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Eagle94-A1

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

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Please keep posting comments and ideas please.  More tools in my arsenal, the better job I can do.

 

Stosh mentions PLs and giving them responsibility. One responsibility I want to give them is the ability to sign off T-2-1 Requirements up to their own rank. Challenge at the moment is that all of the PLs are Scout. The troop has been more focused on the "Outing" and less so on advancement. We have guys in the troop 2, 3 years, and are still Scout, even after going to summer camp and being active. Troop has gotten into "advancement mode" due to Philmont. Funny thing is with the exception of the 30 days of exercises and showing improvement, Most of the stuff up to First Class has been done for some of these folks. One PL is going for Second Class and First Class BOR next week. Another is going for Tenderfoot and Second Class. So I see this happening finally.

 

But I admit I have mixed emotions on this. Long story short, instead of preparing for camporee, we are focusing on T-2-1 requirements this month. SPL had Scouts buddy up and working on advancement. One of the PLs was having challenges.  Part of me wonders will he be able to do the job? Part of me wonders is it because the SPL sprung it on him at the last minute?

 

On a positive note, this is one of the Scouts who, when asked if he thought he met the mile long compass course requirement a few months back, said no he and the others needed more practice. You don't know how proud I was of the group when they said that.

 

In regards to youth led troop being more organized, I was fortunate to be in an established youth-led troop. By established I mean we had been around for 20+ years, and had an older scout patrol, called the Leadership Corps at the time,and they ran things. Mostly 14 - 17 year olds who had "been there, done that, got the patch," and had the ability to control teh behavior of everyone with 6 words, " You're wasting your game time, gentlemen."

 

I think one reason why we were able to keep our guys active until 18, and even beyond as ASMs, was becasue the adults gave us ownership of the troop.

 

I use my PL's as the highest ranking officer in the troop.  SPL is there only to support their work with their boys.

 

PL is responsible for taking care of his boys and that includes advancement.  His patrol program should include all boys advancing at an even pace.  Signing off is the responsibility of the PL's, but during the SMC those should be looked at carefully.  The BOR can't retest, but the SM can and I have found that some PL's pencil whipped some requirements and were brought into the SMC to explain the signature.  Usually every PL gets one "orientation" to this process and any mistakes are seldom repeated.

 

My younger PL's learn quite a bit from the boys working on rank higher than theirs and when their time comes to advance, they have received many lessons prior that is great for them.

 

SPL, or SM if there is not SPL, sign off on the PL advancement.

 

My troop tends to be more of a gathering of patrols than a troop.  Activities are all designed around what the patrols wish to be doing.  There is inter-patrol competitions and cooperative activities going on all the time when they chose to do so.

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In regards to youth led troop being more organized, I was fortunate to be in an established youth-led troop. By established I mean we had been around for 20+ years, and had an older scout patrol, called the Leadership Corps at the time,and they ran things. Mostly 14 - 17 year olds who had "been there, done that, got the patch," and had the ability to control teh behavior of everyone with 6 words, " You're wasting your game time, gentlemen."

 

I think one reason why we were able to keep our guys active until 18, and even beyond as ASMs, was becasue the adults gave us ownership of the troop.

 

I too had this type of very fortunate experience.  The troop of my youth had a long history.  We were in the 50-80 boys range.  5 to 8 full patrols with 80%+ participation at campouts and meetings (Admittdely this was before gameboys, cable tv, and DVDs - The Atari and VHS tapes were just coming out, so there wasn't a lot else to do).

 

The boys ran and planned the meeting, only asking for Adult assistance when they needed or wanted to learn a skill not known (I still remember rope making as an example).  The SPL and the "leadership corps" were their own patrol, and set the example for the other patrols to follow.  We had two ASPLs, one to organize the indoor (meeting) activities, and one to organize the outdoor activities.  The Youth members chose locations and made the reservations.  At camporees, we regularly had 4 of the top 5 patrols.  Our patrols would even regularly meet at the library or similar place without any adults around.  Each patrol had to maintain their equipment, plan and purchase their meals, organize their transportation, camp and cook as a patrol - it was hard to be a patrol leader :). The adults did organize and control the money, and they ran a community service event (it had to do with running a self-powered float that required a lot of maintainence).  The Adults also had their own patrol, that was also run as an example for the boys.

 

Part of my aversion to Woodbadge, and I know it's not well founded, was that when I was about 17 - I had already been the SPL and other positions, and had effectively completed my eagle; we had 4 or 5 of our Assistant Scoutmasters take Woodbadge.  When they got back, they were so gung ho to implement what they had learned, that that literally pushed aside the older boys (about 7 of us, 4 active eagles, were then organized into a new patrol of JASMs) and effectively left with no work or task to do; and they began to take a very active role in "coaching" the now 14-15 year old troop leaders.  It became very disheartening.

 

I actually still have a copy of a "farwell address" I wrote (younger me ~ 1988). I really hope that I never actually sent/delivered it - I was a self-righteous snot; but it does offer some insight into the mind of a 17/18 year old faced with a troop becoming more adult lead.

 

...

One of our best teaching devices is the use of your mistakes.  Mistakes are commonplace and nothing to be ashamed of, unless you do not learn from them.  When you are handed a well planned program, created by the adult 'advisors', you are denied many of your lessons and as a result you will be less prepared for what the future holds for you.  When we give you a program to follow, and it works, all that you will learn is how to follow directions; a lesson already drilled into your heads by parents and teachers.  The Troop's job, and the adults' responsibility, is to see that you learn how to plan your own program, make it work, and afterwards evaluate it to see how it, and similar programs, could be improved in the future.

 

The Troop method should be very clear to you at this stage of your scouting career, but many of you have been deceived by the policy and have never seen the real troop method in use.  You are told that the Senior Patrol Leader is in charge, yet you look to the Scoutmasters for confirmation of his directions.  The Senior Patrol Leader IS in charge of the troop, you have elected HIM to be responsible for teaching YOU to be leaders.  The Senior Patrol Leaders then chooses his staff to help him create the program that THEY will use to teach you.  The Scoutmasters do have a purpose, but it is not to lead and teach you, it is not to plan YOUR camp-outs, and it is not to control YOUR meetings.  These are the jobs of your Senior Patrol Leader, his Staff, and your own Patrol Leader.  The Scoutmasters and Junior Assistant Scoutmasters are there to be a resource to HELP the Troop's Leadership Corps but not to replace then or do it for them.  This is the way the Troop Method is suppose to work but seldom does; yet, only you can make it work.

...

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@@gumbymaster

 

BINGO!

 

 

Part of my aversion to Woodbadge, and I know it's not well founded, was that when I was about 17 - I had already been the SPL and other positions, and had effectively completed my eagle; we had 4 or 5 of our Assistant Scoutmasters take Woodbadge.  When they got back, they were so gung ho to implement what they had learned, that that literally pushed aside the older boys (about 7 of us, 4 active eagles, were then organized into a new patrol of JASMs) and effectively left with no work or task to do; and they began to take a very active role in "coaching" the now 14-15 year old troop leaders.  It became very disheartening.

 

I actually still have a copy of a "farwell address" I wrote (younger me ~ 1988). I really hope that I never actually sent/delivered it - I was a self-righteous snot; but it does offer some insight into the mind of a 17/18 year old faced with a troop becoming more adult lead.

 

And this is how it begins.... this coaching, mentoring, directing illusion of boy-led is nothing more than smoke and mirrors for an adult-led excuse of program.

 

Minimally train the boy to get them started and then get the hell out of the way!  From that point on the only reason there are adults in the program is for legal 2-deep requirements for BSA as long as they stay 300' away.  

 

With all the lip-service I hear about being boy-led, I'm still convinced that there is far too much adult involvement.  When I was in scouts, (early 1960's) I seriously don't remember the adults involved much in the processes of running the troop.  They were never around.  I don't know where they were, but they weren't with the scouts.

 

Just listen carefully to the comments being made even on the forum and take those who are heavily into the boy-led, patrol-method programs and then count the number of adult "expectations" that seem to float in and out of the discussions.  The WB example @@gumbymaster mentions is exactly what I am talking about.

 

Ever wonder why the older boys quit or just zone out on getting Eagle and then quitting?  Gumbymaster spells it out quite clearly and precisely.

Edited by Stosh

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Why I always say a sign of a good troop is the number of older Scouts who are still active, especially is they are already Eagle and don't have that as an incentive to stick around.  I know I stuck around after turning 18. I had friends in college who were active whenever they could with the troop.

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I seriously don't remember much about my SM form the short time I was a Scout in the early 1980's.... & I have zero memory of any assistants.  I was a cub scout, but joined a troop later, and only in it for 1-2 years

 

I remember working with more senior boys.

 

I was talking with a fellow scouter (eagle) not so long ago, and i made the comment that i really don't remember much about my old SM.  He was surprised, and said something like that's a shame, your relationship with your SM should be something special that you remember....  I'm starting to think that maybe my SM was doing the boy led thing right!

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I was talking with a fellow scouter (eagle) not so long ago, and i made the comment that i really don't remember much about my old SM.  He was surprised, and said something like that's a shame, your relationship with your SM should be something special that you remember....  I'm starting to think that maybe my SM was doing the boy led thing right!

I came from a very boy led troop and I have very fond memories of our SM. The troop is usually the image of the SM and the Scouts know that. That is especially true  in a boy run troop because while you don't see the SM very often, when he does visit, it has purpose and an impact. I tried to model much of my Scoutmastering after him. My scouts were lucky that he was a role model for me.

 

Barry

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With the exception of one incident I was involved in, outside of SMCs I didn't have much interaction with the SM until I was ASPL. And that was only becasue the SPL wasn't there and I was in charge. But he was a hiker and camper. And we were a hiking and camping troop.

 

After I turned 18, we got a new SM.  Still into hiking and camping. But loved boating since he was a Sea Scout Quartermaster, and a nautical engineer. You guessed it, once summer hit, lots of fun on the water.

 

Yep, they were good rolemodels who I want to emmulate.

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1)  Please keep resposnes coming. I'm one of those who are not quick-witted when a new challenge comes about and need to think on it. So this forum is helping in planning.

 

2) What are some ways to not insult any of the current leadership when I present the ideas to improve the troop? Again the SM has done a fantastic job holding the troop together and keeping them active despite his health and lack of consistant adult help. My other friend who is suppose to take over has also done a great job inspiring the troop and workig with them when he could. After all, he was the one that inspired and motivated them to go to Philmont.

 

I've briefly talked to the SM about taking over if need be. He doesn't seem to have a problem with it. Only comment was "I still want to be active." I responded "Yes, you're a valuable resource, but I don't want you to feel obligated to do everything.

 

I am trying to meet with my friend to talk person to person with him about it before meeting the CC this Monday. But it's going to be a challenge since he gets married in 9 days, then on a Honeymoon.

 

Yep, the CC is attending the Monday meeting to do 4 BORs. I was informed that I was still listed as a MC on the charter and that I need to be there to sit on 3 of them (Oldest is one of them!). So I am going to bring it up to him.

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...

2) What are some ways to not insult any of the current leadership when I present the ideas to improve the troop? ... Yep, the CC is attending the Monday meeting to do 4 BORs. I was informed that I was still listed as a MC on the charter and that I need to be there to sit on 3 of them (Oldest is one of them!)....

You just answered your question for you. Let the boys do the talking. Here's some BoR questions that may help:

 

1. What is your favorite thing about our troop? Least favorite?

2. If there was one thing you'd like the troop to do while you're working on your next rank, what would it be?

3. You know, the new SM is gonna be a busy guy (new wives do that to a fella), now that a bunch of you are advanced, what troop responsibilities do you think you boys could do to make his job easier?

4. Do you like your current position of responsibility? What would you like to do differently with it? Or would you like to try a different PoR? Or, is there a service project you'd rather lead?

5. If there's one place you'd like to take your patrol (maybe while the adults stay home or back at camp, if it's an overnight) where would it be?

 

And, since it sounds like you're tight with one or more of these boys: NO COACHING IN ADVANCE.

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Remembering Scoutmasters:

  I remember who my scoutmasters were.  Well, not my very first one, he changed maybe 3 months after I joined.

  The second one I remember because (1) He had a very dynamic personality, (2) He was tremendously good at recruiting, and (3) there were incidents (thankfully not involving me) that we all were briefed about after his sudden departure.

I don't remember who replaced him - but I remember my SPL and PL.

When I became SPL, I remember who the Scoutmaster and Assistants were from then on.

So I think that I can agree that if you can't remember your Scoutmaster, and had a good scouting experience, it was probably very boy led.

Edited by gumbymaster

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No coaching in advance?  I coach all my boys at the SMC on what they might do to have an effective and productive BOR.

 

I had two Eagle candidates having the EBOR on the same night both best of friends.  I coached them both on what they might do for the EBOR.  One boy  took my advice, answered 4 questions and had a really positive experience.  The other boy did not listen to my coaching, had a bad experience and likened it to an interrogation rather than a BOR.

 

If coaching up front has a potential of making the experience a positive one, then I'd say, "Go for it." 

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Last night I was an adult chaperone to a Patrol Meeting.

The Patrol leader, while 15, is new to the position, and to troop leadership in general; and is currently second class.

 

They were working on Knot tieing; when I brought my son, I inquired with the Patrol Leader's father (it was at their house); if he had the two-deep leadership covered, the did technically as his wife was home, but they asked if I know much about knots to help.  I indicated that I would stay, but that I only planned to help if the Patrol Leader wanted to teach a knot he didn't know.

 

There were many times that I wanted to help.  Where I could have helped a struggling scout know where they were making their mistake.  I sat on my hands; it was hard.

 

After the meeting, at the pickup, one of the other parents asked me how it went.  I mentioned that they did very well, but I found it difficult to sit on my hands all night - more as a casual observation about myself, not about them.  The parent then seemed to have some very strong ideas about how, yes, boys scouts are boy led, but if they don't know how (the skill, to teach, to lead), the adult really did need to step in.  If they didn't have the background, they had to learn from somewhere.

 

My response was, not realy.  Part of what scouts are good at are being a safe place to fail, to learn, and improve.  I don't think the parent saw it that way.  I'm on the Committee but decidedly not a Scoutmaster (their Scoutmaster is very laid back - probably why only 3 or 4 active boys are 1st class or higher), their former Scoutmaster and current ASM is a little more proactive but still the boys generally need to come to him if they need something from him.  Their soon to be Scoutmaster is also pretty laid back, and has just finished Woodbadge at my suggestion (no prior Scouting expereince).  So with this parent, I indicated that drawing that line of where to step in is really something that the SM and ASMs should be deciding; the troop had just sent 3 boys to NYLT and we needed to give them time to actually apply what they had learned.  The parent was still not convinced, but I think I got the discussion deferred until a committee meeting.

 

As I was leaving, the PLs parents asked me how I thought things went.  I said, that the PL was able to keep the boy's attention and generally keep them on task (and knowing 3 of the boys from their Webelos den, no simple task); but that in the end, as the PL was there at the question, that the PL was just as able if not better qualified to know how things went, what worked, and where it could be improved for the next time.  I'm not sure, but I think both the PL and the parents smiled at that one.

 

Even so, in retrospect for the meeting as a whole, I think I was still too much there.

 

There's a reason I'm still a cubmaster.  While I understand boy led, lived boy led, I'm not yet ready for the transition.

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No coaching in advance?  I coach all my boys at the SMC on what they might do to have an effective and productive BOR.

 

I had two Eagle candidates having the EBOR on the same night both best of friends.  I coached them both on what they might do for the EBOR.  One boy  took my advice, answered 4 questions and had a really positive experience.  The other boy did not listen to my coaching, had a bad experience and likened it to an interrogation rather than a BOR.

 

If coaching up front has a potential of making the experience a positive one, then I'd say, "Go for it." 

Good point. Let me rephrase ... A boy should know what kinds of questions may be asked. He should know that this is how a committee learns what's important for the troop, and maybe what should change. He should know to provide a succinct answer, stop, listen, and think (i.e., take a breath) before answering the question.

 

He should not have any idea of what we old farts think the right answer should be.  Nobody learns what by hearing what we already know. So, it's really important that our boys are prepared to speak their mind respectfully ... not to attempt to read the minds of their reviewers.

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Yes the trasnistion from CS leader to BS leader is VERY HARD, even for those of us who know better. Why I kinda harp on the balencing between guiding and mentoring vs taking over. I did the taking over once before, way back when I was a brand new ASM. I was acting more like the SPL, and some of my friends who were youth started getting ticked off. Other leaders had to have a cup of coffee and worked with me.

 

As for the questions, most are standard with me. The only coaching I do prior to a BOR is to tell them to relax, think, and take it easy.

 

As an FYI Patrol meetings and other DAY (emphasis) activities do not require adults. Only overnight activities.

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First, two-deep leadership applies to overnight activities. The principle here is no one-on-one contact. And, frankly, for an afternoon/evening activity, no adults need to be present.

 

Last night I was an adult chaperone to a Patrol Meeting.

The Patrol leader, while 15, is new to the position, and to troop leadership in general; and is currently second class.

 

They were working on Knot tieing; when I brought my son, I inquired with the Patrol Leader's father (it was at their house); if he had the two-deep leadership covered, the did technically as his wife was home, but they asked if I know much about knots to help.  I indicated that I would stay, but that I only planned to help if the Patrol Leader wanted to teach a knot he didn't know.

 

There were many times that I wanted to help.  Where I could have helped a struggling scout know where they were making their mistake.  I sat on my hands; it was hard.

 

After the meeting, at the pickup, one of the other parents asked me how it went.  I mentioned that they did very well, but I found it difficult to sit on my hands all night - more as a casual observation about myself, not about them.  The parent then seemed to have some very strong ideas about how, yes, boys scouts are boy led, but if they don't know how (the skill, to teach, to lead), the adult really did need to step in.  If they didn't have the background, they had to learn from somewhere.

 

My response was, not realy.  Part of what scouts are good at are being a safe place to fail, to learn, and improve.  I don't think the parent saw it that way.  ...  So with this parent, I indicated that drawing that line of where to step in is really something that the SM and ASMs should be deciding; the troop had just sent 3 boys to NYLT and we needed to give them time to actually apply what they had learned.  The parent was still not convinced, but I think I got the discussion deferred until a committee meeting.

...

Even so, in retrospect for the meeting as a whole, I think I was still too much there.

 

There's a reason I'm still a cubmaster.  While I understand boy led, lived boy led, I'm not yet ready for the transition.

I suspect the misinterpretation of youth protection requirements put you in the awkward position of having to be there with nothing of importance to do.

 

Your time might have been better invested in a different corner of the house teaching the dad whatever knots you know. Let the PL know that if the boys feel stuck on a knot, he could find you, and you'd come by and demonstrate it. The SM and I come off as very laid back, because a good part of the meeting is chatting with adults with only one eye on the boys. What we are actually doing is having meaningful conversations that some of the boys may overhear. ;)

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