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blw2

being content.... or just being lazy....

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no question really, just getting philosophical

 

My son is just under 1 year in with the troop

and I am finding it interesting that he's not really energized at all about doing anything towards suggesting activities or camps, patrol outings or activities, or anything really.

He's just happy going along with whatever "they" plan....

 

He's never been what I would describe as "gung ho" really.... about advancement, awards, etc....

    he's really just going along with the fun, even going back to cubs.

So this isn't really a surprise

 

He did surprise me early on when he volunteered to take the youth leader training, which the troop requires for any scout elected or appointed to a position... and this was before his patrol of new scouts was fully formed and they had not yet elected their PL.  He WANTED to be PL.  I can't see he knew what that even was, but he WANTED it.

 

Anyway, his friend was elected PL, and so my son was appointed APL.  I have really stayed hands off, except on occasion I have tried to coach and encourage him just a little.  he really has done nothing.  The PL even less.  My son won't do anything because he is not the patrol leader and so it's not his job.  I've tried to encourage him that if he wants PL he needs to show his scouts that he is there supporting them.

 

Anyway, I'm just thinking how much more fun he might have if he and the other scouts would jump in, do some research, come up with and suggest the fun things that THEY WANT to do and make it happen.... bring it to the PLC, and do it....

and I know he has ideas.... there have been several times when he's asked, why don't we do X, Y, or Z?  and I'll suggest that maybe "they" would if he suggested it....

but he never does.

 

and I think it's a combination of things.
1) he knows the adults are planning and driving things, so why bother?

2) he really doesn't feel like part of the leadership.  He's new, he's young, and he knows it.

3) he realizes that the APL really isn't the PL

4) he doesn't have a take charge nature, and is more of a follower in many ways....

 

I see this same thing out of all the scouts really....

BUT OH how much more fun they would have if they would get on board with the idea!

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Blw2, the boy is young and smart. As long as the adults are willing to do all the work, why not let them. They are taking all the leadership opportunities away from the boys so let them.

 

Your son needs to learn what an assistant anything does. My ASM's are assisting me and are not sitting around on their hands waiting for me to not show up and then realize how much they don't know what is going on. If any assistant isn't putting in 100% working to make me look good then it's time to find someone who will. They are a team not 2 individuals. If your boy isn't hounding the PL with, "What can I do to help?" Then he will never figure out how leadership works. If he quit worrying about himself, he could be running the patrol. Next election time who is going to be elected? The PL who did nothing or the APL who did nothing? It's time to quit worrying about oneself and start worrying about boys in the patrol.

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yeah Stosh

I've had similar conversations with him a few times..... I've even talked with him about supporting his PL and making the PL look good.

But as you point out he's smart.  He also realizes that if he asked that question of the PL.... "what can I do to help you"  he'll get nothing.... he knows that boy knows less about it all than he does (and he's right).  So I have even suggested (this is all conversationally mind you) that if that's the case he might consider ways to lead that PL from behind.  Or even ultimately forgetting all of that and just seeing that the job gets done..... that if the PL won't lead the APL should....

 

the bug is in his ear, now its up to him to figure it out.

 

So that is why i was stepping back, and sort of making a philosophical observation about how these young men can be.....

 

Even IF they know better

and even IF they know would have more fun driving the bus

often they are just content to sit in the back of the bus and go along for the ride....

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The one thing my scouts and venturers "complain" about me is how I "push" them into leadership roles ... not PoRs, necessarily, but actually doing specific actions that take them out of their comfort zone, but make life better for everyone around them.

 

After the fact, none of them (to my knowledge) tell me they've regretted it.

 

Some of them, after they meet their local military recruiter, realize that I wasn't really all that pushy!

 

So @@blw2, now that your son's heard from you, take a step back and let others in your troop do the nudging as far as scouting goes.

You and the Mrs. will have enough herding cats In other activities.

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This issue is universal at this point in life. Kids don't lead because they have never been given the chance. If they have some adult has pulled rug on them and embarrassed them in front of their friends. I have been "volunteering" my church youth to take the lead on things. The youth director warned me that there's a rule that if someone volunteers another then they can turn the table on them. I said I was hoping they would. Finally one boy called me out for volunteering him and I said, "No problem, I don't mind taking away your turn to lead." No one has ever challenged me since. Instead when I just look at them they step up and take the lead. They know I have their back and will go to bat for their leadership.

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I think this is characteristic of the generation.  Not to criticize, just an observation.  They have been "spoon fed" everything, at home, at school, and yes, even at Scouts.  It's not that they don't WANT to take initiative, they don't know how, because they've never been expected to.  I saw it 10 years ago when I was unit scouting, and I think it's even worse now.  They wait for direction.  When given direction, they willingly react, do just what was suggested, nothing more, nothing less.  They think if it's not suggested, it's not up to them to think of it.  IT frustrates me at work, because my management style is to tell them what the end point needs to look like, then get out of the way and let them figure out all the intermediate steps.  They don't know how to do it without step-by-step direction.  

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Leadership is hard.  I'll admit that I've pushed my son to similarly lead.  For the first year, I pushed him to be responsible for himself and to be responsible for his advancement.  OK, I probably pushed him too much with advancement.  He made first class within 15 months.  For the second year, I pushed him to participate in the outdoor program and to be a good Den Chief.  For his third year, I coached him as an APL who frequently had to do a lot of things himself because his PL wasn't organized or effective.  I also coached him to lead in the outdoors - being an APL or PL on every outing.  He sat in on the PLC and even planned an outing to go horseback riding.  He ran for PL and wasn't elected.  After some gut wrenching disappointment he decided he wanted to be Troop Guide and OA Rep.  We talked a lot about servant leadership and how it doesn't matter what you arm patch says you are.  He went to NYLT and came back changed.  He finally got it.  He was appointed to be the SPL for summer camp by the SM.  By applying what he learned at NYLT (as well as some coaching by me) and me running interference with the other adults, he was able to lead by providing an environment where shared servant leadership could take hold (see this thread for more detail: http://scouter.com/index.php/topic/28395-you-guys-were-awesome/). The other boys actually took note and stepped up - they all were leaders because the emphasis was on SHARED servant leadership.  He's now helping me develop a leadership training program and he is working with his friends to start a Venturing Crew.

 

Your son is just a 12 year old.  He is listening to you but the time isn't right.  After being involved with our Troop for three years, I see the difference that each year makes in the boys.  I've also seen the difference that increasing the threshold of being boy-led can make. They know when they can't make a difference and they know when they can truly lead.

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Yah, @@blw2, take it from an old furry fellow who has seen lots and lots of kids.

 

Relax.

 

Your lad is 12 years old, in his first year.  Go back and read "ages and stages" from your BSA training, eh?  Boys that age aren't lookin' to stand out, they're lookin' to fit in.   If in his first year of Boy Scouting he's accomplished that, he's well on his way.  He's got friends, he's goin' along with the fun, he's watchin' and learnin' and gettin' comfortable with the way things work.  He's growin' neurons!

 

Da other stuff comes with time, eh?  Give it a few years, and you'll wonder where that 12-year-old went.  Give it a few more years, and you'll be wonderin' where this fine young man came from who is doin' all sorts of stuff you never dreamed of.

 

Patience, and quiet support.  That's the ticket.

 

As an aside to spur da conversation, this is one reason why I'm more an advocate of mixed-age patrols, eh?  NSP PL/APL roles almost always work out this way.

 

Beavah

 

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Yeah, with only a few exceptions age 12 isn't really the age where most boys want to try to lead or direct a group, especially a group that probably includes boys older than he is, that's not to say he doesn't have ideas or independent thoughts, it's just not a time when most boys feel the compulsion to implement them as a precondition of enjoying them.

 

What I tell my scouts is that in the first year I want them to learn to take care of themselves, it's OK if they need help with  that from older scouts, as long as they're getting better at it with each trip.  After the first year, I point out to them that there are now scouts newer than them and so it's time for them to really be able to just take care of themselves.  It's as they're starting their third year that I tell them they should be pros at this stuff, and should be able to help the now even newer scouts who are coming up behind them; this is when they're moving from 1st Class to Star, and now it's about how they serve their patrol and troop, and now it's time for them to put their stamp on the troop and have it be what they want it to be and reflect who they are as a team.

 

Sure, there are exceptions--- in both directions, but those are usually obvious.  If a scout is enjoying what he's doing, if he signs up for every campout without hesitation, then he is right where he needs and wants to be.  His fellow scouts will be the reason he starts stepping up, they'll want him to and they'll expect him to when the time is right.  For the most part you can leave it up to them. 

Edited by T2Eagle

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having struggled for a number of years with rebuilding a troop and starting from scratch with another. I do not find Beavah's and NJCubScouter's to hold true.

 

7 boys, all 10-11 years of age,

 

1) 2 boys constantly fought as to who got to help the Grubmaster do the mess hall Server/Host issue.  By Wednesday the GM, had both of them on the job.  They were the only 3 boys who worked the mess hall duty.

 

2) PL showed up for am and pm flags with the troop flag without being told.

 

3) One of my boys won the award for the most out-going, scoutlike example in the First Year Camper program.  There were about 50 boys in that program.  No one knew there was even such an award until the closing campfire.

 

4) Camp counselors were invited to eat at our mess hall table.  If they tried to grab a bowl and take it for refill, any one of the boys would remind them they were the guests and they should sit down, that it was their job to go back to the kitchen (not the mess hall host or server on that one).

 

I'm thinking that a lot of people equate good leadership with older, more mature scouts.  I don't happen to subscribe to that notion.

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I've also seen troops the way Stosh describes, but only in adult guided troops. And not that that is a good or bad thing, without older scouts, adults have limited options for developing growth.

 

But adults who ignore ages and stages tend to struggle more with older scouts because they dont understand the power of human instinct. They tend to either push mature responsibilities on inmatures scouts who really aren't are ready for that much of a jump, or do all the responsible roles for the scouts.

 

Natural instinct pushes prepubescent boys to hang in groups where they are safe from outside danger. Standing out is not instinctive unless they feel safe. And a boy run program isn't inherently safe in that context. Which is why the BSA looses more scouts during their first six months in the troop than any other time. Boys of this age instinctively make decisions based on their personal position (survival) in the situation of the moment. Its frustrating for some adults that young boys appear so selfish in their behavior, but it's just nature. Guidance through respected role models encourages real growth much faster than immediate correction motivated from impatience.

 

The natural behavior of post puberty scouts is the opposite. Instincts drives them to step out of the herd or group and make individual decisions for the good of the group or herd. Imagine all those nature shows where the dominant males watch over the herd.

 

The importance of the scout program is for younger scouts to learn the habits of post puberty behavior by watching the behavior of mature role models. Ideally we want young scouts to be immersed in the servant lifestyle based from the scout law and oath.

 

It's amazing to watch, but once a scout reaches the age of maturity, he instinctively acts with a servant heart. And you find yourself in amazement that the program really does work.

 

Barry

Edited by Eagledad
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ok interesting positions here.... and I have a recent first hand example... of all these perspectives!

 

So my son...(who by the way is a bit younger at a week shy of 11, not 12)

on the way to the pack's "planning meeting" (actually it's a troop, but I'm thinking it's as much pack as troop...)

tells me as we are heading out the door when I ask him if he has any notes or thoughts to bring along...

that he really just wants to go with whatever they do.  I forget the exact words, but basically he admits to be new, young, and so he's perfectly ok with riding the bus instead of driving.

which I think, that's perfectly fine at this age if that's what he wants... and I told him as much....  (to confirm @@Beavah's earlier point)

 

but then, leaving the meeting (which was very much a pack planning meeting)

he says to me "that was a waste of time"..."the adults did everything!" 

Which prompted a conversation about that whole thing, about why he might think that is and what the adults "should do"... basically he really does understand and in a way want to lead... or at least have the scouts doing it if not him....  (To confirm @@Stosh's earlier point)

 

And so what I am observing here is that the scouts, both young and I can only assume the old too, WANT to lead, but CAN'T when being basically smothered by the adults!

 

so I'm not so sure @@Eagledad's prepubescent boys are in fact actually "safe in an adult lead situation to do what they want to do, OR that his post puberty scouts actually do step out of the heard.  In fact, what I am seeing is that the older scouts having been lead by the noses through scouting don't step out and don't lead at all, and the younger scouts have no idea how to step out in front of the well intentioned adults.

 

UGH!  I AM SO VERY FRUSTRATED!

 

At least I had a good conversation with my son, fertilizing that seed of an idea that he actually can lead in scouts if he wants.... or that he could talk with the current older scouts about it.....that the program actually does allow it.

 

Oh how I wish I could fix this, even just a little bit!

Edited by blw2
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"With all due respect, Mr. blw2, this is our troop and we want to run it.  We elected PL's to run the patrols, we have an SPL that is going to coordinate the troop officers to help them, and I'm in the NSP and as a PL I have the same rights to offer up options for my boys as the Venture patrol PL does."

 

STARE FROM THE SM, but no comment.

 

"Okay then, I'll go back to my patrol and we'll wait for some adult to tell us what to do next."

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.

 

so I'm not so sure @@Eagledad's prepubescent boys are in fact actually "safe in an adult lead situation to do what they want to do, OR that his post puberty scouts actually do step out of the heard.  In fact, what I am seeing is that the older scouts having been lead by the noses through scouting don't step out and don't lead at all, and the younger scouts have no idea how to step out in front of the well intentioned adults.

 

UGH!  I AM SO VERY FRUSTRATED!

 

blw2, the behavior of older scouts start from what they know. The instinct is there, but knowledge is only what they observed in their past. Desire without knowledge is like running fast in the dark.  

 

The behaviors I wrote in my above post were taught to me by a good friend who is a professor in Child Psychology and a Scoutmaster.  Over time I observed his teaching many hundreds of times.  Older scouts behave exactly as the role models they watched the three or so years before puberty.

 

I've said many times that the quality of a troop should be measured by the older scouts. What is observed in the older scouts is what will be observed from the scouts following them. If that is not desired, change it.

 

We have so much power as troop leaders to build men of character and citizens of integrity if we only use that power correctly. 

 

Barry

Edited by Eagledad

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