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New troop outing question

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Hello all, I'm looking for a little advice and I know this is the right place. With our new troop opening up soon, I have an opportunity I didn't envision when we began planning. The original thought was that when we started, we were going to be a small group of scouts no older than 12 and no rank higher than 2nd Class. Because of that, we had a good handle on how to approach the camping and outdoor program.


Now surprise (funny how that happens :) ) we will also be opening our doors with a 15 YO Life Scout and his 15 YO friend who is 1st Class. Both are well experienced in the outdoor method and have a strong set of skills.


First of all, I am extremely fortunate at this set of circumstances. I had no idea either would be interested in our new troop and it is a new SM's dream to receive this gift of experienced scouts. Some of the things I was planning on having to teach and implement personally in terms of camping and skills can now be boy-led, and that is something worth celebrating.


My issue is developing an elevated outdoor program for just two boys. The troop will be one patrol until we grow, and they of course will have their patrol responsibilities. But the last thing I want to do is saddle down a couple of boys with the responsibility of showing the young ones the ropes without the opportunity for some more adventurous fun on their own.


Part of my goal for this is to make sure I only have them teach what the others can't. My best example is I told them I don't ever want to see them teaching a square knot unless it's absolutely necessary. But what are some ideas you might have for keeping the two boys engaged when this is something normally thought of in patrol-type numbers?

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You do have a great opportunity here and Im not sure why you are afraid of the older scouts teaching the younger. Older scouts do enjoy being role models and mentors so long as they dont feel that they are just doing busy work. Go get the SPL hand book for the three of you and read it. Then sit down to discuss and make a plan for the three of you work as a team to make this boy run troop happen.


Adults have the power to instill the will of scouts. In just about every troop where the older scouts feel the burden of working with younger scouts there is an adult or adults who gave the scouts that notion. Growth comes from the practice of the scout oath and law. Practice comes from serving those around us and for older scouts, serving the younger scouts develops their growth. But, there is a difference between serving younger scouts and baby sitting them. If the older scouts feel that your goal is to work as a team to help the younger scouts grow into mature older scouts, you will have no problem. If they feel you are dumping off work just to keep them busy, they will loose their respect for you and the other adults.


Just start thinking of these 15 year olds as 35 year olds and treat them that way. You will get the response you want. Use the SPL hand book to keep everyone working on the same page so that you all have the same goals.


Remember that the only difference between you and the 15 year olds is lifes experiences. And in some cases, they may have more experience in parts of the scouting program than you, be humble and allow them to show you the ropes.


Finally it is my experience that 15 year olds are basically set in their ways. More often than not they actually get in the way of troops that are trying to develop a boy run troop if the program is dramatically different from their own. For them to make dramatic changes in their approach to your troop, they need to buy in to the dream or vision. Be a good sales man so that not only do they see the vision, they also feel that its part of their vision. Give them a vision of themselves being noble and leading younger scouts to do greater things. Guide them to be heroes of their world, its every boys dream.


And please keep us up and the progress because its fun to watch programs like yours mature and grow.


I love this scouting stuff.



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Thank you very much and I fully agree that these older boys do need to do their part in leading the younger scouts. My thoughts are running exactly in line with the point you made that I don't want to get caught in the trap of burdening them with work that borders on babysitting. The approach of treating them like 35 YO is one I hadn't thought of, but now that I do makes a whole lot of sense. The "not teaching a square knot" thing is along the lines of not doing something for a boy he can do himself. While a Life Scout can teach a square knot with the best of them, so can a Tenderfoot. I guess what I was getting at was I want the Life Scout teaching the Tenderfoot things he doesn't know, and let the younger boys pass on the knowledge and skills they have acquired to the fresh faces we will eventually have join us.


To keep the older boys motivated, and not feel like it's all work and now play, any input regarding experience with designing a higher level program for just two would be greatly appreciated.


Oh, and Eagledad, about the part of the boys teaching me a thing or two, I don't doubt it one bit. Every day is a school day, and you never know who your teacher is going to be.



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Its a new program for all of you, so all of you will be learning as the program progresses. Some things will have to change because they simply aren't working. If you pull the older scouts in and allow them to be part of the group as to what is working and what is not, you won't have any problems. Nothing makes and adult feel more adult than being an integral part of something big. Think our yourself as the team member with more of lifes experiences and enject those experiences into the discussions. Let the group make decisions based from the discussions, not for your position of stature. You don't want their reasoning to the other scouts to be "because the SM says so". What you want is, "we discussed it and this is what was decided".


Now it can't always be that way because some of your life experiences will set limits that scouts can't understand. I like to teach that a 12 year old SPL does not have the maturity or experience of the 15 year old SPL. The 15 year old SPL does not have the maturity or experience of a father or husband. You have a lot of wisdom and boys need to learn to respect that. But, what you can do is present your case in such a way that you aren't using stature to force a decision, you are justifying it based from wisdom. Sometimes they are just going to have to trust you. Don't pull that card so much you loose that trust.


I found that adults who truely want to develop a boy run program have to learn twice as much twice as fast than the scouts to keep the progrerss moving forward. You might as well learn now that you are are going to screw up a lot. You can either hide those mistakes with pride or learn from them, make changes and move on. Same for the scouts. Learning from failure is internal growth. Before each election, I told scouts that if they were good at a job, they shouldn't try to get the position again. Instead they needed to run for an office where they could grow by the mistakes they make. For the whole program to go forward, everyone needs to learn from their mistakes and make changes to improve. Mistakes are a good thing provided changes are made.


You have a lot of work to do, but you will become addicted to the results and want more and more.


The nice thing about older scouts is that they know how to have fun. Adults tend to let goals and business get in the way of being a boy. The older scouts can keep the balance if you let them. You are in a very good place right now



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Boys that choose to join with a younger troop are probably prepared to do a lot of teaching. If they wanted to "just chill", they could have joined a venturing crew or a troop with older boys.


Involve the older boys in some evaluation. On your next campout, after they've completed bed-check, ask them to hang by the fire. Ask them questions like these:


Is this troop ready to backpack? Where to? How many miles per day?

What do we need so we can do a canoe trip?

What's the coolest skill you'd like to introduce to these boys?


Then you and your ASM walk the 100 yards to your tent and leave them talking about "the next big thing."


Repeat every three months or so.


In other words, the biggest thing you can do for these boys is give them the privelage of guiding the troop.


For adventures on their own, wait a couple of months until you've got to know these boys. Chances are, they already are happily engaged in age-appropriate activities outside of the troop. If they are looking for more, you may suggest they multiple with a nearby crew, or involvement in O/A. Let thim in on any to council/district activities. If you're at a camporee, make sure they attend the crackerbarrels for SPL/PL's. Encourage them to take Personal Management MB and save up for a "big ticket" item like Jambo or one of the high adventure bases.


Point is, a troop doesn't have to be a "be-all and end-all" for an older boy. It just has to be home base.

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I compliment you their interest in your unit is a direct reflection on what they see in your leadership.


They get it they know whats ahead of them and their up for it or they wouldnt be there in the first place. Youve already established an appealing environment and messaging that you arent doing a Baby Sitters of America unit, so keep challenging them and let them lead.


To me, that was the paycheck working with the older guys that got it was one of the best parts of the job.




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I was in exactly your position in January. My family had to move several states away so I could break the grip of becoming a victim of the Obama economy. In other words, I got a new job. Another family from our troop back home moved to the same town as us when he got transferred.


We were looking for a home school troop but the nearest one was 45 miles away. (they have become good friends) So, we started one. Our three boys were Life, 1st and 2nd class.


We started with nine scouts and are at 14 now. We appointed a SPL and let him have pretty free reign. (my son) We stuck with one patrol until we hit 12 kids. We went from 9 to 12 in about 2 weeks so it kind of took us by surprise.


Our SPL runs the meetings completely and keeps the boys busy. The first few weeks were full of basic skills, starting witht he square knot. Within a few minutes, many boys were teaching others. Our first campout was a cabin trip. They concentrated on Totin and Fireman, including cooking all their meals on the coals. We spent time setting up the tent and dining fly and working on plenty of rank advancement. Several meetings included the Tenderfoot physical fitness stuff.


I think if you let your two older boys know that they will be the key teachers and have the great responsibility of teaching life skills to the younger guys, they will be willing to put aside some of their activities for a while. Keep your eyes open for high adventure opportunities for them to tag along with other troops too.


If you want to talk mere, PM me your phone number.

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1) I agree with Eagledad, treat the two "15 year olds as 35 year olds." Act as if they are ASMs, and they will grow to meet your expectations. Include them in your Scouter meetings.


2) B-P considered an SPL to be optional (a small Troop needs good Patrol Leaders, it does not need an SPL). Avoid the temptation to move either of the older Scouts into an SPL position for at least the first year or two. Let the younger Scouts see what it is like to be in a Patrol run by a competent older boy. When your Troop gets above the 12-16 member mark, consider splitting into two Patrols, each led by one of the older Scouts (or a promising younger Scout if the older Scouts want to stick together). One of them can also serve as an "acting" SPL when needed ("SPL" at Camporee cracker barrels, chair of PLC, etc.).


3) As qwazse suggests, keep the Patrol separated from the adults by Baden-Powell's 100 yards. You will quickly see the wisdom of #2 :-)


Yours at 300 feet,





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I'm happy to know the idea I had about not worrying about an SPL until we had at least two patrols is shared by some others. When I first heard about the Life Scout coming over my first thought was "Great, here's a kid that can do SPL". But after giving it about 5 minutes of thought realized it wasn't such a great idea. Just seems to me if you are an SPL over one patrol you are less leading and more left out.


Besides, the last thing I want to do is start out with bad habits by appointing a kid to a POR.


Now if I could just get one of my well-intention'ed scouters in the new troop to realize the "troop trailer" is a lot less necessary than he thinks it is.........:)

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