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working through ranks

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Am looking for some advice. First, my son just transitioned up from Webs last Feb. He chose this troop b/c this is where his friends are. We've discussed with him the possibility of switching to a different troop, but he doesn't want to.


He joined a very small troop. Smaller than we realized when we visited and different than what we hoped it would be (our fault for not investigating further). There is a gap in ages so most of the older boys are only projects away from Eagle. Then there is a gap with two of the boys just reaching Life and the rest are all working on Tenderfoot. I did not realize until May, that the boys who joined 2 years ago don't even have Tenderfoot yet. When I asked the CC and SM I was told they got lost in the shuffle.


So I said I would step up and help with advancement through First Class, and will continue to do so for upcoming boys.


Leader training does not happen until Sept. I'm totally lost. I don't want this to turn into an extension of Webelos- the boys need to be Boy Scouts. The troop is currently focusing on the Historical Merit Badges which is not allowing much time for working on ranks. The boys have only been camping 2 times since they joined Feb 8 (except Scout camp). The camping trips are scheduled and then the week before the campout the SM cancels.


A note on the SM. He has resigned and there is a new one in place.


My thoughts are to talk to the boys and see what they want. Whether to focus on ranks or on the MB. The next thought would be to do some backyard camping. We have a very "quick" campout planned for next weekend (arrive 8pm and pack up at 9am) and then the district Camporee in Sept. The next campout isn't then scheduled until October.


I've talked to the CC and the SM and they are not giving much guidence. I hear the boys need to reach rank and then a few minutes later they're talking about MB and cancelling the campout. Definately adult driven.


So how do I help these boys through ranks w/out it turning into an extension of Webelos?

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Welcome to the forums and to the transition to Boy Scouts. It is a VERY difficult transition to make in my expereince of watching CS leaders move up.


First thing is that needs to be done is talk to the leaders about letting the youth lead. THEY should be doing the work, i.e. planning, organizing, executing, events. What are the Life scouts doing?


In reference to camping, DO NOT DO BACKYARD CAMPING!!!!!!!! (emphasis)Scouts want excitement and adventure, and backyard camping doesn't cut it. Alsoit is too easy to go inside and get things they forgot, i.e. flashlight, soap for cooking gear, etc,. They need to get away and do the camping.


In reference to advancement, I am a big proponent of having youth sign off on advancement. Growing up, First Class Scouts, and a few 2nd Class Scouts approved by the SPL and SM, and above could sign off on T-2-1 requirements. Advancement came naturally, and it was just a matter of the Scout being reminded byt he instructor that he needs to bring his book for signing. An active troop usually have the scouts getting 1st Class in 12-18 months.


Good luck.

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It is hard to do this in a troop where the opportunities are not natural.. It is also hard for you to be the head of since you have not gotten out of what we refer to a cub-scout "parent" helecopter mode. Normally it takes a person about a year of watching the troop in action for them to truely shift from cub-scout to boy-scout mode.


Sounds like the old SM may have been a helecopter parent himself, if he is stepping down because his son is one of the older boys who is soon to make Eagle.. We had a SM who made sure his son got all he needed to advance, but as younger boys came into the troop it was not deemed time worthy to allow those boys the opportunity to get the lower rank requirements because his son didn't need them. Even if his son doesn't need them if he is more wanting to alter the troop so that it is run correctly offering oppertunity for all.. Things may change.


That being said 2 years at tenderfoot for some of these scouts is unusually slow.. But the question is, do they have 3/4 of TF done, 100% of 2nd class, and 90% of 1st class.. They can work on their advancement in any order they choose. If so, then the troop may not be as bad as you initially believe..


If you are honest with yourself, I think you will admit that part of your desire for getting the troop back into rank advancement mode, is due to your wanting your son to get through his ranks. The "helecopter" parent syndrome.. Alot of new parents want to change the troop to benifit their son when they arrive.. For good troops this will cause SM's to roll their eyes.


It's ok for this to be part of your motivation, as long as you turn it around to not only make a good troop for your son, but to make one to benifit ALL the boys.. That would mean keeping advancement important for that boy who missed the outing that your son got checked off on some requirements, and this boy did not.. If this boy who missed out on the weekend wants time to get his requirements done, will you be there for him? These are hard questions you must ask yourself and live by..


How is the new SM.. Is he someone with a boy needing advancement? If so the advancement may form naturally in the troop again, and the opportunities will reappear during normal campouts.


Your SM must have some desire to alter the way advancement is currently being run.. The boys who need to advance also must have the desire to find ways to advance.. Without this you cant do anything. If though the SM and boys want this to be part of the program, you can cautiously work with the SM into developing a role for yourself as the troops Advancement Chair (if there is no one in that spot now).. But it must be slow and evolve, and make sure you are not driving the troops program in a direction the SM doesnt want to go.

In our troop the Advancement Chair, pretty much does all the advancement tasks, from getting the younger boys through the ranks, to helping the older scouts see the time-line of their age and what they have left if they want to make Eagle.. He is more an ASM then committee, and goes on all the outings and makes sure the opportunities are present for boys to advance. But, others on this board feel the Advancement Chair is only to organize the paperwork and the SM does it all. This is really up to the SM as to how much (or little) they will allow the Advancement Chair to get involved directly with the boys in his troop.

Unfortunately you may be already stepping on the old timers toes. If you have organized a backyard campout for advancement, and the other adults are trying to cancel it on you.. They may already be looking at you as being a newbie out to change the troop without realizing how the troop really runs, and appreciating the fact it is doing ok, but maybe not on your timeline. If so, getting a position of Advancement Chair, may not be for a while.. The SM, accepting you to work directly with the youth may not be for a while.. They may want you to sit out and observe for awhile..


I get mixed messages with your information.. Especially this paragraph.


"I've talked to the CC and the SM and they are not giving much guidence. I hear the boys need to reach rank and then a few minutes later they're talking about MB and cancelling the campout. Definately adult driven."


YOU said you would step up.. Did YOU get agreement for Committee & SM that they were thrilled for your help or a luke warm, half hearted "Uh-huh" sort of like "let's humor the newbie"..?

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PS.. If you are being welcomed to participate. Have the boys drive their rank-advancement. If someone has their advancement on "TroopMaster" this is a start. If not, see if you can get their books to make your own list of what they have, or do not have.. Organize it so that the boys can see clearly what they "as a group" need.. Then let them plan the outing and what they would like to get done.


You can look around, and give suggestions of possible outings. They may like one of them, they may choose something on their own. They may choose to do two rank advancement or ten on the campout.. But, now you are letting them drive their program..


Suggestions for some local interest. An orienteering club doing a open to public course (some have overnight camping, or you can find camping closeby.). A group doing a dutch oven cook-off (some have camping). An Indian Pow-wow, coming locally (I think you would need camping close-by).. Or we have towns that have private land that few can camp on, but it is open for the local scouts (and other like youth organizations).


You may need to switch the date, but changing from backyard, to something of some intrest would be good.


Also for any outing you need a "Tour Permit", 2 deep leadership, and those leaders with YPT and one with the hazardous Weather training.



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Welcome to the forum.


A few thoughts - but first a thank you for stepping up to help your son's unit - most parents won't step up to take on such a responsibility.


You don't mention what you're official position is. ASM sounds like it should fit the bill, considering what you're going to be concentrating on.


Two years and Scouts don't even have Tenderfoot yet? They didn't get lost in the shuffle - they got ignored by the previous SM in favor of the Scouts that are oly projects away from Eagle. They've also been ignored by the Scouts that are only projects away from Eagle - and they were allowed to ignore the younger Scouts by the adult leaders.


Adult driven? Yep - sure sounds about right.


But things are salvagable - so what to do? First, take advantage of training in September. Second, recognize that nothing is going to change overnight. It's going to take a little time and you need to be patient. There is no rush to get the lads to advance to Tenderfoot by the end of the month. Instead, set a reasonable schedule to get it accomplished - one thing you could do is to work with your son on a schedule for him to achieve the ranks and together "pull" the other lads along. If he wants Tenderfoot by the end of September, that's what you work to make happen.


Third - you have a campout scheduled every month for the next three months - that's pretty typical for a Scout unit. Advancement can be worked on at all three campouts - even the in at 8 out at 9 the next day campout (side note - a 13 hour campout? Why even bother - I'd cancel it just out of principle).


Fourth - why are campouts being cancelled? Was it the former Scoutmaster that would cancel campouts? Are there legitimate reasons for the cancellations or is it just bad planning? If it was the former SM that was cancelling campouts, is there any reason to believe that the trend will continue?


Fifth - I can't find any fault in a unit that is concentrating on the historical merit badges if that's what the Scouts wanted to do - these are being offered for a very limited time - and for most of the lads, it won't really effect rank advancement. Besides, there is nothing that will prevent the Scouts from earning both the merit badges and their ranks.


Sixth - after you've taken the training, sit down again with the SM and the CC and try to map out what the expectations are going to be moving forward. If the unit is going to become boy-led, now's the time to start working towards that goal - just know that it's going to take time to get there. If the idea is to remain as is, then option one is to find a new Troop and option 2 is to quietly wait them out until you become SM and there is a new CC from amongst new blood coming into the Troop.

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I was also interested in why the campouts were being canceled. The usual reason in the units I am affiliated with is lack of drivers, an/or lack of adults altogether. Without the 2-deep adults there can be no outing.


Actually, the number of Troop campouts doesn't seem that bad. You will have had 6 camping trips in 8 months. That is only 2 months without a camping trip. Not to shabby at all. Did the Troop do any other activity those 2 months?


The comment that there are boys (how many?) that have not earned Tenderfoot in 2 years is very troubling. However, if their recent camping record is about the same as it has been for the last 2 years, that is a total of about 21 camping trips to date. With 3 of those trips being a week of Scout Summer Camp.


Most Council Boy Scout Summer Camps have some kind of T-2-1 program for new Scouts. Throw in all of the other opportunities to be had at the last 3 Summer Camps, and my question is - Where the heck have these boys been for the last 2 years? What have they been doing? Even if they do nothing but work on merit badges and Eagle projects at den meetings, there are the den campouts and Summer Camps. The should have earned at LEAST Tenderfoot by now, and be most of their way through the requirements for 2nd, and 1st Class as well. Just about the only way NOT to, is to not be showing up for most of the Troop's activities. If that is the case, then not earning Tenderfoot is THEIR CHOICE.


Some other observations/questions - You said most of the "older" boys are only "projects away from Eagle". What age is "older"? Unless these are all 17 year old Life Scouts, pushing to earn Eagle before they turn 18, Eagle does NOT signify the end of Scouting. There have been many 13 year old Eagle Scouts who have stayed active, and happily Scouting with their Troop for another 5 years before "aging out" at 18.


How old are the 2 boys who just reached Life Scout?


You said that the boys who joined 2 years ago have not reached Tenderfoot yet. What about the boys who joined 1 year ago? How about your son, and the boys who joined this year?


Are all of these non-Tenderfoot Scouts in the same Patrol? Do they have a Patrol Leader(s)? Do they have Patrol meetings?


Your best bet is to do the following -


Go online to MyScouting - E-Learning, on the BSA National web site, and take the following trainings - Youth Protection, This is Scouting, Weather Hazards, and Fast Start-Boy Scouting. This, along with purchasing and reading the Scoutmasters Handbook, will give you at least some idea of what you are doing until you can sign up for Boy Scout Position Specific and Introduction to Outdoor Leader Skills, in September.


Talk to the Troop Advancement Chair, and get a printout of what requirements these boys actually HAVE finished. I would not be at all surprised if most of them are simply just missing their SM Conference (or a few requirements) to have completed Tenderfoot and 2nd Class. If you are going to help them, you need to know EXACTLY what they need.


Talk to the Scoutmaster and see if he can appoint a Troop Guide. Also find out if the SM can do some Troop Leadership Training to help the Troops Youth Leaders to understand just what it is they should be doing.


With that information, sit down with the Patrol Leader(s), the Assistant Patrol Leader(s), and the Troop Guide, and go over with them what THEIR Scouts need, and how THEY want to go about making sure they get it.


There is no reason at all, why these Scouts can not plan their own advancement, while still earning merit badges.


Just remember - It is THEIR plan, NOT YOURS!



Edited to add - NO BACKYARD CAMPING!!


They are not Cub Scouts. If the SCOUTS (not you) decide that they want to squeeze in a 4th camping trip in the next 3 months for their Patrol- fine. Have the SCOUTS in the Patrol, led by their Patrol Leader, decide where they want to go, and what they want to do on the trip. Then, talk to the Scoutmaster, and the CC, about the logistics, and how to best help them accomplish it. I would recommend taking along an experienced ASM as the second adult on any Patrol campout. The ASM will help keep you from helicoptering, and doing for the boys what they can/should be doing for themselves.(This message has been edited by Scoutnut)

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Yah, sounds like a unit that's havin' some issues with adult support. Small troop, so relatively few adults to draw from. One adult has life happen and has to skip a campout and suddenly yeh don't have two-deep or enough drivers.


So I think you're doin' the right thing by stepping up as a volunteer in an area where yeh feel you can help.


I reckon we all know some kids who left Boy Scouting at age 18 having never earned Tenderfoot. Sometimes, it's just da pull-ups ;). Don't let advancement be your metric for judging a kid or a program. Look for whether those kids are learning and having fun.


Usually when lads get behind advancement-wise in da younger years, it's because the adults or older boys just aren't focused on it. When that's the case two things happen - requirement completion isn't watched for and recorded, and book-worky type requirements that aren't a direct part of da troop program aren't planned in. So you'll find kids who really can light a fire and have done it several times with an unsigned book, and a lot of kids who are missing signoffs for things like memorizing da parts of the Scout Badge or knowing what EDGE means. :p


So you can help as an ASM by helping corral adult and youth leaders to sign books or record things electronically, and then calling attention to things that are needed so da PLC and SM can think about planning them in. That can be a huge service, eh? All that paperwork can otherwise take a back seat to other urgent needs in a small troop. Just doin' that will be enough. No need to change or push advancement in other ways. It will happen naturally enough.


As far as da canceled campouts, I reckon the troop just needs one or two more adults who are enthusiastic about camping with kids. Help your committee to recruit 'em to volunteer, and that problem will also go away.


So nothin' too bad here. No need to be running off to another troop. I bet if yeh think about it, you can find da few additional hands your troop needs just among the parents of your son's friends.




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One sign of a "not so good" troop is that they work on merit badges.


The following, or something very similar (which I've plagerized) was posted here before (Bob White?) which I find very informative. Maybe I should add that they don't constantly "wish" for thing like they were before? :)


Some Common Traits of Successful Troops


1. Currently trained adults.


2. Leaders wear correct uniform.


3. Scoutmaster concentrates on training Junior Leaders, and knowing the needs and characteristics of each scout.


4. They use the Patrol Method for everything.


5. They follow the contents of the Boy Scout Handbook.


6. The committee supports the decision of the scouts, they dont make decisions for them.


7. They have at least two Assistant Scoutmasters.


8. They recognize scouts three times for each advancement.


9. They DONT use troop meetings as merit badge classes.


10. They plan everything in advance and put it in writing.


11. The only rules they have are that scouts and leaders follow the Scout Oath and Law.


12. They get outdoors once a month (even if just for a day event)


13. Troop meetings are filled with hands on activities


14. New scouts make First Class, First Year.


15. They keep in contact with Webelos Dens year round.


16. They select leaders they dont recruit them.


17. They participate in District and Council events.


18. They attend Roundtable.


19. Adults smile and play nice together. (If you are not enjoying yourself then neither are the scouts.)



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