Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Stosh

Adult vs. Youth

Recommended Posts

According to tradition (and possibly logic): the leader is the first in line of march. The navigator with map/compass is second. And the SLOWEST person is third. Everyone else is 6' apart and the assistant leader brings up the rear to catch any stragglers.

 

See if that ever flies in most troops.

 

One of the problems with my Philmont trek was the "leader" was a huge football player who carried a pack that didn't carry but 25# of gear. I knew from the get-go I wasn't going to be able to keep pace with him. :) Eventually the boys figured it out too and began dumping their load on him just to slow him down a bit. :)

 

Stosh

if you are an adult and taking the safety officer position at the tail, then I would consider moving to a boy-led program.

 

I resent that. I really do. You have jumped to a conclusion that isn't supported by the information I gave. At Philmont, since this thread seems to be mostly about that program, I and other adults made one decision per day: where we were setting up our tent(s). And that was after the crew leader told us, "We're setting up camp here." So we found a spot that looked OK and set up. Other than that, we adults were the "added baggage required by National BSA" as you eloquently put it. The boys made the decisions. They decided who was hiking where in the line, what route we would take the next day, which way to turn at an intersection, what meal we were eating, what time to get up in the morning, who was carrying what crew gear (and that included adults), and absolutely everything else. The Crew Leader made the duty roster and ensured it was followed, and on and on and on.

 

These decisions were made organically as well, it wasn't some adult telling them they had to follow a set of militaristic "marching rules". There were only 2 "rules": We stay together as a crew and the naviguesser had to be first or second in line. Other than that, the boys worked it out amongst themselves with maybe a little adjusting from the crew leader (NOT an adult).

 

My exact quote from above is: "My spot for every hike and backpacking trip and canoe trip was at the rear." I didn't say I was always dead last. Sometimes I was second or third from last, which in a 7-8 person crew put me "in the middle", kind of. On float trips I might have been in the middle of a pack of canoes, or 2-3 from the last canoe when we were stretched out over a mile of river, or the last one. You see, I didn't put rules on my Scouts other than the Scout Law and Oath. Oh, and one other, they had to have fun -- rule number one. :)

 

As for being the "safety officer" I might be a bit guilty but only in this sense: As adults on the program side of a non-Cub unit, our one and only job is to make sure the youth don't hurt or kill themselves. I saw part of that responsibility as making sure the number Scouts arriving home equaled the number that departed. Did I entrust that job to Scouts or other adults? Yes I did -- many times. But ultimately and legally the responsibility and liability falls on the Scoutmaster or trek "leader". Therefore I was always at or near the "rear". What's the saying? "Trust but follow up." Or something similar. I consider that "due diligence".

 

Again, though, it was all very organic. These decisions weren't even necessarily conscious ones. If a canoe or 2 or 3 ended up behind me that was OK, as long as I could look back and see the last one. And I really didn't have to have it in constant vision. If it was around the previous bend from me and out of sight, I knew they'd be showing up presently. If they didn't, I'd slow down a bit, or stop and fish, or something. "OK, here they come. Maybe somebody had to pee."

 

Is all of that "boy-led" enough for you? Because that's how my troop operated elsewhere as well while I was SM. "Regular" campouts and hikes and other weekend trips had "adult baggage" along, but we stayed out of the way unless specifically asked to participate or present a program (which the PLC chose, BTW) that wasn't available otherwise (Climbing comes to mind). If I saw something that concerned me I worked through the SPL or the Crew Leader, or whatever youth was in charge (PL etc.) to deal with it, unless it was a matter of immediate health and safety. Again, is that "boy-led" enough for you? Does it meet your definition?

 

In fact, if I were king here's how Philmont would work: Crew arrives, youth get split from adults, youth go on an expedition, adults go across the road to PTC for training. To be somewhat back OT, in that situation the youth would never be "held back". They could choose to hike 120 miles or 55 miles, they could choose to hike fast or slow, they could choose to do anything they wanted without a pesky adult being in their way, physically or otherwise. Lawyers and insurance will never let that happen, but that's how it really should be.

 

Lastly:

As an adult on the Philmont trek, I knew I was going to fall behind [...]

3) The third scout is the slowest of the group. This person sets the pace for the trek. If he were to be in the back, he could in fact stretch the line of march out so far that the boys on the tail could lose contact with the leader in the front. This way, the slowest is right up there with the leader and the leader can adjust the pace accordingly by glancing over his shoulder to see if #3 is struggling, lagging, or whatever. The #3 could lag 30 yards and the leader will still be able to see him at a glance.

So why weren't you #3? Could the leader see you "at a glance"? Did the pace get adjusted for you? Umm. Hmm.

 

I was for sure going to eventually lose contact with the group

If you "lost contact" with the rest of your crew you were not following Philmont protocol, or the rules of safe hiking which every Tenderfoot Scout has to learn. There are just so many things wrong with that situation. Possibly deadly things.

 

And very lastly, where did you end up after falling behind? Yup, in the "safety officer" position. Pot. Kettle. Black.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
According to tradition (and possibly logic): the leader is the first in line of march. The navigator with map/compass is second. And the SLOWEST person is third. Everyone else is 6' apart and the assistant leader brings up the rear to catch any stragglers.

 

See if that ever flies in most troops.

 

One of the problems with my Philmont trek was the "leader" was a huge football player who carried a pack that didn't carry but 25# of gear. I knew from the get-go I wasn't going to be able to keep pace with him. :) Eventually the boys figured it out too and began dumping their load on him just to slow him down a bit. :)

 

Stosh

First of all my sincerest apologies for any toes that got stepped on, not my intention. But as you point out, lack of information leads to false assumptions.

 

There is nothing wrong with due diligence and having an adult near the tail end, but if a boy is given responsibility and designated safety officer, he needs to be supported, not usurped in that responsibility. Not all adults adhere to that. To a certain extent, it sounds as if you do. If a canoe or scout got behind, and the "safety officer" had to look back to check, how often was that. Accidents don't take long to develop. If the safety officer is last, he's the first to see trouble.

 

I had an experience where I took novice scouts down a whitewater river (first time for them and 2 adults) and asked an experienced kayaker to accompany as safety officer. She had 40+ years experience on whitewater trips, I had 20+ on that river alone. I figured we were covered. After a long series of rapids we gathered up and she was missing. No signal. As SM it was my responsibility to check it out. I told the group to wait and I went back. She had dumped and lost the whistle. Just bad luck all around. Fortunately, she wasn't hurt, just a kayak full of water that needed to be attended to. However, when we got caught up to the waiting point, the group had decided to continue on. The two most experienced watercraft people had now become disconnected with the group. Fortunately our luck had changed to good, but it still left the situation far from ideal. Whereas your #1 rule is having fun, my #1 rule is safety first. The adults were the one's that decided the group should continue, they overruled the SPL. The SPL wanted to wait but he was overruled by his dad who was one of the other adults. That process was corrected at the end of the trip. If safety first wasn't going to be part of the decision making process, my attendance wasn't going to be available in the future and they would have to make arrangements with other adults if they were going to participate in risky situations.

 

On the Philmont trek, I was ASM, the SM decided I was to be left behind every day and dictated the Trek Leader to ignore me and my situation. No, I was not safety officer because it only took the boys about 15 minutes to get out of sight of me. Philmont rules? Don't apply with an iron-fisted SM who is used to making up his own rules on the fly. It was never a consideration to place me #3 where I belonged. Safety was never considered when adventure trumped everything else. Even when one knows what is right and safe, it gets out-voted rather quickly by politics. As far as pot calling kettle black, NO, I was not the safety officer, nor was any assigned, and the SM never knew 75% of the time where I was, whether I was having difficulty and he really didn't care.

 

Needless to say, my tenure with that group was ended soon after the trip. I no longer had a boy in the troop, so that wasn't a consideration I needed to address. BSA and me personally do not have enough insurance to cover gross negligence and I had no intention of testing the system.

 

This is the same SM who criticized me in front of the boys for driving the speed limit to and from events.

 

We're talking a 25 year veteran WoodBadge SM with Silver Beaver and every other bauble available and even though I had more years with scouting and working with youth in general, it doesn't count for anything. :)

 

To give you an idea of how boy-led this group is, the SPL and PL's are assigned by the SM according to POR needs. It really didn't make any difference, everyone had to do what the SM said anyway. At summer camp all the older boys (SPL and PL's etc.) are sent off on the HA program leaving the SM in charge of the younger boys. :)

 

After 13 years it was time to move on. Now you know the real reason why I'm such a pro-BOY-LED program. :)

 

Stosh

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×