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Eagle94-A1

Change in The Troop, It's Coming

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First Class, First Year is the Eagle Mill motto.

 

We tell new parents it may take 18-24 months....your mileage may vary. 

 

When they ask if we will push the Scouts to get it done in 12, we say "no". I then add, "Our troop may not be for you if you expect us to."

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Hmmmm, if it's boy-led, why would adults be pushing anything?

 

New parents. They don't get boy-led or PM.

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I wonder how many parents are under the assumption that BSA is a consumption program rather than a developmental program.

 

We have a product, Eagle.  This is what it takes to get it.  Kinda like black-belts in karate.  Yet karate is adult driven.  First chair in band/orchestra?  Again, adult driven.  Confirmation, sports, all seem to follow the same principle.

 

Thus the question, why would parents assume anything other than just another program that they pay for like dance lessons and youth baseball? 

 

My kid is going to be a professional sport star.

My kid is going to play at Carnegie Hall.

My kid is going to be a black-belt.

My kid is going to be a professional dancer.

My kid is going to be a doctor. (threw that one in to see if you were really reading along.  :))

My kid is going to be an Eagle.

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Many, including the SM of the troop I just left, think advancement - especially Eagle - is the goal of Scouting.  It would seem to be a goal of B.S.A..  Note the increase in Eagles from 1% to 6 or 7% as membership declines.

 

B.S.A. should forcefully remind adults that advancement is only a tool, not an objective, and that good people and good citizens are goals of Scouting, even if not as susceptible to metrics.

 

But there are many things B.S.A. should forcefully say that remain only whispered - or totally unsaid.

 

____________________________

Try Boy Scouting.  It might still work.

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I would be lying if I said I don't want to see my sons earn Eagle. For me, the key word is EARN. I may give oldest a reminder or two about advancement stuff, but that's it. If he wants it, he needs to get it. The same will happen when the younger two get into Boy Scouts.

 

I admit this troop was not my first choice to take him. After visiting the troop I wanted him to join, and he wanted to join, the troop folded and went Trails Life. While they had the best program IMHO, and their attitidue on advancement did cause some issues after they folded, and a Scout went to another troop. The folded troop didn't follow BSA advancement policies to the letter.

 

This troop was the second troop we visited, after we found out the first troop was folding.We both knew going in that the troop was young and still learning. Heck the first meeting could be labeled a mess when the PL didn't show up and the APL had to take over and didn't know what was planned. He adapted, improvised, and overcame. Son loved it. Son loved the fact they they camp 11 times a year, with a lock in in January.

 

As for how many parents are Eagle focused, BSA pushes it. A lot of adult leaders have no experience with Boy Scouts as a  youth member. Still other adult leaders have youth expereince, but of the horrible Improved Scouting program of the 1970s where the BSA took the Outing out of ScOuting. Yes, I know of an Eagle who is a SM that doesn't like to camp. he's about 8-10 years older than me, putting him smack dab in teh middle of the ISP.

 

Like I said, this was the second choice. He wants to camp. Since we joined the troop, we postponed one trip. To many folks had school commitments the weekend we chose, and we pushed it back to March, and did 2 campouts that month.

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I spend a lot of time trying to drag parents off of that "must Eagle" ledge.

 

I'm certain neither as a youth my SM or ASM had to do that for my or any other boys' parents.

That's significant because there was no pressure if a kid fell in with a patrol that was a little less skilled than another. Advancement was on me and nobody else ... we all knew that.

 

Nowadays, there's a sense that if our adults are not providing a counselor for every required MB from within the troop, we're doing the boys a disservice.

 

I'm pretty sure, in my youth, if you weren't the best person for the badge, you weren't on the list.

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Yes, the drive for Eagle is bothersome. I'm honestly not really sure where it came from. It wasn't there when I left home in 1977 for school and life. But it saw it big time in 1990 when the UCs would do all the talks at Cub Roundup telling parents that cubs was the starting place for Eagle. First thing I did was take over that talk for our pack. I replaced the eagle part of the talk with fun and adventure.

 

The units I was part of didn't buy into the Eagle drive because most of our adults came from a time of patrol method. But I spent "a lot" of time with parents trying to guide them on the benefits of patrol method over an Eagle program. I had to practice the speech that I gave to Webelos parents explaining the virtues of Patrol Method so that it made sense and had a value worth considering. As much as it appeals to experienced scouters on this forum, 300 feet patrol separation does not appeal to parents without scouting experiences. You have to explain at a parent level showing them how patrol method develops the growth and maturity of character their sons will use when they are fathers, husbands and community leaders. We had a few parents choose the Eagle mill down the street, but I guess the reputation of our troop was enough for parents to trust us because we grew from the smallest troop to the 3rd largest troop in the district with the single largest group of older scouts (14 thru 17) in the whole council. And we didn't want to be that big, after 50 scouts, boy run is very very difficult. 

 

I feel patrol method gets preached so much on this forum that it starts to loose the luster of it's true impact on scouting. Our troop was up front with everyone that advancement was only a small part of the program, not the main part and the scout himself was responsible for how far he took advancement. You won't hear adults pushing scouts to advance in our troop. However, when scouts like going to scout activities, they will hang around long enough that the earning an Eagle doesn't require all that much additional effort on their part. We also had the 2nd highest number of Eagles in the district next to the Eagle Mill. But, our troop also had more high adventure treks than most troops, which were pretty much organized by the scouts. We did so much outdoor adventure that many of the scouts, including my sons, didn't realize that not every scout in other troops had their levels experience. 

 

It took me a long time to develop the high points for selling  patrol method to parents so that they could balance its merits over their brainwashed image of the Eagle. I fully respect the challenge today's leaders like Eagle94 have in selling patrol method. It's kind of like explaining God, you can't see it or touch it, so you have to be able to describe patrol method and boy run in a way that parents can visualize something tangible enough that the growth from the experience is the real gold ring they want for their son. I found that patrol method over Eagle is an especially hard sell for moms, but once you do sell them on it, you have dedicated followers for life.

 

I believe what has hurt the troop program the most in the last 25 years is that between 50 to 75 percent of new troop leaders never experienced scouting as a youth and they can't see it except for what they get from the materials and training. Which doesn't even scratch the surface of the patrol method experience. 

 

Barry

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Didn't the drive for Eagle start with the change in the trail to first class? Making the attainment of FC a one-year thing and allow concurrent work on T-FC? Wasn't that all done in an effort to retain members because they (BSA) thought that boys languishing at the lower ranks was a reason for their leaving Scouts?

Looking back it seems BSA "dummed down" the requirements to allow kids to fast-track to Eagle. The result was more Eagle BUT you STILL see a year on year reduction of 3%-4%....more since 2013.

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Looking back it seems BSA "dummed down" the requirements to allow kids to fast-track to Eagle. The result was more Eagle BUT you STILL see a year on year reduction of 3%-4%....more since 2013.

Yes, there does appear to be some easing of requirements. But from my observations over the years, the main influence for the eagle is adult pressure. A lot of troops and districts even assign adults to their life scouts for additional guidance for eagle. There is a lot of pressure on scouts today to get that prize.

 

As I said, our troop leaders didn't apply that pressure and the results I saw is that most of our Eagle scouts didn't receive the award until they were 16 and 17. The average age of Eagles in other troops was 14 and 15. My son and a bunch of his friends did their BOR within a month of their 18th birthday. When scouts are busy doing fun scouting stuff, advancement isn't the highest priority.

 

Barry 

Edited by Eagledad

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Didn't the drive for Eagle start with the change in the trail to first class? Making the attainment of FC a one-year thing and allow concurrent work on T-FC? Wasn't that all done in an effort to retain members because they (BSA) thought that boys languishing at the lower ranks was a reason for their leaving Scouts?...

Other way around. There were endowments given to specifically research why more scouts didn't get Eagle. (When Son #1 joined in the 90s there was a dedicated camp staff running a newly formed "Trail to Eagle" area. His job was to have a sit-down with all FC+ scouts about setting goals for the next rank.)

 

Subsequently, the trail to first class programs opened up. (At our camp, I think it was the year following the T2E experiment).

 

Overall, though, the advancement revamp was the implementation of that total quality management culture, with boys being cogs in a massive process. One that did not see Eagle as a possibility, but rather as a probability.

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@@qwazse, thanks for that. But the overall point was that the changes to the advancement were done as a retention measure, no? The increase in Eagles was a result (intended or unintended) of these changes, right?

 

@@Eagledad, we assign a coordinator to help the Life Scouts. However, that person mostly advises them on how to dot their "i"s on the (adult driven) overly complicated paperwork.

Edited by Krampus

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@@qwazse, thanks for that. But the overall point was that the changes to the advancement were done as a retention measure, no? The increase in Eagles was a result (intended or unintended) of these changes, right?

 

@@Eagledad, we assign a coordinator to help the Life Scouts. However, that person mostly advises them on how to dot their "i"s on the (adult driven) overly complicated paperwork.

The BSA made a decisive move to increase the number of Eagles. I was told that the FCFY was created as part of that goal. I was also told, but I don't remember, exactly what motivated National to go that direction. I'm sure it something to do with membership.

 

Coordinators for life scouts is ok if the adult understands the real intention of the job. But I found most adults in the position used it to push the scout, rather than just advise. It goes against our parenting human nature not to push, and there is a fine line between advisory/cheer leader and coach/director.

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The BSA made a decisive move to increase the number of Eagles. I was told that the FCFY was created as part of that goal. I was also told, but I don't remember, exactly what motivated National to go that direction. I'm sure it something to do with membership.

 

 

 

According to the studies at the time, mid to late 1980s, the stats showed that Scouts who reached First Class within a year of joining, stayed longer in the program. In 1989 when the results came out, BSA did away with the Skill Awards ( which I thought were very good) and the time requirements between T-2-1 ranks.

 

Don't know when First Year Camper programs started, but when I went to summer camp in 1986 for the first time, they had one. Crusty old retired master gunnery sergeant, ran the program, and if he said you earned it, you really EARNED it. he didn't tolerate slackers. 

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all this eagle mill talk has me concerned again about my son's options moving forward.... i think sometimes taht there really isn't a good choice... all are eagle mills.

We have 3 troops to choose from, really two based on geography.  the 3rd we could make happen for him but it's less than ideal....

so one troop is for sure an eagle mill... not the troop he chose.

I'm still not so sure about the one he chose... from what i can tell it's perhaps a hybrid.  It seems like the boys run the meetings, and tehy have a strong effort into running PLC meetings, but then it seems so adult driven other times. It just came off a growth spurt coming back from near death just a few years ago.   the SM is a good guy and I think they are legitimately trying to do the patrol method, but i keep seeing things that make me doubt the sincerity.  i guess we'll find out in the next few weeks for sure!

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