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SN95GT50

Trail to First Class

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As an ASM for five years and a SM for five years I have seen a lot of scouts come and go. IMO, most 13 year old Eagles look upon their scouting experience more as of an academic exercise rather than an experiential one. They rarely participated in events like the OA, High Adventure camps, etc., held POR's only for as long as it was required to move up in rank, doing the minimum required to squeak by. At their EBOR's most of them lacked the maturity to really understand what their accomplishment meant. When asked what motivated them to become a Eagle most replied something like, "my dad and grandad were Eagles and they expected me to do the same." or "My mom and dad pushed me to become Eagle." again like the experience was just another requirement for them in life, but it held no personal meaning to them.

 

In the councils I served, excluding LDS scouts,95% of the 13 year old Eagles left scouting shortly after receiving their award. There were a few exceptions to this trend, but they were very few. This was a while back when 13 year old Eagles were few in number. Today 13 year old Eagles are much more commonplace, but their lack of maturity and their leaving scouting right after getting their Eagle is still a serious problem to the program. Boy Scout rank advancement in many troops has erroded to become an almost entirely academic experience which has been reinforced by National's changes to advancement over time, and a lack of vision for the future. When I hear a scout bragging that he earned every merit badge or got his Eagle by 13 I have to wonder what kind of memories of his scouting days he will truly remember, trips camping in the woods, jamborees, high adventure canoeing , mountain climbing, sailing on the ocean, OR sitting in a building getting a myriad of requirements signed off each week and very little experience in the outdoors at all.

 

What kind of legacy is the BSA truly leaving to future generations???

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We have been leaning pretty hard on Eagles to "give back" to the Troop for leadership and training. The best ones do. We try to stroke their egos that the younger boys look up to you and Eagle Scout means more to others inside scouting than out.

 

Also a few comments at COH to parents that this not the place for your boy to pad his college application and that there is a very nice Eagle Factory right down the road, thank you very much.

 

Another problem with "Eagle Dropouts" is that the parent often drops out about the same time and if they were a treasurer or key committee member you got another hole to fill.

 

 

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We had our Board of Review last night and 7 of the 15 advanced from Scouter to Tenderfoot, one from Scouter to Tenderfoot to 2nd Class.

 

Our intention as a Troop is not to be an Eagle Scout factory as someone put it (we don't even have any Eagle Scouts, yet).

 

Camp Geiger did not sign off the Scouts book, instead they give us a form for each Scout identifying what they worked on. We will use that as a guide line as they show us proficiency and then we will sign off the book.

 

The one Scout that attained 2nd class is pretty impressive, I am the one that signed off most of his requirements. I am fairly accustomed to turning Scouts away who ask to have something signed off when they are "winging it" and having them actually learn and become proficient with the material. This can be common on requirements like the three R's and leave no trace. They believe what they learned in Cub Scouts will let them skate through, nope. This Scout is proficient in everything I have signed off for him. He is a great kid and deserves his rank.

 

I have appreciated the responses,

John

 

 

 

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Well it seems you have it all figured out.

 

For one guy to check all of the boys off on their requirements in a couple of meeting nights is impossible with out help.

 

I don't care, just guessing you just took the sheet and check them off and then posted to this forum the question as an after thought. just sayin

 

 

 

 

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BP - as always you missed the point.

 

The point is ... a good scout, in an active unit, who is dedicated to scouting can do it. Can all scouts, no. And, it is NOT a problem with the implementation of the program, if I could do it in 1969, then a dedicated scout could do it today, AND be a quality first class scout, regardless of age.

 

We need to stop saying "no it can't be done." Yes, it can. Just not every Scout can accomplish it. It is not a norm, but, it is not impossible.

 

(This message has been edited by UCEagle72)

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While some troops may have been pushing scouts to 1st class in a year for some time, the real push came from national 20 years ago. BSA was concerned about loss of membership and commissioned a study that included interviews with boys who had left scouting. Among other things, the study concluded that boys who completed 1st class in their first year were more likely to stick around. Now I never saw the original study and cannot comment on any flaws in its methodology. However, it is not obvious what is cause and effect regarding retention.

 

Certainly a boy who wishes on his own to advance rapidly should not be held back. I have never met a 13 year old eagle, but it is safe to assert that such a scout misses a great deal.

 

Anyway, the word came down that units should push their new scouts to 1st class in a year if at all possible. Also, most troops adopted the new boy patrol concept, or at least those troops in our area did so. Summer camps also responded with programs for new scouts to the extent they were not already doing so.

 

Is scouting better off or worse off? I don't know.

 

I like the idea of unit leadership retaining the authority to actually decide and retest skills after summer camp.

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Yah, UCEagle72, I think everyone recognizes that there can be exceptions, particularly for First Class. A lad who grows up in an outdoorsy community in a family who does a lot of camping and backpacking might come in as an 11-year-old and really have all of the skills down solid.

 

That's a different thing than it being the case for many or most kids. So when we're talkin' about programs, which I think is what da original poster was asking, it's appropriate to evaluate. And if yeh have an exceptional lad in a troop, there's always the question of whether it's better to move him through things faster or instead to be more of a mentor and challenge him to do things deeper. I confess I like the feel and results of the second better.

 

I think, too, that things are different now from our era in a lot of ways. Cub rules prohibit camping we used to do as cubs. Most kids don't play independently outdoors, instead they are driven to play dates and organized, adult-run activities. Adult outdoor knowledge is a bit less, too. Lots of stuff.

 

I'm also not with Oak Tree on the view that ranks are just a basket full of unrelated requirements to be checked, eh? Rather, I think it's best to think of 'em as coherent... as representing a defined step on ds road to a unit's goals for character and fitness and citizenship development. I think that's the BSA's view as well, at least historically. Proficiency, the BSA standard, requires yeh to be able to integrate the various requirements to be able to do things on your own or with your patrol.

 

That's just me, eh? But it's how I try to help scouters think about stuff so that they have a shared vision for their program that their boys and parents can understand (and learn from). There's no vision in a check-off exercise of a bunch of isolated tasks.

 

Beavah

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Yeah, so I'm not really disagreeing with what Beavah says here.

 

shared vision for their program that their boys and parents can understand (and learn from).

 

I do indeed talk about the progression through ranks as a coherent journey, especially when talking with parents and at courts of honor. The thing is, that's a vision. I can't objectively measure how the Scout is doing at completing a vision - I have to measure how he's doing against the actual written requirements. I can evaluate how the BSA is doing at crafting requirements that implement that vision (the requirements are easier than I'd like), but I can't (or at least, don't want to) try to evaluate whether the boy is a "complete Scout". I think that's when you get into a lot of the uglier situations where people complain that the Scoutmaster is artificially holding back their son.

 

I realize that I do disagree with how Beavah would run a troop, and I like the traditional model. I think that an easier thing to do with a smaller troop, where the Scoutmaster can give individual attention to each Scout. With a much larger troop, the Scoutmaster has to communicate the actual bar to all of the ASMs and any Scouts who can sign off. To do this, I'd probably have to put it in writing. Then I'd get accused of "adding to the requirements" if I didn't word it really carefully.

 

I'll take it under advisement, though. A stronger knowledge of the basic skills is something that some parents expect - I'm ambivalent about that.

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UC EAGLE

 

No one ever said it can't be done, especially in these days of watered down requirements, the question is what kind of scout will it produce. In most cases it will be an Eagle with poor scouting skills and understanding little to nothing of what he did learn. In addition it will be a very limited number of outdoor experiences since he is too busy studying and getting you to sign off his book every week. In other words an immature stunted Scout with little to no understanding of what being an Eagle really means. In summation the result is a pathetic product of yet another Eagle Mill Troop. UC, you know deep down what I said is true for the vast majority of 13 yo Eagles, whether you want to man up to it or not. Maybe it even hits close to your own experience.

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BP ==

 

I was a 14 year old Eagle ... and went on to do the trail at Philmont, staff at summer camp, earn my religious award, two silver palms, and be active in OA, go to Jambo, etc. Trust me, it is not "close to home."

 

I knew my Scoutcraft skills, and so did the Scouts in my Troop as SM by the time they made First Class. But, I, was not a self appointed scouting zealot who held back young men because I felt they were too young. If they had the chops and the skills, they were promoted.

 

And, I will repeat, no all young men are ready that young. But when you find one, don't stick artificial obstacles in front of them, just so YOU feel they are ready.

 

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UC

 

As I said there are always exceptions to the norm, but in the case of 13yo Eagles, in my own experience few met the standards for Eagle, and even fewer had a solid outdoor experience or skills knowledge, but were rather rushed through the Eagle Mill process which has really hurt the boy scout program and cheapened the value of the Eagle.

 

Not setting up obstacles but really meeting the requirements for the Eagle, which should be held to a higher standard. IMO these days too many boy scout leaders are just giving the ranks away by shortcutting, bypassing, or altering the requirements, and not holding the boys accountable for what they were supposed to have learned.

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"As I said there are always exceptions to the norm, but in the case of 13yo Eagles, in my own experience few met the standards for Eagle, and even fewer had a solid outdoor experience or skills knowledge, but were rather rushed through the Eagle Mill process which has really hurt the boy scout program and cheapened the value of the Eagle. "

 

There is only one standard, always has been: Did he satisfy the requirements? If so, then he has met the standard.

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bnelon

 

That one standard for Eagle has been altered, fudged, reinterpreted, ignored, and abused for years by troop leaders. Scouters read what they want from a handbook and make their own personal interpretation as to whether or not the boy has met the mark. In Eagle Mill troops that I have seen firsthand their boys fall way short of the "standard", but all that is important to the leaders is how many Eagles the troop produces, and keeping mom and dad happy. These type of scout leaders and the Eagles they produce are a sad commentary as to the quality and fitness of the boy scout program today, especially the Eagle program, and unfortunately their numbers are increasing each year. Thank goodness for those few troops still in exsistence that run a more traditional scouting program and really make sure their Eagles have truly met and even exceeded the "STANDARD".

 

There are no checks and balances in place in the field, council,or National to insure that the "Standard" has truly been met. So your premise bnelon while true in theory is not the reality of what is happening in the field.

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BadenP, which "Standard" do you believe is not being met by many Eagles? Is there a particular requirement that is not being fulfilled?

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Summary...

 

We are all volunteers and doing the best we can. Just like driving on the interstate, eveyone driving slower than me is an idiot and anyone driving faster than me is also an idiot. Unfortunately everyone feels that the level that they interpret the standards is perfect and everyone else is either too fast or too slow.

 

I can say that at times i felt that I was too hard on a Scout and sometimes too easy. I try to use that experience to adjust and in the end I can sleep well knowing that I am doing my best and hope that these Scouts are better off with my efforts.

 

Keep up the good work all of you, it is appreciated.

 

John

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