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MattR

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Posts posted by MattR

  1. I just had a scout like that in my troop. For three years, if there was a problem, he was part of it. From not helping out, to teasing new scouts, to almost burning down a 150 year old historical site. I tried finding something he'd be interested in, I tried talking to him, and finally I decided he just wasn't interested in scouts. He'd bring friends with him and they'd join the troop, only to get into trouble with him and eventually drop out. At one point I asked the PLs what their biggest fear was and they said this kid. We roll played how to deal with him in a respectful manner. I'm not sure if they ever did any of this but the kid finally realized the scouts didn't like him much either. He transfered out of the troop into one less active. Apparently he's trying to get them to do some things we used to do but he wasn't interested in. Hopefully it will work out for him. I always told him he had great leadership potential, he just needed to put others before himself.

  2. Bear Claw, I absolutely agree with you that going from adult led to boy led requires a lot more than what the training offers. I'm also going through this. Here are my 2 cents.

     

    First of all, boys need to feel like they own it, that success or failure really depends on them. For older scouts this is just as important as having fun. If scouts is going to compete with all the other things it needs to be meaningful. They know a joke POR when they see it. Librarian where nobody needs a book? PL where the SPL and/or adults do everything? Find things that really need to be done. I started with PLs.

     

    Not only do the patrols have to run a few troop meetings but the PLs have to take care of their patrols. We set aside one meeting a month where patrols go do their own thing. The PL has to make it happen. We have a lot of competitions and I tell the PLs this is a test of their leadership more than a test of their patrol. Once we're comfortable with that I want the PLs to be responsible for getting scouts through lower ranks. They'll present them their certificate at the COH. I'm working for the day where a parent goes up to a PL and thanks him for helping their son earn a rank. Things will be easy after that.

     

    Any POR also needs very clear expectations. Some scouts will give you just a bit more than is expected to get by. Some scouts will give you just a bit less than what is expected to get by. Few scouts will be self motivated to do their best. So set clear, reasonable, expectations. There's nothing wrong with saying to a Life scout that he's expected to help run the troop.

     

    I'm finding that boys do not understand teamwork. They understand getting along with each other and playing fair (everything you learn in kindergarten) but they don't understand each scout having a job to do and depending on each other. My mantra now is everyone has a job to do. If the PL is doing his job perfectly he won't have anything to do.

     

    All of this said, scouts also need help learning how to do this. They need mentors. Boys can not remember anything. They can not see very far into the future. They need a mentor asking lots of questions. Not yes/no questions but what have you done? What are your concerns? It's the blind leading the blind because they're clueless. The mentor doesn't do the work, the mentor talks to the boy and the boy does the work. Getting good mentors is not trivial. Adults that would rather do it themselves make lousy mentors. It takes patience.

     

    I find the scout leadership training has little to do with leadership. It's too abstract. The boys are not mature enough to take a game about communication and relate it to getting a scout to help set up camp. Rather, I found an old style leadership training where the PLs form a patrol with the SPL and SM and they go camping. First time I did it I was the PL. Best training ever. Everyone had a job to do. I had fun. If I get the same SPL next time, he will be the PL and I will be the APL.

     

    Older scouts need high adventure trips. We also try to do a couple of high adventure weekends during the year as well. 9th and 10th graders might not be motivated to do serious backpacking until they see it done. 11th and 12th graders are more willing to try that. We also do less strenuous high adventure trips.

     

    Scouts don't know what they don't know so asking them what they would like to do is more complicated. It's easier to come in with several ideas and ask them what they think of them. Maybe that will get the discussion going.

     

    If a scout doesn't want to be in scouts, encourage him to leave. Sure, you have to talk to him a lot to figure this out but if you say this is what it means to be an Eagle scout in this troop and that boy doesn't want to do that, then don't let him stick around. It's amazing how one miserable scout can convince a bunch of other scouts to be miserable when they really want to do a good job. A lot of kids are afraid at this age of being who they want to be and they just go along with whatever. If things are going great the whatever can be very powerful, but if you're trying to turn an aircraft carrier, it's a challenge.

     

    Finally, it's a slow process. You're trying to create a new culture within the troop. Each step takes a couple of years of constant perseverance to make it take hold. You have to train the adults and get their buy-in as well as the scouts. You have to make adjustments along the way. Once the culture is in place it will be self sustaining.

     

  3. The day before the postponement of the decision was announced, we heard from one of our LDS Stakes that they were not going to recharter their units if the decision went to change the policy. That is 35% of our units. Take that for what it is. They are now rechartering but it could all be up in the air again in May.
    There are LDS troops in Canada. Also, I wonder if the local LDS stake or ward has a say in the matter.
  4. Why can't BSA just have a form of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"? I mean, as Scouters we never wear our religion, politics or sexual orientation on our sleeve, so why this need to be "openly gay" in Scouting. I am not "openly heterosexual" when at Scouting events, so why wouldn't don't ask, don't tell work? I think this will open up a whole can of worms which is being covered in another thread. Guys not wanting to tent with a gay scout, harassement, teasing, etc. I mean, we are talking teenage boys here...not the most sensible lot in the world to begin with.

     

    I sort of feel like Dana Carvey doing his "Grumpy Old Man" bit, but somethings are just better left alone and unsaid. We should be focusing on leadership development and teaching these kids outdoor skills. Having openly anything that is not Scouting is a distraction from that mission.

    That's currently what it is. They took the "are you gay" question off of all the forms years ago.
  5. Change is hard. There probably would be an initial drop but nobody knows how much. A lot of people said they'd move to Canada or secede right before the last two presidents were elected and I'm not sure either did.

     

    I suspect there are a lot of boys out there that would like what we have to offer but don't really know what that is because it's filtered by their parents who also don't know. National recognizes this and has said they don't control the message. They're right about that. Right now the message is gays. It doesn't matter what side you're on. For outsiders that want things to stay the same they see Boy Scouts as the last place they can put their kids. For outsiders that want a change they see it as a place with bigots. They're both wrong. For most of us that volunteer we see it as fun with a purpose, nobody talks about gays. I'd like to see the message get back to fun with a purpose.

     

    If the boy scouts can gain control of the message I think the membership will rise. Right now, the message couldn't be worse.

    AZMike, I agree that scouting likes old fashioned skills. No doubt using cast iron is nothing to brag about at school. But I don't know any parents that wouldn't like their kids to know responsibility, teamwork, being selfless, how to take care of yourself, service, problem solving, .... Service is a popular thing now with younger people. Both my son and daughter are going to central america over spring break to help out. Two very different programs. They just want an adventure and someone else is willing to pay for it (nope, not me). Adreneline junkies like the outdoors. Hiking the grand Canyon is flat out cool. Tall ship sailing is so much better than a movie. Kids find more fun with the oddest things in the outdoors. To paraphrase a movie, we have the right stuff.

     

    The churches can be the flash point of the culture war. It's not for me. I want to be able to walk into any school and be welcomed by all the teachers as someone that can help their students. Now, I can't even borrow a school parking lot for two hours while we collect food for the foodbank without the principal complaining.

     

    We may have to agree to disagree on a few things, but there is a future for scouting.

  6. Change is hard. There probably would be an initial drop but nobody knows how much. A lot of people said they'd move to Canada or secede right before the last two presidents were elected and I'm not sure either did.

     

    I suspect there are a lot of boys out there that would like what we have to offer but don't really know what that is because it's filtered by their parents who also don't know. National recognizes this and has said they don't control the message. They're right about that. Right now the message is gays. It doesn't matter what side you're on. For outsiders that want things to stay the same they see Boy Scouts as the last place they can put their kids. For outsiders that want a change they see it as a place with bigots. They're both wrong. For most of us that volunteer we see it as fun with a purpose, nobody talks about gays. I'd like to see the message get back to fun with a purpose.

     

    If the boy scouts can gain control of the message I think the membership will rise. Right now, the message couldn't be worse.

  7. The 70% in favor of a local option here matches that of the polled number from the councils. With 70 samples here and 294 council samples (364 total), and 1,039,825 adults in the bsa (from wikipedia), the margin of error is just over 5%. This assumes the poll is random. Still, this is a surprising number to me.

     

    Maybe the silver lining of the way this has been handled is that it will start the conversation within the boy scouts. That could make 16 weeks waiting a good thing in the long term.

    MomToEli, I saw it in the "So, does this change the discussion?" thread from Lodge 489 on page 2.
  8. The 70% in favor of a local option here matches that of the polled number from the councils. With 70 samples here and 294 council samples (364 total), and 1,039,825 adults in the bsa (from wikipedia), the margin of error is just over 5%. This assumes the poll is random. Still, this is a surprising number to me.

     

    Maybe the silver lining of the way this has been handled is that it will start the conversation within the boy scouts. That could make 16 weeks waiting a good thing in the long term.

  9. Here we sit like birds in the wilderness, birds in the wilderness, birds in the wilderness. Here we sit like birds in the wilderness, waiting for National to make a decision.

     

    Time for some Cheerful.

     

    There are two underlying scenarios. The first is they knew they had the vote before hand. The second is they really didn't know the vote. Given the first, this is just a way for the shock to be accepted with the minimum fallout. Some people are upset to the point of making rash decsions. Given the second scenario, this is what they said it is, namely they want to ask more questions. So, I guess it makes sense.

     

    I just hope they ask questions of those that work with the scouts.

  10. I don't think I'm over analyzing this. My methods usually work; ask a lot questions and listen. I do appreciate everyone's comments.

     

    My plan is starting to gel, even though it will likely change. It is going to be a slow process. I'll start by talking to the CC as the two of us really are the wise men. I'm fairly sure we agree and it is nuanced. Next, we should ask those that do the most work in the troop. They're the ones that have the boys interest in mind and believe the most about what scouting is about. If we get some consensus then great. If I'm in the minority then I have my exit plan. If I'm still around then we'll talk to the CO. I don't want to leave it up to the CO as they don't understand scouting. Certainly they'll have the final say but this is a time to be proactive. We'll iterate and adapt. What we won't do is have a big meeting, but parents can certainly talk to me or the CC one on one.

     

    I think we do need a goal of having answers to basic questions. We're the largest troop in the council and people will ask. The CO will ask. While I like the idea of saying we'll figure it out when it happens, and we will say that when people start asking about odd cases, that just isn't going to go well for general questions. The CO won't go for that.

     

    Another issue that I didn't mention before is tradeoffs. A few people said don't rip everything apart over rare or non existent situations. Good point. On the other hand, National has put us in the position of having to decide an admittedly major hot button issue with no help whatsoever. I guess that just means this whole thing is an opportunity to model leadership for the scouts.

     

    And now, I need to finish packing for our winter campout. Needed in more ways than one.

  11. I would like to be prepared for the change that might come down the pipe if national says each unit is to decide for itself what it's stance is on gay scouts and adults. I live in a swing county of a swing state and I do not see an easy road for my troop. My goal is to find a good fit for every scout in my troop so they and their families are comfortable with their troop. There are assumptions and issues and I'd like to understand what they are and have some idea of how to steer my troop through this possible change.

     

    What I don't want to do is use this thread to change someone's opinion about what is the right thing for the BSA to do regarding gays. There are numerous (thousands?) of other threads that you can use for that. I'm just trying to do my job and play the cards I've been dealt.

     

    So, assumptions and issues, in no particular order (I want to know if there are things I'm missing, or how you might handle this):

     

    Assumption: Changing parents opinions. It's not going to happen. Some people are adamant about this issue. Everyone has an opinion but I'm not sure how many people are passionate about it.

     

    Issue: Civility. The problem I see is the same problem I sometimes see on this website, namely people getting uncivil. I think any discussion needs to be preceded by talking about our common goals for the boys, why we believe in scouts, and mention that anger and trying to change people is not permitted. Let's be civil while we go through whatever change is needed.

     

    Issue: "Everyone in the troop has the same opinion as I do." I know for a fact that my troop is spread across the spectrum. Many people I'm not sure about. Whether or not they are active in their place of worship has little to do with it. But I think there's going to be some surprise when people find out where everyone stands.

     

    Issue: Finding out where everyone in the troop stands on the issue. Eventually we need to ask, don't we? How do we ask while keeping things civil. If we ask in a big room it could easily get ugly. Everyone believes in what scouting can do and that's what holds us together. What happens when everyone finds out where everyone stands on these issues?

     

    Issue: Moving on. If we're going to split I want everyone to end up where they're comfortable and their boys can still get the best out of scouting. I assume it really depends on what parents want for their sons before we figure out where it might lead. It could be that the split mirrors national opinion (roughly 50/50) and we split the troop. It could be a 90/10 split and I need to find a home for the 10 (of which I might be a part).

     

    Issue: Parents in the middle. What if parents haven't really thought about it and are happy with the way things are now, don't really mind gays, but are uncomfortable with how an openly gay person might influence their sons. Change is hard, what is a way that might help that change?

     

    Issue: The CO's opinion and relationship with the unit. In some cases the CO runs the troop and owns the gear. So their opinion is important. In some cases, like mine, the CO only provides space. So if there were unanimous agreement within the troop but they don't agree with the CO then the troop has to find another CO.

     

    Issue: Tenting. Scouts can't be on their own. If boys and girls can't tent together in crews, can gay scouts tent together? Can a gay and straight scout tent together? I'm sure they don't care, but what will the parents say? Do we need permission from parents for who can tent with whom? This is a nightmare.

     

    Issue: Sexuality. I've always had the opinion that sex, at any level or type, is not appropriate in scouts. I don't care about orientation. If a parent starts bragging about his conquests I'll shut it down. There's enough crap on tv. Scouting should be free from it. Is this a reasonable approach?

     

    The bottom line is what's a process that will help this change while keeping everyone civil and doing the best for the boys?

  12. Moosetracker, good idea about spinning a new thread. But what forum? There needs to be a new category: Working with Parents. In the meantime I replied to the newspaper that it was too early to talk, and asked if they would they be interested in joining us on our winter campout this weekend to learn what scouts is mostly about. I didn't get a response. I just blew my 15 minutes.

  13. I've used this forum to help me learn how to be a better scoutmaster and I appreciate it. The changes mentioned, if they happen the way everyone is guessing, might be one I need help with. I've never worried about gays before. I don't think sex of any variety or level is appropriate in a troop. It just has never been very related to motivating scouts to be better patrol leaders or take on a challenge. So things are fine now.

     

    This might change next week or next month and I'd like to be prepared. The problem that I see is how to have a civil discussion about this issue and make any changes needed with the least impact on the scouts. The passion shown on this website is just an example of what many troops will have to deal with. I'm sure there are troops where the decision has already been made one way or another and I wish mine was one of them, but I don't think that's my troop. We have the full spectrum of feelings about this. I can see the parents coming up to the CC and me and turning this into a huge argument if they don't hear exactly what they want to hear. Helicopter parents are bad enough.

     

    The bottom line for me has always been the scouts. How do I keep it that way?

     

  14. I'm not sure how to spin off a new thread, but this comes the from UK training thread.

     

    One of my pet peeves is scoutmaster training. It's very basic, which is great for newbies, but considering that scoutmaster is one of the most important positions in the BSA, shouldn't there be a lot more opportunity to improve? Why not have training for "turning an adult led troop into a boy led troop" with case studies on what really works with a concrete set of tasks that will likely succeed? Or training for working with scouts at different ages, or different abilities, or how to motivate scouts? The training that exists may cover these things but it's usually so vague as to be worthless.

     

    I took woodbadge and was disappointed. Not that the skills weren't useful, but that the skills weren't specific to the problems I need to deal with. One example is the storming ... performing thing with all the arrows. I asked the guy teaching it what to do when you have BBs instead of arrows (arrows are people moving that need to all move in the same direction, BBs are people that don't move). With scouts the bigger issues is getting the scouts moving more than getting them all to agree to move in the same direction.

     

    If a troop has the culture then the training that exists is fine, but if a troop doesn't, then the scoutmaster needs a lot more help than what is provided. Eventually people learn but it takes too much time, time that people have less of. Now I have an answer to the BB problem but I'd sure like to help someone else with the same problem I know they're running into.

     

    Taking all the knowledge on this website and boiling them down to a book or series of lessons would be a huge resource for a lot of scouters.

     

  15. Different for different kids, but this is what I see.

     

    Age 11-13: Squirelly phase. Goofy. Fun. In one ear and out the other. Honest. Can't see more than 30 seconds into the future. Can easily let go and be in the moment.

     

    Age 13-15: Slacker phase. Peer pressure. Unsure of what and who they are. Will respond with coolness when in fact they are unsure of themselves. Afraid to ask for help. Making friends in the troop at this phase is crucial to getting them to stick through the whole program. Starting to like a challenge where failure is possible.

     

    Age 15-17.5: Coalescing phase. Sometime in here they start becoming happy with themselves. Maturing. Becoming more dependable and responsible. Fun to work with. Fun to be with. Great for the troop.

     

    Age 17.5-18: They get it. And then they're gone.

  16. I haven't had any families drop because of the policy. I have had several non-scouting families tell me, very politely, that they didn't like the policy although they did like the rest of the program. So maybe the drop is coming before anyone enters scouting.

     

    At the same time there are those that say they will leave a unit if the policy is changed. What all this says to me is there are a number of people on both sides of the policy that think more about the policy than the rest of the program. That's what bothers me the most.

     

    I'd like to see an honest survey of non LDS scouters to see what they think about the policy. For, against, or don't care.

  17. "That was the best thing I've ever done in my life." A scout after a high adventure trip.

     

    "I love my dad dearly, but he's done nothing compared to the adults in this troop." An Eagle scout.

     

    "You're going to stay on as Scoutmaster until my son gets Eagle, won't you?" From a mom, at her husband's memorial service.

     

    "Thank you." From a scout, when it comes from his heart.

  18. It's "you're tired" not "your tired". Sorry, I spend a lot of time working with scouts on writing.

     

    I'd say the boys want a change because pretty much after 2 or 3 years the scouts don't like going to summer camp because they'd rather do high adventure trips, they already have the merit badges, and to be honest a lot of merit badge classes are boring and taught by scouts that don't really know the material. I asked the scouts at the end of their last summer camp what they wanted and they said climbing, shooting, swimming, gps, canoeing, build a monkey bridge, fish, sleep in hammocks, etc. They got excited about that. Nobody said there should be more merit badges offered. While many of those activities are at camp in the form of merit badges they don't actually get to do much climbing or canoeing for example.

     

    There are a few threads currently about developing leadership and the importance of teamwork and I'm wondering how summer camp can improve that and make camp more fun at the same time. What if, say, afternoons are set aside for patrol challenge events. The patrol could go canoeing for a few hours and just have fun with it. Or go climbing as a patrol, or make a signal tower. Every afternoon they could do something different. They could still do merit badges in the morning but a week of challenging patrol activities would do a lot for building camaraderie.

  19. On another thread GKlose mentioned a summer camp that was "patrol oriented." I'm really curious. We've done patrol cooking but are there other activities that help patrol teamwork? Other than cooking we could be one giant mob and camp would provide nothing to encourage patrol teamwork.

     

    I'm also tired of merit badge factory summer camps and would rather see scouts spend their afternoons hiking, climbing, shooting, etc. I think these issues are related.

  20. There have been a couple of good discussions on this forum lately and this has been more useful than SM training, woodbadge, and roundtable. Thanks everyone.

     

    One thing that has helped me a lot is clarifying what I should and shouldn't do. I don't buy anyone's food or tell them what to cook, but I have been waking scouts up in the morning and generally urging them to follow their own schedule. So it's not their problem, it's mine, and that has to change. The 300' rule will help a lot. But that's still too vague. I just want to set clear expectations. Have your patrol at flags in the morning. Everything else is their problem, including who's in their patrol. In fact my definition of boy led is who solves the problems.

     

    One expectation I will set is attitude. If a PL wants to remove someone from his patrol because he's tried for 3 months to get him to help out and he won't and the PL tried talking to his parents and everyone is frustrated then I guess it's a reasonable request. Not only that but I can now be the good guy and maybe that scout will listen to me. On the other hand if they want to remove a scout because they need room for someone else that's more fun, then I do have a problem with that. But I don't think that will be much of an issue after the PLs start picking their own patrols.

     

     

  21. I like what you guys are coming up with. Here's my 2 cents. Reqs for PL are 1st class, active in the troop, and trained. Jungle sign up where every scout chooses the PL they want. If PL doesn't get at least 5 members he's not a PL. The PLs have a PLC meeting with their lists of who wants to be in their patrol. First they talk about what is best for the troop. Then they hash out patrols. It's the servant leadership that will pick the patrols and the SPL should ensure it's done right. I like Beavah's guidelines. I don't know that it has to be mixed age so much as for the first two years a scout should be in a patrol with older kids. I pick 2 years because that's where scouts typically mature. After the hash session they should be able to explain why they're making patrols the way they are. If the reason is "Johny's a dork" then it should be sent back to the PLC. They talk to all scouts that don't get their pick and let them know why. Servant leadership based peer pressure would do more good than anything the adults could say.

     

    I'm also wondering about expectations for PLs and members. The PLC should set expectations and there should be consequences for not meeting them. It could be participation, or helping out, or whatever the PLC thinks is reasonable (within boundaries set by the SM). I just know right now I'm the judge and jury when it comes to expectations, that makes me responsible for a big part of the problems, and that doesn't say much about boy led. I sure would like the scouts to take more ownership. At the same time, the expectations should be based on the right thing.

     

    Maybe what this is all getting down to is with the right attitude the boys should make the decisions. Our job is to ensure they have the right attitude when they make those decisions. It's servant leadership vs lord of the flies.

     

     

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