Meeting Recap (3/7/2016)

Another great meeting last night.  Dodgeball has been the local favorite for game time lately and the new balls received work well with their “nerf-like” construction.

For the activity, one of our junior rangers talked to the boys about “reaction time.”  Reaction time is that amount of time which elapses between recognizing a threat and taking action to deal with it.  This could be recognizing that someone has thrown a ball at you during dodgeball and then deciding whether to try to catch it, duck, jump or run.

In real life, reaction times are important for professional athletes who need to have a keen eye to follow a ball’s trajectory.  Drivers need to be able to recognize a hazard in the road and react quickly to avoid a crash.  CSB image

We showed the boys how to measure their reaction time using rulers and some mathematics.  One boy would hold the ruler upright and then release it. The other boy would need to recognize when the ruler is released and grab it.  By measuring the distance which the ruler fell between each action, we could apply a formula to determine the amount of time that elapsed.  This measure is the reaction time.

In talking about units of measure, we also asked the following question; “what is the measure of time elapsed between slipping on a peel on the sidewalk and hitting your head  when you fall?”  The answer?  “One Bananosecond!”

For our story circle, we had a discussion about bravery.

Who comes to mind when you think of people who exhibit “bravery”?  The boys almost universally linked bravery to soldiers and emergency service providers such as police, fire or EMTs performing their best despite life or death circumstances.  That is bravery to be sure, but we pointed out that it can also carry other meanings.

IMGP6811For instance, isn’t it brave to: stand firm against injustices; take a risk to tell someone what you really believe even though they may disagree or reject your statements; or keep trying to accomplish a goal when you feel defeated?

We shared an example definition from the Boy Scout Handbook (from 1911); “A Scout is brave. He has the courage to face danger in spite of fear, and to stand up for the right against the coaxing of friends or the jeers or threats of enemies; and defeat does not down him.”  The more recent wording is “A Scout can face danger although he is afraid. He has the courage to stand for what he thinks is right even if others laugh at him or threaten him.”

Bravery is also about recognizing the “right thing to do” and doing it – especially when others disagree or might mock you (i.e. “… the jeers or threats of enemies”)  This is especially true when we consider our spiritual lives.

We asked the boys about accounts in the Bible dealing with bravery.  They mentioned several, but most of the responses dealt with David and Goliath.  We asked for volunteers to read three selections about David and Goliath.

The first selection describes the scene confronting the Israelites (1 Sam 17: 8-11&16):

Goliath stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, “Why do you come out and line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not the servants of Saul? Choose a man and have him come down to me. If he is able to fight and kill me, we will become your subjects; but if I overcome him and kill him, you will become our subjects and serve us.” Then the Philistine said, “This day I defy the armies of Israel! Give me a man and let us fight each other.” On hearing the Philistine’s words, Saul and all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified. For forty days the Philistine came forward every morning and evening and took his stand.

1 Sam 17:32-37 defines bravery.

David said to Saul, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.”  Saul replied, “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a young man, and he has been a warrior from his youth.”  But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. The LORD who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.”  Saul said to David, “Go, and the LORD be with you.”

1 Sam 17:45-47 Shows us why he was brave – he trusted God to prevail.

David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”

We also talked about other situations like Daniel standing up for what was right (Daniel 1:8-10), and his friends Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego (Daniel 3: 15-18) being cast into the fiery furnace and surviving to show what what right.

Bravery is something that takes time to develop and when it comes to standing up for what is right, we need to learn from David that our real strength comes from God, not ourselves (Psalm 121).

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Meeting Recap 2/8/2016

Tripod lashing pencil drawingHad another great club night.  After some dodgeball, we broke into small groups and the boys practiced clove hitches and lashing together tripods.

Tripods are an easy introduction into building wilderness gadgets and camping equipment from sticks, branches and some cordage brought from home.

Tripod hammockTripods can be used to construct wash racks, hammock hangers, slingshots, signal towers and camp entrance gates.

Tripod have a high utility for a number of reasons – they’re sturdy, lightweight, easy to assemble and can be adapted to a wide range of uses.

I like the fact that they have a parallel to verses in the Bible, too:

Ecclesiastes 4:12 – “And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A Tripod Towercord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.”

Where the tripod gets strength and balance from having three poles to support weight and keep steady, a group of three people can hold each other accountable to do the right thing and resist evil temptations.  If we tried to get through life all alone, all the time, we’d have a hard time sticking to the right path, but with good friends it’s made easier.

Matthew 18:20 – “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.” 

While we have personal (individual) relationships with God, we’re also encouraged to get together with other Christians to worship and fellowship.  We know that when we get together God will be there and make the time productive for His Glory and Purposes.  Just like an individual walking stick is helpful to the individual hiker/camper, putting the sticks together accomplishes different purposes that couldn’t be done apart (there’s something more accomplished when lashing three poles together that three unconnected sticks couldn’t do on their own).

tripod dishwashing station

So what did we do with our tripods to finish the evening?  We made “Weather Rocks” (or in this case “Weather Blocks” as we substituted blocks of wood for the more traditional KNOTS_rock_lore_anirock).

To make a weather rock for your home, you start with a tripod, and then hang a plumb line from the top.  Near the ground, tie a large rock to the plumb line so that it can sway in the breeze.

When done, it ought to look like this:

Often we add a plaque or sign to explain how to interpret the weather rock:

  • If the rock is wet, it’s raining.
  • If the rock is swinging, the wind is blowing.
  • If the rock casts a shadow, the sun is shining.
  • If the rock does not cast a shadow and is not wet, the sky is cloudy.
  • If the rock is not visible, it is foggy.
  • If the rock is white, it is snowing.
  • If the rock is coated with ice, there is a frost.
  • If the ice is thick, it’s a heavy frost.
  • If the rock is bouncing, there is an earthquake.
  • If the rock is under water, there is a flood.
  • If the rock is warm, it is sunny.
  • If the rock is missing, there was a tornado.
  • If the rock is wet and swinging violently, there is a hurricane.
  • If the rock has white splats on it, watch out for birds.

The boys had a lot of fun learning about the benefits of lashing tripods for building cool outdoor gear.

Next week we are NOT meeting due to President’s Day Holiday.

Tripod Trebuchet

Happy 2016, Got Resolutions?

This is the narrator’s script for tonight’s Stockade story circle (devotional). It is a free-lanced program, not taken from the standard ministry curriculum so that we could highlight a specific theme.

Have you heard of people making “New Year’s Resolutions?” What does that mean to you? Resolution is pretty big word that comes from the idea of being firmly resolved or pledged by oath to commit to do something.

Have you heard anyone in your family or among your friends make a resolution at New Years? What sorts of things might a typical New Year’s Resolution include? I’ve heard of people resolving to:

  • Lose weightIMGP6935
  • Exercise more
  • Save money
  • Work harder on personal habits (be nice, argue less, spend less time on face-book, etc.)
  • Pray more, read the bible more, etc.

What typically happens to these resolutions? Do people start the year and do a good job of sticking to their plan? Do they eventually fail to follow through?

Why do you think people fail to follow through on their resolutions? Studies have actually been done on this issue, and from most common to least common the factors include:

  1. Setting Unrealistic or Poorly Defined Goals
  2. Failing to Keep Track of Personal Progress
  3. Simply Forgetting About it (no partner to hold them accountable)

Is setting a goal for the New Year a good idea or a bad idea? Is it just a joke – something to laugh about, or is it something we should consider as a serious commitment for self-improvement?

What does the Bible say about setting resolutions? Quite a lot, actually.

First of all, we don’t need to resolve to save ourselves from sin and damnation. We can’t do it on our own, and God’s already provided a way for us to be reconciled to Him (we sinned – broke His law – but Jesus paid the penalty for us).

I need two volunteer readers:

  • Someone read Ephesians 2:1-10 to the group. Notice how it says in verse five “by grace you have been saved” and in verse eight it says “and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
  • Someone read Titus 3:4-8. Please tell me what you hear in these verses – are there two different messages related to each other? In verses 4 thru 7 we’re told that our salvation is clearly an act of God, but the direction or reminder in verse 8 is to do good works once we have believed and been saved. Why do you think Paul wrote this to Titus in this letter?

So if God has saved us from sin and damnation, what would we have left to do? I’m handing out some verses for volunteers to read. Take a moment and read the verse to yourself. Think about what it is suggesting that you take action to do. What is it that we could resolve ourselves to practice consistently throughout the year and throughout our lives? Now let’s take turns – read your verse and tell the group what you think we are called to do by that verse. (Psalm 119:9-16; Titus 3:1-2; Matthew 5:13-16; Colossians 1:10; Micah 6:8; 1 Timothy 4:12; 1 John 1:9; Philippians 4:8; Joshua 1:8)

There are many more verses we could study, and that’s why Joshua 1:8 is a great example – a call to dig deeper into the Bible – to learn what it has to say, and to apply the principles and practices it suggests or commands us to do on a daily basis.

IMGP6811New Year’s Resolutions can become pretty silly if we let them, and as a tradition it can become something unhealthy if we spend too much time obsessing over the practice. I think it’s a good reminder that we have commitments that we ought to be reading the Bible, helping other people, and such every day of the year – not just around the start of a new year.

Even more importantly, it’s critical to remember we do these things to show our gratitude for what God has already done for us (not as a way to “earn” salvation), and that it’s a healthy response to what God has done (it’s the next step in our growth as Christians).

If you want to incorporate some of these verses into your daily routine, remember you may have more success if you write down your goal, post it someplace you’ll see it each morning, get someone to help you stay on track, and keep a journal to show your progress, and to help you see that you’re doing well (stay encouraged).

If you’d like to learn more about CSB Ministries or Northern Valley Evangelical Free Church, just click on their names (hyperlinks open in new windows).

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Goal of Youth Programs?

monkey bridge 1When I was a Scoutmaster with BSA, our unit would be visited by families who asked how our group ran its meetings, placed its priorities, and what the family could expect from the experience.  All good questions!

Sometimes, the questions became much more specific and it was obvious from conversation that the family was looking for something particular in their experience from scouting.  Questions like;

How many nights of camping per month?

What is the average number of merit badges completed by the scouts during troop meetings, at special workshops, and during summer camp?

How many Eagle Scouts had been produced so far, and what was the ratio of Eagles to non-Eagles?

What was our plan to help their son achieve Eagle rank in the shortest amount of time possible?

These parents meant well for their sons, I’m sure.  Their goals were to help their sons gain a credential of success and achievement – something to put on their resume to help gain admission to a premier college or university, or to get through interviews to get a “better” job at a “good” company.

Everyone approaches youth group participation with their own expectations, and in most cases, families like the ones described above, tended to leave our group after a single visit and never return.  Our focus IMGP7151was on a more wholistic approach to youth leadership and participation.  We wanted the boys to plan, organize and run the meetings and trips.  The adults were there for safety’s sake.

This tended to make meetings more chaotic, and we didn’t accomplish as much (as fast) as many families might have preferred.

Still, our goal was for the boys to learn for themselves so that they would thrive at any job, school or college experience.  The goal wasn’t to do it for them, but for them to figure it out.

We also had a higher purpose to the camping, hiking and pinewood car races.  We wanted to use these fun events as a stage to talk about God and His purposes and plans for our lives.

Look at this statement from Dave Gregg, Regional Director of CSB…

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This perspective is one that we tried to embrace within scouting, but were surrounded by competing ideologies – mainly that moral behavior does not depend on defining the source of those morals, nor does it require a clear definition of who “God” is…

Instead, we found that participation in a God-First youth program enables us to teach boys the good news that:

  • God made them to fulfill a calling or specific plan (Ephesians 2:10);
  • He loves us and wants what is best for us (Rom. 8:28, James 1:16-17, Heb. 13:5, Isaiah 41:10);
  • He’s not “done” with us (Philippians 1:6, Romans 12:1-2);
  • He’s active in our daily lives (Joshua 1:8-9, Isaiah 40:31, 1 Peter 5:7, 1 Cor. 10:13, Matt 11:28)

…and this teaching of good news gives them hope, faith and endurance to run the marathon of life (Philippians 4:13, Hebrews 12:1-17, 1 Cor. 9:24-27, Proverbs 16:3).

What are your family’s goals for youth group participation?  What outcomes are you hoping to recognize from your son’s time at the club meeting?  There’s nothing wrong with learning survival skills, or learning lessons from God’s word, either.  How about getting both from a single program?

Stockade Meeting 10/5/2015

Our second meeting of the new year was a lot of fun.

For games, we tried something new – “blindfolded steal the bacon“.  It was a lot of laughter, shouting and team work which enabled each team to guide their captain to discover the ball (the “bacon”) and then carry it to the finish marker while blindfolded.  While it started slowly, the excitement grew as each boy realized he wanted a turn to be blindfolded and learn to trust his team mates to direct him to the goal.

This evening’s activity time was focused on additional team work challenges.  It’s good to start the year with team building efforts so that boys who are new to the program get to work side by side with others and get to learn each others names, etc.

The first challenge was a water bucket brigade relay race.  The leader in each team had a dixie cup and had to draw water from a five gallon bucket.  In turn each team member had to extend their own cup to receive the drawn water and then pour it into the next boy’s cup.  Ultimately, if there was un-spilt water left at the end of the chain, it was carefully poured into a one liter soda bottle.  The race continued until one of the teams managed to fill their soda bottle.  OF course, if the teams were so sloppy as to run out of water in the five gallon bucket, then neither team would earn any points.

Perhaps it is needless to say, but this event is best done outside!

Upon returning to our activity room, the teams were split for two remaining challenges:  The Art Gallery and Ships in the Fog.

  • The Art Gallery consists of a series of portraits hung on the wall with painter’s tape.  A mix of historical and current people of notoriety as well as some cartoon characters (for fun) were numbered 1 to 30.  The team had to elect a scribe and carefully list all of the names of the people or characters featured.  One team scored 13 correct names and the other team scored 22 correct names.
  • Ships in the Fog uses a set of trolley shuttles (skis built for three people to share and walk in unison), a blindfold on the leader, and the remainder of the team shouting directions and encouragement.  The troop of three boys must learn to walk together, and navigate their ship through the fog (blindfold) and into the harbor (a slalom course through folding chairs and through a pair of chairs representing the harbor entrance).  Of course, this is fun for both the boys on the skis and those trying to direct them from the sidelines.

Although we ran out of time, we had a fourth station ready to go with brain teasers which could be used as a tie breaker competition.  For example:

A mother had decided to make peach jam and thought she remembered the recipe perfectly.  After reducing peaches to a puree, she realized that the directions called for adding a very specific amount of lemon juice – too little or too much would ruin the effort completely.  The directions specified one lemon’s juice for every dozen peaches.  How did she know how many lemons she’d need since she had not kept count of peaches earlier (and now they were a mass of goo)?

So we’ll save those riddles for another night.

Chief Ranger Leslie Lin handed story circle time by going over key facts about the Bible so that stockaders would be more comfortable with some of the basics as we often use the Bible as a resource in our story circle times.

Meeting Recap (10/27/2014)

scrabbleLast night was a combined meeting — Christian Service Brigade and Pioneer Girls — for a “Bring a friend to club night

Several of our young men and women responded by bringing friends who have either never been to club or haven’t been to club since last season.

It’s a great way to draw families in for a fun evening of board games and refreshments. (It’s also a little bit easier on the adult leaders, too!)

Perhaps the funniest part of the evening was our attempt to complete a unified closing ceremony where we formed a circle and the boys tried to lead the girls in our benediction, and then the girls tried to lead the boys in their closing song.

Oh well, we had a good laugh, and next week we’ll be back to our normal mode of operation.

Lord, our Savior, Guide and Captain,

Be a stalwart wall around us;

Make of us Stockaders valiant;

Keep us in the name of Jesus, Amen!