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Growing Troop - how to change the culture?

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Hello all, This is my first post so please go easy on me. I am a new scoutmaster leading a troop undergoing a significant amount of growth and I have a few questions for the seasoned folks here... My son joined our troop a little over 2 years ago. Before his class crossed over, the troop was 8-10 boys. We are now at 30 scouts, having just crossed over 12 new scouts in March. The area is really growing and we have a large Cub Scout pack behind us, so we are going to get even larger. Before we joined the troop, it was essentially a 'camping with friends' club. They checked off their scout requirements and moved on to other things. I became scoutmaster about 6 months ago and have been working to transition the troop to a more Boy Scout normal operation. We have implemented the patrol method, are starting to implement and reinforce scouting skills, etc. My issue is that almost all of my experienced boy leaders are from the old school, where you just didn't really have to do all that 'scouting stuff'. I am struggling to bring them along to lead the new guys because A) they don't know how/never had to and B) they don't really want to. I would rather not run the older guys off, but at the same time, I don't want them to poison the younger guys. Have anyone else ever been in a similar situation? Or if not, do you have advice on ways to approach this? Thanks for your help!

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Welcome to the forums and thanks for your service to our boys! I've found the back-and-forth on some of the various forum topics under patrol method very helpful for setting the groundwork for our crew. I think some of the answers you need are there too.

 

Honestly, you will have boys going back-and-forth. But, be positive and show your most dedicated boys a lotta love. Even if they don't exactly have your vision, let the older one's know it's their turn to shape the troop and you trust that if they stick around, they'll do a great job. Help them understand that managing these new numbers of scouts will be a challenge, but something to look back on with pride.

 

There's nothing wrong with a camping-with-friends club. That's what each patrol should be. The issue is the little cliques have to turn into effective gangs otherwise the friendships wont be anything worth remembering. In the field, try to give your patrols some physical distance from one another. Give them different assignments for meetings. (E.g. one patrol does color guard, another room set-up, another clean up.)

 

And the best way to learn stuff is to teach it, so don't let the older boys get discouraged. We all forget stuff.

 

Finally, brace yourself. It's easy to prejudge one another on the web. So half of what's discussed will miss the mark. Keep in mind that someone out there will benefit from the discussion. So, one specific situation at a time, one out of ten suggestions might be applicable you, and that one has a 50% chance of working. Stick with it and the odds will eventually mount in your favor!

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the simplest thing to do is correct the "We don't need those skills"

 

I would scrap the Boy planned program and put them in situations where they need scout/wood craft.

 

So how does your program look???? Is it very repetitious year to year and the same locations???? I would start by breaking the mold.....

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LHS, that's very close to the position I came into and I was frustrated with it. This is my experience, take from it what you want. Since you have such a young troop, it might not be so easy (e.g., scouts under the age of about 13 don't have the maturity to be a PL. It's not a hard rule, just an observation.)

 

A few years ago: I told the adults I wanted the older scouts to teach the skills so they'd learn them and I got blow back. A patrol leader was a glorified secretary. I wanted patrols camping separately and nobody had the faintest idea why. The older scouts tolerated the younger scouts, but that's about it.

 

Now, patrols want to camp as far away from each other as possible. At camp I now see patrol leaders teaching the younger scouts. At summer camp I had to ask the adults that wanted to go on the 5 mile hike, to make sure nothing would go wrong, to let the scouts handle it on their own, as that's what they wanted.

 

It took a long time (probably too long but I'm a slow learner). Change is slow and requires a constant message. It's amazing how the attitude of "well, that's how we've always done it" takes forever to change. I try and change just a few things at a time. It took us about a year to convince the scouts that clean means no grease. We sounded like a broken record.

 

I finally figured out that I needed all the ASMs on the same page. Without their help the scouts were getting one new message from me and several old messages from the ASMs. I was trying to change too much at a time. Now when I come up with an idea I have a SM meeting to get their input and work out how we are going to make it happen. Some things get delayed, modified, or dropped in the process.

 

The bigger issue, however, was getting the boys to buy in. In the past year things have really changed for the better and it seems to do with patrol method and that in turn means scout leadership. I thought I had a boy led troop until one day I noticed that the adult leader monthly meeting would go on for 2 or 3 hours and the scout leader meeting would take 15 to 20 minutes. My definition of boy led is now: Who solves the problems. That's who is leading the troop. That's not to say the scouts don't need guidance in solving problems, but that's a different thread. There are plenty of threads about teaching leadership. I've found a lot of useful information and none of it really seems wrong. Given the culture change I wanted to make the straight NYLT, ISLT, Woodbadge was lacking. Here are some critical parts:

 

Being a PL in my troop is now a Big Deal whereas it used to be a vote along the lines of "whose turn is it?" Now, patrol leaders need to be nominated, much like OA, before they can even run for office. It's not a popularity contest. The result of all this is that PLs now believe they're doing something important. I asked some older scouts a year or so ago about leadership and they were blunt, they know a bs job when they see it. They want real responsibility.

 

I trust my PLs (and most of the older scouts for that matter) and they know it. When there's a problem I'll take it to the SPL and ask him to bring it up at a PLC meeting and they'll work on it. What I described above about the older scouts taking the younger scouts on a hike without adults was a good example. At one point, with both the scouts and adults standing there, I turned to the older scouts and asked them if they could handle it alone, they said yes, and so I turned to the adults and said they didn't need to go. I intentionally did that in front of the scouts so they knew I trusted them and would stand up for them in front of the adults. That buys me respect. The scouts know if they screw up they not only embarrass themselves but they embarrass me, the adult that's treating them like an adult. We respect each other and that's what the scouts want. I trust their judgement and that has somehow raised their judgement. There are times where they propose a better solution than I would have thought of.

 

I have expectations for PLs and patrol members when it comes to participation. Scouts are expected to go to at least half the campouts and half the service projects. The PL or APL must be at every patrol event, including campouts. That seems to give kids in sports and other stuff plenty of opportunity to do scouts and other stuff. I do make exceptions for acts of God (medical, family situation) but not scout choices (homework, other activities). When parents complain I tell them scouting is a team based sport.

 

I'm no longer the bad guy. I inherited a troop where the SM was judge, jury, and executioner and all the other adults, and scouts, didn't deal with any of that. It makes it easy to take care of problems but it's hard to develop a trusting relationship with the scouts. I told adults I no longer want to be the sole disciplinarian and I will no longer test the scouts for skills before a SM conference. Now they do it. Another way I got out of being a bad guy is having the scouts nominate who can be a PL. If a scout isn't nominated and he needs a POR all I have to ask is "why do you think the scouts didn't nominate you?" I'm not giving them the bad news. It's much easier for me to have a talk with a scout about helping out, scout spirit, and things like that.

 

We just started some fun events exclusively for the older scouts that help out. They chose things like a lock in and rock climbing. It's just a fun afternoon where the older scouts can create some comaradarie. It also lets everyone else in the troop know that these guys are good.

 

Kind of long and blathering. Sorry about that. When other adults complain I can only say it works for me and this is by no means the only way to do it. I am interested in what others do as this can be better. Of course, when I feel like it's workable, and it has become culture in my troop, I will step down.

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When I took over we had a few older scouts that were good with the teaching of skills but the rest were really struggling with it. I sat down with each of them and had a little chat individually and found out what they were comfortable with teaching and what they needed help with to teach. If the SPL ended up getting a scout to teach a skill they were not great with I would talk with that scout and re-teach them so that they could teach it or if they still just couldn't grasp it to be able to teach I would let them know they needed to let the SPL know that. Now that I've worked with the troop for a while I know all the scouts I have that are first class or higher can teach any of the scout skills (granted a few might have to look at their book for a couple of things just to re-fresh their memory but otherwise they are good to go)

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Thanks everyone for the responses. I appreciate the comments.

 

Qwazse - great ideas reinforcing the patrol method. I have started doing some of that, especially competitions between the patrols. That really seems to grab the boys

 

Basementdweller - before I got here, there really was no 'program' per say. Meetings were times to play football and camp outs consisted of hiking and eating pop tarts. I am starting to work in a program where the monthly campout is focused on some sort of scout skill and we use the meetings leading up to it to teach that skills. It's not yet where I want it, but we are making baby steps. Key problem is my SPL is one of the biggest opponents to doing scout stuff...cooking is too much work/gotta wash dishes...building a campsite gateway is too much work/you've just got to take it apart again.

 

MattR - great note. Your situation does seem very similar to mine. I am working hard not to mandate change. I would like the boys to lead the change, but it is a challenge when your boy leaders do not want to change. I have some new ASMs with solid scouting backgrounds (Eagle scouts, OA) so they are onboard with the transition. We are spending most of our change efforts on the new guys (0-2 years in). That is 90% of the boys at this point, so I think the change will occur over time, probably more quickly than I expect.

 

IM_Kathy - my class of oldest scouts absolutely does not want to teach (I already learned that stuff. I don't need to know it anymore), so again, we are focusing on the next class down where there is more interest.

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Hi LH, I been there and have the shirt. I have a few shirts in fact because I helped a few other troops in your situation. MattR gave an excellent post which describes the direction our troop went, so I will give a few words on the older scouts. My advice is if you want to keep the older scouts, let them have their program because they will not change much. What boys learn up to puberty is what you are stuck with after. It's human nature that you need to understand for your young scouts. But just give in to the idea that your new program will have to be built from the young scouts. Use the older scouts best as you can for teaching skills and leading hikes, but don't push them so hard they don't come back. Just let them do their thing so they get some growth from the program. YOU focus on building the habits of a boy run troop with the young guys. Older scouts will be frustrating at first, but you will get used to blending the two programs until they age out. Just make sure the younger scouts are using the program you want so they teach it to the younger scouts when they get older. It's a lot of work, but I promise the rewards are great. Our troop went from 12 to 100 in seven years and we had the reputation of the most boy run troop in the council. We didn't want to be a big troop, but we coudn't turn them away either. We averaged 2 older scouts a month transfering from other troops because they wanted to have more fun then the troop they where in. So there is hope, just as MattR keeps pointing out with his troop, if you build it, they will come. I love this scouting stuff. Barry

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Thanks everyone for the responses. I appreciate the comments.

 

Qwazse - great ideas reinforcing the patrol method. I have started doing some of that, especially competitions between the patrols. That really seems to grab the boys

 

Basementdweller - before I got here, there really was no 'program' per say. Meetings were times to play football and camp outs consisted of hiking and eating pop tarts. I am starting to work in a program where the monthly campout is focused on some sort of scout skill and we use the meetings leading up to it to teach that skills. It's not yet where I want it, but we are making baby steps. Key problem is my SPL is one of the biggest opponents to doing scout stuff...cooking is too much work/gotta wash dishes...building a campsite gateway is too much work/you've just got to take it apart again.

 

MattR - great note. Your situation does seem very similar to mine. I am working hard not to mandate change. I would like the boys to lead the change, but it is a challenge when your boy leaders do not want to change. I have some new ASMs with solid scouting backgrounds (Eagle scouts, OA) so they are onboard with the transition. We are spending most of our change efforts on the new guys (0-2 years in). That is 90% of the boys at this point, so I think the change will occur over time, probably more quickly than I expect.

 

IM_Kathy - my class of oldest scouts absolutely does not want to teach (I already learned that stuff. I don't need to know it anymore), so again, we are focusing on the next class down where there is more interest.

Full disclosure: we do a lot of pop-tarts, no gateway, and hike a lot!

 

Regarding meetings, suggest British Bulldog. (BD will love me for that one!)

Regarding gateway, suggest something inspiring: http://www.lotrscenerybuilder.org/argonath.php

Regarding cooking, leave a note: "Good morning: your pop-tarts have been relocated to the secure locations indicated on the attached map. Enjoy your breakfast hike! Alternatively, eggs, bacon and other fixings are in the cooler adjacent to camp."

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In the field' date=' try to give your patrols some physical distance from one another. [/quote']

 

A few years ago: I wanted patrols camping separately and nobody had the faintest idea why...Now' date=' patrols want to camp as far away from each other as possible. [/quote']

 

Nothing changes the culture of a Troop faster than physical distance between the Patrols. In the rest of the world (which uses Baden-Powell's "Patrol System" rather than our "Patrol Method"), the distance is specified as 150-300 feet.

 

Baden-Powell's minimum requirement appeals to the natural instinct of boys to build hideouts or "secret forts" in the woods. It is the real meaning of the 2nd Class requirement 3b. "On one of these campouts, select your patrol site and sleep in a tent that you pitched. Explain what factors you should consider when choosing a patrol site and where to pitch a tent" (as opposed to "Pick a corner of developed campsite")!

 

I usually start small: Allow the most matrure, best behaved Patrol to camp "half a football field away," and adjust the distance on the next campout according to behavior. Eventually the Troop culture will change as Patrols elect their best leader, so as to gain distance.

 

Yours at 300 feet,

Kudu

http://kudu.net/patrol

 

 

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Hi LH, I been there and have the shirt. I have a few shirts in fact because I helped a few other troops in your situation. MattR gave an excellent post which describes the direction our troop went, so I will give a few words on the older scouts. My advice is if you want to keep the older scouts, let them have their program because they will not change much. What boys learn up to puberty is what you are stuck with after. It's human nature that you need to understand for your young scouts. But just give in to the idea that your new program will have to be built from the young scouts. Use the older scouts best as you can for teaching skills and leading hikes, but don't push them so hard they don't come back. Just let them do their thing so they get some growth from the program. YOU focus on building the habits of a boy run troop with the young guys. Older scouts will be frustrating at first, but you will get used to blending the two programs until they age out. Just make sure the younger scouts are using the program you want so they teach it to the younger scouts when they get older. It's a lot of work, but I promise the rewards are great. Our troop went from 12 to 100 in seven years and we had the reputation of the most boy run troop in the council. We didn't want to be a big troop, but we coudn't turn them away either. We averaged 2 older scouts a month transfering from other troops because they wanted to have more fun then the troop they where in. So there is hope, just as MattR keeps pointing out with his troop, if you build it, they will come. I love this scouting stuff. Barry
Maybe that's why it took so long, I was waiting for the older scouts to age out. Sounds better than me being slow. But I agree, there is some truth to changing the culture with the younger scouts.

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Came into a Camping with Friends Cub Scout Pack... where doing Rank Advancement was "doing Book Stuff." To make it worse, at the Cub level, the physical work is all on the leaders, which made this grueling.

 

With Cubs, our group turns over quickly, the older leader was on board being more "book stuff." The younger Dens are by the Book, the older Dens are less formal. I don't worry about them, they'll do what they do then cross over... I'd put the older 8-10 Scouts in their own patrol, let them do what they want. Over time, they'll be irrelevant. And if the other Scouts are off having fun and Scout like and they are camping with friends, they'll either take an interest and get involved, or they won't.

 

You can't force them to Scout, but if they come to things, have fun, aren't disruptive, pay their dues, and sell Camp Cards, what's the downside to them being around? Size is its own benefit, and the older scouts who have been there can go, have fun. If they are disruptive, well, put them in their own patrol, and if they don't hit their scout craft benchmarks, they can't come on certain activities.

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Thanks everyone for the responses. I appreciate the comments.

 

Qwazse - great ideas reinforcing the patrol method. I have started doing some of that, especially competitions between the patrols. That really seems to grab the boys

 

Basementdweller - before I got here, there really was no 'program' per say. Meetings were times to play football and camp outs consisted of hiking and eating pop tarts. I am starting to work in a program where the monthly campout is focused on some sort of scout skill and we use the meetings leading up to it to teach that skills. It's not yet where I want it, but we are making baby steps. Key problem is my SPL is one of the biggest opponents to doing scout stuff...cooking is too much work/gotta wash dishes...building a campsite gateway is too much work/you've just got to take it apart again.

 

MattR - great note. Your situation does seem very similar to mine. I am working hard not to mandate change. I would like the boys to lead the change, but it is a challenge when your boy leaders do not want to change. I have some new ASMs with solid scouting backgrounds (Eagle scouts, OA) so they are onboard with the transition. We are spending most of our change efforts on the new guys (0-2 years in). That is 90% of the boys at this point, so I think the change will occur over time, probably more quickly than I expect.

 

IM_Kathy - my class of oldest scouts absolutely does not want to teach (I already learned that stuff. I don't need to know it anymore), so again, we are focusing on the next class down where there is more interest.

my guys love it we play regularly.....maybe a bit too much.

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While I agree with Kudu's thoughts on physical distance -- I've learned that separating patrols makes it an effort to go "mess" with other patrols solves more discipline issues that anything you can do -- I have come to see that cooking a meal is the essence of a patrol. Every attribute we want to instill in our Scouts is learned, honed and tested while planning, cooking and cleaning up from a meal -- teamwork, cooperation, leadership, courtesy, reverence, delegation, compromise, dealing with adversity and other's shortcomings, not to mention the basic skills involved. We are a cooking troop which means our campouts tend to be more homesteading than trekking. Leave my guys in the woods long enough and they'll have crops in the ground.

 

Getting to that point took years. I could write a book on the things we did to get our Scouts to the point at which they were willing to put al little extra effort into preparing good meals. The hardest part was getting the boys to take some risks and try new things, have some confidence in their own ability and understand that their efforts would pay off in the end -- not a bad life lesson, huh?

 

The first thing I did was to ban both Pop-Tarts and Raman noodles. Yep, dictate top-down from the SM. What I found was that I could encourage several patrols to put the effort in to making a nice meal, but it only took a couple guys walking around munching Pop-Tarts and sneering at the other guys for being chumps to negate the positive gains. Pop-Tarts are the perfect adolescent meal -- easy, require no effort, no team work, they are devoid of any nutritional value, and allow the guys to be seen as bucking the system and getting away with something -- a home run for a 14 year old boy. One of our first cooking programs was a "Iron Chef" weekend during which the troop provided each patrol with an identical larder of food for the weekend (not unlike the way patrol meals are provided for IOLS training.) They were required to use every ingredient and were scored on the creativity and quality among other things. One of the obvious solution was to use the peppers, onions and mushrooms to make an omelet instead of simple scrambled eggs. We were encouraged when, on the next month's campout, several of the patrols brought peppers, onions, sausage, salsa, etc., and started to run with the idea. But the next campout, as all the patrols were working on their breakfasts, a couple guys from the self-appointed "cool kid patrol" walked from campsite to campsite chomping on their Pop-Tarts, bragging about how they slept in, had Pop-Tarts and were already finished with breakfast. The hissing sound was the air being let out of our program.

 

Which is all a long way to make the point that you shouldn't be afraid to step in and establish a baseline for the program. YOU, as Scoutmaster, are responsible for delivering the program. Youth leadership is part of that program, but isn't the tail which wags the dog. Don't get hung up on the idea that you have to wait for the boys to discover the correct path and follow it. ESPECIALLY when trying to fix a broken culture, the unit leaders need to layout the broad strokes of the program then let the Scouts take it from there. It may be necessary for you to reset some of the expectations for the older boys, especially if their current rules of operation are negatively impacting the program for the younger boys.

 

Scouts aren't born with the ability to lead, plan, camp, cook, hike, etc. It takes training. That the older boys have developed poor habits in these areas doesn't mean you are stuck with their poor example. Yes, it will be difficult for them to unlearn those habits and get on with the new program, but they need to. Of course you've got to decide which hills are worth dying on and how far you can push the older Scouts.

 

One of the most beneficial sessions in Wood Badge, I thought, was the one on managing change. My take-away from the session, now almost 10 years ago, was that to manage change you need 1) a clear vision for your end goal, 2) communicate that plan to the group, 3) the fortitude to stick with it, 4) and the willingness to accept some losses along the way. You may lose some of the older Scouts along the away. You've got to decide what are acceptable losses.

 

But most important is having a clear understanding of your goal and staying that course.

 

 

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While I agree with Kudu's thoughts on physical distance -- I've learned that separating patrols makes it an effort to go "mess" with other patrols solves more discipline issues that anything you can do -- I have come to see that cooking a meal is the essence of a patrol. Every attribute we want to instill in our Scouts is learned, honed and tested while planning, cooking and cleaning up from a meal -- teamwork, cooperation, leadership, courtesy, reverence, delegation, compromise, dealing with adversity and other's shortcomings, not to mention the basic skills involved. We are a cooking troop which means our campouts tend to be more homesteading than trekking. Leave my guys in the woods long enough and they'll have crops in the ground.

 

Getting to that point took years. I could write a book on the things we did to get our Scouts to the point at which they were willing to put al little extra effort into preparing good meals. The hardest part was getting the boys to take some risks and try new things, have some confidence in their own ability and understand that their efforts would pay off in the end -- not a bad life lesson, huh?

 

The first thing I did was to ban both Pop-Tarts and Raman noodles. Yep, dictate top-down from the SM. What I found was that I could encourage several patrols to put the effort in to making a nice meal, but it only took a couple guys walking around munching Pop-Tarts and sneering at the other guys for being chumps to negate the positive gains. Pop-Tarts are the perfect adolescent meal -- easy, require no effort, no team work, they are devoid of any nutritional value, and allow the guys to be seen as bucking the system and getting away with something -- a home run for a 14 year old boy. One of our first cooking programs was a "Iron Chef" weekend during which the troop provided each patrol with an identical larder of food for the weekend (not unlike the way patrol meals are provided for IOLS training.) They were required to use every ingredient and were scored on the creativity and quality among other things. One of the obvious solution was to use the peppers, onions and mushrooms to make an omelet instead of simple scrambled eggs. We were encouraged when, on the next month's campout, several of the patrols brought peppers, onions, sausage, salsa, etc., and started to run with the idea. But the next campout, as all the patrols were working on their breakfasts, a couple guys from the self-appointed "cool kid patrol" walked from campsite to campsite chomping on their Pop-Tarts, bragging about how they slept in, had Pop-Tarts and were already finished with breakfast. The hissing sound was the air being let out of our program.

 

Which is all a long way to make the point that you shouldn't be afraid to step in and establish a baseline for the program. YOU, as Scoutmaster, are responsible for delivering the program. Youth leadership is part of that program, but isn't the tail which wags the dog. Don't get hung up on the idea that you have to wait for the boys to discover the correct path and follow it. ESPECIALLY when trying to fix a broken culture, the unit leaders need to layout the broad strokes of the program then let the Scouts take it from there. It may be necessary for you to reset some of the expectations for the older boys, especially if their current rules of operation are negatively impacting the program for the younger boys.

 

Scouts aren't born with the ability to lead, plan, camp, cook, hike, etc. It takes training. That the older boys have developed poor habits in these areas doesn't mean you are stuck with their poor example. Yes, it will be difficult for them to unlearn those habits and get on with the new program, but they need to. Of course you've got to decide which hills are worth dying on and how far you can push the older Scouts.

 

One of the most beneficial sessions in Wood Badge, I thought, was the one on managing change. My take-away from the session, now almost 10 years ago, was that to manage change you need 1) a clear vision for your end goal, 2) communicate that plan to the group, 3) the fortitude to stick with it, 4) and the willingness to accept some losses along the way. You may lose some of the older Scouts along the away. You've got to decide what are acceptable losses.

 

But most important is having a clear understanding of your goal and staying that course.

 

Excellent post Twocub, excellent. Your post also applies to those troops that don't cook breakfast on Sunday so that they can break camp faster and get home sooner. The meal is scouting's best activity for developing character growth. Don't skip a single opportunity. It is so powerful infact, some troops refuse to attend a summer camp with a dinnng hall. Barry

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While I agree with Kudu's thoughts on physical distance -- I've learned that separating patrols makes it an effort to go "mess" with other patrols solves more discipline issues that anything you can do -- I have come to see that cooking a meal is the essence of a patrol. Every attribute we want to instill in our Scouts is learned, honed and tested while planning, cooking and cleaning up from a meal -- teamwork, cooperation, leadership, courtesy, reverence, delegation, compromise, dealing with adversity and other's shortcomings, not to mention the basic skills involved. We are a cooking troop which means our campouts tend to be more homesteading than trekking. Leave my guys in the woods long enough and they'll have crops in the ground.

 

Getting to that point took years. I could write a book on the things we did to get our Scouts to the point at which they were willing to put al little extra effort into preparing good meals. The hardest part was getting the boys to take some risks and try new things, have some confidence in their own ability and understand that their efforts would pay off in the end -- not a bad life lesson, huh?

 

The first thing I did was to ban both Pop-Tarts and Raman noodles. Yep, dictate top-down from the SM. What I found was that I could encourage several patrols to put the effort in to making a nice meal, but it only took a couple guys walking around munching Pop-Tarts and sneering at the other guys for being chumps to negate the positive gains. Pop-Tarts are the perfect adolescent meal -- easy, require no effort, no team work, they are devoid of any nutritional value, and allow the guys to be seen as bucking the system and getting away with something -- a home run for a 14 year old boy. One of our first cooking programs was a "Iron Chef" weekend during which the troop provided each patrol with an identical larder of food for the weekend (not unlike the way patrol meals are provided for IOLS training.) They were required to use every ingredient and were scored on the creativity and quality among other things. One of the obvious solution was to use the peppers, onions and mushrooms to make an omelet instead of simple scrambled eggs. We were encouraged when, on the next month's campout, several of the patrols brought peppers, onions, sausage, salsa, etc., and started to run with the idea. But the next campout, as all the patrols were working on their breakfasts, a couple guys from the self-appointed "cool kid patrol" walked from campsite to campsite chomping on their Pop-Tarts, bragging about how they slept in, had Pop-Tarts and were already finished with breakfast. The hissing sound was the air being let out of our program.

 

Which is all a long way to make the point that you shouldn't be afraid to step in and establish a baseline for the program. YOU, as Scoutmaster, are responsible for delivering the program. Youth leadership is part of that program, but isn't the tail which wags the dog. Don't get hung up on the idea that you have to wait for the boys to discover the correct path and follow it. ESPECIALLY when trying to fix a broken culture, the unit leaders need to layout the broad strokes of the program then let the Scouts take it from there. It may be necessary for you to reset some of the expectations for the older boys, especially if their current rules of operation are negatively impacting the program for the younger boys.

 

Scouts aren't born with the ability to lead, plan, camp, cook, hike, etc. It takes training. That the older boys have developed poor habits in these areas doesn't mean you are stuck with their poor example. Yes, it will be difficult for them to unlearn those habits and get on with the new program, but they need to. Of course you've got to decide which hills are worth dying on and how far you can push the older Scouts.

 

One of the most beneficial sessions in Wood Badge, I thought, was the one on managing change. My take-away from the session, now almost 10 years ago, was that to manage change you need 1) a clear vision for your end goal, 2) communicate that plan to the group, 3) the fortitude to stick with it, 4) and the willingness to accept some losses along the way. You may lose some of the older Scouts along the away. You've got to decide what are acceptable losses.

 

But most important is having a clear understanding of your goal and staying that course.

 

Along those same lines, Barry, I've noticed that kids will tolerate anything for 24 hours. If we do a Saturday morning to Sunday morning campout, they figure the don't have to wash, eat or sleep particularly well. They know that at noon Sunday they go home to a hot shower, mom makes a nice lunch and they sleep the rest of the afternoon. Adding Friday night to the campout changes that calculation.

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