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Stosh

Fight or Flight?

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A couple of the threads got me thinking about this whole idea of dealing with problems in the troops/packs.  

 

What is the tipping point for standing and working with the pack/troop (fight) to make it a better unit and when does it make more sense to move on (flight)?

 

When I used the term "fight" I'm not talking about the knock down, drag outs that occur on the political level in the units, but more the stand and work on making things better struggles we all participate in at different times.

 

In terms of leadership development for the boys, and probably more for the Boy Scout end of the process, fight would be the choice that to me would make more sense.  But the lack of good programming and untrained adults on the Cub Scout end of the spectrum would indicate maybe it would be better to move on down the road.

 

When I started out my new unit (Boy Scout troop) I had 6 boys.  In the past year and a half I have lost 4.

 

1. Just wasn't interested in Boy Scouts and was only in the program because single mom insisted hoping to have male role models for her son.  She soon realize the futility of her pushing and let him quit.

 

2) Another boy got interested in 4-H and chose to pursue that route because it was a tradition for his family.  He does show up occasionally.

 

3) Another boy moved away, but did not pursue Scouting in his new location.

 

4) Scout with real potential, gung-ho about Scouting.  Went to 3 summer camps in two summers, accumulated 15 merit badges, hasn't reached TF yet.  When he went to summer camp with the other troop, he earned TF, 2nd Class and First Class.  His parents (Dad an Eagle) allowed him to quit our unit 4 blocks from his house and he will now be able to travel 45 minutes over to the other unit in a different state so his advancement will be sped up.  He struggled in the private school he was attending so he quit that too.  He did tell one of his relatives that the main reason he was leaving was because with older scouts around they can do all the work of running the troop.  It was too hard being the one everyone looked to for leadership.  This relative was concerned he was developing a pattern of quitting.  

 

One of my two remaining scouts (Webelos cross-over) commented when he heard about a Scout was supposed to be trustworthy and loyal?

 

The two remaining boys have their entire next year all on the calendar ready to go.  Did a nice nature hike this past weekend and had a great time.  10 plants identified along the way.

 

So, what say ye?  When do you stand and roll up your sleeves and when do you leave?

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With the addition of one other person with a similar vision for change, the likelihood of succcess increases dramatically. If I am the only person who "sees the need", I will make an attempt to find/convince the other person but if it doesnt happen ... tilting at windmills is futile.

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A couple of the threads got me thinking about this whole idea of dealing with problems in the troops/packs.  

 

What is the tipping point for standing and working with the pack/troop (fight) to make it a better unit and when does it make more sense to move on (flight)?

 

So, what say ye?  When do you stand and roll up your sleeves and when do you leave?

I'm one who did both.

2011 - my son found a Troop & crossed-over.  The Troop had an "old guard" of adults.  Troop doubled in size - ~40 Scouts to 84.  After a couple of months, the SM asked/told me to be an ASM.  I did so & got trained. 

Change in the Troop was slow but steady. 

2014 - final straw for me - new SM required everyone to sign a contract for participation in fundraising activities. 

2014 - found a Troop that was going under.  Brought a few Scouts into new Troop and began rebuilding process.

 

Everyone has a different "last straw".  Mine was removing the Oath/Law from our actions & replacing it with a contract.

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Will you council let you charter/recharter with just 2 scouts?  You may not get a choice.

 

As to your question.  I think it depends on outcomes.  I generally love small-unit scouting.  But, with two scouts you're at your minimum for outings.  If you start having to cancel outings because one of the boys can't make it or chooses not to make it then it's time to call it quits.  If you get 100% attendance to outings, have the second leader, have the willpower, and the boys are getting good program, then continue as long as everyone is happy.

Edited by walk in the woods

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Sounds like your scout just wanted a break from responsibility. You have never agreed when I’ve said this before Stosh, but the nature of boys before puberty is to hang in groups and play games. Leadership takes them out of the group and away from the games even when they are leading in the games. It is not the same thing.

 

Prepubescent boys are the opposite of loners, they need to be unidentifiable among the members of the group. I learned this from my Child Psychologist SM buddy. And after working with hundreds of scouts, I agree. These boys don't have the leadership mentality in them yet because instinctively they don't like to be separated from the group, especailly in a boy run group. From a nature perspective, being set apart exposes them to danger. In contemporary reality they don't get to play the games with their friends. 

 

Adults try to compensate these scouts with complements and rewards for the extra burden. That works for a while, but eventually the stress catches up and they rebel some way or another.

 

I used to counsel adults of new troops with young scouts to shorten the scouts time in leadership so they get the experience without getting into burnout. It’s tough to say how long that is, but the boys will start to express their weariness of the responsibility in one way or another. I tell them, when a scout dreads coming to meetings, he has had enough.

 

I understand your philosophy of letting scouts lead until they want to hand it off, but the maturity of this age makes it difficult for them to independently make these kinds of decisions and they certainly don’t want to disappoint the adults. The adults have to be conscious of the scouts experience and compensate until the scouts reach a maturity where they make the decisions on their own. Starting a new troop with young scouts is very hard. Adults HAVE TO LEARN more faster than the scouts to keep up.

 

Barry

Edited by Eagledad
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Point of clarification... I was referring to the scouts, not me.  I have fun whether it's one boy or 100 boys...   If the troop folds, I'll be the last person standing.  I still think this part of town needs scouting in the neighborhood.  I'll be at the recruiting table of the local school Wednesday night.  

 

The scout @@Eagledad refers to was PL for a year and then stepped down, new scout took over.  No big deal.  Scout wasn't burned out, just was used to going to out-of-council troops with his uncle an Eagle SM, attending camp with other out-of-council troops, and having the money to attend multiple summer camps, etc. all feed into the no commitment, no responsibility, look out for oneself and having fun on one's own terms attitude.

 

I have no problem with him leaving with an attitude like that supported by his parents.

 

The scouts I have left will soldier on and we''ll do just fine.  Yes, I believe the council will recharter the troop with 2 boys, in that they are committed to a BSA presence in the neighborhood.  We've got school open house this week, Webelos cross over, and neighborhood sweeps.  It ain't over 'til the fat lady sings.

 

And yes, personally it would be a lot easier to join up with another troop as an ASM and sit back and enjoy the ride.  I have 2-3 troops that would be happy to have the help.  The district and council have been hounding me as well for another Venturing Crew, too.  Worked Cub Scout Day camp last week, too, so it's not like I don't have something to do... :)

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Generally speaking, I think the answer spans a wide area....

 

some folks have a higher threshold for toughing it out for the "fight"

also depends on the personality of the "fighter" compared with the personalities or issues of the thing being fought

.... so much i think depends on the personalities and issues on both sides, in determining if it's worth the fight.

 

In my example on the adult side, I decided early on in the "conflict" that it was in nobody's best interest for me to stand and "fight".... But I also decided that I was not giving up on the pack and would continue to help in whatever way I could or in whatever way I was wanted.  Still, I find it hard at times to have a positive attitude.

 

My point is this.... if given the choice of flight or fight, with fight being to stay on and change something.... like a unit's approach to "the patrol method" for example.... that might be a very hard battle indeed if there are strong personalities that are for the other way.... so it can be a rare person that has the skill and positive attitude to effect a change.

 

I think there's even a huge variability in personalities at the youth level too... but I'd guess that most boys don't have the energy to "fight" much.... so that tipping point is pretty low!

 

By my thinking... in your case..... a small troop makes it tough for the boys... in that there's not much life or energy, and options are fewer.

 

We have a Den that was 4 boys for Tiger, but dropped to 2 boys for Wolf.  They didn't end up having very frequent meetings and I don't think the boys were best buds, so it made it hard.  I can't imagine that it was much fun for them or the parents.  Several times I offered to help or brainstorm solutions, and suggested they combine with another smaller den for meetings so the boys could have more life and action in their meetings....  In hindsight I wish that I would have pushed that harder, because two boys doesn't make for a very fun den.  Sadly now I don't have much of an opportunity to help or influence them anymore.

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So, what say ye?  When do you stand and roll up your sleeves and when do you leave?

 

I like to have a five year plan (road map). I like to have critical mass (enough people to make my efforts worth while). I like to have back-up help (e.g., other adults helping). I trust that inner voice that tells me when to give up or press onward. If that voice conflicts with what the boys need, I try to find the boys another option (i.e., another place to go). I never leave the kids high and dry.

Edited by Bad Wolf

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My only comment is that the Standards of Recharter require five youth members (3 if LDS) for a valid recharter.

 

Two boys=Council will not entertain a recharter.

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My only comment is that the Standards of Recharter require five youth members (3 if LDS) for a valid recharter.

 

Two boys=Council will not entertain a recharter.

 

:)  Depends on the council.  I was told I could form the new troop originally with 2 boys.  I didn't ask questions, but I did get my 5 boys anyway.

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My measure of fight or flight would be whether or not there are enough scouts to work as a patrol.

 

A patrol of two scouts doesn't get to learn the benefits and challenges of spreading out responsibilities.  I think all they would learn from it is they will have to do everything, because there is no one else to rely on.

 

I'd wait and see how many scouts the new recruiting attempts bring in.  If you get enough to make a patrol of 6-8, keep on going.  If there aren't enough new scouts, sit down with them and have a talk with the scouts.

I'd be honest with them and tell them what they could expect from this troop, and what they may expect by moving to troop xyz and what they'd be missing (not specific outings, but scouting relationships and social learning).  Support their decision either way.

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:)  Depends on the council.  I was told I could form the new troop originally with 2 boys.  I didn't ask questions, but I did get my 5 boys anyway.

Do you see a chance of recruiting three more in the near future?  My own troop kept itself alive (before an exodus from another troop reinvigorated it*) by rechartering with the names of former members listed as active.  They were down to two scouts.

 

*=I was a part of this exodus, but not in the first wave.  The other troop had leadership and discipline issues.

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I dont see a problem withva patrol of 2. Even though there is more work for each, the goal of scouts and the patrol method is to learn unselfishness. If each scout has the best interest of his buddy in mind, and they work together for the betterment of each other and the community as a whole then all is well. I might suggest they share all their fun and adventures with other boys and this may lead to their buddies joining them. IMO, this is how bsa recruitment should be done anyway. Low key, and on an individual basis.

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If the two boys just find one friend and get them to join, we'll double in size overnight.  

 

Do that again in a couple of months and we'll be up to full strength patrol of 8.  ::

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