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  • Adult vs. Youth

    Eagledad mentioned something in another thread that sparked my curiosity. He commented that the boys tend to be more resilient than adults when it comes to rugged activities. At 63 I would totally agree with him on that point.

    So then this is where my thread points: The boys are in it for the challenge and the adventure. Because adults are less capable of what the boys are, do we as adults tend to hold the boys back from some really good adventures? If the boys wanted to go to Philmont at 63, I'm not interested, but I would work my darnedest to find younger adults to take them or put them into another trek with younger adults who could handle the rigors of Philmont.

    What do we hold the boys back on? Do we think they can't do it so we call it off? What kind of limits are we putting on these boys?

    Stosh

  • #2
    Although I'm 10 years younger than you Stosh, I'm in the same boat and highly agree with your choice. I did Philmont for my 9th and last time in 2008 at age 48. My troop is gonna apply for a 2015 expedition and I said I'd make sure the planning got done but that I wasn't going on another expedition. Other, younger adults should be going.

    I didn't have any issues in 2008, in fact I out-hiked a couple of my youth on that trip. Not bragging, just a fact. But here's another fact: the same wouldn't happen at age 55. In 2008, we were on our way up Shaefer's Pass from the north side and had stopped for lunch. All of a sudden several "young guns" from another crew came past us moving pretty quickly. 15 minutes later came their late-50s (+) adults ambling along. Wrong. 15 minutes is as much as a half-mile. What would happen if one of those adults sprained an ankle or fell and hit his head? More importantly perhaps, these adults were holding back their Scouts. They were keeping them from achieving all they could have done at Philmont. How many programs did they miss or had shortened because the adults were 15 minutes or more behind and they had to wait on them? What compromises were made to accommodate the adults' physical limitations, in both the planning and execution of that expedition?

    When I saw that I resolved then and there not to be that 15-minute-behind adult. Therefore I won't be going to Philmont in 2015 if (big "if") our troop gets a slot.

    Another thought. Philmont has a wide variety of itineraries ranging in difficulty. Most of those are within the physical reach of most Scouts of the age to attend (barring "Tubby-Timmy" or a "backpack with legs"). The same cannot be said for most 50-60+ year olds, and maybe even most 40+ year olds. Therefore, if one falls in that category, one is limiting the choices of the Scouts -- another reason I'm not going.

    Full disclosure: I'm very slim, no health issues other than age. I might be able to condition myself for a lower difficulty itinerary but there's no way for one of the gonzo ones I did as a young man. Again -- I'd be limiting my Scouts' choices, and I will not be responsible for "holding them back."

    And yeah, if we do get a slot and go, I'll really miss not being along. Really, really miss it.

    Comment


    • dcsimmons
      dcsimmons commented
      Editing a comment
      Folks are hinting at it below but I suppose the question is would those young guns have been there at all if the 50+ year olds hadn't agreed to go on the trek? Is it better to deny opportunity than to hold back a little? I'm not smart enough to know the answer.

    • Builder
      Builder commented
      Editing a comment
      dc, you are correct of course. And perhaps I didn't express myself as well or completely as I should have. Absolutely if the 50-60 year old leader is the only option then make the compromises that must be made. Make the trip happen, do not deny the opportunity.

      As much as I hate to admit it, I am now one of the "old guys" in my troop There are younger (30s and early 40s) adults in decent to very good shape who would have no trouble handling anything Philmont could throw at them. I have the option of backing out because of them. Other troops and leaders may not have those options.

  • #3
    Stosh and Builder, I salute you both and respect your spirit!

    Even if the years and miles catch up with us, we can always instill the spirit of outdoor adventure throughout the BSA.

    On the other hand, there are scouters that don't like the outdoors. You can see first hand how their sedentary mindset impacts programming...and it's not for the good of scouting.
    Last edited by desertrat77; 10-08-2013, 07:25 PM.

    Comment


    • #4
      The age thing is affecting our unit directly, and very seriously. Currently, I have no adults that can actively do real back packing or more advanced camping. While I can do the drive ins still, and day hikes are generally within my "eventual" capabilities, the more serious things we did at one time have fallen by the wayside. And frankly, that is not helping with the unit getting real growth. Summer camp had myself at 69, a 67 year old grandfather, and a 53 year old parent about 150 pounds overweight. We all survived, but that was summer camp. We went on a day hike last week of a few miles on an easy botanical trail above town. I had one 40 something with the boys, as I had to wait for a late scout, and the other two older adults stayed with me. We reached a point where there are a series of steps up the steeper hillside, made from ties, and the other two adults with me, both younger, chose (correctly) to not take the challenge. I fortunately was still able; but I had to rest three or four times. Last trip to Philmont in 1990 I was in my mid forties, and it was definitely much harder on me than the one in 1979, even though the itinerary was shorter and less strenuous.

      I keep trying to find some younger adults to get the outdoor program back on track; but it is Catch 22 of course. Once the program slides backwards, it is just much harder to find someone to step in when they know that they are going to be given much more than they may wish to take on. If it was not for the history of the unit, we are over 90 years old, I probably would have let it go by now. But, being a historian and feeling that the program is still worthwhile, even at the level at which we are currently working, I cannot yet do that. My two best prospects from the unit moved on, as is to be expected, though not out of scouting, just out of the area. Am in contact with many of my past scouts and still hope I may yet get one or two back into the unit.

      Have three young boys coming in soon, and may see something develop with one of their parents. Can only keep working it I guess.

      Comment


      • Basementdweller
        Basementdweller commented
        Editing a comment
        This is how I became SM. At a mere 50. The 70 year old lifetime troop members are too old for the outdoor program.

        I have asked this before so where are the 30 and 40 year old Moms and Dads??????

        I did a survey of adult troop leadership at summer camp.....It was frightening.....While there were some 40 year old leaders....Most were in their late fifties and sixties.

    • #5
      I have never rejected a program idea, Well I did reject the paintball guns in the fellowship hall, but not because I wasn't physically able to do it.

      My knees ache and creak, after a long day of hiking or canoeing I am sore and stiff. I have posted this before, I will continue to take the boys out as long as I am physically able.

      Comment


      • skeptic
        skeptic commented
        Editing a comment
        Me too; but backpacking, which was a staple for a quarter century for me, is no longer viable at anything but easy and short (very) due to back and leg issues. What is a bit frightening though is that I am in better shape than a lot of others in our area. We do have the super troops of course that do it all. One or two locally which makes it harder yet for me, as those that want that would rather go where they have it still established and just step in where they find time, rather than risk suddenly being in the lead.

    • #6
      This is how I'm solving the problem ... I encourage qualified youth to hike and camp with a small group of buddies independent of adults. That way, from when they are in their twenties, they will have built the confidence they need to lead other youth through serious terrain for days on end. That way, when my flesh diminishes (in just a few decades ) there will be a massive movement of youth to carry on, while I sit back with the BSA perpetual new scout patrols and show them how to use a hatchet to fabricate tent pegs. I might even market the concept (how does "Qwazse contingent" sound?).

      Comment


      • #7
        I can comment on a Cub level. In May we planned a short(5mi) hike on the AT and loop back into camp. The blaze was poorly marked and we missed it. We ended up hiking 13 miles, one Cub out of 19 complained, the parents on the other and were pitching a fit.

        Comment


        • jblake47
          jblake47 commented
          Editing a comment
          Yeah, but the boys will all remember the adventure they had.

          Don't cha just hate the politics that wreck it for the boys? A few sore feet and memories of a lifetime, that's what Scouting is all about.

        • qwazse
          qwazse commented
          Editing a comment
          This warms my heart on so many levels!

          Let me point out that our Czech counterparts would have zero adults (maybe one SM, but unlikely) on such a hike. The 17-19 y.o. den leaders (at least one young man and one young lady -- remember the organization is co-ed from grade-school up) would be guiding the cubs. They will have submitted their plan to their SPL equivalent, who in turn would have asked the SM to review it. The SM may suggest other scouts be at key points on the trail and/or contact him if anyone misses check-in times.

          At least that's what I've inferred from the description of a couple of boys (expat Yanks) who were brought up in that program. Now I'm not entirely sure if the CR has anything comparable to the AT, and a six mile overshoot is on the high side but easy enough to do. (I let our crew do just that at Dolly Sods last year. My avatar is a NASA composite of our location that evening -- our site was one dark 1/2 pixel south of our target dark pixel. ) But, I'm saying that adults' nitpicking is controlled because THEY AREN'T THERE TO COMPLAIN ABOUT EVERY FOIBLE.
          Last edited by qwazse; 10-09-2013, 09:59 AM.

        • gsdad
          gsdad commented
          Editing a comment
          This was in May and the boys were talking about it at our Sept Pack Meeting. I was proud of the boys, especially my Tigers. We made gorp at the previous Den meeting and they shared it after the pack provided Rice Kripsie treats were consumed at was the original half-way mark. Some of the Webelos took the day packs of the younger kids, without being prompted by adults. After lunch the parents licked their wounds while the kids climbed the rock wall.

      • #8
        I think it is an issue. I am 50+ and it is tough. I know the 15+ year old boys can hike rings around me. I know we hold them back. We just got some aged out Eagles who are ASM's. I am hoping they will take the tougher boys on outings more. Mostly my purpose is to shame the slower boys--I am not the Tampa Turtle for nothing.

        Comment


        • #9
          When I was in the UK this summer I came across units from UK, Denmark, Netherlands, etc. I noticed their leaders all looked like they were College age.

          Comment


          • #10
            To some extent you can address that problem by letting your go-getters set their own pace in getting to a predetermined spot for the day. When they get there early they can do their own thing.

            That's not feasible with every destination and itinerary I suppose.

            Comment


            • #11
              Sometimes the SM overrules the boys. On the Philmont trek where I had a slower pace and lagged behind with another adult, the boys were not allowed to go with the slower group even though both groups had 2 adults.

              Eventually I became immune to the SM's tirades and settled in and enjoyed my hike. Needless to say I never got blisters and the only other one on the trek who didn't get blisters was one of the boys who took my advice instead of the "requirements" of the SM. He too, got an earful.

              Needless to say, I eventually moved on to another troop.

              Stosh

              Comment


              • #12
                Interestimg.......then when something happens we will will talk about the leader who allowed his group to become seperated in a bad manner.

                Comment


                • #13
                  According to tradition (and possibly logic): the leader is the first in line of march. The navigator with map/compass is second. And the SLOWEST person is third. Everyone else is 6' apart and the assistant leader brings up the rear to catch any stragglers.

                  See if that ever flies in most troops.

                  One of the problems with my Philmont trek was the "leader" was a huge football player who carried a pack that didn't carry but 25# of gear. I knew from the get-go I wasn't going to be able to keep pace with him. Eventually the boys figured it out too and began dumping their load on him just to slow him down a bit.

                  Stosh

                  Comment


                  • jblake47
                    jblake47 commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Whatever line-of-march one chooses, it should be determined by the group.

                    When I refer to a "leader" I am not referring to any adults. The adults in my book anyway are just added baggage required by National BSA to have along.

                    1) The PL leads the group down the trail. He is looking for whatever the boy behind him tells him is his next landmark, split in the trail, or whatever is necessary to consider. He doesn't need to keep track of map and compass, he has a responsibility to find the trail on the ground, not on the map.

                    2) The second scout is the navigator. He has the map and compass. If the leader has questions, he can stop, turn around and consult with the guy who should know where they are going. The navigator doesn't need to see the trail, only the map hanging on the leader's backpack and the compass in his hands.

                    3) The third scout is the slowest of the group. This person sets the pace for the trek. If he were to be in the back, he could in fact stretch the line of march out so far that the boys on the tail could lose contact with the leader in the front. This way, the slowest is right up there with the leader and the leader can adjust the pace accordingly by glancing over his shoulder to see if #3 is struggling, lagging, or whatever. The #3 could lag 30 yards and the leader will still be able to see him at a glance.

                    4) All the rest of the group except the last one are next. This is where all the adults need to be! Each one keeping 6' - 10' intervals, so that the hiker behind can see the trail and if he trips doesn't domino the group from behind.

                    5) The last person in line is second-in-command (APL). He carries a whistle to communicate any problems to the PL in the lead. The PL and APL can create any signal system they wish just so they know what's communicated. The APL does not pass by anyone, he's the last person down the trail no matter what. If a boy straggles and wants a break, the APL signals the PL with the whistle and buddies up with the straggler. As mentioned, he also carries the first aid kit for the troop. He is the ONLY boy on the trek who has constant visual contact with the entire group all the time. He sees everyone ahead of him, he does not need to turn around and occasionally look behind to see what's going on. He is the "safety officer" of the group. This person really has the most important responsibility throughout the trek. The leader and navigator can make mistakes and the boys will all have a good laugh around the campfire, the safety officer cannot afford any.

                    Builder: From the description I have given, if you are an adult and taking the safety officer position at the tail, then I would consider moving to a boy-led program. You are in fact taking away an opportunity to lead from one of the boys. Train a boy to do it and then get in the middle of the pack and trust your boys and enjoy the hike. If he blows his whistle, then and only then do you have to start worrying about anything. Your APL will not only learn responsibility, but will be able to totally observe and learn how the trek is progressing so when he becomes PL he'll have an understanding of what his new APL is struggling with at the rear and can teach him accordingly. A progression of leadership is important to develop in the group. If an adult is in that progression, the boys will miss an opportunity to lead for real.

                    As an adult on the Philmont trek, I knew I was going to fall behind so every night I would extensively study the map because I was for sure going to eventually lose contact with the group and would need to know the trail. The navigator should be doing the same thing. That day's trek should be engrained in his mind so that a glance at the map and a glance at the compass tell him he's going where he is supposed to be going. Out on the trail, decisions by consensus of the group should not be necessary. The three leaders of the trek should have as much detail worked out as possible long before the first foot is placed on the trail.

                    Stosh

                  • Builder
                    Builder commented
                    Editing a comment
                    if you are an adult and taking the safety officer position at the tail, then I would consider moving to a boy-led program.
                    I resent that. I really do. You have jumped to a conclusion that isn't supported by the information I gave. At Philmont, since this thread seems to be mostly about that program, I and other adults made one decision per day: where we were setting up our tent(s). And that was after the crew leader told us, "We're setting up camp here." So we found a spot that looked OK and set up. Other than that, we adults were the "added baggage required by National BSA" as you eloquently put it. The boys made the decisions. They decided who was hiking where in the line, what route we would take the next day, which way to turn at an intersection, what meal we were eating, what time to get up in the morning, who was carrying what crew gear (and that included adults), and absolutely everything else. The Crew Leader made the duty roster and ensured it was followed, and on and on and on.

                    These decisions were made organically as well, it wasn't some adult telling them they had to follow a set of militaristic "marching rules". There were only 2 "rules": We stay together as a crew and the naviguesser had to be first or second in line. Other than that, the boys worked it out amongst themselves with maybe a little adjusting from the crew leader (NOT an adult).

                    My exact quote from above is: "My spot for every hike and backpacking trip and canoe trip was at the rear." I didn't say I was always dead last. Sometimes I was second or third from last, which in a 7-8 person crew put me "in the middle", kind of. On float trips I might have been in the middle of a pack of canoes, or 2-3 from the last canoe when we were stretched out over a mile of river, or the last one. You see, I didn't put rules on my Scouts other than the Scout Law and Oath. Oh, and one other, they had to have fun -- rule number one.

                    As for being the "safety officer" I might be a bit guilty but only in this sense: As adults on the program side of a non-Cub unit, our one and only job is to make sure the youth don't hurt or kill themselves. I saw part of that responsibility as making sure the number Scouts arriving home equaled the number that departed. Did I entrust that job to Scouts or other adults? Yes I did -- many times. But ultimately and legally the responsibility and liability falls on the Scoutmaster or trek "leader". Therefore I was always at or near the "rear". What's the saying? "Trust but follow up." Or something similar. I consider that "due diligence".

                    Again, though, it was all very organic. These decisions weren't even necessarily conscious ones. If a canoe or 2 or 3 ended up behind me that was OK, as long as I could look back and see the last one. And I really didn't have to have it in constant vision. If it was around the previous bend from me and out of sight, I knew they'd be showing up presently. If they didn't, I'd slow down a bit, or stop and fish, or something. "OK, here they come. Maybe somebody had to pee."

                    Is all of that "boy-led" enough for you? Because that's how my troop operated elsewhere as well while I was SM. "Regular" campouts and hikes and other weekend trips had "adult baggage" along, but we stayed out of the way unless specifically asked to participate or present a program (which the PLC chose, BTW) that wasn't available otherwise (Climbing comes to mind). If I saw something that concerned me I worked through the SPL or the Crew Leader, or whatever youth was in charge (PL etc.) to deal with it, unless it was a matter of immediate health and safety. Again, is that "boy-led" enough for you? Does it meet your definition?

                    In fact, if I were king here's how Philmont would work: Crew arrives, youth get split from adults, youth go on an expedition, adults go across the road to PTC for training. To be somewhat back OT, in that situation the youth would never be "held back". They could choose to hike 120 miles or 55 miles, they could choose to hike fast or slow, they could choose to do anything they wanted without a pesky adult being in their way, physically or otherwise. Lawyers and insurance will never let that happen, but that's how it really should be.

                    Lastly:
                    As an adult on the Philmont trek, I knew I was going to fall behind [...]
                    3) The third scout is the slowest of the group. This person sets the pace for the trek. If he were to be in the back, he could in fact stretch the line of march out so far that the boys on the tail could lose contact with the leader in the front. This way, the slowest is right up there with the leader and the leader can adjust the pace accordingly by glancing over his shoulder to see if #3 is struggling, lagging, or whatever. The #3 could lag 30 yards and the leader will still be able to see him at a glance.
                    So why weren't you #3? Could the leader see you "at a glance"? Did the pace get adjusted for you? Umm. Hmm.

                    I was for sure going to eventually lose contact with the group
                    If you "lost contact" with the rest of your crew you were not following Philmont protocol, or the rules of safe hiking which every Tenderfoot Scout has to learn. There are just so many things wrong with that situation. Possibly deadly things.

                    And very lastly, where did you end up after falling behind? Yup, in the "safety officer" position. Pot. Kettle. Black.
                    Last edited by Builder; 10-10-2013, 04:11 PM.

                  • jblake47
                    jblake47 commented
                    Editing a comment
                    First of all my sincerest apologies for any toes that got stepped on, not my intention. But as you point out, lack of information leads to false assumptions.

                    There is nothing wrong with due diligence and having an adult near the tail end, but if a boy is given responsibility and designated safety officer, he needs to be supported, not usurped in that responsibility. Not all adults adhere to that. To a certain extent, it sounds as if you do. If a canoe or scout got behind, and the "safety officer" had to look back to check, how often was that. Accidents don't take long to develop. If the safety officer is last, he's the first to see trouble.

                    I had an experience where I took novice scouts down a whitewater river (first time for them and 2 adults) and asked an experienced kayaker to accompany as safety officer. She had 40+ years experience on whitewater trips, I had 20+ on that river alone. I figured we were covered. After a long series of rapids we gathered up and she was missing. No signal. As SM it was my responsibility to check it out. I told the group to wait and I went back. She had dumped and lost the whistle. Just bad luck all around. Fortunately, she wasn't hurt, just a kayak full of water that needed to be attended to. However, when we got caught up to the waiting point, the group had decided to continue on. The two most experienced watercraft people had now become disconnected with the group. Fortunately our luck had changed to good, but it still left the situation far from ideal. Whereas your #1 rule is having fun, my #1 rule is safety first. The adults were the one's that decided the group should continue, they overruled the SPL. The SPL wanted to wait but he was overruled by his dad who was one of the other adults. That process was corrected at the end of the trip. If safety first wasn't going to be part of the decision making process, my attendance wasn't going to be available in the future and they would have to make arrangements with other adults if they were going to participate in risky situations.

                    On the Philmont trek, I was ASM, the SM decided I was to be left behind every day and dictated the Trek Leader to ignore me and my situation. No, I was not safety officer because it only took the boys about 15 minutes to get out of sight of me. Philmont rules? Don't apply with an iron-fisted SM who is used to making up his own rules on the fly. It was never a consideration to place me #3 where I belonged. Safety was never considered when adventure trumped everything else. Even when one knows what is right and safe, it gets out-voted rather quickly by politics. As far as pot calling kettle black, NO, I was not the safety officer, nor was any assigned, and the SM never knew 75% of the time where I was, whether I was having difficulty and he really didn't care.

                    Needless to say, my tenure with that group was ended soon after the trip. I no longer had a boy in the troop, so that wasn't a consideration I needed to address. BSA and me personally do not have enough insurance to cover gross negligence and I had no intention of testing the system.

                    This is the same SM who criticized me in front of the boys for driving the speed limit to and from events.

                    We're talking a 25 year veteran WoodBadge SM with Silver Beaver and every other bauble available and even though I had more years with scouting and working with youth in general, it doesn't count for anything.

                    To give you an idea of how boy-led this group is, the SPL and PL's are assigned by the SM according to POR needs. It really didn't make any difference, everyone had to do what the SM said anyway. At summer camp all the older boys (SPL and PL's etc.) are sent off on the HA program leaving the SM in charge of the younger boys.

                    After 13 years it was time to move on. Now you know the real reason why I'm such a pro-BOY-LED program.

                    Stosh

                • #14
                  Several years ago, I had a small group of 10 years old Webelos, up at Pukaskwa National Park, in Northern Ontario. Very, very demanding terrain. We day hiked into the interior, and back to the campground in one day. [Now days, we backpack in about 2 1/2 miles to a super wilderness campsite on Lake Superior, day hike the next day, and backpack out the 3rd day.] The day hike with the Webelos was probably about 15 miles. I was so tired, I could hardly move when we got back to the campsite. After we cooked dinner, the other dad and I sat down for the rest of the evening. The Webelos played tag for 2 hours! They were tired, but recover from the hike in about 10 minutes.

                  Comment


                  • Baseballfan
                    Baseballfan commented
                    Editing a comment
                    haha, yes I've had plenty of cases of the same... on one very hot and humid hike a year or 2 ago they were all moaning that they couldn't make it, etc., ... but near the end of that hike there is a playground and within minutes they were chasing each other around fresh as daisies while I sat and recovered in the air conditioned car! Also last summer on the AT we had a hard day hiking in the heat... again a playground about 100 yards away from our campsite called to them.

                • #15
                  If those boys are out-hiking you, get them to carry some of your stuff for you!

                  Comment


                  • jblake47
                    jblake47 commented
                    Editing a comment
                    The boys were not "out-hiking" me, they were on a determined death march. In the afternoon once we quit for the day, the leader that stayed back with me and I would talk about all the neat things we saw along the trail. And even though we trailed the group, they missed wildlife and vistas all along the trail. The boys dumped their packs and listened in on what we talked about because all they saw all day long was the trail and where they were going to put their next step. The entire group had walked, head down, right by a herd of bedded down mule deer not 15' from the trail. I got pictures, they missed it all.

                    The weight wasn't the problem, I carried my gear and a portion of the camp gear just like everyone else. I'm not willing to make it more difficult on a boy who is the one who is supposed to be enjoying the trek by passing part of my load to him. It was the pace that the SM and the lead boy took. It was a classic example of Turtle and Hare. I figured out on the very first day that even though I had practiced long distance with heavy pack, the thin air of Philmont was not something I could have trained for. I had to slow down my pace even a bit to adjust for the lack of oxygen. As the trek wore on, I could increase my pace as I adjusted to the air. By the time the trek was over, I was traveling at a pace the boys began with, but as they too adjusted, picked up their pace even faster.

                    And to be totally honest about the whole thing, we would hike from 6 am until 10 or 11. There was no need to get done that early. Site activities didn't begin until mid to late afternoon. Sure it got hot by mid-day, but a slower pace and more water would have done everyone just fine.

                    Stosh
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