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Questions and answers for parents and leaders new to Scouting.

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  1. merit badge counselor

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  2. How much?

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  3. Two Deep Leadership

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    • Yes, that's what makes the most sense....but I've seen many scouts who show up for ILST when they become Patrol Leader for the first time, then always manage to have "conflicts" when subsequent ILST is conducted....despite their having accepted new positions of responsibility. Every ILST will be a little different because you have different boys involved in the activities, you'll hear different observations during the reflection moments, etc., etc.  Aside from any nitpicking about whether they should remove the trained strip, a youth can definitely grow his leadership skills by continuously revisiting topics and looking at things from a new perspective.
    • That my experience, it's not a theory for starting a discussion. Where did I say that? Often the older scouts encourage the younger scout to take on responsibility so the older scout has an opportunity to mentor. In fact, I often watch our SPL choose the ASPL and Troop Quarter Master for that very reason. Can a leader be anymore serving than that? Not in our council. Brown Sea (or whatever it was called)  taught advanced leader skills beyond the handbooks in planning, meetings and working the group. District and councils teaching scout skills at advanced leadership courses makes no sense and are doing it wrong.  There is not a power imbalance in a servant driven program. And successful programs are open for different ideas, dreams and ambitions. A program that forces scouts to different than who they want to be, it will find itself loosing scouts. This is the number one problem of programs that loose their scouts at age 14. But, ironically, you could observe several programs at once, you will  find that the same age patrol type of troops struggle with keeping older scouts because the mature responsibility of role modeling and mentoring is encouraged. In general when scouts are brought up in a serving environment, older scouts will instinctively mentor. Again, that is my experience. This is where I saw a big problem with same age patrol. The scouts in same age patrol did not see a vision of mentoring younger scout growth. They saw a duty to do their stint, then move on. And that was it. As I said, that is why same age patrol troop struggle to get past age 14 in troops. Troops with mixed age patrol are far more likely to keep the older scouts because there is still challenges in the program for the  maturing young adults. Call it what you want, it doesn't mater. What matters are role models are internal to the patrol to provide experienced knowledge and that doesn't exist in patrols where everyone has the same experience. OK, I'm not sure what you are picturing here, but I trust your are correct. We had another Scoutmaster not to long ago on this forum who liked to split hairs to be divisive. I don't see "teaching" and "doing" as two separate actions in the patrol. Like a neighborhood sandlot baseball team that practices the fun sport of baseball, a healthy patrol requires both.   If there is a difference between you and I, it's where the definition of "good decisions" come from. Scouts have to be guided from a baseline of behavior to know the difference from good decisions and bad decisions. The SMs role is the gatekeeper of that behavior. In a program that uses role models to develop growth, the SM guides through the older scouts because, they are the role models to the younger scouts. The discipline of making good decisions has to start at the top and work its way down to be consistent through the whole program. You have seen me often say that the quality of a troop program is measured from the oldest scouts, not the youngest scouts. To me your struggle appears to be mixing older and younger scouts. You aren't alone. You might even be in the majority in this day and age. But, when adults start throwing out stuff like 16 year olds don't like to mentor 12 years olds and 12 year olds are intimidated by 16 years olds, I discard it along with older scouts need more adventure and only the popular scouts get elected. None of those fears work on me because I have the experience that debunks it. I have to stand up and bring balance to such ideas. You may not be a mixed age patrol kind of leader. It's just not in you to trust how the complexities of younger scouts learning and building confidence simply by watching older scouts. And even more perplexing may be the idea of serving others is one of the most important skills a scout can learn to be a great leader. Serving and role modeling go hand in hand. And, role modeling is instinctive behavior for post pubescent males. The biological phenomenon is a mystery to me, but I've seen the wonder so many times, I have have full faith in it. Personal leadership experience has very little growth value for boys 14 and younger. But get them to age 15 and  Scouting is one of the best programs where adult scouts can actually express adult traits... if we let them. I'm not trying to convience  you to change. I've been in enough of these discussions to know better. Your a fine leader and I have no doubt your scouts are getting a great experience. But I will be here to balance these discussions for sake of those who want to understand the whole picture. Those of us who present our opinions based from actual experiences are becoming fewer and fewer. I want to keep my experience alive for as long as I can. Barry
    • @5thGenTexan. personality questions aside, these questions are constant in scouting. I've always been asking myself, "What am I best at?" Or, more importantly, "What do I enjoy doing so much that a few flawed personalities won't dissuade me?" So, for me, I would have loved to do nothing more than help rally venturing in my district and council. But, I realized that, with our troop merger, we had SMs and boys who needed a good bit of care to move them from Committtee-managed to PLC-managed. Neither the district/council nor our troop were completely devoid of abrasive personalities.  But at the troop level, there was no doubt that my SM and I and our troop's other ASMs knew how to mentor boys. Parents could disagree with us for a litany of reasons (e.g., the SM for the past few years never wore a uniform), but they couldn't disagree with smiles on the boy's faces. So, I'm on the sidelines of my council venturing committee. The net effect was that I got assigned to a World Scout Jamboree troop -- as opposed to a crew. Oh well! I still get 36 youth to work with, and they'll let me wear my green suit when it suits me. Back home, this month a first-year can now tie a taut-line hitch. Paycheck! Sounds like your after the same thing. Let someone who doesn't want to deal with a den be a CM.
    • We had one very eager to rank up.  He was looking for a BOR and I asked about troop activities.  He said he went on the raft trip, went climbing with the troop, did the five mile hike, and took a hike to an outpost, and had been to summer camp.  I had to explain him that as all the list of activities;  raft trip, climbing, five mile hike, and hike to an outpost; took place while at summer camp, that was only one troop activity...summer camp.  Each thing he did while at summer camp was not in fact a separate activity.  We discussed that the intent of the requirement was to have scouts be involved in the troop. He questions my interpretation and wanted to know if I was a lawyer.  Told him I was not.
    • I hate to see you walk away from the CM position, but sometimes saying no is the best choice for all involved, particularly you and your son.  If you do choose this path, understand that the same people that you are having difficulty with (or someone like them) may end up in that position. Maybe your path can including influencing who will take that position and help make the choice a wise one for the youth.
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