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Cubmaster Pete

Boys "Eagle Out" of troop

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The leave at 15 and return at 17 to finish Eagle requirements happened to my son.  I was an ASM, and committed to the program.  But my son just did not want to go to meetings any more, and went on few outings.  I asked him "What gives?"  

 

He said that when he looks around at the troop meetings, all he sees are the little kids (11 and 12 year olds) and that doing Merit Badges as a life scout is just not fun.  As a 16 year old life scout, he had "been there, done that", and it did not interest him any more.  

 

I can see that.  The advancement program is geared for a 13 year old.  It is challenging enough for the younger scouts, but becomes drudgery for an older scout, especially with the more bookish Eagle required merit badges (Environmental Science, Citizenship in the Community and in the World)  How in the world can you make these badges fun?

 

He came back and did finish his Eagle required badges and project, and got his Eagle application in the day before his 18th birthday.  It was a pattern well practiced in that troop.  And it was the case over the tenure of several Scoutmasters for a number of years.  Were our Scoutmasters poorly trained?  Badly equipped, un-supervised?  I think we did as well as most of the troops in the council.  

 

 This is why I have always used the layered patrol method. The NSP focuses exclusively on getting the boys trained, oriented towards Boy Scouts (away from Webelos Scouts) and has limited contact with the older boys.  This gives the boys a chance to bond and develop friendships, especially if they come from differing schools.  The middle layer are the regular patrols.  These boys are beginning their serious trail to Eagle, working on PORs and MB's and help out with the NSP as TG, possibly PL, Instructors, etc. The NSP does not operate as a totally separate program in the troop.  This layer makes up the 12-15 year old scouts.  Then there's the third level, the 15-18 year old scouts that do nothing but plan adventures unique to their interests.  Instead of running off only to return to get their

Eagle, they remain active, participate in leadership of the regular patrols if they wish, but generally are allowed to plan and run high adventure.  These are the boys I really don't want to see at summer camp for the 5th, 6th or 7th time.  Of course they would be bored.

 

The only way I can think this to work is the Patrol Method.  Drop the NSP, and Venture patrols (HA), and what one ends up with is new scouts in with the boys wanting to do something that's not boring and instead have to teach S->FC skills for the 5th, 6th and 7th time to each new one or two boys joining up.  They can't do HA as a patrol, the younger boys can't handle it so all activities are taken down to the lowest common denominator.  And besides that after 3 or 4 years the boys are all mixed and mismatched that one's friends are in 2-3 different patrols. 

 

Nope, not my cup of tea.  Never liked the mixing part, just let the boys decide and it's surprising how layered their choices tend to be.  Everyone's different on how they perceive this process, but for some reason it works really well for me, but then when it comes to the patrol method, I give the boys free reign.  I get in a lot of nice HA trips too which is a nice perk.

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We've never had a post-project review.  In our district, that's the EBOR purpose.  I never saw that documented in the process before and definitely not in the GTA now.  I've heard of some groups doing this.  I always wondered why.

 

I suppose technically it is optional since it is not required by National, but I think it is helpful for the Scouts.  

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The only way I can think this to work is the Patrol Method.  Drop the NSP, and Venture patrols (HA), and what one ends up with is new scouts in with the boys wanting to do something that's not boring and instead have to teach S->FC skills for the 5th, 6th and 7th time to each new one or two boys joining up.  They can't do HA as a patrol, the younger boys can't handle it so all activities are taken down to the lowest common denominator.  And besides that after 3 or 4 years the boys are all mixed and mismatched that one's friends are in 2-3 different patrols. 

 

 

Hmm, help me stosh, the key point of your theory isn't clear. The NSP and Venture Patrols didn't exist until 1990. What method of Scouts groups did Green Bar Bill (William Hillcourt) guide the Scoutmasters to use from the 1920s thru 1980s?

 

Barry

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Never liked the mixing part, just let the boys decide and it's surprising how layered their choices tend to be.  Everyone's different on how they perceive this process, but for some reason it works really well for me, but then when it comes to the patrol method, I give the boys free reign.  I get in a lot of nice HA trips too which is a nice perk.

 

I agree.  NSP is good in that everyone's joining together and it's a chance for them to have new friends starting at the same point they start at.  But if they want different, fine.  If they want to switch later, fine.  

 

IMHO, the question is why have patrols?  Teaching or doing.  IMHO, more senior scouts can always mentor younger scouts.  I want the scouts to form patrols around those who they want to spend time with and go do things with.  I've seen too many times scouts ditch their patrols to hang with their friends or ditch their patrols because the scouts are doing starting-age activities or MBs they've already done.  I'd rather have them hang with scouts that are around the same point of growth and wanting to do similar things.  

Edited by fred johnson

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Yes, it's typical of troops that specialize in streamlining their programs toward making Eagles (Eagle Mills). 14 to 15 are generally the Eagle Mills age of exodus. We have an Eagle Mill in our district that averages about 180 Scouts. Imagine a troop of 180 scouts where the oldest scouts are 15. On the other side though, many of these troops have Venture Crew programs to keep the boys in the program. They are typically heavily adult run (even more than the troop), but some of the crews are successful. Successful being they don't fold inside 5 years.

 

As much as I personally detest these adult run programs, they do have a place in the BSA. There are a large number of families that want this style of a program and the boys do get a pretty good Boy Scout experience. It's not a boy run experience of being accountable for independent decisions. But they are exposed to monthly camping and practicing first class skills. Eagle Mills are better than no scouting at all.

 

Barry

 

To add on to this, when my oldest son entered his current troop at age 10, there were 9 high schoolers who all Eagled out the year he was there and that left 4-5 older boys (8th/9th grade) who then joined a Venture Crew around age 14 and disappeared for the next two-three years to do Venture Crew activities.  My husband, myself and another three other parents pretty much built up the troop during that time  by doing recruiting, training, planning, etc. with the younger Scouts since we had no older boys there to help.  As they've gotten older, my son's cohort has taken on more leadership and decision-making so that it's more truly boy-led.  One of the four older Venture Crew members who just decided at 17 1/2 that he wanted to become an Eagle but who had been gone for the past two years doing Venture Crew stuff had the temerity to come back to the troop and deliver a soliloquy on how the troop has been too much adult-led!  It took all my emotional wherewithal not to lose it!  I have literally shed tears over this troop and its very existence and it is pretty darn frustrating to hear that kind of criticism from a Scout who should have stayed in the troop and led it instead of laying blame!  Just had to get that off my chest...

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To add on to this, when my oldest son entered his current troop at age 10, there were 9 high schoolers who all Eagled out the year he was there and that left 4-5 older boys (8th/9th grade) who then joined a Venture Crew around age 14 and disappeared for the next two-three years to do Venture Crew activities.  My husband, myself and another three other parents pretty much built up the troop during that time  by doing recruiting, training, planning, etc. with the younger Scouts since we had no older boys there to help.  As they've gotten older, my son's cohort has taken on more leadership and decision-making so that it's more truly boy-led.  One of the four older Venture Crew members who just decided at 17 1/2 that he wanted to become an Eagle but who had been gone for the past two years doing Venture Crew stuff had the temerity to come back to the troop and deliver a soliloquy on how the troop has been too much adult-led!  It took all my emotional wherewithal not to lose it!  I have literally shed tears over this troop and its very existence and it is pretty darn frustrating to hear that kind of criticism from a Scout who should have stayed in the troop and led it instead of laying blame!  Just had to get that off my chest...

Congratulations on avoiding going all momma bear on your troop's prodigal.

I'm pretty firm on my venturers to be in the troop or out - not in between. If Eagle's a big deal for them, but they don't want to be in a troop, they can advance in my crew. None of them have taken me up on it. I think they have a sense that my SMCs will be more challenging, and thier service project would sink or swim on their own.

 

Frankly, the boy's registration should have been dropped for lack of attendance.

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