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JoeBob

Inspire Me, Please.

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My Boy Scout Troop is not moving. I've been working hard to get the boys interested in scout skills. Basic stuff that any boy 50 years ago would love to learn and practice. I've worked to make it fun, to make it interesting, and to present it so that they can learn it easily.

And they're just too damned lazy to care. They don't want to hike in the woods. They don't want to camp if it involves walking more than 100 feet from a car. They don't want to have knot tying or wood cutting competitions, because that would involve knowing how to tie knots and cut wood. They like playing in the fire but not gathering the firewood.

And that may be because they see no need for having scout skills. Cutting wood and tying knots are skills that they would only use in an emergency. Being prepared is not a motto that they take to heart.

I'm tired of swimming upstream. I don't know if I can ever change the mentality of the troop. The older boys who matriculated before I became SM are spreading the Car Camping culture more effectively than I can promote the Woods Skills culture. And why not? Car Camping is easy. Video games, computers, and smart phones have created a generation of boys who are accustomed to instant gratification and no appreciation for work.

I don't know how to change that.

 

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Yep, I'm feeling the same pull ... but let's see if we can inspire you to be that "special kind of crazy ..."

 

Questions:

Where do you camp? On the back acre of a local farmer or the nearest BSA/State Park campground?

Who pays? The parents or the boys? When the boys pay they learn pretty quick that if they find a local site, that's more money in their pocket for games.

What do you, Mr. SM, sleep in? Younger scouts think I'm crazy when I throw my bag and tarp on a picnic table, and don't bother with my tent unless I'm really sure I need it.

Where do you lay your head? How far from the boys?

Do you send them on hikes? Or do they put up with you tagging along?

Do they see you trying to learn a new knot, or remastering one you forgot?

 

As they grow older they gradually imitate, each in their own style. My bag is cheap, my hammock is cheap, my matress - not so cheap but the Mrs. says I need to take care of my back.

 

P.S. - My "inspiration" should be taken with a grain of salt. Our troop has been declining in numbers. (Crossovers going to two new troops in the neighborhood.) But the boys who are in it aren't quitting.

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I feel a little better today knowing Im not the only one that feels this way about my troop. Day in and out I see the laziness and lack of respect...what really bugs me is I didnt see it sooner so I could try to bring it up during all the BORs I sat on. My son was SPL for the last half of the year, came in bright eyed and full of confidence after attending NYLT. 2 months in and he felt defeated, and learned that boy-led means very little if the boys around you that are supposed to be leading as well just dont care.

 

I want to take SM training to become an ASM (I feel its better to try to help instead of leave for "greener pastures"), but at the same time am not really sure I could get thru to them. We get very little parent participation, so its no surprise that apathy has filtered down to the boys.

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I wish I had a good answer. I feel your pain.
Me too! I wish I could help with a solution but all I can say is to keep your nose pointed into the current and swim as hard as you can.

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Yep, I'm feeling the same pull ... but let's see if we can inspire you to be that "special kind of crazy ..."

 

Questions:

Where do you camp? On the back acre of a local farmer or the nearest BSA/State Park campground?

Who pays? The parents or the boys? When the boys pay they learn pretty quick that if they find a local site, that's more money in their pocket for games.

What do you, Mr. SM, sleep in? Younger scouts think I'm crazy when I throw my bag and tarp on a picnic table, and don't bother with my tent unless I'm really sure I need it.

Where do you lay your head? How far from the boys?

Do you send them on hikes? Or do they put up with you tagging along?

Do they see you trying to learn a new knot, or remastering one you forgot?

 

As they grow older they gradually imitate, each in their own style. My bag is cheap, my hammock is cheap, my matress - not so cheap but the Mrs. says I need to take care of my back.

 

P.S. - My "inspiration" should be taken with a grain of salt. Our troop has been declining in numbers. (Crossovers going to two new troops in the neighborhood.) But the boys who are in it aren't quitting.

Recent campouts

October: 2 nights on Mt Yonah, Climbing on Saturday. (20 boys)

November: Hike along the Chattooga River (6 boys)

December: Overnight in a local climbing gym. (25 boys)

January: Mammoth Cave KY (13 boys)

February: Suwanee River canoe trip (12 boys)

March: North Carolina farm for rifle and shotgun shooting (31 boys signed up) And bitching about a 2 hour hike planned for Sunday morning.

 

I sleep in a hammock, where ever there are trees.

 

Every time we challenge them, they whine hard. Usually, after the fact, they admit that they had fun. But they never want to repeat the experience. Although climbing on Mt Yonah with professional guides was a blast, they'll never go back because of the 1.5 mile hike up 1000 feet.

 

I'm weary of making them have fun. When are they going to want to be challenged?

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Sorry, this is demotivational rather than inspirational. "I don't see that challenging activity on my Eagle checklist my parents insist I get". :(

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My scouts are looking forward to our backpacking trip. The first 3 yrs my oldest was in the troop, we did no backpacking. Talked about it a lot, but never got around to it. Last year they did their first one. The boys loved it, and we are doing a more challenging trip next year. Not sure what you can do to change your troop. Ours like a bit of challenge.

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On the particular question of knots, how is this being presented? Are you/PLs teaching knots or are you tying it in (I’m here all week folks J ) with something else, eg we are doing a climbing trip so we are going to cover climbing knots in advance, or teaching lashings as part of a pioneering project?

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On the particular question of knots, how is this being presented? Are you/PLs teaching knots or are you tying it in (I’m here all week folks J ) with something else, eg we are doing a climbing trip so we are going to cover climbing knots in advance, or teaching lashings as part of a pioneering project?
I'm presenting knots that they need. The troop practiced figure 8s for the climbing trip. I demonstrate to everyone and then the PLs and older boys work with the others.

In SMCs I ask them to show me their square knot, and then show them how a thieve's knot is similar.

I wear a cord on my belt to test 2 half hitches and taut lines.

 

Held a lashing patrol competition when it was too cold to go outside. "Let's don't do that again. It took too long and was too hard."

 

PL's teach the knots? Only if they have the book handy to look at!

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Yep, I'm feeling the same pull ... but let's see if we can inspire you to be that "special kind of crazy ..."

 

Questions:

Where do you camp? On the back acre of a local farmer or the nearest BSA/State Park campground?

Who pays? The parents or the boys? When the boys pay they learn pretty quick that if they find a local site, that's more money in their pocket for games.

What do you, Mr. SM, sleep in? Younger scouts think I'm crazy when I throw my bag and tarp on a picnic table, and don't bother with my tent unless I'm really sure I need it.

Where do you lay your head? How far from the boys?

Do you send them on hikes? Or do they put up with you tagging along?

Do they see you trying to learn a new knot, or remastering one you forgot?

 

As they grow older they gradually imitate, each in their own style. My bag is cheap, my hammock is cheap, my matress - not so cheap but the Mrs. says I need to take care of my back.

 

P.S. - My "inspiration" should be taken with a grain of salt. Our troop has been declining in numbers. (Crossovers going to two new troops in the neighborhood.) But the boys who are in it aren't quitting.

Sounds like tremendous fun. But, is there anything that involved, say, meeting at your scout house and hiking to a campsite (even someone's back yard)? I hike through some local game lands? A town hike, maybe where each patrol hauls some rope and sets up some demonstration pioneering projects in a public square? Or, simply visiting the sheriff and maybe sing a song for the guys in lock-up?

 

These "low adventure" projects serve two purposes. First they are stepping stones to "big name" activities. They work the "have fun anywhere" muscle. Second, because the event is less stressful, and travel time is reduced, there's more time available to really work those skills. I usually find we need to do two of these "structured unstructured weekends" for every one of our events with specific agendas.

 

Sometimes this is disciplinary. For my crew, for example, I've made it clear that we aren't considering a trip out West until I see some more care with fire on our local hikes. "He who is faithful in little things ..."

 

Finally, when sure a fair balance has been made in terms of free time and structure, I've found it a waste of time trying to please the masses. If there is one kid who is glad for the activity, that's all I need to tune out 10 "whiners".

To the whiners, consider using this phrase: "Since when is your prepubescent angst any concern of mine?" (Practice it in front of a mirror, because you need to deliver it deadpan when the time comes.)

 

I remember one time years ago when Son #1 was watching me map out a hike for a to-be-determined weekend. He said "You'd better be ready to hike alone."

I replied something to the effect, "Do I look like a pretty boy in some popularity contest?"

Fast forward: his pack is ready so that after work, today, he'll team up with a couple buddies for a night insertion into a trail-head in the Laurel Highlands (accumulation, I'm told, is 'bout 5 feet). After previous outings, some of his buddies have told me of his uncanny knack for cheerful disposition in pretty foul conditions.

 

So, keep the faith. Be yourself -- maybe change what you need to. Find a little more of that inner "crazy survivalist" or "drill instructor" or whatever you need the boys to see. The end product might be more hopeful than you can foresee at the moment.

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I think you really answered your own question, "And that may be because they see no need for having scout skills."

 

Unless you have a lifestyle or career that needs those capabilities, I think that Scouting is probably nothing more than recreation to most boys. At most a hobby, but not a lifelong state of mind that is appears to be to prior generations.

 

I think kids growing up today have a different agenda and a different lifestyle that what we ever thought about having....but then I'm sure we have a different lifestyle and agenda than what our parents had. It's not good, or bad, it's just different.

 

Times change. And what was thought to be permanent fixture in our lives has gone the way of the buggy whip factory.

 

My one son that is "in" Scouting is clearly not "into" Scouting...for him it is something to do when there is nothing else to do. That is his priority to set. He passed up a camping trip this weekend to go to his friend's birthday party. I can see where that might frustrate the adult leaders...but that's the way it is.

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On the particular question of knots, how is this being presented? Are you/PLs teaching knots or are you tying it in (I’m here all week folks J ) with something else, eg we are doing a climbing trip so we are going to cover climbing knots in advance, or teaching lashings as part of a pioneering project?
Then let them use the book! Throw away EDGE, which presumes that the instructor is the font of all knowledge, and let them teach using the method it took to bring the West out of the dark ages ... find a reference, read the reference, do the reference.

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Yep, I'm feeling the same pull ... but let's see if we can inspire you to be that "special kind of crazy ..."

 

Questions:

Where do you camp? On the back acre of a local farmer or the nearest BSA/State Park campground?

Who pays? The parents or the boys? When the boys pay they learn pretty quick that if they find a local site, that's more money in their pocket for games.

What do you, Mr. SM, sleep in? Younger scouts think I'm crazy when I throw my bag and tarp on a picnic table, and don't bother with my tent unless I'm really sure I need it.

Where do you lay your head? How far from the boys?

Do you send them on hikes? Or do they put up with you tagging along?

Do they see you trying to learn a new knot, or remastering one you forgot?

 

As they grow older they gradually imitate, each in their own style. My bag is cheap, my hammock is cheap, my matress - not so cheap but the Mrs. says I need to take care of my back.

 

P.S. - My "inspiration" should be taken with a grain of salt. Our troop has been declining in numbers. (Crossovers going to two new troops in the neighborhood.) But the boys who are in it aren't quitting.

"Since when is your prepubescent angst any concern of mine?"

"Do I look like a pretty boy in some popularity contest?"

 

Have we met?

I can use these.

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I think you really answered your own question, "And that may be because they see no need for having scout skills."

 

Unless you have a lifestyle or career that needs those capabilities, I think that Scouting is probably nothing more than recreation to most boys. At most a hobby, but not a lifelong state of mind that is appears to be to prior generations.

 

I think kids growing up today have a different agenda and a different lifestyle that what we ever thought about having....but then I'm sure we have a different lifestyle and agenda than what our parents had. It's not good, or bad, it's just different.

 

Times change. And what was thought to be permanent fixture in our lives has gone the way of the buggy whip factory.

 

My one son that is "in" Scouting is clearly not "into" Scouting...for him it is something to do when there is nothing else to do. That is his priority to set. He passed up a camping trip this weekend to go to his friend's birthday party. I can see where that might frustrate the adult leaders...but that's the way it is.

My two are into scouting. It is a hobby, but it is also part of their lifestyle. In terms of the knots, whenever I'm working with the boys, I talk about the knots I actually use, and where outside of scouting they can use the knots. My favorite example is "when you're in college, and the cute girl you're dating is moving, you need to know the knots that will let you strap her futon to the roofrack of your car." I give similar examples for the cooking merit badge--"when you invited that girl you are dating over for dinner, you're going to want to cook something good, and have all of the parts to the meal ready at the same time."

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