All posts by Mark Nusekabel

Mark is a husband, dad, Scout leader, and youth small group leader.

Wonder of Girls

WonderOfGirlsWell, I just finished reading a most wonderful book:

The Wonder of Girls: Understanding the Hidden Nature of Our Daughters, by Michael Gurian

This book really gets into what makes teenage girls tick.  Two main themes stick in my mind:

  1. There are solid scientific reasons why girls act the way they do, based on hormones and other things that affect the way they think, feel, and do what they do.
  2. Society has let feminism go a little too far in some ways, telling girls that they should not only be as good as boys, but be like boys, damaging girls’ nature of who they truly are.

Many elements covered in this book help me better understand my daughter and other youth women. I highly recommend it!

Settlers of Catan – Realtime Version

Do you like the idea behind the strategy game “Settlers of Catan”, but get a little bored waiting for your turn?  My family came up with a “Realtime Version” that speeds things up a bit:


  • One person is the game master, a full time dice roller and banker.  That person does not actually play the game.
  • Place all terrain tiles and number circles randomly to save time.

Initial Play:

  • As soon as the tiles and circles are placed, the game master says, “Go”.  All players place their settlements and roads at the same time without taking turns.  Whoever places a settlement in a spot first gets it.
  • The game master gives out resource cards for all resources that all players’ settlements touch (not just the “second” round).

Realtime Play:

  • The game master continually rolls the dice and hands out resource cards accordingly.
  • Players buy roads, settlements, cities, and development cards at any time.  The game master pauses briefly to make transactions.  However, as the name implies, all play is realtime.  There are no turns.
  • If the game master rolls a 7 then he moves the robber from wherever it is to the desert.  Players could check and reduce their number of cards per the regular rules (or not).  But, there is no actually robbing because the game master rolled the dice.
  • To maintain some sanity, we also said that the game master pauses after rolling a 7, and that is the only time that players can trade with other players.  We still allowed players to trade with the bank at any time.  However, you could allow players to trade with other players at any time, or you could make players wait until the game master rolls a 7 to trade with the bank.  We need to experiment with that more.

Scoutmaster Minute – The Loyalty Gap

Those here last week know I’m in a series about what it really means to live up to the Scout Law. This week, we’re on a Scout is loyal. This is possibly the most misunderstood point in the Scout law. For the 7 years that I’ve been Scoutmaster, asking our boys hundreds of times how they live up to the Scout Law, I can’t recall any of them ever giving me an example of how they were loyal.

What does it mean to by loyal, anyway? This is actually a perfect time to ask that question because we have a great example with football season. Even if you’re not a huge fan of a particular pro or college team, you surely have friends that are. And, they provide a great model for what it means to be loyal.

What happens when you just mention their team name? They get excited, right, and they immediately want to talk about their team and how awesome it is.

What happens when you talk smack about their team? They get defensive, right, and they try to explain the issues or just talk smack back.

So, what happens when someone asks you about something you really care about, like your family? Do you get excited and talk about how amazing they are?

What happens when someone talks bad about your friend? Do you stand by him and try to help people understand the issues involved?

If we took all of the excitement and defensiveness that we have for our sports, our video games, television programs, and other fandoms… If we could show that same level of excitement and dedication to our family, friends, church, school and troop, then we might, my friends, just see what it means when we say a Scout is loyal.

Why I liked (or didn’t like) your post

“Did you see that picture I posted yesterday?  Why didn’t you like it?”  While nobody has asked me that for a while, I overhear other people, students in particular, ask each other that.  So, I occasionally wonder if my friends are curious why I like one post or not another.  After some pondering, I figure they probably don’t care, and I move on.  Then, I read this:

Meet the Algorithm That Can Predict Your Photo’s Popularity Before You Post It

So, I thought, what the heck,  I could give you a tiny peek into my own little mind on this…

Whether it is on Facebook or Instagram, some people like just about everything everyone posts.  They must be fairly happy with life, and like pretty much anything they see.  I admit that I appreciate these people because I know they see what I post and they care enough to acknowledge it.

A lot of people never like anything.  They lurk in the shadows of the social networking world, like the Internet is a spectator sport.  I kind of wish these people would jump in the game and participate already!

As for myself, I prefer to lie somewhere in the middle.  I tend to like a post or picture if, well, I really like it.  However, those that know me also know that I over-analyze everything.  So, there are some rules:

  1. If you post a picture of yourself doing something interesting, and I can see your face, then I am more likely to like it, just as the article above says.  After all, I follow you to see you.  Not your food, not the world around you, but YOU.
  2. However, if you post a picture of yourself in anything less than a T-shirt and shorts, then I won’t “like” your picture.  While I would have the best intentions of letting you know that I think you are beautiful inside and out, not everyone might interpret my like quite the way I meant it.
  3. I really like some general subjects.  If you post anything to do with loving God or camping with Scouts, then I will probably like your post.
  4. I really don’t care for other subjects.  If you post a picture of your pet or anything related to sports, then I will probably just keep on scrolling.  You might have the most adorable cat in the world, but it’s still a cat, and I don’t care.
  5. I will admit that I am a bit biased.  If you are a family member or really close friend, then I will probably like your post no matter what.
  6. If your post has any content that could be considered Rated R, then I won’t “like” your post.  I volunteer with youth, and I don’t need to draw attention to anything questionable.

So, I guess that about covers it.  I can’t help but wonder, do you have rules for liking posts or pictures?  Or, do you just go with what you feel at the time?

Scoutmaster Minute – Perfect Gifts

So, it’s the holiday season, and for those that celebrate Christmas, you’re probably trying to find wonderful gifts for your family and friends. While materials things are nice, the *perfect* gifts might be found in a little list that you are about to say at the end of our meeting.

For your parents, with all of the preparation that needs to be done, being as helpful and obedient as possible would probably be most appreciated.

For your brothers and sisters, while you have a little vacation, taking the time to be kind and cheerful could keep their spirits bright.

For friends and those you don’t know, when things get a little crazy, finding the strength to be friendly and courteous will make the season a little more enjoyable for them as well as everyone else.

Last, for all of your family and friends, when the season appears to be turning into a whirlwind of commercialism, remembering to be reverent and making sure that the real reason for the season is expressed in your holiday activities can be the best gift of all.


Scoutmaster Minute – Understanding Parents – Why

So, tonight we wrap up our Scoutmaster Minutes that help us relate to our parents. Tonight we ask, “Why is that important? Why do I care?” We can approach this from at least a couple angles…

First, for those who believe in the Bible, the Fifth Commandment says “Honor your mother and father.” It’s a lot easier to honor them if you understand why the say and do the things they do.

Second, for most people, your parents are the most consistent significant people in your life, at least until you get married. Friends may come and go. Siblings may even go off on their own. However, your parents will always be there for you, so it’s in your best interest to develop the best relationship possible with them.

I hope the last several Scoutmaster Minutes have helped you to better understand your parents and other adults, and I hope can now see the value in doing so.

Scoutmaster Minute – Veterans Day – Stories

So, yesterday was Veterans Day, where we honor those who have served in our military.  So, if all of our veterans could please join me up here, then I would like to do something this year.  I have asked each of them to talk for a minute about his or her experience in the military.  It could be why he joined the military and how it positively changed his life.  Or, it could be an interesting story from when she was in the military.  Please give them your attention.

[Note: I obviously talk with each veteran at the beginning of the meeting, to give them time to think about what he or she would like to say.]

Scoutmaster Minute – Understanding Parents – Not Appreciating

So, we continue with Scoutmaster Minutes that help you understand why parents and other adults act the way they do. Tonight we ask, “Why do my parents not appreciate what I do for them?”

Well, we’ve actually discussed this before. The main thing to remember is that different people appreciate different things. Some parents might appreciate you asking them to hang out together. Some might like it if you take time to make them something. Some might appreciate you helping out a little extra around the house. Some might really like a great big hug. And, others might just want to hear you say that you appreciate what they are doing for you.

To tell the truth, most parents will appreciate all of these things to some degree. However, they will likely just barely notice some and really appreciate others, depending on what matters to them. So, if you guys are up for a little challenge, they I ask you to try all of these things out and see if you can figure out what your parents appreciate most.

Scoutmaster Minute – Understanding Parents – Take Forever

So, we continue with Scoutmaster Minutes that help you understand why parents and other adults act the way they do. Tonight we ask, “Why do parents take forever to do everything?” As usual, there are a couple reasons parents often take a little longer to do things.

First, time actually feels shorter to us. Stay with me, as this takes a bit of thinking. People feel time compared to how long they have been alive. For most of you, one year is only about one tenth of your life, or a little less. For most of your parents, one year is more like one fortieth of their lives. So, relatively speaking, one year goes by four times faster for us than you, compared to the rest of our lives. To put it another way, one hour for you only feels like 15 minutes to us, and one hour for us might feel like four hours to you.

Second, and more importantly, we grew up in a different world where we had to wait for hours and days to get what you guys get in seconds. If we wanted to find information, then we had to ask our parents to drive us to a library and find a book. Computers were new and primitive, and nobody had the Internet, yet. If we wanted to chat with a friend, then we had to go home, call him on the phone, and hope that he was home and not already on the phone. Call waiting and answering machines were new, and nobody had cell phones, yet.

So, the next time you wonder why Mom and Dad are taking so long, just remember, it only seems like a fraction of the time to them, and they grew up in a time that required patience rather than today’s world of instant gratification. And, to be honest, as you get older, sometimes you just move a little slower, and you learn to take a little time to stop and smell the roses.

Get Out of My Life…

GetOutOfMyLifeI just finished reading my latest youth development book, called “Get Out of My Life, but first could you drive me and Cheryl to the mall?”  It’s subtitled “A Parent’s Guide to the New Teenager” and is written by a psychologist that’s worked with adolescents for over 30 years.

First, I have to say that the book is very frank.  The author goes through several interesting points, each with facts, figures and evidence of experience to back it up.  He covers many key points, including independence, communication, control, and conflict.

With that said, I struggle to say that I like the book.  My summary would be something like, “Most teenagers are miserable monsters, and there is nothing you can do about it, so here are some coping strategies to get you though it.”  I’ve met some parents that pretty much feel that way, and they should relate quite well to this book.  I suppose I just have a better experience with most teenagers, so that seems a bit harsh to me.

In any case, whether you are a parent or other adult that works with youth, I think you’ll find this book a valuable read.
Get Out of My Life, but First Could You Drive Me & Cheryl to the Mall: A Parent’s Guide to the New Teenager, Revised and Updated