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Eagle94-A1

Youth Signing Off on Advancement: Pro and Con

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If the SM is in charge of the boys' program, running a program where the PL's sign off, I can honestly say NO ONE has spoken against it.  It's just the way it's done around here.  My PL's are trained in how this is done and they do it.

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Thanks to everyone for their comments.  I think it helped.

 

To clarify things:

 

1.  I did not mean any criticism of the Scoytmaster.  I think he is a fine man, putting a great deal of time and effort i nto a job, whose only rewards are intangible.

2.  I have been trying not to ask too much of the scoutmaster, because I do not want my nephew treated as special.  I do not want him to grow up and be a "snowflake" that as an adult has to be given a teddy bear and crayons, because someone says something he does not like.

3.  He literally knows no one -

      a.  SCHOOL: He goes to public school, but I do not think he knows the name of one of the other kids in his class.  At recess the other kids throw rocks and dirt clods at him.  When he told his mother this, she said that he should be grateful that they were paying attention to him, and should thank them.

      b.  FRIENDS:  His only friends are his dog and his cat.

      c.  OTHER ACTIVITIES: He has none.  His mother is afraid he will "spend money", or that the all important neighbors might not approve.  His father does not want him to make any noise, and disturb his endless series of naps.

      d.  RELATIVES HIS AGE:  The closest one he has is his sister who is 6 years older and, though I should not say this, is as mean as they come.

      e.  CUBS:  He once asked to join, but his father thought it would cause noise, and disturb him.

 

When not at school he has to stay in his room, so that he does NOT make any noise that will disturb his parents.

 

I think the best thing is to do as suggest and do not overthink things.  Also my nephew takes everything very literally, and has an all-or-nothing attitude.  To tell the truth, I told my nephew to lie and say he did it when he had not done it.  But his honor means a great deal to him. 

 

I have been encouraging him to not concern himself with advancement, and to just concentrate on the things he enjoys.  He has already taught himself so much.  Being outside and getting to move around is like a dream for him.

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I hate to say it, but does any of this border on abuse?  If some was throwing rocks and dirt at my kid, I'd have the police involved.  This dysfunctional situation is way beyond a normal upbringing for a child.  Your call, but I would be VERY concerned.

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Yah, @@UncleP.  I forget... is the lad on the Spectrum?  

 

I'm in the "don't worry about it right now" camp, but not the lie camp.  At some point, yeh can drop a note to the SM and tell him what you've told us, eh?  That the lad really doesn't have friends at school or in the neighborhood.  Most SMs will understand and work it out with the boy.  Really good ones will chat with his Patrol Leader and encourage some other boys from the neighborhood to ride by his place and invite him out on things.

 

Beavah

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I hate to say it, but does any of this border on abuse?  If some was throwing rocks and dirt at my kid, I'd have the police involved.  This dysfunctional situation is way beyond a normal upbringing for a child.  Your call, but I would be VERY concerned.

 

Thank you for your concern.  I checked and though it is bad parenting, it does not meet the definition of abuse.  I am afraid that dysfunctional family life is the norm in my family.  I am concerned, that is why I am trying to help him. 

 

The world is full of bad people.  At this time, my nephew has no skill set to deal with them.  I want to help him develop people skills that will allow him to deal with people in a positive, socially acceptable manner.

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Yah, @@UncleP.  I forget... is the lad on the Spectrum?  

 

I'm in the "don't worry about it right now" camp, but not the lie camp.  At some point, yeh can drop a note to the SM and tell him what you've told us, eh?  That the lad really doesn't have friends at school or in the neighborhood.  Most SMs will understand and work it out with the boy.  Really good ones will chat with his Patrol Leader and encourage some other boys from the neighborhood to ride by his place and invite him out on things.

 

Beavah

 

Thank you for your response.

 

If by "Spectrum" you mean autism, then no he is not autistic.  He had dyslexia, but received special education and over came it.  They say he is hyperactive (but what boy isn't).  If he suffered from autism the special education teachers would have found it.  The problem is the environment he is in, and how he has over-adapted to it.  Being silent, solitary and emotionally unresponsive is required to deal with his family life.

 

I am going to work with him, about taking things one-step-at-a-time.  The problem he is used to planning everything in detail just to get out of the house, and it carries over.  He may also have some obsessive compulsive disorder.  I have told him that nobody is going to make him do anything he cannot do, or does not want to do.  I told him that if he spends years in scouting and never gets beyond tenderfeet but enjoys himself, he has succeeded.  A sense of having some control over his life would do him a world of good.

 

One of the things we had to promise his parents to no one would come to their house.  His father has such a "tough job" that when he comes home he wants to be comfortable, and he cannot do that with people in the house. 

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Sometimes all it takes is one caring adult to make the whole difference in a young child's life.  I am glad your nephew has you.  He will someday come to realize that you are his real parent.  Scouting is a great idea for him, he'll appreciate it, it might be a good thing to become part of the scouting community so that he knows that you are "close".  That sometimes makes the challenges easier to know one has someone in their "corner".  Do your best outside the scouting world as well and help him internalize the lessons he's learning.  It appears you might be his only hope to break out into the world in one piece.  Hang in there.

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@@UncleP, we have kids like these in spades. (Honestly, it feels like a full suit in a deck of cards.) As an ASM/Advisor, every bit of info helps us be supportive. This is not about "snowflake" mentality, this is about knowing a kid's disadvantage and helping him overcome it.

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Lord help me I agree with Stosh on his earlier comment about 'fumes. I keep hearing those reasons/excuses about Boys dropping out but then I see them participating around town in other, often more demanding activities not chasing girls and driving cars. To be honest a majority of the High School boys I know could take or leave driving; it is their parent pushing them. I think it is a boring older boy program and making them work. I see a shift to viewing scouts as being a waste of time as they hit those mid teens. 

 

BUT...when they get more autonomy like being in charge and being entrusted with sign offs more of them stay. I am also a Marching Band parent and often see the Band Director give his youth leadership more autonomy than a lot of Scout Masters. And the kids are very loyal to 'the band family' as they call it not me. (This is in spite of the Band Director BTW mostly).

 

As Pogo said "I have met the enemy and it is us". Adult leaders and parents muck up this process pretty good. I have been as guilty as anybody.

 

However this has been a good thread...I will bring up this topic as a goal for the youth leadership. Good observation on how it might affect the choice of Patrol Leader.

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I told him that if he spends years in scouting and never gets beyond tenderfeet but enjoys himself, he has succeeded.  A sense of having some control over his life would do him a world of good.

 

 

I hope he is in a good troop.  As @@qwazse said, your son would fit right in as part of our Troop.  I think I mentioned it before, a similar shy kid joined our Troop this year and I asked him if it was because there was a lot of goofballs like him... he smiled and said "yup."  The guys going into high school seem to have adopted him as a little brother.  He had the biggest smile last month when camp was over and I told his parents that during the week he "really became part of the Troop."  The older boys and SM can find ways to help him.  I would have him go with some other scouts to a Cub Scout Den meeting and talk to the boys about boy scouts and then invite them to visit the Troop.  DONE.  

 

 

I think it is a boring older boy program and making them work. I see a shift to viewing scouts as being a waste of time as they hit those mid teens. 

 

The key is to make Scouting MORE FUN than any other activity.  Make it the thing they want to do, rather than have to do.  We have good attendance of the older scouts at our meetings, but less so on outings.  I'm working to change the second little by little.

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@@UncleP, your nephew is fortunate to have you in his life.   In the coming weeks and months, he will grow more comfortable in scouting, and things will continue to get better.   It will also help him cope with life outside of scouting as well.   Please keep us posted.

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Regarding the older scouts:

 

They drop out because they are bored.  

 

Camping in the same old place.   Same old activities.   And as they look down the trail to Eagle, all they see are homework merit badges and a bunch of paperwork.

 

Yes, they should have input and show some leadership to influence a different outcome.  However, it is my observation that many adult scouters do not encourage the old scouts to implement more challenging activities.  

 

Sadly, most of the time, the adult scouters are indifferent or not in favor of adventure...their attitude sets the tone for the "same old camp, same old events" syndrome.   So a timid program suits the younger scouts, but it gets old quick.

 

The older scouts aren't going to waste their time on paperwork and car camping, unless there is something else to broaden their horizons.  But many scouters and scout troops are not equipped in any way to do this. 

Edited by desertrat77
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When I was that age our patrol would regularly camp around the country we could reach on bikes.  It was a rural area so there were plenty of options.  I realize that today many of those options and freedoms are no longer available, but we did keep ourselves from being bored.  With that being said, I left the BSA program after 4 years of going nowhere.  The only thing that held our patrol to any such activity in the troop was the learning scoutcraft and going camping.  If the troop wasn't going camping we did anyway.  SM would always get bent out of shape about it, but we didn't wear our scout uniforms and it was not a scout activity.  All we needed was our parents' permission, our bikes, a bit of food and we were gone for the weekend.  When it became obvious scouting wasn't going to provide anything more, we could continue on without it and so we switched to a more adventurous program, Civil Air Patrol.  Although I never got beyond 2nd Class in Scouting, I was a radioman, navigator on larger aircraft and certified observer on small craft.  We flew 6 training drill activities and 2 "for real" searches for the state.  Of course it was co-ed and we attended the annual statewide military ball for fun.   The only certification I didn't get was my glider pilot's license. That was a bit over budget for my own expense.

 

There can be adventure out there for the boys.  50 years ago they kinda let the ball drop, at least in my area, and from what I can tell even with the traditional Explorer Posts (which were not anywhere near our area) Exploring of the 70's-90's and Learning for Life/Venturing, I'm not seeing a whole lot of SCOUT adventure being provided out there.  Sure the Medical Posts, the  Law Enforcement, the Firefighters type of posts do very well, but they aren't the in-the-wood Scouts of the older boys.  It was a lot easier setting up Exploring posts back in the 70's than it is setting up Venturing Crews today.  I've done both.  A lot of talk out there, but the kids today just aren't ready to sign on the dotted line and go out and find their adventure.   The high schoolers talk about wanting to be grownup, but they pretty much can't or don't want to lift a finger to do more than just talk.

 

That's not just scouting, there are a lot of youth groups suffering from this issue and the only ones that survive are the heavily adult organized, come and be entertained programs like the YMCA, Boys & Girls Clubs, Church youth groups, etc.   It's almost as if the youth do not want to lead, just follow what someone else has put together and then complain because they are bored.  Thus they just wander from one activity that sounds good to the next constantly seeking but seldom finding.

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Stosh, you make good points.

 

The only thing I'll add:  while it's true that many young folks aren't ready to plan/execute the adventure they desire, there aren't many BSA adults that are willing/able to guide them.  

 

Car camping is often the extent of many scouters' idea of adventure.   And the truly adventurous, outdoors-minded folks in our society that could help tend to shy away from the BSA.

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BUT...when they get more autonomy like being in charge and being entrusted with sign offs more of them stay. I am also a Marching Band parent and often see the Band Director give his youth leadership more autonomy than a lot of Scout Masters. And the kids are very loyal to 'the band family' as they call it not me. (This is in spite of the Band Director BTW mostly).

 

With 90 scouts or more, over 45 percent of them were 14 and older when I was the SM. And most of them went to summer camp until they aged out. Most of our Eagles didn't have a EBOR until they we 16 or 17.

 

My best SPL was also very active in the school band. If the program is worth it, scouts will make it work. This is why I disagree with theories about older scouts being too busy, don't want to baby sit, or need more adventure. Older scouts want to be challenge physically and mentally for their level of maturity. It's that simple and that complicated at the same time.

 

It's a challenge for most adults to know how much is enough for developing scout growth. All of us are challenged to understand the needs of young adults.  So let's not call ourselves the enemy. We adults are simply students learning how to be better scouters. If we adults fail anywhere, it's that we are too lazy or too prideful in wanting to make the effort to grow ourselves. I have never met a good scout leader right out of the box. But I have met a few who were willing to learn.

 

Our culture holds parents from treating young adults as adults. To do so is working against the trend. But for those bold enough, the rewards are great.

 

Barry

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