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Posts posted by MattR

  1. "Patrol spirit comes from facin' challenges together and bonding as a group."


    No doubt. Competition, things that go awry, and SM created challenges are the things I can think of. I'd like to hear more examples of SM created challenges. Broken ankles and lost scouts are good. What about organizing events? Troop meeting, teaching younger scouts a skill, that sort of thing?


    "Like I said, I'd tend to go with a higher limit. But I think if yeh really have some boys that only go on 2 campouts per year that your Patrol Leaders are goin' to tell yeh that they don't really think those boys are scouts or patrol members. That's the point the PL and the SM sit down with a lad and help him to make a choice about whether he's goin' to commit to Scoutin' or go do somethin' else. If a lad showed up for only 2 games a season he wouldn't be on any team that I know of, eh? "


    Exactly. And that's the rub I'm up against right now. I don't want to run those scouts out of the troop but I want them out of the way of those that want to be active. It's just setting expectations. I like the pick your own patrol approach because peers telling a scout he's not participating/helping out will be a much stronger message than anything I can say. And as long as that picking is done from a servant leadership view it would be good.


    Off to a campout....

  2. "It was quite remarkable of all the different options the boys selected to handle their specific problems."


    That's nice. I told my troop, after a meeting completely fell through, that my definition of boy led was when the boys solved their own problems, which they hadn't done.


    Speaking of solving problems, did you create any intentionally? I was thinking of the NSP. It could easily be the case that nobody needs or wants a POR and the NSP has no PL. I could see telling all the PLs that every new scout has an older patrol leader for the first year and let them figure out the details.

  3. JBlake, I'm really curious because I've wondered about doing something similar. A couple of questions:


    What did the PL do if, say, a couple of members stopped participating? With a limit of 6-8 and a few only go on 2 campouts a year that PL might want a different mix. It sounds like if a PL takes on a scout the PL has him for the duration. What's that duration?


    What happens to scouts that don't or rarely participate?


    What happens to scouts that are not wanted because they never help out? Some kids get a reputation. Hopefully this is a way to teach them something so I'd like to do this.


    What happens to scouts that are not wanted because they're socially awkward? If a scout doesn't have friends then it may be hard for him to get into a patrol.


    Does the PL need to come up with some sort of plan or goal for his patrol before he goes recruiting?



  4. My guess is you're in reasonably good shape. Five good scouts makes for a core you can build on. If you have five leaders and another five or so that will at least participate there are events they can run.


    I haven't run an OA anything but I'm guessing it has similarities to a troop, so here's my suggestions. It is based on my experience with my OA chapter, it might not have anything to do with yours.


    The first thing is recruitment. Recruitment to my chapter consists of adults berating scoutmasters to send scouts to OA meetings. How does your chapter do recruitment? Sending scouts would be fine if, when they got to a meeting, they were encouraged to join in, participate, and make new friends. At my chapter I had some scouts go and they were mostly ignored. Guess how many more meetings they went to. For most people, when they go to a new situation they are going to be a bit apprehensive. It doesn't matter if they're adults, webelos or new ordeal members. If they aren't welcomed they won't come back. What can you do to make a better connection with the scouts? Teenagers don't understand how cliquey they can get unless they're on the outside looking in. One more thing is that recruitment should be a constant activity. If you don't recruit every year you get bubbles in the leadership pipe.


    Friendship is the basis of everything. I have two troop guides per new scout patrol, and they pick each other, just so they have a friend there with them. If a scout has friends in his troop but doesn't make friends at OA then he won't stick around. If he makes friends he'll do anything and the worse it is the more he'll laugh about it with his friends. How do you promote teamwork and friendship? And service?


    The next thing is helping the scouts figure out what they can and want to do. Do you have a list of everything that the scouts should be doing? Do you know what's reasonable for each scout to do? Don't burn out the scouts you have. If you have 20 scouts worth of stuff to do and 5 scouts, what do you do? How do you get scouts to buy into this? The usual approach is having them decide what they want to do given a boundary set by you.


    I asked about adults working with scouts because scouting is all about on the job training. You implied you'd be the "point man" for mentoring scouts. My experience is that you can do that for three or four scouts but any more than that and you need more mentors. I have one per patrol leader in my troop. It's amazing how much time it takes an adult to keep a 13 year old focused. I'm constantly surprised at how much they can forget in two days. At the same time, when they are kept in roughly the right direction, they come up with great ideas and generate great experiences. It takes a lot of patience. Do you and a couple of more adults have that?


    Next, change takes time. Some people don't like change and others just ignore it. Just a little thing like making sure patrol boxes are clean at the end of the campout took me a year of constantly pushing it. Now it's troop culture. How much do you want to change? Can you come up with some simple, specific goals? The more you want to change at a time the more you'll need buy in from the other adults. The bigger the change, the more you'll need adults to support it. You won't be everywhere at every event, so many people have to share your ideas.


    And that brings up the last point. Assuming you need adult help, they need to have faith in your ideas. There's a huge difference in having faith in what you want to do and agreeing to what you ask for. I learned this the hard way. My approach now is to say here's the problem, this is how I'd like to solve it, what do you think? Then just control the conversation until you come up with a common set of ideas that everyone likes. That will get you the best ideas and buy in.


    At this point, are you starting to form some ideas of where you'd like to be and how to get there? To make this work you probably need to do everything in reverse of what I described. Come up with some ideas, get adult buy in, get scout buy in, make it happen, recruit.



  5. To answer one of your questions about approach, my approach would be to put as much effort as possible into getting the scouts to take over and run everything, but I recognize the challenges and wouldn't expect it to happen all at once.


    But here are some questions for you.


    Do you want to take this on and how much time and effort do you want to put into it?


    Given that you have 20-30 adults that get things done (a really great resource, by the way), do you think they'd be willing to change the way they do things? Would they listen to you? Could you get them together to brainstorm ideas?


    How many of these adults work well with scouts? I ask because some people that are great at organizing events are really lousy working with kids. I also ask because the way to get scouts motivated is going to require a lot of mentoring and success.


    How many scouts are there that you'd call leaders? Self motivated, dedicated, confident, team players?


    Roughly speaking, the goal is to get more scouts to see what the OA scouts are doing and say to themselves "I'd like to do that." Do you have ideas that you know will work to achieve that? Can you keep the scouts around for, say, at least 4 or 5 meetings?


    Can you simplify what the OA is responsible for down to the point where the scouts you have can be successful without burnout?


  6. All of this is so subjective I can't see a simple process for evaluating whether a scout deserves the next rank. In the OP, it looks, sounds, and quacks like a duck, so there it is. The discussion of who can sign off, must sign off, appeal process, etc is a set of objective rules applied to a subjective problem.


    I don't follow the guidelines because I will work with a scout until he knows the material. Yes, it's incorrect procedure and yes, I'd rather be the good guy that the scout can open up to when he has a bigger problem rather than be the bad guy that says no. And I am trying my hardest to ensure that every scout knows the material before he comes to see me. But lets face it, having been poorly taught how to tie a splint for 10 minutes at summer camp one year isn't going to soak in and stay for the next 7 years. The EDGE process is iterative for the same reason I have to renew my CPR training every other year. If the board's job is to ensure the SM is doing his job, why not let the SM do his job and hold scouts accountable?


    Example #1) a month or so ago I had a scout that didn't know shock from hypothermia. He didn't care. He was more interested in playing video games. He told me he didn't think he needed to know the material after the rank was completed. So I said no, go home, learn the material, and come back. Usually once is enough but I had to say this again. I know, this does not follow regulations, but I got his attention and he finally got serious and learned it. About 2 weeks after he completed his rank he most likely saved his sister's life and he credited it entirely with what he learned in scouts. The point is failure is not a bad thing. It depends on how you fail. Or in this case how the scoutmaster and the scout together treat failure. A lot of it has to do with our attitudes. If the scout trusts that I am looking out for his best interest and I want to see him reach the expectations then it's not failure so much as an opportunity to do a better job. If I can teach a boy that failure just means try try again then that's worth something.


    Example #2) about 6 months ago a scout shows up after not being seen for about 6 months and says he wants he Eagle SMC. We talk for awhile and it's real clear that something is lacking. So I ask him why he wants to be an Eagle Scout and he says he doesn't care, his parents want him to get it, there's pressure from relatives, etc. So I tell him it's time to take control of your life and tell everyone you don't want it. I told him I'd back him up and start calling people right there to get them to back off. And besides, if he doesn't want it then I don't want to sign for it. That was a 2 hour discussion and we were thrown out of the building. I invited him to finish the conversation the next day and, after thinking about it, he said he did want Eagle. But he just didn't think too highly of it. He didn't really like leadership because he's seen too much abuse (he reads the papers, what can I say). He was not proud of his Eagle project. I said ok, but there's something missing. So I told him I'd sign off if he did one thing for me. I asked him to run scouting for food and I asked him to go big. We covered 3 times the area, included 2 packs, and also collected clothing and toiletries for the homeless. I made sure he was successful and it was wildly successful. We took the gear to the homeless shelter and they were so happy they almost cried. A few weeks later we had the SMC and the first thing I did was sign his application. Then we talked. Eventually I asked him about the whole process of agony I put him through and this is what he said. I hit him very hard by telling him I wouldn't sign his application at our first meeting. He was not happy with me but as soon as he realized I wasn't giving up on him he figured just go with it. When we dropped the gear off he saw the people that were going to use it and that, too, had a huge impact. He said he now appreciates what he has, what service is all about and that leadership can be a good thing. He also thanked me. He said he had lost the spark and I helped him find it again.


    I'm not saying this is perfect or that others won't abuse this style, and I certainly won't say it's easy on me, but when we're dealing with something as fundamental and subjective as motivation, how can we expect a simple set of rules to work reliably? Scouts know what the minimum expectations are and that's what most shoot for. Having them do their best requires a big change. And my experience is that when you show them that their best is more than they thought possible, they learn something much more important than anything they got signed off on.

  7. Our food bank can buy ten times the amount of food for the same dollar than we can, so next year we're going to ask for monetary donations, too. This year we also asked for toiletries and extra winter clothing for the homeless. It took the same amount of time and we collected a lot more stuff that people could use. We had to sort toothpaste from peanut butter but the scouts had fun.

  8. What we do: planning session starts with "why are you in scouts? what do you want?" I mostly know what they will say but I want them to hear it themselves. Friends, fun, skills, adventure, Eagle. Anyway, I then have them set goals that match what they like. How many fun easy campouts, how many challenging campouts. That sort of thing. This is where I will nudge them to challenge themselves, otherwise they might pick a lazy calendar. When it comes to picking campouts we assign patrol leaders to each month and the patrol leader makes all the decisions along with his patrol for the month. This is new for us but so far I have much more enthusiastic patrol leaders. We didn't go to Spring Camporee last year because it fell on the weekend of the prom for most of our older scouts. We did our own campout a week later. This was all the scouts' doing and it worked great.


    This isn't to say I don't have any input. I encourage one campout, because it's a real challenge, but if they came up with a similar challenge I'd be happy with it. If they said they want to do a lock in every month and do no camping I'd say no. I have standards but I want to keep it at a high level.


    I am constantly pushing my scouts to take ownership of the troop. That means leading, and organizing, and communicating, but mostly it means showing up, doing, and making decisions. Once they get there, I can't imagine telling them what campouts to do. When they get stuck for ideas and ask, though, I have plenty ready.


    that's what works for me.

  9. I asked my Rabbi, who was a chaplain in the Air Force, how he would answer a 13 year old if he asked "Why should I be reverent to God?" This is his response:


    "Good question. In fact the most important questions often come from the mouths of babes and suckingly ( a biblical quote). Now to the question. When we look at the meaning of the word reverent if can mean respectful so we can say a scout should be respectful to God. OK now to God. Without going into too much theology we think of God as representing the sum total of humanity's highest aspirations. After all, where did we learn these high hopes? So being respectful of God can mean we are respectful and work toward the application of our highest moral and ethical standards to be put into place on a daily level. We speak of God because otherwise we run the risk of making relative all that we hold dear. If morality is human in origin then it can be shifted to meet the needs of those in power and adjusted to fit the needs of the powerful. Such as slavery became a moral and ethical benefit according to the slaveholders. We know that ultimately the absolute God- given right of freedom triumphed. So we need a power and force outside and above human beings to give us ultimate and eternal truths. Therefore we are respectful of God because we have hope for humanity."


    It has to be simplified a bit for the 13 year old I'm thinking of, but I like it.

  10. Two points. First, the Scout Handbook describes the 12th point as "A scout is reverent towards God. He is faithful to his religious duties and respects the convictions of others in matters of custom and religion." The first sentence is the important part. It's not vague and it definitely mentions God.


    Second, I'm just looking for ideas on how to explain why a scout should be reverent towards God. I've already decided how I want to handle the situation. So, if a 13 year old asked you "Why should I be reverent towards God?" what would you tell him. It's a really honest, innocent question, and we should be able to answer it. I want to approach this scout as if he had asked that question. It's positive. It encourages discussion. And if I can't answer that question then I'm not such a great scoutmaster.


    Maybe BS87 is right and this should be moved elsewhere, but for now I'll leave it here.


  11. I was in a SMC with a young scout and I asked him what reverent meant. He said he didn't know, so I told him it means you believe in God. He said "Oh, I'm atheist, I don't believe in God." Long pause. All I can think is oh boy, here we go. Good news was this conference didn't finish because it was late, and I have time to figure this out.


    At this point this won't prevent him from advancing. If he tells me this at his Eagle SMC that's a different thing, but for now I'd like to work with him. I figure a lot of scouts are a work in progress. I'll also talk to his parents to make sure it's not just a kid checking boundaries but since he knew what atheist meant but not reverent it's certainly possible this came from home. But I will check.


    I'd like to explain to him that Reverent is just as important as any other Point. Remember, this has to be free from any particular religion so "Hell ain't no picnic" can't be used.


    This is what I'm thinking: To me, the Scout Oath and Law, if I were to put it in a single word, is about being selfless. And reverent certainly speaks to being selfless. You are not the center of the universe. It's not about you. It's easy to talk about selfless but unbelievably hard to be selfless. Why should I give a dollar to the homeless guy that looks like a drowned rat? I'll never see him again. He might end up spending the money on booze. That's being selfish. Whatever his problem, he likely needs your sympathy. But where does enough sympathy come from that you'll help people like this? It doesn't come from thinking or talking about it. After our discussion you're not going to suddenly change and help every homeless guy in town. It comes from believing in something bigger than you. You'll never see it but if you try hard you might feel it. When you do it's profoundly powerful. Many people call this God. The important thing is you have to work at being selfless. You have to constantly remind yourself that something is bigger than you and you're not the center of universe. That's why a lot of people go to religious services. I think it would be great if you could feel what I'm talking about. But how are you going to get there?


    I'm not sure I'll get much of a response, but at least I'll have tried.


    So how would you explain that Reverent is important?


  12. I'd like to give this thread a push as it has everything to do with a crew my daughter is in. For those that have an active crew going, what types of events will bring in a coed group of high school kids that have no idea about Boy Scouts? And how do you advertise it? How much time does it take to get the word out? I'd really like to hear from those that have started a new crew or rebuilt a crew.


    The crew my daughter is in needs to be rebuilt. It's down to half a dozen kids, none of which are too interested in leading. I think that's because they don't see a successful program. I'm not that active but am willing to give it a try, assuming I can come up with a vision of success that my daughter and the crew adviser likes.


    I have a lot of experience with a troop but not with a crew. My idea of what a crew should be is that giving the scouts more leeway is fine by me. I'd be fine without advancement as along as the scouts are having a healthy good time with some challenges and service mixed in. My troop doesn't have to have anything to do with the crew. I don't want to be the crew adviser. I believe the crew adviser has the same idea.


    I appreciate constructive feedback.


  13. We do what has been mentioned above. But I try to spend a lot of time getting them to talk about why they're in scouts and what they want out of it. We compare that to what happened last year and that gives the scouts new directions. One of the things that came out last year was that they prefer doing instead of sitting. So this summer we've only met at our usual meeting place about 1 in 4 weeks. We went swimming, did several conservation projects, biking, anything to get outside. Some of the parents hate it because we don't have time to do bureaucracy, but I'm ok with that ;)


    Campouts are more challenging. Sometimes a campout is great because of something the scouts made on the spot (eg, frozen lake + slash pile = great big fire) but usually there needs to be something organized. They're in charge of picking events but it's whatever they can think of in 15 minutes. Even if we give them 2 weeks they'll only spend 15 minutes at home making a list. So we tend to do the same things over and over unless some adult throws in a good idea for them to think about. I'd like to make this a much longer process that involves creativity, teamwork, and problem solving. I'm not quite sure how to organize this.


    One of the things I'm realizing is that scouts need much more time to plan and prepare for events than they take. Since everyone is time poor this creates a real challenge.

  14. Thanks for your input. I guess I have to think this through some more.


    BTW, I don't want 100% participation. I hear too many horror stories. But five campouts a year doesn't sound extreme.


    There's the punishment side of this but I've also thought about the encouragement side. I realize I want more camaraderie in my troop. High school sports is great because of camaraderie. Scouts could be the same way but it's barely happening. Teamwork is a side bar. The perception is I can come and go as I please and my patrol doesn't need me. And there's a lot of truth to that. There's little teamwork outside of a campout so if you don't go there's no loss to anyone.


    So how about creating problems that require teamwork at the patrol level to solve? How about campouts require several meetings to prepare for (Tie flies for fishing, make snow shoes, etc)? You can't go if you're not prepared. Maybe each patrol must organize their own event and if they don't they aren't allowed on the campout. Maybe the patrol leader must set goals for his patrol and he gets credit based on achieving those goals. Scouts will have to learn to work together and if not they can find another patrol or patrol leader. And maybe a patrol leader can remove a scout from his patrol if the scout doesn't do his share of the work. This would be Lord of the Flies if not carefully guided but it would put a lot more responsibility with the patrol leaders. Maybe the scouts can solve the participation problem once they understand how it affects them.


    This would not be easy to get going.


    I also agree that there needs to be some serious discussion with everyone about expectations, goals and what scouting is about before anything else.

  15. Over the past few years I've been working on participation. I've always taken the view that make it fun and they will come. So, the emphasis is on camping. 10 campouts, summer camp, two high adventure trips. The scouts pick the calendar, they have enough new ideas so we are anything but in a rut. At the end of every campout we have thorns and roses and the scouts are honestly having fun. Half the troop is making at least half the campouts. Some are doing a lot more.


    The problem is the other half of the troop. These are the scouts that always have something else more important going on. They're missing something and I can't do anything about that, but it's also hurting their patrol in morale, fun, teamwork, and attitude. If only a quarter of a patrol goes camping then it's a downer. I don't want to drum them out of the troop. But I don't want them slowing down a group of eager scouts, I want there to be consequences based on their level of commitment, and I want them to take responsibility for their decision. There are honest reasons why a kid can't make half the campouts but "I have other plans" is not one of them.


    So how about this? Ask each scout what his commitment is. If they go to at least half the campouts they can be in a patrol of their choice that will stick together. If they don't want to be active then they're not assigned to a patrol and if they want to go camping they can make their own patrol for that campout. Communication about meetings? That's there problem. They won't have the camaraderie but life is a tradeoff. If a scout wants to be active but doesn't like the campouts, he has a problem that someone can coach him through (find better ideas!). If he has too many other activities going on he can't just nix scouting and will have to choose. Again, a problem to solve. If he wants to have a position of responsibility he'll have to be active. Some scouts will drop out and that's a shame but maybe it's just the push they need to find something they really want to do. If they just want to cruse along until they make a decision then that's great too. Scouts that want to excel will be given a chance to feed off of each other in a positive way. This may encourage some scouts to get active.


    Anybody try anything like this?

  16. A vibrant OA could really help scouting. It would be great if the super enthusiastic scouts in a district could get together and feed off of each other. Challenging campouts. Meaningful service. A lot of intensity. That would be great. Everyone would look up to it. A lot of scouts would want to be a part of it.


    But I have to admit, the scouts are correct when they say the OA now is dull. At least our lodge and chapter is. There's a lot of ceremony with nothing behind it. Changing the rules for wearing pocket flaps and how scouts are elected won't change much. If it's the honor society than it should be doing a lot more of what scouts normally do. Go climbing every week in the summer, or do a 100 mile backpacking trip, or build your own kayak, or build a habitat for humanity house, or take a scout reach troop camping every month for years, or, you know, a super version of what we're trying to do all the time. Memorizing Alowatsakima's speech is not nearly as meaningful as knowing that since you took half a dozen kids camping 5 times that you got them interested in scouting. I understand the need for ceremony, but if the ceremony is stripped out of the OA, all that's left is cheap labor twice a year to help the local scout camp. The scouts know this. If instead you had just one scout that could say the OA is more intense than a high adventure trip and more meaningful than an Eagle project, the numbers would take care of itself. That, and Alowatsakima would be the biggest, toughest, most respected scout in the council.


    All it takes is an hour a week....



  17. Speaking of imprinting, if boys tend to imprint from dads and girls tend to imprint from moms then the typical broken family will tend to hurt the boy more than the girl. Is this why male graduation rates are below female rates? I wouldn't be surprised. Girls and boys think differently and if you don't understand how a kid thinks it's hard to help them grow up.


    That said, I still struggle getting scouts to take responsibility :)


  18. Now that I think about it, blaming the women for all the men's problems is not a very manly thing to do ;)


    But, since I'm a Scoutmaster and motivating boys is my main job, this is a good subject. That and the most frustrating thing I ever see is a group of 15 year olds that are capable of doing amazing things, sitting around like a beached whale. So I certainly don't have the answers. But I try.


    Boy Scouts is interested in developing well rounded young men. In my view there are two parts to that. The first is being selfless and is basically described in the Scout Oath and Law. The second, for lack of a better name, is what I call spirit. Look at the previous posts and words like adventure, conquest, competition, dreams, and excellence are used. Think of those words and what's the first image that comes to mind? It isn't homework. I'm a firm believer in homework but I'm also a firm believer in what a good adventure can teach you. Society pushes homework but not adventure. I think, on average, this hurts boys more than girls. Girls want and learn from adventure, too, but they don't typically seem to need it like boys.


    With all that said it still seems to take time to get boys into the spirit. They have to learn to get out of their comfort zone. When they join a troop at 11 they want fun. It's only when they get older that they need adventure and challenge but they also need encouragement, and I don't think they're getting that outside of scouts, and maybe not enough within scouts. I have beached whale kids and it's easier to be lazy than spend a week backpacking. So, we have most of it figured out.



  19. This may be somewhat related but I just did a scoutmaster minute on excellence. Excellence is setting your own bar and reaching for it. Mundane is having someone else set the bar for you. School is mundane. Even if you get straight A's you can be mundane because you might not have had to push yourself, it's just the teacher telling you what to do to get an A, over and over and over.


    Competition requires excellence. You have to dig it up from the inside. Boys like to compete. Boys also like to be a part of something bigger than themselves. Having your team win the superbowl is something special. So are gangs, to boys that have nothing else.


    Excellence can also come from things other than competition. An Eagle project usually requires a scout to stretch himself a lot and set his own bar. Real leadership also encourages excellence. A leader decides where the bar is.


    Mundane is easier than excellence. Boys want the easy path. But I have a hunch excellence is what boys need. So, to get a little closer to your question, I think boys need more opportunity for excellence, whether it be competition or leadership or just being the best at something I'm not sure it matters. Boy Scouts can easily fill that need but it's too easy for adults to make it look no different than having a teacher tell you what to do when.


    I'm trying something new in my troop. I asked for scouts that want to be excellent and told them they will meet, find something they want to lead for the troop, and be excellent about it. I'll teach them leadership skills that they'll use on their projects and I expect them to bring a positive attitude and make the time needed to do a good job. It's kind of a cross between NYLT, a woodbadge ticket, EDGE, and a team effort. I have half a dozen scouts signed up. We'll see how it goes.


  20. He was running at the swat team with a rifle. It was his fault. His first bad decision was to do something that caused the police to show up. That's not so bad, relatively speaking. What he didn't do is realize he made a mistake and back down. As the police tell us, sometimes good people make bad decisions.

  21. I had just become SM and we were talking about limiting scouts (we were over 50). A dad called me asking if his son could join my troop and I was going back and forth about whether to tell him to bring his son in. The dad was kind and so I finally told him yes. The boy is great, as is his little brother. The father died of ALS a few years ago. While talking to the boy about getting Eagle I asked him why he was letting things not get done and he said his dad used to kick him in the butt. I asked him if he wanted me to kick him in the butt once in awhile and he said yes. He'll be an Eagle this Spring (he'll be 17). His little brother is next in line for some adult guidance.


    The result of this is that it's really hard for me to say no. I'll tell people to look at other troops but I'll never say no. We could easily have 85 scouts in March and I don't know how we're going to do it.


    As for helping other troops, a group of SMs and I just started getting together to compare notes, trying to help each other out. I'm not doing this so I can impart my wisdom on the smaller troops that need help. We're all doing this because we all recognize we all need help.

  22. EagleDad,



    >Just get in the habit of asking scouts what they are thinking (goals wise) when

    >they are struggling on something. It works for all ages, just keep the

    >expectations realistic for their age and dont get hung up on their answers.


    About a year ago I came to the conclusion that the average scout has really poor time management, goal setting, and planning skills. They mostly drift with the winds and their Eagle project is a big rock that they crash into. So I started quarterly goal setting. I don't care what the goals are that they set, but I'm trying to get them into a process, as you mention. The planning part is simply a matter of asking as many questions of how to achieve their goals as possible, who, what, where, when, how, .... The meeting before the COH we do a troop wide thorns and roses session on what the scout's goals were and what they achieved. Between that and making sure there are scouts that can teach skills available, that's most of what we do for advancement. I think the scouts like it because they take ownership.


    I used to have a much less structured way of asking scouts their goals and it didn't stick. They would think about it, and than forget about it five minutes later. That's why I went to a more formal process that reminds them periodically to think about their goals.


    >Its like asking a scout to set a goal of earning the Eagle, in reality the

    >average boy can even conceive how to earn the Eagle because it is so

    >complicated. They may say that is a goal, but they arent really seeing it. Its

    >to big, especially for new scouts.


    Absolutely! That's why the 3 month time frame.


    >Do that consistently in bites that he can understand and see for his maturity

    >and eventually you have scouts who can plan a campfire, then COH and a whole



    That's where I'm going with this. Eventually I want every position of responsibility to set goals and have a plan. Not mine, theirs. Same thing for those that lead events.


    >The Eagle will be a breeze after all that. It will happen faster than


    Well, I hope it will just be a good hard hike rather than crashing into a mountain.


    >you think, especially if you start doing this with the new scouts. Where I

    >really saw this make a big change in our troop was in the PLC planning

    >meetings. You will find one day that they are planning faster than the adults.

    >It will be a shock, so keep a chair near by.


    Funny you should mention the PLC. Six months ago I started them reviewing troop and individual goals as well as plans they created. They're getting a lot more done now. I always smile when I don't know what's going on but the scouts are taking care of things. Probably in the next month or two I'm going to have each patrol start creating their own goals for each quarter.


    >Once you get going on this, reflection is the next step.


    And this is the part I'm struggling with now. A plan is based on goals, and goals are based on a vision. A scout without a vision will have few goals, no plan, and will do very little if anything. My response to a few scouts like this was to encourage them to work on Eagle hoping that success would motivate them. After everything I've read on this thread I'll try helping them figure out what drives them.


    This is easy for the younger scouts: fire, water, long pointy sticks (fun), and advancement. It's much more complicated for older scouts. Fun and a high adventure trip a year are not enough when there's baseball, and marching band, and swimming, and lego robotics, and student council, and a whole lot more where each coach demands 100% participation. I see really great kids with huge leadership potential struggle with scouts not because they're bored or the program is not fun (they really enjoy the events) but because they're so good at so many things that they do a lot and consequently they don't have the time for scouts. Scouting is a high priority but it's pushed down the list because other activities require nearly 100% participation. In a way this is a different thread than the original but I think it's the same issue. Boy Scouts is not like other activities. The goal is not obvious like in sports (win!). Some may say the goal is the Scout Oath but a scout's response would be, OK, I did that for a week, I'm done. The goal of scouting may be the Oath but each scout needs their own goal. I guess what I'm saying is I'm looking for a process for scouts to figure out what their goals are, and it should be more than "get Eagle" so as to help reduce the dad effect and the time effect. No other activities allow a boy to select their own goals and that's the power of Scouting. Unfortunately, I really don't know how to help a scout figure that out.


    >Really MattR, you sound like a really good Scoutmaster.


    I appreciate the compliment, but, honestly, I'm clueless most of the time.


    >How long have you been doing the job? Maybe you are working someone elses

    >problems. The two scouts that quit after Eagle doesn't match your style to me.

    >Could they have been the products of a previous SM? And the other two scouts

    >sound like they are relating the goals that someone else has piped in their



    Five years. No, they aren't someone else's problem, I just can't figure out how to bring them out and I'm frustrated. I've had luck with other scouts. One scout, I just said I thought he'd be a good SPL and I turned him on a dime. Another, I made him do his Eagle project over. Now he appreciates what I did. So, I have a mixed record.



  23. EagleDad, funny you should mention teaching scouts to set goals. Six months ago I started having scouts set goals the meeting after each COH that they want to achieve by the next COH. It's helping a lot of scouts. It's much better when it's their idea. This is one part of something that includes having older scouts create their own vision/dream/future whatever. Maybe I need to get that going, although I'm not sure how to do that.


    I should add I'm not pushing Eagle so much as I am pushing scout spirit. It's participation, having fun, jumping in, helping out, cheerfully dealing with problems. I have scouts that aren't interested in Eagle and just want to go camping and I'm happy with that. We schedule only a few meetings a year for advancement and that's for the younger scouts. Of the scouts I mentioned, I asked them why they were in scouts and they all said to get Eagle, so that's why I encouraged them to get Eagle. I figured if they had some success then they'd get motivated to do something else. I completely missed the mark. The two that did get Eagle didn't participate, have fun, jump in, help out or do anything afterwards.


    Twocubdad, you're right, "I shouldn't even try" is more frustration than reality. I did try with these scouts, for a long time, but it looks like I tried the wrong things. After this discussion I see two different things to try. The first is helping a scout find their scout spirit (or purpose), and the second is helping a scout do that independently of his parents. Those two are so intertwined I don't know that they can be pulled apart.


    As Beavah says, scouts are all unique, so finding their purpose has to be a one scout at a time process. So, it's a SM conference thing? How does this work? I could really use a list of 30 questions that could help squeeze some ideas from a scout. One challenge is that teenage boys have a lot of trouble putting ideas into words. Maybe once a scout turns 14 he goes on a vision quest? Starving and sweat lodges are probably not in the guide to safe scouting.


    I think parents are a bigger issue. I think they need training on how to be a scout parent. They need to help out, but at the same time gradually let go. Is there any such training? Twocubdad, isn't that the problem you're up against? Dad won't let go so the son is in rebellion? I've had several scouts finally decide they really did want to get Eagle about a year after dad finally gave up.


    Thanks guys, you're helping.




  24. As I see it, my job as SM is to motivate scouts to live the ideals of scouting. My best tool is praise after a job well done. Set the bar high and help the scout reach it. Sometimes it's a lot of help. Mostly encouraging them, keeping them focused, and sometimes being hard nosed about it. Most scouts respond. Some incredibly so.


    A couple of scouts don't, however, and I'm wondering if I should be helping them. Or maybe there's a different way to help them? Some scouts just seem lazy and self centered and I'm not happy with the results. Example 1) Scout was enthusiastic when young but disappeared around 14 spending a lot of time playing video games. I talked to him several times and convinced him to do his Eagle project. He did a nice job. Now he's back to being a sloth and is very unreliable (the PLC's words, not mine). I think I made a mistake helping this scout. Example 2) Scout is a good kid, but will never step up, help out, or do much of anything. It took him almost 2 years from when he completed all the requirements for Eagle to have his SM conference, BOR, and COH. I think this had something to do with dad saying get Eagle before you can drive. So I don't think he ever really cared. Example 3) Good scout. Mom, dad, uncle, and grandpa want the boy to get Eagle. After several years of struggle he finally said no. I respect this kid more than the other two.


    It seems that scouts need to find their own reason for wanting to get Eagle (and not dad's). If they have a reason then I can help them and I enjoy it but if they don't then I shouldn't even try. The question is how do you tell whether a scout really wants to get Eagle for himself, as opposed to for dad or peer pressure or whatever? If you asked the first two of these scouts they would have said they want to do it, so that won't help. Do you ask them why they want to get Eagle? I like to do the "five whys" with being selfless but maybe the five whys for being Eagle would help both of us more.




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