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Charlie Stevens

Scout Spirit

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We have a number of boy scouts in the troop who are preoccupied with how negatively boy scouting is perceived by the "cooler" kids in school. We have trouble getting them to "buy into" scouting and they even seem reluctant to wear their uniforms. These are guys that really enjoy the outings and many of them have become star scouts before this problem surfaced, but they would probably deny being a scout if asked by one of their peers at school. Do other troops have similar problems and are there suggestions as to how to deal with this?

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I have been with Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts for over 14 years and have encountered this remark many times. My approach is perhaps over simplified but, I have found, effective.

 

Our concern is with the boys who are interested in, active in, and enjoy Scouting - which for them is your Scouting program, the one offered by your Troop. I am not concerned with the boys in school who do not think Scouting is "cool" but with the ones who do. I encourage the boys in our Troop to talk to others (friends or not) who enjoy the same things our Scouts do regarding our Troop activities. Friendships are the cement of the Troop. Boys stay where their friends are. Word of mouth is the best advertising a Troop or Pack can have. The boys that do not think Scouting is cool don't know what we do. But when they hear that boys of all types are having fun going places and doing things on weekends,(and they are not) they begin to want to know more about Scouting.

 

It is a slow process and not effective in getting a majority of boys to try Scouting in a schort period of time - but then, you would not really want a hugh influx of boys all at one time who show up to go camping next weekend - would you? It has taken us a long time to get our communities and our country in the situation it is in now. It will take us a little while to fix it. Be patient and work with what you have and with whomever they can recruit. The Recruiter patch is an effective inducement for the Scouts.

 

Tell your Scouts that wearing the Scout uniform is what Scouting is all about. How would they feel if they needed a policeman but none wore uniforms - a Doctor, but none would admit they were one when you needed one. Being a Scout and wearing a uniform allows you to tell the world who you are and what you stand for. The values you represent. When leaders wear the uniform correctly and encourage Scouts to, you pass on the values of the Scout Oath, the Scout Law, and the Scout Promise. When they wear the uniform at Scout functions, they do also. You can not make decisions for them, but you can encourage them to make the right decisions for themselves through your example and your program.

 

In a nutshell, I worry about our program and how it can meet the needs of our Scouts instead of worrying about what some boys at school think. Scouting is always there for the boys who want to be a part of something good and fun.

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Scouting not cool? Mountain biking, backpacking, rock climbing, white water, wilderness survival ( like the new TV show )... you must be kidding? What kind of idiot wouldn't think Scouting was cool?

 

Believe me, I understand only too well. I got out of Scouts in the mid seventies, because I didn't think it was "cool". However, the "cool" people at that time thought drinking, getting stoned out of your mind, and sitting around wasting yourself and your life was "cool".

 

I agree with many points the previous respondent made, however your first job is to demonstrate that Scouting IS cool, not only to your Scouts, but to their friends as well. Are you doing the outdoor activities that are cool, like mountain biking? If you're not, START! Don't push the unifrom issue too much at first, push the cool stuff. Let the boys decide on some activities ( as thay should be doing ), and let them know why you want to prove that Scouting is cool to their friends. They are still your best resource.

 

Who knows - you may actually recruit some boys who don't now think Scouting is cool. And for the pot heads and losers who won't come to Scouting - some day, they'll be working for the ones who thought ( and still think ) Scouting is cool!

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There are always going to be kids that think scouting isn't cool. Those same kids have no clue what healthy, active troops do. If they did, they would find Scouts to be very cool.

 

I had some boys in my troop that had the same issues with Scout Spirit and peer pressure, these boys no longer have those problems. I asked the boys one simple question; "So, what do the people that give you a hard time do that is so cool?" They can't give me a good answer.

 

So they start to think about it and I continue. "How many miles have they hiked? Have they ever climbed a mountain? How about rapell down a mountain? Can thay climb that mountain with a full pack? Can they even pack a pack with all they need for a weekend? How about a week? Can they catch a fish? Can they cook that same fish over an open fire? How about swim a mile, canoe, kayak, or float a class 4 rapid? Have they made the world a better place for thier fellow man? Have they fed the homeless at a soup kitchen, taken part in a food drive or a blood drive? What about cleaning up a beach? How about the time we helped with that beach erosion conservation project?

 

The boys are stunned. I continue and drive the point home. "You have done all those things, and you did them with other boys. You planned all these trips yourself, not you parents. All the adults did was make reservations and arrange the transportation. You raised the money yourself, you packed all you needed and if you didn't have the skills, you learned them and help to teach those same skills to twenty other boys. Not only that you helped to make sure that our beach didn't wash away so other people could enjoy it. Did you realize the beach gets over 3 million visitors a year and make about 45 millions dollars for our city? What they heck have they done that can be any cooler than any one thing that you have?"

 

Now my boys say; "Hey Mr. Long, some kind tried to hassle me about being a Scout, what a looser!"

Then I tell them to invite the boy to a meeting, After all, no one likes to be a looser.

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It's a sad commentary on our times. Growing up in New Mexico wasn't the easiest thing I ever did. I was put down for being a Scout all through elementary/middle school. But in high school things changed. I am now a college junior majoring in Public Relations and am a third generation Eagle Scout. I don't personally have a "miracle cure" for the way Scouts are perceived by their own peers. The truth of the matter boils down to the fact that those who are Scouts are a notch above the others. Those who choose to put down Scouts, are definitely part of "the superficial insecure crowd", not the "cooler" crowd by any means. Scouts need to be brave--one of the 12 points of the Scout Law I might add--and in due time, they will find their niche and flourish. If the Scouts would devote time to what they want in their life and not what others think, they will be better off. I think parents ought to hone in on this too. My dad is an Eagle Scout and I looked up to him and knew that I couldn't let other opinions drag me down. Just another case of survival of the fittest!

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Your kids are not out of touch with most kids in America. What adults need to remember is that this is a problem Scouting has delt with for a long time. When kids stay in Scouting it is because the program of the local Scout troop is going places that are "neat" or "cool". The other thing that helps is when the local program (Church sponsor etc) develops a venture program that the younger kids cannot join until they are 14 or 15. When the younger Scouts see where these Scouts are going, and on a regular basis (places like Charles Sommer canoe base, Philmont, and the Sea Base) they stay around so they can join when they reach the desired age. Use the older boy program to hold the younger scouts. You might even put a rank (such as Star or Life) as a requirement, but you might let the older Scouts decide what the joining requirements should be. Remember that the exciting program is the key to building Scout Spirit..

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I think most boys think that it is the Uniform not the program that is not cool. My son who is an Eagle Scout and a sophomore in college used to look for reasons not to wear his uniform. However he rarely missed an opportunity to praise the

scout program to his friends. most of them thought that the things that he knew how to do, wilderness survival/no trace camping, winter tent camping, swimmong, canoeing and the like, were very exciting. Now that he is an "adult" Scout he has more Scout spirit than he ever had as a youth. So I think all boys in the program have Scout spirit to a greater or lesser degree, it just takes longer for some of them to realize it.

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When I was in High School, my scout troop was raising money to go to the summer olympics in Montreal, Canada. I remember that I had geography class right after lunch. One of our fundraisers was selling chocolate bars. My teacher, Mr. Guillani was real cool about me selling them and letting the kids eat during his class. The one stipulation was I had to tell everyone who I was selling the candy for and why. I got razzed as soon as I said it was for scouts. But once I told everyone why, their mouths just stood open. I told them of other things we did, hiking at West Point, camping at Assitegue (sp?) every year, horseback riding in Wyoming, winter camping, canoing etc. While it didn't entice a lot of people to join, scouting was no longer uncool. (By the way, this was girl scouting) The one kid who was the loudest about it not being cool, was quickly put in place when everyone found out that his sister (most popular in school) was a scout. At least until I graduated from High School, scouting was looked at in a different light. I went on to be a brownie leader for many years to give back what I had gotten, now I have three sons, a second year Webelos and a Wolf. The youngest can't wait. I don't know about the older guys and the wearing of their uniforms, but right now my guys love to wear it. They get a lot of comments about their arrow points and the pins on their hats and the loops on their belts. I hope it continues.

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I'm a scout and i get made fun of cause i'm in scouts one thing these losers don't understand is. Its ok to play sports but when you get farther on in life where is that sports going to get you absolutely nowhere where as the skills you learn in scouting will always stay with. Plus if you are an Eagle Scout Thats going to get you a scholarship but sports unless your really really good, and most of the kids that tease are sports kids that when they get farther on and sports gets them nowhere then they will hope that they went the way that "loser" went and now is having a good education.

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