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Showing posts with label Scouting. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Scouting. Show all posts

Friday, April 2, 2021

End of an Era

After more than a Decade, My Wood Badge Adventure Comes to an End

A couple of years back, in 2019, I shared how I was named the Course Director for a special training program within Scouting. I’ve been an adult leader in Scouting since 2005 and went through the training program myself as a participant in 2010. That program coupled together with Scouting in general, along with numerous roles that I’ve had within the movement has definitely helped me break out of my shell more than anything I’ve ever done in my life, and has served me well as a business owner, too. For the extremely shy little boy in preschool who would hide under the table, many who knew me then wouldn’t recognize who I’ve become, pretty much thanks to Scouting. I’m still introverted, yes, but absolutely know how to “turn it on” and become an outgoing “quasi-extrovert” when I need to much so that several people in Scouting have been shocked to learn that I really am an introvert and nowhere as outgoing as I portray in those settings.

After several times of being on staff, in 2017 I was asked and given the opportunity to serve in the backup role for 2018 and then for 2019 as the Course Director for the Fall Wood Badge course in my Scouting council. For my friends and family who have never been part of Scouting or perhaps have but have never been through the course, Wood Badge is the highest level of adult leadership training available. The course’s roots go back over 100 years to 1919 when the founder of Scouting, Lord Robert Baden-Powel determined that youth need adult leaders to be trained to better help mentor and guide them in their journey. The course has gone on through time to be the premier training course in Scouting the world over, with it taking place in each country where Scouting can be found.

The course I led was scheduled during the actual 100th anniversary of the program, with our 2nd day taking place on what was the 1st day of that original course in England back in 1919, which was a thrill to be leading a true Centennial course, and not just one during the 100th anniversary year.

The course itself is a highly respected program that many industries and employers, including the military, often emulate, but ours is much more interactive, engaging, and fun as we move throughout the course timeline between indoor and outdoor activities. The session that I would oversee was a 6-day development program filled with classroom-style, small group breakouts, and plenty of outdoor situations where our participants would immerse themselves in topics such as “Living the Values”, “Bringing the Vision to Life”, “Models for Success”, “Tools of the Trade”, and “Leading to Make a Difference”. Each of the assorted modules that make up these central themes are so much more than just Scouting related – we teach and impart LEADERSHIP, in a Scouting setting drawing the history and tradition of the movement, but the skills taught and received transcend Scouting and are very applicable in their jobs, homes, families, and other volunteer settings they are involved with. (All of these skills have made me a better business person through the years, so I'm grateful professionally for the experience as well!)

When asked to serve as a Course Director you are given one opportunity to make it successful. No less than 30 days prior to the start of the course you must achieve a minimum attendance of 30 participants, with a maximum of 48 unless by necessity you are granted an extension waiver for 56. The staff rallied to the full course goal that I had set, and by golly, we sold out the course needing that extension waiver. It was granted and we sold out again…with a waiting list! That was so exciting. But as things always happen, we had some cancelations prior to the start, but thanks to that waiting list, we still ended up having a full course by Day 1. 48 participants.

During the course itself, we’re actively together for 6-days over two 3-day weekends, and then at the end of the 6 days, we send the participants away back into the world, with “homework”. They have to create a “Ticket” of 5 Goals that they write during the 6-days and then are given 18 months to complete those goals. As with anything in life, some are quicker than others, but in the end, our goal was for all of them to complete what they started in writing those goals. Over the 18 months which just ended a few days ago, some made some slight revisions to their goals due to covid realities, and some revised a goal or two entirely as their situation in Scouting evolved from when they were on course. But at the end of the 18-months, these amazing individuals gave me an incredible gift, in that ALL 48 of them successfully completed their Tickets.

Much like the rank of Eagle for the youth in the Scouting program, adults who participate in Wood Badge don’t always complete. For the youth, there’s something like 8% of the youth who actually achieve the rank of Eagle. For the adults in Wood Badge, it’s a comparable number but probably less as once they leave the “safety” of the course environment…life gets back in the way and often hits hard. Time management can be a detriment for many participants as they often put off the necessary work to get their goals accomplished. Sometimes their life situation faces upheaval through death in the family, divorce, job loss, or other things. Sometimes people’s priorities change and they just don’t see the need or benefit of finishing.

To have a course full of 48 participants that achieved 100% Ticket completion feels really good. I’m very proud of all of the time and dedication that the entire staff put into making this an experience that each participant wanted to be successful at. It is a joy now that I am on the “other side” of this course to know that every single one of them succeeded in their goal quest, which will serve as a wonderful foundation for their future adventures in Scouting and beyond. What they have done through their goals will have a ripple effect, benefitting generations of youth yet to come.

Well done, ADVENTURERS! I’m so proud of all 64 participants and staff alike!!

Thursday, October 1, 2020

An Adventure I Will NEVER Forget

One of the proudest moments in my 40's came last year as I was officially awarded my Course Director beads and woggle in front of family and dear friends, and then got to have the extreme pleasure of serving together with an incredible staff to bring the 100th Anniversary Wood Badge leadership training course to our Council in 2019. We had a full, sold-out course, and over half of our participants so far have completed their homework, working their Tickets successfully...and the rest are well on their way to completion. They have 6 more months of working time, so nearly half of my 50th year will still be part of Wood Badge. If there was a way to continue on that journey, I'd love to do it, but once Course Director, my time is done.

It was a WONDERFUL experience going from a participant at 39, through all the years of staffing, and then serving as Course Director from 48-50. Wood Badge was a big part of my life throughout the entire decade of my 40's. Looking back, making the decision to attend that course back in 2010 was the best choice I could have made, and what an honor it was to be able to serve so many participants through the years under excellent mentoring and tutelage from 8 fine Course Directors before me. It was such a thrill to have all of them participate in some way at our celebratory dinner, in the course itself, and in supporting ways along the way, as well as with a couple of other great former Course Directors who helped us out in the kitchen! What a blessing it was to me to be part of it all and to be able to lead an exemplary staff. It truly was an ADVENTURE that I will never forget.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

At Home or Abroad, I Can Definitely Make Fire with Sticks!

Another favorite of this adventure came at the Aboriginal Culture center when I made

🔥 with sticks, the Aboriginal way!

Thanks to Scouts, Summer Camp, and Firecrafter I've done it with a bow and spindle before, but not just with my bare hands and the spindle! It was awesome! Fabulous memories were made on this adventure across the Northern Territory.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Wood Badge Means So Much To Me

I have been so blessed and honored to serve on the staff for the fall Wood Badge courses here in the Crossroads of America Council for each of the past 5 years. This past weekend wrapped up the second of the two weekends, and like every single course before, was bittersweet to come to the end of the practical part of the course as our participants move on to work on their individual Ticket goals. Like every year it was long, tiring, and at times difficult to press on type of volunteer work... but at the same time it was oh-so-sweet and rewarding. Seeing so many a-ha moments in the eyes and faces of our participants; so many people going from insecurity to confidence; from "I'm not sure about this" to "I got this". It was fabulous in so, so many ways. I look forward to watching each of our participants work to complete their Tickets and earn their beads and cheering them on over the next up to 18 months.
Leadership lessons in a fun setting, filled with great people all along the way. As the course photographer (among other roles), I just wasn't in very many of the pictures taken, but here are just a few moments with some very special guys and gals that I was privileged to serve with on this amazing course, C6-160-16-2. For all of my Central Indiana Scouting friends who have not yet experienced a Wood Badge course - I highly recommend you register for one of the courses in 2017 - you will absolutely not regret it. #leadershiplessonsforlife #BSA #WoodBadge #ScoutNation #BacktoGilwell It's been a fun, fun ride.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Two places that I find to be very special both have a milestone anniversary today. I wish I could visit both of them - but I can only go spend time in one of them today. Happy 61st to my favorite magical little park - Disneyland! And Happy 50th to my favorite Indiana destination - Ransburg Scout Reservation!


Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Why I Do Scouting

For the past decade or so Father's Day has meant heading off to Summer Camp. It's been a wonderful part of my life, as I've enjoyed camp with both of my sons... and several dozen other "sons" through all of those years. This year Matthew surprised me, upon returning home from camp, with my Father's Day gift..this little video that he put together while we were at camp this year - and then shared with the entire Troop last night at our meeting.
This guy is proud of that guy, and all of his mad, excellent skills - and of course, a little misty-eyed too when I first watched it. All of the guys in this video - and all of the other guys not in it but part of my overall decade-long Ransburg adventure - have touched my life in so many wonderful ways. And as a friend of mine within the Troop likes to say about all of the things he does for the youth of the Troop, I only hope that someday these guys will think back fondly on good old Mr. Lingren.

Monday, April 29, 2013

stopher's stuff - The Places You'll Go

“Congratulations! Today is your day. You’re off to great places! You’re off and away!”

So begins the classic tale from Dr. Seuss in his aptly titled book, OH, THE PLACES YOU’LL GO.  If you have never read it before, I would definitely encourage you to do so.  It’s a wonderful tome, filled with classic Seussian wit and wisdom.  I’ve used this book several times as gifts to graduating seniors and to Scouts who have earned the rank of Eagle. It always serves as a good jumping off place for the congratulatory letter I like to write them. For not only is their future typically bright, and their accomplishment a good foundation, it serves as reminder too, that even though they will be shooting for the moon, they need to be prepared for the down moments that will inevitably come. And when they do, it is great to pause and reflect, as you seek to find the best way out of or around those valleys or bumps in the road. Because once on the other side, it's great to look back and see just how far you've come as you've worked through each individual low point. To see how utilizing the feedback and counsel of others may have helped bring about the necessary change in direction to help get you back on track.

It continues…

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself, any direction you choose.”

This past year has definitely been one where I have been personally living out the book’s message.

“…You’ll be on your way up! You’ll be seeing great sights! You’ll join the high fliers who soar to high heights… wherever you go, you will top all the rest, except when you don’t, because sometimes, you won’t. I’m sorry to say so but, sadly, it’s true, that Bang-ups and Hang-ups can happen to you.”

I’ve certainly had some high moments and then still many other moments that were much lower. Those moments of frustration (such as website improvement / development this past couple of months); as well as moments of distress (lost sales); or moments of rejoicing (repeat business from clients as well as referrals bringing new business);  they all work together to make things better – overall.  Taking the time to pause and reflect, and yes, seek honest feedback about what you’re doing is so very important. Remembering too that each one of us is not an island, and we cannot do things completely alone. I may be in this business “alone”, but I’ve definitely got several key supporting players that I turn to for help, guidance and mentoring. People that aren't vested in my financial success, but rather are interested in my personal success as an individual, as a businessman, as a father, a husband and a friend.  

A mentor - that’s something that I have been to numerous people over the past decade, but have easily overlooked utilizing myself - until the past year and a half when I recognized the need to seek counsel of others.  Back in the days of working for an employer, I had built-in peer groups, of course bosses and others who constantly critiqued how I presented things, or fulfilled my work, or even how I came across meeting with clients.  When you work on your own, those built-in resources simply don’t exist.  I only have my actual clients, who are willing to share their feedback with me, to truly critique my services.  Even on this blog, unless someone actually posts a comment (which is rare), I don’t even know if anyone is truly interested in what I post.  Sure I see the numbers of people who check-in and view the various things, but I don’t know if anyone actually is interested or cares, or finds any of the stuff I post remotely useful.  I could be simply posting pictures of bacon, but wouldn’t know if anyone liked it or not unless they said something.  Feedback is always a nice thing.

Getting back to the very beginning of this post though, the places you’ll go – I’ve got many great places on the agenda for the rest of this year.  Places that will be visited representing various aspects of my life… family, my business, the largest aspect of the community service I do (Scouting), and my faith – going on a mission trip to Africa.  Each destination is both near and far, and requires a great deal of time and preparation – physical, mental and spiritual.  I’m excited about them all.  I can’t wait to share about each one in this blog, and hope that you will find each destination somewhat intriguing – and that you’ll tell me what you think after I post them. 

I’d love to know what types of information you might find useful in this space.  Please leave a comment with something that you would like to learn about in the weeks and months to come, as it relates to travel destinations.  I’m trying to work at getting the long-dormant “Where in the World Wednesdays” re-established, and of course would like to bring some new life into my posting through other topics as well. 

As always thanks for checking in and following along.  
Until next time,


Monday, March 18, 2013

stopher's stuff - Spring Means Busy

When I was young, I loved the advent of spring, simply because it meant that school would be getting out for the summer in just a couple of more months.  In those couple of months we’d also have what was then known as Easter Vacation (since it always came the week leading up to or the week directly following Easter Sunday), and voila, the time would start to fly by.  Factor in a few end of year events, academic testing and some special reward trips for a good results during the school year, and wow, summer was pretty much on the horizon with lazy days ahead.  Fast forward a few decades, and the spring for me as an adult does not have a similar meaning at all.  Sure there will be a few lazy days mixed in during the summer… but honestly I have more lazy, relaxing days in the winter than I do in the summer these past few years.
Spring is starting to arrive in noticeable measure around my town.  Flowers are beginning to show up here and there, and trees are getting ready to burst forth their flowers and leaves.  Birds are chirping everywhere, as nests are starting to be built.  It is a nice time of year.

Spring is also a time that many families turn their thoughts towards planning a vacation – though typically not for the current year.  Many are already planning for the following year, as the first few months of the year typically produce the best bargains for cruise lines and many land destinations.  By booking in advance, families are able to lock in great rates, and then pay the cost over time as their family budget allows, which certainly beats plopping down a large sum all at once.  Although, every so often, there will be that family who either doesn’t want to plan that far in advance, can’t plan that far in advance, or simply doesn’t realize the value or benefit of advance planning. 
In my business I certainly encounter both – those planning for the vacations in 2015 already, and those who want to take the kids and grandkids to Walt Disney World with almost no advance notice.  In fact, I’ve even had a client call me up about two weeks prior to departure to make their WDW reservation, and not even book it until just 72 hours prior to check-in, taking time to debate and decide what they really wanted in regards to accommodations, theme park entries and dining plan options.  Granted as many WDW veterans know, that extreme laissez-faire mentality of waiting until the very last moment and essentially just showing up, letting the theme park experience play itself out as the days go by doesn’t truly jibe in the 21st century as it did throughout the last half of the 20th century.  As much as I love spontaneity in my Disney theme park days, a vacation to Walt Disney World truly does take a bit more advanced planning than 2 weeks prior.  But, when duty calls, as a travel professional, I do what it takes to make my clients happy.  So while that spontaneous client got to enjoy the beginning of spring at one of my favorite places, I’m busy helping many others put their vacation plans into place for not just spring, but summer, fall & winter in the current year, as well as the next two coming years. 

For me, spring will be full of trade & vendor events, family activities, business trips and the continued planning and preparation for my annual trek into the woods with about a hundred Scouts and Adults leaders for Summer Camp.  I’m not complaining about busy.  I’m thankful to have many wonderful things to do and to occupy my time, but those lazy, relaxing days of summer that are so enjoyed by children… sigh… I won’t get those lazy, relaxing days for another 3 seasons yet.  
Wishing you a wonderful spring!

Monday, March 4, 2013

stopher's stuff - Rentals, Scouts & More

Another week has come and gone, and once again it’s Monday morning.  For many it’s the start of a work week, for others in a less “traditional” schedule – this could very well be the last day of your work week.  It does seem more and more that I’ve been encountering a greater deal of “flex” schedules since I have been self-employed.  Not as many Monday to Friday folk as I once knew.  Personally my work week entails some of every day of the week, though I don’t put in the same hours each day of the week.  Since I tend to meet clients and take their calls or reply to their emails when possible, I could be in front of my computer at many times throughout the week that are non-traditional.  But then I’m also flexible enough to spend time with my family and work on our other venture throughout the week as week.  This past week, once again, saw me spending a fair amount of time in the bathroom… of our rental house once more.  However instead of installing floor tile, this past week I have been re-installing cove molding, fixing a couple of leaky valves, painting and installing new faucets.  All in the spirit of getting the house ready to rent out – and bonus, prospective tenants are coming to look at it this week!  The hard work may pay off soon.  We’re excited about that. 

As many my faithful readers know, I’m very involved in the Boy Scouts of America, and it is once again, the Summer Camp season.  As the Summer Camp Director for our Troop – a large Troop who annually takes upwards of 95+ boys to  camp, plus several dozen adult leaders… the planning and preparation for it can be daunting for the uninitiated, but for me, it’s old hat.  I’ve done this for 5 years now, and have fairly regular routines of what needs to be done and when.  There are lots of details to pay close attention to, such as deposit deadlines to the Council, ordering of new Class B T-Shirts, and more… but everything pretty much happens in a certain timetable.  Mobilizing a large group can certainly be difficult, when you don’t have a good system.  Thankfully years of practice have allowed me to put together a very good system.  Once again I am very much looking forward to spending a week in the woods come mid-June. 

And finally, I mailed out my announcement/support letter for my upcoming mission trip to Kenya this October.  Raising money has never been my forte, but then, it’s not about me.  I have been praying about this trip for 2 years now, and believe that God has been calling me to go.  So with God behind it, I’m not overly concerned about the funds.  They will be provided by those who feel called to participate in it.  I’m looking forward to experiencing Africa and all that this trip entails.  October seems so far away right now… but it really isn’t – 7 months will fly by, no doubt. 

Until next time – make it a great week.  Do something positive for someone else.  

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Another Busy Week!

Another busy week has just passed by, and here we are, facing a new very full week.  So full, that I wasn’t even able to get to writing this until late Monday night… usually I write it over the weekend to post Monday morning. 

I spent my weekend in the woods at a Scouting event.  Specifically a Firecrafter event.  Firecrafter is a Fraternal Honor organization within the state of Indiana for the Boy Scouts.  It’s a really neat organization that I’ve been a part of for the past two years, and I always enjoy going to the different events.  The high ideals of the organization (friendship, leadership and service) all come into play in so many different ways throughout the weekend event.  The activities are fun, the hours are long, the memories are lasting.  I never get much sleep on these outings, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Needless to say, when I got home late Sunday afternoon, my mind was not on writing something for stopher’s stuff, especially since I wanted to watch the closing ceremonies of the Olympics!  Now that that’s completed, I can’t wait for the winter games in 2014 in Sochi, Russia.   

Next weekend will be another Scouting event, although that one will take up not just Friday, Saturday and Sunday, but also Monday.  It will be filled with Wood Badge training – the highest level of training an adult can get within the Boy Scouts - though I’m not going to receive training, rather to help provide the training.  I’m on staff.  I completed my own course in Wood Badge in 2010, and completed my ticket (or project) in early 2011.  It was an honor to be asked to be a member of the staff, and I’m looking forward to seeing it “from the other side” this time around.  Watching the participants as they arrive, and then working with a group of them throughout the two different weekend events and all that they need to do to complete their ticket, is something I’ve been looking forward to for quite some time.  I love teaching and mentoring people, and this is a great way to give of my talents and time. 

So here we are once again looking at the start of school.  My kids are both excited and not-so-excited about it beginning once again. However moving back into the regular routine that the school schedule brings will be nice for all of us.  It was strange to my wife and I when we first came to Indiana for school to begin in the middle of August, but we’re very much used to it now.  Growing up in Southern California, our schools didn’t begin until early September – either the day or two after Labor Day, or even the week following Labor Day – so yes, mid-August was a bit strange at first. 

All in all, extremely busy weeks of late.  Here are just a couple of things that I wanted to share from the goings-on in the Disneysphere.   Old news to the various blogs and websites, but I’ll mention them anyway. 

Construction on Disneyland’s new Fantasy Faire area is progressing nicely.  This new area replaces the long-standing (since 1956) Carnation Plaza Gardens.  Personally it was a sad day when the closure was announced (that’s where I got my start at Disneyland).  But the concept models, shown here, look really nice.  It will be strange seeing a bit of Fantasyland OUTSIDE the castle by the hub, but at least the imagineers have done a really nice job with the theming.  This new princess meet & greet area will no doubt be popular when it opens in early 2013. 

Construction on the Magic Kingdom’s New Fantasyland is definitely progressing well.  The Grand Opening date of December 6th was set, which will officially debut the new attraction Under the Sea-Journey of the Little Mermaid; new restaurants Be Our Guest and Gaston's Tavern; new shop Bonjour! Village Gifts, and meet and greet locations Enchanted Tales with Belle and Ariel’s Grotto.   Add all of these to the already open Storybook Circus water-play area and the twin Dumbo the Flying Elephant spinners, and the soon to open Pete’s Circus meet and greet area, and you can see there are some very exciting things going on at Walt Disney World.  The final new attraction in the New Fantasyland project Seven Dwarfs Mine Train will open in 2013, and with the new princess meet and greet area inside the now removed Snow White's Scary Adventures building will complete the massive undertaking of New Fantasyland.  

Alright, that’s about it for now.  As Mickey likes to say, see ya real soon!

Until next time,


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Where in the World Wednesdays - Disney Fantasy, Water and Scouts Instead of a Destination... Oh My

It's Wednesday, and now the second Wednesday in a row with a missing "Where in the World Wednesday" feature... for shame on me.  I just returned from a week in the woods with my sons and our Boy Scout Troop, and try as hard as I could before leaving to make sure the blog was up and running while I was gone - I got many other features scheduled to post on time, but I failed to get the "Where in the World" features done.  But I saw this fun article this morning on the Disney Parks Blog and decided to share it instead, as it relates very well to my week last week.  Just as the Disney Fantasy provides many different ways to get wet - the Adult Leaders at camp last week had a LOT of fun, providing many different ways for both youth and adults to get wet.  Even though camp itself was very dry this year (we had only 15 minutes +/- of rain the entire week... typically it will rain at least 3-4 different times throughout the week, sometimes hours at a time) - the buckets were dumping, water guns were shooting and the hoses were squirting!  We had a LOT of fun!  

This was my fifth year of heading off to Summer Camp, and quite honestly, it is just about my favorite outing of the year!!  (It even gets right up there with trips to Disney Destinations!!).  Yes, I'm 41 years old and I LOVE going to Summer Camp.  So much so, that not only do I GO to camp, but I lead and direct the entire thing for our Troop.  And for our Troop, that is no small undertaking.  The average size of a Boy Scout Troop is around 30 boys - ours has 158 registered Scouts.  The average contingent going to Summer Camp is about 18 boys.  We took 103 plus - get this - 46 full week adult leaders, and 8 partial week adult leaders.  That's huge!!  Our contingent alone took up more than half of the available seating in the Dining Hall each meal that we ate at (there are two servings, A and B - we eat during the A meal).  The camp accommodates about 550 youth and adults each week over the 9 week Summer Camp season, and here we were more than 25% of the entire camp during our week there.  

Needless to say there is a LOT of preparation that goes into moving a contingent of that magnitude.  Months of pre-registration, paperwork, cross-referencing and data gathering take place before anyone sets foot in camp.  Merit Badge classes to be registered for, Health Forms to collect and triple check, Special Dietary needs to be submitted to the Dining Hall staff, tent configurations, various Adult Leader roles to assign, and so much more!  But you know what, that's very much like what happens when you call a Travel agent or professional to help plan that special family vacation or your Group's Travel arrangements.  Organization and attention to detail are key.  Not everyone is up to the challenge, nor wants to worry about planning all of the details, and would rather just turn it all over to a travel professional.  And I could be just that person for you - or someone you know who's looking to plan that special trip.  

I'd love it if you would check out my website, or if you don't need assistance at this time, refer someone to me who you know that does.  Just as I LOVE getting 150 people to Summer Camp each year... I'd love to help you or your family or friends get to their next special destination!

Monday, January 2, 2012

New Year, New Opportunities, New Challenges, New Dreams

Time continues to march onward, ever pushing us forward as we have once again passed from one year and entered into a new year.  2011 has officially entered the history books as we move into 2012.  This will be a year of some big milestones in my household, as well as numerous new opportunities, new challenges, and yes, even new dreams.  I'm looking forward to them all, as I was very much looking forward to shutting the book in 2011.  It was a difficult year for us in many different ways. While I won't say it was a banner year, nor will I say it was my favorite, I don't believe it was a terrible year either. There were many good things that happened for both my family and for me personally in 2011, those great things just got a little overshadowed by the not-so-great things.  So I am true, looking forward to this new year.  So far the new year is still very much like the American Girl doll my daughter received for Christmas...all soft and pretty, but bound to change as she continues to cuddle it, love on it, and play with it.

Personally, I'm excited about several opportunities for the new year.  My eldest son is getting closer to completing his quest for the rank of Eagle Scout, and this will be the year he achieves it.  His project was approved in December, so now he begins the fund-raising process as well as securing workers to help him complete it.  The project itself will be done in the springtime. All of the other requirements for Eagle are complete (except for the all-important Board of Review which is the last step anyway), so once the project is completed, he's nearly there.  We're hoping to celebrate his achievement with an Eagle Court of Honor in the summertime this year.  Additionally, my middle son will be moving from Star Scout to Life Scout next week, and he will then begin his own Eagle quest.  He has merit badges and other stuff to do, but once he becomes Life, he too can begin planning his own project.  Unlike his older brother, he says he wants to get the project done first and then worry about the required Merit Badges... so who knows, we could have two different projects going this year!

Both boys are going on mission trips with church this year, and I am hoping to be able to go on one myself.  I really want to make the trip to Kenya this fall.  I wasn't able to the last two times, but I'm praying that this is my year.

Like her brothers, my daughter is growing so fast - and it's a treat to watch.  She's becoming a beautiful little lady.  She'll be starting gymnastics next week and is so very pumped about it.  She was such a timid little thing for so long, but she is making some good strides forward to be a bit more boldly, less trepidatiously.  She too will be experiencing something new this summer as she'll have her first experience with church camp.  She's nervous, yet excited as well since several of her friends will be there with her.

Professionally I'm excited about all of the different things that I've been doing with this whole Cruise Plannersthing.  There have been lots of mundane, legal aspects to work through; but there have been lots of fun aspects as well. Meeting with various vendors. Networking and getting to know people within my community.  On-site training and ship inspections.  Lots of learning and exploring has happened and is yet to happen.  I'm looking forward to a FAM, or "familiarization" trip to Hawaii later this month, as well as determining when the next cruise will be.  This whole venture began as a dream, evolved into an opportunity, becoming a challenge, but remains a big dream of mine.  I'm looking forward to seeing how it plays out, grows, and transforms throughout the new year.

Dreams for the new year continue to grow, and as they work their way from dreams to reality, I'll share.  Until then, know that I'm not sitting on my laurels, but rather am working to turn those dreams into some sort of reality, whether here in 2012, or a little beyond.  I hope you are doing so with your own dreams as well.

I wish you all well throughout this great new year ahead of us.