Ever tried going unplugged for an entire weekend? Turning off your computers, leaving your smart phone in your pocket, and letting the television go dark? My family first tried this for the first time about two years ago, encouraged a news story about a national holiday proposed by Reboot, a non-profit Jewish organization whose great ideas reach across religious boundaries.
Miraculous things happen during an unplugged weekend, when we are not distracted by the influence of connected electronics. On one such weekend, my wife and I took our kids to a nearby park. Rather than checking our email while the kids played, we took in the beauty around us that somehow disappeared into the background on previous trips. The whole clan talked in the car rather than playing music or the mind-numbing DVD player. We turned our kids’ “screen time” (something we limit to one hour per day for all screens combined) to game time playing board games and charades.
Our first unplugged weekend was a miracle of family togetherness, creating memories all of us will cherish.
Sure, we had to use the phone occasionally, or text message, or even use email, but exclusively to make social connections to others for weekend plans. We resisted the temptation to get into other email or electronic distractions.
My family now does regular unplugged weekends, and each one is like a mini-vacation, taking us away from our stresses and letting us focus on what’s important. It turns out that many of the emails we might answer over the weekend somehow become irrelevant by Monday morning.
How much more inspiring that Scout camping experiences are all about being unplugged—getting kids to discover their abilities in the natural world, protected by an organization that teaches good values along the way.
How special indeed it was to uncouple ourselves from the hamster wheel of technology to enjoy really what’s most important in life? Try an unplugged weekend yourself sometime, and see if you don’t want to repeat the experience week after week.
A high water mark was achieved last year in Orange County Council, with 735 boys attaining the rank of Eagle Scout in our county. To me, this means three things:
Orange County is a great place for Scouting. The percentage of eligible boys who are enrolled in the Cub Scout and Boy Scout program in Orange County is about 10% — far higher than in any of the other southern California councils. What’s more, we produce more Eagle Scouts than the five other area councils combined. Why? Great Scouting programs in packs and troops deserve most of the credit. Our world class camp facilities like the Irvine Ranch Outdoor Education Center, the Newport Sea Base, Oso Lake, and SSR Lost Valley are perfect “factories” for a great Scouting experience. Advancement toward Eagle follows naturally.
Scouting is still relevant today. Despite media attacks, changing membership standards, and a world that loves to challenge traditional organizations like ours, the meaning of being an Eagle Scout still resonates in today’s world.
We need to tell the world about it. Just below this blog are links that you can easily post the news of 735 Eagles to your Facebook account, your Twitter feed, and email it to your friends. We have every right to brag! And sharing such great news can only help bring the Scouting message to more families in our area.
To join the celebration of recognizing these 735 Eagle Scouts consider attending and sponsoring an Eagle at our Orange County Eagle Scout Recognition Dinner on Wednesday, April 23rd at 5:30 p.m. at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Garden Grove. More information can be obtained at http://www.ocbsa.org/uncategorized/eagle-scout-recognition-dinner/.
John Hovanesian, M.D.
Orange County Council Commissioner
“What is a Commissioner?”
February 17, 2014
Often friends ask me what I do as the commissioner of Scouting in Orange County, and I wonder if many Scout parents (or volunteers, for that matter) wonder what commissioners do in our organization.
Well, here it is:
A commissioner is a uniformed, experienced Scouter who usually comes to a pack or troop meeting to interact with unit leaders. But commissioners do much more than shake hands and share a joke or a cup of coffee.
A commissioner is a voice of experience. Usually a long-time Scouting volunteer, a commissioner offers advice and guidance to leaders on how to find success in a Scouting program. He’s a great asset to seek out when leaders need ideas for solving problems.
A commissioner helps the pack or troop succeed. He is not a quality control officer, policeman, or a spy sent from Scouting’s higher-ups. He does, however, give feedback to the district committee on what is going well and not so well in each pack or troop, so that group can offer assistance, guidance, and resources to bring about a more effective Scouting program.
A commissioner is a liaisonto the Scouting district and council. He is ready to hear concerns, share perspective, and solve any problems that occur with the support coming from the larger Scouting organization.
A commissioner is a friend. He knows what a challenging job a Scout leader has, having walked in those footsteps himself. He’s ready to share a laugh, hear a rant, or just be a shoulder to cry on when a volunteer needs it.
Don’t hesitate to call on the assistance that your commissioner is there to offer you or your leaders in your pack or troop, and don’t hesitate to thank him for his own service to Scouting, offered freely and generously to help the youth in our program have the best Scouting experience.
John Hovanesian, M.D.
Orange County Council Commissioner
“If You Only Had 17 Years, How Would You Choose to Live Your Life?”
January 16, 2014
Last week in New England, a 17-year-old boy named Sam Berns died of a rare disease called Progeria, which causes all the body’s cells to age rapidly. Caused by a genetic mutation occurring in one in eight million newborns, this disease, with no known treatment, claims most lives by age 13. Sam Berns, both of whose parents are doctors, was diagnosed shortly after birth. But however sad it is to lose a young person, Sam Berns’ life should be celebrated. He and his parents knew he would not have long. While they formed a medical foundation to search for a cure for Progeria, they also encouraged young Sam to live his life to the fullest.
And that he did.
Among the many accomplishments of this young scholar, tutor, and musician was the rank of Eagle Scout. In deciding how to spend his limited free time in his short life, Sam chose well. Despite the many years it must have consumed to become an Eagle, Sam surely learned about self-reliance, the virtue of helping, forging deep friendships, and loving God. In doing so, Sam lived life fully.
How many of us squander our time on Earth pursuing false gods? How fine an example did Sam Berns set? The lucky rest of us, whose children will live lives of normal duration, can take a lesson from this exemplary young man. Live every day as if yours are numbered, and however much time we have, we will have lived life fully, like Sam Berns.
Come soar with the Eagles and leave a portrait of your legacy!
See the GradPortraits website for more information, click HERE
Calling all Future Business Leaders, CEOs, Community Leaders, Mayors, Congressmen and Governors Who Have Achieved Their Eagle Scout Rank Your Formal Eagle Scout Portrait Commemorates This Great Achievement.
Your parents are proud of you, and so is your council. Take this chance to create a formal portrait so they’ll have a memory to cherish and celebrate your accomplishment few Scouts achieve. Your portrait will hang proudly in the council’s office, your parent’s home & office. And, a decade or so down the road, your son will look upon this portrait and decide to follow your path.
We create, you edit and receive your portraits on-site so your official Eagle portrait will hang in the council office. Portrait sessions will be at our studio, 12832 Valley View St., Ste. 104, West Garden Grove (where the 405 & 22 Fwys collide!).
If you are interested in purchasing additional portraits as gift prints for relatives, your Court of Honor display or home, we’ll offer options for purchase that are printed during your session or you may opt for retouched prints delivered later. Payment is due at time of delivery via Debit, Visa or MasterCard.
On these dates our discounted Orange County Council prices are in effect.
(Dates are subject to change, please consult GradPortraits web site for any changes – see link above)
All portrait sessions are held in our studio at:
3303 Harbor Blvd. G1
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
For those of you who cannot wait to purchase Eagle Scout portraits, you may come to our Studio Portrait Sessions. Follow the above link to make your on-line appointment. If you want your portrait only for the Eagle Honor Wall, please wait until our regularly scheduled BSA Orange County Council dates so we may accommodate as many Eagles as possible in studio who need CoH and family gift & display prints.
A limited number of appointments are available, so make your reservations early. Session reservations may be arranged by following this link to our on-line reservation system.
If you cannot attend these dates, if you want more poses and more creativity, or your Court of Honor occurs before these dates, follow the appointment link above to reserve an appointment session during Portrait Fridays. Our studio is in West Garden Grove.
Portraits are by appointment only and you must have an adult with you during your visit to our studio. Your investment in our in-studio portraits (non-council dates) will be higher as we are dedicating one hour of creativity to your portrait.
Are you looking for Eagle Scout Gifts to show how proud everyone is of this achievement. Give a Portrait Studio Gift Certificate for your new Eagle! Call 562-596-8999 for details.
“We just received my son’s Eagle Portrait packet and were absolutely thrilled with the picture and the quality.”
‘It was the quickest, easiest, loveliest portrait session we’ve ever had. We love the pose and portrait.’
John Hovanesian, M.D.
Orange County Council Commissioner
“Three Reasons that Attending Scout Leader Roundtable Should Be Your New Year’s Resolution”
Dr. John Hovanesian
January 7, 2014
Happy New Year! If you’re like me, most of your new year’s resolutions get dropped by the time Lent begins, but here’s one resolution you’re likely to keep once you get started: attending Scout leader roundtable every month. What is roundtable? It’s a monthly, one-hour get-together in your local community where parents and scout leaders help each other plan a great Scouting experience for Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts. Roundtable is organized at Scouting’s district level (one or two cities usually make up a district), so it’s easy to get to, and the content is locally relevant.
Roundtable offers a lot to leaders and parents of Scouts:
1. New, improved format. Across our council, districts are adopting a more streamlined format for roundtables to be more exciting, inspiring, and helpful in carrying out a Scout leader’s job. You’re’ going to see more active participation by everybody, and a whole lot more fun. That’s what a Scout meeting should be all about.
2. Get energized. There’s nothing to get you excited about being in Scouting more than meeting other great folks who spend their Tuesday nights like you do! You’ll learn ideas from the best of the best and share your own great experience with others.
3. Make great friends. Just as your son will gain some of his life’s closest friendships through Scouting, so will you, as you meet with other parents and leaders who share your values and love for our program.
To learn about the location, day, and time of your local Roundtable contact
As our families celebrate Thanksgiving this week, some of us at home and some out of town, it’s appropriate to give thanks for all the good Scouting deeds that make the world a better place.
Thanks to all the unit leaders, cub masters and scout masters, who drive the program in our churches, schools, and civic groups. Most of the work you do goes unsung.
Thanks to the den leaders and assistant unit leaders who enjoy interaction with our youth, selflessly giving their time.
Thanks to the committee members of scout units, districts, and the council, who provide the essential behind-the-scenes support that paves the way for the scouting program.
To our donors who give generously to help us meet Scouting’s aims, thanks for your kindness.
To our council’s executive board and leadership, who truly understand and support our mission, thanks
To every Eagle Scout who has made the most of your Scouting experience, thank you for making us proud.
To those who have used a skill learned in Scouting to save a life or avert danger for someone more vulnerable than you, thank you and God bless you.
And to everyone who believes in the mission of the Boy Scouts: to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law,” thank you for helping make the world a better place.
Best wishes to all for a happy, healthy Thanksgiving.
“A Job for Every Family and Every Family has a Job”
John A. Hovanesian, M.D.
November 25, 2013
Around this time of year, many scouting units, freshly infused with new recruits from the fall season, are full in the swing of the program year. Around this time, the unit’s leaders often also discover the tremendous burden of work upon them if they are running things without help.
Well-organized units spread the work among nearly every involved family. Moreover, from the very beginning, they create an expectation among families who join Scouting that they will have some role in volunteering. “It’s always better,” I like to say, “to choose a job you enjoy rather than be assigned one you don’t.” Effective units begin the program year by listing all the vacant committee and leadership roles and handing out a page with a brief description of each. This gives joining parents a concrete discussion guide. At the beginning of each description is a check box and at the top a heading that says choose one. This makes the expectation very clear — that each family will take a part in leadership.
What roles should you offer? Here is a listing and brief description of a few important responsibilities. Feel free to cut and paste the words below into job descriptions for your unit’s parents:
– Scouting Coordinator: This person is actually assigned by your chartered organization, not recruited by the unit. He/she serves as a liaison between the sponsoring organization (church, school, civic club) and the committee chair as well as the unit leader (Cubmaster or Scoutmaster). Together, they form the “Unit Key 3.” This person reports to the head of the chartered organization (pastor, principal, president of the community organization).
– Committee Chair: This person has overall responsibility for recruiting leadership and providing support to the leaders to run a quality scouting program. Reports to the Scouting Coordinator.
– Unit Leader: The Cubmaster or Scoutmaster is responsible for the overall program of the unit, organizing it into dens or patrols, and supervising the youth contact leaders. He/she reports to the committee chair.
– Assistant Scoutmasters or Cubmasters. Usually, you want a few of these. They provide assistance to and report to the unit leader, helping carry out the program of the group and other assigned duties.
– Den Leader (Cub Scouts only): Each of these leaders reports to the Cubmaster and carries out the den program for one group of about 8 same-grade boys in the Cub Scout program.
– Program Chair: Some units have a volunteer who is responsible for arranging all the logistics involved in delivering the program, like ensuring that equipment and supplies are on hand. While these duties can be delegated to others, this position is often very helpful to have, especially in a larger unit. Reports to the committee chair.
– Pack Trainer: This role ensures all volunteers are aware of and participating in available training opportunities. Keeps records of training. Reports to the committee chair.
– Secretary: It’s useful to have a volunteer who keeps records of committee meetings and maybe supervises history keeping of the unit’s activities. This person would also liaise with the Web master. Reports to the committee chair.
– Web Master: A critical role is to keep everyone aware of what’s happening in the unit. The Web master oversees the Website, making sure the information is current and correct. This person also provides technical support to families having difficulty with this site. Reports to the committee chair.
– Treasurer: This is a perfect job for a bean counter-type who doesn’t mind the occasional work of handling checks and processing payments and reimbursement. Oversees a bank account registered to the tax ID of the sponsoring organization and provides financial reports to the sponsor when required. Obviously, choose someone totally trustworthy for this role. Reports to the committee chair.
– Camping Coordinator: It’s very helpful to have a person who makes reservations and coordinates details with overnight facilities. It’s a perfect job for someone who has time for a few phone calls during the day and mostly emails whenever time is available. Reports to the committee chair.
– Popcorn kernel: This person, reporting to the committee chair, oversees the all the details of the unit’s popcorn sale, working with the district popcorn chair to ensure success.
– Equipment Chair: Especially in the case of a Boy Scout troop, where more equipment is owned, this person oversees the maintenance and repair of all the unit’s wares.
– Membership Chair: This important role is for a marketing type, who enjoys reaching out to schools and other community organizations from which new new members might come. Reporting to the committee chair, he or she is highly responsible for the growth of the unit.
– Registrar: Usually a different role from the membership chair, this committee member maintains the unit’s official roster and keeps records of dues. Takes the lead on the rechartering process. Reports to the committee chair
– Advancement Chair: This person is responsible for keeping records of scout advancement, ordering awards from the council, and alerting unit leaders of scouts who are not advancing.
– Hospitality Chair: Leading an enthusiasti committee (of usually moms), this volunteer makes sure food and beverage are there for every court of honor, banquet, and reception where food is served.
It’s amazing how much fun and enjoyment you’ll get out of volunteering in Scouting when you work with a capable, energetic group of volunteers who each have a small job for which they receive recognition and appreciate the benefits of a well-organized unit.
Warehouse store chain Smart & Final has taken a lead role in the drive this year by accepting food donations from November 4-9 at local participating stores during store hours, with Scouts manning food donations at local Smart & Final stores on Saturday, November 9th. Additionally, consumers can donate five dollars at Smart & Final stores to provide a bag of food and personal care items for those in need throughout the community. Grocery chain Stater Bros. will also participate in the drive at designated locations on Saturday, November 9th only.
“Smart & Final is proud to be part of the 25th annual celebration of the Scouting for Food drive, an outreach program that provides caring help to those in need in Orange County during the approaching holiday season,” said Dave Hirz, president and chief executive officer, Smart & Final.
Scouts will visit homes in their local neighborhoods seeking food donations on November 9th for the Scouting for Food drive. In addition, people are encouraged to take food donations to a local Smart & Final or Stater Bros. participating store during designated days and store hours.
Started in 1988, Scouting for Food has grown over the past 25 years, collecting more than five million pounds of food to fight hunger. Most-needed food items sought for the drive include: canned meats; beef stew; pasta; macaroni and cheese; canned fruits and vegetables; canned juices and soups; hot and cold cereals; and peanut butter. Personal care items sought are: diapers; toothpaste; toothbrushes; deodorant; toilet tissue; razors; cotton swabs; soap; adhesive bandages; combs and brushes; and feminine hygiene items.
An annual Scouting for Food commemorative patch for 2013 was designed by a local Orange County Scout, Tyler Wu, Troop 700 in Aliso Viejo, Calif. For more information and questions on store locations, contact Rachel Cueva at 714.546.8558, x132 or visit the website at www.ocbsa.org.
About the Orange County Council, Boy Scouts of America
The Orange County Council is one of the largest youth-serving agencies in the county serving more than 30,000 youth with educational programs that instill values, develop social and leadership skills, and promotes physical fitness and environmental awareness. The mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Scout Law.