Pow Wow For All
By Melanie Radzicki McManus
For better efficiency and a greater sense of community among Scouters, a council expands a Cub Scout training event to include sessions for all programs.
Madison Area Technical College is an enormous building, but it isn't hard to locate the more than 250 Scout leaders from Wisconsin's Four Lakes Council at the opening ceremony of the "Wild West" 2001 All Scouter Pow Wow. Silver horseshoes on the floor lead to the assembly room where dozens of voices can be heard singing "Home on the Range," punctuated by more than a few enthusiastic yiii-haa's!
Traditionally, council pow wows offer training for Cub Scout leaders. But eight years ago, the Four Lakes Council expanded its event to include Boy Scout, Venturing, and Exploring leaders.
The concept has been successful, says Guy Eichsteadt, assistant council Scout executive, as Cub Scout leaders get to see what the Boy Scouting and other programs for older youth are about. "We're always trying to create a greater sense of community among our Scouters, too, so they really feel like a part of this council," he says.
The concept also offers greater efficiency in providing training in certain skills that are common to all programs.
Rarin' to go
Scouters wear outfits in the spirit of the day's Wild West theme, including jeans and cowboy boots, an enormous brown paper Mexican sombrero, and a Zorro costume. They gather around the guitarist, who segues into "They Called the Wind Mariah." The song is gentle and soothing, but more yiii-haa's can be heard, along with some yippee kay-ay-aa's. The leaders are rarin' to go.
The day is divided into six one-hour sessions, and participants can choose one class from about a dozen each session. Some classes are geared toward certain Scouting programs. How to Run a Fun Pack Meeting and Cub Scout Ceremonies are obviously for Cub Scout leaders, while Eagle Projects & Process and Venturing are for those working with older youth.
But many span all programs, like Identifying Birds, Hiking Wisconsin, Dutch Oven Cooking, and The Internet Scouter, to name just a few. And even classes like Winter Camping, geared toward older boys in high adventure situations, include plenty of basic winter warmth and safety tips appropriate for even the youngest charges.
Making serious subjects fun
In an upper hallway, the costumed singers are getting their classroom ready for How to Run a Fun Pack Meeting. The Scout leaders are from Minnesota's Indianhead and Central Minnesota Councils; they swap teaching pow wow classes with their Four Lakes counterparts. The group has assembled an enticing display outside its doora little Cub Scout figure playing Hide-and-Go-Seek, a wooden stick horse, a parchment treasure map, a campfire, and more.
"We make serious subjects fun," says Colleen Bown of the Central Minnesota Council, gently setting down a small, walking buffalo in front of the door. "These volunteers are giving up their time to come here, and if it's not fun, they're not going to come."
Fun is waiting across the hall, too, where Dan Walters has assembled an appealing setup for his classes on ropes, knots, and splicing. Along with a collection of display boards showing how to tie certain knots, Walters and his assistant, Dick Kruger, have created a five-foot tower by splicing together thin dowels with rubber bandsa complex-looking project that's actually appropriate for both Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts.
Five participants are challenged to move a large rubber ball onto a small cylinder. The ball is sitting on a plastic ring with five ropes attached and the ring cannot be slipped over the cylinder. After an initial stumble or two, the group works together and gets the ball in place in a matter of minutes, much to Walters' amazement.
"That was one of the best performances I've ever seen!" Walters exclaims, noting it often takes groups 20 minutes or more to accomplish the task.
Luann Rece, den leader for Stoughton's Webelos Den 2 and a pow wow newbie, is a bit overwhelmed by all of the choices. "It was really hard to narrow down my picks for the classes," she says. "I wish I could come back for a second day."
The Scouting continuum
In the cafeteria, lunch is ready: barbecued beef, hamburgers, beans, cookies, and more. One section is roped off as a "jail"; for $2, participants can have someone tossed inside during lunch. Proceeds go toward the technical college's scholarship fund in exchange for letting the Scouts use the building free of charge.
Sipping a can of soda in one corner is Dee Nicolai, Mohawk district commissioner. Nicolai has been involved in Scouting for 11 years and has attended Cub Scout-only pow wows and the all-inclusive variety. She prefers the latter.
"Scouting is a continuum," she says, "and it's nice for leaders to see that whole continuum and all of the programs for all of the youth at all levels."
Fred Nepple agrees, saying that a joint pow wow is a great opportunity for Scout leaders to mix. "I talked to a lot of Cub Scout leaders this morning about transitioning into the Boy Scout program."
Lynda Paulson, of the Indianhead Council, says she likes the combined pow wow concept but notes that it wouldn't be practical in her council back in St. Paul, Minn. "Our pow wow gets 700 to 900 people," she points out, "so it would be impossible to combine it with another training program."
'Hear all about it!'
During the day, participants try to visit the Midway. Exhibits promote a variety of programs, like a weekend Scouting activity held in conjunction with Circus World; biking and hiking trails in the state; the Woodman Center for Outdoor Education; and BSA high adventure programs like The Northern Tier High Adventure Base in Ely, Minn.
As the afternoon winds to a close, Scout leaders congregate again.
"We raised $349 and two gold nuggets for the technical college scholarship fund!" announces a cowgirl to cheers. A flag-folding ceremony is presented by the 115th Fighter Wing of the Wisconsin Air National Guard, and next year's theme is announced: "Enchanting Days & Amazing Knights."
With the 2001 pow wow officially over, Scout leaders file out of the room. Says one leader, shaking his head, "Those that don't attend these pow wows just don't understand how great they are."
Freelance writer Melanie Radzicki McManus lives in Sun Prairie, Wis.
March-April 2002 Table of Contents
Copyright © 2002 by the Boy Scouts of America. All rights thereunder reserved; anything appearing in Scouting magazine or on its Web site may not be reprinted either wholly or in part without written permission. Because of freedom given authors, opinions may not reflect official concurrence.