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Phrogger

Struggling to stay in Scouts

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It is a hard transition.  I asked all my crossing Webelos to go to summer camp and try boy scouts for a year.  We called it the super glue agreement.  Perhaps something like this will work for your son.

 

Is your son in a patrol with the other guys that he crossed over with?  Can he plan some activities for the patrol?  Perhaps even locate a STEM type merit badge that the rest of the patrol would be interested in (and merit badge counselor.)

You could mentor him in making those arrangements.  At this age even a sleepover is great fun for a patrol.

 

Boy scouts is individual paced rather than group paced like cubs so focusing on the fun is a good idea.  

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I had to go back and reread your original post to better understand why he would dread going to the troop meetings so much.

Actually sounds remotely similar to something i am a little frustrated with in our troop for the young guys.  It sounds like the troop is excluding the younger guys on some events.

In our troop, they are re-structuring to have a venture patrol, to do stuff for the older guys.... but the thing is some of what they are talking about doing are certainly within the interest and ability of the younger guys too.  Maybe I'm just projecting since I have not heard much complaining form my son and the others, but I sure feel like the exclusionary idea is discouraging.

I'd get it for some activities that just aren't age appropriate, but I figure the young guys want a bit of adventure too!

 

In this case though, it seems that your son might want a bit more by the way of planned and organized fun activities....

Since the troop is doing stuff that excludes him and his friends, maybe he and his patrol could plan some patrol activities that are more appealing to them.  Maybe a suggestion to him might get him and his patrol to pitch it to the SM (now I'm assuming he's in a "new scout" patrol)  

Let them be in control of doing some stuff they want to do!

Maybe work towards a merit badge might be a good kick start.

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They have mixed age patrols, but he does have one friend from his cub den in his patrol. They haven't been specifically excluded per se, but I think most of the trips and activities have been skewed towards the older boys.

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The problem seems to be having boy-led without servant leadership.  Servant leadership means that the leader is responsible for taking care of the boys he leads so that the boys succeed.  Our guys know when the Webelos are crossing over and they tend to plan the first campout after they cross over to be something that would be fun for them.  The PLs know that there is a transition and they watch over the guys as if they are little brothers.  At summer camp, the crossovers go to the First Class Adventure together and bond both with the other crossovers and with the Troop.  By September, the new guys are part of the Troop.  

 

Our outdoor program is pretty varied and it is designed to accomodate all ages.  Last year we did sea kayaking (which was kayaking in a relatively calm bay), a camporee, a backpacking trek (starting with some night backpacking for the older guys with a shorter option where inexperienced backpackers could join in), a camping trip to Washington, DC, camping in adirondak shelters in February, cabin camping with a cast iron chef competiton,  camping with orienteering, mountain biking and hiking, camping and horseback riding, a one day boating trip in June, a 3 day 21 mile backpacking trek and then summer camp.  There is something for everyone and a lot of different adventures for those that go on every trip.  There are no age limits on any trips - the boys are only limited by their ability and their desire.  We had a 6th (going into 7th) and two 7th (going into 8th) graders do a 50 mile backpacking trek last summer.

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@@Hedgehog, you're doing a little bit of apples-to-oranges. What was the youngest age (not grade) of your participants? I couldn't imagine throwing any of my kids into most those activities while they were 10 years old.

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@@Hedgehog, you're doing a little bit of apples-to-oranges. What was the youngest age (not grade) of your participants? I couldn't imagine throwing any of my kids into most those activities while they were 10 years old.

 

 

For the 50 miler, the youngest was 12 and a half.  His onlyprior  backpacking experience was camporee where we hiked in 4 miles.  He did as well as anyone else on the trip.   My son was a couple of weeks short of turning 13.  The summer between 5th and 6th grade, my son (who was just turning 11) did a 14 mile round trip bakpacking trek (7 miles out, one day of camping and then 7 miles back) with 1400 of assent each way with one of his buddies.  We've had recently crossed over Webelos do 6 mile hikes, two day canoe trips, sea kayaking and backpacking shakedown hikes.  It typically takes them about a year to do a three day backpacking trek or camp out in really cold weather.  For the less adventurous or experienced boys, we have other adventures.

 

I was trying to make two points.  The first is that there shouldn't be Troop imposed age restrictions on outings.  If a boy wants to go and thinks they can do it, the Troop should let them.  The second is that the outdoor program should be varied to allow for different skill levels and interests.  Servant leadership means the boy leaders design an outdoor program that is inclusive and that balances adventures.

Edited by Hedgehog
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Yah, hmmmm...

 

Welcome, @@Phrogger.

 

Simple fact is that at age 10 he isn't eligible to be a Boy Scout.  Too much too soon, eh?  It can be hard for 11-year-olds who are entering into 6th grade their first year.

 

I think there's nuthin' to be gained by pushing your son to stay in if he wants to quit so much that he's makin' himself sick before meetings.

 

I was in his place, once.  Was pushed by my parents into swim lessons.  I was actually OK in the water, so I ended up in a YMCA group with older kids.  I didn't know 'em, and older kids were scary.  I didn't really know the YMCA.  I used to "get sick" every Thursday in school so I wouldn't have to go. 

 

Fast forward a year or two and I'm in the advanced swim classes at summer camp way ahead of my peers and doin' fine.

 

Sometimes what is required is just tincture of time.     I'll tell yeh, I don't think there's anything that either my parents or da YMCA instructor could have done to help me.  I just needed some time growin' up to get comfortable.

 

I'd recommend yeh fall back to the Cub program yeh both enjoyed and run a real Webelos year as a family.  Have him invite a few friends from school, perhaps.  Let him be the Big Man of the Pack helpin' the other dens for a year.   I think that's a lot more likely to be successful than shoppin' and hoppin' around to another troop at this point.   Sometimes yeh just have to wait on biology.

 

In the mean time, work with him on fun fitness stuff, eh?  Not push-ups, but lots of activity!   It really helps first year Boy Scouts if they're fit enough to keep up.  Do some adventurous camping at his pace, where he can be successful and build confidence.  If he arrives at a troop next summer bein' strong and confident and able to care for himself on a bad-weather campout, there won't be anything stoppin' him.  

 

And yah, the lad should go to summer camp next year for sure.  It really is where new boys become part of the gang.

 

Beavah

Edited by Beavah
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Don't feel too bad that your boy did not attend summer camp. Mine did and we are still in the same boat as you. He enjoyed camp but here we are just a few short weeks later and already he wants to drop out of scouting. He just wasn't pulled into the troop like I was hoping. 

 

The older boys just don't care about him and have no reason to pull him in. They go through the motions... take him aside at meetings and ask if he needs anything signed, etc. I don't blame them.... It's just not working for my 11 year old. But honestly Cubs wasn't working anymore either. Those who are saying that 4th - 6th graders need their own thing are spot on. He really was tired of the chaos of Pack meetings that included lots of 1st and 2nd graders but is not enjoying the new and completely different type of chaos that comes from a boy led troop. He attended every last event since he crossed over until a week or so ago and gave it a real shot. So it's just time to let go. 

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Eagle94-A1 - Right on the money.  Excellent post.

 

Dale

I, too, agree with Eagle94-A1 on his above post.

 

Summer camp is the real key to the Webelos to Scout transition. Yes, mothers of new scouts think they are too young, but for the most part, they are not.  Summer camp begins their process of living on their own.  It also begins getting the boys truly used to one another.

 

The other thing is the BSA method works. It's not in theory, but it's a fact. It doesn't work for all, but does work for most. 

 

On rereading the OP, how old is this boy, (Age/grade)?  If less than 11/6th grade, it was too much of a push, and I honestly don't see why the Troop allowed them to crossover.  IMHO, the best time for crossover is February, just after Blue/Gold.  Gives plenty of time for the ASMs and older boys to know the scouts before going off on a week with them.  I still agree with Eagle 94-A1 for general scouting, but this boy might just have been too young--he needed a second half year of Webelos.

Edited by perdidochas

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1. We did not visit other troops. The den leader discouraged it and as a group we only visited the CO troop. We didn't camp with anybody.

 

This sums up the problem fairly well.  Reading your post, it seems clear to me that this Troop isn't a good fit for your son, as least not right now.  They are all about high adventure, and at this point he is not.  This is why a Webelos should always visit and camp with as many Troops as possible before deciding which one he wants to join.

 

The answer is to find another Troop.  Joining a Troop isn't a life long committment.  It's always nice when it turns out that way, but some Troops just aren't a good fit for some boys.  There is nothing wrong with changing to a different Troop.  You say that your son doesn't know anyone in the other Troops, and while that may be true, in my son's case as we visited Troops we ran into old friends from Cub Scout camp, friends from Church, friends from Karate... pretty much every Troop we visited (and we visited a lot!), he knew someone.

 

I'd encourage your son to take off his Troop uniform, throw on a Scouting T-Shirt, and start visiting as many Troops as possible.  I've met boys who drive 20-30 miles to Scout meetings because a particular Troop was the best fit for them.  While that may be a hassle for you right now, I'm sure the little extra time commuting to the meetings would be well worth having a happier son around the house (not just because we want our children to be happy, but because a grumpy kid can test the limits of any parent's patience).  If possible, camp with as many as possible as well.  My son picked his Troop because on a camp-out he found some other boys who were already in the Troop who were into the same games as he was.  That kind of personal interaction happens a lot during downtime at a campsite, but doesn't necessarily happen during a busy Scout meeting.

 

Over all, don't rush the decision... if it takes you a year to visit all of the Troops and camp with them, so be it.  He's still involved with Scouting, will have plenty of time to work on advancement later, and that year of time may help him to mature a bit.  Who knows, in the end he may decide to stay with the Troop he is in.

 

One other point, if he is really interested in STEM, there are many merit badges he can start working on.  Don't expect that to happen at Troop Meetings, he needs to seek those out on his own.  Some Troops may be more STEM friendly, but Boy Scouting is really an Outdoors and Leadership program, the hobby/career exploration portion is via merit badges and those are the responsibility of the Scout to pursue.

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Wolf and Bear are a mom and scout program.  again, adults take the lead planning, leading and guiding the boys.

Webelos is more dad and scout.  Moms may be stil involved, but it is still an adult lplanned and led activity.

 

Sorry, but I have to say that this isn't the 1900's anymore.  While even my generation (I was a Cub Scout in the early to mid 1980's) this might have been true, I have met plenty of excellent female Webelos leaders and Cubmasters since coming back to Scouting 5 years ago.  The Cubmaster who preceeded me was much very much into Scouting and the outdoors, and made a great Cubmaster/Webelos leader.  At one point I asked why we almost never saw her husband at Scouting activities, and she told me it was because he just wasn't very into the outdoors.  Over the past 25-30 years we've made a lot of progress in moving beyond gender stereotypes when it comes to camping/hiking/etc.  If you don't want to take my word for it, go out to Philmont and observe how many female rangers are on staff, and doing as well or better than their male counterparts.  This line is something I'd expect to find in the 1940's Cub Scout handbooks, not on a forum in 2016.

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Simple fact is that at age 10 he isn't eligible to be a Boy Scout.

 

Technically he is.  The joining requirements state that a 10 year old who has earned the Arrow of Light is eligible to join.  Since earning Arrow of Light no longer requires earning Webelos, only being active in the den for six months since completing the fourth grade or turning 10 years old... we are seeing a lot more of these shenanigans - turning the 1+ year Webelos and Arrow of Light program into a <1 year rush to get them out of Cub Scouts and into Boy Scouts before they are ready.

 

As the parent of a boy who skipped a grade in school and completed both Webelos and Arrow of Light in less than one year and then joined Boy Scouts in April of his fifth grade year, at the age of 10 years, 7 months... I can't recommend that approach except in the most extreme cases.  If my son hadn't been out of synch between his grade in school and his den in Scouts, I wouldn't have allowed him to do what he did.

Edited by meyerc13
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Yep, my son also crossed over at 10.... but honestly I don't think it's the age or the number so much as personal level and interest.  
 

They have mixed age patrols, but he does have one friend from his cub den in his patrol. They haven't been specifically excluded per se, but I think most of the trips and activities have been skewed towards the older boys.

An inherent problem of the mixing of the ages.... based solely on age

 

@@Hedgehog, you're doing a little bit of apples-to-oranges. What was the youngest age (not grade) of your participants? I couldn't imagine throwing any of my kids into most those activities while they were 10 years old.

 

I actually think Hedgehog's post nails it pretty much.  A 50 miler would probably be out of the range of interest bit only for a very few exceptional 10 year olds...... but a lot of the stuff he describes is the kind of adventure these boys are looking for!  To exclude them based on age is just sad.

And his point about servant leadership is spot on, mixed age patrols or not!

 

My son at a very young 11 now, is I would say someplace further along on the adventure scale than the OP's son, but he has some limitation re how much he's willing to do more based on laziness I'm sad to say.  Still, he is perfectly capable and even interested in some of that stuff.

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As others articulated so well earlier, that first summer camp is indeed the key.

 

Lots of fun, but mix in some unpleasant but necessary lessons. 

 

I treasure the memories of my first summer camp.  But I also recall how green I was...socially awkward, physically clumsy, etc.  I went from being a hot-shot Webelo denner to the greenest scout in the BSA.   There were times that week I was miserable.

 

But overall, it was worth it.   At the end, I realized the good far outweighed the bad and I had the notion in my young brain that "I can do this."   Next year, summer camp (same location as previous year) was so much better.   That extra year of "life" made quite a difference.

 

For the situation at hand, looking around for another troop may indeed be the key.  Given some time, the scout may arrive at the place one day where the high adventure theme is just the ticket.   If not, there are other troops where he'll be welcome and feel more at home.

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This is just my opinion and in no way is what I say meant to hurt any feelings.

 

I think not going to summer camp was a bad decision, they grow together and bond at summer camp.

 

My son crossed over last year and in that one year has matured some from last year in the troop, but he's got to be willing to get in there and mix it up with them as well.  If he gets out now with the intention of coming back when he matures then he'll never come back (statistically).  Stick it out, earn your ranks and move up!

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