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First class in first year - or not

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So, it was asked of all the scouts who just crossed into the troop, if they wanted to go for first class in first year.


They all said yes of course.


But what if this isn't practical or obtainable ? What if a scout changes his mind?



When asked what my view of advancement was, I said that I will help and encourage the scouts to advance as much as they wanted or were ready for. I will not plow them through, nor will I hold them back. I will work with each boy at his potential and however fast he decides. I will encourge them, but not demand of them. I am not going to be a slavedriver, not am I gonna have a "I don't care" attitude.


Each boy will be in control of how fast he advances, but I will offer gentle encouraging supportive pushes here and there when needed.


I personally would rather see a scout age out as a scout and had a great time in scouting and learned alot than for it to just be a perent induced miserable experience of checklists of ranks recieved for a future resume.


I want them to really enjoy it, which will in turn be a natural and fun way of advancing anyways.



So, here is my question:


If the boys follow the first year to first class schedule, and then decide that they do not really want to reach first class in the first year( for whatever reason) is this still a good plan to follow, or do you drop the plan,step back and just concentrate on each rank's requirements?


I know that some things are intertwinned. But other than those?


Not saying that any scout has decided this yet( only had 3 meeting so far) but I want to plan ahead and have a course of action ready ...just in case.

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Back when I was a scout, we didn't have a push for First Class First Year. But I just pulled out my old Scout Handbook, and I joined the troop in Feb 1980 and was First Class in March 1981. Granted, some requirements have changed, and I haven't really compared rank requirements back them to now, but without a push, I think it's entirely feasible that a scout could be First Class in a year.

I don't believe in pushing the Scouts, though. My son just crossed over a month and a half ago, and I've told him that from now on, his advancement is entirely up to him. I'm there to support him, I will advise him, but I will not push him.

Still, the T-SC-FC requirements are pretty much the basic scout skills, and that's something that should be taught to Scouts from the beginning, and continually reinforced.


We shouldn't, as adult leaders, push the scouts into earning rank. That's not what Scouting is about. It's one of the purposes and methods, yes, but it's not the primary focus. I'm all for letting them progress at their own rate, with encouragement, but not pushing.


Of course, with most of it being the basic scout skills, odds are they are going to earn the ranks before they even realize it.


As a Cub Scout Day Camp Director, my goal has been for the Cub Scouts to earn belt loops and rank requirements as a secondary to having fun. Fun is what it's all about, but if they happen to get some stuff signed off while doing so, that's even better!

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As I am reminded of one of my favorite movie lines, "... them be just guidelines...."


The FC1Y plan also helps the PLC plan outings and give the Troop Guide usually assigned to the new Scout Patrol a path.. if they know the New Scout Patrol needs "fire building" and a "hike" for advancement, they can plan for it, versus deciding to do something else.


So other than the Scout/parent knowing what the first year will be like (in general), all the gloves come off once they start coming to meetings as far as advancement goes... each to his own pace anyway... the ones who don't show up at Troop meetings regularly or don't go on outings fall behind....


It's the parents this needs to be made clear to I find. They had been used to the den moving forward as a group for the last couple years.

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The spreadsheet you speak of is just a trackin sheet. The book works just as well. If the sheet has dates on it(added by troop or other???) ignore the dates and let the scout work at their own pace.


If a boy wants to get first class within the first year, let them know that means the best way to do that is to attend all the meetings, go on the campouts, participate and listen, and then when they think they've done something find someone to sign off (may be troop guide or SM/ASM depending on the troop). Make sure they understand they can work on each of those first ranks at the same time or out of order.


If they do the above, paying a bit of attention to their books, they should advance just fine.


Make sure the parents know that it's normal for the boy to do one of two things, goof off, or go at breakneck speed for a bit. some will push (and parents will push) as if it's a race to get rank first in the patrol or group of new crossovers, or that they are still in cub scout mode spelling out everything for their kid and trying to figure out how to check off all the boxes and count things for more than once achievement and get it done. A lot of kids seem to want to play and goof off and get to know the other guys and did I mention goof off. They have been pencil whipped thru cubbies for so much that they are either waiting for the adults to spoon feed them the stuff (which they shouldnt do) or are sooooo relieved to be out from under the adult's thumbs that they aren't really sure what to do so they goof off.


and that is normal.


the biggest indicator of 1st class IMHO is the scout has been attending stuff and paying attention enough to realize that in the course of the year they've done everything in that trail to first class just by going and participating.


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Personally I oppose a goal to frog march new boys to 1st Class in a year. That's a formula either for disappointment or watering down advancement skills.


Providing structured opportunities to meet requirements --- that's fine.


When I was Scoutmaster thirty years ago, it often took boys 2-3 years to complete First Class.


I recall one boy whop was petrified of swimming. He didn't want to come close to the edge of a pool. It took him several years before who worked up his courage to take swimming lessons and overcome those fears. I still have a vivid recollection of him popping up from underwater next to me at a pool swim with a big grin on his face.


Some things can't be rushed.




Seattle Pioneer

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50 years ago, I left scouting as a youth at second class. I had been in for 4 years and wasn't going anywhere with the leadership at that time. I know of no one during that 4 years in the troop that attained Eagle.


It wasn't just the troop either. I spent 4 years in Cub Scouts and only attained Bear.


It was a whole different world back then.



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This may not be a popular position here on the forum, but I have always told my scouts and parents that I thought the First class rank was the most important rank in Scouting. In means the Scout is capable of taking care of himself. The further ranks are more about leadership. In our troop, when I took over as SM, the First Class/First Year mantra was thrown out. I saw too many scouts before then barely capable of putting up a tent that were first class.


Interestingly enough, our Troop grew over the years when this policy was put in place. Our Scouts LEARNED and became proficient in what they learned. Yep, most of them did make it in their first year, but that's because we had a campout every month, we worked with them, their patrol leaders worked with them. They learned.

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Advancement is only one method....


What do the boys want?


I dont have a problem with a motivated scout workin advancement. I do have a problem with adults and leaders forcing them thru advancement.


Have them plan their outings.....have fun...attend a week long summer camp and you will be surprised how quickly they advance without being forced.

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I don't remember a first class schedule, is that a troop thing? Like Gwd, first class in our troop is recognition of having the skills and confidence to survive in the woods. There was no timeline or schedule for us, but we did push to have a program that wouldn't get in the way of the most aggressive scout. It's rare that two boys would be so alike that they would individually complete all the 1st class requirements in the same order.


We encouraged our scouts to practice the traits of setting a goal to complete each requirement, make a plan to complete the requirements and then initiate then plan. Scouts who learned and followed those traits tended to earn Eagle because they learned a process of accomplishing long range goals one little step at a time.


What I'm saying is use the rank requirements to teach some basic life skills. let the scouts set the schedule.

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As a parent I would hope that the troop/patrol schedule would allow a person to advance through to First Class in one year. I'd hope that because if a scout, my son in particular, can demonstrate mastery in the skill in one year then they can continue on to other things in scouting. Whether my own son can do that in a year or not I'm not sure. But the key I think is multiple opportunity, that is a lot of opportunity to camp, hike, explore, and be challenged. I think it is also worthwhile for the troop to do this also since it gives everyone a chance to lead and excel or fail and learn.


But then it's called boy scouts and not "exceptionally mature for their age" scouts. I hear a lot about the fact that we need to keep things fun. Unfortunately for adults we have to have this ability to have fun while working and be able to pass that on to our kids.


When I take my sons hiking I like to put it this way. Every hiking trip can be a slog in a bog or a struggle up a hill, but every hike should have a mountain top moment (or hour) that makes the trip worth the going. We hardly ever remember the blisters but we do remember standing on a peak looking down on the clouds.


So program for FC1Y but expect everyone to go at a different pace, learn at a different pace. Everyone will get there eventually and breath easy, it's not cub scouting after all :)

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I would be curious to know what the average time is to each rank. As a boy I can't say that our troops were in any way advancement focused, but I know that many of us achieved first class by the end of the first year, if not Star. If anything I'd say the aim was to get to first class. Now that was the 80's. On the other hand my father left scouts at first class but was in for a few years in the 50's.


I'd say encourage the boys to plan the activities that allow a boy who attends and learns the material to get to first class within a year. If they take longer, that's fine, but I wouldn't set up a system that would take longer. Some boys will focus on the time frames and push to complete the ranks. I definitely did.


In the 90's I was a troop guide and typically we set up a schedule that allowed boys to progress through the initial ranks on time if they were focused.

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I am diametrically opposed to the FCFY philosophy. I am adamant that a scouting year provide at least two opportunities to pick up each 1st class skill. But don't think about micromanaging this. in an active troop it's very easy to naturally follow this rule of thumb.


Every month you ask your patrol leaders to identify a requirement that their boys have yet to meet. Then ask them, "What can we do to help those boys learn those skills?" 'Fish, in your case, this may mean by next month you show the natural born leader in your patrol your advancement chart and ask, "what do you guys want to work on next?" then walk the boy over to the SPL and ask if there is anything the troop can do to make this happen for the NSP.


For example, the boys may be interested in fire starting, and the SPL may know that Johnny Starscout is a real pyro! He might ask Johnny to give the boys some basic instruction, then hold some fire building competitions with the entire troop.


As the year proceeds it will become clear who is really owning that goal of getting First Class ASAP, and who is just going to take a year or two longer to get there.

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Chris as a parent you will no longer be signing off on your scouts advancement.....he will be required to demonstrate it to someone else, It maybe a youth or adult leader....


Plus if your resident camp has a trail to First class or first year scout program......I would hope the troop leadership does some quality control and just doesn't blindly sign off on the requirements. We had a problem with overwhelmed councilors and poor program.....


Timelines......People it takes what it Takes.....Some boys are great cooks, other great with rope, others camp craft. Some are even good at nothing.


I like to see my boys advance, but they are expected to have these skills. First class gets you to philmont, northern tier, jambo and sea base.......When a scout goes he is expected to have the advertised skills.

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