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  2. Don't get me started on adult interference and PLCs. Worst PLC I ever attended started off on the wrong foot, when one adult said a separate meeting night isn't needed for the PLC and their Annual Planning Meeting, it could be done in 30-45 minutes. SPL not only didn't get a separate meeting, having to cram it into 35 minutes before a troop meeting, but the adults starting jumping in and canceling ideas before the PLC even discussed them. SPL got so fed up, he basically sat back and let the adults in the room run it. And trying to stop them and get the SPL back in charge was impossible to do.
  3. I believe you're hitting on some core questions about what is Scouting and why is it the program that it is. If we go back the core idea "game with a purpose", then we need to define what our purpose is. Today the purpose is captured in the aims of Scouting and the game is captured in the methods of Scouting. I think it's fine to take a big step back and ask ourselves: is our purpose correct for today? is our game still correct to best achieve the purpose today? Where I think you have to be careful is when you start thinking of just the fun and focusing only on the fun out of context. In Scouting terms, focusing on the game without looking at the purpose. Maybe it's the right thing to bail on the purpose - but I would suggest doing that deliberately.
  4. Well, GSUSA and 4-H don't have exactly the same Youth Protection program, but from what I can see it's similar in each case. See the "Clover Safe Notes", in particular #99 "Youth Protection Safe Environments". And youth programs run directly by a public school or municipality might have a defense of governmental immunity, or more sympathy from a jury, as compared to a private program organized by like-minded potential volunteers. But I'll agree that smaller organizations are at grave risk. Consider the case of the Boston Children's Therater (Boston Globe article; WBUR article). Public disclosure of allegations made via anonymous e-mail (not even a lawsuit) against the artistic director caused an immediate decline in donations; which caused it to cancel the season and declare bankruptcy; and it seems to no longer exist as an organization.
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  6. The policy in our troop was that ALL adults except the SM had to get the SPL's permission to attend the PLC. The SM only attended for brief 5 minute visits. The parents embraced the rule because it was part of our boy run program. This came from one of my WB Ticket items where I visited 5 different troop PLC meetings. Only one of those five troops gave the SPL autonomy to run the meeting and no adults were allowed. I duplicated the policy and the it worked very well. Barry
  7. GREAT QUESTION! The reason why 'Youth Led" keeps coming up in Scouting is because it is the heart of Scouting, yet it is not fully practiced, and in some units embraced. And as @TAHAWK points out, BSA has not had a true explanation of the Patrol Method in the literature and training for a very long time. You would have to look at William "Green Bar Bill" Hillcourt's work to get a true understanding, and his last handbook and training material was from my youth. Is it any wonder folks will say their troop is "youth led" when in reality it is not? And to be honest, while I say my troop is youth led, is not fully youth led if you go by Hillcourt's work. While the PLC is planning activities, meetings, etc, The PLs are not doing the advancement sign offs. That is currently restricted to the SPL, but we are slowly moving towards that. The SM does have concerns about if the Scouts are responsible enough for that. And that leads into some of the reasons why youth led is not practiced and embraced. Some of the most obvious reasons is that it is a messy, unorganized by adult standards, and chaotic process. Adults know there is a better way, but do not have the patience to let the Scouts figure it out on their own. Scouts will make mistakes, and it is hard for some adults to let their Scouts make mistakes. Sometimes the adults think because the Scouts made mistakes, they are not ready for responsibility, ignoring the fact that making mistakes is a learning tool. Also repetition is a learning tool. The more something is done, the better you get at it. Sometimes the adults do not like the decisions the Scouts have made, and believe "Scouting needs to change with the times." best example I have of that is the SM who appoints all the PLs, troop leadership, and SPL because "the same people keep getting elected over and over, and [appointing the leaders] makes it fair for everyone]. The Scouts have a better understanding of each other than we do, and this SM was ignoring the fact that the Scout not getting elected was causing the most problems. Sometimes adults are not comfortable being in the background, they need to do something. And sometimes you have adults that cannot let go, they cannot accept the fact that the Scout is growing up. F Other times, adults are using their own experience as an example, and that experience may not be the best one. One SM grew up in the Improved Scouting Program of the 1970s, and his troop rarely camped. He doesn't understand why camping is so important. Another SM was in a troop was run like the military unit because his SM was prior military, issuing commands to the PLC. That is the model he uses with his troop. Finally some adults get so focused on false metrics, i.e. FIRST CLASS FIRST YEAR, Number of Eagle Scouts, JTE, etc that they forget we are suppose to be developing youth, not meeting some false goal.
  8. The difference is the scope of the programs. Most kids activities are fairly limited in scope and so the only kids that join are the ones who consider the focus to be "fun". And since there is a specific activity that everyone is there to participate in, these conversations don't need to happen. With Scouts the variety of options is much greater than sports or even 4-H. Even worse, because of the ages involved, you're getting kids right as they enter Middle School with all of the personality changes that entails and sometimes parents have a hard time remembering that interests change. "What do you mean you don't want to weave a lanyard? You loved that last year?" You are correct here. Personally, in my troop I've been lobbying to not even have parents in the room during PLC meetings. (there's always some who feel compelled to be there) Even just being present and watching is enough to have a significant impact on what happens in those meetings. My son told me one time that there was one of the PLs who's mom would always come and watch and when he would talk and make suggestions, mom would be sitting behind him nodding along at his comments. Then if the mom ever left the room he'd immediately something like "That last thing was my mom's idea, I'd actually rather go shoot rifles than visit the art gallery". I mean, I realize there's the whole "every aspect of the program is open to parents", but I truly don't think that was meant to be a hammer for parents to use to gain access to areas where parents aren't supposed to be involved.
  9. Wee man should be fine as you suggest. As for you, I'd go with an insulated air pad (Big Agnes, REI, etc.). They're close to 3-inches thick and allow plenty of isolation from the odd root or rock. Air mattresses are bulky and cold, you'd need to use the thermarest on top of the mattress to prevent a chilly night. Good luck!
  10. Our "home camp" opened for reservations. So, we are having a Pack campout the first weekend of Dec. It might be chilly, but I promised camping during recruiting, so camping will be delivered.
  11. I don't think our council has put out specific guidelines yet. No real camping has been done since all parks have been closed until just recently. My troop will try a quick local camping trip next weekend. But so far only 2 have signed up. I think we've been conditioned so hard to stay home and be safe that it will be hard to get people back in person. The longer we miss the social interaction, the harder it is to start it up again. We need to practice safe interaction. We need to practice being together in person with masks on and distant.
  12. Just to clarify, when I say that there is nothing magical about youth led what I mean is that it is not the sole determinant for kids to have fun. Kids also have fun in more adult led activities like sports, robotics, 4-H. None of those are youth led but they still have fun. What I was musing on more was why does this come up so much in scouting? There is no doubt the kids have more fun in scouting when they get to do what they want but from general feedback it seems like it can be really hard to do. It's not just that parents helicopter it's that liability, bullying and youth protection issues are also part of the equation. And even in supposedly youth led troops adults still set the tone without even being aware they are doing it. We're youth led for example but the pressure to advance oozes out of all the adults -- leaders and parents -- and the boys seem to have internalized that to the point that it guides what they choose to do. It's great for the kids who are laser focused on getting Eagle but none of them stick around afterwards. In my various kid hats I hear a lot of "I have to go to scouts my father/mother makes me" while I almost never hear the same kind of comment about sports practice, 4-H, etc. This might be another topic to add to the list of market research that would be great to be done by someone outside of scouting if we survive bankruptcy. My sons have a couple times over the years filled out direct to scout surveys, but from what I saw those surveys didn't really ask useful questions. It was more rate how much you like this or that. I think it would useful to ask scouts what youth led means to them and what they think of advancement, have they had friends who quit scouting and why, etc., etc.
  13. Thanks for clarifying. I see what you are saying. One of the unique characteristics that I have noticed about the Scouting community is that we have volunteers who work at all kinds of levels of abstraction. Scoutmasters/ASMs/Cubmasters/den Leaders who work directly with kids. Committee members who focus on mechanics often more than they do working with kids. District and council volunteers whose roles requires them to focus more on supporting unit leaders than they do on directly working with youth. I, for example, am a long time pack & troop volunteer who recognized that our district was suffering and that unit leaders were not getting the support they needed. My world now is largely admin stuff - recruiting, training volunteers, and unit health. I gravitate to those discussions here because that is what my role leads me to think about. As they say - it's what keeps me up at night. Yes, it would be lovely to discuss the most fun campout ever, but it's not the reality of my world. So, I do very much appreciate your point - and yes, were I a Scoutmaster, Cubmaster, den leader, etc. then that would be great. But that's not what Scouting needs me to be. I for one am glad that we do have a place where we can discuss the higher level Scouting topics. Yes, I would prefer that there was a bit less focus on bashing Scouting and the BSA, but if it's the price of having somewhere to discuss higher level Scouting topics I'm OK what that. Occasionally I see a program topic that I can jump in on, but not that often. I'm not sure why, but it seems that the people who do program stuff don't post all that often.
  14. I recognize that what I am suggesting is very difficult. I think it's probably harder to do than picking a side. Further, I've got no doubt that the BSA would make mistakes in trying to achieve that goal. Yet, I think the payoff is great if we can accomplish it. I think of it like Scouting being the Switzerland of countries. We are neutral and want to be neutral. We want to help kids have fun and develop into outstanding adults. We believe in providing a framework and coaching that adults can use with the kids in their communities toward those goals. The politics of those communities will undoubtedly be different and varied because we are a varied country. It's not the role of the BSA to advocate for the politics of one community over another. I recognize that in a world today where we take sides on everything that this is very hard to do.
  15. Yes, but the problem is what is a "non-political position" when EVERYTHING is a political position? Masks. What kind of meat you serve (or don't) at an event. Who your CO is. Everything. The mere act of standing for the National Anthem? Political statement.
  16. The emphasized sentence concerns me greatly because if trained Scouters do not understand this, we are in deep trouble. YOUTH LED VIA THE PATROL METHOD IS THE FOUNDATION OF SCOUTING! (emphasis). The fun programs you mention and others: sports, 4-H, band, robotics, church groups, school, etc all have adults telling the kids what to do, how to do it, etc. Scouting is suppose to let the youth be in charge with adults guiding and mentoring. Youth make the decisions, do the planning and organizing, conduct the activities, etc. For many youth in Scouting, this the first time they actually do what they want to do, and it IS magical. Youth led is messy, disorganized, and full of trial and error. The Scouts may seem like they are flailing about. BUT, in the long term they learn and grow so much faster. Sadly I am seeing more adult led troops and troops that allow adults to interfere needlessly in the patrols. My sons and I left a troop like that because it was not Scouting. Scouts were getting frustrated at the adult interference to the point they "zoned out." They had no true reason to be there except because they wanted to get Eagle or they were forced to. When we switched to a true youth-led troop, it was a world of difference in attitudes. My boys went from apathetic and sarcastic complainers who gave up trying to run their patrols to active, sympathetic, Scouts willing to take charge and be successful with fun activities. I have worked with youth professionally in my career. I have been deeply concerned how many youth today have no interest in taking initiative and responsibility for themselves. I have seen it when i was organizing job shadowing experiences at the hospital, and I see it at the college. Parents making all the decisions and doing all the work for their high school, and in some cases college students. Worse case, mom was ticked off she could not be at the academic counseling session due to COVID. Student got the schedule and classes he wanted. When Mom was informed, she was ticked off, yelled through the door the schedule is screwed up and she will be redoing it as soon as she is able to. What life lessons did that college student learn? Youth led does a heck of a lot more than "make a tedious program more enjoyable." It gives them a chance to make decisions, problem solve, responsibility, plan, provide leadership, make mistakes and learn from them, independence, and self reliance. I agree with you the advancement. The Advancement Method has been so corrupted over the years by National, that is is nowhere near it's original purpose by Baden-Powell. The original purpose of Advancement was to provide a series of skills and experiences that Scouts challenged themselves to complete. Mastery of the skill was required, and rewarded with a badge. Nowadays the focus is on getting First Class in a year, getting Eagle, getting X number of MBs, etc that some Scouts are not truly getting the full benefit of the advancement program. I'd rather have the 16 year old Life Scout who did a 50 miler in the Canadian wilderness who truly earned First Aid MB do first aid on me to save my life than the Life Scout, about to make Eagle, who did not know what shock was and how to treat it at a first aid competition. The purpose of advancement is to learn life skills, not get Eagle, X number of MBs, etc. And too many adults have forgotten that. One of the reasons it is fun is because they have their freedom. They make the decisions. They have the responsibility. Yes camping is fun. But deciding where to camp, what activity THEY want to do, what meals THEY want to cook, etc is freedom that they do not have in other fun activities.
  17. True. Other adult led programs are fun for kids. But there IS something magical about youth-led. That is it directly leads to the mission of Scouting. Without it, adults make the (majority of) decisions. Scouts cannot learn to make good decisions without having the opportunity to make any decisions. Scouting as youth-led and via the patrol method is the structure which allows scouts to make decisions (including bad ones) and learn from them all while having fun.
  18. ... because some adults lose track of the "fun" part when running the program that they plan and lead. Kids may not want to grind away at a merit badge every single meeting at some advancement mill. You won't see many kids turning out for baseball who dislike baseball. unless dad is trying to live vicariously through his child. (which does happen - like the dad who never got Eagle, but his kid WILL!!) Kids mainly join Scouting to have fun with friends, not to "benefit from" an educational program to make them good citizens. The later sounds like school, which has become near year-round for many, even those not on a sports (year-'round) team.
  19. Absolutely not. It's just weird that the concept of "fun" for kids has to be discussed in an organization devoted to kids at all. Does that make any sense? I'm not trying to be adversarial I'm just noting that this never comes up for discussion in other forums I participate in for sports coaches or 4-H or whatever. The activity itself is always fun. The discussions are always about admin stuff or how to make it better or how to recruit more kids. I just realized it tonight reading that comment how strange that is that we discuss it here.
  20. BSA, although unable to explain the Patrol Method, while expecting a Scout rank candidate to do so, says it is "essential." So is it OK for a Scouter registered with BSA to simply ignore what BSA says is essential, given a specific "purpose" of leadership development and a "purpose" of citizenship training, if you believe you have a better idea? "UNLESS THE PATROL METHOD IS IN OPERATION, YOU DON'T REALLY HAVE A ... SCOUT TROOP." BSA blog - BRYAN ON SCOUTING - OCTOBER 21, 2020 “'The patrol method is not a way to operate a Boy Scout troop, it is the only way. Unless the patrol method is in operation you don’t really have a Boy Scout troop.'” Scoutmaster and Assistant Scoutmaster Position Specific Training, at p. 21, (current syllabus) misquoting Lord Baden-Powell (always "patrol system" to B-P) "In Scouting, a troop is composed of several patrols. Boy Scouting happens in the context of a patrol. The patrol, a small team of eight or so Scouts, is more than an organizational convenience or a Boy Scout version of the Cub Scout den. It is the place where boys learn skills, take on leadership responsibilities, and develop friendships that will often last throughout their lifetimes."d. Id.
  21. You say potato, I say potato. That's a distinction without a difference. If the new standard for youth organizations is an organized YPT program, a monitoring and compliance system backed by professionals, and enough liability insurance to protect from lawsuits, then many organizations who have some youth programming today should follow the lead of the NMRA. Youth sports leagues, youth groups, 4H, FFA, smaller Scouting groups, etc. should be prepared to all organize BSA quality YPT programs and maintain hundreds of millions in liability insurance. How a local town rec league will do that I do not know. As far as I can tell no other youth organization has a YPT program as strong as the BSA today. But, if that is the new standard kids will surely be safe due to the simple fact that few youth organizations will have the resources to even continue to exist.
  22. Are you saying that because adults are discussing the policy implications of Scouting programming that those same people don't want Scouting to be fun for youth?
  23. There are plenty of youth programs that are fun for youth without youth running the program and that are very popular and youth can't wait to participate in them. Sports, robotics, 4-H, etc., etc. There is nothing magical about youth led. In scouting, I think it helps make a sometimes tedious program more enjoyable for youth when we let the youth have more free rein and they truly do learn something if they are able to try to figure out the process themselves. However, the whole advancement system is an adult originated structure. Kids didn't come up with that. When you let them do what they want within that structure, scouting youth have a lot more fun, but it's not like they don't have fun in other organizations or activities that are not as kid led. I just think kids have fun when they are camping and hiking and outdoors. That's the fun.
  24. If Scouting is not "fun" for youth, it is dead. So who is actually asking the youth what is "fun" to them? BSA didn't ask before the disastrous "Improved Scouting Program." Any youth here? Adult planning is sure to result in program that adults sincerely THINK is "fun." The Patrol Method has the youth decide what they will do in Scouting, subject to considerations of safety and law. Back before BSA misplaced Scouting, it was thought that youth planning, with adults only serving as resources, was more likely to result in "fun" to youth than adult planning. When I was in a position to do so, I had SPLs, representing their PLCs, plan and run our district outdoor events - Winter and Spring. Attendance was up 300% in four years. Complaints about "boring" events in the debrief by PLs Saturday night, plunged. Silly old traditional Scouting. 😉
  25. Multiple times throughout this thread I have pointed out that scouting needs to be fun -- a game with a purpose. That fun has to be relevant for younger generations coming up though. Lotta people here seem to get their jam from doing things their way and holding on to old grievances. Every other youth organization I'm involved with is worried more about keeping and serving the kids than clinging to traditions. I don't hear or see this kind of talk anywhere but in scouts.
  26. You are on the tail end of fall migration. Have each scout bring bins and look for Bald Eagles. They migrate into November. Lot of hawks still overhead too. Depending on where you are a lot of water birds are also showing up to overwinter. I've just started seeing wood ducks, common mergansers, black ducks, bufflehead, etc. If you are camping near a water source, might see something interesting. Bins can be used again at night to check out whatever is up there. There are apps and sites that can tell you what you can look for depending on what nights you are out. Watching the ISS go by overhead is always fun to see whether you are 6 or 60.
  27. So how is woodbadge doing these days? No, I don't really care. I've been blissfully away from scouts for a few days. If I stand back from all these arguments all I can think of is that scouts is supposed to be based on fun. Apparently not. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. With all the really big challenges of character, motivation and developing society's next generation it's easy to get hung up in the weeds and lose sight of the fun. Maybe that paradox is worth cogitating on.
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    • Don't get me started on adult interference and PLCs. Worst PLC I ever attended started off on the wrong foot, when one adult said a separate meeting night isn't needed for the PLC and their Annual Planning Meeting, it could be done in 30-45 minutes. SPL not only didn't get a separate meeting, having to cram it into 35 minutes before a troop meeting, but the adults starting jumping in and canceling ideas before the PLC even discussed them. SPL got so fed up,  he basically sat back and let the adults in the room run it. And trying to stop them and get the SPL back in charge was impossible to do. 
    • I believe you're hitting on some core questions about what is Scouting and why is it the program that it is.  If we go back the core idea "game with a purpose", then we need to define what our purpose is.  Today the purpose is captured in the aims of Scouting and the game is captured in the methods of Scouting.  I think it's fine to take a big step back and ask ourselves: is our purpose correct for today? is our game still correct to best achieve the purpose today? Where I think you have to be careful is when you start thinking of just the fun and focusing only on the fun out of context.  In Scouting terms, focusing on the game without looking at the purpose.  Maybe it's the right thing to bail on the purpose - but I would suggest doing that deliberately.
    • Well, GSUSA and 4-H don't have exactly the same Youth Protection program, but from what I can see it's similar in each case.  See the "Clover Safe Notes", in particular #99 "Youth Protection Safe Environments". And youth programs run directly by a public school or municipality might have a defense of governmental immunity, or more sympathy from a jury, as compared to a private program organized by like-minded potential volunteers. But I'll agree that smaller organizations are at grave risk.  Consider the case of the Boston Children's Therater (Boston Globe article; WBUR article).  Public disclosure of allegations made via anonymous e-mail (not even a lawsuit) against the artistic director caused an immediate decline in donations; which caused it to cancel the season and declare bankruptcy; and it seems to no longer exist as an organization.
    • The policy in our troop was that ALL adults except the SM had to get the SPL's permission to attend the PLC. The SM only attended for brief 5 minute visits. The parents embraced the rule because it was part of our boy run program.  This came from one of my WB Ticket items where I visited 5 different troop PLC meetings. Only one of those five troops gave the SPL autonomy to run the meeting and no adults were allowed. I duplicated the policy and the it worked very well. Barry
    • GREAT QUESTION!   The reason why 'Youth Led" keeps coming up in Scouting is because it is the heart of Scouting, yet it is not fully practiced, and in some units embraced. And as @TAHAWK points out, BSA has not had a true explanation of the Patrol Method in the literature and training for a very long time. You would have to look at William "Green Bar Bill" Hillcourt's work to get a true understanding, and his last handbook and training material was from my youth. Is it any wonder folks will say their troop is "youth led" when in reality it is not? And to be honest, while I say my troop is youth led,  is not fully youth led if you go by Hillcourt's work. While the PLC is planning activities, meetings, etc, The PLs are not doing the advancement sign offs. That is currently restricted to the SPL, but we are slowly moving towards that. The SM does have concerns about if the Scouts are responsible enough for that. And that leads into some of the reasons why youth led is not practiced and embraced. Some of the most obvious reasons is that it is a messy, unorganized by adult standards, and chaotic process. Adults know there is a better way, but do not have the patience to let the Scouts figure it out on their own. Scouts will make mistakes, and it is hard for some adults to let their Scouts make mistakes. Sometimes the adults think because the Scouts made mistakes, they are not ready for responsibility, ignoring the fact that making mistakes is a learning tool. Also repetition is a learning tool. The more something is done, the better you get at it. Sometimes the adults do not like the decisions the Scouts have made, and believe "Scouting needs to change with the times." best example I have of that is the SM who appoints all the PLs, troop leadership, and SPL because "the same people keep getting elected over and over, and [appointing the leaders] makes it fair for everyone]. The Scouts have a better understanding of each other than we do, and this SM was ignoring the fact that the Scout not getting elected was causing the most problems. Sometimes adults are not comfortable being in the background, they need to do something. And sometimes you have adults that cannot let go, they cannot accept the fact that the Scout is growing up. F Other times, adults are using their own experience as an example, and that experience may not be the best one. One SM grew up in the Improved Scouting Program of the 1970s, and his troop rarely camped. He doesn't understand why camping is so important. Another SM was in a troop was run like the military unit because his SM was prior military, issuing commands to the PLC. That is the model he uses with his troop. Finally some adults get so focused on false metrics, i.e. FIRST CLASS FIRST YEAR, Number of Eagle Scouts, JTE, etc that they forget we are suppose to be developing youth, not meeting some false goal.
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