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MattR

Getting inexperienced leaders up to speed faster

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Based on my experience, I'd say eight months.

 

My son crossed over at the end of March two years ago.  I was the Cubmaster for the Pack.  First Troop meeting I attended, I was asked to be an ASM and encouraged by my son.  Took Outdoor Leadership training over a weekend.  A couple of weeks later, the Troop was going to cancel the May campout (which would be the first for the new scouts) because of lack of interest by older scouts and the current leaders.  I stepped up and worked with the incoming SPL to run a mini-skills campout -- Toten Chit, Fireman Chip and making first aid kits.  Attended summer camp that summer with the Troop.  In September became one of the two ASMs responsible for the outdoor program.  With a new SM, we began emphasizing Boy-Led on camp outs.  Adults now camp 200 feet away.  

 

I grew up wandering around the woods in the Poconos in Northeastern Pennsylvania at my family's modest vacation home (which was built by my Eagle Scout father).  Maybe camped out a dozen nights growing up -- including nights in friends' back yards. My Dad taught me to fish, pick berries, row and sail.  I didn't do BSA.  For Cub Scouts, I organized the campouts which were the parents were cooking dinner and making the camp fire.  Everyone was camping out as families and then getting up in the morning and going home.  As soon as my son and I crossed over, I immersed myself in Boy Scouts learning as much as I could about the program.  The training helped as did these forums.  I also did hours and hours of research regarding camping and backpacking gear - so much that I'm now the Troop expert on gear.  I subscribed to Backpacker magazine (heck, I was able to do it with unused airline miles) and bought a bunch of books on ultralight backpacking, survival skills and camp cooking.

 

I'm close to camping out 50 nights (both with and without the Troop) since my son crossed over.  One of the other ASMs and I camped out in 25 degree weather while taking Wilderness First Aid classes -- because we could!  I've hiked or backpacked close to 200 miles over the last three years.  I'm a merit badge counselor for Camping, Backpacking, Hiking and Cooking.  I just finished a 52 mile backpacking trek with 5 boys (and another adult) on Saturday.

 

It is when we think that there is some pre-requisite to being a leader that we turn people off.  Seriously, how many of you would welcome a leader who was used to organizing and leading Cub Scout events, had never been a Boy Scout himself and who took a 20 pound 8 person tent and an inflatable air mattress on campouts?  My son's Troop did.

Edited by Hedgehog
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Based on my experience, I'd say eight months.

 

My son crossed over at the end of March two years ago.  I was the Cubmaster for the Pack.  First Troop meeting I attended, I was asked to be an ASM and encouraged by my son.  Took Outdoor Leadership training over a weekend.  A couple of weeks later, the Troop was going to cancel the May campout (which would be the first for the new scouts) because of lack of interest by older scouts and the current leaders.  I stepped up and worked with the incoming SPL to run a mini-skills campout -- Toten Chit, Fireman Chip and making first aid kits.  Attended summer camp that summer with the Troop.  In September became one of the two ASMs responsible for the outdoor program.  With a new SM, we began emphasizing Boy-Led on camp outs.  Adults now camp 200 feet away.  

 

I grew up wandering around the woods in the Poconos in Northeastern Pennsylvania at my family's modest vacation home (which was built by my Eagle Scout father).  Maybe camped out a dozen nights growing up -- including nights in friends' back yards. My Dad taught me to fish, pick berries, row and sail.  I didn't do BSA.  For Cub Scouts, I organized the campouts which were the parents were cooking dinner and making the camp fire.  Everyone was camping out as families and then getting up in the morning and going home.  As soon as my son and I crossed over, I immersed myself in Boy Scouts learning as much as I could about the program.  The training helped as did these forums.  I also did hours and hours of research regarding camping and backpacking gear - so much that I'm now the Troop expert on gear.  I subscribed to Backpacker magazine (heck, I was able to do it with unused airline miles) and bought a bunch of books on ultralight backpacking, survival skills and camp cooking.

 

I'm close to camping out 50 nights (both with and without the Troop) since my son crossed over.  One of the other ASMs and I camped out in 25 degree weather while taking Wilderness First Aid classes -- because we could!  I've hiked or backpacked close to 200 miles over the last three years.  I'm a merit badge counselor for Camping, Backpacking, Hiking and Cooking.  I just finished a 52 mile backpacking trek with 5 boys (and another adult) on Saturday.

 

It is when we think that there is some pre-requisite to being a leader that we turn people off.  Seriously, how many of you would welcome a leader who was used to organizing and leading Cub Scout events, had never been a Boy Scout himself and who took a 20 pound 8 person tent and an inflatable air mattress on campouts?  My son's Troop did.

 

@@Hedgehog, your experience sounds like mine.  I never camped as a kid, lasted two months in Cub Scouts and thought roughing it was a flea bag motel.  Once my boys got involved in scouts, however, I got more involved in Cub Scouts and went on overnight campouts for Webelos with my older son, became a den leader right away for my younger son and bought my first tent at 36 years old to go on a Webelos campout. 

 

I became an ASM with the troop my older son joined and went on campouts with them occasionally and took some training.  When we moved and the local troop that my older son joined had an interim SM and needed someone to step up, I said sure.  Well, I took training right away learned everything I could and lasted 7 years in my first stint as SM.  I camped all the time with the troop and went to Sea Base and did a Philmont trip.  Now I am back for my second stint as SM and looking forward to it.

 

So, like you, I wonder if the requirments that a lot of people want to add for new leaders would have turned me off.  I know that if anyone is willing to step up in my troop and is willing to work with the boys, I welcome them with open arms.

 

BTW, where did you go and how was the trip?

Edited by pargolf44067
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BTW, where did you go and how was the trip?

 

We did the Monadnock Sunapee Greenway Trail in New Hampshire:  http://www.msgtc.org It was very challenging for everyone involved.  It was the longest trek in days and distance than any of us had ever done.  We all hit a wall at some point on the trek but managed to dig deep and push on.  At the finish, there was a sense of tremendous accomplishment and we had fun along the way.  I'll probably post a more detailed description and some lessons learned in a separate topic.

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It is when we think that there is some pre-requisite to being a leader that we turn people off.  Seriously, how many of you would welcome a leader who was used to organizing and leading Cub Scout events, had never been a Boy Scout himself and who took a 20 pound 8 person tent and an inflatable air mattress on campouts?  My son's Troop did.

Me, because so many of my Troops parents are along for the ride. 

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Speed up?

Not sure I'm understanding.

 

Scouts and Scouting is all about relationships.

People who stay in the area where I live tend to hang around for a very long time.

Most of the SM's have held their position for a long time.

People who live in the area have a fairly good idea of what type of fellow he is. - We don't have any female SM's.

The kinda get a feel for what their son is in for.

I do realize that in different parts of the country this isn't the case and people are on the move a lot more.

 

Different Troops have different ways of doing things.

I have visited every Troop in my area.

I know each and every SM.

I believe that each and every one of them really does have the best intentions in the world.

Still, having said that there are a couple of Troops that if my son was of Scout age, I'd do my best to have him shy away from.

 

Each and every Scout needs to find his own way.

Some will move along at a faster rate then others, some will "Get it" While others will be happy to hang back or just do the things that interest them.

I'd rather have a Scout who is happy doing his own thing then a Scout who is being rushed through by a parent who really has no idea what we are about and only sees their son being an Eagle Scout.

 

Rushed?

I was a SM  for a long time.

My understanding of what we were doing, why we were doing it and how we should be doing it?

Changed and grew over time.

My understanding of what a PLC is really about changed.

My understanding of even the basic stuff like the Oath and Law changed.

I still struggle with what a youth led unit really is.

 

When dealing with other adults, parents or leaders I share my understanding of how I see our vision and our mission.

I hope that they see from my example that even if they disagree with me, that at least I'm trying and heading in the right direction.

Parents and other leaders do I hope know that I want the best for their kid and the kids they serve.

There are and have been people who just don't like me!

While that's sad, it is understandable.

 

Maybe Feedback is a gift is a phrase that has been over used?

But Scouts return home and talk to their parents (Well some do!)

I'm still very big on Reflections. Having people youth and adult being able to voice how they feel about what we have just done and how we are doing.

It is also a good idea to take the time to stop and take time out by yourself and see how you think your doing.

Maybe instead of rushing we need to take the time to slow down and see if we are offering what each and every boy needs.

Eamonn 

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. 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. 

 

As I mentioned in my post on the co-ed thread, it's taken me about 3 years to become comfortable with the whole Boy Scout program and this after having both my sons go through Cub Scouts!  So, 5 years of Cub Scouts for Son 1 plus 3 years of Boy Scouts for Son 1 = 8 years and, might I add, husband was Pack Committee Chair and then after Son 1 was in Boy Scouts for a year or so, became Scoutmaster.  I had the added benefit of talking to him about all the activities, etc. that many parents don't have.  I also mentioned that I'm the Membership Chair of the troop. I've been trying to give "New Parent Orientations" and sending them PDFs or links to sites for equipment lists, merit badge counselors and all sorts of other stuff.  We're in the suburbs of L.A. and all the previous posts and comments about the cubicle parents is quite often correct for our troop.  There are not a lot of parents with outdoors backgrounds.  So, yes, there's a major learning curve and ramp-up time involved I'd say, especially because of the lack of outdoor experience and I include myself in that category.  Husband a bit more familiar with the outdoors--has always enjoyed backpacking, fishing, etc. and has done so since college.  The Boy Scout program has a lot of different facets and it's quite complex!   The troop we're in had over 100 Scouts in it in the mid-90s and we're now at about 20-22 and that's only because we just added 8 new Scouts this summer from the Webelo den of which I was den leader!  And, of the parents who were in the troop pre-new Scouts, most didn't participate.  The bridger Webelo parents are used to helping out, thank goodness.  But, that being the case,  there will be a lot of training for them in the months ahead.

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It did not take me long to get up to speed I started when my son was a tiger when to Webolos outdoor training and then read the den leaders guide I did do a lot of camping as a kids many in my friends back yard and then a lot in high school.  I did work a a summer camp for kids while in high school so that helped a little bit.

 

Manly the webolos out door training was a really big help basically a bunch of den meetings the leader asked me to teach  a section of it and that was really helpful for me let me get some practice on holding den meetings.

 

It was kind of funny now that I think about it the leader of the training did not really do that much training he let us do it so I guess for that time we were the boys and leading

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There are not a lot of parents with outdoors backgrounds.  

The parents with woodsman skills are still out there; but they are choosing to stay away from BSA.  Run off by the 'good ole boys' at district, required to sit through incompetent training, drowned in repetitive useless paperwork; experienced outdoors-men would much rather soak in nature on their own and be with their kids. 

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The parents with woodsman skills are still out there; but they are choosing to stay away from BSA.  Run off by the 'good ole boys' at district, required to sit through incompetent training, drowned in repetitive useless paperwork; experienced outdoors-men would much rather soak in nature on their own and be with their kids.

 

I think all of our experiences are different and we should be careful to not assume all conditions are like our local conditions. Maybe where you live that's the case, where the other poster lives in an LA Suburb if I remember correctly. Probably not a whole lot of experienced woodsmen living in LA. 

 

I've met more hunters and outdoorsmen (and women!) through my membership in the BSA then I've met at any place I've studied or worked.

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@@JoeBob and @CA Scout Mom are correct.  Most of the outdoors people are generally specialized in their outdoor activity.  There are not a lot of tent campers out there.  Just because one hunts doesn't make them a camper and just because one fishes does not make them a hunter.  My wife kayaks, tents, hikes and x-countries skies, but does not hunt or fish.

 

.... and just because one camps in an RV does not make them a candidate for SM or ASM, unless one is into mega KOA plop camping.

 

The pool of outdoor educated people is getting smaller as we speak.

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But my guess is someone that has experience in the outdoors in any of those areas would be willing to learn something new. If you like rafting you can probably pick up backpacking quickly as you're over the hump of dealing with bugs and sweat and enjoy the beauty and challenge. Getting someone up to speed for understanding scout led is another story.

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Let me refine the point.  

 

Going back-country is a lot about solitude and getting away from urban hubbub. Scouting is about bringing our youth into the woods to expose them to nature.  Hopefully they can learn to enjoy the wonder of flora and fauna.  

 

But it's a catch 22: you can't be 'alone' in the woods with 30 troop mates!  So real woodsmen don't try. (On top of which: today's youth are not interested in the woods.) Add in all the other BSA baggage, and you'll be lucky to get a year out of an experienced parent.

 

I'm surprised that I lasted as long as I did.

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For not being interested in the woods, I know of a lot of youth who are getting their fill outside of BSA. For example, I know an 11 year old who enjoyed a Bear Grylls wilderness camp in New York. Sure beats fumbling around with novice leaders.

 

How many of your scouters really have 1st class skills? I love my IOLS-trained SM, but he just dropped the rope and walked away when I ask him to tie a timber hitch. (I didn't ask because I was quizzing him, he asked if I need help running a ridge line, and that's what I needed at the time.) Maybe it would be better if instead of that "outdoor instruction", he got credit as he camped on 10 activities, and proved each skill as he mastered it with our SPL. One less weekend away from the troop, ten more of him trying to model what it takes to actually learn a skill.

 

Why does training have to be managed by the district? Why does anyone over 18 or at the most, 21 need to be a trainer? Why can't part of a JASM's responsibility be training adults (in the pack as well as the troop)?

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For not being interested in the woods, I know of a lot of youth who are getting their fill outside of BSA. For example, I know an 11 year old who enjoyed a Bear Grylls wilderness camp in New York. Sure beats fumbling around with novice leaders.

 

How many of your scouters really have 1st class skills? I love my IOLS-trained SM, but he just dropped the rope and walked away when I ask him to tie a timber hitch. (I didn't ask because I was quizzing him, he asked if I need help running a ridge line, and that's what I needed at the time.) Maybe it would be better if instead of that "outdoor instruction", he got credit as he camped on 10 activities, and proved each skill as he mastered it with our SPL. One less weekend away from the troop, ten more of him trying to model what it takes to actually learn a skill.

 

Why does training have to be managed by the district? Why does anyone over 18 or at the most, 21 need to be a trainer? Why can't part of a JASM's responsibility be training adults (in the pack as well as the troop)?

Now there's an idea!!! Push teaching IOLs skills to new parents off to the JASM.. Interesting idea... I doubt I could get the District Training boss to bite. Even if I verified afterwards... Too bad.

 

@@JoeBob

I get it. For me, my parents had limited outdoor experience. Being a Scout gave me the skills and confidence to stay on as a Troop leader, but also to continue hiking and backpacking away from the Troop. I try to pass on my love of that activity to my friends, but it's often a tough sell. (I live in an urban area.)

Edited by Sentinel947
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How many of your scouters really have 1st class skills?

 

Let's see... SM and 3 ASMs are Eagles, another 3 ASMs have hiked, backpacked and camped extensively on their own, 2 ASM are former Navy guys that love the outdoors (and they know knots!).  We've got one ASM who is an engineer and who loves bicycling and is getting into backpacking (even taking his daughter on a 15 mile trip on his own).  Yeah, our scouters probably would (and some have) go camping even if heir sons aren't on the trip.

 

When you get that core of excited adults, it draws in other adults and their kids to the troop.  Our troop has a reputation for doing fun activities and for being boy-led.  

 

We welcome adults to come and camp with us when their son's cross over -- the only caveat is that the boys have to tent with another scout and the parents tent with the adult patrol (200 feet away).  We feed the parents well (bbq ribs, corn bread, apple sauce and cole slaw, egg, cheese and Canadian bacon croissants, Italian sausages on rolls, Monte Cristo sandwiches, etc. all cooked on camp stoves, cast iron frying pans and Dutch ovens) and teach what boy-led means by example ("here is your coffee cup and that's your chair").  We model how a patrol operates with everyone pitching in to help.  As one parent said after their first campout with us, "you had me at hello."  The adults push each other in skill competency - from making rope neckerchief slides, to making soup can wood stoves for cooking, to cooking hot dogs using milk cartons, to frying donuts in a dutch oven to talking about the outdoor activites we do outside of scouting.

 

I'm sure some of you are thinking "sure that works if you are in a rural area" but our troop is in the middle of suburbia in New Jersey.  Simply put, our troop invites the boys and their parents to have fun in the outdoors.

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