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Everything posted by Phrogger

  1. I am finally allowing my son to quit Scouts. We tried everything but in the end, it just isn't a good fit for him. He finished with a rank of Scout after just one year in the Troop. There are a couple reasons it didn't work out. He enjoyed the Cub Scouts but the Boy Scouts is a really different animal. I offer the following observations as a post-mortem, with follow up questions at the bottom. 1. He crossed over early (Webelos in 1 year) This wasn't my choice but the den leader's. He wasn't ready for the skills needed in Boy Scouts. I think BSA should actively discourage this except with a waiver in special cases. 2. Most of his friends quit, as of this writing there is only 1 out of 6 members of his den that are still in the Troop. From adults that were in Scouts, I have been told most boys stay in because their friends did. 3. The Troop is actively focused on the older boys. Most activities planned include things like 50-mile hikes and 100-mile canoe trips. Usually there is a shorter event for the younger boys thrown in as a courtesy. I would have liked to see one adult assigned to help make the new Scouts feel more welcome and included. The Cooking Badge was offered as a group activity and my son was told he was too young. Just the older boys wanting to get their Eagle stuff done. 4. There isn't enough supervision. The leaders take "boy-led" too far, and the older boys don't act as mentors many times but as antagonists and task masters. They don't know how to organize a meeting because the adults haven't shown them. Older boys are cursing and "roasting" younger kids because the adults are doing their own thing and not paying attention. Is there any problem with assigning an adult to each patrol to make sure they stay on track and are obeying the Scout Law? 5. Meetings are BORING. Most of the time they're just sitting around tying knots or talking about the next campout. Cub Scout meetings were much more dynamic and included games and songs and actual advancement activities. Again, adults should have more input here. 6. Time commitment. Meetings 7-8:30 pm on a school night EVERY Monday, and at least two weekends a month, one for a campout and another for volunteer or Eagle Project work. 7. Camping. My son just didn't like camping. Yes, I get that it's the entire point of Boy Scouts. I don't want to take that away from anyone. But, I would have liked to see something like STEM activities, day trips, or just fun things like a trip to the trampoline park. In the end, his dislike of being outdoors in general ended his Scouting career. So, I'm not looking for solutions or analysis on my own child but curious about the greater trend. I still think the program has many strengths, but I'm interested if retention is a problem at the troop level. About what age are they leaving? What reasons are those boys giving for leaving? And what is the secret of troops that don't have a problem retaining scouts?
  2. Is retention a problem?

    These are activities my son would have enjoyed. I think they are consistent with Scouting. I understand about not wanting adults to take over. I don't advocate for that. I do advocate for adults to do their job and guide the Scouts when things aren't working. I suppose he didn't have to go to every meeting, but rarely were activities announced and sometimes (rarely) they were important, so I was worried he would miss something if he didn't go. I think that part of the problem is the same thing with transitioning to middle school with this age group. Kids go really abruptly from elementary school where they have fun activities and a playground at recess, until the next day suddenly they have to be grown up and there's no playground available. Tween-agers really need more time to get their heads around the transition, if you ask me. Doesn't help when you have a kid lagging behind developmentally. A better Webelos program would have helped for sure.
  3. Is retention a problem?

    Thanks for the suggestions to find another troop. To their credit, the leadership did listen to my concerns about 6 months ago and made some positive changes, including changing patrols around to make sure a couple of good leaders were in each one, but it wasn't enough to keep us. I'm willing to give another try with a different troop, but I still think we should take a break for now. We might even look into Venturing when he's old enough. He has enough interest in adventure activities that it might be something we can revisit at a later date. Right now I think we'd like to try some other activities and see if anything "sticks." We've got limited time for extracurriculars (like everyone) and I just want to find something that fits.
  4. I give up!

    Agree with your son that troop meetings are a lot more boring than pack meetings. I was a cub den leader and we always had advancement activities planned, games, songs, crafts, etc. Now the boys just talk about the next campout. My son can't wait to quit. It's torture taking him to meetings because he fights me. I have other parents telling me to try a different troop but I can't see how it would be different.
  5. What makes them stay with Scouting?

    Agree with Eagledad on the first year Scout issue. My son is starting his second year and near quitting. We did Wolves all the way through Webelos but the transition to the troop was a shock. He doesn't find it fun. I think they ought to break out the tween-age group and give them their own activities.
  6. Hoping for some encouragement. My son crossed over to Boy Scouts at the end of last year. His den leader decided to cross all the boys early and finish Webelos I and II in one year. I did not agree to this but had no choice about it. I feel we were cheated out of a summer of Cub Scouts and a transition year. But I digress. We joined the same Boy Scout troop that his friends did. Boy Scouts is such a different program than Cub Scouts. In the past few years (we were in Cubs 3 years) the Cub Scouts we were involved with made efforts to include STEM activities and things such as model rockets and planes, 3-d printing, amateur radio, etc. We also did the outdoor activities and service projects, and summer day camps were pirate themed or astronaut themed. We even had an Apollo 13 ground controller come talk to the group. He also loved the Pinewood Derby. But in Boy Scouts they only seem to plan traditional scouting activities, not all of which my son enjoys or is able to participate in. 20 mile hikes, kayak trips (which my son isn't allowed to participate in since he didn't go to summer camp and take the swim test), mountain biking, or rock climbing (neither of which my son has the physical strength to do or interest in). At meetings they work on their physical fitness requirements (situps, pushups yay) and tie ropes. I didn't send him to summer camp because he's so young (and didn't want to go anyway), but we went to the family campout together and it was miserable. No planned activities, the boys didn't even include my son in their card games or football tossing since he was the youngest one there (he's 10). He briefly got excited when they held troop leadership elections, and he wanted to do the drums for the opening ceremony, but he wasn't selected for anything, so that tiny bit of encoragement evaporated. Surely there's some minor leadership post they could assign so new boys feel more involved. Even if it's just "you're in charge of turning out the lights after the meeting" or something. My son is completely out of his element and has been begging me to quit since day 1, even though he enjoyed Cub Scouts. I'm not sure what to do. I think that maybe in 3 years with a little growth and maturity he may enjoy it, but how hard should I push him to stay? Will it get better? Should I shop for a new troop or wait a while? I understand that traditional scout activities are the heart of the program, and the boy-led leadership philosophy is good in theory, but we just aren't finding anything to like about it yet.
  7. Struggling to stay in Scouts

    Sorry- DE is a term I don't know? Not looking for perfect. But it's better to try than to quit. Also, I have spoken to the Scoutmaster about it and we are going to try and see if we can't try something else first- like changing patrols. I'll give it to the end of summer.
  8. Struggling to stay in Scouts

    Any tips on how to spot a good one? I don't feel like you get to know much by just attending one meeting. Word of mouth obviously, but I only know one family in another troop.
  9. Struggling to stay in Scouts

    I wish it was just his perception. I've watched this dysfunction myself. As of now I'm taking the advice and sending him to camp, then shopping for troops afterwards. Can't hurt to look. If we aren't doing better after joining a new troop I'll consider letting him quit. Thanks everyone.
  10. Struggling to stay in Scouts

    Stosh and Tahawk, you make good points about mixed-age patrols. At first I thought that would be a good thing but now I feel less so. Here's the other thing about mixed-age patrols I don't like. Older boys talk about things that younger kids shouldn't hear. My son says one boy in his patrol swears a lot for example and his dad is an ASM. But I digress- that's one for the patrol discussion. This Troop operates as one big group. The patrols meet once a month but that usually involves eating at Wendy's for half an hour before the Troop meeting. One boy was supposed to be leading but I saw no real "meeting" of any kind. (Last time there wasn't enough room at the big table for my son so he sat by himself. I sat across the room and watched this.) In the time he's been in the Troop (since May 2016), they have had only one patrol activity, a trip to a trampoline park, and he was out of town for a family event and could not attend. Most of the time at the Troop meetings he finds the other kids his age and only separates into the patrols for the beginning and ending ceremony. Since I have no idea how the troop is supposed to function, I didn't think anything of it. But the way you describe the patrol method they are doing something wrong. I have considered joining the Troop Committee but I'm not sure it would help. (Work has made it difficult for me this year but my schedule is going to lighten up soon). Maybe it's time for a new troop.
  11. Struggling to stay in Scouts

    Here we are a few months later. Recap: my son crossed over a year early and this is his 5th grade year. Although he's been in scouts since Wolf he's struggled to adjust to the changes from Cubs to Scouts. He isn't very athletic and has trouble doing many of the outdoor activities that the troop does. I've not made him do any of the overnight camping since he doesn't want to do it, and I'm afraid of turning him off of scouts permanently. In addition, he has no idea how to set up a tent or what gear to pack or how to do any of the camping basics and I don't know who is supposed to be in charge of teaching that. He says the older kids don't treat him well, and although he socializes with a few of the kids he doesn't really like them. Recently at a Camporee he complained that none of the kids were showing him how to do things, and additionally they ran out of food and he only got one taco for dinner. He fights him every time I tell him to get ready for a meeting. I'm becoming tired of just making him go through the motions. Here's my next dilemma: I've already paid the $300 for summer camp (we had to put the deposit down months ago). Should I bite the bullet and let him quit now, or send him to camp and "hope" he has a good experience? Should I try a different troop where he doesn't know anybody? I just don't see this lasting unless he finds appeal in at least one activity, or makes some friends somehow.
  12. My son recently signed up for the Cooking merit badge which is being offered with a group in my son's troop. I received an email from the organizer who told me it was only for First Class scouts and up and it would be "too hard" for him because it is Eagle required. My son is almost done with his Scout rank and has not had any merit badge opportunities yet. I read the requirements and didn't think they sounded too hard, especially since the troop expects him to do more difficult things on his own during campouts. Is this reasonable? Or is the organizer just trying to weed out the younger ones for his own convenience? I can't find anywhere that it says you have to be First Class to work on that badge.
  13. First class required for Cooking?

    Yeah, not worried about 14 year old Eagle here, since I have a major procrastinator. But I don't want to put it off either (assuming we even last that long). In a neighboring troop we had a scout who was trying to get Eagle done basically skip school to do 7 merit badges in a week right before he aged out. Did he learn anything from that? I seriously doubt it. A few merit badges a year and Eagle at 17 sounds more like it.
  14. First class required for Cooking?

    Nobody actually said it was required. Parents were sent a confusing schedule to sign up for and one of the options was "first year camper," so I assumed it was required. Even if not, I'd be afraid that he'd miss out on something important if he doesn't. There aren't any descriptions for the class except that it works on certain merit badges. I surmised that it might also contain "tips for first year campers" and extra help learning how to set up camp and such. This really is his first year at a sleepaway camp of any kind and I want him to have the best opportunity for success, whatever that looks like. I don't care about merit badges. I'm just sad he can't take the Movie Maker badge or do the Archery/Rifle classes because of it (he might still get to do the Open range though). There are pros and cons to both. I want him to have fun and do things he likes, but if he misses some crucial area of instruction in the First Year class it might not be the best idea.
  15. First class required for Cooking?

    I was told not to push him on advancements. He's been working on Scout most of the year. I have had to gently encourage him to make progress, as he isn't inclined to on his own. I guess I could suggest that. You are right, he isn't enjoying it, There is no program for younger scouts. He does have friends his age that he crossed over with, but they are split into different patrols and not all are present at the activities he goes to. I think it's a good idea to have the younger scouts pick a badge, but I don't really have any role in the troop yet and my work doesn't make time for it. I was very involved in Cubs in the past, I plan to help out again in the future, I just can't do it now, The only camping I did with my family growing up was the four of us sleeping in a tent at the beach because we couldn't afford a hotel. So camping was never something I thought of as "fun." Ironically, Both me and my spouse were Marines, so I have done enough camping to be competent but I still don't find it enjoyable. We both have tried hard not to let our dislike rub off on our son, but I haven't exactly jumped at the chance to go camping with him either. The first event we went on in the troop was a "Family Campout." 90 degrees in July in an open field with no shade. They wouldn't allow him to use a kayak because he hadn't gone to summer camp and passed the swim test (this despite the fact that siblings not part of the troop were allowed to do it). They do a lot of "primitive" camping and long hikes too, so yeah, I would say it is not younger-Scout friendly.
  16. Speak to me of this STEM Scouts program...

    Just throw in a little "maker" stuff. It doesn't have to be super structured. My son loves to make stuff and more of that would sure hold his interest.
  17. First class required for Cooking?

    He signed up because it's the first badge that has been offered as a group. I know that badges can be done individually but he hasn't shown an interest in doing that yet. Honestly we are hanging on to scouts by a thread. He hates camping and since that's the majority of scouts well, I can see how things are going to go. At the suggestion of others on this forum I made sure to sign him up for summer camp this year to see if he will have a "bonding" experience and come to enjoy it. But if that doesn't happen after the next year I can't keep forcing it on him. Cub Scouts was so different. He had a lot more fun and learned more, I felt, than knot tying and such. The curriculum was more diverse to be sure.
  18. First class required for Cooking?

    Well, the "First Year Camper" class is required and unfortunately it takes up 2/3 of the schedule. I hope they let them have some fun time too.
  19. First class required for Cooking?

    On that note, what would be a good merit badge to start out with? He's going to Ransburg for summer camp so they'll be working on the Tenderfoot and Second Class requirements there.
  20. First class required for Cooking?

    I'm not going to push the issue. The last thing I'd want is for him to be resented for "dragging down" the older scouts. But it's too bad. Our troop doesn't seem to like the younger scouts and don't plan many activities for them. My son alternates between being bored to death and in way over his head. Next year, after my job is more stable, I'm going to join the committee and try to push for change. If things don't work out I'm afraid he's going to quit. At the very least we'll be shopping for a new troop.
  21. Struggling to stay in Scouts

    Technically mine crossed in 4th grade, May. This year he is a full Boy Scout in 5th grade. I'm encouraged by your son's success story. But did he like Scouts? Did he ask to quit? That's my scenario right now. I'm trying to gauge how hard to push. Scouting just doesn't seem fun for him anymore. I understand the value of the program. But if the boy isn't having fun, where is the motivation to stay?
  22. Speak to me of this STEM Scouts program...

    It doesn't have to be like what the schools do. In cubs we made a simple radio with some copper wire and cardboard...it was really neat and the kids loved it. They don't do that kind of thing in school. Geocaching, model rockets, drones, amateur radio, aviation, these activities fit right in to the scouting program without being too "academic." I understand the reasons for sticking to core activities like fishing and camping, but a little STEM thrown in might be just the thing to keep some of these techhie boys (like mine) invested in the program.
  23. Struggling to stay in Scouts

    Jumping back in to answer a few questions. My son was 10 and 7 months when he crossed, they did Webelos and Arrow of Light in one year, so technically he was eligible. Also, there are no hard age restrictions for the events, but many of the physical activities (similar to those described by Hedgehog) are out of his capability or interest. If it wasn't for his friend in the patrol, I'd consider quitting and trying again when he's 13 or so. To those of you out there with agressive, physical, athletic boys, it's not the same for the less mature, quiet, non-athletic boys. I'm sure some may be tempted to chalk this up to parenting but that's just not the case. I've put him in sports since he was 3 and the other kids just run circles around him. He technically doesn't have a disability, but he's been in physical therapy in school to help build his muscle tone. I don't see him doing a 50-mile anything for a couple years at least. We loved Cub Scouts, like I said before, but the transition has been sudden and hard, and it's just not working right now. And yeah, I'd really like to see a separate transition program for kids between Cubs and Scouts, or at least for the BSA to stop the early crossovers.
  24. Struggling to stay in Scouts

    They have mixed age patrols, but he does have one friend from his cub den in his patrol. They haven't been specifically excluded per se, but I think most of the trips and activities have been skewed towards the older boys.
  25. Struggling to stay in Scouts

    Thanks for all your thoughtful replies. I'm thinking we will stick it out for at least this year, and participate in a few, but maybe not all, activities. I'm not going to push this but we will try and stay connected. Next year we'll reconsider summer camp, and if things aren't working out we may look at a new troop. At some point he has to start taking initiative and liking it on his own though, and not because I'm forcing him to go. Like any activity, there has to be a balance between "making a kid do something that's good for them" and "not being a quitter just because things get hard" and the converse, "forcing a kid to do something they hate."