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blw2

Affraid son is loosing interest already, and I am discouraged

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I posted this statement in another thread, but thought I'd elaborate ....

As MC I'm nearly powerless on my own to stave off the adult onslaught against the patrol method.  I'm starting to realize that It's a big ship for one person to turn, if he's not one of the "key 3"

 

Son doesn't want to go to summer camp

last years MB fair fest of a summer camp program didn't really excite him

He's not interested in driving 16 hours to go someplace similar this coming summer.  Adults push to do summer camp far away in the mountains.... (they say the scouts decide, but the scouts are easily manipulated in these sorts of planning decisions)

He's PL of his NSP....well I guess it's not technically NSP any longer, but still..... but he has lost all of the excitement and drive I saw early on, and I don't see any interest from him in fostering a job that is clearly not real.

He's never been one to eagerly pursue getting signoffs and making rank..... he's just along for the ride, and so advancement is stagnant.  Has one thing left to do, and needs to talk to someone, but he is shy about making it happen and meanwhile the SM and ASMs are busy with all sorts of other business and I don't think there has been much individual fostering happening for any of the scouts....

And this morning he tells me that he doesn't want to be split away from his friends.  We were talking about what is happening with the new scouts that just joined.  I knew there was a decision to blend them in rather than do the NSP, but apparently his ASPL told him that they would be splitting up patrols.

There's more.... but what's the point?

 

What I see is way too much adult interference squashing out the fun, and killing a lot of the good that can be had from the patrol method program.

 

Really is too bad.

 

I just thought of something as i typed this....

I think tonight I'm gonna ask him to think back to that excitement he had, that time as he was going to take ILST the first time, right after he was selected to be APL.  I remember him eager to go....chomping at the bits!

 

 

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Sounds like it is time to remind the SM and the other meddling adults that:

  • Keeping friends together in patrols, even at the cost of disrupting what some to be the natural order of the troop, is beneficial to the unit, patrol and the boys in questions. See Scouting Magazine.
  • Scouts run things. Ask the Scouts what camps they want to go to. If they are not sure remind them and then let them pick.
  • Meetings should be fun...for everyone.
  • If an adult is speaking, leading or explaining, chances are there is a Scout who *could be* doing it instead. 
  • Train them, trust them, let them lead applies to the boys. If the boys are not "doing it right" then it is the adults who are failing to lead, not the Scouts. The adults did not train them right.

No one likes to hear their baby is ugly, but if they are honest with themselves...and have the boys' best interest at heart...they will understand and recognize where they are not meeting their Scouts' needs. 

 

I'd be honest. If you stay silent, don't advocate and don't try to change things the only people that get hurt are the boys.

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I agree with all the points Col Flagg makes.  If you have made a good effort to point out the short comings to your CC/COR and they dont agree or wont hold the SM accountable to run the program correctly, then I would suggest that it is time to find a new Troop.

 

I would suggest that you and your son (and his buddies?) visit some other Troops in your area.  I promise they dont all run like that.  And maybe having a bunch of guys leave will open some eyes that they are doing something wrong.  Or maybe they will call you names and such - whatever.  Finding a Troop that is a good fit for your son is what will help keep him in the program and doing great things.

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We were in a somewhat similar situation and a small group of boys decided to form a new troop.  We involved them in the entire process and let them do a start/stop/continue for their new troop.  I don't know if it will be successful yet, but we went from meetings of chaos and boredom to meeting running long because they were having fun doing a scout skill.

 

On the last campout, they were shocked when we talked about a service project and I let them decide what it would be at the park and let them go off and do it.  I didn't even walk with them to check on them, they knew they weren't allowed to leave the park.  Parents looked at me strange as well.  But they did it and felt great about it.

 

Not sure if any of that is helpful.

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yeah, move to another troop is great on paper.  in reality though, there aren't an infinite number of troops in a reasonable radius, and in our case like a lot of others I'm sure.... those few that are here aren't any better. 

Besides, It's not so bad as I would imagine a revolt of my son and several friends wanting to up an leave together.  No way he would do it on his own.  His friends are here.  he knows the faces, knows the drill.  It's comfortable.  

 

And really, it's not that bad. Not at all.   It's much more subtle in this case....

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I have made a lot of effort to suggest and hint whenever appropriate, but I've also been careful with it.  I don't want to be that guy is is being critical and undermining of the person out "front".  I'm not in that position, and certainly don't know it all... and furthermore I'm not that good at that sort of thing.... correcting in a "nice" way.  There's a certain bit of cooperative volunteerism to take a term from Clarke Green, that I feel I need to do.  After all, I'm the "new" guy, I'm not the one asked to be one of those key positions.

 

I have been tempted on a few occasions to forward over something like that... something I've read.  Here's one that I stumbled across not even looking for it....

https://scoutmastercg.com/a-troop-revolution/

it was linked to in another conversation about something else entirely, but I feel that there are some nuggets in there that might help.  I'd like to forward this over to not just the SM, but the committee too.

The thing is, there are a lot of things in there that could be taken as an insult too.

 

When I think about it though, I'm making these suggestion to folks that are heavily involved up to their elbows.  Invested in what they think is a great way to do it.  What they have been trained and it's what they understand.  Some of them  are beaded woodbadgers, etc....  Some are just involved parents that really don't know that they don't know.  Those are just continuing on what they learned form the pack and "doing there best".  And when I boil it down form that angle, I'm just a guy trying to help them, trying to cooperate, and trying to do my bit so that the scouts can get the most possible out of things.  

These folks aren't asking for advice, and if I'm not careful I'll never earn trust enough to really make a difference

and on the other hand, if I do nothing it's too late for my son to experience what it "could be"

 

A long time ago I resigned to be content knowing that the scouts are getting some good out of the program as long as the scouters are doing no harm.  The scouts might not be getting the maximum potential from scouting, but they're getting some good.

But now, as I see early warning signs that my son is quitting, he may get less....

Edited by blw2
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Nothing to add except that the 16-hour drive to summer camp kind of jumped out at me, especially to a place he doesn't really want to go.  If you're going to go to a mediocre camp, no need to go 16 hours, we have several of them within 45 minutes.  :)    Maybe your son would me interested in going "provisional" to a summer camp nearby.  Of course then he would be with NONE of his friends (unless one or two others decide to do the same thing), and would be with a whole campsite full of new people to meet.  Which, if your son is shy, might not work out so well.  It was just a thought after seeing the 16-hour drive to a place he doesn't want to go.  I hope things work out to where your son can be happy in Scouting, or at the very least, happy out of Scouting.

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My opinion, will be VERY different from what I see here.  Start through yourself by going to trainings and RT.  Focus on getting training and network for yourself closer to home.  Discussion will lead to talking about your troop and those closer to home can actually go to some of your troop meetings and talk about Boy-led.  The other is Wood Badge.  The reason I suggest Wood Badge is tickets ahve a great way of bringing in support for you to finish them and if you write them to include this change to more boy-led, things might happen better pushing the adults back to the sidelines where they belong with zipped mouths letting the boys do.
 

The other thing is your son's Patrol can make decisions to veto the troop's leadership decision if he takes it to his PLC.  Your son's patrol CAN decision to go to another summer camp instead of where the troop is going.  Shyness on your son's part... please consider sending him to NYLT.  NYLT is the youth version of Wood Badge and has done wonders for many a boy!

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Nothing to add except that the 16-hour drive to summer camp kind of jumped out at me, especially to a place he doesn't really want to go.  If you're going to go to a mediocre camp, no need to go 16 hours, we have several of them within 45 minutes.   :)    Maybe your son would me interested in going "provisional" to a summer camp nearby.  Of course then he would be with NONE of his friends (unless one or two others decide to do the same thing), and would be with a whole campsite full of new people to meet.  Which, if your son is shy, might not work out so well.  It was just a thought after seeing the 16-hour drive to a place he doesn't want to go.  I hope things work out to where your son can be happy in Scouting, or at the very least, happy out of Scouting.

 

the thing is none of his friends are going to summer camp either.  None of them want to go, and that's the biggest reason he's not going i think.

I had actually thrown that out there about going to a local camp instead.... but yeah, there is no way he would do that on his own, and there's no interest enough to try to talk his friends into trying it.  I think some of them might be going to non-bsa camps anyway

 

and to set the record straight.... I just typed 16 hours.... I think that's what he said, not sure.

It's really more like 10 or so hours drive time, and from what I can tell it's not going to be a bad camp, as BSA camps go.  Looks to me like it might actually be better than the one they did last year..... but it's still a "classroom camp"

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the thing is none of his friends are going to summer camp either. 

 

Maybe they can all go to NYLT together. We have had several scouts do that and they really enjoyed it. The following year, several of them went through NAYLE together. 

 

There's more than one way to skin a summer camp cat. :)

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Maybe they can all go to NYLT together. We have had several scouts do that and they really enjoyed it. The following year, several of them went through NAYLE together. 

 

There's more than one way to skin a summer camp cat. :)

 

Isn't there an age requirement for NYLT?  I think our council has an age requirement of 14, or 13 and completed grade whatever, but maybe that is just in my council.  If blw2's council has an age requirement, and his son is just out of a new Scout patrol, he may not be old enough.  And that assumes leadership training camp is what his son wants anyway, and I see no indication of that.

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My opinion, will be VERY different from what I see here.  Start through yourself by going to trainings and RT.  Focus on getting training and network for yourself closer to home.  Discussion will lead to talking about your troop and those closer to home can actually go to some of your troop meetings and talk about Boy-led.  The other is Wood Badge.  The reason I suggest Wood Badge is tickets ahve a great way of bringing in support for you to finish them and if you write them to include this change to more boy-led, things might happen better pushing the adults back to the sidelines where they belong with zipped mouths letting the boys do.

 

The other thing is your son's Patrol can make decisions to veto the troop's leadership decision if he takes it to his PLC.  Your son's patrol CAN decision to go to another summer camp instead of where the troop is going.  Shyness on your son's part... please consider sending him to NYLT.  NYLT is the youth version of Wood Badge and has done wonders for many a boy!

yeah, standard canned scouter answer.... you be the change.  I've heard that before.

Training....I've already done it.... used to attend RT's regularly.  Been to U of Scouting many times, have all the required training for all the positions I've ever held as scouter, additionally for those positions I do but unofficially, currently have all the required training for SM, do a lot of extracurricular reading here (closing in on 2,000 posts), other blogs and sites, podcasts, and books on scouting.  I do a lot of thinking about scouting.  I'm guessing, but I think safe to say more than the "average" scouter by far.

 

and woodbadge..... I have considered doing it, and even started to do it once or twice but the dates always conflicted.  Regardless, we have a lot of woodbadgers already.  I can verify through experience that WB in and of itself, doesn't help....but I see your point about actually making THIS a ticket item..... 

 

Also, great point about his patrol "vetoing".  He knows this I believe, but it's hard for an 11 year old scout rank pushing against senior scouts (that have been through NYLT) and adults that tell him contrary things. (an example, patrol level POR's such as QM.   He knows the PL handbook tells about them, but older scouts insist they are not positions)  

I heard this great analogy just yesterday, although not the 1st time, in a podcast over at scoutmastercg..... You can go into your friend's living room, and suggest that it would look better if he painted the walls green.  You can even bring over the paint and brushes.  But if he says no thanks.  The conversation is over.  That's kinda the way this is.

 

He has been through ILST twice now, but he's not old enough for NYLT.  I mentioned in my OP his excitement before he attended ILST the 1st time (when he wanted to run for PL).  I did ask him about this.  Tried to get him to reflect on that feeling.  It was an interesting conversation....  He didn't put it exactly this way, but summing it up he was excited about the idea of it, but it lost value once he saw how empty it all is... the requirement to take the class I mean (the class is required by the troop for any POR, but he's the only one in the patrol that took it.  Another scout was elected PL and that scout never took it.), and now that he's PL this time around he sees the concept of a position of responsibility but with no real authority.

 

As I write this, I think that the BSA might be it's own worst enemy in a way against the patrol method.  NYLT graduates and wood badgers don't seem to get it, so it makes me wonder..... 

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the thing is none of his friends are going to summer camp either.  None of them want to go, and that's the biggest reason he's not going i think.

I had actually thrown that out there about going to a local camp instead.... but yeah, there is no way he would do that on his own, and there's no interest enough to try to talk his friends into trying it.  I think some of them might be going to non-bsa camps anyway

 

and to set the record straight.... I just typed 16 hours.... I think that's what he said, not sure.

It's really more like 10 or so hours drive time, and from what I can tell it's not going to be a bad camp, as BSA camps go.  Looks to me like it might actually be better than the one they did last year..... but it's still a "classroom camp"

 

I feel for you on this issue. If his friends are losing interest that's a big thing. We had a similar situation a few years back. Twice actually. One group crossed over, entered Trail to FC and things were fine. As that first year went on some of the guys just weren't as interested as they were when they crossed over. To be honest, most were weak Scouts, not interested in outdoors stuff to begin with. Several were really in to the outdoors but their friends' attitude had a big impact on them. Despite a great TFC program, most of the guys dropped within 24 months. To be fair sports and school were contributing factors too.

 

Fast forward a few years later, similar situation: A group where half the guys were reluctant to cross over in the first place, not big on the outdoors or camping. THIS TIME we added in a few more fun things that really helped keep their interest. We did this in a few ways. First, we worked with the PLC to make sure the troop meetings weren't just death by Powerpoint or the same bland things they seem to fall back on. Second, we made sure the TFC events were fun and exciting. For example the guys were learning map and compass. Each way point was a "food station" that had things to eat like pizza, ice cream, dutch oven dessert, etc. This was FAR more successful and we retained more of that group.

 

Not sure if this is helpful, but it helped us. We had to revise how we usually delivered our program and, in a few instances, had to train up the youth Instructors to deliver something new. It was hard to convince the long-time Scouters that the program they built was boring to some kids. After a few semi tense conversations they were adult enough to realize a few tweaks did not mean their program was bad, it just needed refreshing. The funniest quote came from a newly minted Instructor who said to the SM, "Even your curtains need washing every once in a while. They may be old, they still work, but they're dirty....and no one likes dirty things."  :)

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Maybe they can all go to NYLT together. We have had several scouts do that and they really enjoyed it. 

 

My son did NYLT last summer and it was transformational.

 

Isn't there an age requirement for NYLT?  I think our council has an age requirement of 14, or 13 and completed grade whatever, but maybe that is just in my council. 

 

I know in our council as well as the neighboring council where my son did NYLT (which I think may be @@NJCubScouter's council) it is age 13.  

Edited by Hedgehog

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Kids losing interest in activities is always an issue, in all activities. But somehow Scouting seems to take a harder hit than most other things, especially as kids get older. Typically the older scouts lose interest and want to leave in favor of other activities. 

 

And honestly I can't really blame them. When you can go play sports or sit at a desk studying for a citizenship badge, it's pretty obvious which one wins more often. 

 

We want to believe that Scouting is camping, hiking, high-adventure, wilderness, etc., but in reality that's only half of it, maybe less. Time spent in meetings, doing procedural stuff, training, skills development, etc., it's all very academic. 

 

National seems to respond with adding in activities that they think will appeal to kids at the event level. Skateboarding at jambo, climbing, biking, more sporty types of activities. I think they're on the right track with some of it, but I think the bigger problem is the core program itself. The older the kids get, the less appealing it is. 

 

Moving to another troop was mentioned earlier. I think that's just a temporary fix. It's a change of scene, but the program is still the same. Interest will still wane eventually. 

 

Unfortunately I think unless the BSA changes the program, there's very little else anyone can do at the local level to maintain interest as kids age. 

 

This might be an unpopular opinion, but here goes...

 

I think the BSA should drop things from the program that overlap with school activities. Disconnect the program from things that kids already learn in school and focus more on the outdoor adventure component. If Scouting is going to endure as an elective activity that's supposed to be fun compared to school, the program needs to change to truly be that kind of an activity. It really can't be a surprise that so many kids lose interest when the program includes so much academic stuff and repeats of things they are taught in history and social studies classes at school. 

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