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MomScouter

Boy led

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I just read all of the great ideas in the previous post about the new boys joining and some activities they could do. I am assuming these posts were from adult members of their units.

 

In my current troop, if I would have suggested any of these things at this point in time, I would have been told that they boys already had things in their plan, and while they would have included the new boys, it is not my place to try to add activities. Any ideas have to go through the PLC. I fully support the BSA concept of boy led troop, but at times I see it carried to an extreme in our troop to the point that the adults (EXCEPT the SM who always seems to get his ideas in the plan) cannot even make suggestions without the risk of being told we are trying to take over.

 

I was wondering how other troops implement the boy led concept and to what level of detail. Do other PLC's plan every activity, every detail of every troop meeting, service projects? I understand that annual plans are supposed to be approved by the Committee and at this point adults can make suggestions or nix activities that are unsafe or unattainable.

 

We have mostly young boys who are not always even aware of their options. The SM does not allow anyone other than himself or the ASM to suggest anything to the PLC. My son and I are in the process of exploring other troops due to a number of reasons and I am curious how others implement 'boy led' especially with a lot of younger boys. (I plan on going to complete BS training in April).

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We have a hard core high adventure Troop with several very popular outing types. XC Skiing, snow camp/caves, ski mountaineering in the winter with climbing, caving, mountain biking, rafting and backpacking in the rest of the year.

 

The way that we now do these is to say to the PLC or nearest equivalent (we are also a small troop) and ask, "what do you want to do?" This results in a 2-3 month plan (which can change, of course). At that point the older boys have to do the logistics of the trip, while the younger boys are trained in the activity, either by the older ones, or more usually by the ASMs or specialists in that activity.

 

One thing that really helps is the more or less fixed range of outings. The older guys know the drill for each type making the trips boy led having been trained in the technical aspects and worked in the logistics. Very seldom do we do other things, and when we do...well, the adults and the older crew have to work as a committee. This formula has taken the Troop on some pretty impressive adventures. Rafting, with the Scouts running their own boats, ski mountaineering, etc.

 

The key here is that we spent years training the generations in these types of trips. Not just the patrol leaders and SPL, but all the boys. Originally, this did involve making the boy leaders pick and choose, then spending lots of time training in logistics and the technical aspects of the trips at the same time. Now it is pretty much self sustaining, but one would have wondered six years ago when the ASMs and older boys, and some younger ones operated more like a committee. There was no whining about who was in charge, as they got to do what they thought were really neat things.

 

Careful training is the key. Once they are able to make a trip happen with a regular formula, then you can have all boy led events.

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Johnm,

 

It sounds like your troop has evolved the way I would like to see ours evolve. We have 2 older boys (15 and 17) but the problem is, neither one of them wants to be around at all the meetings, PLC's, events, etc. They are probably there about half the time while the younger ones (11 and 12) are there all the time for everything. The SM says that the younger ones need to learn from the older ones but that is difficult if they are not there and cannot be depended on. So there is a void half the time, at which point I think the adults should be at least making suggestions. Several months ago this happened and several of us Committee members made a few suggestions, (NOT decrees!) for a few activities then the older ones complained we were trying to take over (one is the SM's son, the other is the SM's sons best friend so I know a lot of this attitude came from the SM!). Some of the committee members now feel like we are walking on eggshells! We are also looking at other troops to transfer to due to this and other reasons, and I want to make sure we get in a troop that is boy run but at the same time teaches the boys how to do this in a manner appropriate to their experience.

 

Your troop sounds awesome! That is the type of troop my son would like to be in and I am trying to let him know these things are not outside his reach.

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Mom Scouter,

For the most part when a troop is operating using the Patrol Method, the scoutmaster will be the most influential of the program leaders, only because it is the Scoutmaster that trains the scouts and the Scoutmaster who helps the SPL develop the PLC agenda and who sits in on the PLC meeting.

 

The primary role of the committee is support the decision of the scouts. This does not exclude input from other adults, but it would be a good idea to filter these sugeestions through the SM. The reason for this is so that the boys do not get mixed messages or feel that they are being overwhelmed by adult directions. When suggestions are made direct to the scouts it should be through the proper channels, (for instance) recommendations on equipment should go through the adult equipment coordinator to the troop QM to the PLC.

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I'm slowly working our troop towards the boy-led goal. At our last PLC meeting I asked if there were any suggestions for our next activity. The only thing the boys could think of was to repeat our last campout. (We had a great time.) That's the time to throw out an idea or two. That gets their brains in gear and soon enough they come up with a list of possibilities. I would agree with Bob White that adults can be intimidating, even when they don't mean to be. The hard part is to facilitate their thought processes without overwhelming them or sounding dictatorial.

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The term boy led can mean different things to different people. To some, it means the boys are supposed to do all the planning, implementing, the whole enchilada. To others it means the boys are handed a program and are expected to make it happen.

 

The problem in our troop is one of scope. You ask the scouts what they want to do and the inevitable answer is to climb Mt Everest or hike acrsos Australia. Its either that or a sea of blank stares and shrugging shoulders. The scouts need to expand their references and see whats possible and not get locked in duplicating last years calender, but if they have never done anything else, would they know its possible?

 

John, you have one heck of a program by what I have read. I know you are out west, how do you combat the pressures of band, school theatre, sports and jobs? You have to have a well trained core to sustain this, how do you do it??? Enquiring minds want to know!!!!

 

And Mom, if your scoutmaster has that much power or control over the troop, it may be time to look for another fiefdom, because this one doesnt seem to friendly(This message has been edited by OldGreyEagle)

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HI Momscouter

THe thread that holds the older boys there is the high adventure, the climbing etc. Once they become addicted to the events, they will do just about anything to keep them going, including hanging around the little kids.

 

I have 3 guys that turned 18 just recently, and 2 are now ASMs and the other helps out occassionally. One of them is highly involved in the technical outdoor training.

 

The formula for the high adventure deal is first to find what you can do in your area. Wyoming is prime for the stuff we do. Second, find practitioners of the activities you like who will be suitable to be co-opted into your Troop (the hard part). Third, for a short time period, have that person(s) to first teach the activity then go on the outing. After the outing, let them get back to their lives! We call our people like that ASM specialists, and we don't burn them out with all the weekly meetings, but involve them when we do the things they like and like to teach.

 

It has served us well.

 

By the way, should you like to come to Wyo and join us on an adventure let me know, and I can arrange it.

 

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HI ScouterPaul

Please try it! THat is why I mentioned it.

 

Though I have a lot of experience in several outdoor activities, I am not expert at all. For instance we have a fellow that is a great caver, and has played 'sherpa' in Lechaguilla, done vertical work etc. He is our caving 'ASM Specialist'. We have another who is a very good rock climber, and used to teach at a boy's camp in TX who is our climbing specialist. It doesn't hurt that he is also a professional whitewater guide also. Another one is an accomplished mountaineer. These last two guys helped our Scouts get to 18,300 feet on Pico de Orizaba in Jan.

 

Invaluable!

 

Since they don't have to be there all the time, they are always fresh and ready to go when asked to teach and help. I learn new things from them as well. They also end up holding the Scouts' attention better as the 'outside expert' when they wouldn't listen to you talk with equal authority about the same thing!

 

I really can't imagine why this isn't part of the usual BSA modus operindi!

 

Make sure that your specialists know what they talk about, and that they are there for the right reasons though. I learn this by going on a few trips with them by myself, having fun and checking out each other's expertise. They also want to know if they are dealing with a good group.

 

Good Luck and be safe.

 

JB

 

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