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Dumbed down? Why the rush?

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  • #31
    Dan,

    I beg to differ with you, esteemed colleague. As a person who started with all the "modern equipment" in cubs and has moved on to Hammock camping and backpacking in Scouts I find these "old fashioned skills" quite handy, light-weight, and versatile in many situations. I use the 2 half hitch and taut-line hitch quite frequently to rig the hammock, hang gear, and rain fly. So does my boy.

    I have used the tautline hitch in tying down gear at home prior to a storm. Very handy.

    Hurricane Charlie came through in 2004 we had no power for 10 days. Wish I knew a few alternate ways to start a fire then, matches were no good and lighter wore out. Had plenty of charcoal but could not light it. Wife giving me the "you are not much of a man" look the whole time.

    Yes, there were 3 pizza places within a 10 minute walk operating (tip: use gas ovens, usually doing a booming business after a storm) but I was dependent on them and pizza got old quick.

    Comment


    • #32
      Tampa Turtle, thanks for your comments. There is no question that "traditional" skills come in very handy when ordinary tools and procedures are not available, as in emergencies, survival situations, power outages, and loading new patio furniture on top of the car. (The store clerk helping me said, "We have some twine, but I don't know how to tie it. I'm not a Boy Scout." I replied, "It's okay -- I am. And I have my own rope.")

      I, too, find the tautline hitch and other traditional skills useful in a variety of ways on campouts. But usually, I could do the same thing another way with "modern" gear, or just some other way; but I choose to use the "traditional" skill in part because I'm comfortable with it and in part to show off, I mean, set an example. I take all those plastic thingys off new tents deliberately so I can use the tautline hitch. I use rope, not web strapping, for hanging my hammock on trees -- but I probably will switch soon because I know the straps are better for the trees than my rope and easier to use than putting padding between the rope and the bark.

      Knowing the traditional "handiness" skills is absolutely a good thing. It just seems to me that in order to get the necessary repetition for those skills to become ingrained in Scouts, the troop has to go out of its way to create situations and opportunities to use those skills. The Advancement system doesn't help with that and modern gear, conveniences, and practices have substantially reduced the need for those skills. Therefore, leaders with knowledge have to do it on their own. And as discussed in this thread, many units don't necessarily have leaders with knowledge. And even some leaders with knowledge prefer modern conveniences to old school skills.

      And so we have "one and done" rank advancement and First Class Scouts who can't tie a tautline hitch -- and under the Advancement system as it is now, there is nothing wrong with that. Let me repeat that: under the _Advancement system_ as it is now, there is nothing wrong with that.

      It is wrong in other ways, but not under the Advancement system.

      Dan Kurtenbach
      Fairfax, VA

      Comment


      • #33
        dkurt

        Your last post makes the point of this entire thread, the Advancement system of the boy scouts allows these one time wonder scouts to pass through without ever becoming at least reasonably competent in the skills, a chance to use them in the field ever again and so they lose all they have learned and that is where the program has failed the boys. Too many troops have limited outdoor camping or other outdoor experiences these days due largely to the fact many troop adult leaders have limited training,outdoor skills and experience. This in turn has created much lower expectations in the boys advancement skills, and in the quality of skill training they receive, which in essence is the "dumbing down" of the boy scout program. It is this lack of desire, skill, or training, especially of the newer boy scout leaders, for going beyond the handbook that has led to this decline.

        Comment


        • #34
          I should also mention that there are _some_ merit badges (for example, Hiking and Cycling) where the requirements call for enough practice/repetition/experience that by the end, most Scouts starting from scratch will be proficient in at least some of the skills and knowledge called for in the requirements and will remember them for a long, long time -- just by virtue of working on the requirements. I don't think that is true for any of the Tenderfoot, Second Class, or First Class requirements, except perhaps swimming.

          Dan Kurtenbach
          Fairfax, VA

          Comment


          • #35
            I'll bet for each and every argument about traditional skills being out dated and of no use I can come up with a better one!

            I agree 100% that any skill not used will get rusty and maybe forgot.
            Ask me how I hooked up my last VCR and my answer is going to take a while and I'll bet that I'll leave some of the important steps out.
            I've always seen the skills a Scout learns on the way to becoming First Class as being the key that opens the door to bigger and better things.
            The argument that the skill is no longer used just doesn't hold water in my book.
            Kids could get by on a diet of pop tarts and bananas.
            Still we spend time teaching them how to cook a skill that will come in handy for the rest of their lives. Long after the pop tarts and bananas run out.
            Not everything needs to have some deep meaning, some things are just fun. I've never seen the reason behind golf. A silly game. But I'm sure a lot of golfers will think orienteering is silly.
            Building a bridge using spars and rope to take it down a few hours later. A waste of time?
            Sure a lot of the Boy Scouts who joined the Ship and re-learned their knots noted that having something (The knots) that they knew had a real use, made a big difference.
            Plotting a course and navigating gave more meaning to map (Chart) and compass work.
            Still we weren't really going anywhere at the end of the trip we tried to end up where we set off from.
            I much prefer the stealth way of advancement. That's where Scouts do and learn things without any mention or thought about advancement. Still by learning and using the skills they meet the requirements.
            This to me is what the good book mean by "Demonstrate".
            Demonstrate isn't just showing someone that you can do something an hour after it's been shown to you.
            This is no any kind of re-testing.
            Testing implies either passing or failing.
            No one ever fails. - They just get more opportunities to get things right. This is one of the main reasons we work with Scouts as individuals.
            Just because a Lad forgets parts of a skill or even the entire skill, no one is going to rip a patch off his uniform.
            These skills are part of what makes up the Methods of Scouting, which help meet the aims and all that good stuff.
            A little Toad who has mastered all the skills and is an obnoxious little brat is never going to be a good Scout no matter what skill level he is at.
            I'm very much for the skills but I hope that I never forget the reason why we play this game.
            Of course as I get older I get more forgetful and maybe a little dumber!
            Eamon.

            Comment


            • #36
              Eamon, I agree with most everything you've said. I'm not arguing that traditional skills are outdated or no longer useful; just that in the ordinary course of camping with modern gear and with other practices that have now become standard (such as routinely cooking over stoves rather than fires), there is less _need_ for the ordinary use of many traditional skills. That means, for example, that Scouts are not automatically using the tautline hitch to set up tents, and therefore they don't automatically get practice in using the knot.

              That doesn't mean in any way that the tautline hitch is outdated or no longer useful; it only means that there are fewer ordinary camping situations in which the tautline hitch can demonstrate its usefulness -- unless we create those situations.

              As for "reason why we play this game," my point is that, in developing its current Advancement "method," BSA has forgotten that reason -- twice.

              First, BSA went astray when it adopted a standard for Boy Scout badge earning that Baden-Powell deplored and abandoned the standard he advocated: "not the attainment of a certain level of quality of work (as in the school), but the AMOUNT OF EFFORT EXERCISED BY THE INDIVIDUAL CANDIDATE" (emphasis his) (i.e., "Do Your Best").

              Second, BSA went astray when it offered up the commendable notion (in the ACP&P) that a rank badge is awarded for what a Scout is _able_ to do, not for what he has done; but which is completely undermined by the rank requirements and procedures that (a) are phrased in a way that allows for the subject of the requirements to be learned, performed, or experieced only once or a limited number of times; (b) do not require that a Scout retain the knowledge or skill or ever demonstrate it again once the rank has been achieved. In other words, under BSA's current Boy Scout advancement requirements and procedures, a badge is awarded for what a Scout has done, and has no relationship to what he is actually _able_ to do.

              So it isn't really that anything has been "dumbed down," it is just that under the current Boy Scout advancement requirements and procedures, it is not necessary for a Scout to be very smart, or very skillful, or to work very hard.

              Dan Kurtenbach
              Fairfax, VA

              Comment


              • #37
                dkurtenbach writes:

                In other words, under BSA's current Boy Scout advancement requirements and procedures, a badge is awarded for what a Scout has done, and has no relationship to what he is actually _able_ to do.

                That in a nutshell is the difference between the BSA program and Baden-Powell's Scouting: BSA "Merit Badges" vs. "Proficiency Badges."

                "Merit" means a praiseworthy moral quality or virtue, or character deserving honor or esteem.

                In other words an Eagle Scout's "First Aid Merit Badge" means only that his character is forever worthy of our praise and esteem because he once earned the badge, not that he can still actually save a life.

                This dumbing down by design is celebrated in "Trained Adult" slogans such as "No Retesting!" and "Once an Eagle, Always an Eagle!"

                Baden-Powell's first aid "Proficiency Badge" on the other hand, means that the Scout has been certified as "proficient" in first aid by an outside agency sometime in the past twelve months.

                In Baden-Powell's version of Scouting ALL badges (including First Class, etc.) are "Proficiency Badges" indicating that the Scout's "Qualifying Badges" have been retested every 12-18 months.

                "Qualifying Badges" are similar to our "Required Badges" except that they are all based on advanced outdoor skills or public service skills (no school subjects).

                See:

                http://www.inquiry.net/traditional/por/proficiency_badges.htm

                Yours at 300 feet,

                Kudu
                http://kudu.net

                Comment


                • #38
                  Even if Kudos vision of retesting (not criticizing) became part of the program, I agree with Dan that many of the scout craft skills are difficult to practice because they dont fit with most modern equipment. In fact, this part of the discussion was brought up many times by participants in my Scoutmaster Specific class. I see the solution is either force scouts to use the same equipment I used back in the 70s, or create new scout craft skills such as the proper use of bungee cords and duct tape.

                  By the way, can someone tell me when the No Retesting thing was added to the program? Must have been between the 70s and 90s. No testing made a dramatic change to scouting.

                  Barry

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                  • #39
                    Yah, Eagledad, I seem to remember it startin' to show up after the 1990 revision. Same time we bumped youth leaders off Boards of Review and introduced new scout patrols and first class first year.

                    I agree with yeh and with dkurtenbach that some of da requirements need modernization. A bit more LNT, a few changes for new gear or new realities. Water treatment, for example, should probably be part of T21, as well as bloodborne pathogen protection. Maybe GPS along with map and compass (or as map and compass ).

                    B

                    Comment


                    • #40
                      Hey, Remember the "game with a purpose" idea?
                      Well there's where the re=testing comes in. Make it a game. A Patrol competition, to lash up a long pole to "rescue" something, or track someone, or fold up a large flag, or a knot tying relay, or a large Kim's game, or a Troop camporee station rotation.
                      Again, it is ALLOWING the Scout to live up (not down to) to a certain expectation.
                      Scout led? If the SM and ASMs instruct the older Scouts (SPL, PL, etc.) to set such a competition up for the younger Scouts, the older ones have to re=learn what they have neglected, in order to save face in front of the younger ones.
                      Camp? Fire building competition. Prize for the best laid out campsite. Cook with raw ingredients, not packages. Ribbons, beads, Bling for the results. Movie tickets. Micky Dee's coupons. Ask, and lots of places will give you free stuff for prizes for "Scouts".
                      But it is the standard to be met, NOT the standard to be approached.

                      "Is only do. Or do not. Is no try".

                      Comment


                      • #41
                        Hey, Remember the "game with a purpose" idea?
                        Well there's where the re=testing comes in. Make it a game. A Patrol competition, to lash up a long pole to "rescue" something, or track someone, or fold up a large flag, or a knot tying relay, or a large Kim's game, or a Troop camporee station rotation.
                        Again, it is ALLOWING the Scout to live up (not down to) to a certain expectation.
                        Scout led? If the SM and ASMs instruct the older Scouts (SPL, PL, etc.) to set such a competition up for the younger Scouts, the older ones have to re=learn what they have neglected, in order to save face in front of the younger ones.
                        Camp? Fire building competition. Prize for the best laid out campsite. Cook with raw ingredients, not packages. Ribbons, beads, Bling for the results. Movie tickets. Micky Dee's coupons. Ask, and lots of places will give you free stuff for prizes for "Scouts".
                        But it is the standard to be met, NOT the standard to be approached.

                        "Is only do. Or do not. Is no try".

                        Comment


                        • #42
                          Eagledad writes:

                          I see the solution is either force scouts to use the same equipment I used back in the 70s, or create new scout craft skills such as the proper use of bungee cords and duct tape.

                          I admit I never learned the proper use of bungee cords. The only thing I know about them is that when I find tents and sleeping bags along the trail, they always belong to a Scout using bungee cords.

                          In my retirement I volunteer for a Troop that includes Eagle Scouts who literally have never walked into the woods with a pack on their backs--they only camp in venues where they can use their wheeled suitcases! Who am I to "Add to the Requirements"?

                          As I "reinvent" Scouting for their more adventurous friends, I have put everything (and I do mean "everything") on the table. Lashings are a tough sell, but when our youngest Scout refused to do the "first year program" at summer camp and took Climbing Merit Badge instead, I was surprised at how many of the basic knots (often in a modified form) he was required to learn and bet his life on. Now 96% of the Troop wants to follow his example and earn Climbing Merit Badge, so I think I finally have knots covered as a practical program element.

                          Recently I also discovered that even the lowly bowline is required. Not for climbing, but 30 feet below the surface for Advanced Open Water SCUBA certification (as it is taught at our local dive shop)! I find most Patrol competitions to be artificial, but we now use the bowline in underwater lift-bag Patrol competitions.

                          dkurtenbach writes:

                          That doesn't mean in any way that the tautline hitch is outdated or no longer useful; it only means that there are fewer ordinary camping situations in which the tautline hitch can demonstrate its usefulness -- unless we create those situations.

                          Dan, be sure to check out "Prusik" at the following URL!

                          http://troop452.com/climbing/merit_badge/index.htm

                          Yours at 300 feet,

                          Kudu
                          http://kudu.net

                          Comment


                          • #43
                            Lashings are a tough sell? Why our Pioneering camp out is one of the most popular ones we have. The older boys made towers and gateways and (unauthorized) catapults. They made rope (well I screwed that one up so they instead had a lesson in adversity and had to redo later). The log drag with the timber hitch was very, very popular. One boy said "It is amazing what you can do with some big sticks and rope".

                            A Scout is Honest. The boys hated splicing. But we told some of them -- you want go to Seabase you gotta know your knots.

                            Comment


                            • #44
                              Tampa

                              You are so right about Pioneering, my venturing crew looks forward every year to the Back to Basics campout with pioneering, tracking, signaling, dutch oven cooking, and some wilderness survival skills to name a few. No electronics, stoves, fancy tents etc. and the teens love it, in fact it is one of our best recruiting events every year.

                              I think teens would love to have more experiences with these so called "outdated skills" if given more opportunities.

                              Comment


                              • #45
                                Kudu,

                                Kudos to the young scout that refused to go thru the "first year program" aka "scouting pre-school."

                                Because of his climbing experience, he's going to remember those knots alot longer than the poor scouts who sat on logs in the first year program area, tying knots just for the sake of the checklist.

                                I'm sure his camp experience was more enriching overall.

                                Seems that's how we picked up scouting skills back in the day--doing practical things, out in the field?

                                What troubles me is that more scouts, BSA-wide, would have liked to have skipped the first year program and actually do something...perhaps they didn't know they could say no. Or they tried and it was disapproved. Very sad.(This message has been edited by desertrat77)

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