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Eagle94-A1

Changing a Troop's Culture, Balancing Boy-led versus Adult-led

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One reason why want the oler Scouts taking on more responsibility. Our troop guides have been in name only.

 

Warning Alert! I have found that just about in every case of a SM taking over and changing the program that the older scouts (14 and older) are resistant to change. It doesn't matter what the change is, they just don't like change. Of course one should never say never, but even with this knowledge, new SMs struggle to get the older scouts engaged. "Be prepared" to make the culture change with the younger scouts and letting the older scouts hang back with enough older program so that they hang around. They might not buy into the new program, but they can help you in some areas. Likely your culture change will have to come with the younger scouts. 

 

Barry

Edited by Eagledad

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Yep, I that will be the case. One thing I'm hopinng will happen is to use ''ego'' i.e. you guys have been to Philmont, and if you want to similar trips, I need. your help to get everyone else up to speed.

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Okay, I'll bite, but I made a few edits along the way.

 

In theory, you should be able to go into the next scout committee meeting, announce that the troop is patrols are now boy-led, open up your camp chair, sit down, put in ear-plugs (to deaden the sounds of chaos) and drink coffee.  So what if they fail, that is the point, right? Nope, one's constant goal is that the boys will now have the opportunity to succeed on their own without adult interference.  

 

@@Eagle94-A1, you are correct that it is a balance.  It is the adult leadership that enables a troop to be boy-led.  Okay, now you're on the right track.  Start with a core group of the CC, SM and ASM who buy into boy-led.  Their goal should be to provide as many opportunities for the boys to make decisions as possible and to prevent other adults from interfering.  I'm 100% in agreement.

 

I'm going to use our Troop's outdoor program as the example.  Let's start with planning.  Adult tells SPL suggest to the PLs that the PLC they need to come up with the outings for the year.  At the PLC meeting, the boys brainstorm and then decide on a list.  In our troop, the activities of the patrols are coordinated to the master calendar for the year.  the adults the SPL and Troop Scribe then go make the reservations, draft the permission slips and send out the e-mail to the Troop patrols for each trip (paperwork is for adults functioning Troop officers assigned to support the patrol method).  The boys PL's with the help of the functional ActivityMaster announc the tripe at the meetings, hand out and collect the permission slips and checks.  One of the scouts volunteers to be the grubmaster The functionial patrol Grubmaster wos is aware of who needs S-FC advancement and will need to mentor the younger scout, (satisifying T-1st cooking requirements) and another to be the functional patrol  quartermaster aware of any scout needing MB or advancement requirements mentors the younger scouts as well, (satisfying Camping merit badge planning requirment) for their patrol.  We have "handouts" for the grubmaster and the quartermaster explaining what they need to do to prepare for the campout.  It is assumed by the adults the functionality of the patrol officers know what they are doing and the PL will mentor his people accordingly One of the ASM's reviews the Grubmaster's menu and the Quartermaster's gear list.  It is up to the PL and APL to make sure they are taking care of their boys by working with the GrubMaster and QuarterMaster to make sure things are ready for the activity.  On Well before the day of the campout, the quartermaster is responsible for packing acquiring all of the patrol's gear (signed out from the Troop QM).  On the campouts, the adults camp 200 300 feet :)  away from the scouts and each patrol sets up away from the other patrols.  Each patrol, including the adult patrol, has its own gear so there is no need to share any gear.  The SM / ASMs SPL and ASPL meet with the SPL, PLs and APLs (and as a courtesy, the SM and ASM's are invited) upon arrival and each morning for 5 minutes to do a "briefing" - allowing the adult and boy leaders to be on the same page.  For the activities, the SPL and PLs run the show.

 

Now, this has evolved from the past where the adults would plan the cooking and pack the vehicles, where the adults would be telling the boys when to start cooking and yelling about cleaning up, where the adults would be telling the boys when to get up, when to get ready to leave, where to go when hiking, etc.  Can we become more boy-led on outing?  Yep.  Very well done. The troop QM can work with the patrol quartermasters who volunteer for functioning within each patrol.  We could have the PLs or APLs work with the The functional patrol  grubmasters on are responsible for taking care of the menu.  We could have the SPL run the morning briefings rather than the SM.  In time... YES! And now's a good time!

 

My point and my point is that you the PLs can come up with a list of what needs to get done on outings and write down coordinate who is doing it.  As time progresses, start turning things over to the boys.  Now's a good time.  Once you turn it over to the boys, as SM, supported by ASMs, you willl offer suggestions to the SPL to pass on to the PLs so as to avoid major failures (but allow them to happen if the boys insist, and once they get good at it they tend to keep doing it year after year because they have seen the leaders before them do it.  

 

That is the practical functional boy part.  The other part is cultural. mentoring adult.  You As SM have to get buy in from the key adult leaders and they in turn insist your adult leaders become advocates for boy-led, patrol-method.  They explain The SM will mentor and train it to the boys SPL, PLs and Troop Officers. They explain it to new scouts. They explain it to parents.  They explain it to new adult leaders.  They explain it again to parents.  They tell the boys that they are doing a good job of it.  You get the picture.  As SM and ASM you will protect the progress of the boys by letting Every parent that comes on a campout with us gets my "coffee cup leadership" lecture and my "how amazing it is to see the boys lead" talk.  Every boy leader (PL) gets used to my response suggestion when they ask if they can do something,  Which they will quickly learn they will need to consult with the SPL who is trained to tell them  "if it isn't illegal or against the Guide to Safe Scouting, you can do it -- you WE are in charge."  The boy leaders SPL gets used to me coming to them him with problems leadership opportunities and asking them expecting him to solve them ("new scout just arrived this morning on campout -- he needs a tent buddy but we have an uneven number...").  The leaders get used to me asking them questions ("how should we handle this?" "what do you want to do after lunch?").  The new scouts at camp get used to my response when they ask me questions ("it says Boy Scouts of America on my uniform, I'm not a boy... try asking one of the boys" or "obviously you've mistaken me for someone in charge, I'm not in charge, the boys are."). "I believe your PL is the best person to be able to answer those kinds of questions.  I'm not all the familiar with how your patrol is operating at the moment."

 

Finally, it helps to have several mandaory that all adults pushing boy-led.  We all revert back to the "it is easier if I do it" mentality sometimes and it helps to have another leader to remind us, "let the boys figure it out, that's their job."  We all see boy-led differently and we try to get our involvment to be the lowest common denominator (i.e. if any of the leaders think the boys should handle something, they get to handle it).  As SM you will quickly learn that adults can fail in this process just as often as the boys will and constant mentoring and training of the adults may consume large amounts of the SM's coffee time.  The SPL and PLs, however, will always get #1 priority of the SM's job.  Pass off the training of the adults to a capable ASM.

 

Good luck.

 

@@Hedgehog it looks like you have a really good handle on the process and seem to be moving heavily in the right direction.  My comments are not meant as any judgement on the program you are running, but as an opportunity for you to maybe see the next step in the progress for your program.

 

I found that in the back of my head I have a small voice that constantly challenges me to trust my boys and expect great things out of them and it's not my responsibility to get in their way of that progress but to do what I can to offer suggestions to help them become successful.  

 

Bottom line?  When the boys are successful and look good, so does the SM who supports them.

Edited by Stosh
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Warning Alert! I have found that just about in every case of a SM taking over and changing the program that the older scouts (14 and older) are resistant to change. It doesn't matter what the change is, they just don't like change. Of course one should never say never, but even with this knowledge, new SMs struggle to get the older scouts engaged. "Be prepared" to make the culture change with the younger scouts and letting the older scouts hang back with enough older program so that they hang around. They might not buy into the new program, but they can help you in some areas. Likely your culture change will have to come with the younger scouts. 

 

Barry

 

The key here in your comment is "in every case of a SM taking over and changing the program ".  The SM doesn't take over, he lets go!  :)    I found that my older boys were the first to figure it out and really liked the idea right from the start.  They faltered a bit at first because they really didn't trust the adults to really deliver what they were advocating.  Once we got beyond that, things turned the corner quickly and the younger boys started making the change as well.  They were more difficult because they didn't have the maturity and experience yet and couldn't adjust as quickly.  They weren't that far removed from Cub Scouts where the adults ran the total show to transitioning into, "What?  Now we've got to do it all?"  :)  That training of the young boys and the example of the older boys will bring them around quickly especially if they have a functional TG working with them.

 

Yep, I that will be the case. One thing I'm hopinng will happen is to use ''ego'' i.e. you guys have been to Philmont, and if you want to similar trips, I need. your help to get everyone else up to speed.

 

One has to be careful with that kind of pressure.  The boys will figure out the game rather quickly.  "If you want to similar trips." threat speaks loud and clear that you reserve the right to pull their leadership back to you whenever you find it convenient.  I would focus more on "You guys have been to Philmont, it would be nice if you would share that with the younger boys and help them get that opportunity as well."  Appeal to their leadership skills rather than threaten them.

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The key here in your comment is "in every case of a SM taking over and changing the program ".  The SM doesn't take over, he lets go!   :)    I found that my older boys were the first to figure it out and really liked the idea right from the start.  

Well I disagree with your first sentence. You will just have to take my word on it. I have worked with a lot of troops changing to boy run and the older scouts were the stumbling block. Taking care of the members of your patrols is a cultural ideal. It is a hard concept for older scouts who are used to being in the background of adults being the servants. Older scouts will teach and to some degree lead, but taking on the boy run code of a servant lifestyle is so different from their experience that it isn't scouting to them. It actually looks like a lot of work to them.

 

It's not just programs going to boy run, scouts 14 are adults; adults are creatures of familiarity and resist change. It's how nature works. We are a result of preteen lifestyle and it is very hard to change.

 

It's kind of funny to see, the older scouts sit back and watch the program as if it were a movie. This is the same thing Venturing Crew leaders complain about as well. Scouts from troops where the scouts were more in the background of adults wait for the Venturing program to come them. That is why girls tend to be the ones who jump in and push the program forward. They haven't been trained to follow.

 

However, I'm willing to be humbled and see it work. 

 

Barry

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When I was an ASM the SM "allowed" me to work with the older boys.  It was a massively run adult-led program.  The older boys I worked with really appreciated the autonomy I provided them and protected them from the SM's insistence that what he says rules.  The boys were all on board for about 3 years, worked hard and then all quit en mass when the SM step in and broke up their progress.  It was at that point I left the troop as well.

 

As SM of a dying troop, I brought it back to a 30+ troop and the boys were totally running the show.  The original 5 boys jumped on the opportunity after 6 months of training and that's when the numbers blossomed and we grew quickly.  There were other older boys who moved into the neighborhood that checked us out but decided on the other adult-led troop that I used to belong to because of reasons I assume are those described by @@Eagledad.  I never bothered to ask.  If they preferred the adult approach, that was fine with me.

 

My current troop has no "older boys" and with it being a new troop, there's nothing here to compare it to. 

 

As UC of other troops I have seen them all working "towards boy-led"  I had one very much adult-led troop and one troop working towards boy-led.  The adult-led troop collapsed and merged into the boy-led working troop.  My last visit it was obviously all adult-led.  They were working on their annual calendar for the year.  One adult ran the PowerPoint presentation and the others figured out the details.  No boy offered any suggestions during the discussions and simply said things like, Yeah, sure." "Sounds good", or That'll be okay."  from the older boys.  The younger boys remained silent throughout the whole evening.  The older boys weren't really reluctant to making a chance, they just knew the game and played it accordingly.

 

When I was working with my boys on their annual calendar, as SM I was in charge of the chalk.  I wrote down what they told me to.  They knocked out the annual calendar in about an hour.

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Pass off the training of the adults to a capable ASM.

 

That would be me, the likeable ASM that continually explains "how we do things."  Have chair and coffee cup, will travel.  

 

 

@@Hedgehog it looks like you have a really good handle on the process and seem to be moving heavily in the right direction.  My comments are not meant as any judgement on the program you are running, but as an opportunity for you to maybe see the next step in the progress for your program.

 

@@Stosh I agree wiith all of your edits.  That is the ultimate goal.

 

In a way, your edits demonstrate what I'm talking (and I think what you acknowledge in your later post) that going to boy-led is a process.  A troop isn't either boy-led or not boy-led, but rather boy-led is a continuum.  To begin on the continuum, start with changing the things that are easy (no resistance from boys and adults) and the things that are important.  Assess how things are going and then change a couple of other things.  Repeat.  Along the way, if you explain the importance of boy led to the boys -- you will start to have them changing things on their own.

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@@Hedgehog  of course you are correct.  Adult-Led and Boy-Led are not a black and white issues.  Any scouter that tells me he/she has a boy-led program, I have learned it is best just to smile and nod, because saying BS and rolling my eyes wasn't working.  It is always an issue of grey.  Some troops are light grey and some are dark grey and still others are just grey grey, but no one is black or white.

 

I do, however, believe that the shade of grey is directly related to the understanding, attitudes and agendas of the adults, not the boys.  I think in this day and age, adults find it more and more difficult to actually trust and even believe the boys can be taught to run their own scouting program.

 

:)  Maybe that's a bit of my old-fashioned scouting attitude that is now passe in today's world of modern scouting.  I know it can be done the old way where the boys ran the show because I was an eye-witness to it.

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I do, however, believe that the shade of grey is directly related to the understanding, attitudes and agendas of the adults, not the boys.  I think in this day and age, adults find it more and more difficult to actually trust and even believe the boys can be taught to run their own scouting program.

 

Grey?  That quote is pure gold!

 

That really is the irony of it.  To have a strong boy-led program depends on the adults.  We have to train ouselves not to do what comes naturally (i.e. lead, organize, get things done) but to step out of the way to let the boys be in charge.

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The thing with the older scouts dealing with the change has been one of the biggest surprises to me. Before I was SM I offered to help any scout that wanted to organize something fun for the older scouts. Just ask for help and I'd guide them through the rest. Go hiking, mountain biking, backpacking, anything. I told them that even if they didn't know what they wanted to do I'd help them. I got nothing. If I just told them the date to show up they'd be there. We went caving, rafting, biking and something else before I made my offer.

 

Zoom forward to about a year ago. The older scouts that stepped up and started getting involved were the ones that wanted to work with the younger scouts. They're doing a great job. Nobody wants to organize something for the older scouts.

 

I think it's a combination of poor planning skills, peer pressure to just fit in and not lead, and being lazy. The only thing that seems to get them over that fear is the fact that they now have to do some leadership to get POR credit. A scout came up to me last week and said he'd like to plan the December campout. I told him the SPL would certainly like to hear that, but thanks for telling me. This is a first. Now I have to get all those adults that spend time teaching Life scouts how to do an Eagle project to do that exact same thing with Star scouts that want POR credit.

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NYLT is out for at least 2016 as the only ones olde enough to go are Philmont bound.

 

A litte info about the troop.  3 patrols. Olders Scouts, 13-14 years, 3 First Class, 1  Second class,and  3 Scouts

                                                            Patrol of 12-13 yos who have been in at least a year if not longer and are  probably the best run. 1 Tenderfoot, rest Scout.

 

NSP

 

Oh, fun, lots of questions, 

 

How are the Patrols currently set up?  Aged based? or Mixed Age?

 

Take all the boys, put them in a room and give them 15-20 minutes to decide who's in what patrol, and when they come out, you'll have your answer.

 

 

This is what I am doing next week over the objections of a "This is my troop cause I started it and It won't work" Assistant Scoutmasters. I am taking over as  Scoutmaster and after trying to talk reasonably with him and a couple others have decided to stop asking or trying to convince anybody.

 

Right now the boys don't even have a patrol structure despite having pathes, they never camp as a patrol it 's always ad-hoc patrols that the current adults decide on. My son and the other young scouts are already tired of it so I'm gonna encourage them to from a patrol together and then they can do whatever they want and the old guard adults and scouts can keep on keeping on.

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Well I disagree with your first sentence. You will just have to take my word on it. I have worked with a lot of troops changing to boy run and the older scouts were the stumbling block. Taking care of the members of your patrols is a cultural ideal. It is a hard concept for older scouts who are used to being in the background of adults being the servants. Older scouts will teach and to some degree lead, but taking on the boy run code of a servant lifestyle is so different from their experience that it isn't scouting to them. It actually looks like a lot of work to them.

 

It's not just programs going to boy run, scouts 14 are adults; adults are creatures of familiarity and resist change. It's how nature works. We are a result of preteen lifestyle and it is very hard to change.

 

It's kind of funny to see, the older scouts sit back and watch the program as if it were a movie. This is the same thing Venturing Crew leaders complain about as well. Scouts from troops where the scouts were more in the background of adults wait for the Venturing program to come them. That is why girls tend to be the ones who jump in and push the program forward. They haven't been trained to follow.

 

However, I'm willing to be humbled and see it work. 

 

Barry

So my idea is to build the patrols and let them decided for themselves what they want to do. If the older boys want to let the adults do everything, well good luck with getting me to do it but in any event the patrols that want to will be off doing patrol stuff so it won't be that much of an issue. 

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This Hedgehog/Stosh script is exactly the sort of thing I imagine as the basis for the "One Program" orientation.

 

It really strikes me that all of these questions.... and even the concept "Adult Led" could have been squashed early on if only for some basic orientation.

 

In just a couple minutes reading, it's pretty clear what the goal should be.

Put that into one of those 5 minute online training videos for every scout parent to watch.

Boom, you have your basis for the solution to the OP's question.

 

A couple hours of walking through a few more scenarios as part of training for SM and ASM so that they have a better focus on it from a few other angles.... different situations, meetings vs trips, How to make those various SUGGESTIONS to the Boy leadership, etc....

 

And maybe another training video for every new scout to watch, from their perspective.... perhaps with a bit on how they might handle the Adult who is starting to stray....

 

And it really doesn't seem that hard, on the surface at least, for us t all be singing from the same hymnal!  One Program

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So my idea is to build the patrols and let them decided for themselves what they want to do. If the older boys want to let the adults do everything, well good luck with getting me to do it but in any event the patrols that want to will be off doing patrol stuff so it won't be that much of an issue. 

 

Once the older boys see the younger ones having fun, they'll come around or quit.  Heck, they've been quitting for years once they get to that older stage so why do we get upset  now?  At least now they have the opportunity to have some fun.  As adults we are there to create the opportunities.  If the boys don't want to make themselves available to them, there's nothing we as adults can do about it.

 

Oh, my son quit because he got involved in sports.

 

My son quit because he got interested in girls.

 

My son quit because he was bored with the same old, same old.

 

My son quit because he got to do anything and everything he wanted to do and the adults helped him do that...... RIIIIIght!

 

Again, it boils down to, if the boys trust the adults to back them, they won't hold back  If the adults really aren't letting them then the trust isn't there and the morale is not going to improve.   They'll just focus on Eagle and quit.  (Like that's never happened?  Right!)

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Once the older boys see the younger ones having fun, they'll come around or quit.  Heck, they've been quitting for years once they get to that older stage so why do we get upset  now?  At least now they have the opportunity to have some fun.  As adults we are there to create the opportunities.  If the boys don't want to make themselves available to them, there's nothing we as adults can do about it.

 

Oh, my son quit because he got involved in sports.

 

My son quit because he got interested in girls.

 

My son quit because he was bored with the same old, same old.

 

My son quit because he got to do anything and everything he wanted to do and the adults helped him do that...... RIIIIIght!

 

Again, it boils down to, if the boys trust the adults to back them, they won't hold back  If the adults really aren't letting them then the trust isn't there and the morale is not going to improve.   They'll just focus on Eagle and quit.  (Like that's never happened?  Right!)

Well I'm going to do my best but if it turns into some sort of pissing match with the one ASM I'm just gonna let it be and I'm guessing it won't be long till my son, thus I, quit

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