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  • #31
    Originally posted by PaulSafety View Post
    while serving on a BOR, a boy is asked about meaning of oath and law, shrugs his shoulders and stares at his shoes, mutters, 'ummm, I guess the oath is something we say to remember to be good scouts" and gets a hearty congratulation from the BOR leader. I attempt to ask a follow up questions, and get shut down by the BOR organizer. The boy was passed and I had a long discussion afterwards with the BOR team. Eventually, we got better, but they were afraid to send boys back from a BOR over "idealist" issues when they were progressing in knots and fires. I ended up having to take these concerns to the direct contact leaders as a concerned father. It can be an uphill battle when it ought to be seamlessly included in the presentation of the program. That's why I'm searching for ideas on how to better incorporate character development.
    This is why most boys love sports and hate Scouting.

    To begin with, a BOR is the BSA's mommy and daddy-run version of Baden-Powell's "Court of Honor" (PLC). In Traditional Scouting, the best Patrol Leaders supply the leadership skills, and the program is all about "progressing in knots and fires."

    The "character development" you envision is like rejecting a boy's touchdowns, baskets, goals, or homeruns because he could not explain the concept of "sportsmanship" to the satisfaction of some kid's father.

    Comment


    • PaulSafety
      PaulSafety commented
      Editing a comment
      Originally posted by Kudu View Post

      The "character development" you envision is like rejecting a boy's touchdowns, baskets, goals, or homeruns because he could not explain the concept of "sportsmanship" to the satisfaction of some kid's father.

      Hey, I appreciate your feedback, but I think you're projecting a little bit when you describe what I envision as character development. I wouldn't look at penalizing a boy or crushing his spirit because he couldn't explain a concept. My follow up questions were not to belittle or attack, but to try to quietly draw out a little more that was probably lurking underneath, but in that instance, I didn't get the opportunity. The benefit of the conversation would be, I hoped, to help the youth realize that this "stuff" is important/relevant/helpful/valuable, too. (not more than knots and fires, but similarly helpful in it's own way).

      Ultimately,my criticism is of the failure to lead and educate for clear understanding, not to fail to receive a "preferred response". Please don't paint me as a stereotype from your imagination -- that's not really very fair, and I can see that you're a great scouter who cares about the program a whole lot.

      So how do we help youth discover and build character? That's all I asked about since the thread began with concerns about boys growing up to be men of both seemingly great and seemingly poor character -- should we assume that neither condition is a result of scouting experience, or should we think about how we can influence (in pratical terms) a stronger, more consistent outcome of men brought up through "the program" who exhibit great character in their adult lives?

  • #32
    Originally posted by Kudu View Post
    Originally posted by PaulSafety View Post
    Personal Growth (as a bone fide "method" of scouting that is equally important as the "outdoor program" or "boy led patrol method")
    The centerpiece of the "Personal Growth" Method when it was introduced, was the "Personal Growth Agreement Conference" with its own paperwork: the official "Personal Growth Agreement" contract. The Scout was required to list specific goals and then meet them before his next advancement. To accommodate the anticipated flood of "urban youth" who hate Scoutcraft, the goals need not have anything to do with Scouting.
    Thanks for the welcome! Thanks for the insight -- I was 5 in 1971 so I kinda missed the significance until now. Appreciate the head's up on the context. It's good to gain perspective -- that's personal growth, right?

    Comment


    • #33
      For what it's worth, Venturing awards and recognition program may move to a more personal growth model. I really don't know what that means because the requirements (especially gold and silver award requirements) sound an aweful lot like personal growth.

      Comment


      • #34
        Originally posted by PaulSafety View Post
        I think you're projecting a little bit...Please don't paint me as a stereotype from your imagination -- that's not really very fair
        Paul, This is precisely the problem with a program based on character. To you I am "projecting" and "painting" you as a "stereotype" from my "imagination," which you characterize as "not really very fair."

        From my perspective rejecting a boy's touchdowns, baskets, goals, or homeruns because he could not explain the concept of "sportsmanship" to the satisfaction of some other kid's father, is not just "fair," but a perfect analogy to your desire to "send boys back from a BOR over 'idealist' issues when they were progressing in knots and fires."


        Originally posted by PaulSafety View Post
        So how do we help youth discover and build character? -- should we assume that neither condition is a result of scouting experience, or should we think about how we can influence (in practical terms) a stronger, more consistent outcome of men brought up through "the program" who exhibit great character in their adult lives?
        There is no proof either way. Forcing boys to "sit side by side with adults" and talk about "ethical choices" might work to your satisfaction. Nobody can prove it won't.

        That's why most boys hate Scouting. When Scouting was popular, it was a game. Most games revolve around a set of skills that have no practical value in an office. For instance, bouncing, throwing, catching, or kicking a ball through physical space.

        That's how Scouting worked on June 15, 1916: A Boy Scout used Scoutcraft skills to move through physical space.

        Likewise, Hillcourt's "Real" Patrol Leader used Scoutcraft skills to move a Patrol of boys through physical space.

        With the retirement of Hillcourt in 1965, the BSA's office workers replaced the objective skills that outdoor boys like, with the subjective skills that office workers like, under the anti-Scoutcraft banner "Character and Leadership."

        You know: "Once an Eagle, Always an Eagle."

        Yours at 300 feet,

        Kudu
        http://kudu.net


        Comment


        • #35
          1911 BSA handbook; "And then the final and chief test of the scout is the doing of a good turn to somebody every day, quietly and without boasting. This is the proof of the scout. It is practical religion, and a boy honors God best when he helps others most. A boy may wear all the scout uniforms made, all the scout badges ever manufactured, know all the woodcraft, campcraft, scoutcraft and other activities of boy scouts, and yet never be a real boy scout. To be a real boy scout means the doing of a good turn every day with the proper motive and if this be done, the boy has a right to be classed with the great scouts that have been of such service to their country. To accomplish this a scout should observe the scout law." (ideals trump skills)

          I think its reasonable to say that character and ideals have always been in the stew, not thrown in as the result of a 1960 memo or 1970 "improved scouting nightmare". We need not agree on this point and probably won't.

          I don't require constructive suggestions or ideas on character development
          that meet with my satisfaction. I merely asked members of the forum to contribute constructively. If you clearly feel that character development is a waste of program energy, then why not simply move on and let those of us who feel differently try to help boys as best we can? (...because you disagree with our approach and think we're damaging the youth...OK, we get your point....)

          Not every troop works the exact same way, nor should they -- this is the underlying benefit of diversity and tolerance -- enabling multiple approaches to flourish and create synergies that innovate when results suggest that the approach was beneficial and testing confirms that it can be replicated (it wasn't a fluke). Of course, we could also just troll around and boo-hoo anyone who tries to do their best to serve the youth in a way counter to our personal preferences, too.

          I'm just trying to live out the eagle oath "
          I promise to make my training and example, My rank and my influence, Count strongly for better Scouting" but that would be an ideal, not pushing a ball through physical space, right? Oh well.

          Comment


          • DuctTape
            DuctTape commented
            Editing a comment
            I still disagree with your contention that "Ideals trump skills". Even the quote doesn't make that claim. They go hand in hand. The ideal to observe the law and do a good turn require the boy to have the skills necessary. To be prepared to do ones duty is to have the skills for "any old thing". One cannot fulfill the ideals without the skills. Neither ideals nor skills trump the other.

        • #36
          Basement, good question. Getting ready to retire from the military, serving in my fourth (and final!) council in the space of six years...a couple of rambling thoughts, if you please....

          - Eagle has been cheapened by the emphasis on numbers...with National leading the charge.

          - It's been awhile since I've seen the "all Eagles please stand" deal. But when it does happen, I only stand for .5 of a second and sit down. It IS embarrassing! What about all the great former scouts, of all ranks, in the audience? What about the great scouters who weren't scouts as a kid? It's just misguided to distinguish between scouters that way.

          - Most of my experience has been at the other end of the spectrum. In two of the four councils, there have been very few scouter who were Eagles. I never say a word about being an Eagle and neither do they.

          Bottom line: I know good Eagles, but the best scouters I've served with are the former scouts who may have topped out at Star, who served honorably as a scout, with lots of nights under the stars and trail miles under the belts. These folks are the salt of the earth and keep the flame of scouting alive in their units or at whatever level they serve.

          Comment


          • #37
            I agree with the idea that character and adventure go hand in hand. Adventure in the outdoors leads to problems which leads to learning how to deal with those problems. Match that with good character and you have a man. Either one by itself leads to either a church youth group or an REI minor league.

            The character part of scouting is strong. The part that's lacking is where the scout makes decisions and takes responsibility for himself and others. It's getting harder to do that with helicopter parents, rules from above that limit a lot of fun, and kids that honestly expect to be told exactly what to do. I have a mom that sent his son's patrol email "because he's not very organized" (what a fight that was). We can't climb on rocks above waist high. Really? These kids ski and bike off of rocks higher than waist high.

            Anyway, Kudu has a point that, while harshly made, I'm finding more and more important. We're moving away from the adventure and that's what a lot of kids want and that's where they learn. There's a way to get back to it and do it safely but there's nothing I see from National that's helping that. Not JTE, not ILST, not Woodbadge. Maybe back in the day of Hillcourt all the adults naturally knew how to do this but they don't now.

            Comment


            • dcsimmons
              dcsimmons commented
              Editing a comment
              Yeah, I've had boys sign a clipboard but when mom and dad show up it's a different story. Most of the time it's "If you want to join scouting you have to drop 4H." Scouting rarely wins. Now, I'm more than willing to admit it could be my presentation but I think there's some fear from parents as well. I also think outdoor adventure isn't as relevant for rural kids as the program 4H/FFA puts on. I lose to them most often. FWIW, my schools would never let me bring in a tent, canoe, pine scented fake fire and the like. Like BD I'm lucky to get a folding table near the restroom.

            • Kudu
              Kudu commented
              Editing a comment
              Basementdweller: The link lists specific dates.

              dcsimmons: Apples and oranges. You speculated that society has urbanized and the pool of potential members is simply drying up. But the potential market share of urban sixth-graders who can be sold on outdoor adventure is 80%. The percentage of parents who will actually allow their sons to register is around 30% of the total audience. That does not include Cub Scout survivors already crossed over.

              The fact that your public school might not give you access is a different issue. If the mission of the BSA was Scoutcraft rather than "ethical choices," we might be more welcome.

            • MattR
              MattR commented
              Editing a comment
              We seem to be talking about two different issues; what the kids want, and what the parents want. As for the kids, they haven't changed over the years. They still want fun, challenge, and respect from adults. They still like telling stories of dealing with tough situations. For the boys we need to improve the program. Boy-led, 300' and the outdoors is all part of it.

              What the parents want is different. Maybe they are afraid of the outdoors, or more likely, just don't understand it. At the same time, I'm not sure parents views have changed that much on what they want for their kids. Responsible, confident, compassionate, courageous. They want their boys to grow into good men. I certainly have plenty of moms come up to me asking that I help raise their sons to be good men. Maybe the challenge is that the BSA isn't doing a good job of connecting the methods of scouting to growing into a man. If the view is we go into the woods and start fires with flint and steel, but nobody sees that as being prepared, or that the scouts are learning to solve their own problems, then scouting is seen as quaint. We don't need to sell the adventure as jumping on the back of a wild boar with a knife in our teeth, but certainly conquering challenges is a good, fun way to learn what's important.

          • #38
            Probably because it is either a unit program or maybe a district. Something they will try to pitch to national.....

            Comment


            • #39
              Originally posted by PaulSafety View Post
              1911 BSA handbook; A boy may wear all the scout uniforms made, all the scout badges ever manufactured, know all the woodcraft, campcraft, scoutcraft and other activities of boy scouts, and yet never be a real boy scout. To be a real boy scout means...(ideals trump skills)
               
              Yes. On occasion Baden-Powell himself demonstrated that same fatal bravado.
               
              Physical Scoutcraft skills made Scouting so wildly popular with boys, that the founders never in their wildest nightmares anticipated that professional Eagles would use our government-imposed monopoly to convert Scouting to an "ideals trump skills" program in which the highest rank did not require a single night of camping.

              Comment


              • Peregrinator
                Peregrinator commented
                Editing a comment
                You mean like all that silly talk about good turns and the like?

            • #40
              Originally posted by MattR View Post
              Maybe the challenge is that the BSA isn't doing a good job of connecting the methods of scouting to growing into a man.
              Those Methods of Scouting are designed to teach Bruce Tuckman to Den Leaders. Scouting helps boys grow into good men because of common interests between the young and the old. It's a human thing. The Methods are only a theory, and a bad one at that. If hockey had "eight methods" boys would hate ice as much as they hate Scouting.

              Originally posted by MattR View Post
              If the view is we go into the woods and start fires with flint and steel, but nobody sees that as being prepared, or that the scouts are learning to solve their own problems, then scouting is seen as quaint.
              The only people who feel that way are the BSA's professional millionaires, Wood Badge Staffers, and the "always an Eagle" types.

              Consider: If the view is that boys hit a ball with a club, but nobody sees that as being prepared, or that the Little Leaguers are learning to solve their own problems, then does anyone who loves baseball care if others see baseball as quaint?


              The icons and images of baseball are older than Scouting, but unlike the BSA, Little League is not run by CEOs who hate baseball, Wood Badge Staffers whose lives are dedicated to replacing catching and throwing with storming and norming, and adult Little League World Series ring holders who hold the boys' homeruns hostage to a satisfactory forced discussion of sportsmanship.
               

              Originally posted by MattR View Post
              We don't need to sell the adventure as jumping on the back of a wild boar with a knife in our teeth,
              We should. That is the self-image all sixth-graders should leave with after any Boy Scout recruitment encounter. 80% of all boys would want to be a Boy Scout, and indoor Eagles would not be the embarrassment that this thread describes.


              Originally posted by MattR View Post
              What the parents want is different. Maybe they are afraid of the outdoors
              Some are, as the statistics I provided show. Over the years a number of mothers have said that their sixth-grade sons were "not ready for camping yet, maybe next year." Statistically DCSimmons is closer to the truth, but my general sense is that experience with Cub Scouts is the greatest source of anti-Boy Scout sales resistance among both parents and boys. The statistics at the following URL (from above) show how that 80% of sixth-graders who want to be Boy Scouts is reduced by parents to only 30% registered BSA members:

              http://inquiry.net/adult/recruiting_...ic_schools.htm

              However, if I read my own statistics correctly, 30% of all the sixth-grade parents do sign their sons up for Scouting if I promise them nothing more than some fresh air and exercise.

              I never mention Eagle Scout to parents because I don't want that kind of people on a Troop Committee.

              I never mention "Leadership" because teaching "leadership skills" is based on every Scout getting a turn at being a "leader." To camp Patrols 300 feet apart, and send them out on hikes without Tuckman helicopters, we need to stick with only the very best natural leaders in positions of real responsibility, so that all the other boys are not in harm's way.

              I never mention "Adult Association" or "Ideals," but rather read to them what their son wrote on the clipboard. "Jimmy says he likes guns. He can shoot a .22 next month, and a shotgun if he can handle it." "Tommy says he wants to see a bear. He will have to wait until July, when we camp at Sabattis." "Johnny and his friend Carlos love fishing? Do you know Carlos? They will be spending a lot of time with our older Scouts who bring a fishing pole to every campout."


              That seems to be enough.


              Yours at 300 feet,

              Kudu
              http://kudu.net

              Comment


              • #41
                Kudu, I have a question for you. How do service projects fit in with the outdoor program? Since you'd like the focus of scouting to be outdoor skills (as would I), is there a need for service projects?

                My view is that the outdoors develops confidence and doing service develops compassion, two very useful characteristics.

                Comment


                • Kudu
                  Kudu commented
                  Editing a comment
                  "Service for Others" has always been central to Baden-Powell's Scouting.

                  If you look at his Boy Scout uniforms in the rest of the world, all Scoutcraft badges are worn on the right side of the uniform, and all Public Service badges are worn on the left.

                  http://inquiry.net/images/placement-sr.gif

                  Note that these Public Service badges represent current proficiency in the SKILLS of service (such as First Aid, recertified every year), not hours of service projects or months of leadership service.

                  In real Scouting a Boy Scout helps other people at all times because it is the right thing to do. Service hour requirements and Position Of Responsibility requirements teach Boy Scouts to expect compensation for what should be given freely.
                  Last edited by Kudu; 10-14-2013, 08:14 PM.

                • MattR
                  MattR commented
                  Editing a comment
                  A few more questions. 1) I'm not sure you really answered the previous question. How do service projects fit in with the outdoor program? You said they're important, but how do they complement learning outdoor skills, which is really a selfish thing when you get right down to it. I'm not asking because I'm a butt, I'm getting somewhere with this.

                  2) If service hours are not important and "doing" is the best way to learn a skill, then how does the SM encourage a scout to do the right thing? Does the troop just plan a number of service projects and the expectation is the scout will show up to most of them? That's more in line with what I do now anyway. I'm afraid that just talking about doing the right thing will never stick in a teenage boy's brain. Firing a gun is fun and it's easy to get them to want to do that. Collecting food for the food bank is not fun and likely not meaningful until a scout is older.

                  3) This is really what I'm after. What is a short description, less than a sentence, of the purpose of scouting? I ask because when I looked at the BSA website it looked like a horrible mess written by a committee of psycho babblers. Because the purpose isn't clear the training isn't clear, and the program isn't clear, and the boys and parents aren't sure what it's all about. it's an inkblot test and people see what they want to see in it. You seem to like to make things simple and this is a time where some simplicity would be a good thing. I don't expect anyone at national to read this, but at least when I talk to parents I can sound coherent.

                  I don't mind if anyone else chimes in as well. If I were to rewrite the BSA website I'd write "Developing the type of man that every woman wants: Confident, compassionate, and adventurous." It's a bit cheeky but the moms and dads that know little of the outdoors need to hear something better than "Reinforce Ethical Standards" if they're ever going to encourage their kids to go camping with us.

                • perdidochas
                  perdidochas commented
                  Editing a comment
                  On the whole service hours thing, I've found my troop has two types of scouts: 1) the scouts who have so many service hours that the whole idea of recording service hours is silly (my sons are in that group), and 2) the scouts who do the minimum amount of service necessary to get their next rank. My oldest son's Eagle project work day had one scout who showed up about noon (the rest started at 8). This scout worked until 1, then told us he had finished the one hour he needed, and it was time to go home and fish.

                  In terms of the question about service hours and outdoor program, the single category of service hours that has the most participation is in conservation/camp restoration programs. Sometimes we delitter an area. Other times, we have trimmed limbs going into a trail/camp road.

              • #42
                It's going to be hard to find a single sentence description. Scouting really is many different things. Probably the closest you'll get is:
                "The purpose of this corporation shall be to promote, through organization and cooperation with other agencies, the ability of boys to do things for themselves and others, to train them in Scoutcraft, and to teach them patriotism, courage, self-reliance, and kindred virtues, using methods which are now in common use by the Boy Scouts."

                Comment


                • #43
                  Originally posted by ParkMan View Post
                  Probably the closest you'll get is:
                  "The purpose of this corporation shall be to promote, through organization and cooperation with other agencies, the ability of boys to do things for themselves and others, to train them in Scoutcraft, and to teach them patriotism, courage, self-reliance, and kindred virtues, using methods which are now in common use by the Boy Scouts."
                  Well, it's 100 years old, but a good place to start.

                  If I strip out the legalese and write it in a more current style I come up with: The purpose is for boys to be skilled in the outdoors, benevolent, responsible, courageous, honorable, and patriotic.

                  ​That seems a lot more succinct than Reinforce Ethical Standards. I'm not sure the kids will think much of it. Sports is about winning and winning strikes a chord within a boy. Maybe honor and courage can take the place of winning.

                  Comment


                  • #44
                    Originally posted by MattR View Post
                    1) I'm not sure you really answered the previous question. How do service projects fit in with the outdoor program? You said they're important, but how do they complement learning outdoor skills, which is really a selfish thing when you get right down to it.
                    How do they complement each other? Scoutcraft ("The Religion of the Woods") and Service for Others ("Practical Christianity") are the two spiritual sides of Baden-Powell's Boy Scout program.

                    Literally the "two sides" because Scoutcraft badges are worn on the right side of the uniform, and Service for Others badges on the left. In most Western religions, the right side is favored by God, but as far as I know there is no written account of the right/left symbolism of the Traditional Scout Uniform.

                    The final test of Scoutcraft competency for every award (what Americans call a "rank") is an overnight backwoods Journey, undertaken with a buddy, or alone like an OA Vigil.


                    No doubt this sounds abstract to most BSA members, because we replaced spiritual quests (Journeys) with indoor job interview practice (Scoutmaster Conferences and Boards of Review).

                    During the Hillcourt era, regular Patrol Hikes and Overnights provided some semblance of a close experience with nature, but Leadership Development replaced Hillcourt's Patrol Method with whole-Troop "leadership skills." Likewise Leadership Development replaced the spiritual quality of Service for Others (service projects and competency-based leadership), freely given, with advancement-credit compensation.

                    "Some may object that the religion of the Backwoods is also a religion of the backward; and to some extent it is so. It is going back to the primitive, to the elemental, but at the same time it is to the common ground on which most forms of religion are based --- namely, the appreciation of God [The Religion of the Woods/Scoutcraft] and service to one's neighbor [Practical Christianity/Service for Others]" (Baden-Powell).

                    http://inquiry.net/ideals/b-p/backwoods.htm

                    "There is no religious "side" of the movement. The whole of it is based on religion, that is, on the realization [The Religion of the Woods/Scoutcraft] and service [Practical Christianity/Service for Others] of God" (Baden-Powell)

                    "His father's pantheistic book, The Order of Nature was a significant influence upon him, as a sub-heading in Rovering to Success makes plain 'Nature Knowledge as a Step Towards Realizing God'. Baden-Powell also used to quote Bacon's aphorism: 'The study of the Book of Nature is the true key to that of Revelation.' In a bizarre way he managed to combine camping equipment, adventure, and religious sensations in a remarkable synthesis. In his published Matabele Campaign he described his camping impedimenta as his 'toys' and then went on: 'May it not be that our toys are the various media adapted to individual tastes through which men may know their God?'"

                    http://inquiry.net/ideals/beads.htm

                    Comment


                    • #45
                      Thanks Kudu, nice read and answer. It's interesting that BP put an emphasis on the spiritual and there are so many people that are looking more for the spiritual. The Pew survey in another thread shows that. Maybe the BSA has an opportunity here.

                      Comment

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