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I am the Lord, your God, you shall have no false gods before me!

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Jews and Christians recognize the subject line as the first commandment, written in stone.

 

Many parents of high-schoolers also recognize the subject line as the summary of the athletic director's "welcome to High School sports" speech.

 

Scouting in my observation, takes a back seat to sports. It takes a back seat to studies (which I understand and support). It takes a back seat to church activities. In my area, it takes a back seat to hunting season. It takes a back seat to pretty much everything else a boy has going on it seems.

 

So what is fair and reasonable? How much time should a boy put into scouting? Where should it rank in the priority list?

 

One of my scouts recently showed up at his first troop meeting since football season started in August. Just before troop elections. He wanted to run for a leadership position because he needs it for rank advancement, and if the other boys help him get it now, it won't interfere with his middle school football career come next fall. Presumably, his patrol won't see him for a few months again next year. My observations also tell me that 5 years from now, a bunch of first and second year scouts will meet this guy for the first time when he shows up being 17 years and 6 months old, needing to do an Eagle project and be elected SPL so he can Eagle and age out. My son meets one of these guys about every 3 or 4 months.

 

In my reality, this just isn't fair to the boys who are attending week to week. I understand coaches, teachers, ministers, leaders of various organizations believing their activity is the most important thing in anyone's life. The realist in me demands a need for balance. An hour per week (hour and a half if there is a PLC), and a weekend per month (or every other month) seems to be a perfectly reasonable minimum amount of involvement for a boy to succeed at scouting.

 

Regarding my high school aged daughter's sports, she and I have discussed balance. Her first season team had the girls practicing all day, nearly every day during the summer, and 3 hours per day during the school year, with fund raisers both days of nearly every weekend. She and I agreed the coach was overdoing it, and the teams' performance, in the words of my daughter, "sucked". Additionally, my daughter was perpetually frustrated trying to maintain her grades and follow the "commandments". Her second season sport has a coach who works them about an hour and a half per day so their study time is not really impacted, and has told the parents up front of the costs, so we can write the checks and have our weekends back. The net result of high school sports was about 4 out of 2,000 students at her school receiving sports scholarships. The schools don't have a metric for how many Eagle Scouts got scholarships, but I would imagine it was somewhat higher.

 

My question is, should troops have minimum participation standards for a boy to be eligible for an elected troop position? Wouldn't that be the fairest to the boys who are putting in the time? Wouldn't it get boys more involved?

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My question is, should troops have minimum participation standards for a boy to be eligible for an elected troop position?

Wouldn't that be the fairest to the boys who are putting in the time? Wouldn't it get boys more involved?

 

Troops CAN set minimum participation standards.

 

I think we need to look at the root cause. Is it the parents driving the boys schedule- wanting them to be better, achieve more and do more then others for the sake of a college application? Or is it the boys choosing sports over Scouts?

 

I confused with the "fairest to the boys" question. I'm guessing the Troop schedule of elections is set by the adults in order to maximize the number of Scouts in a POR in any given year - probably every six months for an election. MOST Scouts don't typically fixate on the "6 month POR term" unless driven by a parent. Notice I said MOST. Some will do exactly the required amount, check that box and move to the next item.

 

If POR terms were not a set time but performance driven, that would be "fairest" to the Scouts. If the Patrol thinks the PL is not doing the job, they vote him out. If they are happy with his performance, no election is necessary unless the PL wants to step down. The Scouts will determine what is fair. This system will work only if the parents aren't interfering.

 

The Scouts may decide they should help out "Johnny Absent". If so, aren't they showing Scout Spirit by helping their Patrol mate?

 

Last question - I think it would drive more Scouts away. Too many parents agree with the Ideals of Scouting but get caught up in the coach's requirements. If push comes to shove, their boy sitting on the bench would win out over Scouts.

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"False" gods? The way I learned it was: "I am the Lord thy God, which haue brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage: Thou shalt haue no other Gods before me.

Thou shalt not make vnto thee any grauen Image, or any likenesse of any thing that is in heauen aboue, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water vnder the earth.

Thou shalt not bow downe thy selfe to them, nor serue them: For I the Lord thy God am a iealous God, visiting the iniquitie of the fathers vpon the children, vnto the thirde and fourth generation of them that hate me:

And shewing mercy vnto thousands of them that loue mee, and keepe my Commandements."

1611 KJV. This is from the copy of the family Bible that my grandmother gave me.

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"It depends" Kids tend to live up to the standards their parents and teachers set for them. If the teacher is a TV show, or a sports hero, and the parents set no other standard, well, yeah, that's what the kid will try to match. If the "glamor" of the sport (hundreds of people cheering in the stands, victory snatched from the jaws of defeat, muscle matching muscle, etc.) is so attractive, then how is Scouting going to compete

(!there's that word) with that? Your average Scout Troop doesn't have the "panache" of a football squad UNLESS the Troop has a culture of teamwork (Patrol Method?) and working for a goal (service project? Canoe trip on the river?) and learning skills to take pride in (pioneering tower? Fire building? Campfire cooking?) and public recognition and approbation (Court of Honor? Parades? Ceremonial stuff?).

 

"....no other Gods before me..." well, maybe that needs to be kept in context. Loyalty, patriotism, money, etc. etc. all have a piece of that discussion. What exactly does the God of our fathers require of us? What qualifies as idolatry? Let's take that discussion over to the Faith and Chaplaincy forum...

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I was brought up learning "no other gods" ... false or otherwise. I've had some relatives who've aligned themselves with lesser gods. They can forgive my use of "lesser" because, well, obviously one should think more highly of their object of worship than anyone else's. To call them "false" would be insulting.

 

Athletics is important. Scouting is important. Each has a role in their community ... in the same community. So, your boys need to figure it out. Each person is an individual. Your football player may not be scouting for 5 months, but may dive back in full-tilt for 7, invite his QB to come camping, line up a service project that involves the troop and the team, and maybe even the cheerleading squad. That guy shows up, and giving him a POR is the best thing ever for the troop. Giving it to some other year-round-slug who's marking time in meetings may be the worst decision a patrol could make.

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We do set minimum requirement for scout activites to be a scout in good standing. Including 6 hours of community service and 6 scouting events per year. This allows a scout to have a season of Athletics while being a scout. I agree scouting should have a higher priority then sports. In my house scouts is the priority and other activites such as martial arts and sports come after scouts. I am having my son miss his first wresteling practice as it fall on the time of an OA meeting and his por is OARep. Kids can't do everything and expect to succeed.

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St717, do your requirements allow a scout to commit to something else for a season? That's what OB seems to be complaining about.

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First of all you do have to accept that scouts will be a higher priority to some than others. I my troop of 40 I reckon we have around 8-10 who turn up to absolutely every evening, camp, outing etc. We probably have 20 or so in the middle who are there for majority of things but not everything, 5-6 who are a bit flaky, there maybe only half the time and of course the 2 or 3 who we hardly see. But I think everything else has the same issue. Music groups, sport teams etc will have the same thing. The super scout there every week is probably the kid who only turns up to athletics training once a month.

 

I guess the question is what the consequence should be in terms of their standing in the troop. While a troop should be scout led it should also be adult guided. When it comes to selecting new PLs and APLs I do brief the PLs on the kind of thing they should be looking for (bear in mind our PLs in the UK are only 13 or 14!) and while I normally accept their recommendations I make it clear that I reserve the right to over rule them. The scouts also love doing patrol camps on their own (ie no adults with them at all). I have minimum standards that I expect before a patrol leader is allowed to lead one. If they don't make the grade then they are not going. That kind of things certainly encourages attendance!

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Thanks to all who replied with constructive advice.

 

It's interesting to hear how you do it in the UK, Cambridgeskip, A lot of our PLs are even younger.

 

KenDavis500, by fairness, I meant giving the hard working, regularly attending boys the opportunity to develop by having PORs. As you surmise, we do have semi-annual elections to ensure boys have the opportunity to develop the leadership skills they need to advance.

 

Our troop's patrols are pretty much arranged by age, then rank. Right now, we have 14 year, Star scout, church boy, as PL. Church boy's family's #1 priority is church, and that is fine. It has him missing a lot of meetings and campouts, yet he is there regularly enough the other boys have a rapport with him. Churchboy's dad is also an ASM who is very active, and will often drive other scouts to campouts even if church boy is tied up with his church youth group. Church boy's other commitments have allowed his APL, attitude boy, to develop some responsibility, come out of his shell, and have a whole lot less attitude.

 

Then there are Aspergers boy and clown boy. These two are regular tent mates, and boys who generally just "git-r-done". They are the ones posting and retiring all the flags at troop meetings, even though no one told them to. Theirs is the first tent up on Friday night, and the first tent down on Sunday morning. When they're on the duty roster for such, meals are cooked, or dishes washed, without being told to. Clown boy blasted his way to 1st Class in well less than a year, while participating on a swim team 4-5 nights per week. Apsergers boy had a devil of a time learning to swim, but made 1st class well ahead of others in his year group. Clown boy is a clown because he doesn't really fit in (different school, different neighborhood, different religion, different financial class) and being a clown is the only way he gets any attention. Aspergers boy's "condition" is rapidly improving. A POR would help him. Same with clown boy - having to be serious and be responsible would have him gaining the respect of others. Clown boy has had all the Star requirements except for a POR done for about 7 months now, (and lacks just two merit badges for Life). He tried to do a scoutmaster approved service project, but it wasn't approved by district. Clown boy and Aspergers boy have been really good influences on each other, but need the opportunity to advance before they get stagnant. BTW, they are only 12 years old.

 

We have Eagle by 14 boy. His dad is a heavily involved ASM and Eagle Scout, and is probably the #2 or #3 MVP (most valuable parent) in the troop. Eagle by 14 boy has done a wonderful job with his merit badges, and is looking for a POR. Eagle by 14 boy is a regular, and is a pleasure to have on outings. It does concern me he may be too advancements focused.

 

Of course we have babysit me boy - isn't there on in every troop? He has no clue why he's there, what rank he is, or what he's supposed to be doing. Rather than write him off as worthless as some might, I've made him a pet project. He'll either start moving himself forward, or will announce to his parents that he has no interest in scouting.

 

So where should football boy play into all this? He's coming up on 2 years in the troop, and might make first class at the winter COH. Are his needs superior to the rest of the boys in the patrol? Is he truly ready to lead?

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Wow! It's like the evil twin of one of my patrols. With some exceptions ...

... He tried to do a scoutmaster approved service project' date=' but it wasn't approved by district. ... [/quote']

A little tangent here: What business does a district have in meddling with an SM-approved service project for life rank?

... Clown boy and Aspergers boy have been really good influences on each other' date=' but need the opportunity to advance before they get stagnant. BTW, they are only 12 years old. ... [/quote']

This is where you might need to change your thinking. You have two first-class scouts (at least by the patch, and by your praise, by the concept as well). But, it is flawed to equate spreading rank advancement over the boy's remaining 5 years in the program with "stagnation." There are still MBs to earn (let alone conservation and STEM awards), skills to acquire, and fun to be had.

... So where should football boy play into all this? He's coming up on 2 years in the troop' date=' and might make first class at the winter COH. Are his needs superior to the rest of the boys in the patrol? Is he truly ready to lead? [/quote']

First, let's discuss "needs". Nobody "needs" a rank advancement. Everybody needs to go on outings and come back alive and unharmed. They need to be a productive part of their community. They need to be right with God and proceed through life with the blessing of their family and respect of their nation.

Second, just like you've been able to assess the personality of your other boys, you need to understand what's up with Ambitious Athlete. Find out how he as been leading on the team. Then ask him how the boys think he would best help in leading the troop. (On the first campout after their play-off run came to an end I debriefed every soccer player on their plans for next season. The not-so-subtle point: what one does in making his troop work well translates into helping his teamates prepare for next seasons.)

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qwazse, the project was a fund raiser, and those have to be approved at the district level (at least during popcorn season). Clown Boy has a backup plan though - a modified scouting for food type project which will provide ongoing support to our CO's food pantry and provide a venue for his fellow scouts to perform community service throughout the year.

 

I have a few views on advancements.

1. If a boy participates, learns something, stays out of trouble, and is a 2nd class on his 18th birthday, part of me says good on him. Scouting has done something for him. Part of me says scouting has failed him. The patrol method requires that his fellow patrol member should have cared enough about him to ensure he was learning and documenting new skills so that he could be a contributing member of the patrol.

2. Eagle really isn't that hard if a boy keeps even a moderate head of steam up. I've seen Eagle projects approved which I would never approve, were it my decision, but it is what it is. Eagle by 14 boy might be pushing a little hard, but Eagle by 15 is pretty attainable. Why not shoot for Eagle early, and wear it for a few years? Beats the heck out of being 17-1/2 years old and needing 4 MBs and an Eagle project.

3. It is in the nature of boys to compete. This is why we have a sash for all the cool MBs. This is why we put rank on the shirt pocket. They do brag with each other who made what when. In this respect, they do NEED the opportunity to advance. They NEED merit badge counselors, they NEED the ability to develop leadership skills by competing for PORs. Recognition is necessary in any activity.

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For me school, family, and church come first (order depends on the family) The rest scouts, sports, music programs, etc is completely up to the scout and their family. Although some music programs do give grades which then falls into the school grouping. The way we work the participation requirement is do they let us know they are going to missing X number of weeks, do they still send us a note or relay a message as to if they are attending a campout or not... if so then they are involved and it's ok. If they don't then they aren't involved and need to make an effort to change that. If they miss school or work due to illness or whatever they/or parent calls in for them - it's called being considerate and taking responsibility - they should do the same for scouts.

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qwazse' date=' the project was a fund raiser, and those have to be approved at the district level (at least during popcorn season). .... [/quote']

 

​I was trying to figure out "approved at the district level". I assume he had to submit a fundraiser approval form and the fundraiser got rejected. Scoutmaster approved projects for STAR do not require district approval.

 

 

... My question is' date=' should troops have minimum participation standards for a boy to be eligible for an elected troop position? Wouldn't that be the fairest to the boys who are putting in the time? Wouldn't it get boys more involved? ... [/quote']

 

I like how you worded it. "Should". I agree that troops can, but I really don't think we "should" make such rules and especially not when dealling with a specific scout. My experience is that I usually regret in the long run any extra rules the troop creates. If dealing with such a situation, talk to the scouts about the role of the SPL and PLs and other leaders and why they matter. And that scouts stepping up for leadership need to make a commitment to do something with the role.

 

But for this individual scout who is in football and wants to be a leader now for the next six months, it feels like the issue of "fairness" is targetted at forcing the scout choosing between competing priorities. AND the "rule" is not so much about "fairness" as much as putting up a wall. The reverse can also be argued. Is it fair to that scout who meets BSA requirements but has adults putting up walls in front of them.

 

IMHO, trust the scouts. Help them think about the decision. That's our whole goal. To get them think about their decisions. In this case, do they vote for leaders or appoint leaders that are hit and miss or may not have earned the opportunity.

 

IMHO, if you are going to have participation standards, have standards for POR performance, not pre-POR attendance. Have standards for the role and not for being elected into the role. For example a standard that SPL is expected to lead the troop and camp outs and attend 75% of them seems reasonable and for the remaining 25% see that his responsibilities have been planned and covered.

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qwazse' date=' the project was a fund raiser, and those have to be approved at the district level (at least during popcorn season).[/quote']

So Clown Boy has been developing leadership skills that some folks don't learn until they start writing wood-badge tickets. (I.e., goals should not have benchmarks that depend on what on other people do.) Honestly, I would count the time spent trying to implement "Plan A" as part of the project. His "Plan B" is excellent. Basically he's learning to be the community quartermaster. :) Of course, this makes your job harder because there's no handbook for this kind of position. At our last rountable, the SMs had the same discussion. Some boys just do better without a position patch on their arm.

 

1. If a boy participates' date=' learns something, stays out of trouble, and is a 2nd class on his 18th birthday, part of me says good on him. Scouting has done something for him. Part of me says scouting has failed him. The patrol method requires that his fellow patrol member should have cared enough about him to ensure he was learning and documenting new skills so that he could be a contributing member of the patrol.[/quote']Again, you're confusing what a patrol should be doing (hiking and camping and acquiring skills) and a boy should be doing (convincing his PL and his mates that he has mastered those skills). If the patrol all of a sudden decides not to provide opportunities (as can happen if older boys get inflated egos) then a troop has a problem. If the occasional boy just doesn't take initiative to advance ... well that actually makes 1st class mean something for those who do.

 

2. ... Why not shoot for Eagle early' date=' and wear it for a few years? Beats the heck out of being 17-1/2 years old and needing 4 MBs and an Eagle project. ... [/quote'] Not disagreeing with you. Son #2 is in that bind as I write this. :( But, he wasn't stagnating. He PL-ed SPL-ed presided over a crew and assisted our council VOA, went to a high adventure base, slept under the stars, made friends outside of his school district, helped his youth group run a tight camp at a music festival, repaired houses all over town. Maybe if he didn't waste time with soccer and video games he would have pulled that bling in a little sooner ... or maybe he would have just be even more active in scouting and still spread advancement over 7 years.:confused:

 

 

3. It is in the nature of boys to compete. This is why we have a sash for all the cool MBs. ... Recognition is necessary in any activity.
Again' date=' not disagreeing with you in the merits of advancement as a method. In my way of thinking it falls under "[i']blessing of their family and respect of their nation",[/i] but advancement and recognition is not the exclusive way that that need gets met. We need to be cognizant of that as we encourage boys to advance. On the trail to first class, it's like "We want you to make rank because you'll have the basic skills needed to hike and camp independently as a citizen in this great nation." On the trail to Eagle, it's more like "Would you like to make the next rank? What's your plan? How can we help you?" With my older scouts, I train them to have an answer to "What's the plan?" Spoiler: some boys will fail to implement the plan. They won't make Eagle. That doesn't make the process less valuable ... it does make the badge more valuable.

 

And that's where you need to withhold your judgement of Ambitious Athlete. You want to encourage your boys to evaluate if he's ready for a particular position, and ask them to elect him to the best position for his abilities. Then sometime around January, you need the boys with PORs to evaluate each other. Nothing complicated. Go over each position, give the boys a chance to say what's going well, what's not so well, what should change. Have them give an action plan. Give them time to implement. Evaluate ... Repeat ... Then after summer camp, ask Ambitious Athlete to reflect on his experience in position X. Ask him if he thinks anything from scouting might help him be a better football player. Ask him to try and not disappear for the season (suggest he start Personal Fitness MB and see if it helps his game), but regardless, when the season is up, invite him to try another position of responsibility ... just for kicks.

 

What you are doing here, is planting the seeds to enable the boy to talk about the balance of sports and scouting (and the rest of life) to those new crossovers a few years from now.

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