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FCFY - is it really possible?

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Indeed, "what is the rush?"


Waaaay back in paleolithic Scouting, (my son's term) when I was a Scout, I didn't know any better than what my Troop taught. We had "classes" during Troop meetings on the skills: Wigwag practice for Morse code, knot tying and lashing practice and speed games, compass and map reading (compass course around the church property), leafs and bark brought in for IDing. These were led/taught by older boys to us younger ones, OR by a dad who was especially knowledgeable. A volunteer fireman taught us first aid (could not earn MBs until FC!) as appropriate to the rank required. Neckerchiefs form bandages and slings.

When we went hiking or camping, there would always be a morning or afternoon session to "test" our skills. One Patrol might hike ahead across the valley and then we would wigwag to each other about what to have for dinner or which trail to take to get to where they were. First aid "accidents" along the trail. Cast animal tracks to ID. Lashings to do to "save" a valuable artifact. The older Scouts set these "tests" up. Again, the "tests" were done on the outings and the teaching was done during the meetings.

The testing AND the teaching were all fun. The challenge was the fun. Yes, every month we had at least one Troop activity (usually an overnight) and the Patrols were expected to have their own activity: a hike, visit to some special place, service project for the church CO, even a movie night. One of the inducements for the Patrols to get their own act together was a yearly contest: Each Patrol reported to the Troop what they had done the previous month, advancement was added up, uniform inspections were held, participation in Troop things was counted. Points were added up. Each year, the winning Patrol was given an all expense paid trip (camping trip, natch) to a special place, usually Assateague Island or Gathland State Park (the beach or the mountains?). The Troop dads put the trip together and did the cooking(!), the Scouts did the fun stuff.

First Class seemed to just happen, it was not choreographed or scheduled . Well, maybe it was, but us Scouts didn't notice. I don't remember being told " here's where you must earn your cooking requirement!" It was not rushed. We were not pushed, it just sort of happened. I didn't make FC til after my second year. The activities and campouts were so often that there was always an opportunity to build the fire or cook a meal. Yes, we were often reminded of rank requirements when the SM or PL signed off on a requirement card, but it was up to us to ASK if someone would pass on our requirement. I remember a long rainy afternoon in the backyard of a friend, where Eagle and Beaver Patrols helped each other build fires. Finding dry tinder was a problem! One of our ASMs was the dad in charge. I seem to remember that us Scouts had gotten together to ask if we could come by his house to practice building fires, not expecting it to rain that Saturday. Cooperation (one Scout holds his poncho over the fire area while his buddy starts a fire), knowledge (dry wood can be found inside a log), skill(get it all set first, then light it), trust (I helped him, he'll help me), scheduling (okay, Mr. D? Great!), perserverence (almost took that time...), alot of things were learned and practiced that day.

Make the opportunities, the ranks will take care of themselves.



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I'm still baffled at the bebafflement (is that even a word) over the concept of FYFC. I've yet to see anyone describe their program as a scheduled 52 week curriculum where the kids all sit in rows of chairs in a room while adults lecture and then they either take a test or simply get signed off for participating. Yet some folks seem to think that is what FCFY is and it seems to happen everywhere. Odd.


We utilize the concept, but there isn't a scout who has gone thru our program that would know what you are talking about if used the term. They would give you the same look you'd get if you talked to them about a bacon stretcher or a left handed smoke shifter.(This message has been edited by sr540beaver)

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Yah, OK. So SR540, there are 36 different First Aid skills required for T-2-1. If yeh use the FCFY concept and EDGE, then your troop's annual plan is set up in a way that allows each boy, if he so chooses, to hear an Explanation or two, watch a Demonstration or two, participate in a bunch of Guided practice, and then participate in more practice/fail/try again/fail/try again/ succeed for each of those 36 different requirements that he must demonstrate. Then, when he's learned, he gets tested. Individually.




So how do yeh do it?


When yeh sit with your PLC at your annual program planning conference, how do you incorporate EDGE for each boy for 36 first aid skills in a year? A skill per meeting (with practice when)? A few full-weekend first aid outings? TG's are issued a checklist?


Maybe I'm just gettin' old and dumb. So help out a fellow long-toothed furball.




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Wait, so you are abandoning your concern about the cooking?


A lot of those 1st aid skills dovetail. You wouldn't necessarily want to teach or practice them in isolation on 36 separate occasions.


One more time...I'm not a huge fan of FCFY but I don't know if your line of argument in this thread is really an effective one, Beavah.

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Wait, so you are abandoning your concern about the cooking?


Nope. Just raisin' all da things a troop needs to do as part of FCFY. A lad needs to learn cooking, and first aid, and navigation, and... that's a lot, eh?


I'm not a huge fan of FCFY but I don't know if your line of argument in this thread is really an effective one, Beavah.


Yah, could be. :) So refute it.


Tell us how your troop "dovetails" the 36 first aid skills so that each boy experiences all of EDGE and then gets an individual check-out in your program... in one year. And then explain how that is age-appropriate and successful for an average 11 year old and fits in with da other things like cookin'.


It all sounds great and easy until yeh actually get down into da details. Yah, sure, da First Class requirements for bandaging are all about bandaging, eh? But da bandages for the ankle, head, and collarbone are all very different, with different issues. Each one needs to be taught, and demonstrated, and practiced individually if it is to be learned. And then tested individually. How many times does a lad have to try before he gets a bandage right? How many times does he need to practice after that to get it down?


It's only when yeh get down into the details that you recognize that most units can't do what they claim for FCFY... or at least it's very, very hard. So most end up doin' something to fudge, and end up boys with rank who actually haven't learned much. But they think they're doin' good scouting because their boys get FCFY. Just like cub ranks.


I reckon that's why our National Jamboree was one of da largest mass casualty incidents in Virginia, eh? Even though every person there supposedly had learned da prevention, recognition, and treatment of heat injuries before they "got" Second Class Scout.



(This message has been edited by Beavah)

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I guess I am welcome to chime in here; after all I was the one who asked to discuss the the FCFY (or FCE) concept last week.


I have listened to what everyone here has said. My take is that we are getting our panties unnecessarily wrapped around the axle here. For one, as leaders, we are responsible to see that our scouts are getting an adequate program which meets our standards. There are many tools at our disposal, and we do not necessarily announce to the scout exactly what we are doing, which educational concepts are being used nor do we expect from our scouts a written evaluation how effectively we delivered the program to them.


Our methods are more subtle. We deliver program (in an organized and methodical manner) with the expectation that scouts will learn from these opportunities provided them. We don't say how it was organized, we just do it. Sometimes, scouts miss those meetings or campouts, and we hope they are responible enough to seek out their patrol leaders (or troop guides or other "experienced" scout) to learn the skills they lack. Other times it may take a little prodding to see that the PLs seek out their scouts who are missing requirements and encourage them in this direction.


Beavah, in the case of our troop First Aid skills are a poor example; however, I think it is a great example of how a FCE program can be implemented. One of our committee members is a PA and 25 year scout leader. He offers a First Aid Merit badge class at the end of the school year (before summer camp) for anyone who has not completed the badge. This class is handled in depth, and is no gimme for the scouts. It is often 3-4 Saturday sessions lasting 2-4 hours each, depending upon the number of scouts, skipped sessions and the like. No one is given the badge, but it is earned as the skills are demonstrated and "mastered," per the FA MB requirements. First Aid MB requirements cover completely the 2C and 1C rank requirements. This is the only formal class our troop promotes for merit badges, and there is a reason we treat this differently. We consider First Aid a necessary "life-skill." At any point in or out of scouting, a boy can be thrust into a situation in which a rudimentary knowledge of first aid can have great benefit, prehaps even saving a life (though most first aid situations are not life threatening). I have never read of a scout talking about how thankful he was to have taken the Citizenship in the Community MB because without that knoweldge surely his family would have perished in the situation they in which the found themselves. Sure we have scouts who cannot attend or prehaps not complete this class and the opportunity is provided them to make it up afterwards. Most importantly, we do review first aid skills periodically to reinforce what they have learned. Any scout who appears to be a little weak in this area is invited back to assist in the next FA MB class.


Lisabob hit the nail on the head, as did SR540Beaver. The scouts are exposed to the program, it is up to them to take up the reigns and go with it. No scout need be aware that we are giving them the tools to be a First Class scout in a year, or that that is our expectation. Neither our adults nor our scout leaders sit around the PLC and with the rank advancement requirements in front of us and say "How can we cover all this in the next 52 meetings?" or "Johnny and Frank don't have this done and they only have 6 more weeks before they have been in the troop a year--we need to get on this!"


I looked over my rank advancement cards last night, looking specifically at how long it took me to make 1st Class and every rank to that point. I crossed over to my boy scout troop in June of 1976; I missed summer camp that summer, but regardless, there were no "new scout" programs being offer at our summer camp then, just MBs and fun, so it didn't hurt me on my "road to First Class." It took me roughly 6-10 months to earn each rank to First Class which I completed exactly 2 years and 1 week after my Arrow of Light. Interstingly, back then, the First Aid skill award was required for 2nd Class and the First Aid MB was required for 1st Class.


Scouts are coming out of Webelos with their Advancement hand fed to them since they were a Tiger, 5 years earlier. Webelos in a good program will have a slightly different advancement experience their 4th and 5th grade years, but the diferences are subtle and not really like how it is handled in Boy Scouts. It is important to me that we wean them from these habits. Our way of doing this is to provide them strong opportunities to complete the Tenderfoot requirements and to encourage them to get them signed off by olders scouts when we see they have "mastered" these basic skills. For 2nd Class, again we provide skill learning opporunities, but we expect the scout to take much more initiative on learning and getting things signed off, and by the time they are working on 1st Class, we really do not push the scouts, as we expect them to be "self motivated" to advance at their own pace. After a year, however, troop outings (and the First Aid MB) summer camp and troop life have provided the scouts with the opportunity to be a first class.


It is not perfect, and it is not absolute. All but one of our current first year scouts is Tenderfoot; one is a Second Class, and the rest are close to completing Second Class (this 7-8 months in). All could be 1st Class by their anniversery date, but I expect that not every one will will have taken the initiative to finish it up. I stepped in as SM officially right at New Year's. One that year's first year scouts was still a Scout and the rest were Tenderfoot. All have now advanced one rank and all are just about to advance again. Two who are almost 1C almost are self motivated (but each lack a key requirement) and the others are close to 2C. I feel the troop is making progress.


Of our remaining 3 older scouts who are Life and closing in on 18, two took 2 years to earn 1C and one took 4 years. All are racing to finish Eagle. I believe 1 will almost certainly make it it, one will probably make it, but the other will have to work extremely hard to comeplete Eagle. I was not a part of the troop when they earned their lower ranks, so it would be pointless to jump to the conclusion that early rank advancement would have encouraged these scouts to make Eagle at a younger age, but who is to say it might not have?


Let me finish by saying that it is not all about Eagle (nor even about counting ranks). Sure we want our troops to be made of perfect, self motivating scouts who have flawless skills and make Eagle by whatever age you think is best for each of them; that is not the real world of scouting, and I do not believe any troop should be that way. Advancement is only one method of Boy Scouts, or you might say that advancement is one method by which we measure a scout's progress, but it is not the only way we do this. Interstingly, no where in the Boy Scouts of America Mission Statement or Vision Statement is advancement or Eagle mentioned or even suggested.

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Yah, good post, Buff. Doin' outside-meeting-time instruction and checkouts is one way to go, eh?


With your indulgence, though, I'm goin' to nitpick a bit to further illustrate my point, and see what you and others think.


It is often 3-4 Saturday sessions lasting 2-4 hours each... First Aid MB requirements cover completely the 2C and 1C rank requirements.


So for argument's sake I'm just goin' to take your averages: 3.5 sessions of 3 hours or an average of 10.5 hours when yeh do this.


Now, an ARC adult CPR class (with no AED training) will cover the T-2-1 CPR and heart attack signs and symptoms, includin' testing. ARC says that's a four hour class to do that with a 10:1 student:instructor ratio. Of course, that's teaching adults, but let's take it as a guide.


So that leaves you with 6.5 hours left to do all the other First Aid T-2-1 requirements, plus all of da additional First Aid MB requirements, eh? Explain 'em, demonstrate 'em, offer guided practice and scenarios, and then test 'em.


As a rough guess, that's 10 minutes per skill with no breaks.


ARC claims it take four hours to EDGE and test about 4 skills for adults - about an hour per skill or so. Their research also indicates that by and large they don't get useful mastery from adults in their first class (if useful mastery means they can do it when they need to).


So do we as scouters really believe we're doin' the job with kids 6 times better than ARC-trained instructors are able to do with adults?


I like da out-of-meeting instruction idea. I think it does what good MB relationships can do, eh? Gets a bunch of lads of the same level together with a skilled adult to really focus on something. But I suspect you're doin' a lot more than that to get your boys to real first aid skills in a year. Care to share what else?


Of course, then there's that pesky additional question: is a 2-4 hour class somethin' that really fits with Ages & Stages for an 11-year-old boy? :)



(This message has been edited by Beavah)

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Beavah -


Your points are very, very interesting, and have made me think a lot about teaching and time distribution.


However, I'd point out that not every skill has to be taught to every Scout using the EDGE system in order to be mastered. If a Scout practices a knot on his own, using the book and a parent to help him, tying it over and over until he masters it, and then shows his PL to sign it off at the next meeting, are you going to say "No - you didn't do it the EDGE way - I'm not going to approve that?" (I don't think you would, because you seem like a very reasonable guy. ;) )


I mastered a lot of those basic skills like that, working on my own. I didn't need to hear some grownup read the explanation of heat exhaustion right out of the Handbook - I'd nearly memorized it myself. I've also "taught" a lot of Scouts skills they already knew. For example, in teaching Pioneering MB, if the entire group already knows how to tie a bowline, I don't waste time going through the whole process, do I? I demonstrate it once, watch them do it, make sure they can tie it more than once and show me how it's used, and move on. It takes much less time than one would think.


My first example really brings up one of my major beefs with EDGE - it assumes a traditional teacher-student relationship, where one person has the knowledge and is seeking to impart it to those lacking. That approach ignores alternatives, including self-directed learning and group learning, that may work for some young people far better than instructor-student methods. Not all knowledge or skills come from on high.(This message has been edited by shortridge)

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OK, I'll play ball. I talked about the First Aid MB, where you were talking about the T-2-1 requirements. I consider the skill sets presented in a merit badge to be more advanced than what would be expected for rank requirements; not the same thing (exactly) but the overlap is significant. We're kind of comparing apples to cherries here; both are red fruit which grow on trees in similar climate zones and each can be found in my two my favorite pies--but they do not taste the same.


Merit Badges are not intended to make scouts experts on their associated topic. Yes, scouts must often demonstrate a degree of proficiency in the related skills. I earned the Architecture MB as a scout. I hardly remember a thing about the requirements, could not recall a one without rereading them after 30 years. I also earned the Printing MB. My father was a printer (he owned a one man shop with several presses), so it made sense to learn more about this field. I still retain much of this knowledge because of my repeated exposure over the years, but I could not run one of his offset presses to save my life. On the other hand, what I learned about layout, format, fonts, spelling and grammer, proofing and other related "printing" skills I use almost every day of my life, on and off my job (though they are certainly not of my job description).


I believe that scouts completing the T-2-1 requirements should have a basic proficency at these skills, and when signed off have demonstrated their understanding of how they are done. However, unless they are presented with opportunites to refresh and hone these skills, they will be lost. That responsibility is not the scouts, but falls generally on the unit and its leaders.


I can go on about this, but most everywhere I would take this would likely become a discussion about "either adding to the requirements," "who signs off advancement," or "re-testing at BoRs." And I don't feel that would be prudent, productive or necessary.


Near my house is a 4 lane divided road with a large landscaped median. There are no businesses and few houses (driveways) on the road, though several neighborhoods "back up" it. There are traffic lights only at each end, and over 1.5 mile stretch only 3 side roads on one side or the other as it winds around the airport property. Traffic on this road is regular but typically light. The speed limit was 45, but about 7 years ago the city changed it to 35. Most people still drive 40-45 on the road, but I drive right at 36, so I can set the cruise control (which will not work at 35 mph or below). I consider the 1 mph over the speed limit acceptable, as with the cruise control I will not accidentally find myself at 45 mph or higher.


Everything we as leaders do is a compromise of sorts. We must look at all the elements involved and find the balance we want to instill in our scouts. This is not so different than how we live our lives. I expect that our scouts are demonstrate a proficiency in their rank skills. Then I work with the PLC and see that our troop as a whole has the opporutnity to practice these skills over the years to reinforce what they have learned. I do not expect perfection every day until their 18th birthday. But I do hope they retain the proficiency we have tried to instill in them, prehaps for years to come, just as my Scoutmasters, Skipper, SPLs and MBCs did with me.


[edit: sorry, I made some gramatical errors and didn't proof it as thoroughly as I usually do](This message has been edited by Buffalo Skipper)

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However, I'd point out that not every skill has to be taught to every Scout using the EDGE system in order to be mastered.


Yah, quite right, shortridge. Some self-motivated lads are goin' to dig into the Handbook and the Fieldbook and go out campin' in their backyard, eh? Or at least we hope we inspire 'em to!


Point of FCFY, though, is that the troop provides the instruction and opportunity to each boy, eh? So as several folks here have pointed out, it's not sayin' whether any particular boy will be slow or fast, just that the troop is providing the program to each boy. That's where I think we're foolin' ourselves.


As we see from posts here, the majority of folks seem to have lads finishing First Class closer to 18 months, even when they're trying to work FCFY. And I reckon many if not most of us would report some stuff that agrees with BadenP, eh? Folks rushin' so that the boys get the patch but really don't get da skill. So our live experience seems like it agrees with my skepticism.




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Beavah, normally I'm a big fan of your posts, but here I feel like you are setting up a straw man so that you can knock it down. Anyone who posts a potential solution to your question is almost certainly not going to get the Scouts to meet your desired level of expertise.


Do we do FCFY? Yes. As Lisabob suggests, the boys who are active will get it, and those who are not as active will take longer.


I'll tell you what we do for the cooking and first aid requirements, although I'll admit right up front the Scouts undoubtedly do not retain the information to the extent that you might hope. But all the requirement says is "Demonstrate first aid for..." and we pretty much use that standard.


We do a new Scout campout where we take them through a bunch of basic skills. We have a small group of older Scouts come along as instructors - and we go over axeyards and starting fires and tying knots, intermixed with various fun activities. We work with them prior to the campout to plan their Second Class meals and they all do them at once. Then they'll take turns rotating the position. We might have six or seven boys in a patrol, so the five active ones will all get the requirement done within six months.


For first aid, we use the troop meetings more. We have some relatively skilled adults who work with the Scouts on the skills. But yes, we don't repeat it enough times for it to sink in as part of their long-term memory. They're going through the skills way faster than one per hour. But it doesn't take that long to put one bandage on.


There are some opportunities on other campouts to work on advancement as well. We've had times where we'd have the guys do one hour of advancement stuff in the morning - see which patrol can knock out the most advancement items in that time (I realize that I'm setting myself up for criticism on that one - but a lot of items can be done acceptably while being done quickly). The adults going on a trip can check on which Scouts are not first calss yet and can see who needs to do what.


We've done a troop drug program around the campfire. We've done swimming requirements on a patrol camping trip. Sometimes we'll do a separate night from the troop meeting and ask anyone who needs any swimming requirements to come. We worked on things at summer camp during the down time hanging around camp.


I guess I'd say our key to doing it is to use camping trips to full advantage.

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Got to agree with Oak Tree and it's one of the reasons I haven't gone into great detail. Beavah, You've always been a supporter of the program belonging to the charter and not having to adhere to the "letter of the BSA law". Why the about face on FCFY? You know as well as everyone here that every troop is different. There are troops out there with 5 scouts who get 1 crossover every couple of years and there are troops like mine with 6 boys who get 20 crossovers per year. We can both apply the concept of FCFY, but we are going to take totally different approaches to getting there. For instance, meal planning. With 20 boys, it would take the next couple of years to get them signed off if we adhered to the letter of the law. Instead, our troop guides teach the material and skills needed for doing the planning. What we have them do is take a patrol menu planning sheet and they have to design the menu and create the shopping list. The NSP can't do 20 weekend menues in a year. So we check their work to make sure they get it and can do it for an upcoming campout while in the NSP or when they move to a regular patrol. We have pretty good luck with retention, so they will have plenty of opportunities over the coming years to refine the early lessons they demonstrated knowledge or ability on. If the requirement says demonstrate, they have to do that without hemming, hawing and stammering thru it. But they don't have to be able to field strip and clean an M-a6 blindfolded with live rounds whizzing past their ears.


I've never seen an official authorized BSA FCFY program and have no idea if one exists that lays out weekly meeing plans and monthly outing plans to walk a boy thru T2FC in exactly 12 months. What I have seen is plenty of troops design their program so each requirement is covered during an annual program to make it available to a boy to accomplish. THAT is FCFY to me.

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