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First Class

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Where is it written that the goal of the BSA is that every scout should earn the rank of First Class? In the Wood Badge for the 21st Century Administrators guide, there is a question, with an answer:

 

"What rank is the goal of the Boy Scouts of America that every Scout should earn? First Class"

 

I have always believed a great scouting experience is more important than reaching the rank of Eagle, however, the two do not have to be mutually exclusive. I do agree with the SM LST Manual quote:

 

"Advancement should be kept in perspective. It is not an end in itself, but rather is the outgrowth of the other seven methods of Scouting. A Scout troop can have great Scouting

without great advancement, but a troop with an active outdoor program will naturally have a strong advancement program."

 

I was reading about the 13 year old eagle scout, and I believe that situation is a 3-sigma case (could be wrong), but it caused me to reflect upon what is the purpose of scouting. In our troop the scouts view OA as the highest honor, high adventure next, then receiving LNT, WFA, BSA Lifeguard, as next, and then rank advancement. We tend to respect experience more than rank, and of course the two have some correlation.

 

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It is also in the Guide to Advancement 2013 revision that one of the objectives for unit advancement coordinators is to:

Assist the unit leader in establishing practices that will provide opportunities for each new Boy Scout to achieve First Class rank within 12 to 18 months of joining, and Star rank soon thereafter.

 

In the previous revision stated:

Establish practices that will bring each new Boy Scout to First Class rank within a year of joining, and then to Star rank the following year.

 

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2 Issues here.

(1) All scouts being First Class. I agree. A lot of scouts will drop out along the way but a well trained First Class scout has learned enough basic skills to be helpful and not a burden in an emergency and outdoors. Good goal.

(2) The push for 1st Class 1st Year. This is different and it pushes boys through before some of them are really ready. Follow the BSA plan (and I got trained up on it) and you can fall in the "one and done" trap. And that dilutes the value of (1) above. So what is the value of First Class rank if the boy never really learned anything?

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Beyond FC, the scout really doesn't really pick up any real skill development, mostly leadership, projects and merit badges. A FC scout is (well, should be) trained enough to take care of himself in the outdoors well enough to enjoy the program. FC used to be the highest rank in BSA. The additional ranks are there to occupy the boys till they turn 18. Yeah they're nice, but unless forced by requirements, they should be doing such things as leadership, service and MB's anyway.

 

Stosh

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It is also in the Guide to Advancement 2013 revision that one of the objectives for unit advancement coordinators is to:

Assist the unit leader in establishing practices that will provide opportunities for each new Boy Scout to achieve First Class rank within 12 to 18 months of joining, and Star rank soon thereafter.

 

In the previous revision stated:

Establish practices that will bring each new Boy Scout to First Class rank within a year of joining, and then to Star rank the following year.

I am pleased to see they have made that change. It brings the expectations for the program, and the role of the advancement coordinator (which is me in my troop) in line with what I have always understood them to be anyway. We don't "bring" Scouts from one rank to another. We provide opportunities for them to pass all the T-2-1 requirements, but they have to "bring" themselves to each new rank. They have to do their part, by actually attending the meetings and outings, participating in the program, and doing what the requirements say they are supposed to do. The clarification of my role is good too: I do not "establish" the program, and I do not really "establish" the "practices" by which Scouts advance, either. The SM does that. I do "assist" the SM by making suggestions about how the program might be improved, and in so doing, how the activities required for advancement might be better integrated into a fun, exciting, program. So now the book says what I do, and what the program is supposed to do.

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Beyond FC, the scout really doesn't really pick up any real skill development, mostly leadership, projects and merit badges. A FC scout is (well, should be) trained enough to take care of himself in the outdoors well enough to enjoy the program. FC used to be the highest rank in BSA. The additional ranks are there to occupy the boys till they turn 18. Yeah they're nice, but unless forced by requirements, they should be doing such things as leadership, service and MB's anyway.

 

Stosh

You are absolutely correct. It used to be FC w/Star, FC w/life, and FC w/Eagle. First Class was the highest award. It is supposed to be the point where the youth is self sufficient and could take a group of boys camping w/o adult supervision. Now that National expects them to learn within one year all that is required, a lot of Scouters have gone to the one-and-done method. I asked a First Class Scout to tie a square knot a couple of weeks ago and he could not. He did not remember what a bowline was for either.....

 

Guess I'll wait for "EAGLE" the Wii game so National can ensure the numbers stay artificially high.

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Beyond FC, the scout really doesn't really pick up any real skill development, mostly leadership, projects and merit badges. A FC scout is (well, should be) trained enough to take care of himself in the outdoors well enough to enjoy the program. FC used to be the highest rank in BSA. The additional ranks are there to occupy the boys till they turn 18. Yeah they're nice, but unless forced by requirements, they should be doing such things as leadership, service and MB's anyway.

 

Stosh

Ghermanno,

 

National has pushed that back to 12-18 months, not under a year.

 

That said, about half of our First Class scouts are far from being first class. The problem is that we took in a lot of kids from other troops, and trusted their Scout handbook sign offs. A couple are because we trusted summer camp signoffs. At our Camporee last weekend, I was pleasantly surprised that all of the boys knew their knots, basic orienteering and fire building.

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It's important for Troops to continue to provide opportunities for First Class Scouts to practice their Scout skills. Very few kids can learn something at age 11, not use it very often, and then remember that skill perfectly at age 15. First Class Scouts should be working on their Scout Skills on every campout, including teaching those skills to younger or less experienced Scouts in their Patrol.

 

It's a mistake, in my judgment, to rush boys from Scout through First Class. Our Troop has picked up "drop outs" from Troops who tried this method and simply burned those boys out. "It wasn't any fun" was their number 1 complaint. A good time should never be sacrificed on the altar of advancement.

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I am fortunate to have a self-starter Troop Guide in my Troop who loves Scoutcraft skills and has devised a great refresher course for this weekend. His goal is to do some serious skills instruction on lashings/ropework, cooking and map/compass. The younger Scouts are really pumped about learning stuff while their parents are pumped about the fact that their children are advancing. It's the best of both worlds for me as Scoutmaster. The Scouts are happy and the parents are happy.

 

First Class is definitely, in my mind, the goal of every Scout. Just look at the requirements. Very few have changed since the beginning...

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I believe somewhere in my Boy Scout Handbook it called a First Class Scout "the all around perfect Scout."

 

 

 

However, First Class like Eagle, should not be pushed as the ends of the program. Advancement is a method. The journey is the purpose. It is a mistake to push the rank as a checklist. Their proficiency in the skills from T-1st teaches them confidence and arms them with the useful skills they'll need for their adventures.

 

 

 

Sentinel947

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First Class is definitely, in my mind, the goal of every Scout. Just look at the requirements. Very few have changed since the beginning...

 

The most important First Class requirement is missing: The First Class Journey.

 

Therefore the BSA's outdoor requirements are designed to get Cub Scout survivors to Eagle without ever walking into the woods with packs on their backs.

 

For a while, Hillcourt's Patrol Leader Training got Patrols out into the woods without adult helicopters, but in 1972 Wood Badge replaced it with Troop Method training called "Leadership Development."

 

Therefore the BSA's leadership skills requirements are designed to get Cub Scout survivors to Eagle without ever walking into the woods with a Patrol at their backs.

 

 

 

 

 

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First Class is definitely, in my mind, the goal of every Scout. Just look at the requirements. Very few have changed since the beginning...

 

The most important First Class requirement is missing: The First Class Journey.

 

Therefore the BSA's outdoor requirements are designed to get Cub Scout survivors to Eagle without ever walking into the woods with packs on their backs.

 

For a while, Hillcourt's Patrol Leader Training got Patrols out into the woods without adult helicopters, but in 1972 Wood Badge replaced it with Troop Method training called "Leadership Development."

 

Therefore the BSA's leadership skills requirements are designed to get Cub Scout survivors to Eagle without ever walking into the woods with a Patrol at their backs.

 

 

 

 

Hi, Kudu. You and I are on the same page, brother. I'm currently re-reading Hillcourt's Handbook for Patrol Leaders and the section on Patrols in the 3rd edition of the Scoutmaster's Handbook. Relax, man.

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First Class is definitely, in my mind, the goal of every Scout. Just look at the requirements. Very few have changed since the beginning...

 

The most important First Class requirement is missing: The First Class Journey.

 

Therefore the BSA's outdoor requirements are designed to get Cub Scout survivors to Eagle without ever walking into the woods with packs on their backs.

 

For a while, Hillcourt's Patrol Leader Training got Patrols out into the woods without adult helicopters, but in 1972 Wood Badge replaced it with Troop Method training called "Leadership Development."

 

Therefore the BSA's leadership skills requirements are designed to get Cub Scout survivors to Eagle without ever walking into the woods with a Patrol at their backs.

 

 

 

 

For the curious: Here is the 1916 program specified in our Congressional Charter. Missing requirements are marked in red:

 

http://inquiry.net/advancement/tf-1st_require_1911.htm

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First Class is definitely, in my mind, the goal of every Scout. Just look at the requirements. Very few have changed since the beginning...

 

The most important First Class requirement is missing: The First Class Journey.

 

Therefore the BSA's outdoor requirements are designed to get Cub Scout survivors to Eagle without ever walking into the woods with packs on their backs.

 

For a while, Hillcourt's Patrol Leader Training got Patrols out into the woods without adult helicopters, but in 1972 Wood Badge replaced it with Troop Method training called "Leadership Development."

 

Therefore the BSA's leadership skills requirements are designed to get Cub Scout survivors to Eagle without ever walking into the woods with a Patrol at their backs.

 

 

 

 

How would you implement the First Class Journey in this day and age?

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Nike commented:

 

"How would you implement the First Class Journey in this day and age?"

 

You mean in the "day and age" of Bruce Tuckman Wood Badge?

 

For Webelos III Troops, the same way the Patrol Hike is implemented in Wood Badge: In a Boy Scout camp if necessary.

 

One reluctant Baden-Powell Scouting association implemented my compromise "Shadow Party" of older Scouts or Scouters that tracked them at a distance through rough territory. If the Scouts undergoing the Journey needed to interact with the Shadow Party in any way, the Journey was cancelled.

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