Announcement

Announcement Module
Collapse
No announcement yet.

Programs That Build Character

Page Title Module
Move Remove Collapse
X
Conversation Detail Module
Collapse
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Programs That Build Character


    Recently I was with a bunch of Civil war re-enactors. The Sargent Major talked to us about how he ran his program for boys between the ages of 14-20+. That the structure required by these events plus his dedication to the program really developed strong character within the boys. He claimed to have been given lots of compliments from parents about how their sons attitude/character had improved after being in his program.

    Two weeks ago I was talking to my sons wrestling coach and he said; give his program time and watch how much confidence my son will gain from the structure of his program. He claimed to have seen this many times how the wrestling program developed confidence in boys.

    BSA, touts its self as a character building program, but so do many others.

    I dont really want to debate which is of these or others is the better program.

    My question: Is it structure that above all that boys need? Is it the common group sharing of experiences with team members that does it? Is it the dedication os adult paid/volunteers and their character influence that mentors the boys?

    What comprising a good character development program for boys?

  • #2
    Is it structure that above all that boys need? Is it the common group sharing of experiences with team members that does it? Is it the dedication os adult paid/volunteers and their character influence that mentors the boys?

    Yes

    Comment


    • #3
      Quite honestly, I don't think any *program* alone can consistently ensure the eventual development of good character in boys *or* girls.

      If the parents are of poor character, uninvolved, uncaring, uninterested ... there is very little that a "program" can do.

      The primary reason being that if the parents don't care, then they won't engage their children in these activities.

      There are rarities, where a kid escapes the past on his own.

      But back to the original questions...but not limited to "boys" programs...

      "Is it structure that above all that boys need?"

      Yes...with set expectations.

      "Is it the common group sharing of experiences with team members that does it?"

      I don't think so. Boys & Girls Clubs do things in groups and individually. Big Brothers/Big Sisters does it almost all one on one.

      "Is it the dedication os adult paid/volunteers and their character influence that mentors the boys?"

      The adults need not be paid, but they must be dedicated.



      (This message has been edited by Engineer61)

      Comment


      • #4
        I think character is taught, mentored, or passed along by those adults our kids associate with. A youth program which emphasizes character, as does Scouting, strengthens it. The character of the Scoutmaster will set the tone for the troop. If the Scoutmaster lives the Oath and Law, he will surely pass on those habits to his boys. A Scoutmaster who runs a great outdoors program but does not live the Oath and Law will grow some great campers, but not solid citizens. It's really pretty simple if we parents pay attention to the adults our kids associate with.

        Comment


        • #5


          So really, the actual activity matters less than the structure. So a sheep sheering club that practices together and competes will be just as good at character development as ROTC.

          Comment


          • #6
            My thoughts.

            1) You need dedicated leaders who will work with and mentor the youth. They need to set the example.

            2)You need a program that will attract folks. It can be anything: sports, band, JROTC, chess club, Scouting, 4-H, model rocket club, ANYTHING.

            3) The kid who need it most are the ones who parents are not the best role models. Harder to get to, but one positive adult can make a difference.

            Comment


            • #7
              Programs that allow others to depend on you, and that allow you to show you can be depended on build character.
              In team sports this is handling your assigned position adequately.
              In Scouting, character develops out of becoming PL, SPL, other POR, where the duties of the position aren't fluffed over (needs to be boy-lead)or ignored or over-looked, and where failure is allowed as long as not life-threatening.
              Training for these responsibilities is all important, as is shunting aside the helicopter parents (this includes no troop merit badges at troop meetings, no parents as son's own merit badge counselor).
              Scouting, done as the founders intended, is an intricate dance

              Comment


              • #8
                Boomer,

                Looking back I agree that the main part I got out of sports was on how my assigned positions (Center, Holder, Long Snapper) contributed to the Team though rarely I got much individual glory. But boy--if you screw up it sure is obvious. I still am a "team player".

                Adults who treated me as a real person made a big difference--in my case my 6th grade male teacher who turned out as flaming gay as they come. But he saw how uncoordinated I was and held me back in class to practice throwing the ball around. My dad never bothered. That was all I needed to encourage me to do more sports and eventually play a little high school ball. (When I was in college I sought my old teacher out and told him.) Later when I was a teacher I kept an eye out for kids that needed a little extra help--I think I got that from him.

                Oh course I was molested by my so-called "hetero" football coach--so I do not think it is the activity so much as the individuals. I learned from him that adults will use and betray you and lie about it. I also learned that if you had a reputation as an honest boy when it was he said vs he said that you had a better chance of being believed.

                Agree that a non-parent adult has a big impact; maybe because you think that your folks HAVE to love you and believe in you and it means more with someone else.

                As a scouter I try to seek out boys and point out legitimate progress I see them do ("Tommy you really humped that pack for 10 miles. Remember last year you barely finished the 5 miler; I can't believe how far you have come!"). I think it needs to be legitimate because boys have a pretty good BS detector since they get so much false praise these days.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Character are the habits we develop to override our instinctive reactions that don't fit in society. We might want to instinctively hit the person who makes us angry, but we developed a part of our character to just walk away.

                  Like anything habits are hard to change. Change of character isnt something that just happens, its an action we have to choose.

                  For a program to be able to change character, it has to force and give the participants the opportunities to make decisions that would motivate them to want to change their character habit.

                  Some activities are better at developing character than others because of the number of opportunities that provides choices to change. Sports in general are not as good of activity for character development because coaches by the nature of the activity can pretty much direct all their players actions in an environment they choose. However, any program can have character development opportunities if the activities have some chanracter changing opportunities. I do know of some good coaches that specifically use the activities with character development in mind.

                  But Scouting is the same way. If the adult tells a scout how to be a scout every step of the way and doesnt provide an opportunity for the scout to make some decisions, he will have rare opportunities to change character because he doesnt have the opportunity to make that decision. That being said, there is the opportunity for the scout to observe certain behaviors of others, which might encourage a change, but it must be significant to change a habit.

                  The better way of changing character is motivation to get away from pain or struggle of their performance. There are countless activities that lead a scout to make changes in his life, but leadership is one of the best because true leadership puts us in situations where we are stressed and want to react quickly to relieve the stress. If we havent been in that situation before, we are likely to react more from instinct or bad habit, not the proper character habit.

                  The job of a good mentor is to allow the person they are mentoring to get themselves in the situations of making a decision and then guiding them to reflect on their performance of that decision. That can be done in most organizations and activities.

                  Many folks believe that wearing a uniform develops character. I believe the choice to wear the uniform is more about character. There is no show of character when the person is not given a choice. Well maybe the character trait of patience.

                  So some organizations lend themselves better to character development than others, but certainly it depends on qualities and intentions of the mentor.

                  Barry

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Thomas54 writes:

                    So really, the actual activity matters less than the structure. So a sheep sheering club that practices together and competes will be just as good at character development as ROTC.

                    Yes, this is the reasoning behind the destructive, anti-Scoutcraft forces of Scouting, except that "character" is usually bundled together with "leadership:"

                    "Camping is not necessarily a big thing with them, as a matter of fact in some cases it is not big at all. So we need to kind of think about, is it more important that we reach that child with the kind of things we have for children and we have for families in character development and leadership skill growth..."

                    http://inquiry.net/leadership/index.htm

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Some activities are better at developing character than others because of the number of opportunities that provides choices

                      Yah, I think this is the essence of it, though I don't see it quite da same way as Eagledad in terms of "change". Changing habits is da hard thing for us old people. For young, growing people, it's more about developing than changing to my mind.

                      So I think the essence of a character buildin' program is something like this:

                      1) the participant's ability to make choices
                      2) natural, holistic feedback provided on those choices
                      3) motivation to persevere and struggle with those choices

                      Generally speakin', yeh need some strong program structure because the structure helps provide choices. "Wide open" is too much for most kids (and adults); to actually see options and choose between 'em, things have to be narrowed a bit. The less mature/experienced a person, the more structure is required so that they see choices rather than just bein' lost. Too much structure, however, curtails a person's choices and reduces character-building.

                      Generally speakin', program activity provides most of da feedback, and some programs are much more natural and responsive about feedback than others.

                      Generally speakin', motivation to persevere comes in part from da personal interest of mentors and support of peers, and in part from da program features.

                      So yah, there are differences between programs.

                      Da best programs provide a structure which allows for difference in experience/maturity in its participants, and where the structure changes with time and personal growth. Scoutin' is better at that than sports, for example. The structure a Patrol Leader experiences is different than that of a younger scout, where a tight end is pretty much doin' the same thing he did last year.

                      Da best programs are set up so that the participants get natural, timely feedback from their choices of all kinds. In this way, Scoutin' is better than band or Civil war re-enactors, because the range of choices is so large and the program provides natural feedback for most of 'em in a timely manner. Don't clean the pot, have annoyed patrol mates and a harder job in the morning.

                      Da best programs offer real challenges and require some real motivational support. Here, I think it's mostly quality of mentoring and quality of peers, and every program can offer (or fail to offer) those things. Programs that have high standards and push hard seem to do best for boys, though - so havin' hurdles to overcome and some external recognitions like badges and ranks or competitions and trophies seems to help. In this case scoutin' is weaker than some. Sports in particular is better because the rewards (winning the game, having your friends high-five yeh) are so immediate, but not guaranteed. Scoutin' awards tend to be more remote, and in many troops are "guaranteed." Video games, of course, beat 'em all.

                      Beavah
                      (This message has been edited by Beavah)

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Structure is important. Even more important is action coupled with a high goal.

                        This transcends mere participation and platitudes.

                        Filling the shoes of civil war reenactors, to literally walk the battlefield of our ancestors...yes, I can see how this would motivate youth. Sitting in a lecture hall listening to a civil war lesson would not achieve the same results. Being on the battlefield brings insight, reflection, and then character development.

                        Same with football. Watching football and talking about it are fun but not motivating. Long practices in snow, rain and mud, that result in victory, and possibly a championship--now we're talking!

                        True also for 4H, ROTC, band, etc. Structure, with a high goal, and mental and physical challenges, help youth accomplish things that amaze everyone. Including themselves. That's also when their character develops.

                        The catch: adult leadership. Pollyanna-ish "everyone is a winner" coupled with dumbing everything down to the least motivated teammate are not ingredients for character building. I'll bet the Sergeant Major was firm but fair, to put it mildly, with the youth that volunteered for reenactor duty. There were standards and expectations, and the youth found out they really like that.

                        Funny how folks always remember the tough coach, teacher, scoutmaster, parent, drill sergeant...we may not appreciate them at the moment, but years later we can comprehend and respect what they were trying to teach us. We always achieved more under their guidance.(This message has been edited by desertrat77)

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Recognition by rewards is truly important. Going to camporee or Klondife -- make sure every participating Scout gets a temporary patch to dangle from the shirt button (even if a button needs to be sewn on). Troop wins a competition - a ribbon to hang from the troop flag. A Scout wins the baking contest -- that's worth a medal. Finished a community service project - a picture and write-up in the local paper.
                          All of these will motivate most

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Recognition by rewards is truly important. Going to camporee or Klondife -- make sure every participating Scout gets a temporary patch to dangle from the shirt button (even if a button needs to be sewn on). Troop wins a competition - a ribbon to hang from the troop flag. A Scout wins the baking contest -- that's worth a medal. Finished a community service project - a picture and write-up in the local paper.
                            All of these will motivate most


                            I'm not in the camp that everyone wins and gets an award. I can agree it's sometimes important but where do we draw the line and begin changing that award for everything idea? Most kids we work with had always gotten some type of award or some type of praise for doing anything since they were born.

                            Where does the character kick in and the boy thinks "wow, I did really well with that and I feel great" and he doesn't expect someone to give him something and tell him how wonderful he is?

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Or the young lad who puts on a civil war uniform as a Venturing Scout, works his butt off learning the drill and the responsibilities of the hobby only to progress through the ranks to where he actually lead a company of reenactors (not the just the Venturing Crew) at a national event. It's a position earned and he knew it.

                              Does that translate into the real world? Yep, he was selected as squad leader half way through his ROTC basic training. He's well on his way. Was it reeacting? Was it Scouting? Was it just the fact that this learned at an early age what real leadership was all about?

                              Jury is still out.

                              Stosh

                              Comment

                              Working...
                              X