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Travel Sports Coaches - rant

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......

    • Start Cub Scouts at the age when we can teach knives and fire and how to setup a tent.
  • Focus on what scouting is really about.  The patrol.  aka ... a set of close friends that want to do things together.
    • We restarted that focus recently and it is a huge hit.  Growing those friendships between the scouts is INVALUABLE. 
    • Plan times the scouts can just hang together to play games, watch movies or do what kids CURRENTLY want to do.  Heck, even Magic card tournaments is a good idea.  For scouts to succeed, the program needs to grow the strong friendships between our scouts. .......

 

I agree with and have echoed most of what you've written before....

this one bullet point

  • Start Cub Scouts at the age when we can teach knives and fire and how to setup a tent.

Is a powerful statement.  I agree, that is a great measure of the right time, and also points to a great thing to grab them with...

 

In the interest of time I'll comment on just this piece for now.  I disagree 100%.  If you wait the decision has already been made.  And it's not just sports, it could be any other potentially conflicting activity.  If a kid can't join scouts until say 3rd grade, the issue becomes "Johnny you can't do scouts because already have x, y, & z."  By recruiting early, you at least can get in the door with some you might not have otherwise seen if the start was later.

 

I'd argue that perhaps that boy you describe will have that conflict no matter if he starts 1st grade, 3rd grade, 5th grade, or....

He's always going to be overextended.... most likely is a sporty kid from a sporty family that will most likely prioritize sports over scouts anyway....

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I'd argue that perhaps that boy you describe will have that conflict no matter if he starts 1st grade, 3rd grade, 5th grade, or....

He's always going to be overextended.... most likely is a sporty kid from a sporty family that will most likely prioritize sports over scouts anyway....

 

Well it's only anecdotal evidence, but in our school and pack there is a subgroup of 4 now 2nd graders that all have a similar profile - are good friends, same neighborhood, same interests and generally the same activities.  Three of the boys started scouts last year as Tigers.  The 4th didn't start at the beginning because the family wasn't familiar with it, but by October last year mom, dad, and kid were all saying they'd sign up the following year.  That was the consistent chorus through about mid-summer.  When it was time to start the scout year again, kids 1,2, & 3 were all in.  Kid #4 never joined because the parents were concerned with conflicting activities in the fall.  In my mind, had that kid started as a Tiger, he'd still be a scout.

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to me... the takeaway from that is that the parents probably don't know how scouts can benefit their son....

with the real benefit likely coming in 5th/6th grade at the troop level.

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Going on a tangent ... but I believe it's related because BSA is wrong to position scouts such that it competes with sports. 

 

BSA needs to market itself in a different way because BSA just can't compete head-on with sports for discipline, skills, etc.  

 

BSA needs to market itself on ...

  • outdoor experiences
  • building life-long friendships
  • leaders teaching values
  • taking scouts out of their comfort zone

IMHO, the direct effect is ...

  • Move Cub scouts to start in 2nd or 3rd grade.
    • Kindergarten and 1st graders are too young to develop those strong bonds outside their own families. 
    • Stop competing with other programs earlier and earlier to get scouts.  Even Tiger cub is too young to get the direct benefit of Cub Scouts.  
    • Recruiting too young forces an early choice between scouts and sports.  
      • ​The choices happens when sports experiences look challenging and disciplined and kindergarten and 1st grade cub scouts looks like unorganized mess.  
    • Starting too young burns out both the scout because the cub scout program is so repetitive.
    • Starting too young burns out the adults because cub scouts takes a lot of adult commitment.  three years is a stretch but doable.  Five+ or six+ years of Cub Scouts is just too too too long.   I've seen multiple dedicated families quit when one boy transitions up to boy scouts and the younger kids have already seen Cub Scouts for five plus years.
      • Families get burned out keeping the cub scout program going.
    • Start Cub Scouts at the age when we can teach knives and fire and how to setup a tent.
  • Focus on what scouting is really about.  The patrol.  aka ... a set of close friends that want to do things together.
    • We restarted that focus recently and it is a huge hit.  Growing those friendships between the scouts is INVALUABLE. 
    • Plan times the scouts can just hang together to play games, watch movies or do what kids CURRENTLY want to do.  Heck, even Magic card tournaments is a good idea.  For scouts to succeed, the program needs to grow the strong friendships between our scouts. 
  • Teaching values
    • Scouts can't really compete on physical fitness or teaching discipline or teaming or reaching to do your best.  Sports is an excellent structure to do those things. We can value it and have it as a goal, but it's not a winning comparison with sports. 
    • Scouts competes on teaching character.  But we really need to think and develop HOW to teach character.  IMHO, so much of what I see defeats those lessons.  
    • By HOW, I think we need to consider other programs scouts should mimic.
      • Wrong comparison
        • Sports teams - We don't want leaders yelling at members and treating it as a competition.  Scouting is not competitive.  
        • ROTC - We don't want scouts being commanded.  Scouts choose to participate and can choose to not participate.  
      • Good comparison
        • Sunday school - Talking about values and beliefs.  Going out to do service and activities so members can practice values.  My experience is the best leadership in scouts is helpful and asking questions such as "How did that work for you?" 
    • To teach character, we need to almost continually talk about character.
    • To teach character, we can use the teaching of skills (knots, fire, first aid, etc) and how we teach those different things to communicate character lessons.  
    • To often we say scouting is about character, but we then try to compete where sports is strong.
  • Taking scouts out of their comfort zone
    • Repetitive programs are a killer.  No scout wants to do more than three district camporees.  
    • Heck, repetitive sports is a big negative too.
    • Keeping scouting fresh is important.  ... IMHO ... that's one reason cub scouts being 5+ years is really bad.
    •  

 

 

The problem is that Scouts, to some degree HAS TO COMPETE with sports.  Sports and Scouts both require time and money.  So there is some competition there. In terms of discipline, I would argue that Scouts is a much better source of discipline training than sports (and my boys have been involved in both).  In terms of that, all sports does is teach them to be mindful of the authority of the adults so that they don't get yelled at or have to run laps. 

We do need to market on the outdoors and on boy leadership.  That's the only true thing we have that is pretty unique. I also agree with you that cubs is too long. I also think that the GTSS is too restrictive at the Cub Scout level.  Cubs are allowed to do almost nothing exciting.  I do think starting at about third grade would be good. At that age, a lot of the kids have already tried sports, and have given up on them. The problem with our 4 1/2 year cub program, is that we get a lot of parents that 1) think they have to be in cubs to be Boy Scouts, and 2) think that they have missed out too much if they don't join as Tigers. 

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Well it's only anecdotal evidence, but in our school and pack there is a subgroup of 4 now 2nd graders that all have a similar profile - are good friends, same neighborhood, same interests and generally the same activities.  Three of the boys started scouts last year as Tigers.  The 4th didn't start at the beginning because the family wasn't familiar with it, but by October last year mom, dad, and kid were all saying they'd sign up the following year.  That was the consistent chorus through about mid-summer.  When it was time to start the scout year again, kids 1,2, & 3 were all in.  Kid #4 never joined because the parents were concerned with conflicting activities in the fall.  In my mind, had that kid started as a Tiger, he'd still be a scout.

The data on the whole is that the two highest losses of scouts in the Cub program are the Tigers and Webelos IIs. The Webelos losses are a result of burnout and the Tigers are a result of requiring to much participation from the adults too fast. I have an anecdotal example as well. We had a pack in the district that decided to quit the Tiger program and start recruiting at the Wolf age or 2nd grade. Five years later the pack had roughly same number of scouts that it had 5 years previous. 

 

Barry

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I'd say that I might have a different position because I was a cub master, but this is a cub forum, so ...

 

I do not even begin to try to compete with Sports.

When I recruit, do a Join Scouting night, or even talk it up at the Grocery Store; I emphacise that (Cub) Scouting is here to support the family.  Not to become an extra headache. 

 

If Sports, seasonal or otherwise, is important to the family, and they have to miss events - that's OK; we are here to support the family.  Our den leaders will be happy to let you know what they are working on, so that the Boy can work on these things at home, or, they boy can just participate as they can - with the understanding that they may not complete the rank badge; we just ask them to let the Den leader know for planning purposes.  Once they understand that they (the Scout) do not have to complete a rank award to move up the the next level - it's all by Grade/Age, I don't usually get any pushback.

 

The key is to manage the parent's and Scouts expectations.  (And to do a good job recruiting at all levels and ages so that Scout isn't the only one in the Bear den without the Wolf badge).  If they really want the rank AND sports, they have to be willing to put in the extra effort.

 

Now Boy Scouts, on the other hand may be a different issue; not because of the problems with self-paced advancement, but based on a boy who accepts a leadership role, has to be able to perform that role - sports or not.

Edited by gumbymaster
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The data on the whole is that the two highest losses of scouts in the Cub program are the Tigers and Webelos IIs. The Webelos losses are a result of burnout and the Tigers are a result of requiring to much participation from the adults too fast. I have an anecdotal example as well. We had a pack in the district that decided to quit the Tiger program and start recruiting at the Wolf age or 2nd grade. Five years later the pack had roughly same number of scouts that it had 5 years previous. 

 

Barry

My anecdotal evidence.... our pack recruits the whole school, but the focus is probably more 1st grade Tiger

our pack overall is close to the same size, but slightly smaller than it was 4-1/2 years ago when i got involved.  A couple very small tiger dens the last couple years.

 

I'd say that I might have a different position because I was a cub master, but this is a cub forum, so ...

 

I do not even begin to try to compete with Sports.

When I recruit, do a Join Scouting night, or even talk it up at the Grocery Store; I emphacise that (Cub) Scouting is here to support the family.  Not to become an extra headache. 

 

If Sports, seasonal or otherwise, is important to the family, and they have to miss events - that's OK; we are here to support the family.  Our den leaders will be happy to let you know what they are working on, so that the Boy can work on these things at home, or, they boy can just participate as they can - with the understanding that they may not complete the rank badge; we just ask them to let the Den leader know for planning purposes.  Once they understand that they (the Scout) do not have to complete a rank award to move up the the next level - it's all by Grade/Age, I don't usually get any pushback.

 

The key is to manage the parent's and Scouts expectations.  (And to do a good job recruiting at all levels and ages so that Scout isn't the only one in the Bear den without the Wolf badge).  If they really want the rank AND sports, they have to be willing to put in the extra effort.

 

Now Boy Scouts, on the other hand may be a different issue; not because of the problems with self-paced advancement, but based on a boy who accepts a leadership role, has to be able to perform that role - sports or not.

I ran it pretty much the same.... the scout was always welcome, even if they didn't show often....

Sometimes though, I must admit I just bit my lip when they would show up in sports uniform, as my response would have been in conflict of my support of them showing up.

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My youngest daughter was in sports, and art, and theater, and got a full ride scholarship to Marquette University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Iowa State University (hers to choose)..... in Math/Engineering, besides being Valedictorian of a 800+ member graduating class.  

 

She's a stay at home mom, raising my grandchild doing EXACTLY what SHE WANTS TO DO with her life.  I couldn't be prouder.  I raised my kids the way I was raised.....  Seriously, there are things in this life that are far more important than acquiring a lot of money.  Try explaining that to parents of today's kids.

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Sometimes though, I must admit I just bit my lip when they would show up in sports uniform, as my response would have been in conflict of my support of them showing up.

Been there and done that, but the icing on the cake was these scouts dragging their parents into the meeting so they could enjoy it as well. 

 

Barry

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I'd say that I might have a different position because I was a cub master, but this is a cub forum, so ...

 

I do not even begin to try to compete with Sports.

When I recruit, do a Join Scouting night, or even talk it up at the Grocery Store; I emphacise that (Cub) Scouting is here to support the family.  Not to become an extra headache. 

 

If Sports, seasonal or otherwise, is important to the family, and they have to miss events - that's OK; we are here to support the family.  Our den leaders will be happy to let you know what they are working on, so that the Boy can work on these things at home, or, they boy can just participate as they can - with the understanding that they may not complete the rank badge; we just ask them to let the Den leader know for planning purposes.  Once they understand that they (the Scout) do not have to complete a rank award to move up the the next level - it's all by Grade/Age, I don't usually get any pushback.

 

The key is to manage the parent's and Scouts expectations.  (And to do a good job recruiting at all levels and ages so that Scout isn't the only one in the Bear den without the Wolf badge).  If they really want the rank AND sports, they have to be willing to put in the extra effort.

 

Now Boy Scouts, on the other hand may be a different issue; not because of the problems with self-paced advancement, but based on a boy who accepts a leadership role, has to be able to perform that role - sports or not.

 

This is a great approach.

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In terms of discipline, I would argue that Scouts is a much better source of discipline training than sports (and my boys have been involved in both). 

 

My own personal jury is still out on this one.  Part of the reason is we may not be using the same definition of discipline.  I'm both a coach and cub leader and I've yet to find a consistently good way to drive and reinforce proper behaviors in a scouting environment (help & suggestions welcome).  Granted my experience on the sports side is much more extensive.  A practice/game is a very different setting than a meeting/camp out.  For example, I'm not a yeller on the sports field but can still use my voice to convey urgency, expectations, dissatisfaction, and to motivate.  And at times a whistle is an effective tool.  But with scouts we're often in a more controlled environment and I don't feel I can often use the same tools.  And I feel scouts has more problem kids than sports.  Or perhaps I should more accurately say more problem behaviors.  I'm thinking specifically of cases were kids lack focus and self control.  It sure is prevalent in our pack with a few kids.  On a sports field the behavior would not be tolerated, but as scouting is generally more accepting, we need to do more to manage through it.   

 

Part of my conflict is I don't think my personal style on a sports field works in a scout setting.  I like to encourage energy and enthusiasm, call it a "let's go get 'em" approach.  And when necessary, I don't know how or why, I can quickly bring a team back under control for a serious coaching point or other calmer activity.  In scouting I find once the kids get the energy level up it becomes a runaway freight train and all control is lost. 

Edited by SlowDerbyRacer
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For me it's just a matter of who's running the show.  In sports the boys learn to follow.  In scouts the boys, theoretically, are supposed to be leading, depending on whether the adults are coaching the scouts or having them truly lead on their own.  What would happen if the coach and staff didn't show up?  What would happen if the SM and staff didn't show up?  

 

It's kinda like the Tom Landry approach.  Can the team run itself or do they need the plays called by the coach every step of the way?

 

As a coach it would be my job to do what I can to help the kids win every single game.  As a SM, I teach the rules of the game, winning is up to the boys.

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Back to the OPs question, can the Webelos II meet on a different night to accommodate all the boys?

 

We've changed our Webelos 1 meeting to try and accommodate the boys playing sports (which includes my son.)  About half of our boys also play a sport.  Not only that, our parents that volunteer the most are also the parents that are volunteering to coach / help with the sports activities too.

 

My 14 year old has played competitive baseball and golf for years.  Sometimes it has conflicted with scouts and sometimes it has not.  Thankfully, we have a super troop that understands.  He may not make it to Eagle as fast as some of the other boys, but he has plenty of time.  We've supported him doing both, and enjoys all the activities and his church youth group.

 

Some of the posts make it sound like sports are not worthwhile because really very few kids get scholarships or become pro athletes.  We've looked at the opposite way.  Yeah, we don't expect any college scholarships or pro contracts, but if you have a child that loves baseball....his sports career is pretty much limited to when he IS a kid.  Why would we want him to quit something he loves when this is the only time in his life he will probably get to play?

 

We've encouraged golf and scouts as activities that will serve him the rest of his life.  As parents, I guess all we can do is "Do Our Best" and hope that our children have great childhoods and turn into awesome adults.

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My own personal jury is still out on this one.  Part of the reason is we may not be using the same definition of discipline.  I'm both a coach and cub leader and I've yet to find a consistently good way to drive and reinforce proper behaviors in a scouting environment (help & suggestions welcome).  Granted my experience on the sports side is much more extensive.  A practice/game is a very different setting than a meeting/camp out.  For example, I'm not a yeller on the sports field but can still use my voice to convey urgency, expectations, dissatisfaction, and to motivate.  And at times a whistle is an effective tool.  But with scouts we're often in a more controlled environment and I don't feel I can often use the same tools.  And I feel scouts has more problem kids than sports.  Or perhaps I should more accurately say more problem behaviors.  I'm thinking specifically of cases were kids lack focus and self control.  It sure is prevalent in our pack with a few kids.  On a sports field the behavior would not be tolerated, but as scouting is generally more accepting, we need to do more to manage through it.   

 

Part of my conflict is I don't think my personal style on a sports field works in a scout setting.  I like to encourage energy and enthusiasm, call it a "let's go get 'em" approach.  And when necessary, I don't know how or why, I can quickly bring a team back under control for a serious coaching point or other calmer activity.  In scouting I find once the kids get the energy level up it becomes a runaway freight train and all control is lost. 

 

 

I agree.  My husband is a den leader and coaches baseball.  Twelve kids on a baseball field are much easier to control than 8 at a den meeting.  For some reason, they seem to view scouts is a license to run wild.  Maybe they should run a few poles before the meeting.   :p

Edited by ShutterbugMom
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Some of the posts make it sound like sports are not worthwhile because really very few kids get scholarships or become pro athletes.  We've looked at the opposite way.  Yeah, we don't expect any college scholarships or pro contracts, but if you have a child that loves baseball....his sports career is pretty much limited to when he IS a kid.  Why would we want him to quit something he loves when this is the only time in his life he will probably get to play?

 

We've encouraged golf and scouts as activities that will serve him the rest of his life.  As parents, I guess all we can do is "Do Our Best" and hope that our children have great childhoods and turn into awesome adults.

Well said. When I was teaching Scoutmaster Fundamentals, I told the participants that they are servants of the parents. Imagine that the scout is a puzzle that the parents are building to make the person they possible can. His teacher is one puzzle piece, the piano teacher is another and the Sunday school teacher is another and yes, the coach. Parents hand pick these people they believe the guidance, experience and social interaction is building the perfect man. So when we leaders get anode with a scouts busy schedule that is getting in the way of our scouting world, remember it is honor to be chosen by the parents to be their part of their team. We are just one puzzle piece. Nothing more.

 

I was also a soccer coach the entire time I was a scout leader.

 

Barry

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