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Where's the adventure that was promised?

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"One of the problems is that BSA has to make rules that apply to EVERYONE"  Does that mean they dumb it down to the lowest common denominator of not knowing anything about camping and set the bar there?

 

By the time I was eligible for Boy Scouts, I could and had already camped for a good 5-7 years prior to that just about every weekend from early May to mid October.  In the fall, the boys and I would head out camping for the weekend and take our .22's to hunt for squirrel and rabbits as well. We didn't shoot each other, but we weren't all that good yet at shooting fast moving rabbits either.  We did get one, cleaned it, and had it for dinner.  Best weekend as a kid I ever had with my buddies.  It was a weekend the SM told us we weren't allowed to do that kind of activity, so we got parent's permission, dumped the uniforms, and went anyway.

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Who chewed you out?  An NT staffer?  A Philmont staffer told a crew in my contingent that they needed only one canteen and no insulation layer on their trek, which included 29 hours with no source of water in an 18-mile segment with a 3400 foot climb, sleeping dry at 9000 feet.  A Sea Base staffer told one of our SAs that two of the four adults on the trip "always had to be present." "One adult with the boys is OUT!"  A Council adult employee on camp staff told me last Summer that I could not meet with four MB candidates without another adult present. I was told by a DE at Roundtable two months ago that adults had to present on an in-town, three mile day hike to a park and back to eat lunch and do a bird survey (The route having been surveyed by the SM and a dad.)

 

Satan has been sued - in U.S. District Court.  That is also reality.    Sometimes you get chewed out even when following all rules. What you do then is on you, not the chewers.   You can minimize encountering the wrong-headed and ignorant, but you cannot insure they won't happen. They are part of the environment.  

 

The most likely occasion for a lawsuit is a motor vehicle accident.  I take it you drive kids to camp.  

 

It's your decision, but I thought you had some experience that revealed an unacceptable risk of harm to the kids.

 

Sure it a matter of balance, but one could be run down by a car within reach.

________________________________________

The best revenge is good program.

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I realize the specifics of camping that far from adults isn't appropriate for all boys, and therefore it isn't appropriate for BSA.

But I think the general theme applies- boys (and girls, men, women) love to have a challenge that pushes them to the edge of their comfort zone and still allows them to master it. I think when BSA takes 'high adventure' to mean rock climbing walls and zip lines, boys miss out on the experience of mastering a genuine challenge, not a manufactured one. For some boys and some troops, lighting a fire with an dults twenty yards away is a sufficient challenge. For some boys, pitching a tent with an adult one yard away is enough of a challenge! But any experience where boys get to provide something 'primal'-- food, shelter, fire-- is always going to have a u ique thrill that doesn't exist in a more manufactured environment.

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Posted (edited)

I realize the specifics of camping that far frompplies- boys (and girls, men, women) love to have a challenge that pushes them to the edge of their comfort zone and still allows them to master it. I think when BSA takes 'high adventure' to mean rock climbing walls and zip lines, boys miss out on the experience of mastering a genuine challenge, not a manufactured one. For some boys and some troops, lighting a fire with an dults twenty yards away is a sufficient challenge. For some boys, pitching a tent with an adult one yard away is enough of a challenge! But any experience where boys get to provide something 'primal'-- food, shelter, fire-- is always going to have a u ique thrill that doesn't exist in a more manufactured environment.

 

 

If "that far" is a mere 200 yards, It seems completely appropriate for most Scouts and, therefore, appropriate for B.S.A.   In fact, I can find is no BSA regulation or even suggestion to the contrary.  Adults are merely to be "on the trek."

 

Of course, judgment is required regarding individual boys.  But that judgment is for unit Scouters and leaders with a goal of fostering independence as a preparation for life, not an individual NT staffer all full of himself or herself.  The NT literature says nothing I can find to support a requirement of any particular distance between adults and Scouts or Venturers.

 

Adventure is what a boy thinks is adventure.  As you suggest, building a "fort" ("expedient shelter"), building a fire, and going to sleep in that shelter, or a tent, may seem like quite an adventure to a urban kid - probably explaining why BSA always did much better recruiting in urban areas than in rural areas (a fact missed by the theorists who temporarily steered BSA away from the outdoors with the "improved" and "urban-centered" disaster of the early 1970's).  If the kid can handle it, the adventure is greater in the patrol setting in which BSA says the Scout is to primarily experience scouting.  There is no "Troop Method."bearess, on 01 Mar 2017 - 9:04 PM, said:

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by TAHAWK

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Posted (edited)

I realize the specifics of camping that far from adults isn't appropriate for all boys, and therefore it isn't appropriate for BSA.

But I think the general theme applies- boys (and girls, men, women) love to have a challenge that pushes them to the edge of their comfort zone and still allows them to master it. I think when BSA takes 'high adventure' to mean rock climbing walls and zip lines, boys miss out on the experience of mastering a genuine challenge, not a manufactured one. For some boys and some troops, lighting a fire with an dults twenty yards away is a sufficient challenge. For some boys, pitching a tent with an adult one yard away is enough of a challenge! But any experience where boys get to provide something 'primal'-- food, shelter, fire-- is always going to have a u ique thrill that doesn't exist in a more manufactured environment.

 

Yes, but IMO the "challenges" in the adventure of Scouting should go deeper - solo leadership challenges.

 

But thrill is relative, consider

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rb4oW-plc0I

Edited by RememberSchiff

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Out Philmont ranger would not let anyone camp outside the established Bearmuda Triangle.

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That may be a LNT issue in such a heavy-use area.  

 

That was one of the reasons the NT director gave. The others were 1) proximity to effect a rescue if needed, and 2) breaking up a crew in bear territory. All good reasons, none found in the literature.

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I have a lot of respect for BSA camp Rangers and look forward to learning new LNT techniques from them. Infact, we usually have two or three scouts who are Philmont Rangers each year. So I know what they go through. But sometime their maturity lets authority go to their head.

 

During one trek, the ranger decided to show off his fire skills at the evening fire before lights out. He poured some stove fuel on his hand and ignited it to show (show off) how the skin of his hand would not burn. Ironically this was after he led a Thorns and Roses discussion. The crew was careful to how they responded to his demonstration of physics because they knew the adult was going to have some words about fire safety. I don't like pulling authority on youth authority (he was 19) because it turns the relationship from the Crew Leader of a Crew to a Crew Leader of a Crew and adult. And that is what happened here. This Ranger was really very good and a good role model for living in the back woods, but after my very few words about safety, he treated me different the rest of the trek.

 

In a few words, scouting is about giving young people the confidence to behave adults. But sometimes the success of our confidence feeds over into our egos. Correction or our Egos hurts a lot worse than redirection of our confidence. I prefer a scout learn from his own mistakes without adult intervention because he learns the lesson faster if he doesn't have attend to wounded ego. But sometime humility needs to be fed as well to learn how to behave like and adult.

 

I only have a couple stories about loosing my cool because I am pretty tolerant and laid back with behavior. At most high adventure scout camps, the Rangers typically inspect each person in the crew gear to insure the crew is prepared for the trek. We are a backpacking troop and the Philmont Ranger was impressed with our preparedness. But he still felt the need to show his authority, so he picked on one scout who brought a personal backpacking stove and proceeded to chew him out for bringing more stoves than recommended for the crew. Our crew knew about it and welcomed the extra weight of the stove because the scout's mom and dad gave him the stove for his birthday just before we left for the trek. We would have brushed off the Rangers suggestion except he made such a big deal over it.  It wasn't what he said because technically he was right. It was how he said it. You could see it in our scouts eyes, he felt bad for forcing the rest of the crew carry the extra weight. I took the Ranger for a walk.

 

Over the years of Scoutmastering, I developed the skill of not letting my emotions react before spending time to calm myself down. But that situation got to me and even the scouts said they had never seen my face so red.

 

Sometimes the rangers don't always get it right. 

 

Barry

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"One of the problems is that BSA has to make rules that apply to EVERYONE"  Does that mean they dumb it down to the lowest common denominator of not knowing anything about camping and set the bar there?

 

By the time I was eligible for Boy Scouts, I could and had already camped for a good 5-7 years prior to that just about every weekend from early May to mid October.  In the fall, the boys and I would head out camping for the weekend and take our .22's to hunt for squirrel and rabbits as well. We didn't shoot each other, but we weren't all that good yet at shooting fast moving rabbits either.  We did get one, cleaned it, and had it for dinner.  Best weekend as a kid I ever had with my buddies.  It was a weekend the SM told us we weren't allowed to do that kind of activity, so we got parent's permission, dumped the uniforms, and went anyway.

 

Yes, I do think national does that, although not quite to the level you state. I do think that the bar is high enough to learn camping and to practice it. But giving the scouts the kind of latitude that permits scouts to go off by themselves like in that previous post is not a part of that.

 

Your second paragraph sounds really good and, again, I have no problem with that for boys who are sufficiently mature and responsible enough to do it well and safely.

 

But we have many scouts who are broken in many ways, emotionally and intellectually.  In my older son's troop, we had one boy who snuck in some accelerant on a campout, poured it all into a lake, and tried to set the lake on fire. There was a second boy who wanted to build a "big fire" in a wooded area one fall so he made a giant mound from dead leaves and set it on fire.  A third scout tried to set the scout house on fire one night. Imagine if there wasn't any supervision for these boys. 

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I think when BSA takes 'high adventure' to mean rock climbing walls and zip lines, boys miss out on the experience of mastering a genuine challenge, not a manufactured one.

 

I agree with this wholeheartedly. I have a hard time believing that BSA labeled Summit a "high adventure camp"...and much of what goes on at Seabase isn't high adventure either. 

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@Anklyus, you face a double-edged sword. In a very large troop, you have more eyes on the boys, but you're more likely to have some boys find ways to thwart regimented discipline, especially in tight quarters. When our troop was large, such pyromania often occurred within a tarp's space of adults.

 

In a small troop, being a first-class scout (concept, not patch) is at such a premium that boys are "up or out". In other words, they conform to the SM's goals for discipline -- especially fire safety -- in order to be trusted to hike and camp independently with their mates. Or, they become the cause of the patrol's hike plans being rejected.

 

It's the long leash principle. The patrol of hooligans will be rewarded with frequent SPL and adult visits. If the PL can't account for the location of his boys, there are big issues. (Sometimes if he can there are still problems ... as when my patrol "borrowed" the spray paint used to make our patrol flag and improvised a flame thrower. But nobody was under any delusions that the SM being any closer would have prevented such shenanigans.) However, the patrols who shores up their members, over time, will be awarded with new hike plans and challenges/responsibilities.

 

Fire safety is, of course, only one dimension.

 

It's all part of inculcating a vision of the pinnacle scouting experience of hiking and camping independently with your mates.

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Where is the adventure?  It is wherever you left it.

 

Blaming National and it's rules and it's attempts to keep the organization alive by adapting to the times and to the attitudes of todays youth and parents is easy and we seem to do it all the time.  I'm going to be bold here and say none of it is National's fault.  None of it.  Let me repeat that - None of it.

 

National, Region, Council, District - they aren't leading the boys.  Volunteers in Troops, Packs, Crews are.  Is your unit providing adventure?  If not, why not?  Because National has all these rules?  Let me be blunt - National does not have these rules to protect you, the chartered organization or for that matter the boys.  It may appear that way but the reality is National has all these rules to protect the corporation and it's sub-corporations (Council).  They help to provide a layer of protection against lawsuits and insurance claims - and that's it.  If you're on an outing and you failed to follow the Safe Swim Defense rules and a Scout dies - National can point to their rules and  show that people in the Unit were trained (why do you think they're doing online training on these things, and requiring all chartered volunteers to complete it if not to be able to pull up those records as evidence that the Unit Leaders were aware of these rules) and say that National/Council is not at fault and that the fault lies with the unit and the volunteers (and to the Chartered Organization who chose and approved of the leaders).  These rules aren't created out of a vacuum - they come from something - and that's often going to be some lawsuit or insurance claim that landed in National's lap.  National didn't just decide one day that 13 year old boys couldn't use a power drill - someone, somewhere down the line was using a power drill, got hurt and the parents sued.

 

No one is being 100% compliant with the rules - most likely not purposefully, but we all know units that will ignore a rule they don't like and do a work-around to do an activity that is banned - calling a Troop just a bunch of friends getting together on their own to play laser tag with the Scoutmaster and ASM's is one of those things.  We probably all know a unit that doesn't even bother with a work-around and will just blatantly ignore rules they disagree with. 

 

The thing is, even diligently following the rules, there is still plenty of adventure out there, but that's for the units to provide.  National and Council provide some of the tools, but they aren't going to handhold you through everything.

 

If there isn't adventure in your unit then you need to look at your unit.  Yes, a Troop should be boy-led but we as adults in the unit have to start being a better resource.  Telling the PLC to go research and come up with the program themselves isn't the best way to ensure that adventure abounds in the unit - but having the adults plan it all isn't the best way either.  The best way is for the Scouts and the Adult Leaders to work together to create that program - the Boys decide but you get to advise and in some cases consent (it doesn't do the Boys any good to plan a weekend camping trip to a cave 150 miles from home if there aren't enough adults around willing to provide the transportation and help with the logistics).  Don't just let the Scouts loose on the internet to research camps and campsites - I know folks like to claim that their 13 year olds are better at technology that they are but the fact is, that 13 year old still is learning about things like researching and critical thinking.  Anyone can type in "campgrounds near your town" in a search engine but sorting through the information takes some skill, which comes with experience.  Anyone who has ever done a research paper in high school then does a couple of research papers in college will tell you how little they actually learned in high school on how to research - and any one that has a Master's will tell you they didn't really know anything about researching until then - and we expect our 13 year old boys to be good at it?  This is where we as adults come in to play - we help them research (not by doing it for them but by guiding them through the process - and I'll bet that is most of the successful boy-led units out there, some adult had already done a lot of research into camps, etc. - not to hand it to the boys but to know what the Scouts could expect to see) and we help them think outside the box - we guide them through the brainstorming process - sure, the SPL may be at the front of the room leading the session, but an occasional nudge from the SM or ASM in the meeting can go far.  An out of the blue "do you think anyone might be interested in a weekend canoe trip?" can help get those creative juices flowing.

 

If your unit is truly adventurous, then it should be really easy to recruit - if your Scouts aren't successfully recruiting, maybe its time to look at the program your offering.

 

Summing up - Stop blaming National for the shortcomings in your programming.  Instead of looking at these rules as things you can't do - try to see the things you can do - and there are an awful lot.

 

Oh - and Summit and Seabase isn't High Adventure?  Check your adult bias - to a 14 year old boy from Iowa, a week at Seabase will be a high adventure.  To a 15 year old boy from Kansas, a week at Summit learning whitewater kayaking will be a high adventure.

 

<mic drop>

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Posted (edited)

I haven't even made it through the first page and I'm loving this discussion! Tonight at roundtable I'm talking about the Aims of Scouting, and lightly touching on the Methods. My audience will include a new Scoutmaster who focusses 80% of the time on merit badges (for a troop made up almost entirely of Scouts who just crossed over from Webelos about a year ago), and another new Scoutmaster who is experieced in Cubs but not in Boy Scouts. Some thoughts from the posts here will probably come up in discussion tonight.

 

Mike

Eagle Scout and former Philmont Ranger who has gotten caught up in the bureaucracy of Scouting as a District Commissioner.

Edited by mgood777

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Posted (edited)

Where is the adventure?  It is wherever you left it.

 

Blaming National and it's rules and it's attempts to keep the organization alive by adapting to the times and to the attitudes of todays youth and parents is easy and we seem to do it all the time.  I'm going to be bold here and say none of it is National's fault.  None of it.  Let me repeat that - None of it.

 

..................................................................................

The thing is, even diligently following the rules, there is still plenty of adventure out there, but that's for the units to provide.  National and Council provide some of the tools, but they aren't going to handhold you through everything.

 

If there isn't adventure in your unit then you need to look at your unit.  Yes, a Troop should be boy-led but we as adults in the unit have to start being a better resource.  Telling the PLC to go research and come up with the program themselves isn't the best way to ensure that adventure abounds in the unit - but having the adults plan it all isn't the best way either.  The best way is for the Scouts and the Adult Leaders to work together to create that program -............

 

Summing up - Stop blaming National for the shortcomings in your programming.  Instead of looking at these rules as things you can't do - try to see the things you can do - and there are an awful lot.

 

That is one good perspective. But actually National does have some control of the program and it starts with membership. 

 

I realize and understand the complexities of today's culture and the survival of a values program in the middle of it, but we have to be realistic with the sacrifices that come with large program changes. I got involved as an adult leader right after the induction of female troop leaders and I have watched the program continually become less adventurous. Not because women are considered the weaker sex or whatever, but because they were a massive induction of inexperienced campers and scouts. Lets be realistic, you can't teach what you do not know.

 

Now there is a discussion of bringing in girls on another forum. OK, I understand that National hasn't said anything official, sometimes these threads just happen. And I also understand that admitting youth females is not about bringing in more inexperienced adults, but actually it is. Just like dads who like to be part of their sons youth activities experiences, so do mothers with their daughters. Bringing in more female youth will increase the percentage of inexperienced adults. 

 

Anyone who has been working with other units the last 20 years knows that leaders without a scouting and camping experience struggle to put on a scouting and camping experience. I used to work with the adults of those units. But when you see the number of units who struggle with putting on an Aims and Methods program, the over all affect is adventure is down over the whole BSA program. Our PLC in 2000 scheduled at least two patrol campouts without the troop a year. They could do more if they wanted and they could do it without adults. A troop can't plan a campout without adults today. Big deal? Oh maybe not, but it is symbolic of the trend.

 

I used to teach an "Aims and Methods" course for adults, guess which adults struggled with the idea of patrols camping 300 ft. apart from each, as well as from the adults? Guess which adults struggled with scouts doing hikes without adults, much less 5 miles hikes? I remember adults walking out of the course in frustration because I kept giving them examples of how they could provide such a program even with all their ignorance and fears. True Patrol Method camping is hard to imagine if you haven't seen it.

 

I am not turning this discussion into if girls should be admitted discussion. I'm only saying that National inadvertently drives out adventure with many of their program changes. As we get generation on generation of inexperienced adults taking over units, the expectation of adventure in the unit is being driven lower.  I retired as a scoutmaster about 15 years ago now. The program has changed enough that I would have to change some of how we did things then. And not for the better. Some of our best adventure experiences are in our troop program. But a lot of that started from experiences the adults had as a youth. 

 

I'm not sure how to keep the adventure up for the future troops. I worked with hundreds of adults in teaching them how to do this scouting stuff and many just don't trust it. It's a lot of work getting adults to let their scouts experience adventure just on a campout.

 

Barry

Edited by RememberSchiff
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