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MattR

Getting inexperienced leaders up to speed faster

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The coed thread got moved to I&P and @@Eagledad brought up an important point that really belongs over here. Namely, there's a problem with getting inexperienced parents up to speed in a timely manner. I have noticed spending a lot of time talking to new-ish parents trying to convince them there is a method behind the madness. Barry said 3 years and that sounds about right. The problem is a lot of parents are starting to get burned out after 4 years. And that happens to be about the time their sons start going into slacker phase. Anyway, is there a better way to get them going faster? There's  the regular training but that doesn't get into the details like kids just want some time to hang out. I've thought about making some additional training but that's a bunch of work.

 

This relates to the thread I started about a crew with a lot of girls. If there aren't moms that get this stuff and want to do it then the girls are out of luck. Let's just say scouts do go coed and there are 20% girls and 20% moms that want to do the outdoors. 20% of moms might mean one mom. That means she has to go on everything because if there's just one girl that goes then this mom needs to be there.

 

I mention moms but this applies to dads as well. How do we get them up to speed faster? Both the methods of scouting and the outdoors.

Edited by MattR

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I don't think you do.  People today aren't the outdoors campers and are not skilled in campcraft the way they used to be.  Today "camping" or glamping tends to be more RV, 5th Wheel crank out, stop and plop camping at a KOA with a game room, store, pool and other "outdoor" activities for the kids.  So even if an adult says they have years of camping experience, it may mean absolutely nothing for the BSA program.  Because of this, I believe the BSA is dumbing down it's outdoor program because they can't maintain it at the level it once was.  Even our modern Eagles don't necessarily have the skills to run a troop in today's world.  

 

Seriously, look at the program.  Trailers, dutch ovens, rain flies, every modern convenience known to man and it all comes together at the KOA or if one is really going to rough it, the local state park.  

 

My back yard has more adventure to it than any BSA camp can offer.  It has one camp site located on a very high ridge that is an arduous climb to get to.  I'm still working on the trail, but I have the site complete.  The Mrs. insists we have it ready for next summer.  OMG, no toilet facilities?  Nope, but I have a couple of spots already set aside that have a great range of fire for this fall's deer hunt.  :)  

 

An outdoors person is who you are, not what you know and can teach.  One has to have a love of the outdoors to pull off a successful program and that is instilled in the hearts of young men and women at an early age.  Parents today that didn't have that experience and develop that sense of love of nature, will take 3 years to "learn" enough woodcraft skills to get by and will burn out because of the pressure to get a lifetime of woodcraft directed by office cubicle techies in Irving TX.  It's no wonder they burn out after 4 years.  

 

I started at age 4 in the woods in a 13' camper that I didn't like, but I loved my little pup tent, and by the time I was into adulthood working with youth I didn't need a whole lot of "training".  I have worked at this for 45+ years and have no intention of burning out quite yet.  I might wear out before I burn out, but I'm definitely not going to rust out.

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From what I've learned of how it worked before, this has always been a problem.  But years ago den leaders were relieved somewhere around 2.5 to 3.5 years when the boys started transitioning into Boy Scouts.  Now, it's 4.5 or 5.5 years.  That's a darn long commitment for an adult.  Before, they joined Boy Scouts just before burn out.  Now they have two more years.  IMHO, that's one big reason for the decline in membership.

 

I hate seeing propping up the numbers by recruiting younger scouts.  IMHO, it just puts fewer boys in Boy Scouts which is the program that makes the big difference in their lives.   

 

IMHO, if my boys had not joined Cub Scouts, that would have been fine.  As long as they joined Boy Scouts. 

Edited by fred johnson

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IMHO, it takes years. Fred makes a good point about CS leaders burning out.

 

What I've done is start the process ASAP. One year, I had my Tigers doing a compass course in conjunction with Boy Scouts. When I had a den chief, I let him do a large part of the work. And when thee council has a joint CS BS camporee, I'll take my den to the common area, annd will even ''get lost'' and let the Cubs watch an event or 2.

 

And whille that is going on. Italk to the parents. I work on them about the differences between CS&BS.. Lots of campfire talk and cocoa.

 

In my troop growing up, new adults were on the committee for a year before being an AM. Gave them time to get acclimated.

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I probably went on a bit of a tangent.  I didn't volunteer my 1st year.  My 2nd year I helped some.  My 3rd year I jumped in fully and I really didn't get it for several more years.  

 

I really don't know how to speed the process up.  It takes time to get the "perception".  And, lots of it is filtering out the dozens of viewpoints thrown at you and finding your own perspective of how it's supposed to work successfully.  

 

This whole training and getting leaders-up-to-speed is one reason I really think packs and troops need to be strongly partnered with one committee.  The idea being then the pack leaders can leverage the boy scout leaders 10+ years of experience each. 

Edited by fred johnson

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The coed thread got moved to I&P and @@Eagledad ".. Anyway, is there a better way to get them going faster? There's  the regular training but that doesn't get into the details like kids just want some time to hang out. I've thought about making some additional training but that's a bunch of work. ...

Yes, I think so. It's called the trail to first class ... And then eagle.

Challenge parents to walk their kids are being asked to walk.

Those few who do might just be your next leaders.

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What it boils down to for me is, BSA is expecting it's volunteer leadership to lead a program they know very little if nothing about.  They don't have the skills in dealing with boys of a certain age as their first child goes through the program, they don't have the outdoor skills and they are not comfortable in the new environment, and they are unfamiliar with BSA policies as well as the local traditions of the troop they are associated with.

 

I used to teach the Webelos outdoor/overnight training for our council 20 years ago and back then there were people who were wondering why the participants had to actually stay overnight as part of the training.  I think the number one reason for this issue was that about half of the participants had to stop at Walmart on the way to the training and buy a tent and sleeping bag and the cost for the training was well into the hundreds of dollars.....  So here we have newbie moms and dads taking kids out into the woods and until their Webelos training had never spent the night in the woods in a tent themselves.

 

I'm thinking Barry is being generous with his 3 year estimate of getting these adult leaders up to speed with scouting.  Compare this situation to mine where I have 40 years of working with youth and well over a thousand, if not two thousand nights sleeping out under the canvas.  When was the last time I had a camp fire?  Well, I guess that would be last night when the granddaughters were over and we did a grill out and topped off the night with S'mores as we sat around the fire.

 

The longevity of these leaders is very short-lived and they press their boys to get through the program and Eagle early so they don't have to do this for very long.  They quit as soon as their kids do.  My boy hasn't been in Scouting now for over 20 years and I'm basically having a great time as SM of a new troop.

 

Now the question is, how can one develop a training curriculum to handle that?  It isn't learning the skills of Trail to First Class, it's a dumbing down of the program to where non-camping/non-outdoor people can get the Eagle badge for their kids.  As non-campers themselves, the STEM program seems to be the ideal ticket for the adults.

 

The Boy Scouts is no longer an adventure, it's a program. 

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Cub scouts was a 3 years program, Wolfs - 3rd grade; Bears - 4th grade; and Webelos - 5th grade.  My son was in the first ever, Tiger Program, in 2nd grade.  We thought it was a great program.  They had one meeting a month - each family took a month, and had a field trip, or a meeting at their home.  The Tigers wore an Orange T-shirt, and only went to the Blue and Gold, and the Graduation Pack Meeting. 

 

Now look at what it has become.  No wonder everyone is burned out by the time to crossover to Boy Scouts.  I always tell the Webelos Leaders to take at least 6 months off, before trying to help the troop.

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The Boy Scouts is no longer an adventure, it's a program. 

 

 

Agree.   The Boy Scouts is no longer a youth adventure, it's a family program. 

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We need to recognize that we are a post-modern nomadic culture.

 

Previously, In modern agrarian and industrial society, Church and neighborhood used to be the family program. Gender and age specific organizations filled in the cracks. That worked because folks had a sense of permanence and little junior could be sent out to play until the street lamps came on or mild hypothermia set in. And if the tyke wound up eating at some other families house that was fine. There was plenty of trust that they'd be brought up right ... At least right enough to till land or roll steel or keep house for your mate who did. After school one day a week, we'd walk to our den leader's house and she'd give us an activity ...herself. No other parent's in the vicinity.

 

All that has eroded for many folks. They bring their tyke to scouts looking for that community who will help them to raise their little tykes. They are hungry for human interaction because everyone is sealed up in a tin can walled off from their neighbors hours at a time each day. They are hungry for a space that recreates that neighborhood feeling ... Even for a moment. BSA has this reputation for building tent cities in nowhere, so they fill that gap by replicating it in as many families who are willing.

 

Thus, the program we have today in Cubs, which is a little incongruent with what we are trying to do with Boys and Venturers.

Edited by qwazse

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The outdoors and scout skills part isn't really an issue, the adults who are up for outdoor adventure usually get up to speed fast enough. The adults who don't care for it usually hang back. Summer camp is the exception and we try to cater to them best we can.

 

It's the values and vision part of the program that is hard to get adults up to speed. I look back and there were several approaches that we eventually developed to get adults up to speed.

 

First we taught them the vision of the program and how each activity worked toward that goal. When I was working for district guiding struggling programs, I found that 90% of units struggled because the adults didn't have or understand what they working towards. Everybody was jumping around trying to do jobs that suddenly had to get done. So the first thing we did was discuss the objective of the unit program and work it down to a one or two sentence vision. Then I suggested they volunteer for specific responsiblities for that vision. Most of the time I only needed to stand back and watch the team develop. If this sounds kind of familure, this is the basis for Wood Badge. But it's a lot easier to get up to speed for specific responsibility.

 

Second, we exposed our adults to the scout activities with an explanation of how the scouts' actions worked toward the vision. I've said many times that a good SM spends at least 50% of his time working with the adults. We scheduled new adult gathering times at meeting and camp outs to specifically observe the scouts, then give a explanation of how their actions worked torward growth in the areas of fitness, citizenship and character. I would request from the SPL a few minutes to observe their PLC meeting. That always brought a lot of questions. Our adults are required to earn the totin chit because that is how I introduce the parents to our trust of boy run. No other adults attend the class accept for the new parents. It's all taught by the scouts. The key to this is expose them to as much as possible with an adult who can explain the value of what they are seeing. The faster the new adults learn how the patrol method works, the faster they understand their responsibilities and boundaries within the program.

 

Have an open door to questions and challenges to your program. Always be respectful of the person asking and answer with a firm justification for the vision. OR, thank the person for pointing out an area of the program that needs attention.

 

The programs that are most resistant to change are the ones that think they are perfect, even while their program is crumbling all around them. It's an amazing thing to see actually and Ive even seen several such programs over the years just on this forum. But nothing helps the new guy feel accepted faster that being respected for their individual contribution to the program, even if that contribution is not accepted because it doesn't fit. It is taught in my faith that a healthy community develops best on the fertile ground of humility instead of the hard rock of pride. Our scouts observe this as well.

 

The third year is time that separates the passionate scouters like most of here on this forum from the ones who just wanted to give less than an hour. Sadly, only 5% of us are passionate enough to put up with the crap that drives the rest of them away. So build the program around those 95%, not the 5% of us. This is what I've been saying about the cub program. Right now the cub program fits best for the passionate 5%. It drives the other 95% away.

 

i love scouting stuff.

 

Barry

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Agree.   The Boy Scouts is no longer a youth adventure, it's a family program. 

And I totally agree to the adendum

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We need to recognize that we are a post-modern nomadic culture.

 

Previously, In modern agrarian and industrial society, Church and neighborhood used to be the family program. Gender and age specific organizations filled in the cracks. That worked because folks had a sense of permanence and little junior could be sent out to play until the street lamps came on or mild hypothermia set in. And if the tyke wound up eating at some other families house that was fine. There was plenty of trust that they'd be brought up right ... At least right enough to till land or roll steel or keep house for your mate who did. After school one day a week, we'd walk to our den leader's house and she'd give us an activity ...herself. No other parent's in the vicinity.

 

All that has eroded for many folks. They bring their tyke to scouts looking for that community who will help them to raise their little tykes. They are hungry for human interaction because everyone is sealed up in a tin can walled off from their neighbors hours at a time each day. They are hungry for a space that recreates that neighborhood feeling ... Even for a moment. BSA has this reputation for building tent cities in nowhere, so they fill that gap by replicating it in as many families who are willing.

 

Thus, the program we have today in Cubs, which is a little incongruent with what we are trying to do with Boys and Venturers.

 

So instead of being a development program of male youth leadership development with an emphasis on outdoor adventures, we have become a therapeutic community for dysfunctional families?  I guess I missed that memo. 

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So instead of being a development program of male youth leadership development with an emphasis on outdoor adventures, we have become a therapeutic community for dysfunctional families?  I guess I missed that memo.

 

@@Stosh, in recent years I've found myself at adult campfires thinking "I specifically avoided the ministry to be spared from conversations like this!"

I'm not talking about what BSA proposes to offer, but what young parents come expecting ... Especially at the cub level.

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