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Question about 1st Class/ 1st year

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in attempting to provide a program that gets a boy to first class / first year - we have a disagreement in time in our troop.


We get boys in from Webelos and non-scouts, anytime from Feb of their 5th grade year to June. They do not all come in one clump, but rather in spurts, singles and small groups from the same pack. (we do not have a 'feeder' pack, we have to WORK hard to recruit!) some are active from the start, some are in spring sports and don't really get active until summer campouts and summer camp. We do have about a 95% turnout for summer camp - mostly because we have done two camps for the last two years.


I would think that offering enough opportunities to get these various 'starters' to First Class by Summer Camp or June of 6th grade, is a reasonable goal - roughly 12 - 16 months for the 'year'. If they don't have it by then, the 2nd year of summer camp gives them ample opportiunities to catch up with their peers before the big August COH.


others in our troop think First Class / First year means 12 months - period. Feb to Feb or April to April. With the varying start times, this makes it kinda tough to fit in all the activities bracketed as it is by winter months. (We're in Northern Illinois - cold slush mud and yuch for 6 of those 12 months.)


What is the intent/ goal of FCFY? 12 mos or end of 6th grade regardless of start time?

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The goal of FCFY is to keep Scouts from quitting by making advancement easy.


I'd go with the first Scouting year which would be June of the following year.


That said, you shouldn't fuss over FCFY. If you have an active program and the boys want to make rank, they can do it in one year. If you start focusing on advancement, you get goofy thinks like "We're going on a nature hike. Look there's a bird. Check it off."

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The intent is to have an Assistant Scoutmaster, wih the help of a Troop Guide, plan a program specifically for the New Scout Patrol(s) to enjoy. This program should be structured so that through their participation a scout will have the opportunity to learn, practice and apply all the skills and requirements needed to complete Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class Ranks within 12 to 14 months.


The scout can then choose to stay with the New Scout Patrol as it becomes a regular patrol, or to join an already established regular patrol once he has achieved First Class Rank.


Hope this Helps,

Bob White

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FOG, you probably have heard this before, but you are wrong, dead wrong First Class First Year is not intended to make advancement easy, show me where in the BSA literature is says that following first class first year is intended to make advancement easy, you cant because its not there. Hold on, wait a minute, why Mr Fog, you old rascal, you are just pushing buttons seeing if you can start a brew-ha-ha. Well you little dickens, you know better, you just love to bait some of us. Oh well, here I go again


Laura, First Class First Year means the Troop is committed to providing a program so that the opportunity for a scout to advance to First class in a year is possible, not a certainty. This means a scout who attends activities will have an opportunity to do the shopping, cooking, orienteering, find way at nighting, first aiding knot tieing etc required to become first class. FCFY details a program to help the scout, but is in no way is meant to relax advancement requirements. If a scout bridges in February, does on one outing, starts Baseball and you dont see him till next september, chances are he wont make first class by the following February, but its becasue the scout wasnt there, not because opportunities werent presented.


What happens if the scout doesnt make first class? well, what are some of the reasons, we tell our scouts at BOR time, nothing helps advancement like showing up, its up to them to do it, (well and sorta up to us to guide the boys to have a program that the kids want to attend, sorta a Yin and Yang thing)

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I would say it sounds like you are on target. I bet those who are in the 16 month catagory could actually have made it in 12 if they had really worked hard with that goal in mind. If it is reasonably possible to make first class in the first 12 months, then it is OK. If some are taking 16 months, that is fine, not everyone works at the same rate. If others need a second summer camp, well, that is a bit slow, but that is ok too.


Just ask yourself this- If someone joined the troop at any point in the year, was active in meetings and outings for 12 montsh, and actively made an effort to complete advancement requirements, could they reach first class in the first year of membership?

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I think it should be fairly obvious that boys will advance in rank at different speeds. I think any boy achieving First Class in his first 12 months in scouting has accomplished something worthy of note.


FOG's comment about making rank advancement easier is way off base. Others who have been around awhile may have a different take on this, but the notions of new scout patrols and pushing advancement to First Class in the first year were promoted nationally about the time that I became active as an adult volunteer. We were told that BSA National had commissioned a comprehensive study of youth retention, including tracking down dropouts and interviewing them. One of the findings was that, if a boy made First Class during his first year, he was more likely to stick around. I don't know what is cause and what is effect here regarding retention, but the idea of really creating a program for new scouts, whatever it may look like had then, and still has, serious merit.


To try to answer your question more directly, if I were to monitor new boys, I would start the clock running on a new boy on the date that he joined.

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Our intent is not to 'make it easy' to get to first class - but to provide enough opportunities that with reasonable participation, they can get there.


Only thing is - with only one spring and summer - say march to march - we are finding it difficult to schedule enough activities that cover everything and offer some repeats for missed events.


for example - we try to go to a corn maze every fall as a webelos recruiting activity and invite the webelos for the maxe and a campfire afterwards. the 8-10 mile layout and puzzle of the maze lends itself to the 5 mile compass hike requirement, and we orienteering training for it beforehand. If you miss this event, we also do one or two bike trips a year that can also cover this requirement - IF a boy remembers to bring the compass and DO it.


We also try to look at each outing, and make it known what requirements a boy CAN accomplish, if he makes the effort to let someone know what he needs to complete.


One thing we have difficulty doing is the BSA swim test - the only INDOOR pool in our area requires a RC lifeguard to use it - and we have had a hard time finding lifeguards. We mostly depend on Camp for this requirement. The city pool is only open memorial day to labor day and is seldom available for such a test, and again, requires that we provide a lifeguard.


We don't hand it to them, but we do point out and provide opportunities for specific, harder to accomplish advancement requirements.


Every year, however, we end up with one or two boys that get really discouraged because they just need 1 - 3 requirements to make 1st Class, and for some reason the troop puts on a big push for advancement in the slow meeting times in December & January, when the weather is raw, muddy and not amenable to nature and orienteering hikes. This is partially because some are pushing for those first year's to get their FC by Feb or March - 12 mos after they started, and the boys themselves haven't really 'tuned in' to the program until well into fall.


I think the time limit is too short, puts too much pressure on the boys and scheduling to get it all in. In addition, I think that this kind of 'pushing' for requirements means the boys actually LEARN and RETAIN less skills.


I also think the PLC does 'Advancement' at meetings because they can't think of anything better to do. 'Advancement' meetings consist of breaking into patrols or groups for a demonstration or work on a specific advancement skill with an older scout or ASM - say, knot tying or lashing or stoves - then testing for the skill and getting signed off. to me, this is a waste of time - it's like cub scouts - because they don't 'practice' the skills enough to really know them. (personally, I'm tough - if a boy has to show me the skill with his book in hand, open to the page, i won't sign off - he has to KNOW it) But it is an accepted way of working advancement in our troop at winter meetings, when they can't get outside (cold and dark) on a weeknight.


that extra 4 months allows for more duplicate opportunities of skills, in the field - and I think is better training and has better retention. But I am constantly being told 'First Class, first year' and 12 months is a 'year'.


I also have another question -


How do your troops handle the 4th requirement for FC? being "cheif cook" for their patrol for 3 meals? We find it difficult to have one boy cook all three at one campout, because it sticks the rest of his patrol with the grunt work for all meals. It's also directly opposite of a patrol duty roster's intent to rotate jobs. What we do is have a boy complete this requirement in 2-3 campouts, one meal at a time, not necessarily the one he planned and not necessarily on the same campout.


Is this pretty par for the course in other troops? how does your troop handle this requirement?


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Hi Laura


You got some very good replies that apply to you question.


Another way to ask your question is how do you build a program where every new scout has the ability to get first class in one year even when the troop recieves a new scout every month.


This use to be the way most troops ran their program before the NSP idea was presented. It's more challenging today, but it still can be acheived. PLC's need to make sure there are opportunities for advancement each month. They could have a theme like knots or first-aid, but they should also be prepared to teach and test on any skill. Our Troop always has a free time on campouts and many times pick a saturday when the demand is there. They also need to teach the new scouts who to ask for help with the scouts skills and advancement.


Now I know one year is the big catch phrase here, but most Troop leaders will tell you that an agressive scout can get to first class in six montbs if the Troop can keep up with him and most scouts could get it in 10 if they want. What I think is key here is teaching the scout how to independently seek out help when he wants to advance. Of course the program will pull him through a lot of advancement. But a scout should have the confidence to seek out help when he wants to work on something the troop is presently not working on. Self initiative is a skill in itself and will carry a boy a long ways into manhood.


Great question and replies.



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"FOG, you probably have heard this before, but you are wrong, dead wrong First Class First Year is not intended to make advancement easy, show me where in the BSA literature is says that following first class first year is intended to make advancement easy, you cant because its not there"


Thery're not going to admit it. Just like you tell you wife that you read Playboy for the articles.


Just read the historic literature. It is obvious to anyone who doesn't worship BSA that the the trail to First Class has had most of its obstacles removed.


" I don't know what is cause and what is effect here regarding retention, but the idea of really creating a program for new scouts, whatever it may look like had then, and still has, serious merit."


Duh! They made it easier to keep boys in the program so they can pay more money to BSA.


"How do your troops handle the 4th requirement for FC? being "cheif cook" for their patrol for 3 meals?"


He's the cook and cooks all the meals.

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Great question, and one that I've wrestled with. I don't have the timing issues you have, we plan to get all of our boys at the same time. But I can see where it would be possible for that not to happen. (I've got a new troop which started last March with 7 brand new Scouts, and two Tenderfoot Scouts who had dropped out during the middle of their first year).


We are trying to get all the boys to FC by May. That's actually 14 months from when they started. But coincides with the "scout calendar" which tends to run along with the school year. The "goals" we set out as adult leaders (not communicated to the boys) was to get to Tenderfoot by June (prior to Summer Camp), Second Class by the end of the calendar year, and First Class by the end of the School year.


Of the 9 boys, I have 1 to First Class (he was one of the two Tenderfoots), 5 to Second Class, and 3 that should get to Second Class by the end of January. What this shows is that boys truly do advance at different speeds. There is also a direct correlation to participation and advancement. If a boy chooses to miss a couple of campouts due to Soccer, he pays the price with slower advancement.


We do the same as you, offering multiple opportunities for boys to complete the requirements. But, it's up to the boy to follow through. I've had a boy who needed one simple requirement for his rank advancement and sat through a week of SC and two weekend campouts without doing it. He eventually came through when the other boys started nipping at his heels. Funny how peer pressure can be an influence on advancement.



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Regarding your Chief Cook question -


We were faced with the same concern. We decided that it was best to let him be chief cook for three straight meals, preferably during the same campout. The reason is that it gives him repetition over a short duration and gives him opportunity to cook different types of meals.


We rotate the rest of the patrol in as assistant cooks and other duties. We consider the head cook as a "hands on" job. Head cook doesn't mean "boss", but is the person who has to make sure the meal comes together. It's actually the head cook who is the one that normally complains, but it's a good lesson in life. He probably takes for granted his mom cooking three meals a day for him!!!

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When I first got to these forums, I struggled balancing our troop's program with what I thought I was reading from proponents of 1st Class / 1st year. It seemed to me that Bob and others were saying that a Scout MUST make 1st class in 12 months or the program is a failure. While discussing this back and forth, and monitoring the topic in new threads as they've come up, I came to realize that providing the oppurtunity, and, perhaps, helping with some motivation, was the expectation of the FCFY plan.


In our Troop, the boys create a program for 16 months out in May. This coincides with the bulk of our new scouts arriving, so this, unofficially, I guess, is the beginning of our program year. We get a few Webelos earlier, but in general these guys do little more than observe and join in games in their first couple weeks, until all of the new Scouts are in the Troop. (I'm not really thrilled with this, but we've not found a better way to get these guys going quickly without starting over 3 - 5 times when new guys get to the Troop. We have the same situation you do - 5 packs tend to cross to our Troop.) Starting with a mid - May campout, the entire program through August of the following year - 16 months - provides at least one, and in some instances, as many as three chances for new Scouts to learn, practice and be tested on Scout skills. If a Scout is not 1st Class by our CoH after summer camp, in September, 16 months after he joined, he didn't utilize the oppurtunities we provided to advance.


As Advancment Chair, I studied the reasons behind boys who don't advance "on schedule", and have come to two conclusions, that cover easily 90% (my number, nothing official) of all the boys who don't make it. They either do not participate in enough activities, or they fail to take advantage of the learning and practicing they did to ask to be tested and / or signed off. The first issue is tough to overcome, because it takes the Scout to have the initiative to get to events and / or Troop meetings to advance. Luckily, in 8 years, I'd guess that the number of guys who were really serious about Scouting but did not advance for lack of participation is easily less than 5. The second reason has been adressed countless times, in addresses to the Troop, in Scoutmaster Confereneces and BORs, and in discussions with parents. Somehow, we can't seem to get all of the 11 - 12 year olds comfortable taking credit for work they do. Some do fine, others seem like they are wishing one of the older guys would walk up tothem and offer to sign their books. And sometimes they do. But more often than not, when I review a boy's status with them, they tell me how they built that fire, or demonstrated that rescue, but never got it signed off, and they are waiting for the next chance to do it again.


As to the cooking requirements, I think you and I have a different perspective on rotating duties. For some chores(and certainly for summer camp), chores could and should be rotated. Who wants to clean the latrine all week? But for others, especially cooking and QM duties, I don't see anything wrong with the PL rotating these chores on an event by event basis, rather than day by day. And the cooking requirements set up nicely for this: 1st campout, the Troop Guide cooks and the PL acts as assistant. The next campout, the PL acts as the head cook while assigning (or recruiting) the assistant, who will cook the following month, and so on. In a Patrol of 8 guys, it shouldn't take more than 9 months to get everyone through all of the cooking requirements for all three ranks. Of course, if your Troop won't camp in inclement weather, that makes it tougher. But camping 12 months / year is possible almost anywhere. In Cleveland, our weather can't be much better than yours, and we camp 12 months / year plus.


The only two requirements we tell Scouts that we won't provide the chance to complete are the Drug and Alchohol program, and meeting with an elected official. Other than those, a Scout who comes to 80% of the meetings and events has every chance to be 1st Class within 16 months. And we stand behind this as meeting the purpose of the program. I argued with Bob and others about this until I realized that our program accomplishes what they say the plan is intended to do: Encourage the Troop to develop an interesting program that provides the Scout plenty of oppurtunites to advance. Could we try to do this in 12 months? Yes, probably. But we insert a lot of non- advancement related activites into our events, and sacrificing these fun things just to get another requirement covered is not what our guys have chosen to do.


Do I get anything for having the most words per post?



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Why FOG you ol rapscallion you, completely let my comment about you antagonizing the forum go, well thats ok,


With best Don Correlone voice


"And I refused -- to be a fool -- dancing on the

string, held by all those -- bigshots. I don't apologize -- that's my life"



All right, all right -- some people have to play little games. You play yours


Anyway, read Playboy? Gosh you must be older than I am, thats what cables for!


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"We are trying to get all the boys to FC by May."


I detect an attitude problem here. You don't need to do anything by May. The Scouts need to try to get to FC, if that's what they want to do. How do they get to First Class? By participating in a program that they've designed with guidance from the Troop Guide.


Not long ago, I ran into one of our "Patrol Advisors" at the supermarket, buying "his" patrols food for the upcoming campout. Why? Becuase "the boys won't go shopping." Hey, if they don't want to go shopping, they go hungry. What's this have to do with FC/FY? "Trying to get all of them to FC by May" smack of "Den Leadership."


Of the ten Scouts in my son's peer group, only two made FC in one year or less. The others have ranged from 14 months to one guy that might make it in two years. The two fast trackers are the ones who are having the least fun. They're focusing on Eagle Required merit badges. Summer camp is an intense experience for them. The others are focusing on having fun: camping, hiking, canoeing, etc..





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