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sctmom

Boy losing interest already!

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I talked about this in another thread. My son has been in the troop for about 6 months since crossing over from Webelos. He is always busy on campouts and other outings. He had a great time at summer camp. Now he doesn't want to go back to meetings.

 

Our school system started back early, and this is the second week of school. We are in an adjustment period because he is now in middle school.

 

I have talked with him some about the troop. I'm not happy with some of the attitudes but he doesn't see them as being bullys or mean, so that's not the problem. I really think he is bored. There are about 4 patrols in the troop. He is in one of 2 new scout patrols.

 

The last few months the meetings have been Eagle Court of Honors (we had a rash of those), plan for the weekend campout, talk about summer camp, work on a merit badge (listen to an adult talk). They haven't been playing games or working on "active" requirements. He's a real hands-on type kid.

 

He asked me why he can't just work on the requirements at home with me like he did in Cub Scouts. In Webelos I kept those boys walking or moving almost all the time. If we were sitting, it might be on the floor. If a boy wanted to stand instead of sit, that was fine. There was always activity and movement in Cubs.

 

What do I tell him? What should he do? What do I do? I'm on the troop committee but don't feel I can just walk in and tell the SM and PLC how to run the program.

 

I want him to stay in scouting because I think he can gain a lot. But he is not learning scouts skills, leadership, indepedence or teamwork at this point. He's not learning anything AND he's not having FUN! He had more fun and probably learned more by playing with junk from the garage with the neigborhood kids last night. A few wheels and some rope can entertain him for hours!

 

 

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As hard as it may be for you all to beleive, I dont think every Boy Scout meeting can be a rip-snortin' good time. Sometimes the scouts have to plan weekend campouts, they have to plan menu's and talk about what to expect at Summercamp. Having said that, there is nothing wrong with introducing a game at the end of each meeting. Something with a scout skill featured. Volunteer to your PLC that you will have a new game every meeting and you will teach it to the SPL/ASPL so they can teach it to the troop with you as the referee. Woods Wisdom has a bunch of games you can use. When you find a favorite, alternate it with new games.

 

You have commented in the past of his ADD. Boy Scout meetings have periods in them where I can see an ADD scout going crazy. You have to stand still for the opening, for the pledge, for announcements, for closing. I can see this is no fun for even non-ADD scouts, see if you can make a game of him standing still for these periods of time.

 

How are his other medical conditions working out? Could that be effecting him? Or the change to the middle school? Maybe somebody in his new school told him that scouts werent cool.

 

Could be a lot of things going on. Boring meetings, as it has been enumerated many times is a killer, this may be your opportunity to seize a niche in the troop, funmeister!

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Yes he is ADD. He actually does great during the opening (he loves even watching a flag ceremony) and closing. Announcements are kept to a minimum.

 

Maybe some of this is the summer doldrums. Never know how many scouts will show up during the summer. Maybe things will pick back up now that school is in?

 

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Sctmom, been there and done that. I agree that you can't just walk in and tell the PLC how to run their meetings. But I think the suggestion to bring a game to each meeting is VERY good. The other suggestion I have is to make sure that the PLC HAS a copy of Woods Wisdom (which is now called something else), and to have a quiet chat with the ASM over the new scout patrols about your son's feelings about meetings.

 

If you can see that there's improvement on the way - and the problem is getting your son to hang around long enough to see it - I'm not above subtle bribery. Leaving home early enough for a fast-food or restaurant supper with mom before the meeting might be enough to turn the trick if you can afford it and it's not a normal activity for you.

 

If there's no improvement on the way, you're going to have a problem regardless.

 

IMO, Juliette Gordon Lowe had it right in talking about Girl Scouting: "A meeting should have fun and accomplishment. If it cannot have both, it should be FUN. That way the girls will come back for the accomplishment."

 

If the game is toward the end of the meeting, that is what the kids will remember most. It also can act to help them focus on the "dull" work like planning - gotta get this done, boys, so we can get on to the game!

 

If the problem is getting the planning done in a timely fashion, I recommend that you present the questions and ask for the responses in written form - fill in the blank works well. Otherwise they talk all night and nothing gets decided.

 

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Sagerscout writes:

"have a quiet chat with the ASM over the new scout patrols"

 

THE ASM over the new scout patrols? That might be part of the problem. There are lots of ASM's, but none seem to be assigned to either of the new scout patrols. Neither are troop guides assigned. Maybe one day they were but the guides didn't know what to do.

 

From what I read on this board, the patrol method is not being used very well in this troop. What ever the activity is for the evening, every patrol does the same thing. They don't seem to ever have patrol meetings, only when menu planning. No patrol flags or yells. (I thought of telling the patrol leaders I can give them the fabric for a patrol flag and show them how to make one.)

 

I will have to try the eating out. We have done that once or twice and it did work well. He likes the Huddle House down the street from the meeting (not my fave but he loves to eat there). It is a quiet and great place for us to talk.

 

 

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Baden-Powell said "a boy is not a sitting down animal". That is the best rule of thumb for scout activities that I can offer.

 

Troop meetings need to have time to do Troop and/or patrol business but you have to keep the energy and the attention span of a scout age boy in mind. Active time needs to be greater than sitting time, and you need to change the activity every 10 or 15 minutes (20 minute maximum if the activity will support it.)

 

Remember the see-saw of leadership. On one end is Keep the group together (fun and morale) and on the other end is Get the job done (tasks). The goal of good leadership is to keep the see-saw balanced. Too much fun and the work doesn't get done. Too much work and the activity ceases to be enjoyable, the scouts will not want to attend or cooperate. You need to understand your scouts to know when to shift the the load to keep the see-saw balanced.

 

As far as what activities to do BP reminds us that "a good fisherman fishes with bait the fish like to eat not the food the fisherman likes to eat". If leaders do the activities that they think will be fun, they will end up with a program that only the adults enjoy.

 

Boys learn by touching and doing. Remind the Scoutmaster of that.

 

Good Luck,

Bob White

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Sctmom, take a trip to the scout store or troop library with your son and have him pick out a merit badge book he is interested in completing. Get the list of counselors and have him call and schedule a meeting. Then he can begin working on something that he is directly interested in. Get him going on his advancements (help practice at home). While you can't sign off on the requirements, you can certainly work together as much as you like and it sounds like he enjoys that time with you doing those things together and is missing that. Talk with him about scout meetings and get him thinking of what he would like to see happening in meetins. Have him call his patrol leader with some suggestions of things he would like to see incorporated into meetings. There will be high and low points of interest level for each scout. If there is a particular activity he has been waiting to try or a rank he's been interested in attaining; remind him of those during the low points to help him through those times. Sometimes the best thing to do is sort of stand back and let the boy get through it--use your mother's intuition. It's usually right. Good Luck.

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Try the merit badge activity. Also, encourage more active meetings. Not just talking, but doing. I echo Bob White's sentiments about the fifteen minute attention span. Spice things up. Do a quick head-shoulders-knees-and-toes. Do something unexpected. Change the atmosphere. If you don't, the meeting will seem boring. If you do, you've created a program that doesn't feel like it's taking up any time.

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As a fellow hands-on learner, I've a couple of suggestions that I've used successfully:

 

1) Once your son gets a bluecard, make a copy of the MB worksheet for that MB off of meritbadge.com. This is something he can usually work on at home, and is something concrete he can refer to when he speaks with his counselor.

 

2) On occasions where I end up teaching something, I often employ a "round robin" type of method. This works real well with the lower ranks advancements and some MBs like first aid. (and has the bonus of relieving the older scouts from feeling like babysitters.) Set up different stations that teach different skills, each manned by scouters/parent volunteers. Each patrol visits each station, for a limited time, to work on the skill. Can even make this a competition. (I've even used this with adults with great results.)

 

If you think this would work in your troop, perhaps you could suggest it to the SM or whoever may teach next. (or the SPL...) Just FWIW...

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Sctmom,

 

I wanted to add this thought, if your son is still unsure of Boy Scouts, not as enthused as he was a few months back, remind him of the time he used his Boy Scout first aid training on the bike accident victim. You said he was thrilled and proud he knew what to do. Remind him that if he learned such cool skills in the first 3 months of being a boy scout, what else could he learn if he stays until he is 18. Also if possible have him read this, or at least read this to him.

 

 

Dear Sctmom's son,

 

Hi, my name in here is OldGreyEagle and I was a boy scout many years ago and I made Eagle. I am very proud that I attained this rank. As a boy scout I learned many things, how to make fires without matches, how to cook without pots or pans and how to recognize animals. It was the most awesome thng I did growing up.

 

I also learned that I could do things that scared me at first, but then I found I liked them. I learned I could do more things than I thought, many times all you have to do is try and sometimes you do have to work at it, but then when something you have a hard time with works, its the greatest.

 

I have a son, he is what they call dyslexic, it means he has a very hard time reading. He made Eagle this year and is on staff at the council's Junior Leader Training session. Things are not always easy for him, when he joined the troop he had some health problems that set him apart from the other kids.

 

If you have some quesitons about being a boy scout, you or your mother can E-Mail him at Rosesngunns@aol.com and he will let you know how much fun being a Boy Scout can be

 

(This message has been edited by OldGreyEagle)

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OGE, Thanks so much! We will read this together this weekend.

 

I think also he has seen my interest waning. I also realized I have not been attending meetings in uniform. If I want my interest back up, and to be taken more seriously by the scouts and scouters I need to appear in uniform even as a committee member. Then I'm not just seen as another meddling mother/parent.

 

I have made some mental notes about things my son has talked about this week that are related to merit badges. Some may seem to be over his head, but I think he can handle them. Badges such as engineering and railroading. He has been building things out of the junk in the garage this week and "designing" all sorts of bicycle trailers and stuff (engineering). Not to mention that dog in the house could use some regular "dog care" and could learn a few new tricks.

 

I also am going to point out to him that if he is an active scout, then one day in the not so distant future he can be a den chief. This is something that he has shown interest in before. He likes helping with the younger boys and I still have connections with the pack who would welcome him.

 

He is in special ed for reading and writing. There are only 3 students in there right now. There are reading about Tiger Woods and golf. He was proud to show the others his golf clubs and tell them all about how to play. I reminded him that most of that he learned at SCOUTS!

 

He joined in March. Right after that started baseball season. We were in the road every night but Wednesday. Then summer went by in a flash. I think he is burnt out about a lot of things. Troop meetings this summer were tough with no one knowing who would be there and older scouts out of town working.

 

Thanks for all the advice from everyone.

 

 

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OGE,

I read the letter to my son. He didn't say anything, but I know it sunk in some. I reminded him how he has felt helping others with his first aid skills, talking about golf in class, etc. I showed him the requirements on some merit badges that I know he would enjoy doing.

 

At this point he is still shrugging his shoulders. In a few days, he may say something about it. Once we get back into the habit of scout meetings, I'm sure he will do fine.

 

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Well, it all hit the fan last night with my son. I coaxed and made him go to the troop meeting. I went inside and after he didn't show up after a few minutes (he was outside socializing), I went to get him. Found him in another room, with a Scout friend tugging his sleeve saying "come on in there". My son had decided this was it, he was not going to be in Scouts anymore.

 

I talked to him for about 10 minutes, the SM talked for 20 minutes, an ASM talked to him for awhile too. The best we could get was "I don't feel good. Some boys called me names at summer camp. I want to be on the computer and be at home." The SM and I both think this is a cop out. He's wanting the easy way out. The older boys do their best to avoid and ignore the younger scouts. We all know there is name calling when adults are not in ear shot. But their is no physical picking or intimidation.

 

I'm very concerned because he is not wanting to be in the few things he does -- baseball and scouts. I don't think it is anything really serious but I think the closer to teenage years the more important to be involved in at least one activity. Just one. That's all I ask.

 

I do know that in groups of 20 or more kids, he gets very shy and tries to become "invisible". Part of this may be because he doesn't have the "power" he did in Cub Scouts. That's why I'm looking at ways to encourage the patrol to do things. They would be away from the older boys and have more control over what they do.

 

We all tried to get him to understand that he needs to tell us what he likes and doesn't like so that we can help. No one expects him to go to every activity. I know he enjoys being outside, being active, doing things that are part of scouting. We all pointed out Merit Badges he could work on that fit with his preferences.

 

I talked to him about what he wants from me. Does he want me more involved or less involved. I did get the comment that he didn't like it when I left the troop meeting to attend the adult meeting. He never really needs me for anything, just wants to know I'm there.

 

 

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Sctmom,

 

I beleieve you once said that your parents, as nice as they were, let you and your siblings quit many activities and you wished they hadnt let you. Now the shoe is on the other foot.

 

As an aside, I wish all the scouts in my troop had at least one parent as involved and concerned for their boy as you are.

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