to do this.  It does beg the question of where to go from here though.

The local Council is selling the property and as such, it is no longer a BSA property; it belongs to a private group regardless if that group is made up of a bunch of registered scouters.  Are they hoping to run the camp as a summer camp?  To do so then the camp needs to be accredited and to have that happen first is that the Scout Executive would have to sign off on the application process; why would you do that if do not have control over a "sanctioned" event?  When other BSA camps use non-BSA property or equipment, there is a slew of contracts and expectations that the vendor needs to meet in order to be used.  For a camp which presumably will have minimal income the expense for that seems a little challenging.  I mean in order to operate the facility for outside use you will need the usual local, state and/or federal permits; you will need to have no fault insurance which may be pricey depending on what you are allowing on your property.  Do you plan to have "hard" facilities (buildings) or is this just a "camping" place where programs are put on?  At the end of the day would the cost of the operation be a little more daunting?  I mean you could develop a great program, facility, etc. but the cash needed to do so, maintain and staff would have to be covered by some income, presumably camp fees.  Would those fees be so high that when compared to the other BSA camps in that council it would be more feasible to attend those camps?  I don't know the answers to those questions, maybe they do.

I know one thing, it is not cheap to run a BSA camp.

There are many times I would love the council to say, "hey, we are going to give you a free hand in the budget process as well as control of income and expenses" but that will never happen nor should it in an organization that has many facets with camp being just one of them.  I would like to have more control on the budget (hint, hint, particularly salaries) but we muddle through with what we have.  I am not sure if having a stand alone camp would make our lives easier.

I wish this "Corporation" well and appreciate their passion as noted above.  Unfortunately I think we will see them either going into foreclosure or just selling the property again in the near future.  We will have to see.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Who You Meet

I was chatting with an elderly gentleman the other day while at work when he took notice of my Camp Parsons Staff lanyard that had my employee ID on (the real one, not the camp one).  "Camp Parsons" he said with an exclamation "I used to take my troop there."  Turns out he was the Scoutmaster of Troop 177 in North Seattle in the early 60's and took the troop to summer camp every year.  We started chatting about various people whom I knew from that era, many of which he remembered.  I think we spent more time talking about camp that we did for the reason he was talking with me initially about.  Needless to say, fifty years later it stood out well in his mind; and he was an adult.

It is interesting who you meet during your daily life that has spent time at Camp.  It could be someone walking by our tailgate and take notice of our CP flag and come over and chat.  It could be another time someone recognizes a t-shirt or sweatshirt with the camp logo on it and strikes up a conversation.  Or it could be an adult who stops and talks to me on the trail and reminisce about his time at camp (when it was my 4th summer).

Not once have I had someone say any bad thing about their experience at camp; 10 years ago or 50 years ago.  I suppose if they did, they would not talk to me or have otherwise forgotten their experience as they moved on in life.  However with those that talk with me you could see the fondness in their eyes as well as their speech.  If anyone was not sure about the impact this program have, spending a short time hearing folks talk about their experience would be that to rest.

The chat I had with that elderly gentleman certainly made my day.