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LauraT7

no "team" in our troop

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I posted this on another part of the board, so if you caught it there, please pass on this one - but we need some help!

 

Our troop just came back from camp - this year we actually went to 2 camps - 5 boys went to a new camp and 15 went to the traditional camp we've gone to for years. (2 of those went to both camps)

 

One thing became painfully clear at both camps - our troop no longer works as a team. there are a few strong individualists in the troop, who seem to have an individual agenda - and they either walk over the boys that want to work as a group, or try to sway the younger boys to teasing cliques and meaness.

 

For example - the smaller group at camp had an opportunity to earn the Baden Powell Camping award - but 2 of the 5 made the others think it was "dumb" - mostly becasue they were already first class and part of getting the award involved getting their "CAPS" ( a program at that camp that involves doing something at each activity unit - and co-incidentally- covers alot of Tenderfoot, 2nd and 1st class requirements they already had)and because for the award we would have had to do a troop service project at camp. Because THEY didn't participate - the TROOP could not get the award.

 

One of these boys went to the other camp, also. there he teamed up with another, older boy, who had previously lost the election for SPL. The two of them deliberatly undermined the direction of the elected SPL, played tricks on him and others and by friday had our SPL in tears and ready to quit the troop.

 

( WE really, REALLY don't want to loose this SPL - he's one of the most awsome kids i have ever worked with - but he's also a sensitive kid - one of the things that makes him so good a leader for the younger boys, but vulnerable to these kind of things)

 

My question is - what can we do to make these boys see that they HAVE to be a team? this is NOT an individual competition?

 

Our troop has other problems that we are dealing with - but this could break the camels back.

 

Any ideas?

 

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Laura...you've got a problem there.

 

If you want a "team", then you will have to tackle

the problem as a team.

 

I've got some questions for ya...first off, if your troop is small, why are you going to two different camps? Sounds as if you are allowing for division of the "team" by attending two camps pretty much independently.

 

Secondly, since the troop is run by the boys, what does your PLC think about the situation?

 

I personally would start by having a ceremony honoring those accomplishments made at camp. I would be sure to have a seperate set of awards honoring those "model" campers, the ones whom made the effort to win the "honor troop" award although they didn't. You may even want to create a standing "Teamworker Award" to encourage such behavior.

 

Remember that the destrcutive behavior should be held to Scout Spirit when it comes to promotion in rank.

 

Be sure to give your SPL all the support he needs.

Ultimately it should be his and his staff's decision as to how to deal with this problem. If you adults get too involved, you will take away the boys "ownership" of the troop, something you don't want to do. If the situation becomes unbearable, it may require action on the part of the Troop Committee.

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One more thing I forgot...you might want to give the boys a brief reminder tht meanness and "teasing cliques" are considered "hazing", something that is not tolerated in Scouting...something that can lead to dismissal.

I've had to do that, and follow up on it by dismissing a boy who would not stop.

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LauraT7 another thing you could try is a program called COPE. See if your Council has a Cope course and schedule your Troop for a weekend. Tell the staff your concerns and they can set up a program to help build up your team. If your council doesn't have one let me know what Council you are in and I will let you know the nearest course if I can. Keep at it and good luck.

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I see this problem in our troop as well. One problem with correcting the situation is that too many adults worry about "losing" the troublemakers if you try to fix the problem. I say, "So what?"

 

We shouldn't degrade the program to make it more comfortable for boys who don't want to be scouts. If they want to leave, that is fine. It will make the program better for all.

 

One of the best tools to use for correcting behaviour is advancement. If kid isn't acting like a Scout, don't promote him. This may be unpopular but it is effective. Parents will scream but what they want is that badge for their kid's college application.

 

One of our old times has been a Scouter for 39 years and before that he was a Cub Scout and Boy Scout, so he's been in the program for more than a few years. He told me that when he first moved to the area and before he was involved with our troop, he was asked to sit on a Board of Review. One kid came in with a wrinkled shirt, no neckerchief, wrong rank patch, and was basically a mess. When the discussion started, my chum said that he couldn't recommend the boy for advancement since he couldn't even show up for his BOR in proper uniform. The rest of the board reluctantly agreeed but my friend was never asked to sit on a Board of Review again.

 

Just like the schools, we promote boys because they are expected to be promoted. Parents want their boys in Scouts because an Eagle looks great on college applications. If these boys aren't promoted because of their behaviour, the parents will scream but one of two things will happen, either the boys will be yanked out of your troop or their behaviour will improve. Both are good things.

 

 

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Take a Saturday and do a Troop Junior Leader training. I'd do it for all the boys, not just the ones currently in a formal leadership position.

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yaworski is right. Although we want boys in Scouting, they have to be there to learn what is is Scouting teaches. If they can't get with the program. We had a boy who was a Life Scout, SPL and an officer in his JROTC unit at school...he insisted on running the troop like Mussolini. What was worse was that he refused to see the problems it caused. We lost about a third of the troop before we finally gave him the choice to shape up or ship out...he shipped out. Unfortunately, his understudies stayed long enough to destroy the troop.

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LauraT7 I deal with these issues almost on a daily basis because I am an outdoor education instructor. What we do is a sequence of team challenges that build teamwork and reinforce positive behaviour - no big deal I guess except you have to be tough sometimes.

 

I might (for your Troop) plan a very hard challenge that exposes negative or unhelpful behaviour in the first of several sessions. This gets it in the open. Be prepared for an emotional and long debrief after. (We debrief (also called facilitation) after every morning or afternoon session).

 

The debriefing will need to build from "what is stuffing things up?" to "How do we use these lessons when we get back home?" or "How do I implement these lessons in my daily life?" This will take about 3-7 days given what you have described. Can't predict any closer by this medium.

 

If you don't have the skill I expect that there are trained camp staff at these big summer camps that I read about. Mind you 'trained' is essential. Debrifing is a skill and can go very wrong if not handled well. On the other hand I see it working every day.

 

If you don't have this length of time then try one such activity, even 'micro' challenges, each Troop night and take the long view. This allows you to prepare and recover from each debreif - don't expect quick results though by this method.

 

In short:

 

team challenges that illustrate good and bad behaviour are needed,

 

debreifing to allow the Scouts to solve problems themselves are essential,

 

leaders need some knowledge to conduct these sessions,

 

the Scouts will take the issues to heart if they discover the solution - not if they are told even though this is agonising for adults,

 

tackle issues head on and be prepared for lots of emotion.

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Hi Laura,

I'm curious, When you say that you have other problems you are dealing with, is the attitude of the adult leaders one of those problems?

 

Often times when the scouts do not have positive, interested leaders these kinds of problems develop.

 

I'd be interested in you insight as to the current ability of your leaders to set a strong, positive tone in the troop.

 

Just curious,

Bob White

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lots of good input - and i was trying to not be too long winded (I know I AM - but I try not to!) with the long version - posted earlier this summer.

 

Bubba - you're right - we SHOULDN'T be divided into two camps - we WERE a bigger troop, and the encouragement to split was made by ADULTS that wanted to revisit a childhood memory(and admitedly AWESOME camp). and boys who would not be swayed to leave the old camp we'd gone to for years. Then, due to an upset that couldn't be resolved, a large group of those adults and their boys left the troop - AFTER the reservations were made. Monday night THE BOYS voted on where to go for camp next year - and the new camp won, by a small, but decided margin. ONLY boys had a say.

 

one of the problems was that is was NOT a boy-lead troop - we are trying to get back to it - and yes ADULTS as well as boy conflicts, are in the way. We have alot of adult interest - maybee too much - and each with their own agenda.

 

As far as the hazing is concerned - whenever the adults were aware of it, it was stopped. The policies are certainly understood - but the boys in question don't care. And the boy(s)are smart enough to hide it from the adults. there was stuff we knew about ans supected, but could not prove.

 

next - the PLC is a BIG part of the problem. We have a couple of fast advancing (all 1st class, but just 13) but immature boys in the PLC (3 patrols). The SPL and ASPL are our two more mature-level heads - but still only 14 and 15 - and are the more quieter, serious, and in the case of the SPL, sensitive boys.

 

The camp we went to DID have a COPE program - but they boys who really need it are all under 14 - the minimum age for COPE at that camp. the sad thing also, is that ALL of those in question, the SPL., ASPL and patrol leaders and others, have all been to JLT camp this summer. I'm afraid some have missed the point - as they seem to think that training and rank advancement give them "priveledges" above those less advanced. Again - the 13 yr old 1st classers.

 

the ringleader - unfortunatly, just got his "Star" on Monday night. He is a ambitious kid, in the gifted program at school, just turned 13,and has worked tirelessly and competitively on his rank advancements and badges. But he just doesn't "get it". If I had been on his board (I wasn't - and I AM a committee member) I would have questioned his scout spirit, in light of his behavior this summer. But the board in question did not. His parents are strongly involved, wealthy and very competitive and ambitious. He gets it from them. he and his parents are pushing for him to be the youngest Eagle in recent history.

 

i would not worry at all over losing this boy - instead, i am worried that his behavior, and others he pulls with him, will chase off the GOOD ones! If he weren't instigating, I think the others could be convinced to work together.

 

It's too late for full week or summer programs - but are there things - team building activities and resorces that we could draw on for short-term campouts, events and meetings?

 

I am on good and friendly terms with the SPL - If i could come up with some resources and ideas for him, they could choose what they like to implement. he has asked for my help in planning a future campout the 3rd weekend in August - our last before school starts.

 

OZEMU - I think you are right - the boys can't be "told" they have to identify the problem and come up with soulutions themselves - BUT they often do not have the resources to find the answers or work out the soulution. I would like to give them some leads, materials, info - and let them take it from there. If they choose to do nothing, then - at least we tried.

 

Where could I find some team building excercises we could incorporate into meetings, and events? How do we get these boys to come out of "me" and work on "we"?

 

I know the Troop and Adults do not have the training to do a COPE type thing - but where can i find that sort of thing in small doses? I don't think this can wait a whole year 'til next summer camp.

 

Thanks again - I always know I can find some great help here!

 

laura

 

 

 

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"We have alot of adult interest - maybe too much - and each with their own agenda."

 

I suggest start with the adult leadership problem. If the adults do not model the ability to work as a team, then the scouts will not do it either.

 

Bob White

 

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Have you tried the BSA publication Ethics in Action?

 

Do you have access to anyone who does corporate training? They usually have some good ideas about team building excercises that could also be used for the youth.

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Contact the Cope commttee in your Council. They have initiative games that can be done at a Troop meeting. Our committee has gone to Troop meetings and have done some of these with cubs at Parent and Pal. Get the adults trained, get them involved with these games as their own group. Get the adult leaders and committee to a weekend of cope this fall.

 

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Laura the boys will work out a good solution - possibly better than any adults will come up with but YOU must force the need to do so. You must deliberately get the issue in the open with all the boys able to speak without fear of repercussions. Not easy to do hence I recommended facilitation skills. If the issue is not obvious, immediate and needing to be fixed then the boys are unlikely to act - why would they? I may be wrong but I think they are unlikely to study any published material that you might provide. Such material is mostly for adults.

 

As for where are these games /problem solving scenario's? - try the American Camping Assoc site and look for facilitation titles. Your nearest professional camp staff should have some also. I've done a quick web search but it seems that you will have to buy/borrow a book as I couldn't find any for download.

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Troop Program Resources have games you can use in troop meetings that build teamwork either by patrol or the whole troop. Also check the Junior Leader Training which has games you can use.

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