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First class in first year - or not

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Scoutfish, I was given a plan by a trainer at Woodruff that while it was a sample plan by another Troop was handed out by a person that claimed to be on the advancement committee and helped edit the handout. It showed how to do 30-count 'em-30 FCFY "check offs" the FIRST campout!


I am all for providing the activities and opportunities and review, review, review. Most of our reviews are via Patrol competitions. I think we need to do more hands on at the meetings.


We try to get the older boys to do some of the training for the newbies but they are a distinct minority...the older boys seem less and less interested and it affects camping attendance. I am aware you schedule separate, more ambitious activities for the older guys but it really complicates logistics for the adults.

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A goal of FCFY is a bit like a goal of all boys making Eagle. Both are noble goals, but whether they are realistic, and whether they are in the boy's best long term interest is up for debate.


BSA provides conflicting goals - 1) FCFY; 2)follow the 4 steps of the advancement method.

If a unit chooses FCFY, then as Beavah and others have pointed out, the learning component cannot be done well, because it typically takes longer than 1 or 2 exposures to learn (and I am not talking about "mastery" here, just a scout simply being able to do by himself without coaching).


If a unit chooses to follow the 4 steps to advancement, then the learning component places FCFY out of reach for all but the exceptional boys.


As an aside, from observation (so by necessity is anecdotal), my experience is that boys in ther first year or two are motivated by awards, even when given for having done an activity without real learning. A culture develops of "did that, don't need to do it again" - which is what OGE is addressing when he states that skills should be included in the program outside of the need for advancement requirements. I found that this culture is difficult to change.


As boys age, most are no longer motivated by awards from adults that are of a "did something, here is a patch" variety. And some avoid taking on responsibility or attending high adventures, because they know that they don't have the skills that their badges represent.


Easy experiment - volunteer to run a first aid scenario in your district's next Camp-O-Ree. I have - in most units, first aid skills are abysimal. But they made first class in a year.

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I would like to break down what I said earlier a little more specifically, focusing on the orienteering requirement. It takes a lot of time to make sure a student "gets" navigation. Personally, I think it's harder than swim testing. Basically, you need to allow a boy a day in varied terrain allowing him to be in complete control of the map and compass. (This alone is something that many boys don't want to do. Last month I was on a great hike except for listening to the 14-17 year olds arguing about holding the map!). If he chooses the wrong path, you should let him follow it for a mile or so before asking him to tell you where he is and then helping him figure out how to correct course.


Needless to say meeting prep is important to give a kid a head start, but no amount of meeting is going to replace time in the field. Multiply that by 8 boys, and you need a good 80 hours (and maybe as many miles) or more to get them proficient in just one requirement.


On the other hand, if each boy cracks open his book, stares at his compass for a weekend, studies the quadrangle where he lives and finds his house and those of his friends, studies the map of the area the boys are heading before the leave, asks questions about it the meeting before departure, then more than half of them will show proficiency without the older scouts who are with you having to explain a lot. The ones who studied one concept more will correct the others who didn't quite get it, and by about mile 4, you will see them working together with each boy contributing to the success of the hike.


It's a rare patrol where the majority of crossovers approach a challenging concept with that level of intensity. (Heck my crew still counts on me to pick the insertion points into wilderness areas! And, although they are getting better at reading weather charts, they still count on me to print them on our go/no-go decision day.). But, if those are the kind of boys you have, then FC in a year or less for all of them is a distinct possibility.

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TampaT writes: We try to get the older boys to do some of the training for the newbies but they are a distinct minority...the older boys seem less and less interested and it affects camping attendance.


Not surprising - advancement focuses on the individual - a "me" type of thing. It doesn't address moving the boys to "we".

Questinon TampaT - is this with mixed age patrols or same age patrols? That makes a difference in older boys view of helping teach/train younger boys.


Balance in methods.

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Venividi, you said


"...which is what OGE is addressing when he states that skills should be included in the program outside of the need for advancement requirements. I found that this culture is difficult to change."


And if this is a hijack, let me know. But what else would be in a troops program but Scout Skills? And the opportunity to use, hone, master them? Why else does a troop exist except as an opportunity to use the skills you have learned?


And thank you qwazse, First CLass in a year can be done if the scout is willing and the troop has to be willing to give the scout the chance, look at what I have said in this thread:



"if a scout was so inclined they could earn First Class in a year. IF and that is a big IF, the scout is so inclined, he could earn First CLass in a year."


"All a troop can do is offer the program, it's up to the scout to avail himself of the program and learn the skills."


"Please note, I did not say indicate nor assume mastery of any of these topics from a single exposure, The topics are taught/presented and the scouts use them. Its up to the scout to seek out whoever is the designated signer off when he thinks he can do the requirements to the level the unit sees fit. Note I did not say merely being there means the requirement is signed off"


I do not think anything I posted said the troop needs to rush kids through, the advancment steps must be folowed or it hurts the guys who actually take the time to learn the stuff. If the scout is willing, the troop should be as well, but again, the scout has to be willing AND have the skills



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It wasn't intended to be a hijack, and if it came across that way, I appologize that I didn't express myself adequately. And I do not discount the possibility that I misunderstood / misinterpreted the point you were trying to make.


My intent was to acknowledge in my response what I believed was your point about including opportunities for practicing scout skills into program throughout the year, irrespective of need for advancement, as I think that is an important (perhaps even the most important) part of this discussion. i.e. - focus on program, not advancement.



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But what else would be in a troops program but Scout Skills? And the opportunity to use, hone, master them? Why else does a troop exist except as an opportunity to use the skills you have learned?


TO HAVE FUN AND ADVENTURE. To develop a deeper relationship with God. To play. To build knowledge of citizenship and an ethic of civic responsibility and servant leadership. To tell stories. To develop a sense of personal character and honor. To play jokes. To build habits of a physically healthy lifestyle, of emotionally healthy friendships and relationships across ages, of mentally healthy practices managing time and studies and activities. To challenge each other. To build a commitment to personal and communal ideals. To marvel at stars and sunsets. To develop meaningful friendships with people of all ages and walks of life. To understand and enjoy the outdoors. To build personal and group identity through patrols. To experience black flies and mosquitos, and through them learn patience and humility. To learn the habits and skills of leadership and followership. To make fart noises non-stop on a 4 hour car ride just to see if the driver's head will explode. To try new things, and work on them until achieving basic mastery. To set personal and group goals and strive for them. To build a habit of helping others and recognizing others for their accomplishments. To embarrass others by publicly roasting them for some of their other "accomplishments". To build a healthy sense of personal pride reflected in clothing, language, and comportment. To be goofy and silly. :)



And thank you qwazse, First CLass in a year can be done if the scout is willing and the troop has to be willing to give the scout the chance


I don't think yeh quite understood qwazse, eh? Because I think he's sayin' the same thing that VeniVidi and I are. Yep, a lad who goes home on his own and takes out 2 books on land navigation from a library and sets up a compass course around his neighborhood with his dad and builds alcohol stoves with his grandpa while stayin' out at hunting camp is goin' to advance faster, and quite possibly will make First Class in a year. That lad is also goin' to be attracted to Scoutfish's troop with its 2 + outings a month, eh?


It's great to know such kids, but they are what they are because of family and individual gifts, not because of our program. We can encourage boys to try to read more, and play more at home, and delve into interests more deeply, but buildin' those habits also takes time.


There's a difference between recognizin' such individual exceptionalism and claiming that every boy who participates in a typically active, carefully activity-scheduled year of scouting is goin' to be capable of mastering all the skills needed to legitimately meet the requirements of First Class. Twocubdad demonstrated it's not possible to do for cooking. Quazse demonstrates that it's not reasonable to do for land navigation. VeniVidi discusses how almost all troops fail to achieve this for first aid.


So inevitably, when the Guide to Advancement says that the unit's responsibility is to "bring each new Boy Scout to First Class rank within a year of joining", we have a conflict, eh? To learn requires more time for most boys. So the vast majority of troops, and the national organization as well, face a choice, eh? Take longer, or expect less. Da easiest thing to do is to dumb things down. To change "do" to "discuss". To claim that expecting a boy to be able to remember the knot he "learned" is adding to the requirements. To fudge and call an increase of 1/8 of a pullup an improvement, or flailing exhausted through 100 yards passing a swim check. To make Boy Scouting advancement a "do your best" thing, like the cub program where boys also advance together on a yearly basis.




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I didnt mean you were the hijacker, I meant myself


And Beavah, if you think, even for a second, that I am against any of the things that you posted "TO HAVE FUN AND ADVENTURE."


What we have here is simply as Luke Jackson put it "A Failure to Communicate"


And I am done with this topic, you are far to frustrating for me to continue

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We switched from same age patrols to mixed age patrols about 18 months ago. Overall a move in the right direction though we lost some older boys despite a "Venture Patrol" option. We did retain a number of really good older boys who are good with the younger guys and overall our retention is a bit better. We are using standing patrols that guys age in and out of.


We are doing a newbie patrol before the "newbie draft" in a month or two. The first three campouts have separate activities for the new guys so they can pick up some basic skills and get a hang of how Boy Scouts is different. Some of the 3rd-4th years are doing instruction 75% of the time(even a few 2nd. years) I have been pleased with the quality of the instruction and yeah they listen to boys better than adults.


I think our Troop's biggest issue is a cultural one. We have two feeder Packs, one that is more hands-on and another that is, well, kinda producing future parlor scouts. They do not always mix well. But when they do we get super patrols.

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I tried scheduling two outing per month for a while when I was Scoutmaster --- thirty years ago.


It didn't work. Most Scouts chose one of the two outings, which tended to make both outing weak for a Patrol outings.


I was cannibalizing my own program, so I gave it up.


But if other Troops can make that work, I'm all in favor of it.



But I'm curious --- of troops having two outings per month, do you generally have good attendance at both?


How do they work out as patrol activities, which generally requires the patrol leadership to attend and most of the patrol members too?

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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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First Class in a year? Yup very possible with a reasonably laid out program, if the boys show up and want to do it. Looking at last year's class of about a dozen, maybe 3 are almost or nearly at first class, 2 dropped out. The rest are spread between scout and barely 2nd class.


I don't think this is that hard. All it takes is some thought. For example, the boys pick a canoe trip...That forces manditory swim tests and safety afloat for all. (FC req).


Boys pick a hiking trip, give them the map, walk with that patrol and let them get a little lost. (That is a great teacher)


I view and tell the boys that these first few ranks are the path to adventure.


As others have pointed out, the orienteering skills can be a problem. For some more than others. Some try hard, some get it quickly, others avoid or struggle.


The scariest requirement, and the one that takes the most planning and work by the boy is the meal planning and acting as head cook. Maybe 6 of the 12 boys have completed that.


But isn't that what we should be doing? How can we take them on the big trips that they really want without having them reasonably know these skills?


My two cents...


Now on to the next recruit class of 16.


No method is 100% perfect, each troop has it's own flavor

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