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Eagle94-A1

Youth Signing Off on Advancement: Pro and Con

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 Older scouts want to be challenged physically and mentally for their level of maturity. It's that simple and that complicated at the same time.

 

Barry

 

I think a little flexibility about attendance requirements is needed for older boys as well. They will have conflicts and if you force them to choose they might not choose you. But we expect them to keep the commitments they make and if unable to function in a formal leadership slot to step aside for those who are willing to put the time in.

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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.

 

@@Stosh - I"m trying to prove you wrong this year.  In the past three years, our Troop transitioned from adult ideas, adult decisions, adult planning and adult implementation to youth ideas, youth decisions, adult planning and youth implementation.  The next step this year is to designate one member of the PLC as being responsible for planning the outing with an adult mentoring them.  What is funny is that we decided on this before I learned that is the way Venturing works.  I'll keep everyone posted on how it goes.

 

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.

 

As I've posted before, when my son had joined Boy Scouts I had never been backpacking and had probably camped out 10 times as a youth (mostly back yards) and 10 times in Cub Scouts.  Three years later, I'm up to 100 nights camping and 250 miles hiking or backpacking.  All it takes is being interested in learning and doing something new.

 

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.

 

 

Train them, trust them and let them lead.  The one skill I've developed is to treat different scouts differently.  For the new crossover, I"m the adult that provides a level of security -- "I'm not really on my own here, Mr. Hedgehog is around."  To the younger leaders - I"m a guide, coach, mentor and sounding board. To the older leaders, I try to treat them as adults.  Their role in the program must change as they grow and how we relate to them also must change as they grow.  

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As I've posted before, when my son had joined Boy Scouts I had never been backpacking and had probably camped out 10 times as a youth (mostly back yards) and 10 times in Cub Scouts.  Three years later, I'm up to 100 nights camping and 250 miles hiking or backpacking.  All it takes is being interested in learning and doing something new.

 

Hedge, I'm glad to hear that, and I agree with you--interest and willingness to try something new go a long way.

 

Unfortunately, your situation is not the norm in the BSA.   Troops get into a rut and stay there.  And the boys drift away.

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@@Stosh - I"m trying to prove you wrong this year.  In the past three years, our Troop transitioned from adult ideas, adult decisions, adult planning and adult implementation to youth ideas, youth decisions, adult planning and youth implementation.  The next step this year is to designate one member of the PLC as being responsible for planning the outing with an adult mentoring them.  What is funny is that we decided on this before I learned that is the way Venturing works.  I'll keep everyone posted on how it goes.

 

 

And I certainly hope you do!

 

I pulled a behind the scenes adult initiated stunt at camp this year.  I have the boy selected PL and APL of the patrol.  Then I had this other boy who I thought for sure the boys would have picked for the PL position but didn't.  He ended up with no specific "role" to play in the patrol.  So I waved my adult magic wand of power and designated him ActivityMaster.  He was going to be in charge of the activities for the patrol.  Whereas the PL/APL would take care of the boys, in uniform, fed, to bed, get up, etc. the ActivityMaster would be in charge of daily schedule, when to be there, keeper of the clock, keeping the boys and PL up-to-date on where they needed to be for what activity.  Now that we're back home after camp he is responsible for the monthly activity, where to go, what to do, what advancement needs to be done, contacting instructors, the keeper of the annual calendar.  He is going to get that set up this fall with the new school year.

 

So where in the BSA program does that fit?  I dunno, and I don't care.  The boy is fired up, he's excited about the task, he works well with the PL/APL team and I need more coffee......

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Reflecting on my experience as a scout, two things kept me in the troop after Eagle:

 

1.  The scouters treated me like an adult.   Attended district training for scouters and monthly roundtable.   Signed advancement.  Mentored and given duties as if I were an ASM (though still an SPL then JASM).  Attended troop committee meetings each month, input solicited.

 

2.  There were a few high-adventure trips each year (one always during Christmas break) reserved for senior scouts.

 

I was involved in plenty of activities outside of scouting.   But I still made scouting a priority.

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Hedge, I'm glad to hear that, and I agree with you--interest and willingness to try something new go a long way.

 

Unfortunately, your situation is not the norm in the BSA.   Troops get into a rut and stay there.  And the boys drift away.

Can confirm that. Our challenge now is for our Scouts to plan things beyond the usual same old stuff. Its a tough slog. I'm bored with the Troops program more than any of the Scouts..

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I think a little flexibility about attendance requirements is needed for older boys as well. They will have conflicts and if you force them to choose they might not choose you. But we expect them to keep the commitments they make and if unable to function in a formal leadership slot to step aside for those who are willing to put the time in.

I agree. One of the lessons in humility that helped shaped our program was a scout who was frustrated from being harassed for leaving the troop meeting 45 minutes early for his job. Truth is his dad was the ASM giving him the hard time. When I sat down with him to discuss his frustration, he said "None of the adults say anything to other adults who shows up late from their work, why am I any different?". That statement was profound and we made an adjustment to our program. The SPL found a job for that scout to coach Cheer Masters and Grub Masters 30 minutes before the meeting.

 

The adults have to be willing to learn more and faster than the scouts from the program experiences.

 

Barry

Edited by Eagledad

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Can confirm that. Our challenge now is for our Scouts to plan things beyond the usual same old stuff. Its a tough slog. I'm bored with the Troops program more than any of the Scouts..

 

 

The presumption has to be that every activity or campout should be something new and that you only repeat if it the prior activity was awesome and there are a lot of boys who agree to do it again.  In three years, we've done two repeats.  

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Can confirm that. Our challenge now is for our Scouts to plan things beyond the usual same old stuff. Its a tough slog. I'm bored with the Troops program more than any of the Scouts..

I think this is a big issue in the development of scouts that doesn't get much attention, especially when it has to do with turning a troop around. Most scouts are not adventurous enough to step into the unknown. They're still trying to figure out how to fit in, they don't want to rock the boat. So giving them lots of freedom to do as they please doesn't seem to work out the way I would like. One way to stay in the rut is to always do the same thing. I've seen scouts brag about how they like to eat burnt food, rather than admit they might need to try something different. Another way they stay in a rut is just blowing off whatever needs to be done. Or possibly not understanding how much time it takes to do something and at the last minute deciding they didn't want to do that anyway. Again, saving face is easier than trying and possibly failing. In the perfect world of plenty of motivated scouts it would be easy for them to get pushed aside by other scouts that want more. I don't see that. What I do see is all the other scouts saying okay, I guess that's what scouts is. If they don't like it they will leave scouts before they confront the older scouts. It's easier that way.

 

I've been trying something to get them out of their rut recently and it's been working. This is a Necessity is the Mother of Invention thing. The two parts include setting boundaries that include a challenge to get them out of the rut, and also holding them to whatever they say they're going to do. Their only failure is not doing their best. If they try they will succeed. But failure creates a problem. Namely, I take over the event and we do what I want, which is intentionally boring. So, come up with a good plan or Mr R will have us all practicing knots the entire campout. I haven't been doing this for long but I haven't had to do more than mention the nuclear option and they will go back and try again. The nice part is they have created some great ideas that surprised them with how much fun they've had. Hopefully after doing this for a year it will become habit and I can drop the threat.

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