Jump to content

What if there was GASP no advancement?

Recommended Posts

We have had fun (at least I have. It is just a virtual campfire among friends, right?) with the last couple of threads debating the use of pen and paper while at the same time describing similar ways of running programs in every other way. So just for a little more fun, what if the next handbook came out with no rank advancement at all?


I know it's pure folly on my part, but it would seem to me everything a boy gets from advancement he can get through the other seven methods. Imagine if you will:

* A COH where a Scout's experiences of the last few months were highlighted, not his latest patch.

* No discussions with loving but uninformed parents, great people all, that want to know why their boy's Pop-Tarts didn't get him 2nd Class.

* FCFY replaced with, well, camping.

* One less thing for all of us to argue about (But I'm sure we could find something to take its place :) ).


Thinking about the boys, I really think if you ripped the last 20 pages out of the BSHB, not only wouldn't many of them notice, the ones that will might look at the pages in the book not listed to show you were the requirement answers reside.


And if you think about it, how many boys in your troop do you know that use rank to figure out who's who? If a young scout wants to learn a tripod lashing, he doesn't go looking at shirt patches. He talks to hopefully his PL, but if not an older boy and asks who knows his stuff as far as knots go.


Like I said, this is a post for posting sake, but I would be interested to know the thoughts of many around our forum.


P.S. This could be an idea detrimental to the Troop Trailer Eagle decal salesmen.


Link to post
Share on other sites

Isn't that program called Venturing :)


Seriously though, I don't know. Advancement has been with us since BP started the program in 1907. While some problems might be solved with no advancement, NO MORE FCFY and debates on "One and Done vs A scout mastering a skill, YEAH!!!!! ;). I think we may end up like Girl Scouts, and start dying off.


Let's face it, folks like to be recognized for their achievement. It's human nature to want to learn something or do something and be recognized. Scouting allows that.


One problem I've seen with teenagers and college students today is that they expect things to be handed to them. And unfortunately that is starting to creep into scouting as some of the discussions are showing. And that is a problem.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Boys like to receive talismans of achievement. Getting rid of advancement would be a major blow to Scouting.



But it's not going to happen.


More of an issue would be changing what kind of things are recognized. That probably is and certainly could cause mischief.




Link to post
Share on other sites

As I think I mentioned in the other thread, we don't give boys patches as he learns different plays in football, different pieces of music for the band, or his part in the school play.


If eliminating advancement would kill the program as mentioned here, I'm not sure if that says more about the program or the participants.


Advancement was the only reason I stayed in scouts as a boy, because the program was incredibly boring but I had come too far to give up. It is only upon my later reintroduction that I've realized what the program is supposed to be.(This message has been edited by 83eagle)

Link to post
Share on other sites

A very good thought experiment.


Realistically we would lose half Troop; roughly the ones who dont camp a lot and go to the MB academies heavily. I think their would be heightened interest in SPL and PL positions since that would be the best way to show "status".

Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree with Eagle92 -


You just basically described Venturing. I think Venturing is a fantastic program, but: 1) It has a slightly different goal and focus from Boy Scouts and 2) Venturing hasn't really taken off.


Now I don't think the reason that Venturing hasn't taken off is entirely due to an absence of a rigid advancement structure (the reasons for that could be a separate discussion), but I do think that the boys place more emphasis on advancement than we may give them credit for. I think many boys that age DO enjoy earning achievements and being recognized for them, and the Advancement method is a good way for that to happen.


I'd also point out that while troops have an obligation to provide an advancement program, the Scouts in the troop are not obligated to make use of it. I remember one of my friends when I was a Scout - he stayed with the troop till he aged out, but lost interest in advancement after he got to Star. Nice kid, active in the troop, solid outdoor and leadership skills, but just wasn't interested in advancement. But of course, that's just one example - most Scouts did find advancement worthwhile.


It seems like there's some troops who over-emphasize advancement to the detriment of other program areas (I believe we call them Eagle Mills :-) ). But at the other end of the spectrum, there are adults who seem suspicious of any Scout who's motivated by advancement, and seem to want to come up with any reason possible NOT to sign off on a rank requirement. Well, advancement is SUPPOSED to be a motivational force, and I wonder why we want to start to penalize Scouts who are motivated!


So I guess my expectation is that doing away with Advancement all together will have an overall negative effect on the program. I'd rather see some energy put into refining the Advancement program, prior to scrapping it all together.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Though it is still a new change, our troop recently switched to boy-led with less emphasis on advancement and more on the other methods of scouting under a new scoutmaster. We've lost a third of our scouts and half the leadership. We also lost most of our behavior issues, both adult and scout. Hmm, related? The scouts who are left are committed and challenged by their new roles as real leaders. We will see how it goes.

Link to post
Share on other sites

When the kids were playing pre-K soccer, the teams did not keep score.

Scouting with no advancement would be tbe same. Older kidz want to keep score.

(In fact the Pre-K soccer players kept track of the score, in their head.)

Link to post
Share on other sites

"As I think I mentioned in the other thread, we don't give boys patches as he learns different plays in football, different pieces of music for the band, or his part in the school play."


No but we do give out varsity letters, trophies, etc when they achieve goals though. I remember getting my 4 letters in JROTC Drill Team once I qualified for, and competed with, the varsity drill team at the end of each year. And we even got trophies to boot. I got my cheerleading letter at the end of the year for making practices, going to camp (yes there is sucha thing as cheerleading camp) competing in a competition, going to all football and basketball games, and going to a city wide sports foundation fundraiser ( which was awesome b/c I got to see one of our alumni tearup when I thanked him for the scholarship bequest he gave as I was one of those on it). And I even got my letter for being on the chess team.


So even in sports there are physical rewards.

Link to post
Share on other sites



We are going through the same process. I will let you know what our loss rate will be...Most of the boys leaving are the poor camping "problem children" and I will not miss not dealing with the whining. I will miss not being able to turn them into more self-sufficient individuals.


I miss the loss of fellowship of some of the ASM's. I lost my "camping buddy" and feel a little lost. We agreed to disagree about the program and all that.

Link to post
Share on other sites

We've lost a third of our scouts and half the leadership. We also lost most of our behavior issues, both adult and scout. Hmm, related? The scouts who are left are committed and challenged by their new roles as real leaders. We will see how it goes.


Yah, hmmm... Brave of you and Tampa.


I've seen this process play out lots of times, eh? It tends to follow a similar pattern. Changes in leadership bring a more visionary set of leader to a program who aren't comfortable with da "advancement mill". Older boys who had been "successful" in the mill, many of whom are behavior issues get upset and quit, fade, or are nudged out. That generates some relief among other kids and parents, who renew or "up" their commitment.


Next round is with da parents of younger fellows who want da rapid advancement thing. Many parent tensions. Tough committee meetings. Bad behavior. Sometimes the SM is lynched and things go back to what they were, but now with a much smaller troop. Sometimes da parents lookin' for once-and-done move on. Sometimes problem parents "get it" with help from their son, or at least step back because their kid still likes it.


What follows then is a period of growth, where visitors recognize the energy/commitment/vision of da group and are attracted to it. Support is strong, youth enthusiasm high. Numbers grow, as does level of adventure.


Eventually, the SM/core parents get tired and fade or move on. New folks have less of a sense of da mission. New scouts and parents comin' out of cubs start pushing for more advancement like in cub scouts, and start complaining about da "old guard" who are adding to the requirements or gettin' in da way of their kids' advancement. Da old guard aren't as present and as good at communicatin', and are a bit set in their ways. More conflict ensues. Sometimes the old guard leaves and da unit returns to an adult-run advancement mill. Sometimes it melts down.


And da process repeats. :)


If yeh live long enough as a commissioner, yeh get to see this play out over and over again. Often in da same unit ;).


Some school districts I know have done away with Valedictorian and similar honors, just because they got sick of it. You'd be amazed da number of lawsuits and the cost to da district from having high school Valedictorians (or sports programs, for that matter. :p).


I think we could probably jettison 80% of Advancement and it would be a stronger program, just keepin' a few recognitions that seem holistic and natural.


Then we could spend more time arguin' about da uniform! :)




Link to post
Share on other sites

Sigh. There are troops like that. Some of "my" Scouts came from them. "My" Scouts aren't all interested in advacement, but the other 95% are. They are also interested in camping, doing service, and having fun. "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy," but what does all play make Jack? A scout who missed an IMPORTANT part of the program. You should read what BP said about advancement, and I don't have much time for folks who try to retcon BP. He was wise, and knew what he was about.

I'm a little ashamed of myself for even gettin sucked into this "Discussion." How about "What if we made the uniform a pink breechclout and a bone through the nose? "

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...